I think that's how everybody in TeeVee feels right now. It seems like everybody's getting some form of abuse at the moment. Writers are getting it from their showrunner. The showrunner's getting it from the studio and network. Those execs are getting it from their bosses. It goes on up the ladder, until the head muckety-muck, we learn, is getting it from... I dunno, God? Must be. Who's higher than Rupert Murdoch?
Neal wondered if it's insane for the networks to try and predict what will be a hit and to buy appropriately. Absolutely!! But they're doing it even more now. This year, it's light, life-affirming supernatural dramas. And every one of these that's been sold sounds like a reject from about thirty years ago. So when we tried to come up with one (hey, I'm a whore!), our agent goes, "It sounds like it's from about thirty years ago." Good luck getting through THAT minefield if you aren't a successful TeeVee person. Lord knows WE didn't.
Anyone wanna buy a light, life-affirming supernatural drama about a fantasy broker?
Anyway, this is a terrible way to do business. And it's even more dysfunctional this year, with the networks apparently STILL buying, only not from anyone regular. They want every pilot to be remarkable and inventive. So let me ask you -- how many shows that are on right now are remarkable and inventive? I mean, really super different? Ground-breaking? Changing the face of TeeVee? Let's check. "Mad Men" is as good as anything's been in ages, but nobody wants period shows because of it. I don't watch "The Wire" but people adore it. However, it's not having an infuence on the medium. These other shows, like "Rescue Me," "Weeds," "The Shield," people love 'em, but are they changing the face of TeeVee? What about "Heroes?" Since we sold the exact same pilot years ago, I'd say no. The format of "Lost," you might say... but "Lost" is, pardon the pun, on an island of its own.
What show right now is changing the way people think about TeeVee? What show's altering the way stories are told? Is any show influencing the medium of television? No. There's nothing. There's great stuff on, but it's TELEVISION. It's fun, escapist, moving, emotional... whatever. But it's not ground-breaking. Even shows with that potential, like "Battlestar Galactica," get absolutely no respect from the industry. That show SHOULD be considered ground-breaking but nobody fucking watches it, and the asshats at the academy refuse to reward it. So nobody REALLY wants a truly ground-breaking show. Doesn't it seem that way? In England, the six-episode miniseries "Jekyll" had more balls that 99% of American TeeVee. And for British TeeVee, it's fucking COMMONPLACE.
What's happening now is, these networks are annointing shows and then trying to develop AS IF these shows -- which haven't premiered yet -- HAVE ALREADY changed the medium. If this isn't a setup for failure, I don't know what is. Everybody's so desperate to make their mark, whether they're writers, directors or executives, that they shoot for the moon and forget about the fact that they need to program five, six or seven nights of TeeVee. So every show you buy is supposed to be "out of the box?" Which executive thought that about "Two and a Half Men" or "According To Jim?" The problem is, they want these shows to have a lasting influence so their legacies are intact, but they're ignoring the fallacy that this simply isn't possible. You can't program a ground-breaking show. Look at "X-Files." That show had a definitive influence on television, particularly on the sci-fi/fantasy/horror genre, but it wasn't even Fox's favorite show when it premiered.
So, back to the question -- is it a mistake for us writers to cater to this crap? Unfortunately, we have to. They're the buyers and if we don't pitch something they want to buy, no matter how misguided the reasons they have, we don't sell. So writers who have NO idea what they're doing in genre are selling genre shows because they HAVE to. Nobody's going in there with something they really believe in. It's a pretty sad state of affairs.
Expect as much fun next fall as you're gonna get this fall. This post is already getting a tad long and I've got a huge rant, so I'm gonna split them into two posts.
A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Doselle!! We must drink later!
np - The Enemy, "Pressure"