Herbie J Pilato: Colors are the vibrant fabric of your script

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by Herbie J Pilato

Back in the day, not only were TV characters very distinguishable from one another, but the colors of their wardrobe were also quite variant.

For example, let’s travel to “Gilligan’s Island,” created and produced by Sherwood Schwartz; not a show that many would consider “Masterpiece Theatre,” but in many quadrants of the industry, certainly to its millions of fans, the series is considered a masterpiece in its own way.

Firstly, no two characters are alike, in sight or sound:  Gilligan (played by Bob Denver) was slight and skinny and dressed in vibrant red); the Skipper (Alan Hale, Jr.) was hefty, and garbed in big blue.  The Professor (Russell Johnson) dressed in that cache beige; the brunette Mary Ann (Dawn Wells) in country-girl short-shorts; Ginger, the movie-star, a red-head, always dressed in elaborate gowns, etc.

Meanwhile, on “The Brady Bunch,” which just so happened to also be created and produced by Schwartz,” colors decorated not only the personas of the cast (lead by Florence Henderson and Robert Reed), but were splattered throughout the orange-countered kitchens, and other kaleidoscope rooms in the Brady household.

There was a reason for all of this back in the 60s and 70s when these shows first aired.  Color TV was pretty much a new thing and the networks wanted to take advantage of the new visual technology.

But the colors on these shows also added to the over visuals and made each series more appealing in the long run.

Sadly, such is not the case today.   Contemporary programs display muted colors, which unfortunately compliment their muted drab characters…characters that all sound and now look the same.  Everyone has the same sardonic, edgy tone; and as I’ve mentioned in countless posts before, everybody rolls their eyes and is exasperated at something; sometimes even looking constipated.

Not exactly an attractive look; and yet for some reason, this is all been deemed acceptable…although ultimately because there seems to be a great aversion or desensitization to quality.

But you, Mr. or Ms. Novice or Veteran Writer.

You have the power to light up the small or big screen with your vibrant imagination…to paint your characters as colorful with various hues of laughter, sadness, joy, fear, passion and compassion; to place them in colorful surroundings that reflect their state of mind and position in the time of your story.

Brush your words with diversity; comb your lines with fine needle points of distinction.

Bless your audience with the gift of your unique visuals that will make your scripts stand out from the bland of the rest.

All colors need to be the vibrant fabric that threads together your story…your characters…your vision.


Herbie J Pilato is a Contributing Editor to TVWriter™. You can learn more about him HERE.

Author: Herbie J Pilato

Writer, Author, Producer, Actor, Singer/Songwriter, Lover of Life