Many TV shows employ some level of self-contained storytelling in each episode. Hence the familiar case of the week, patient of the week, monster of the week, and mystery of the week formulas. While this form of storytelling is tried and true, see any Dick Wolf production, that doesn’t mean it can’t be spiced up every now and then.
After all, not every protagonist can be a police officer, superhero, detective, or doctor. Sometimes the episodic nature is driven by the characters’ profession other times by plot, either way here’s four TV shows that put a spin on the ‘case of the week’ style of storytelling.
Each episode of Party Down revolved around a new catering gig. From Birthday parties and porn star awards to weddings and corporate events, each setting lent itself to new conflicts and new laughs.
The grim reapers on Dead Like Me didn’t solve murders or even save people. Rather they took their souls and escorted them to the afterlife. It might not be a traditional job, but someone’s got to do it.
I’ll admit this one is a bit of a stretch in later seasons, but early on Gilmore Girls really adhered to their weekly Friday night dinner agreement. While plenty of other story lines existed outside of the regular drama of dinner with the Gilmore’s, the weekly commitment and the often-fraught relationship still had a way of seeping into other plots.
Like Gilmore Girls, Friday Night Lights isn’t as case-of-the-weeky as your standard procedural but the weekly football games still helped structure overarching story lines for both individual episodes and the season as a whole.