Some more Friday questions to chew on:
From Kirk Jusko:
I assume that writers, at least when they're starting out, go wherever the work is, and sometimes end up writing for shows that, through no fault of their own, go down in history as silly, cheesy, hokey, etc. I wonder how that hurts a writer's reputation. For instance, would someone who had written for GILLIGAN'S ISLAND or THE BRADY BUNCH have had a difficult time getting work on MASH or ALL IN THE FAMILY?
You’re right. When you’re starting out you take any job. No one faults you for that. Shakespeare would be writing THE SUITE LIFE OF ZACK & CODY if he broke in today. But to make the jump from a cheesy show to a quality show usually requires a spec script even though you’re already working on staff.
Peter Casey & David Lee produced THE JEFFERSONS for several seasons. But they still had to write a CHEERS spec to be considered for an assignment. Their script was terrific and the rest is history. Among early the early credits of SOPRANOS writers are THE NEW FLIPPER, 2 STUPID DOGS, SISTER SISTER, and THE SECRET SQUIRREL SHOW.
Simon H. wonders:
Do you ever watch old episodes of shows you wrote, and then have that moment where you go "I could have done that better if I changed that or did so and so"?
Only ALL the time. With the exception of maybe ten episodes, I’d like all of them back. That’s why it’s sometimes hard to watch old shows of mine.
Every so often I’ll be channel surfing and one of my episodes will be on. If it’s one I haven’t seen in awhile I’ll stay with it. A few times I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I watched VOLUNTEERS recently for the first time in probably ten years and actually liked it better now than when it first came out. Fortunately, I never have to worry about coming across AfterMASH reruns.
And finally, Terry asks:
If you have a spec script that you like, but you wrote it before a story arch happened, should you go back and fix it to include the new dynamics of the series?
If you can, sure. The more up-to-date your script is, the better. But if you can’t, and the show hasn’t gone off in such a different direction that your spec is obsolete then stick with it. Ultimately, it’s the writing that will sell. How well have you captured the characters? How funny is the script? How clever is the storytelling?
That said, I think you’re asking for trouble writing a spec for a serialized show. You have no idea what LOST will be up to by the time your script is finished. Or 24 or MAD MEN. If you’re writing a drama, pick a self-contained show, or at least semi-self-contained like HOUSE or BOSTON LEGAL. And as always, good luck. Someone has to break through. Might as well be you.
What’s your question?