Monday, December 8, 2008

Network TV, you just got pwned

Because Time Magazine named Dr. Horrible as the 4th best TV show of the year.

They ranked it higher than Battlestar, Lost, The Wire -- even better than Architecture School! (No, that's not a joke.)

The only things to rank higher on their list are The Shield, Mad Men, and what really was the best drama of the year, the Presidential Election.

And in case you didn't notice -- Dr. Horrible isn't on TV!

Whedonesque has already picked this up (of course), but here you go.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Another month, another new TV schedule

The Futon Critic has the Winter 2009 TV schedule up. If you haven't checked it out, do so. Or don't and just say you did.

While much of the Fall 2008 schedule left me cold/bored/disappointed/annoyed, I'm actually quite excited about the next few months.

And because it's the question you've all been asking, here's what I'll be watching every. Single. Night. Yeah!


8PM is slightly less jam-packed this Winter, with just the awesome Chuck and the not quite as awesome Gossip Girl. OMFG, you guys!

9PM has The Closer, which I'm never really excited to watch but is always good. Heroes needs to win my viewership back. To even get a link.

10PM seems pretty barren except for *maybe* TNT's Trust Me, which could be interesting.


8PM ... 90210. I know, I know. It's the masochist in me.

10PM is John Rodgers hour: Leverage, my friends, Leverage.


9PM brings the on the "Ls" with Lost and Life...though Life has lost a bit of its luster this season.

10PM makes me excited, because one of the most plot-twisty shows around is back: Damages. Also Life On Mars, which hasn't quite lost me yet.


8PM will find me ugly and also watching Betty.

9PM is a wealth of stuff with Grey's Anatomy, The Office, 30 Rock and maybe even a little bit of Supernatural if everything I've been hearing about it is true and we catch up with old episodes -- 3 1/2 seasons of them...

10PM offers the fun of Burn Notice and the possible awfulness (or coolness, you never know) of The Beast.

Fridays (aka Sci-days)

8PM Terminator: TSCC.

9PM Dollhouse.

10PM Battlestar.

And choirs of angels sing, because we have been blessed. Yes, it may completely fail, but at least it'll be a fun night for a few months...hopefully.... Nerd party at our place.


8PM is Merlin. Because I'm curious. And it's got Head. And Hurt.

9PM, if I'm desperate, brings Housewives.

10PM equals Kings. After hearing reviews from some friends at Comic Con, I'm super stoked about this show. Oh, man I hope it's good...and lasts.

And this doesn't even include HBO and Showtime.

Abortions for Some, Tiny American Flag Pins for Others

I'll leave it up to you to decide if that title actually makes since for this post, but apparently the time has come to celebrate or get depressed, because sources are saying the Disney ABC Fellowship people have already sent out emails to the lucky few finalists.

Congrats, happy tidings and all that.

Now excuse me while I figure out what the heck is even speccable for next year... True Blood? Dexter? The Mentalist (shudders)?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Dead Dead?

I'm holding out hope that somehow, some way...somewhere Pushing Daisies will get more episodes, but that isn't looking very likely right now.


So, for your enjoyment -- and because this is probably the only way to get anyone to look at a script for a dead show -- here's a link to our sadly prophetically titled Daisies spec, Dead Dead.

Thursday, November 20, 2008



In a writing sense. Duh.

It happens from time to time, and then you have a choice: get busy living, or get busy dying.

By which I mean: deny and/or make excuses for the negative reactions you receive and get pissed/hurt that people can be ... not kind... Or take a deep breath, listen carefully to criticism to sift out the useful notes (I promise, though it may not seem like it, there are always useful notes) ... and try really, really, really, really, really hard to let it go and move on. Really hard.

Because it's what professional writers do. And if we can do that now, hopefully it will be easier when we're getting paid and inevitably receive notes like, "I just wish it was more special" and "Come on, you can do better."

Did I mention really hard?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pushing Daisies - Now's the time to DVR it

Been awhile, right?

I have no good specific excuses other than the fact that Jul and I have fallen down the movie hole and are about halfway through the first draft of an animated feature (because, you know, that's a good idea; lots of people read those...)

More than that, I just haven't had much that inspired me to post. Sad clown.

What's drawn me back? Pushing Daisies.

We all know it's in its death throes right now...unless viewership really picks up.

In the old days, there wouldn't be much we could do about that unless we were Nielsen families, but today we're living in the future. We've got the internets and flying cars and TiVo.

Ah, TiVo. Live plus 7 ratings. Glorious.

I haven't researched this. I might very well be wrong. But I'm pretty sure that anyone who DVRs a show and watches it within the first 7 days is counted for the show's ratings. That means you, readers. And your friends and mothers and brothers and sisters and coworkers. We can actually affect ratings and possibly prevent this unique, clever, sweet and often hilarious show from getting canceled.

And if we do, who knows, maybe as a favor to us, Bryan Fuller will still offer to help out on Heroes too.

As long as it doesn't negatively affect his work on Daisies.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Slim Pickins: What I'm Watching and Liking This Season

We're several episodes into most of the shows for the the new season, both returning and freshman series, and I've started to realize that the shows I look forward to this year have changed.

Last year, hands down, I would have listed Dexter as my favorite show. This year...I'm not completely buying into it yet. I had high hopes for Fringe, And Sarah Connor? Well, the last episode I watched (the third?) was better than the first two, and I hear the next one is even cooler, but...I just haven't been won over yet.

The times they are a'changing.

I should note that my schedule has been kind of crazy these past few months, so there are a number of shows I just haven't seen at all or have fallen a number of episodes behind with. (Does that sentence make grammatical sense? I don't know.) Still, here's my top 10 list for the shows I find myself craving. Yeah, I know, I'm real list-y lately.

I should also note that this isn't my list of best shows. Notice that word above: craving. While many titles on the list would be the same, I couldn't leave out Mad Men, for example. Instead, this is what I find myself wanting to watch. It's like knowing that the 5-star steak house is better, but lusting after Outback. Mmm, Outback. Screw you, arteries!

Also...the first few shows on the list are kind of cheats, so bear with me. Believe me, it could have been a lot worse. I could have had a list with things like Battlestar, Dollhouse, Kings, 3o Rock... at least I'm restricting myself to things that are currently airing.

10. The Shield - This is a cheat because, well, Jul and I have only watched the first two seasons, and we refuse to watch the show out of order...but that doesn't mean I'm not sorely tempted to find out what's happening to Vic Mackey in this current, final season. I just continually exercise restraint. Must find time to watch DVDs...

9. Sons of Anarchy - I keep wanting to watch, but damn if that 90 minute pilot isn't daunting. Still, how can you go wrong with Hellboy, Leela and Skinner in the same show? About bikers? Especially when there are all the Hamlet overtones. Gotta get to it soon.

8. Life On Mars - Okay, okay, I've only watched the first episode, but it was good and interesting enough (not to mention the great things I've heard about the British version) to whet my appetite and make me curious for more.

7. The Office - The first and only half hour show on this list, The Office still finds ways to stay consistently smart and funny in its 5th season. Not to mention the fact that it has done that rarest of things with Jim and Pam: have two characters in a relationship that feels real and loving AND remains interesting enough to watch.

6. Ugly Betty - Still hasn't regained the heights of the first season, and to a great extent they mishandled the character of Alexis, but I always enjoy it. And sometimes they knock a story out of the park, like with the recent subplot involving Hilda cheating with a married man.

5. Pushing Daisies - Keep in mind this list isn't necessarily a measure of quality. There are several shows above this that probably aren't as creative, well-written or just plain good. But for some reason my Daisies desire has never really reached rabid peaks: for reasons I can't explain, I simply want to watch the shows above it more. That being said, I've seen two episodes thus far, and the second one was much-improved from the season premiere. Something about it just felt off, exaggerated and ultimately lifeless. With things now seemingly moving in the right direction, and with the amped up story-ness that Fuller has promised this season, I think Daisies will be gaily skipping up a few numbers before many weeks have passed.

4. Dexter - I said it had fallen, not that I didn't watch and wasn't interested. Time will tell if Dexter stays as fantastic as I found it to be in its first two seasons or loses my interest, but right now... Well, showrunner Daniel Cerone left to head up Dirty Sexy Money, and I can't help but feel that that is part of the reason that Dexter just doesn't feel like Dexter anymore. He used to be a monster that observed humanity and straddled the line between feeling disgusted by us and desperately wanting to be one of us. Now... he just feels like a guy who just happens to kill people and it gets in the way of his increasingly normal life. Even his trademark voice overs have lost much of their wit and bite. I'm still on board, but sometimes I find myself staring out the windows instead of watching what's in front of me.

3. Chuck - It's not perfect. In fact, Chuck does a number of things that make me roll my eyes, but the stories and performances are so fun and entertaining to watch that I'm willing to forgive it a lot. I also feel like Chuck pretty much knows exactly what it's doing, and when they explain something with a silly device (which is often) at least they own it and usually make it a joke. Plus: what other TV show do you know that has a Thunderdome? That's just awesomeness incarnate.

2. True Blood - Vampires that live among humans in an alternative history (future?) world with a Southern Gothic aesthetic? Now add political overtones...and mind reading...and a dog that just kind of shows up and makes you wonder what the hell is up with it, it's got to mean something...?! It's safe to say that I was curious about HBO's new show from the get go, but I only got fully on board after we marathoned episodes 3-5 last Friday night. I trust you Alan Ball; take me on a good ride.

And the show I'm most psyched to watch week-to-week...

1. Greek - I know, right? I can feel you judging me. But I can't stop watching. What was a moderately fun diversion a year ago has become one of the most consistently entertaining and clever shows on television -- for my taste, anyway. It's still silly and soapy, but the comedy has gotten a lot smarter and the character stuff and plot twists are fantastic. Right now, if I'm completely honest, I have to admit that Greek is my favorite show on.

(As a side note/PSA for all the people who work on Greek that read this blog -- because clearly there are many... or at least one, I hope -- check out our pilot On Duty on our website We must write for you!)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My Totally Biased Top 5 ELE Applications

A couple of months ago The Whedon unleashed Dr. Horrible upon the world, and we all collectively trembled. And laughed. And some of us might have even teared up a little bit, but I wouldn't know anybody like that.

Anyway, it was long rumored that people would be invited to submit applications to the Evil League of Evil with a select few maybe even making it to the DVD. Mere weeks ago the official announcement and due date was announced, and somehow the date already came and went.

Geez, Whedon people, give the fans a little notice next time. But I digress...

In the last several days, swarms of videos have popped up on a variety of sites, and I've waded through thousands (okay, tens...) to bring you this -- my Top 5 ELE Applications.

These are the cream of the crop, the best of the best, the bees knees. Also, they are the ones that I managed to watch all the way through.

How did I judge? Glad you asked. This is totally and completely based upon personal preference. Some have great acting and singing; some do not. Some have wonderful, clever writing and characters; others, not so much. Some have beautiful production values as good as a lot of the stuff on television; others ... well, it's the Internet, take a guess.

In order of preference, here are my Top 5 ELE Applications:

5. Short Change

4. The Grimmarion

THE GRIMMARIAN! from Kendal Newman on Vimeo.

3. The Pocket Paradox

2. Tur-Mohel

Tur-Mohel -- Evil League Of Evil Application from Ryan Lewis on Vimeo.

1. Fury of Solace

Submitted for your approval: Fury of Solace's application for admission into the Evil League of Evil from Fury of Solace on Vimeo.

Emmett wins for two reasons -- 1) Um, duh, he's my friend. What? I told you this was completely biased. 2) In a move that may but hopefully won't hurt him, he decided to tell an actual story instead of stay beholden to the whole "application" thing, the result being that it's the only one where my immediate reaction is: WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?!?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ciao...and 10 other Italian words I learned in Italy

No one told me that jet lag actually gets worse before it gets better -- how annoying is that?

Jul and I got back from the honeymoon on Friday and I'm thisclose to getting a full night's sleep, so I got that going for me.

What we don't have going for us yet is a workshop or fellowship -- oh-for-2 on NBC and WB this year. Luckily I hear it's get into Disney/ABC. Hahaha...ha.

But at least I have Italian memories (really -- I've developed a method whereby I can siphon the memories of others, so I used it on some unsuspecting Florentines), and right now I'd like to share one with you.

This is by far the coolest thing we saw in Italy, and I'm going to steal pictures from others because we were good little Americans and actually obeyed the NO PHOTOS signs.

The Cemetery of the Capuchin Fathers resides in a church much like any other in Rome. Outside, the building is nondescript -- stone stairs lead up to a landing with a balcony and a doorway off to one side. Continue up the stairs past the landing and you will enter the church itself, complete with beautiful statuary and artwork -- standard for most Roman churches.

But if you stop on that landing and pay a Euro to go through that doorway off to the're in for something a little more than "standard."

Those are real human bones, my friends. And there are 6 or 7 rooms just like it there. Awesomely creepy, no? But kind of oddly beautiful too. And shockingly creative.

But what kind of person could even conceive of doing something like this? Who wakes up and says, "Hmm. If I just boil the skin off of these bodies, I could make a flower out of those pelvic bones. And these fingers would create a killer scale for the child-sized Death I'm thinking of hanging on the ceiling here, right next to the family crest made with I-don't-even-know-where-on-my-body-those-bones-come-from!" Who comes up with that?

Oh, right. Monks.

America would be so much cooler if we had more monks.

(And oh yeah, we're totally finding a way to use this in some story somewhere. Is it possible that no one has used it yet?! Insanity.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wanna mingle and talk shop with other TV writers (and wannabes)?

I posted about the first one in July, which was awesome and ridiculously packed full of writer types.

Jul and I missed last month because of a little wedding thing happening, and unfortunately we're going to have to miss this month's too, but if you're free, you should really stop by and say hi for me. Seriously the most fun I've ever had at a mixer/networking type of event.

Here are the details:

TV Writers Meet-Up, 9/17/2008, 8:00 pm

Posted by: ""

Mon Sep 15, 2008 7:55 pm (PDT)

Reminder from: tvwriters Yahoo! Group

TV Writers Meet-Up
Wednesday September 17, 2008
8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
(This event repeats every month on the third Wednesday.)
Location: Cat and Fiddle
Street: 6530 Sunset Blvd
City State Zip: Los Angeles, CA

A chance to hang out with other people who are as passionate about TV as you are. Come alone, bring friends, whatever, just come.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Auto Pilot: A review of J.J. Abrams' Fringe (aka another show that starts of with a plane and floating titles)

*Simul-posted on Pink Raygun*

At this point in his career, J.J. Abrams is a household name. Alias, Lost, Mission Impossible: III, Cloverfield — you can’t think of these properties without his name popping into your head. He has been involved with, if not always responsible for, some fantastic pieces of popular entertainment. The pilot for Lost, which he directed, is one of my favorite pilots ever. It’s intriguing, exciting, confusing in a way that makes you crave more, and often jaw-dropping. If you’re looking for a blueprint on how to start off an action-mystery-sci-fi show (and who isn’t), you would do well to study Lost’s pilot. Which is why I was incredibly excited when I managed to obtain a DVD and script for the pilot for JJ’s new show, Fringe…and why, despite several things that bothered me about the episode, I hold out hope that the show itself will develop into something more.

Read the rest of the review here!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

My Own Personal Essay: Why TV?

Blame BooM, who asked for this.

'Tis the season for essays, and BooM decided to get into the hated spirit by picking me and four other lovely contestants (like Kira...and Michael--he's especially purty) to write about why we chose TV. Or, in her words:

"What made you want to be a TV writer? Was there a defining moment? Was it an awakening? Did you always know?"

Here goes.

In order -- 1) See below, 2) I dunno, 3) yeah, I think so, and 4) not by a long shot.

What made me want to be a TV writer was the pilot, really. My pilot. Eventually it became our pilot, and it got a lot better, but before that it was mine, and that's when I got hooked. But let me back up.

I can't remember a time when I wasn't a writer. Growing up, I wrote short stories, novels (or at least the beginnings of novels), short plays--I even wrote and drew the levels for what would have been an awesome Ninja Turtles video game when I was 8. It opened with Shredder capturing the turtles, and you got to play as Casey Jones, Splinter and Mecha Turtle to save them! Cowabunga, indeed.

Every once in a while the thought of writing a movie even occurred to me, but never in a serious way, and for some reason TV writing never crossed my mind.

Also--let's be honest here--when you got right down to it, at that time being a writer to me meant being a NOVELIST. Books. Stephen King. C.S. Lewis. Frank Herbert. Those were writers. The idea that people actually wrote movies and television was something very abstract to me.

And then, suddenly, I realized that I was going to graduate college, and I had no idea what being a writer meant in terms of a career path for me. Sure, I could write anywhere, but what would I be doing in the meantime? Trying to put my English degree to good use at a Procter & Gamble desk? Continue working at video stores? A restaurant? This may come as a surprise, but Cincinnati isn't exactly full of jobs in creative industries. At least not that interested me.

Then I made the decision to move to L.A. during the semester before graduation, and almost immediately I began writing a feature. Just to try, you know? Because why not? And it was baaaaaad. Like, really bad.

But I finished it.

After years of writing well-received but not-very-useful short stories and telling myself I was going to hammer out a novel but not doing it, I had finally finished something big. Bad, but big. And it hadn't even taken that long! (Did I mention it was bad?)

So I made the long trek here in my battered '95 Ford Escort wagon and got a a Hollywood Video and, briefly, a Coffee Bean. So much for jobs I couldn't get in Cincinnati.

But I kept writing...intermittently...getting about halfway through three or four more feature scripts, none of which satisfied me. Everything just had to be so final, and there was no room to deviate from the story and explore the characters or anything interesting. What if I had other ideas for these people? Where could I put them? How could I tell those stories?

During this time, I was also catching up on all the TV I had somehow missed in college. Whole seasons of Buffy, Angel, Firefly, West Wing, Sports Night, Scrubs, Coupling, Freaks and Geeks... Something had happened to television while I was busy doing literary analyses and discussing the various merits and problems of Fight Club and The Matrix, and the number of really good shows I was able to watch blew my mind.

After several months had passed and, bored at work, I had picked up an internship at a small production company where I (mostly) worked as a reader, poring over (mostly) bad scripts, something made me open up that first bad script I had written and reexamine it. Not even the script itself, but the core concept. It practically begged to be made into a weekly TV show. So that's exactly what I did. I reimagined it as a one-hour pilot where I only had to tell one story and set up the world and the characters. Suddenly it went from awful to pretty darn good. I finished it in a weekend, writing 20 of the 43 pages in a day! I was ecstatic. Until someone told me that "one page=one minute" does not apply in TV land.

So that was a rewrite.

But the setback didn't deter me, because by then I was hooked. I had discovered the power of ongoing stories and characters I could allow to change slowly and in small ways rather than the big, sweeping arcs that are required of most movies. I started thinking of television writing (much of what I liked, anyway) as similar to the "installment novels" of Hardy or Dickens. TV was a way to tell the bigger, longer, more intricate and character-intensive stories that I loved. And the more I discovered about working as a writer in television, the more I knew it was the best place for me. Far better creative control than features; a storytelling process that allows for collaboration as well as individual work; deadlines to keep me on task...

And yes, BooM, it's also nice to have that steady job and (even more importantly) steady paycheck coming in.

In the end, though, it all comes back to the medium. Television lets you to do things as a writer that no other medium allows, and those things just happen to be what I love most about writing and storytelling. To be completely pompous and silly about it, TV chose me as much as I chose it.

(And, um, it probably doesn't hurt that my writing partner and now-wife is an even bigger devotee of television than I am :)

Now, BooM has been forced to answer her own meme, which you can read here.

And I get to tag 5 more people, so I'm going to have to pick on my (old) writer's group...and others.

1. Amanda Pendolino
2. Jane Mountain
3. Matt Thornton
4. Adam Marshall
5. Kay Reindl

Let's hear it, folks. What's your tale?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Gearing up for the fall season...with rings

No, that was not an Olympics reference.

My DVR should be able to schedule season passes for me at least a few weeks in advance, but for many shows, that doesn't seem to be the case, and that really sucks since Jul and I are in Kansas for the next week and better not miss any shows. Cause that's where my priorities are. Fix it, Time Warner!

Also, here's the schedule grid for the fall season. I'd make one myself, but why waste the time when The Futon Critic has already done it for me.


As a side note, I recommend to anyone thinking of getting married in the next few years to get a job in the entertainment industry. Apparently they really enjoy gifting. Which is really my way of again saying thanks, just in case any of you out there happen to be secretly reading this. :)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Side Note:

writing features is hard.

The Inbox Test

I am really busy. Stop me if you've heard this before.

How do I know this (besides the fact that I'm living the really-busyness right now)?


Normally my Gmail is hyper-organized. It's one of the few areas of my life where I embrace my rather minimal OCD side, the other being my DVD collection, which is totally not divided into TV and film and alphabetized by genre, which can be more difficult than you would expect because many things cross over into different genres and sometimes it's difficult to decide which is the best place to put something, and what if you choose wrong? WHAT IF YOU CHOOSE WRONG?!...

(That was fun.)

But Gmail.

I star things which require a reply. I delete daily. I check and delete Spam (the awesome penis enlargement messages, not the delicious canned treat). I archive by name or subject -- sometimes both.

When I'm living my regular-programming life, I always have fewer than 50 inbox messages and usually fewer than 25. Unread messages? 2 or 3 at the most, unless I'm keeping them unread (and starred) as a reminder to reply.

I like a clean inbox, which is not a euphemism, but feel free to think of it as one if it amuses you.

My inbox right now? 146 messages. 17 unread. 39 drafts. 1372 spam folder emails.

So if you're wondering why I haven't replied, didn't attend your event or missed my deadline to send you notes, look no further than my inbox for the reason why.

What are the telltale signs in your life that things are a little crazy?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Want an entertainment job?

Because Anonymous...or possibly Anonymi...have been posting jobs here every once in a while for the last few months. Like this one:

"2nd Assistant to Shonda Rimes, creator of GREY’S ANATOMY, needed. Please send resumes to Sonay Washington at Entry level, full time position that is 60% personal. Health benefits and overtime. 60 hr/week."

Now he, she or they wants to know if it's useful to the readers of this blog.

I know my answer: YES. Even if nothing has EXACTLY matched and/or...ahem...I haven't been contacted for anything I might have possibly maybe applied for, I'm thrilled to see these posts every once in a while.

How about all of you out there? Let Anonymous know you appreciate the job listings too.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Comic-Con Showrunners Panel

So, I know these things are coming out at a crawl, but I promise I'll be done writing them before next year's Con...

San Diego Comic-Con Coverage: Entertainment Weekly’s Showrunners Panel – Part 1


Josh Schwartz of Chuck, Gossip Girl, and The OC. Josh Friedman of The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Bryan Fuller of Pushing Daisies, Dead Like Me, and Wonderfalls. Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse of Lost. You can’t ask for a more impressive television panel than that.

Moderator Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly introduced everyone to thunderous applause, then explained the format. He would ask the panelists “boring” questions for the first half hour and they would respond in a more entertaining way. Then, for the last half hour, audience members were welcome to ask any questions they desired…with one caveat that he demonstrated:

JENSEN: Damon and Carlton, where is the island?
CUSE: I do not recall.
JENSEN: How did John Locke die and end up in the coffin?
LINDELOF: We have no recollection of that.
JENSEN: I have a theory. Do you wanna hear it?

Read the rest here! Or, you know, just click on the title...

Friday, August 8, 2008


I'd recommend not waiting until the last minute but... Umm... Well... You know.

Last minute notarizing and hours spent on the 405 and yeah.

And since I hate the essay stuff, I'm gonna share part of mine. Because I can. I don't promise that it's good, just that it is:

"TV shows breathe. They sit down and have a beer with you and let things unfold naturally. The characters often face tremendous strife, but most of the time they’re only changed in small ways, because most of the time people don’t change all that quickly. We go through a slow evolution and often have to relearn things again and again. TV can show this in a way that no other medium can, and the best shows straddle the line between episodic stories and ongoing character arcs. More than anything, that's what I want to do with my writing."

Good night...and good luck to all.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Now that's Comic-Con Coverage

Read Shawna for succinct, comprehensive coverage on what kind of TV presence each network had at Comic-Con.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Panel-a-rama and more TALES FROM THE CON

Better late than never, right? Well, let's hope so, because Jul and I still have a boatload of articles to get up for PRG. I see why our friends who do coverage for other outlets try to limit themselves to covering one panel a day. Of course, then we'd need more people covering events...and it's kind of fun being pretty much the only ones on the site doing coverage, know.


Actually, I don't have many tales this year. Comic-Con was great, and the weather was much milder (thank god), but mostly I just remember being exhausted. No one to blame but myself on that one...


3pm --

After a lot of insanity and a last-minute on-again off-again New York recording session for my bosses that eventually settled at on-again, I was able to leave work early. Lucky thing, since Jul and I had class from 7-10 that night and still had to pack, bathe our dog, print out maps and tickets and all sorts of fun business, and get Tony (the dog in question) over to our friend's apartment. I don't think my head hit the pillow until 1am, which wouldn't be so bad, except...


5am --

The alarm went off and my body screamed bloody murder at me. Yeah, I'm a glutton for punishment...just usually not my own. Luckily, I was driving...oh...wait.

We dragged ourselves out to the car, piled in, and got on the road just before 5:30. How is there traffic in LA even at 5:30 in the morning?

Once we got outside the city, the drive was smooth and fast. I was starting to curse myself and think that I had made us leave too early, but it ended up working out just about perfectly. We rolled into San Diego about

8:15am-8:30am --

But by the time we found parking, trudged to the convention center and got our badges, it was well after 9. How well? I don't know. Did I not mention the 4 hours of sleep I got?

Jul was planning on camping out for The Whedon's 1:30 panel on...stuff...but I really wanted to see a couple of things earlier, so we decided to split up. Better in terms of getting more PRG coverage that way anyway.

She and our roommate, Michael, went down to the exhibition floor to pick up a few quick things for friends while I waited for my first panel to begin and couldn't help smiling as one college-aged guy explained the rules of Magic: The Gathering to his three buddies. Ah, Comic-Con.

10:30am --

My first panel begins: Max Brooks, son of Mel and writer of The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z. I've never read the books, but Brooks absolutely made me want to run out and pick them up. His approach to the zombie genre sounds that awesome. Read more here.

Funny guy, very entertaining.

11:30am --

I raced over to the Samurai Girl panel at 11:45 and discovered that racing wasn't really necessary. Samurai Girl, for those of the I a series of novels that have been adapted into an ABC Family TV show premiering this fall. Or at least that's what I thought at first. Turns out it's a three-part mini-series that seems like it's serving as a backdoor pilot for a hopeful later show.

As a lover of Buffy, Wonderfalls, and a slew of female-centric shows, I'll definitely at least give it a few episodes, as the show looks like it could be interesting. The panel, however... Well, while Stacy Keibler and Brendan Fehr were nice and extremely accommodating, I really didn't go to the panel to hear about Roswell or watch horny fanboys fall over over themselves over how much the WWE missed Kiebler's amazing wrestling prowess. At one point a questioner even asked Keibler if she would stop the panel to take a picture with him. Sigh.

The most entertaining part was listening to Jamie Chung talk about how playing lead character Heaven had turned her into an action movie nut who rents martial arts flicks all the time. "I watch to see who's doing the stunts, who choreographed them, wondering how many times they had to do them, what matches, what doesn't, what kind of martial arts are they using? Is it mixed martial arts? ... It's taken over my life." That's kind of awesome. She was also kind enough to reveal that she's single, so if any of you out there like her and happen to run into her on the street, you've got a shot! Maybe!

12:30pm --

I snuck out early to make sure I got into the TV Guide Showrunners panel at 1:45 and caught the end of a panel on the new Spiderman animated show. A couple of people mentioned that they weren't excited about the show at first, but it eventually won them over and now they love it... Having no experience with the show other than the panel, I'd have to say I'm still in the former camp.

1:45pm --

Lindelof and Cuse. Josh Schwartz. Josh Friedman. Bryan Fuller. Talking about how awesome they are. Except for Friedman, who said he felt "like one of the Pips" when all the Q&A questions were going to Team Darlton.

And no questions about poor Pigby...

3:00pm --

Lunch at the beautiful San Diego Convention Center: pepperoni pizza and Lay's potato chips. Screw you, arteries!

3:30-5ishpm --

Paneled out. Help Jul prepare to go to the ABC Family press party and interview people from Samurai Girl and Kyle XY.

Walk around the exhibition floor for a few minutes. There's a Harold & Kumar booth where they're letting people get their pictures taken on top of a fake unicorn a la NPH in the movies. And then giving everyone a copy of the picture on a button. And an orange prison jumpsuit. Why didn't I do this?!

Find an outlet upstairs and recharge my laptop...sort of halfway kind of begin writing Max Brooks article for Pink Raygun.

I've decided to go to the Genre TV Writers panel at 6:30, so just to be safe I head over to the room and

5:15pm --

Holy Jesus McGillicutty, the line is already down the hall. I know there will be Moonlight and Jericho writers on the panel, but really?

No, as it turns out, not really. The panel right before is for Penny Arcade, which is a LOT more popular than I knew. Good for them. I get in line, but keep my laptop on so I can write...until the battery dies in 20 minutes.

To my great surprise, I make it into the PA panel. The guys can definitely work a room, and they're funny and self-effacing and all that, but most of it meant nothing to me as I have basically no familiarity with them. Sorry, guys. Sad. :(

6:25pm --

The room cleared out amazingly fast after the PA panel and I moved as close to the front as I could get -- second row. As I waited for the panel to begin, Jul arrived from her I'm-so-cool press party and spilled on it. Yes, ladies, his eyes really are that blue. Apparently. She'll have a whole write-up on it at some point.

6:30pm --

Panel begins and it's fun. More importantly, it's new. Let's face it -- Darlton, The Whedon and their ilk are quoted incessantly. And while I love hearing them talk, after a while a lot of it starts to sound similar, so it's always interesting to hear the non-megastar writers talk about the job.

Afterward, Jul and I know we should go up and introduce ourselves or something, but we're lame and can't think of anything. Note for future selves: you write for a geek website that covers genre TV. Unfortunately that realization came several hours later because we're dumb. However -- Javier Grillo-Marxuach (The Middleman), David Simkins (Warehouse 13, Dresden Files), Steve Kriozere (V.I.P, Sliders, Dead & Deader), Steve Melching (The Clone Wars, The Batman), Ashley Miller (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Matthew Federman (Jericho, E-Ring), and Harry Werksman & Gabrille Stanton (Moonlight) -- if you're interested in doing an interview for Pink Raygun, I think we can make ourselves available.

7:20pm --

Our plan was to camp out for the Dr. Horrible screening, but the line was already closed. For something showing at 10:45 that night. Two rules, Comic-Con planners: 1) Nobody puts baby in a corner, and 2) a room that seats only a few hundred people will never be adequate for any kind of Whedon event.


That four hours of sleep was really catching up with me, so we met some friends for dinner, talked to Michael about Bill Plympton: "I was walking around the artist area and saw some of Bill Plympton's work. So I was like, 'Cool, Bill Plympton.' Then I looked up and Bill Plympton was sitting there, so I was like, 'Oh, hey, Bill Plympton.' That was pretty cool." I'm probably completely f-ing up the quote. And if my roommate sounds like a stoner, he's not; it was just his first Con. :)

Oh, and he also found Chris Carter just hanging around in the Fox booth and got him to sign something. Like you do.

9:30-10pm --

Hotel. Check in, drop bags, fall onto bed, sleep.


8:30am --

Shower and call a cab since we'll be going out for a friend's birthday that night. Partake of the lovely Days Inn continental coffee, OJ and day-old bread store danishes. Breakfast is the most important meal, you know.

Cab arrives. Friends texting us because we were supposed to go to the Futurama panel with them at 10. It's not looking good.

9:30am --

We can see the convention center 20 yards ahead, but we're stuck in traffic. Unfortunately a request that the cabbie let us out there and walk prompted him to lock the doors on us. I kid you not. Whatever, dude, it's coming out of your tip.

9:35am --

There's not a chance in hell we're getting in to the panel, but at least we'll get into The Simpsons at 10:45.

Jul and I had decided the night before that we would just sit in the same room all day Saturday, since it had some great panels and the only other things we were interested in (alas, Pushing Daisies, Lost, Heroes...) directly conflicted. Ahh, well.

So we got in the line that not only went all the way down the hallway and out onto the balcony, but actually wrapped around the balcony and went back inside...and somehow we still managed to get into Futurama. Shocking. And that wasn't sarcasm.

10am --

The panel was fun, but not quite as cool as the previous year, when they handed out a Con-only Futurama comic book and had the cast do a table read for us.

10:45am --

After briefly walking off-stage, Matt Groening returned to talk Simpsons with several of the writers, but sadly no cast members. Again: fun, but nothing earth-shattering. We learned who some of the celebrity voices will be this year and saw some very funny clips from the new Treehouse of Horror. The Grand Pumpkin indeed.

11:45am --

The next part of our Day In Ballroom 26 was a Spotlight on Dean Koontz. Now, I remember reading Koontz when I was between the ages of, say, 12 and 15, and really liking him for a while. Then...nothing. Hadn't thought of him in years. So when I saw this panel, it was not something I was excited for.

I've gotta say, though, Koontz was pretty interesting. He was visibly nervous for most of his hour, and really tried to tailor his speech (and it was a speech, make no mistake) to the Comic-Con crowd without much success, but when he just told his stories and loosened up a bit, I liked him a lot. Ultimately one of my favorite events.

1pm --

Whedon. Dushku. Penikett? For his sort-of third appearance of the Con (he apparently came out and waved before Dr. Horrible screened), Whedon and crew talked about Dollhouse and defended themselves to a fan whose question was: "I'm not excited about the show. Why should I be excited?"

Despite only half of that being a question, Whedon was kind enough to answer, but we'll have more on that later.

2:15pm --

Battlestar Galactica...which I mostly missed, because by the time it started I was really hungry and thirsty and had to nab a bathroom pass to step out for a few minutes and grab some soft pretzels and drinks. Note: the cheese does not come with the pretzels. Lame.

By the time I got back into the panel, it was half over. I did get to hear Kevin Smith being Kevin Smith (he was the moderator) and learn that apparently Helo (Penikett) shoots like a girl. (This was later refuted by Penikett.)

3:30pm --

In which Jayne is given the order to take out Chuck.

Great, lively panel. Lots of fun. Seriously, though, Comic-Con organizers, did you have to put the giant widescreen TV right in front of Zachary Levi and Joshua Gomez?

4:45pm --

Fringe panel...but I'm not sure what we really learned about the show. Some Lost-verse and Star Trek questions. JJ denies leaking the Fringe pilot a few months ago, but Bob Orci says he's not sure he believes him.

5:45pm --

We escape Ballroom 26, find restrooms and then find an outlet, where we work on updating our "live" coverage. (Sorry about that, folks. Next time we'll be better at keeping our batteries charged.)

After a bit we go down to the exhibition hall to try and grab some goodies, but they're already closing up for the evening. Suckiness.

More writing while we wait to meet up with people and go out for our friends birthday dinner. (Note: I highly recommend Kemo Sabe in San Diego. Literally every single thing we ate was absolutely delicious.)


We were supposed to go out to a tequila bar after dinner, but we're all feeling pretty dead and just head back to hotel rooms. Sleepy time.


8:45am --

Wake up and do the whole getting ready thing. Pile into the car around 9:30 and drive toward the convention center.

9:45ish --

Stuck in traffic right next to the convention center, I drop Michael off so he can get his Con on while Jul and I look for parking.

10am --

As we trudge toward the Con and look over the day's panels, we realize that there's not a whole lot we want to do and decide to spend the whole morning on the exhibition floor.

10:10am --

Walking around even this late in the Con, we were still able to nab:

Bags -- Watchmen, Pushing Daisies/Chuck, Sideshow Collectibles, probably more I don't remember.
Comics -- Hellboy, Recorded Attacks (zombies), a few more I don't remember.
Posters -- Yeah, I'm not even going to list; there's way too many.
Buttons, etc -- Same deal. Sorry. There's a possibility we'll be offering much of our SWAG as prizes on PRG, so if you're interested, keep your eyes peeled.

11:45ish --

Can't walk anymore. Since we promised "light" Sunday coverage, Jul and I find an outlet and upload some of our pics from the panels to PRG.

1pm --

Back to the exhibition floor. More free stuff, including (I kid you not) fairy wings. No, you cannot have them. They belong to Jul; get your own.

We search for artwork for our new place, but everything's (and I know this will sound odd coming from us) too obviously geeky. Sorry, I'm just not into having a painting of a dragon on my wall.

It's our preference to be just a tad bit more subtle.

3:30pm --

We say goodbye to beautiful San Diego, but not before grabbing a delicious 1lb. California Burrito from Santana's. good...Until next year, True Believers... Too much? Yeah, I guess that was a little too much.

For lovers...of Buffy

I'm sure this has been widely seen by now, but Aintitcool has a link to what looks like the first few minutes of the aborted animated Buffy pilot, so now I'm jumping on the bandwagon.

But even searching for the above clip I stumbled across smartjoe299 on YouTube, who has apparently been spending an inordinate amount of time "animating" Buffy Season 8. Is that a video game he's using?

Sir, I salute you.

Friday, August 1, 2008

San Diego Comic-Con Coverage: Spotlight on Max Brooks

*Note: Simul-posted on Pink Raygun*

It might seem odd that the son of a comedy legend would make his name writing books about zombies, but listen to Max Brooks for five minutes and there’s no question that he’s Mel’s son. They have the same stage presence, the same comedic timing, the same… hair. When he walked out to his podium and realized that there was a big, empty table next to him with a line of seats and microphones, he invited the first row of the audience up to be his “panel” and had the Comic-Con workers let in any people who had missed the cutoff point and were still waiting outside. Classy. Funny. Brooks-y.

Read the rest here!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

What if Fellowships want you?

Besides that being a really good problem to have, I mean.

BooM, who's so awesome that she has quite a bit of experience with this, wrote up a nice bit of advice.


Friday, July 25, 2008

San Diego Comic-Con '08 - Live(ish) Coverage

Jul and I are updating when we can on Pink Raygun.

Or for even faster updates, she's become a twittering fiend.

More thorough coverage to come from both of us short(ish)ly.

Enjoy your weekends. Get some sleep for me.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Just a reminder...

Warner stuff is due this Friday. That means it needs to be postmarked by July 25 to be eligible.

(I bring this up because apparently NBC's Writers on the Verge not only gave a date, but also a time by which submissions needed to be received. Which is fine, in theory, except when submitters don't notice that time and IT'S 3PM. I mean, seriously? Who puts a deadline at 3pm? Not that I don't love you, WOTV people, but that's just cruel.)


Disney ABC stuff is due Friday, August 8. Don't forget that they also require you to turn in a "statement of interest" (i.e. 500 word essay).

Good luck to all, but mostly Jul and I. :)

Monday, July 21, 2008


Elana reflects on Batman and a lack of superheroes. Mostly the lack of superheroes. Elana is the shiznit:

"Why don’t some of these young people who have too much money stop doing coke and making sex tapes and instead FIGHT CRIME?"

I am so there. Sounds like the comedy event of the summer.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Is it a waste of time to write a spec animated feature?

Comic Book Guy ponders this question posed to me a few days ago (okay, weeks technically) by reader Matt.

Short answer: Worst. Idea. Ever.

Slightly longer answer: Or...maybe not. Depending no what you mean by that and (say it with me now) who you know.

From everything I've seen and been told by people in animation, in a very general sense, no one is going to buy an animated feature script on spec. The big studios with animation arms--Disney Pixar, Dreamworks, Sony--develop all of their projects in-house. These places have stables of writers they already know they like to use, and an army of artists chomping at the bit to get their own ideas developed into features. Not to mention that animation is slow, and the development slates for these places--even conservatively--are probably full through 2012. It's simply not worth it for Average Joe Writer to spend his time (or her time, if you're Josephine) slogging through a full 120ish page feature.

In fact, unless you are in some way connected to people in animation, I'd suggest trying to shove that animated feature idea into a deep, dark corner of your brain and move on to something else. That or re-imagine it as a non-animated script. Remember that the last decade or so has made it so that a lot of previously "animated" ideas are now possible in "live action." (And yes, those both deserve quotes.)

"But Josh," you say, "I love this idea and have to try. It's brilliant and will completely change animation forever." Fine, fine, fine. If you really like the idea, write a treatment for it. Or simply create a logline and send out some query letters. Someone bites, you'll know if you've got something worth spending a little more of your time on. Alex Epstein has suggested trying this method for any spec scripts over on his blog. The difference is that for live action feature specs, you've got a few hundred potential places to send your work; for an animated spec, replace the word "hundreds" with "dozens." And I think that's being generous.

The only--and I mean only--reason Jul and I started developing an animated project is because I got a job at an animation company and heard about a few specific ideas/types of characters that some of the higher-ups there were interested in finding and making. Without that information, I wouldn't have dreamed of attempting an animated feature. And even with that knowledge, Jul and I don't plan on doing much more than (as I suggested above) outlining the story and maybe putting together a treatment.

Still not dissuaded? Fair enough. The industry is still the industry, and the way to get your work in the hands of people that can help you doesn't differ all that much. Wanna write animated movies? Read the Animation Writers blog. Network. Get a job at an animation company. Doing whatever. This way, you'll have the opportunity to meet people who at least in theory can help. Do a good job. Befriend the storyboard artists and animators. Talk to the D-girls (sorry, D-girls) and see what they're recommending to their bosses and what kinds of stories and characters their bosses are passionate about. See if your company has an open door policy for pitching or certain times when it's acceptable to bring your idea(s) to them. And then, before you actually start pitching your story or passing out your script, make sure it's the best you can make it.

Who knows, maybe you'll get lucky and they'll buy your work and then hire someone (or, likely, many someones) to rebuild it from the ground up until your baby becomes an unrecognizable Frankenstein to you. Not that you'll be anywhere near the development process to see it. Sounds enjoyable, no?

Friday, July 18, 2008

(Auto) Pilot: Reviewing the Pilot Script of Captain Cook's Extraordinary Atlas

(Simul-posted at Pink Raygun)

If his pilot script for Captain Cook's Extraordinary Atlas is any indication, Thomas Wheeler is one ambitious storyteller. Combining elements of Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, and a slew of Saturday morning kids shows and young adult fantasy books, Wheeler's script is a breezy, enjoyable read that seems aimed at younger viewers, but still manages to include enough layers to be of interest to the adults in the audience.

Atlas begins with a narrator, who quickly fills us in on the mythology of the show. Captain Cook was the greatest English navigator of his time, not only exploring the unknown corners of this world, but also embarking on adventures in "another world existing beside our own, a fantastical world of adventure and magic." He wrote all of his magical adventures down in his Extraordinary Atlas, then hid it so that it would not fall into the wrong hands. Yet, over the years, a few have found it and become Navigators, traveling to the other world to have adventures. And now, it appears, it's time for a new Navigator to find the book.

Immediately we get a sense of adventure and mystery, and learn that Atlas takes itself seriously when the narrator tells us of Captain Cook's death at the point of a native spear: adventurers can be killed. There's fun to be had here, not to mention adventure and excitement, but do not expect the whimsical humor of something like, say, Pushing Daisies.

Following the opening narration, we are immediately introduced to the Malloys as they move into their new home. There's Marion (Janel Maloney), the cheerleader-like mom who just wants her family to be normal; Phinneas Sr. (Patrick Breen), the college professor father; Finn (Nathan Gamble), whom IMDB expositionally lists as simply Brother; and Gwen (Jodelle Ferland), the 13-year-old tomboyish heroine of the show. Quickly and efficiently, their characters are established and they arrive at the house of Phinneas's new boss, Dean Winters, for a party. Marion warns Gwen not to sneak off exploring because it's "embarrassing," but naturally Gwen does just that. In short order, she discovers a secret stairway inside a closet, which leads her to a basement room full of antique objects, maps...and Captain Cook's Extraordinary Atlas. A mysterious, pale boy interrupts her reading and scares her away, but not before she's able to learn about the "secret world beside our own." As Gwen rejoins the party, Dean Winters shares a secret smile with her and tells her that she's welcome to stop by at any time.

The next morning before school, Gwen goes to talk to Dean Winters, but when she discovers his house is empty she decides to return to the secret room. She's just started looking at the Atlas when a closet door creaks open and Gwen bolts, unintentionally stealing the Atlas. The school bus disappears as Gwen exits the dean's house, and she arrives late to school, having the typical fish-out-of-water experiences we've all come to expect from any kid-goes-to-a-new-school story. There's even a complete jerk of a teacher, Mr. Boots (Marc Vann), who takes joy in embarrassing her in front of his class.

But now Gwen has the Atlas, and it's not long before she's accidentally off on a Dragon Safari. She learns from the ever-helpful Atlas how to spot the telltale signs of a nearby dragon and that one should bring diamonds, rubies or gemstones to appease them. Unfortunately, Gwen left all of her rare jewels at home (whoops!), and it's only with the help of a mysterious stranger that she escapes with her life. More adventures and danger follow, but it would be a shame to give any more of it away. Suffice it to say that we see more of the dean, the pale boy, the stranger and even Mr. Boots, and before the end of the pilot, Gwen learns that the Atlas has chosen her to be the new Navigator and explore as many of its mysteries as she is able.

At its best, Atlas feels like a young adult fantasy novel, safe for kids but layered enough for adults, and containing a fantasy world that feels both real and fully realized, but never in a way that feels too ridiculous or silly. More importantly, by the end of the script it's made quite clear that Wheeler has specific plans for where this show will go. Seeing as how he has no other IMDB credits, I can only hope that whatever showrunner ABC brings on board actually lets him stay true to his vision.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Emmy nominations--for realz this time!

I know you're all wondering who the nominees are, but let's face it, if you just wanted that information there are far more professional sites where you can find it. But there's something much more important you can learn by coming here: how correct were Josh's picks from a few weeks ago?

Important stuff, kids.

Here are the actual Emmy noms:

Outstanding Comedy Series

Curb Your Enthusiasm
The Office
30 Rock
Two and a Half Men

Outstanding Drama Series

Boston Legal
Mad Men

My choices were:


The Office
Pushing Daisies
30 Rock
Ugly Betty


Mad Men
The Wire

As you can see, I've bolded my choices that match the actual nominations. Drama -- pretty dead on. Comedy -- not so much.

Seeing the differences in these lists immediately brings a few things to mind:
1) Drama gets six nominees? Really? Fine. Then I choose House over Boston Legal.
2) I don't know what the solution is, but classifying shows as simply either Comedy or Drama doesn't seem to cut it. No one-hour shows got nominated for Comedy? Come on.
3) I stand by my choice of The Wire and will bludgeon all who disagree. Not my favorite TV show ever, but quite possibly the best.

How did your favorite shows do?

When writers RSVP to something, apparently they mean it

Holy crap, guys.

Apparently hopeful TV writers are a lonely, lonely people, because last night 80 or so of us swarmed the Cat & Fiddle in Hollywood for the first ever event for the TV Writers (and friends) in LA group.

Standing room only doesn't even cover it. We were crammed into what at first seemed like a giant side room of the pub, but in short order tables were being pushed against walls and people were struggling to navigate through the crowd.

By which I mean: it was awesome.

Congratulations, Jane, on such a great turnout, and for realizing there's a need for a group like this in LA. This was, without doubt, the most fun meetup/mixer/networking event-type thing that Jul and I have ever attended.

What did you, Gentle Reader, miss? Why, a veritable who's who of writers who aren't quite anybody yet :)

There was, of course, Jane, hopping from table to table and being a good host; Sullivan stopped by to brag about the 19th script he's written this year (I kid, but seriously, I've never known anyone as good as he is to be so prolific... bastard); Matt was beard-y and friendly, just like he was when we had lunch a few weeks ago; Adam had trouble deciding which TV show he watches is his least favorite and made me realize I'd lost my fiancee; Amanda was too busy networking with people she doesn't know to talk to me until the end of the night...wait, actually that was me; Elana says she was there...but I think she's lying; Furey was all like, "Secretariat this, Secretariat that. Joss Whedon played a practical joke on me because I'm so cool;" David complained that his new job is so slow that he's been forced to hang out with all the Caprica writers (boo-hoo, David, boo-hoo); Elliot, always thinking, brought a friend; Thomas and Lily and Bethany chatted about the specs they're trying to get ready for Warner Bros. and Disney ABC.

And, yes, there were people I didn't already know who attended as well. Like Jami and Louis and Grace and Ben and about 20 others I "met" and conversed with and (naturally) promptly forgot their names. Have I mentioned that I was an RA in college and that it was my job to remember names...? Yeah, so...

Overall, it seemed like everyone had a really good time, and it was great to spend a few hours mingling with people who are largely in the exact same position as Jul and I. Again, Jane, thanks. I'm already looking forward to the next event.