Do serials exist when it comes to pre-teen children's series?
The reason I ask is because I've never seen a pre-teen children's program that didn't rely on case-of-the-week structure with an almost definitive ending that returns everything to status quo.
It's not difficult to understand why the case-of-the-week structure is preferred. Pre-teen children lead active lives, being barraged with information, knowledge and cultural inputs from a variety of sources and media every day.
But would a serial work if the target audience is pre-teen children?
What is your opinion on the matter? Are children capable of keeping up with a TV-serial, or is that just wishful thinking from someone who wants to write a relatively comples TV series for pre-teens?
Thanks for your input.
Since I assume AS is going for web series, rather than traditional TV series, it's no problem for kids to catch up on episodes they missed.
That's true. Didn't think of that, but it's a very compelling argument for going through with it.
Even though kids could catch up as easy as that, the question is, "Would they?"
I feel dissuaded from continuing, especially considering the fact that there are only very few instances of programs with a serial structure. It might just be that nagging, criticizing devil in the back of my head, the source of all my insecurity and uncertainty, but I would definitely appreciate any arguments both for and against.
Speaking od nagging devils
Mine wants me to put in a hot tub.
I'm like what's the point?
I live in Houston the whole city is a hot tub.
The BBC has done serialized kids' material before, mostly adaptations of books like "The Tripods" series based on "The White Mountains."
There's a German animated series called "Little Amadeus" that follows the life of Mozart as a child, which was distributed in the US and Canada.
Pokemon has long arcs that the characters follow, collecting creatures and skills over multiple episodes toward a goal. Likewise, there are plenty of Japanese anime series that do this.
Clone Wars has an ongoing storyline. So did Starship Troopers.
There have been soap-operish shows too on Saturday morning TV.
Kids are fully capable of enjoying a long term, serialized story. And as Lauri mentioned, one of the big benefits of the age of Streaming content is it can always be accessed.
Even US series have a certain amount of serialization. While it was very much a story of the week, Wizards of Waverly Place had an storyline about the kid's competing to be the family wizards. Things that they did in one episode would affect another, etc.
The Suite Life of Zack and Cody was the same way. So, I would agree that kids enjoy seeing the characters grow and have relationships that matter.
The most notable example I can think of is Avatar: The Last Airbender. Even the episodes that seemed like stand-alone episodes had an impact on future stories. Superhero shows also have a serialised structure like Young Justice and Teen Titans.
I seem to be affected by the programs I used to watch when I was a kid where the case-of-the-week structure was perhaps the most used. I pretty much stopped watching kids' TV in the late 90s / start 2000s, not because I didn't still like animated series for children, but because I turned my focus to mature comics and the like. Can't keep up with everything, I suppose.
I've heard a lot of talk about Avatar: The Last Airbender, and it's perhaps one of the shows that I hear about the most that I haven't really discovered yet. I'll be sure to make up for this mistake as soon as possible. With regards to superhero shows, I'm once again affected by the fact that I stopped watching shows in the late 90s and start 2000s. I do remember Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Batman: TAS (who doesn't?) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (the first series). These were more based on case-of-the-week, though some stories were developed over perhaps two or three episodes.
The intentions of that devil of mine are unclear. All I know is that it is parasitic in nature and has been the cause of too many ruined stories. Silly devils, tricks are for kids.
Thanks for the suggestions. Another pair of programs that I have missed.
However, I would agree with the fact that there is an inherent satisfaction in experiencing the maturation of the characters as well as experiencing character development. I don't think I would want to write a script for a kids program if everything simply returned to normal after each episode. I wouldn't be able to retain interest in the story. I do realize that many children require certain static traits that make them easy for them to identify with. It's not a hard truth, but it's a truth nonetheless for most kids' TV.
Admittedly, I haven't watched many of the shows you mention, but I'm very grateful for the suggestions, thus enabling me able to do a little research about how the structure of a children's program in serialized form.
I do remember Pokemon, though. Despite its overarching theme and development, I still feel it was a little too much focused on facing a Pokemon trainer / boss each week and returning things to status quo.
However, I do find solace in your echoing of Lauri's statement. It's time to exorcise that devil of mine, I suppose.
When it comes to family-aimed shows from the '90s, the only one I can think of that had a serialised format is (shockingly enough) Sonic the Hedgehog. The characters actually grew through its short two-season run as it surrounded Sonic and a group of freedom fighters trying to defeat an evil dictator. The second season even ended on a cliffhanger which would have revealed a new antagonist for the series. However, due to low ratings (it had the bad luck of being on the same time as Power Rangers) along with Disney buying ABC and thus choosing to air their own shows on the Saturday morning schedule, it never got a third season. As for superhero shows being serialised, I guess that is more of a recent phenomenon, but I do recall the X-Men animated series being serialised. Another example of a recent superhero show being serialised is the now-cancelled Spectacular Spider-Man. They especially did an excellent job of doing the symbiotic storyline, much better than the third Spider-Man movie.
In regards to Avatar, there's actually a new follow-up show currently airing on Nickelodeon titled The Legend of Korra. Like the first series, it's very serialised but the writing is strong enough that even those who never saw Avatar can follow along with the universe's rules.
Check out "Spongebob Squarepants".
James M Lion:
I have to admit Spongebob isn't really my cup of tea. But I very much appreciate the suggestion! :-)
I remember Sonic the Hedgehog, but only vaguely. I'll have to check out Spectacular Spider-Man. I remember the old Spider-Man series from the mid-90s, which was similar to Batman: TAS where many of the episodes were basically stand-alone.
I did recall hearing Avatar was getting a follow-up series. But it's impossible for me to dive into a follow-up series without first discovering the original. But thanks for the heads-up.
i say go for it! but maybe try a hybrid: a serial where each episode could stand alone as well so it's not as contingent. difficult but if you pay attention some adult shows already do this. it's really about having an A-story and a B-story: one of them is the serial and one is stand alone.
That's true. Many children's series have stand-alone plots within a bigger story. I just find it very difficult to do so with the particular plot I have in mind :-)
It may carry elements of stand-alone stories in some episodes, but everything needs to fit.
I think as adults we think too linearly. I think our minds love to pick up a story in the middle and figure it out from there. I would like to see longer story arcs all the way down to younger children's programing. With longer arcs you can tell important stories about hard work, and persistence that you can't tell in 22 (or 11 minutes) for that matter. You can see a character really grow that way, and I think that means a lot to kids.
Do you remember the first comic book you read, or the first James Bond movie? Did you need to know where the character came from to get into the arc? You accepted it where you found it, and then explored backwards and forwards until it all made sense.