Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Over at Denis McGrath's place we've been talking about hybrids. These are shows that are not just one genre, they are an amalgam of several genres.

House is a show that uses elements of the police procedural to get to the root of a problem - namely the disease that afflicts his patient that week. Grey's Anatomy is a hybrid of E/R, and Ally McBeal. Desperate Housewives is a hybrid of comedy and drama. Veronica Mars is a hybrid of the high school drama and the mystery.

For the genre writer (especially the low budget D2DVD kind) the hybrid is a way to inject a tired concept with some Redbull. Sometimes it can be really cool (Battlestar Galactica) , other times it doesn't live up to the potential (Mercy Point).

Part of the process of writing a hybrid movies is to take the cliche' and twist it enough to bring elements of other genres into it. It's making columns of genres and subgenres and playing Chinese food ala carte - take one from column A and another from column B.

They're cops, but one of them is an alien! (Alien Nation)

They're trapped in a Mexican bar and have to fight their way out through...vampires? (From Dusk Til Dawn)

Write down two columns of genres and subgenres and start mixing and matching. Or you can select a bunch of movie titles in a certain genre and try to match them with a totally different genre movie list. You'll never know what can happen. You could come up with...

A police manhunt movie (The Fugitive), but instead of the killer being a one-armed man, he's a werewolf! (My own Wolfsbane)

A zoologist fights to protect the last of a species -- a gargoyle! (Gorillas in the Mist meets Jeepers Creepers)

Try it and see what you come up with. At the very least it's a good exercise at brainstorming. Besides...

You could write the next great vampire comedy, or the next buddy cop romance.


Christian Johnson said...

I hope you are working on Gargoyle in the Chapel. Sounds like a fun flick idea.

But I really want to know when Wolfsbane is coming out. I love Werewolf movies, even when they star Mario Van Peebles.

Kelly J. Compeau said...

I actually don't like mixing genres, specifically, sci-fi and fantasy. If a movie or TV show is about an alien boy who crash lands on Earth and later raised as a human (i.e. Smallville/Superman), I don't want to see plotlines about how the alien boy battles ghosts and witches. Another example, we all know Buffy (the movie and TV series) is about vampires and demons. I really didn't like it when they had an episode about an alien creature that crash landed in Sunnydale and started attacking people with tumours, including Buffy's mom, who was dying of brain cancer.

It just feels wrong to me -- but that's my personal opinion.

Erik said...

But the creature in that Buffy episode wasn't an alien. It was a demon that was summoned by Ben to kill all the crazy people that Glory had created. It came from space, but it was still a demon that someone summoned.

(I am such a dork.)

CD said...

Bill --

Wolfsbane sounds cool. I want to see that.

* * *

Kelly --

I know what you're saying. Somehow, The X-Files did the best job (imho) of hopping from genre to genre. Basically, X-Files was a police procedural with aliens and sometimes werewolves and vampires and cults and all that other good stuff.

A can't pinpoint exactly why they made it work. I think the characters were solid, it gave them plenty of room to try anything that occurred to them.