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October 3, 2015

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!

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Toby OB

We've got a new show to add to the group - each of the episodes in 'Leverage' will be some kind of "Job".

"The Nigerian Job", "The Juror #6 Job", "The First David Job", etc.

Follows in the footsteps of old shows like the two 'U.N.C.L.E.' series, which were always "Affairs", and 'Dundee And The Culhane', whose episodes were always "Briefs".

December 10 2008 at 6:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Other posters already mentioned it, but I wanted to give extra love to OTH (One Tree Hill) titles, because they always make me think of poetry.

December 05 2008 at 11:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Nobody said Extras with the name of the guest star. Or The Knights of Prosperity, the titles went "Operation..."

December 05 2008 at 6:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeff Goebel

Mr. Monk and the ___

December 05 2008 at 5:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I do know there's a Janurary Bones ep called Double Trouble in the Panhandle that has no 'the' but I can't think of any others.

December 05 2008 at 4:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Degrassi: The Generation has always used song titles to name their episodes.

December 05 2008 at 8:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I believe "Two and a Half Men" have a line used along the episode as a title, some of them are a real teaser about what's coming in the show.

"Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Burro"
"Ergo, The Booty Call"
"The Soil is Moist"

December 05 2008 at 3:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

All Bones episodes don't start with "The" though...just check the recaps on Fox's site...

December 05 2008 at 2:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Oh, but all Bones episodes do NOT start with "The" - just check out the episode guide on Fox's website. :P

December 05 2008 at 2:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Brian's comment
Isabelle Carreau

Yeah, I've noticed and it's weird. FOX sometimes doesn't list the "the" while it is on the script. Sometime the "the" doesn't appear on the script (may be due to lack of space in the script header) but the "the" appears on the FOX site. And I recall seeing at least one FOX press release listing a "the" while it didn't appear on the FOX site... it's weird.... Booth should investigate!

December 05 2008 at 8:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

And I just realized I didn't mention what show I was talking about! lol, the above post is about Desperate Housewives.

December 04 2008 at 10:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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