So the shit definitely started to hit the fan last week. We're approaching fall premieres and rather than actually looking forward to the things, word is coming out about how fucked most of these shows are. Even the critic's darling, "Pushing Daisies," isn't escaping the wrath. Expect several big articles about "Pushing Daisies" to appear on the interwebs. How, you ask, could this possibly be?!?!? Everybody LOVES "Pushing Daisies!" No, what everybody loves is the pilot. Because that's all anybody's seen. Critics have yet to see a second episode. I'm not even sure if critics have seen a second episode of ANY show, which is a little surprising. Because hey, IT'S SEPTEMBER. Even if you started shooting at the beginning of August, you've got episode two done. This does not bode well for these shows keeping up schedules and as a matter of fact, a number of shows have undergone shutdowns, "Pushing Daisies" among them.
So what the hell, right? Well, the hell is this. TeeVee ain't the movies. In order for a TeeVee show to work, it has to move seamlessly from the pilot to the next episode. You have to feel, as an audience member, that you're still watching the same show. The trouble with "Pushing Daisies" is that the pilot makes this virtually impossible. It's SO stylized, its mark made SO clearly, that nobody can come in and duplicate that. And then there's the expense of the show. MASSIVE. Pilots have gone from partial sales tools to the ultimate sales tool. The studios will throw fifteen million bucks and two weeks of shooting at these pilots and then expect the show to be made in seven days and for under two million dollars. The studios and the networks, by demanding that show creators think big and aim for the stars, are setting these shows up for failure. It's impossible for a writer to pitch a show that doesn't make some huge splash. Being responsible with the studio's money is a large part of what being a showrunner is about. But with regards to pilots, they don't seem to care anymore. EVERY pilot must make its mark. EVERY pilot must be unique, huge, exciting, unprecedented.
But that's not TeeVee. That's a fucking summer blockbuster. I don't know how to sell in this climate. I really don't. Do I want to end up in a situation where a feature director is screwing my show? No thanks. It's not worth it.
But as screwed as "Pushing Daisies" seems to be, no show is more fucked than "Bionic Woman." As I'm sure a lot of you saw, Glen Morgan left the show last week. People have been whispering about the show being in trouble for some time now -- over time and over budget. But when someone leaves this close to the show premiering... that's indicative of a bigger problem. There've been rumors about a permanent shutdown as well. Even if these rumors aren't true, you don't want to hear that two weeks from premiering.
So what the fuck happened? Did Glen, as rumors reported, get fired because the network wasn't happy with the second episode and blamed him? Did he, as the trades reported, leave due to everybody's favorite euphemism, "creative differences?" I have no idea. As many of you know, we did not get a meeting on the show and frankly, we felt a little let down about that. But when we got over that, we figured that there was a reason, and the one we landed on was that Glen didn't have any say over hiring. Given what transpired last week, that's looking more and more likely.
I don't know David Eick, only what I've heard about him from people who've worked with him. All I know about Jason Smilovic is that I didn't like "Kidnapped." I don't know why Laeta Kalogridis, the original writer of the pilot, was pushed aside.
But I do know Glen Morgan. And unless he's been replaced with a hack, there's no way the rumors are true. I think he was a convenient scapegoat, thrown under the bus to protect other people. It actually makes me sick to my stomach to think that ANYBODY would believe Glen was fired because the second episode was crap. The Glen Morgan I know has good relationships with execs at studios and networks. He gets scripts in on time. He takes notes. Shows are on or under pattern. Cuts are delivered in a timely fashion and lemme tell ya, he's a wizard in the editing room. He's a decent, level-headed person who protects his writers and operates first out of humility. He's not the one who's going to be blathering on about how brilliant he is. He's not like that. He has doubt, like all good writers MUST. He's not the self-important producer who's talking about elevating any genre, or making this Bionic Woman anything other than what it is -- fun, escapist television. He makes his mark on television by virtue of not trying to do so. Others would do well to follow his lead.
But others didn't do that, did they? No, others, afraid for their jobs and their false reputations, chose him as the fall guy precisely because of his nature. Yes, Glen, television has changed a lot and so have the people in it. Not for the good.
When you work for Glen, you know you're protected and you know that for him, it's about the work. It's also about teaching, at which he is a master. Every episode is the absolute BEST episode it can possibly be. But because he's a perfectionist, it's never good enough. He's co-written, written and produced some of the absolute best episodes of television EVER, TeeVee that even now the people who fired him are trying to replicate. This is not somebody who's so insecure that he'll stab somebody else in the back to get ahead. He's an incredibly loyal person, too, which is why it stung when we didn't even get a meeting. But who knows? Maybe he saw the train coming down the tracks and didn't want us to fall under the wheels, too. I have no idea. All I do know is, he doesn't deserve to have that sword in his back. I won't believe any of this shit unless he tells me himself.
There's no room for talent or loyalty in TeeVee anymore. So all you TeeVee people who are miserable fucks? You brought it on yourselves.
np - Frank Turner, "Vital Signs"