Seven shows with episode naming patterns
by Isabelle Carreau, posted Dec 4th 2008 3:02PM
A little over two years ago, Joel posted about five episode naming patterns such as Friends' episode titles always starting with "The One" or Grey's Anatomy's usage of songs in lieu of titles. Since many series have come and gone since Joel first posted about episode naming patterns, let's revisit the subject. After all, episode titles are an integral part of a TV series and can add to the viewers' entertainment.
Here I bring you a list of seven episode naming patterns of series that currently air on a TV near you.
1. Bones - All episodes start with "the" and most follow the pattern of "the"+(reference to victim)+(reference to where their body was found). At the start of each episode, the team never knows who the victim is but they know where the victim was found. So it's fitting that the titles follow the same "knowledge" pattern. Some examples of the titles: "The Passenger in the Oven" (a passenger on a plane was found inside a microwave oven aboard the plane); "The Finger in the Nest" (a human finger was found in a bird's nest), "The Mummy in the Maze" (the victim was dressed up as a mummy and was hidden in a Halloween-themed maze).
2. Desperate Housewives - All titles are Stephen Sondheim lyrics. Before doing the search for this post, I had no idea that DH had an episode naming pattern. I just thought they tried to find a title that would fit the episode and that's it. Knowing that the show's episode titles follow a pattern doesn't add much to my viewing experience because the titles are not really original or meaningful. Just take the title of episode 5.09, "Me and My Town," for example. The episode title is the title of a song from the Sondheim Broadway musical Anyone Can Whistle. Who is the "Me" and why is "My Town" part of the title? The episode had storylines about all main characters and didn't really focus on one. Also, there was no "town" feel to it at all, except that we saw how the fire affected the Fairview people. Looking back at some of the DH titles, I must say that they don't always fit well with the content of the episodes. Maybe it's time the writers change episode naming pattern, or find Sondheim lyrics that fit the storylines more.
3. Gossip Girl - Every episode is a word-play on titles of movies, books or TV series. For example, "It's a Wonderful Lie," "Bonfire of the Vanity," and "Summer Kind of Wonderful" are plays on these movie titles: It's a Wonderful Life, The Bonfire of the Vanities, and Some Kind of Wonderful. Personally, I enjoy GG's naming pattern, as it not only offers infinite possibilities, but it's also fun to try and find what movie, book or series it refers too.
4. Smallville - All titles are always one word. Smallville titles are some of the most boring out there. The only good side to the show's episode naming pattern is that the titles tell you a bit about the episodes themselves, especially if you're familiar with the Superman comics. For example, "Bizarro" tells you that Bizarro Clark will show up; "Kara" means that Kara will be part of the episode; "Arctic" hints that someone will travel to the Arctic; "Bride" hints that there will be a wedding; and "Legion," the next new episode, means that the Legion of Superheroes will turn up.
5. The Big Bang Theory - All titles sound like scientific experiments. This series probably offers the most original episode titles out of all TV shows currently on the air. The Big Bang's episode naming pattern is not only funny, but it adds to the geekiness of the series. Some of my favorite titles thus far: "The Middle Earth Paradigm," "The Pancake Batter Anomaly," "The Pork Chop Indeterminacy," "The Panty Piñata Polarization," and "The Lizard-Spock Expansion."
6. The Mentalist - All titles include the word "red." The writers may have painted themselves into a corner with that naming pattern. How many titles that include the word "red" can they come with? What's cool about it is that it reminds us that serial killer Red John is still out there. When they deal with Red John for good, will the episode naming pattern change? Maybe they'll have to track down someone named Joe Greene and all episode titles will include the word "green"?
7. The Middleman - All titles start with "The," most are four-words long, and all have an old school spy title feel. As with The Big Bang Theory titles, The Middleman episode titles add to the coolness and geekiness of the episodes. The titles alone make me want to watch the episodes to know why they were titled that way! A few examples: "The Flying Fish Zombification," "The Boyband Superfan Interrogation," and "The Palindrome Reversal Palindrome."
A series that stopped using its naming pattern but should have continued...
In it's first season, Eli Stone titles were songs from George Michael. Considering that I grew up in the "Wake Me Up Before you Go Go" era, I thought this was a very cool naming pattern. However, even if George Michael produced a good number of songs since he started his career, the number of titles was limited. This is why the series sadly changed its naming pattern this year, offering us a whole lot of nothing. The second season's titles work for the episodes, and some are song titles such as "Should I Stay or Should I Go?," but don't offer the magic of the first season.
Can you think of other episode naming patterns of series currently on the air? What do you think about the usage of such patterns? Let your voice be heard in the comments below!