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StoryMoore Blog: TV Lesson #1 - Prodigal Son

Story comes in all shapes and sizes and with COVID, Netfix and the large television my husband purchased for our quarantined days, I’ve turned to several go to shows as “writer research.” 😉

One of the well-written shows we’ve been watching, although the gore factor is a bit high, is Prodigal Son. This story follows a forensic profiler, Malcolm Bright, played by Tom Payne, as he works with the NYPD to solve strange homicides in the city. The catch…his father’s a convicted serial killer locked up in a mental hospital who loves to help his son solve the crimes.

Suspense/Violence: The violence can be surprising and grotesque at times. While the serial killer is locked up and we don’t see much of his crimes, we do see the cases his son Malcolm investigates. They're as creepy as one can imagine and we begin to see the effect Dr. Whitley's killings had on his son and daughter. Every episode keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat or astounded at the twists and turns of the suspense.

Character Development: The backstories on all the main characters are flawed, likable and plausible. Michael Sheen plays the part of the murderous father, Dr. Whitley, charming the viewer at times into empathy for his circumstances only to flip the switch and show us the maniacal side of his darkness. His children and wife are appalled by his killings and the viewer finds themselves caring for the family.

Dialogue: The dialogue between the characters is top notch. The actors pull off banter and humor, portraying the characters with charm and poise even though their all a bit unhinged due to the sins of their father.

Hooks: The end of each episode provides a satisfying solution as well as a fresh twist to keep viewers watching more. A great lesson for suspense writers who want to keep their readers turning pages.

As for Prodigal Son, I give it 9 knives out of 10. I appreciate the decent language, the support characters normalcy and the fact I can watch it with my college age children and not find myself scrambling for the quick channel remote button from embarrassment of a graphic sex scene.

What StoryMoore lessons do you watch on TV?

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