Spending a year on Ringer

Jay Faeber writes in with an update on his earlier First Person post, this time detailing his first year on the writing staff of Ringer.

Understanding house styles

Ongoing TV shows often develop their own esoteric writing styles, which you notice in scene description.

Why you can’t get HBO Go by itself

Pricing issues are the main reason HBO doesn’t offer HBO Go as a stand-alone service.

Getting more women writing TV

Jane Espenson wants more women TV writers, but not for “a female point of view.”

What does a reality producer do?

Matthew Watts, a producer on both The First 48 and Swamp People, discusses three kinds of producers in reality television.

The downside of TV’s golden age

Ryan McGee argues that the success of HBO’s drama series has come at the cost of individual episodes.

In defense of Liz Lemon

Linda Holmes worries that 30 Rock has infantilized Liz Lemon. I disagree.

What it’s like when your show gets cancelled

Lauren Bagby offers an office PA’s perspective how it feels when your show gets cancelled.

Pitching a show

I’d missed this piece from November by Jesse Lasky in which he describes his first experience pitching a TV show.

Downton Abbey, season two

The second season of Downton Abbey debuts Sunday in the U.S. As I’ve discussed on the podcast, I couldn’t wait and bought it off the UK iTunes Store. I’ve already watched the whole second season and the Christmas episode.

So, for American audiences, here’s a non-spoilery preview of what I found notable about this season.

More on Archer’s odd pre-laps

Comparing Archer’s actual script to my transcript-y approximation shows a little bit more about how Adam Reed’s show works.

Workspace: Christine Boylan

Screenwriter and TV scribe Christine Boylan talks through her work habits and tools.

Who killed the mystery?

Procedural-plus shows are simply more difficult to pull off, both at the whiteboard stage and in the finished episode. Once you’ve established the stakes of the A-plot — a killer is on the loose! — any scene that doesn’t address that feels like filler. So writers need to find ways to weave character moments into plot scenes, which can be difficult.

How kids become screenwriters

John and Craig discuss the new fall shows and how little kids become screenwriters, with discussion of D&D, Malcolm Gladwell and daisy-wheel printers.

How The Sopranos killed The Godfather

Peter Aspden remembers when TV wasn’t art, and certainly wasn’t something to talk about seriously. He argues that cable dramas — in particular, those on HBO — changed everything.

Rob Corddry on getting stuff written

Merlin Mann’s Back to Work podcast has a great discussion with Rob Corddry this week, talking about Children’s Hospital.

TV reboots have a bad track record

Kevin Fallon points out that most reboots of classic series don’t stick around long. But that’s because most TV shows fail. That’s TV.

Pronunciation jokes

Pronunciation jokes have a tendency to feel cheap and hoary. But when they work, they work — and it’s easy enough to show them on the page.

Javier Grillo-Marxuach on craft

The Tiny Protagonist has a good interview with Javier Grillo-Marxuach (a writer/producer on LOST and many other shows), talking about how he got started and the craft of television.

Fucking pilots

I’m reading more network pilot scripts this year than in years past, so I can’t say whether this is a new trend or just something I was unaware of: What’s with all the swearing?

The 4-hour Staffing Season

Today’s First Person comes from Daniel Thomsen, a television writer who’s worked on staff at Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles and Melrose Place.

One sample, cont’d

Several readers questioned my advice to write a TV spec, even if feature screenwriting is your primary goal.

When you only have one sample

A writing team is getting good response to their first script — but it’s their only script.

Transitioning from comics to TV

Jay Faerber is trying to transition from writing comics to writing TV, and is doing so with the help of the Warner Bros TV Writers Workshop.

Married showrunners

Mary McNamara has an article in the LA Times about married TV showrunners.