People tell writers to show rather than tell in scenes, but one of the fascinating things about the Gilmore Girls television series, is how well they pull off the exact opposite. Characters recap events not filmed during conversation. Either the scenes would have been too drawn out to film or too difficult. Here are some of my favorite examples:
A hungover Lorelei sits in the inn’s kitchen after Lane’s wedding the episode before. Her best friend Suki recaps some of the more interesting moments that would have been too drawn out to film. Suki tells Lorelei about using an old man’s cane for a limbo contest, awkward gyrating, posing, and strutting as Lorelei used the wedding photographer to film her audition for Top Model, and ends with the exuberant departing cheer Lorelei used the night before.
A bandaged Kirk runs into Lorelei in the market after becoming a first time cat owner. Throughout the episode, Kirk is bandaged up in more and more bandaids, each time relaying what the cat has done now. Cat Kirk needs Human Kirk to announce when he wants to enter from an adjacent room, does not like his bowl placed directly in front of him, and gains power from water, scratching Human Kirk over 60% of his body when Human Kirk tries to flee by stripping naked and hiding under water in the bathtub. All of this is relayed through dialogue rather than filmed.
Another show filmed entirely using dialogue to recap action is The Booth at the End, available on Hulu. A man, possibly the devil, sits in a cafe booth with a notebook. He listens to people. They come to him with a problem, he checks his book and tells them how to get what they want. He does not force them to do anything; it is entirely their choice. While he will not give them a new task for the same outcome, he does allow them to change what they want to gain our of the exchange and gives them a new task for the new return. He even admits that while the task he gives is a guaranteed way to get what they want, it is not the only way, but it is the only way he is giving.
The entire show is filmed in this manner. While the unnamed man with the notebook sits in the booth every scene, the people with the problems rotate out. They update him on their progress and he writes down the details in his notebook. Sometimes the stories overlap. A detective looking for his son is told he must help a dirty cop with a cover up while his son goes in wanting his father to leave him alone and gets his own task.
I don’t think it would work well in a novel, but I’m not sure. Has anyone seen this technique used in literature?