Monday, March 24, 2008

Breaking Down (and Building Up) Chuck (3)

This should be fun...

Everything here is wholly based on skipping through Chuck episodes on NBC.com. Five acts plus a teaser; this is what you should be aiming for in minutes if you're doing a Chuck spec...and since generally 1 page = 1 minute of screen time...

Episodes 104, 105, 106, 107

Teaser in minutes - 6, 4, 7, 8:10 range 4-8:10
Act I in minutes - 12, 10:45, 5:20, 8:45 range 5:20-12
Act II in minutes - 8:50, 5:15, 9:20, 3:55 range 3:55-9:20
Act III in minutes - 6:15, 8:20, 6:20, 8:30 range 6:15-8:30
Act IV in minutes - 5:50, 7, 6:40, 3:50 range 3:50-7
Act V in minutes - 4:15, 5:20, 6, 7:45 range 4:15-7:45

The timing is likely off by a few seconds here and there, but in general it's correct. So...what the heck is happening here? Holy outliers, Batman, there's a lot of range in those times. The only segment of the show that seems relatively stable is Act III, though I think it's mostly safe to say Chuck employs a "longer" teaser. Probably somewhere between 5-8 minutes is the safe zone. Act I...is a bit of a question, though I'd say 8-11 minutes seems okay. Act II scares me, because there's a big difference to me in a 5-ish minute Act and one that's closer to 9 minutes. Maybe split the difference and say 7? Act III seems a safe bet at 6-8 minutes. Act IV should probably be in the 6 minute range and Act V probably about that long too.

In terms of tone, here's how the show generally leaves the audience before going to commercial (dra=dramatic act out and com=comedic act out).

Episodes 104 105 106 107

Teaser out - dra, dra, com, dra
Act I out - dra, dra, dra, dra
Act II out - dra, dra, dra, com
Act III out - dra, dra, com, dra
Act IV out - com, dra, dra, com

I'm not sure what to draw from this other than most of their acts end on drama (by which I really mean "hero in danger"), and Act I seems to never end on a comedic beat. In terms of having comedy beats end the teaser and other acts...sometimes that's okay, but generally they don't do it. And the Act V out (or end of show) I didn't even touch, because with rare exceptions the show ends on character beats where everyone comes together in happiness...or not. Either way, it doesn't really fit the definition of drama or comedy I'm using for the other act outs.

Hope this is useful - it's at least made me rethink a few things.

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