Quote: Griff @ January 6 2009, 9:24 PM GMT
You'd be hard pushed to find a 30-minute sitcom without more than one plotline happening.
This is something I've been wondering about recently. All these how-to sitcom guides always bang on about subplot A and B (sometimes C as well), but I'm sure not all sitcoms do this for every episode.
For example, Father Ted. In the episode where they all try to give up something (cigarettes, alcohol and rollerblading), I'm sure there's no subplots - their individual attempts form one group plot A, which then develops on as the nun gets involved and they try to escape.
Also, in the 'Speed 3' episode while there are different plot strands of sorts (the dirty milkman, dougal wanting to be a milkman, the bomb on the milkfloat, the brick) I wouldn't say that they form plot A, B and C - rather that they are events (for want of a better word) that move the main plot on in different ways. Plots A, B and C would surely be distinct plots (that could work individually on their own if required) that run in parallel to each-other before coming together at the end (or at different points during the episode) to turn into one cohesive whole. None of the strands in 'Speed 3' do this in my opinion.
Personally, I think there is a number of different ways of plotting sitcoms:
- Plots A, B and C (like in Friends when there is generally 3 short plots each concerning two of the friends)
- Plots A and B (like in a lot of British sitcoms, where the plots are longer)
- Group Plot A (as mentioned above)
When I'm plotting an episode of something I'm working on I usually look at how much mileage the plot ideas have and apply them appropriately. If a plot idea is strong enough, involves all of the main cast in distinct ways and can twist and turn in interesting ways, then I'll got with one big group plot rather than try to add unnecessary subplots to the script.