A Procedural is a cross-genre type of literature, film, or television program involving a sequence of technical detail. A documentary film may be written in a procedural style to heighten narrative interest.
In television, "procedural" specifically refers to a genre of programs in which a problem is introduced, investigated and solved all within the same episode. These shows tend to be hour-long dramas, and are often (though not always) police or crime related.
The general formula for a police procedural involves the commission or discovery of a crime at the beginning of the episode, the ensuing investigation, and the arrest or conviction of a perpetrator at the end of the episode.
- Procedural dramas are generally very popular in broadcast syndication because the lack of long-term storylines makes it easier for viewers to tune in for just one episode without feeling lost.
- Procedurals are sometimes criticized for their lack of character development, with little attention being paid to the lives of the recurring characters outside of their jobs.
- Non-fiction science procedurals such as the PBS Secrets of the Dead series or Court TV's Forensic Files take a viewer step-by-step through an investigation, much like a fictional procedural.
- Police procedural: the best known variety, a large subgenre of mystery fiction. Lawrence Treat's 1945 novel V as in Victim is cited as perhaps the first "true" police procedural.
- Military procedural: a term used by Publishers Weekly in 1989 referring to Ralph Peters' novel Red Army
- War procedural: an example is the film The Dam Busters, 1955, which was called a war procedural by Richard Gilliam in Allmovie.
- Tom Clancy's novels are sometimes called war procedurals or political procedurals.
- Science procedural: Science fiction novels or stories may have sequences of scientific procedure. An example would be Timescape, written by the scientist and author Gregory Benford.
- A relatively recent subgenre is the Presidential procedural; a novel which focuses on the office of the US Presidency, and the activities of its occupant. Examples would be Executive Orders by Tom Clancy, The President's Plane Is Missing by Robert Serling, and Maximum Vigilance by Steve Pieczenik.
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