Explain to students that like most stories, the plot of each episode of Holly’s Heroes revolves around problem and conflict. This narrative structure involves a problem –resolution framework with three main parts.
1. Orientation - identification of the situation/problem which starts the character off on a series of events to try and solve the problem.
2. Build up and complications - looking for the solution, the tension rises and the action increases with every attempt to solve the problem. Complications arise along the way causing new setbacks for the character. These new complications can often make the problem worse than before.
3. Resolution - problems are solved and the story ends, for better or worse.
This process helps maintain viewer interest by creating suspense, maintaining attention, and building excitement as the story progresses.
As a class, work through the narrative structure of Episode 1 of Holly’s Heroes and map the key points of the story on the board using the framework in worksheet 3A Mapping the Narrative.
Episode 1: A Whole New Ball Game
Holly is desperate to join the Rams basketball team but she gets on the wrong side of Mr. Peterson the coach.
She fails to get selected.
She decides to field a second team.
She can’t get anyone to join her team.
Mr. Peterson demands her team list or she will have to give up.
Ralph steps forward, then Johnno, Franco and Emily. Holly has her team.
Students work in pairs or small groups and use worksheet 3A Mapping the Narrative to map the key points of the narrative in Episode 2 “Making the Grade”.
In this episode Holly’s team look forward to their first game, but their excitement turns to panic when they learn it’s an official grading match which they must win if they’re to play alongside the Rams! Undeterred, Holly leaves them to train whilst she searches for a sub player, but only Nick, a surly teen with a shady past, has the talent, and he won’t commit. With no uniforms, no subs, no name, and only 24 hours before their match, they’ll need a small miracle to pull this one off!
Students can use worksheet 3B Plotting the Narrative to graph or draw a map of the narrative structure for this episode, plotting the highs and lows from the beginning to the end.
Example: Plotting the narrative for Episode 1 “A Whole New Ball Game”
Exploring continuing or serial narrative structure in a television series
Discuss with students how in film dramas, novels and short stories, the whole story is told and resolved by the end. Compare this to how the story works in a TV series like Holly's Heroes. Discuss how a TV drama series with multiple episodes is a continuing or serial narrative where the big story is ongoing, from episode to episode. This is the overarching storyline which runs across the series and is developed further in each episode. New problems are always emerging to prevent the main problem from being resolved.
Discuss and encourage students to put forward possible reasons why a television series need to be like this. For example, avoiding a final resolution continues to build the tension, which keeps the viewers coming back to see more - since they are wanting to find out what happens next.
In this series, Holly is faced with conflicts and obstacles which she must try to overcome. Some of these problems are large. At the start, her greatest problem is not being selected for the Rams basketball team when basketball is her life.
As a class, discuss and list any other problems Holly faces in Episode 1, both large and small. These problems are often indicators of subplots, which are smaller stories, usually resolved over two or three episodes. Repeat this with Episode 2.
List all the possible subplot stories, for example, around the relationships between characters that could emerge in the first two episodes of Holly's Heroes. These are indicators of future stories which are important story hooks used to develop anticipation which keeps the viewers coming back.
For example, look at the relationships between Holly and the Rams, Holly and Mr. Peterson, Holly’s friendship with Jacinta — and what is Nick’s secret?
Play the clip A Bad Beginning (Also ‘Clip 2’ on the clips DVD)
Discuss how these sequences encourage the audience to expect that relationships will be an important part of the series.
Points to note include:
the use of music
actors' performances (eye contact, smiles, heads inclined towards each other)
how editing is used to move between the two characters in each of these scenes
If possible, have students watch some more episodes of the series to check their predictions.
View Episode 13 “Taking it to the Max”, the last in the first half of the series to see what happens. In this episode these main stories are resolved, tying off a lot of the ongoing stories.
Use the list of possible subplots developed and have students observe how many of them are still active in Episode 13. Are all these conflict/problems resolved at the end? Discuss how are they resolved or not resolved.
Is this episode a disappointing or a satisfying ending? Discuss how students feel about this.
What indications are there in this episode that Holly's Heroes has more episodes to come? Have students identify the hooks forecasting future stories in the next 12 episodes of Holly's Heroes.