|Just past the 52nd minute....|
The Mystery of the Fifty-second Minute
Sounds like a great title, doesn’t it? “The 39 Steps”, or “Sixth Sense”? Throw a number in the title, and you create a question and a grabber.
I have observed that at the 52nd minute, stuff happens. There are 8 more minutes left. Factor in 2 or 3 commercials about 1 minute + each, leaving 5 more minutes. These allow things to be wrapped up with all sorts of ruminations, memories, self-doubt, and finally resolution. 58 rolls around, show ends at 58.5, and then there are previews of the next show, along with more commercials. The 60 minutes ding, and Bob's Your Uncle.
At this site, Guide to writing TV scripts the process is broken down in this way:
"Act One" which presents the problem to be addressed. A commercial break appears, leading to....
"Act Two" has the characters facing down the problem, figuring things out, but meeting up with all sorts of brick walls in their discoveries. Another commercial break interrupts, and then there is....
"Act Three" finds the characters' frustrations overwhelming and bad guys making headway. Another blasted commercial break, leading to....
"Act Four" is the big event, where basically it is all figured out. (THIS is where the 52nd minute heralds the Ah-Ha moment).Yet another commercial break happens, and....
"Act Five" allows for closure and maybe "wait, look over there, OH NO..."
Somehow, knowing this format makes it all less irritating. Being able to identify "Oh this is Act Three." sets up the next bathroom run.
What spurred this interest? "A Team", old show from late 70s. This show was textbook on predictability. My nephews explained it to me and I saw their logic.
I could write these scripts.
We all could write this type of script. But, the question is could we all factor in the 52nd minute?