All the investigation into TV series prompted me to throw myself into the library and Scriptmag, Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting (by Syd Field) and Writing Long-running Television Series: v. 1 (by Julian Friedmann) to identify the real differences between TV series and sitcoms.
The boundaries are definitely greying, but the overall differences are that sitcoms are comedies, with the length of each episode restricted to 30 minutes. Although even this is being challenged now.
There is some inherent humour evident in the situations that occur in the day to day interaction with my lead characters, the Jones family, the French community and the guests themselves, but it is not slapstick.
So after a workshop session to brainstorm this issue, the feedback firmly placed Mile High into the category of communal drama. After all, the overriding aim of the lead female protagonist Serena is to try her best to maintain order in the home and business lives. The chaos is generally created by the actions of the chalet guests, but also sometimes by the other family members and friends – shades of Fawlty Towers and Allo Allo!
So the premise for the series originally started as…..
A visually rich light-hearted drama which follows the life of a typical English family with a love of outdoor life, who they leave their problems behind to make a fresh start in the French Alps.
Now I had identified the tone of the series as a communal drama with some light and dark elements brought about through crisis points created by the French authorities, guests and day to day living in a foreign country, I needed to get down and write the pilot.