It’s amazing how things can turn on a dime in this business. One day, you’re considering casting choices for your upcoming all-but-green-lit project and the next, you’re shifting hopes and focus to that pilot script you finished last week. Sure, it’s disappointing and incredibly frustrating, but what makes it so infinitely galling is how quickly things can go south. And, more often than not, for completely inane reasons. Shit. The network just cancelled a show featuring a protagonist with curly hair. Curly haired protagonist shows are out! Sorry. Wait. What? Why don’t we just change our curly-haired protagonist to a protagonist with straight to moderately wavy hair? Okay, but another network just cancelled a show in which one of the characters wears sandals. Nobody wants to watch sandal-wearing characters anymore! Hang on. Maybe these shows were cancelled for reasons other than hair and sandals – say something a little more egregious like, oh, the fact that they simply weren’t very good?
Maybe. And then again, maybe not. I had a conversation with someone who has worked in the industry for many years. According to her, the common denominator for many of today’s successful shows is their ability to be followed without actually being watched. In other words, consider them radio plays of sorts that can be haphazardly monitored and enjoyed while you’re doing something else like, presumably, chores, surfing the internet, or dissolving that corpse in a mixture of sodium hydroxide and water. I find it hard to argue otherwise because, as I mentioned in a previous entry, I’m a fickle t.v. viewer. I tend to prefer those handful of shows that require your undivided attention, shows like Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, The Shield, Rome, Arrested Development.
The way I see it, I have one of three choices. 1. I can keep fighting the good fight – which, quite frankly, doesn’t really hold the allure it once did. 2. I can give up and consider another profession. MMA fighter maybe? 3. Or, I can accept the reality and shift focus to creating something a little more in line with what seems to be working out there. Yes, perhaps it’s time to revisit Detective Vampire M.D., Attorney At Law. And I’m going to need YOUR help to do it!
For the next couple of days, this blog’s comments section will be transformed into our own private writer’s room. Together, we will create the perfect series, an amalgamation of every trendy element on television today, a programmer’s sublime Frankenstein monster. So far, we know that our protagonist is a doctor who uses his medical knowledge to solve crimes and then prosecutes the guilty parties. But, here’s the twist: he’s also a vampire! BUT he doesn’t know it so he leads a double-life. During the day, he’s just your typical doctor/detective/lawyer but, at night, he prowls the city’s rooftops, feeding on the criminals who escape the justice meted out by his alter-ego. And he’s aided by his sidekick, a lovable wizard zombie. Oh, and the show is a semi-musical.
That’s all I got so far so I’ll need you to fill in the rest. Who are our supporting characters? The sassy best friend? The kooky coroner? The sassy kid? The cranky father/neighbor/police commissioner? The sassy mother/neighbor/computer genius? The telepathic dog? Please consider making him sassy. What happens in the pilot? Remember rule #1 of pilot script writing = It is imperative that the audience not be confused at any point or be left with any questions. This would be quite alarming for them, so make sure the script leaves no narrative stone unturned in letting us know absolutely everything about our characters, what the show is about, and where it’s going to go. Explain absolutely everything. Which brings us to rule #2 of pilot script writing = Avoid heavy exposition. Finally, what’s the plan for the first season? And who do you see playing the part of our anti-hero? His chiropractor? The mouthy elevator boy?
Just post your thoughts right here. Don’t be shy. Whether you’re an accountant, a sherpa, or an elephant sperm collector – it doesn’t matter. You too can be a writer because all that’s really required is a willingness to sit around all day, making shit up. And a willingness to have your script fixed by accountants, sherpas, and elephant sperm collectors.
And no self-censoring! Remember, there are no bad ideas.