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How Tracker Can Avoid Common Procedural Pitfalls

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Everybody loves a good procedural, right?


The drama, the cases, the suspense — there’s something for everyone, and every week brings something new.


That doesn’t mean the genre doesn’t have a host of problems that newcomers to the scene should be aware of.

Tracker Procedural Pitfalls Banner


If new shows like Tracker want to succeed in competition with procedurals that have been on the air for years, they’ll need to set themselves apart.


But how can Tracker’s writers avoid some of the common complaints that get lobbed at procedural TV shows?

Looking For Clues - Tracker Season 1 Episode 1


Invest in Character Development


One of the biggest issues fans have with procedural dramas is the lack of character development. Every episode brings something new to the show, leaving little time for the show’s stars to shine.


Tracker has introduced several dynamic characters already, each of whom shows great potential. If the writers allow enough time for it, there’s a ton of opportunity for these folks to add depth to the show.


Velma and Teddi, a lovely lesbian couple who love dogs and do background research for Colter, are already fan favorites.


Exploring their history and even allotting time for “slice of life” scenes at their home could be a great way to develop their characters and make sure they don’t exist solely to benefit the show’s male main character.

Teddi Bruin - Tracker


So far, Tracker has done a decent job of compelling viewers with Colter’s back story. Every episode gives us just enough of his personal life and upbringing to keep us engaged.


We’d love to see more details about who Bobby is, too. As Colter’s “guy in the chair,” there’s a chance he could be overlooked.


A lack of character development is a common casualty of the “guy in the chair” trope.


Some examples come to mind from other procedurals: Penelope Garcia from Criminal Minds and Chloe O’Brian from 24 both served the trope well.

Gathering Information - Tracker Season 1 Episode 2


Stay Out of the Courtroom


This point actually extends to several settings that procedurals often venture into without having a clear understanding of how they work.


Courtrooms, hospitals, and government agencies tend to be common settings in procedural dramas, but for some reason, the writers don’t always do the research.


This results in scenes that don’t make sense and aren’t realistic because the show portrays them inaccurately.


Mistakes in real-world settings can cause shows like this to lose credibility, so if Tracker’s writers aren’t prepared to put in the hard work and research, they will do better to avoid those settings.

Concerned Reenie - Tracker Season 1 Episode 4


Treat Women as Characters, Not Props


First of all, it seems important to note that the show (so far) has done a fairly good job of introducing a diverse cast. Characters of color, women, and LGBTQ+ people are represented.


But they definitely need to remember that women are entire humans and don’t exist only to prop up male characters.


Teddi and Velma are Colter’s handlers, so by nature, their characters revolve around him. Reenie shows up when it’s convenient for Colter.


When women are involved in the reward cases Colter takes on, he often acts as a protector, treating them somewhat condescendingly.

Kira Looks For Help - Tracker Season 1 Episode 3


Other procedurals have this problem, too. Frequently, women are treated as either extensions of their male counterparts or are created to give context to male characters.


It’s a frustrating theme for women who enjoy watching these types of shows.


There’s nothing worse than getting attached to a character who either never gets to grow because they exist in a man’s shadow or they’re killed off to motivate a male character.


Characters like Teddi, Velma, Reenie, and Mary Dove Shaw have a lot of potential as complex and interesting women.


Hopefully, Tracker’s writers will take advantage of that and develop them appropriately.

The Search Is On - Tracker Season 1 Episode 3


Switch Up the Formula


Procedurals run the risk of getting boring and too predictable if they’re too formulaic.


How many episodes of Law & Order do you have to watch before you can predict what’s going to happen?


Tracker has already started to veer into that territory, but it’s not too late to avoid making it a long-term problem.


Colter has been built up so far to be someone who can’t fail, so writers could switch things up and have him run into a case he can’t solve to keep viewers on their toes.

Grabbing A Bite - Tracker Season 1 Episode 3


Breaking into the procedural drama in 2024 is a risky move, given the dozens of genre favorites that are still running.


NCIS, Law & Order, 9-1-1, The Rookie, Criminal Minds — should we keep going?


Fans have been devoted to these shows for years — decades, in some cases — and Tracker has its work cut out for it if it wants to keep up.


Avoiding some of these major pitfalls could help Tracker stand out from the crowd. Viewers don’t expect perfection, but we do expect to be entertained.

Walking & Talking - Tracker Season 1 Episode 3


Justin Hartley is no stranger to being part of smash-hit TV shows, and he certainly has devoted fans from his days on This Is Us who are — pardon the pun — tracking his career.


But whether Hartley can handle an action show in the long term remains to be seen, and as any procedural fan can tell you, the star is critical to the show’s success.


So far, we’re digging the mysterious and action-packed new drama, and we’re very hopeful that the showrunners will avoid some of these traps that can ruin a good show.

Haley Whitmire White is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. You can follow her on X.





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