Die-hard fans of my blog may have noticed a recent change. I’m no longer sticking to the title format of “Kevin’s Tip #___.” Which brings me to my latest tip (#21).
Never get stuck in a pattern with titles.
I can’t tell you how boring I find it when a show has a constant theme for titles. The Big Bang Theory, Community, Friends. I mean, ”The One With Two Parts?” Could they be any less creative?
The pilot of Ice Cream Sundates is called “Pistachi-hos.” Episode two is “Hookies ‘n’ Cream.” Does that mean episode three will be called “Slutter Pecan?” Maybe, actually. Because that’s pretty good. But after that, who knows what I’ll do?
Why am I so against themes? Themes tend to tip too much of the story. In “The One Where Rachel Smokes,” you know exactly what’s going to happen. Rachel is going to smoke. “Football, Feminism, and You” tells the viewer, “Hey, we’re going to do an episode about football, ladies, and we’ll occasionally break the fourth wall with meta commentary on our surroundings to make you feel included.” Where’s the element of surprise?
That’s why I’m a huge fan of the episode titles for Mike & Molly. Sometimes they tell you exactly what’s happening; other times they barely relate to the story. In “First Date,” Mike and Molly go on their first date. In “Molly Makes Soup,” Molly is mad at Mike for agreeing to go to a basketball game with her mom’s new boyfriend. Pretty sure they ate soup in the cold open, but that’s about it. It really didn’t matter, though. And that’s exactly how it should be.
Nobody wants to go see a movie when the trailer gives away all the best stuff. Likewise, nobody wants to read a script when they can get everything from the title.
If you want someone to read your script, don’t remotely hint at what it’s about.