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Television

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.

Pitching Star Trek

Roddenberry’s 1964 outline is the same kind of write-up TV writers use today.

Premise pilots

If you’re writing the pilot episode of a TV series, you have a choice to make: will this episode be more-or-less typical for the series, or will it be The Beginning?

Angles, spacing and monikers

Three quick answers on writing camera angles, formatting TV scripts and choosing a pen name.

Please take your finger out of your ear

Really, wireless radio devices don’t need to be touched to work.

What’s wrong with the business

Writers are making less money, and it’s part of a bigger shift in the industry.

Cablevision and the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal on the Cablevision case, allowing the Second Circuit Court’s decision to stand. Cablevision can begin introducing its service.

When is it brown-nosing?

Any sort of application, whether it’s for a grant, for college or for a job, needs to do exactly three things.

What does a showrunner’s assistant do?

Jonny Sommers has a job many readers want — or at least, think they want: the assistant to a successful and busy TV showrunner.

Terminated

Josh Friedman recounts the cancellation of his excellent show Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Why aren’t adaptations ok for competitions?

With an adapted screenplay, it’s not altogether obvious what awesomeness came from the screenwriter, and what came from the underlying material.

Pilot School

A site featuring tons of TV pilot scripts.

The biggest TiVo in the world

The thin line between unlimited DVR and video-on-demand.