Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pilot season

Yesterday, I was looking for some inspiration to tighten up my own scripts, and did a little perusal around the Daily Script archive. I ended up reading the pilot scripts for The West Wing and How I Met Your Mother in their entirety, and aside from being quite amused by the little changes made between draft and shooting scripts, something else occurred to me: These were damn good reads.

I know that's obvious. We're talking about an acclaimed Aaron Sorkin joint on one hand, and a Bays/Thomas piece that's become one of the more popular sitcoms of the last half-decade. But it's amazing how well these flow, even with sometimes inscrutable teleplay format, and especially in the case of the HIMYM script, how much I found myself laughing without the aid of witty, attractive actors reading the lines.

It also made me think about how I'm still not entirely pleased with the tone of the "Being" pilot script. It ends on a pretty serious note, which wouldn't bother me so much if I thought it was otherwise up to snuff. I conceived it being a drama with dry comedic highlights, such as Californication or Entourage. But it's definitely not network-friendly right now, if I were to pitch it that direction. I don't have act breaks, it doesn't sit well into either the drama or comedy categories, and while it is rife with conflicts, it doesn't have a central obstacle for the protagonist to overcome.

Then again, it's a pilot. It's setting up the conflict for the series. It's introducing the key players. It's welcoming viewers to this world, hoping to interest them enough to come back week after week.

I recently created a "bible" for a new comic book series I'm developing. That's something I've never done before -- put so much planning into a project before launching it. And creating the bible, delving into all of the main characters' back stories and synthesizing the series concept into just a few sentences, it all really helped not only hone the idea, but also provide a map of where to go from there. Maybe I need to do the same thing with this TV proposal.

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