Contemporary theory in translation
The Continuous Serial: a Definition
The essay discusses the formal
terms within which a continuous serial operates and tries
to asses some of the effects of this process.
The continuous serial has to work with a punishing schedule,
normally appearing on television more then once a week
and sometimes, on radio, five times a week. In order to
do this, it establishes a base which becomes increasingly
familiar to its audience while maintaining sufficient flexibility
to be able to present apparently different situation. It
provides us with the feeling of an unwritten future while
giving necessary access to the past. We are constantly
left wondering what will happen next — occasionally with
a real cliffhanger. It presents us with »new« events which
are endless variations on regular patterns and provides
a range of characters which is both varied and limited.
This balance of change and repetition is achieved through
the organization of narrative and character, and the succession
of the narrative is cemented together by gossip, both inside
and outside the text.