Breaking a pilot
I’ve started the process of ‘breaking’ the pilot. According to the multitude of books I’ve now read on writing for TV (that post is coming soon), breaking an episode is about breaking down the elements of the story. There are lots of different stages to breaking an episode, and it varies depending on your experience and the demands of the network, but I decided to start with breaking down my characters and what had to come out of them in the pilot:
Portia Adams discovers her connection to 221 Baker Street, and takes on her first case trying to find prostitutes that are going missing in the Whitechapel district of London.
What is the first thing to know about Portia? She is alone.
What do we need to reveal about Portia in the pilot?
She is alone and without options
She is highly intelligent
She has trust issues
Adler is finally able to reveal herself to Portia, her granddaughter, she begins her campaign of making Portia a social darling.
What is the first thing to know about Adler? That she is a tough old broad.
What do we need to reveal about Adler in the pilot?
Demonstrate her extreme loyalty to Portia (above all else)
Demonstrate her disregard for legality
Demonstrate her intelligence
Brian is confronted with the corruption at Scotland Yard, and meets Portia Adams, and starts helping her with her case.
What is the first thing to know about Brian? That he is a smart rookie detective with high morals.
What do we need to reveal about Brian in the pilot?
His lifelong admiration of Holmes and Watson
His love for his family
His instant attraction to Portia
Michaels is also dealing with the corruption at Scotland Yard, and will have a fight with a lawyer over missing evidence.
What is the first thing to know about Michaels? That his job is everything. He has nothing else, so it’s the most important thing in his life.
What do we need to reveal about Michaels in the pilot?
Demonstrate that his job is the most important thing in his life
Reveal his hatred for Holmes
Demonstrate his distrust of Portia
What happens to Jenkins in this pilot?
Jenkins and Adler are working on a minor blackmail scheme.
What is the first thing to know about Jenkins? His loyalty to Adler and their friendship is tantamount.
What do we need to reveal about Jenkins in the pilot?
He loves Adler (maybe as more than a friend)
He’s a criminal with a past
He’s someone Portia can trust
He is paid off to corrupt a key piece of evidence in a case against a local politician.
What is the first thing to know about Gavin? He is brilliant and corrupt.
What do we need to reveal about Gavin in the pilot?
His disdain for everyone else’s intelligence or contribution
His attraction to Portia