Wednesday, February 26, 2014

If I wrote for THE AMERICANS

THE AMERICANS return tonight at 10 pm on FX for their second season. Yay!  Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell play Russian spies in the ‘80s who are posing as a typical American married couple in the ‘burbs outside of Washington DC. Some of the storylines are very far fetched, but the show is so much fun that the absurdities are easy to forgive. So to whet the appetite of fellow fans or introduce possible new fans, here’s a scene from THE AMERICANS if I wrote the show.  (I fully expect the producers to hire me on the spot to write an episode once they've read this sample.)


Elizabeth is in the kitchen making Chicken Kiev and playing with a Rubik’s Cube. Phillip enters.

PHIL: We just got our latest assignment from Moscow.

ELIZ: I hope it’s something elaborate and dangerous and we can be done by 3:00 to pick the kids up from school.

PHIL: There are very few details. It just says, “Moose and squirrel must die.”

ELIZ: Moose and squirrel? That could only mean Rocket J. Squirrel, head of the CIA, and Bullwinkle J. Moose, mascot for the Seattle Mariners.

PHIL: The KGB has always suspected that that is just a cover and Squirrel is just posing as the CIA Director when in fact he’s the mascot for the Houston Astros.

ELIZ: Might they be on to the fact that the Cincinnati Reds are all KGB agents? I thought we hid the fact that the Reds were a Communist front very well. 

PHIL: Former spy/player, Pete Rosbouchinska was caught wagering on the St. Petersburg-Yekaterinburg Rhythmic Gymnastics tournament.

ELIZ: How will we get to them?

PHIL: As luck would have it, they’re both in town for the Tolstoy Comedy Festival.

There’s a knock at the door. They both freeze. Phillip pulls a gun from his holster, Elizabeth pulls a gun from the cavity of the chicken. There’s another knock.

ELIZ: Maybe one of us should answer the door.

PHIL: Yes. That is exactly would Americans do.

ELIZ: I forget – do we get in disguise for this?

PHIL: What disguise were you thinking of?

ELIZ: My innocent young college girl look. The character I call Felicity.

PHIL: I think you can go as you are.

ELIZ: Fine. (hands him the gun) Put this back and inject the melted butter.

Elizabeth crosses to the door and answers it. It’s Stan.

STAN: Hi. I’m your new neighbor, Stan. We just moved in across the street.

ELIZ: Nice to meet you. Won’t you come in and have some shchi?

STAN: Thanks.

ELIZ: So what do you do, Stan?

STAN: I’m an FBI agent assigned to root out Russian spies who pose as Americans.

ELIZ: Did I say shchi? I meant Beans and Bacon.

STAN: Anything is fine.

ELIZ: Are there a lot of you in that department?

STAN: No. Just two. Me and Moose Malone.

ELIZ: I didn’t catch your last name.

STAN: Squirrel.

Phil comes out of the kitchen.

PHIL: I took the pirozhki out of the oven.

ELIZ: Phillip, this is Stan Squirrel. He’s an FBI agent working with Moose Malone.

PHIL: Oh. Nice to meet you. Listen, we gotta run. We got to get over to the Tolstoy Comedy Festival.

ELIZ: Right. There are some people we need to see.

STAN: Sure. Listen, before I go, can I ask you a couple of questions about your neighbors?

ELIZ: Sure. Why?

STAN: Well, to be honest. They’re acting very strange. They try so hard to assimilate. I don’t think there’s an ‘80s fad or toy they don’t have. There’s not an ‘80s fashion at least one of them doesn’t wear. Their son is always taking home movies, the grandfather is forever exhibiting bizarre behavior, and the mother is overbearing and never shuts up. What do you think?

PHIL: Oh, you mean The Goldbergs. They just moved in in September. Definitely. They’re Russian spies. Keep an eye out for them.

STAN: Thanks. (handing them his card). If you ever see anything suspicious, just give one of us a call – Moose & Squirrel.

ELIZ: Will do. But we really have to run. There are two people we need to meet.

STAN: No problem. So long.

ELIZ: Do svidaniya.



Hamid said...

Priceless! I like the little jokes about the kind of coincidences the show relies upon. I guess it's a bit much that they happen to move into the same street as an FBI agent whose job is finding Russian spies, but as you say, it's such a fun show. Season 1 delivered a lot more entertainment than Season 3 of Homeland did. And Keri Russell is a babe!

Wendy M. Grossman said...

The big problem I have with THE AMERICANS is the kids. They must be the least curious, most oblivious teen/pre-teen ever known to man. In their not-so-short lives they have apparently *never* poked into boxes in the garage, called their parents at the wrong moment and then gotten hysterical when they couldn't get through, or gotten sick just when their parents were leaving the house. They've never found weird wigs and make-up in their parents' bedroom or realized their parents had a loveless marriage for many years. I know teens seem self-absorbed, but they're not *that* disconnected from the emotions and power struggles they live with.

Plus, as Agatha Christie often wrote, it seems impossible to me that in all their forays around DC posing as other people they're never recognized as *themselves* (I mean, the American couple they're posing as) or as any of their other identities. Granted, this is a problem for any show that has people going around in disguises - they want the disguise to be credible but not so good that the audience can't recognize the character. But sheesh! We had Martin Landau and his rubber faces 50 years ago and we managed!


Scooter Schechtman said...

Needs more "Breakfast Club" references to pull in the 40-something chick demographic. Plus get Bon Jovi to play Babyface Braunschweiger.
(I got over my 80s nostalgia on Jan. 2 1980)

Anonymous said...

Haha Ken,

Good stuff- I LOVE THIS SHOW. So glad it's back. I recommend it everyone. Read some early reviews and all are good. I'm counting the minutes until it's on. --LL

blinky said...

The Farrelly Bros will steal your script for their next hillarious movie: Rocky & Bullwinkle Vs The Three Stooges.

Tom Mc said...

Sorry - You lost me at "pulled a gun out of the cavity of the chicken." Chicken Kiev is made with boneless chicken breasts. Your research department really should have caught that.

Hamid said...

Tom Mc

Chicken kievs have a cavity.

Cap'n Bob said...

Back it the fifties it was rumored that just such couples were scattered around America, spying and waiting to sabotage our infrastructure.

Anonymous said...

Chicken kids have a cavity.

Though probably not as big as the one between your ears.

Igor said...

The Americans is a lot more believable than Homeland ever was.

The Americans is exaggerated reality; Homeland is a hallucination.

I'd half expect Homeland to end with Carrie waking up one morning in bed next to a facsimile for Suzanne Pleshette.

Anonymous said...


The show is not that farfetched, it was created by an ex CIA employee. Now in the post Steven Segal era that past is rather - suspect.

In this case I give it credibility since Joe Weisberg came up with the idea for the show during his polygraph.

Only those that have been there know...

Mike said...

"Don't forget, children. Even though you're just a cover story, Mommy & Daddy love you very much."

jbryant said...

Yeah, that would be one very large Chicken Kiev or one very small gun. Still a funny joke though.

The show's great, and the first episode of season 2 hit the ground running.

Hamid said...

Chicken kids have a cavity.

Though probably not as big as the one between your ears.

Was that directed at me? Are you still peeved at me for asking you to post under your real name and dazzle us with your long list of credits and awards?

Chicken kids have a cavity.

Though probably not as big as the one between your ears.

Like I said. A stranger to irony.

The door's that way.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Ken: the message just above this one (the one advertising a free blog site) is spam. You should consider removing it.


chuckcd said...

We had some clients come in to the office named Boris and Natasha.
I asked if the moose and squirrel were also coming.
They had no idea what I was talking about.

Tom MC said...

Y'all knew I was just joshin' about my complaint about the Kiev/cavity/gun thing, right? Oy.