Previously on… ‘Editing organazized’

Pre-titles recaps have been around for years. For serialised drama, they get everyone up to speed. “Previously on Hill Street Blues…” Sometimes the format of the show includes an implied recap: at the start of each episode of ‘L.A. Law’ the characters have an office meeting that gets the office (and the audience) up to date on all the current cases.

With the availability of the internet, TV networks have turned more ongoing stories in their dramas. They know that viewers can use web-based info to get up to speed. As long as they make individual episodes interesting, people will make the investment in finding out more about the show. When big shows come back after extended breaks, whole recap shows are shown before episode one of a new season.

Some shows have dedicated recap editors who familiarise themselves with production workflows and the show by editing the recaps at the start of act one. In the near future, they may have more work to do – unless the process is automated…

As online video becomes more popular, production companies will be able to provide recap options for purchasers. Viewers will be able to assess how they want to invest in a TV show. If they want to watch from this point forward they’ll be able to choose the length of the recap they get with their purchased episodes: ranging from 15 to 90 minutes. If they want to start from the beginning of the season, or an earlier season, they’ll get recaps that prepare them for their ‘first’ episode. Recaps could also provided to bridge skipped seasons: they could be generated based on what episodes are bought.

Now that serialisation is the norm, writers should consider whether their three hour movie script might be better as a 17 hour epic (24 weekly ‘one hour’ episodes). Producers are more likely to say yes if the story will work over a further three seasons.

Producers and screenwriters also have the option to create recaps for episodes that don’t exist…


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