Exercise 1

A. Listen to four people talk about key elements of the movie genres. Complete the chart with the genre each speaker is talking about.

animated movies     musicals     romantic comedies     sci-fi movies

B. Listen again. What three elements does each person consider essential for each movie genre? Complete the chart. Are their opinions similar to yours?


Movie genre

Key elements

1   Heather



2   Josh



3   Felipe



4   Dana





1   romantic comedy

2   animated movie

3   sci-fi movie

4   musical


1   good storyline, combination of humor and realism, appeals to both men and women

2   appeals to all ages (with sophisticated humor and well-thought-out stories), makes people forget they’re not watching real people or objects (through quality computer graphics, dynamic plot, attractive setting, interesting characters), talented people for the characters’ voices (so that they are credible)

3   outstanding special effects, realness of the characters, talented director

4   talented actors (good singing, dancing, and acting) pleasurable and memorable soundtrack, some sort of conflict


1   Heather

In my opinion, a good storyline is essential. Movies in this genre often have simple plots that are, quite frankly, predictable. When I see this kind of movie, I want interesting, and even surprising, things to happen.

Of course, humor is also a key element, but I think it’s important that the humorous situations and the relationships between the characters are realistic – they have to be believable and funny. Too many times, when a love story is combined with humor, the movie becomes far-fetched. The situations may be funny, but they don’t reflect things that really happen in life – well, not in my life at least.

I also think that the best movies in this genre appeal to both men and women. Ideally, these movies should be perfect for a good “date night,” but more often than not, they only appeal to women . . .

2   Josh

For me, the first thing is that a movie in this genre needs to appeal to all ages – not just kids. And I think that sophisticated humor and well-thought-out stories can help make these movies engaging for children and adults.

Second, a good film makes me forget that I’m not watching real people or seeing real objects. I know they can do a lot of that through quality computer graphics, but I think a dynamic plot, an attractive setting, and interesting characters are just as important . . .

But the most important thing to me is the talent. They have to get talented people for the voices of the characters. The voices need to give the characters personality so that they are, you know, credible and don’t come across as one-dimensional or phony. I mean, isn’t that the reason why so many famous actors get cast as voices for these types of movies?

3   Felipe

I think that having outstanding special effects is an important part of this genre. It’s one of the main reasons people go see these movies. Although we know that the events can’t happen in real life, we want to feel like they could!

Uh, and the realness . . . the realness of the characters is important. I think it works best when the characters react to impossible situations in realistic ways. It makes us care about what happens to them.

And, uh, I also think that behind all good movies in this genre lies a talented director. A good director gets the most out of the actors and ensures the special effects are convincing to make a truly engrossing film.

4   Dana

Obviously, the singing and dancing need to be good in this genre. So a cast of talented actors is extremely important in my opinion – they need to be able to sing, dance, and act. Not every actor can do all that.

Another key feature for me is the soundtrack. The songs need to drive the plot, but they also need to be pleasurable and memorable. What I’m trying to say is that we should enjoy the music for the music itself. I mean, we should want to listen to it again . . . even when we’re not watching the movie.

And finally, I also think this type of movie needs some sort of conflict to make it interesting. The characters need to face a problem, have an argument, or something like that. It can’t just be all song and dance and happy times.

Exercise 2

A. Listen to some TV network employees discuss ideas for new shows with their boss, Rick. Write the type and the basic idea of each show in the chart.


Café People

Serve Yourself!

New Borders

Type of show




Basic idea












B. Listen again. Were the show ideas accepted? Write Yes or No and Rick’s reasons for the decisions in the chart.



Café People: sitcom; A group meets at a cafe to discuss their job aspirations and experiences.

Serve Yourself!: (reality) cooking show; Young people make simple, inexpensive recipes in a college dorm kitchen.

New Borders: reality TV show; People learn languages and then live in foreign countries as part of a competition.


Café People: No; Viewers are interested in something less predictable and formulaic.

Serve Yourself!: Yes; The online aspect is what viewers want, and the how-to approach should be a big hit.

New Borders: Yes; It’s what the network is looking for, and most of their viewers are interested in traveling and learning about other cultures.


Alice:   Good morning.

Pete:   Hi, Alice.

Ellen:   Hi, guys.

Rick:   Good morning, everyone. OK, I hope you’ve had time to think of some fantastic ideas for new shows. The network is counting on us to come up with some winners. So, let’s start with your basic ideas and brainstorm from there. Pete, why don’t you go first?

Pete:   OK. Well, I was thinking about a new sitcom called Café People. Sitcoms about quirky groups of friends seem to work, so I’m thinking maybe a show about a group of college graduates. They all have aspirations to pursue “big careers,” but in the meantime, they have jobs that they aren’t crazy about.

Rick:   Like what?

Pete:   Um, well, for example, one could be a guy who’s stuck working in a pet shop. His real dream is to be a music producer, but things never seem to go his way. There should be two or three other main characters like him, each with a different aspiration and working in a different place.

Rick:   OK, I see . . . But, Pete, how will these people interact if they’re working in different places?

Pete:   Oh, that’s where the café comes in – it’s where they meet to discuss their offbeat experiences at their different jobs.

Rick:   A café, huh. Well, this basic sitcom pattern has been very successful before, but it’s not quite what the network is looking for right now. Most of our current viewers seem to be interested in something less . . . predictable. I appreciate your ideas, Pete, but I’m afraid we’ll have to go for something less formulaic. Let’s hear another idea.

Alice:   I’ll go next. My idea is for a new type of cooking show called Serve Yourself! It’d be aimed at people in their late teens and early twenties, like college students, who have to cook for themselves but don’t have the time, the money, or the desire to do so. The recipes would be simple and inexpensive, but they’d also be healthy and taste great.

Rick:   Uh-huh . . . But I feel like it needs something, Alice. Any ideas, guys?

Pete:   Hmm . . . Maybe the cooking could take place on a set that looks like a dormitory room, you know, in a little kitchenette or something.

Rick:   Excellent idea, Pete!

Alice:   Oh, and I just had a thought! We make the show available online. You know, podcasts people could download so they can follow along in their kitchens.

Rick:   Now you’re cooking, Alice! OK. This one is a go. The online aspect is just what our viewers want, and the how to approach should be a big hit. OK, Ellen, you’re on.

Ellen:   OK, here’s my idea . . . a reality TV show that focuses on language learning.

Rick:   Mmm . . . language learning? . . . It sounds a little academic for a TV show.

Ellen:   No, wait, listen . . . I’m calling it New Borders. Here’s the basic idea: Several people are given a month to learn a foreign language. Then we fly them to a country where the language is spoken and capture their adventures.

Pete:   So . . . if they studied French, you’d drop them off in France?

Ellen:   Yeah, or maybe even somewhere more exotic, like Madagascar.

Rick:   Now, that sounds intriguing. But it might be better if we could include some kind of competition. How could we work that in?

Alice:   Maybe contestants could be judged on how successfully they accomplish certain things. You know, whether they’re able to order a meal, get to a certain destination in the country, that kind of thing.

Rick:   That sounds more like what the network is looking for. And most of our viewers are interested in traveling and learning about other cultures, so that should be a win.

Wow! Great job, team! Two potential concepts in one morning. Ha, that’s an accomplishment. How about we break for lunch and brainstorm some more ideas this afternoon?

Exercise 3

Listen to a conversation between two students. Then check (✓) true or false.




1   Robert doesn’t watch TV because he doesn’t have time.

2   Lily watches a sketch comedy show called Chicago Dreams.

3   Lily thinks documentaries are boring.

4   Robert recommends a documentary about the city of Chicago.


1 True   2 False   3 True   4 False


Lily:   Hey Robert, did you watch the last show of Chicago Dreams last night? I can’t believe who the killer turned out to be!

Robert:   Nah, I never watch TV, Lily. I have so much homework that I don’t have time!

Lily:   Oh, you missed it! Wow, what a great show. It’s a drama series. So it turned out that Carmen, who acted totally innocent the entire time, …

Robert:   Uh, Lily, I’ve never seen the show.

Lily:   Never?

Robert:   Never. But I did go see a great documentary a few weeks ago for my sociology class. Maybe you saw it too. It was about these farming communities in Africa, and they …

Lily:   Yeah, yeah, I’m sure it was good. I didn’t see it, though.

Robert:   Well, it’s playing at Sunshine Cinemas, if you’re interested, Lily.

Lily:   I don’t really like documentaries. I think they’re boring.

Robert:   How can you say that? Documentaries can be about anything.

Lily:   But there’s no story.

Robert:   But what about, say, a documentary on crime, something like Chicago Dreams, but real?

Lily:   Oh, now that would be interesting!

Robert:   See? There are plenty of fascinating documentaries about crime. To start, I’d recommend The Thin Blue Line.

Lily:   Hmm, OK Robert. I’ll rent it and see.

Robert:   Let me know how you like it!

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