For my essay I am comparing two different types of TV drama; 'Hustle' which is a 'Series Drama' and 'Lost' which is a 'Serial Drama'. Hustle is shown on BBC1 and the Hallmark Channel weekly

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By Coco Smith

Lost Vs Hustle

        During Media we have discussed different issues regarding TV dramas. I am writing this essay to argue different types of TV dramas and how they appeal to their intended audience. There are five different types of TV dramas; some of them are very similar whilst others are completely different. One-off dramas do not have sequals, they are shown over about a week and repeated regularly, they have only one story and the characters are always the same. There are two types of TV dramas that are almost identical these are Series and Serials. Series are shown over a longer period of time, ranging from 8 – 10 weeks.  The characters are always the same as is the plot but the story changes each time; a good example of this is ‘Hustle’. Serials are weekly episodes that keep the same story week-in-week-out. It is very unlikely for new characters to be introduced. They are shown over an even longer period of time, which normally ranges from 5 – 10 months. It is very likely that if you miss a few episodes you will completely lose the plot as the story is continuous and often has little twists to it to make it more appealing to the audience. A good example of this is ‘Lost’. Another type of TV drama is Soaps. They are shown almost 52 weeks a year with a small week interval around Christmas time. There is a wide variety of plots, which normally run into each other, complicating the issue.  New characters are not unusual either; they are introduced quite regularly to give the storyline a bit of a ‘kick’. A good example of this is ‘Eastenders’. The remaining type is Sitcom. It stands for ‘Situation Comedy’. In this type of drama it is more likely there will be a different story per episode although the plot will stay the same. It’s based around the same characters and normally the same setting. The outcome is always the same, pure comedy. A good example of this would be ‘The Office’.

For my essay I am comparing two different types of TV drama; ‘Hustle’ which is a ‘Series Drama’ and ‘Lost’ which is a ‘Serial Drama’. Hustle is shown on BBC1 and the Hallmark Channel weekly. It is based around a group of con-artists which are very experienced in the ‘long con’ which means conning for large sums of money, the show is very clever and I believe this is one of it’s major appeals. Lost on the other hand is shown on Channel 4 `every week, the producers of the show have announced there will be another four series after this one. It is very different in the way it attracts its audience, as the plot is very farfetched, in a way I believe it’s the unrealistic story that the viewers admire about the show. During this essay I will raise many important issues that contribute to how appealing both Lost and Hustle are to their audience, these are; Narrative, Characters, Enigmas, Production Values and Specific Sequences. Audience appeal is very important to any programs future; if the ratings are low the show will get cancelled. So overall I hope to point out what a good TV drama needs to attract an audience and how Lost and Hustle have achieved this.

My first issue is Characters. Part of what makes a succeeding TV drama is the wide variety of characters, but why is this? The appearance of a character is very important to a shows survival, the characters have to look the part if they hope to play the part. In lost there are many good examples of this for example, the main character Jack, his rugged look attracts a big audience, he is strong and not overweight which adds to the attraction factor. When we first meet Jack, he is lying on his back in a forest, he is the first character we meet and therefore it is important to draw the audience in sooner rather than later. Another example from Lost is Kate, once again she is very pretty and slim, this is important because she is also our main female lead and therefore expected to be attractive. In Hustle, this attraction factor is almost identical to that of Lost’s for instance, once again we have the main lead/s Danny and Micky, both of which are attractive and of course not overweight, then we have Stacey, our female lead, she is also pretty and slim. The audience of a TV Drama has grown to me very narrow-minded, they expect the cast to be attractive and over the years it has almost become a tradition, but there are some examples of where the characters aren’t perhaps attractive but this doesn’t stop the show from succeeding. In Lost we have Hurley, he is overweight and not the best dressed character in the story, his appearance is somewhat disturbing when compared to the likes of some of the other cast, but what makes the program so successful is the variety of characters, if everyone in a show was attractive it would be like watching clones. Hustle does the same thing, Albert and Ash are once again not the most attractive people in the world but that doesn’t alter the shows viewings. Overall, I believe a program must get an equal balance of character’s appearances in order to succeed. The attitude of a character is also important, audience’s find a characters attitude to be a major part of their person, for example in Lost, we have Charlie, he’s a failed musician who’s main priority is his drugs, he rubs off as harmless to anyone but himself and that’s what I think the audience like about him, also he sees himself as a ladies man but when he rarely get the chance to flirt with a female character he is rather unsuccessful. In Hustle we have Danny, he is incredibly big-headed and quite a show-off, what the audience like about him is how he acts all ‘cool’ and ‘hip’ but when it comes to practical matters his plans normally blow up right in front of his face, leaving his ego in a heap on the floor. Danny relies on Micky a lot but he just doesn’t know it, the audience can tell this straight away and it is hilarious to see him try and stand up for himself. Characters in TV Dramas usually have their own roles such as, hero, heroine and villain, it is important for a show to have these roles as it makes the characters more exciting and also livens up the plot. Heroes are appealing because we see them as role models, they are the characters we look up to and respect, I believe we respect them because we believe they are holding the story together, without a hero everything would go wrong. It’s easy to empathise with the hero of a story because normally he is under a lot of pressure from the rest of the cast, I find there is just something about them which we love maybe it’s because we are meant to rather than because we want to. In lost, Jack is our hero, he is often seen taking charge over the other characters and making important decisions which their survival usually relies on, it’s hard not to find Jack appealing as he is seen as the ‘brains of the operation’ or the ‘leader’. Hustle uses the same idea, Micky plays the hero in Hustle, he’s always thinking on his feet and getting the others out of sticky situations, he takes the lead over the rest of the cast and is also seen to make the decisions for the whole team. All of the above are the keys to being a good hero and the audience have come to expect the producers to include every single one of these into one of the characters in a show. Also every succeeding show needs a heroine, often this person is the female lead, she has to be independent and able to take control of any situation, her character is usually quite a strong person and it is likely to find that they are offended by other male characters asking her if she needs help. A heroine must be able to look after herself and must be brave. In Lost Kate plays this role, she puts her life at risk to help Jack find a way off the island when other people are just sitting around waiting, she is intelligent and can handle whatever comes her way. Stacey does the exact same thing for Hustle, but in a more subtle way, obviously the story is quite different in both shows so Stacey’s bravery and intelligence is shown in a rather different way for example, Stacey is often looking after Danny and making sure he doesn’t get caught, she puts others before herself and in known to play one of the most important roles in a successful con. Villains are very appealing to an audience because they give the show a threat and make the storyline more exciting and we like them because of this, ‘everyone loves to hate a baddie’. They are normally very easy to spot, but in Lost it is quite hard because everyone is a threat to everyone’s survival, there are many potential villains as they are relying on each other and therefore if there was a weak link in this chain everything could go wrong, I think this is a very big contribute to the audience appeal that Lost attracts. In Hustle it is very obvious who the villain is in the story, this person changes each episode depending on who they are trying to con, there is always a villain in Hustle, someone who wants them to pay for what they’ve done and often tries to con them themselves. The villain/s in Hustle could be interpretated differently as in a way the con artists themselves are the villains as they are conning others out of money, but I think the audience turn a blind eye to this aspect of the show because they are more comfortable liking the cast of the program rather than disliking them. Overall the role of a character is very important to the success of a program because the audience like to feel involved in the story, and they can be by choosing which characters to like and which to dislike. The final feature I will explain where characters are concerned is what they do. It doesn’t seem that important but it gives the audience a feeling for what that character is really like and appeals to them because they feel like they actually know the person personally. In Lost Charlie is a good example of this, as we already know he is a failed musician who is addicted to drugs, from this we can tell that Charlie is obviously upset about something, maybe is failed career, we know this because of his drugs problem, also we know that he takes drugs to relax himself so he must have something on his mind that is bothering him in order to take them in the first place. From one scene we can tell all of that and already we feel like we know the character very well. In Hustle a good example is Danny, in a scene we see Danny with three mobile phones, all with different jobs written on the back, from this scene we can tell that Danny is a bit of a liar and that he will do whatever he can to ‘get the girl/s’, we can also tell from this scene that he has an ego problem and feels he has to have more than one girl at a time, this problem is extended to his cockiness, also from that scene we can tell that even if Danny is good with the ladies he will always make a mistake in the end. Knowing a character is a very important factor of audience appeal, it makes the audience feel more involved and also makes them aware of what might happen to that character.

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Another major issue focusing on audience appeal is the Narrative (storyline) these differ quite massively from Lost to Hustle but still both offer the action and adventure that their audiences crave. Lost for example is based on the novel ‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding, where a group of people are stranded on an island and are attempting to get off with each others help, but along the way are faced with conflicts which they inflict themselves. Along with that larger main story there are many smaller ones, which sometimes interfere with each other. The Korean family for instance, they ...

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