Friday, April 24, 2009

Break It Down - The Tower pilot

The Tower, you say, what's that? Well, my friends, it's a pilot from Cold Case creator Meredith Stiehm about newspaper reporters. It was written and shot last year, but has yet to air. And since I've heard nothing about it, I'm guessing it probably never will. Which is a shame, because it's well-written and intriguing, if not something that knocked my socks off. But anyway, you know the drill by now. I read, I dissect so that I'll learn something, I post for you to enjoy.

Thus far (that I can remember) I've done breakdowns on Harper's Island, Kings, Castle, Grey's, Gossip Girl, Chuck, Dexter and very possibly a few more that are here... somewhere. Wanna read them? Look for "Break It Down" WAAAAY down on the right side under LABELS and then click it. It's like Staples' EASY button, only real and not as easy.

Now for The Tower.

Episode 101 - Pilot

Short Description

Two newspaper reporters, each with their own demons, try to break real news stories in an age of rampant cutbacks and tabloidism.

Story Threads

A-story - Mayor Investigation
B-story - Olivia and the groom
C-story - William Valentine's murder
D-story - Olivia's problem
E-story - Zoe Cafritz

Lots of overlap and long scenes servicing multiple stories.

Length and Breakdown

Teaser - 8 pages, 7 scenes
Act I - 7 pages, 4 scenes
Act II - 19 pages, 9 scenes
Act III - 9 pages, 5 scenes
Act IV - 16 pages, 8 scenes

(Only 4 acts and a teaser? Hello, old friend, been awhile since I've seen your kind...)

33 scenes in 59 pages, but a lot of those scenes are servicing 2, 3, even 4 stories at a time. And I barely noticed the LOOONG second and fourth act while reading, but... man.

The scenes are organized as follows:

A-story - Mayor Investigation (11 beats/scenes)
B-story - Olivia and the groom (11 beats/scenes)
C-story - William Valentine's murder (14 beats/scenes)
D-story - Olivia's problem (9 beats/scenes)
E-story - Zoe Cafritz (6 beats/scenes)

As you can might surmise, I didn't bother to organize for importance, just labeled each new thread as it appeared. The C- and A-stories would likely switch places if we were doing this for real, since the C-story really seems like it will be the season arc. Everything else I'm more or less comfortable with.

Teaser - A, B, A, B, A, B, C
Act I - A/D, C, C, B
Act II - D/C, B/A/D, B/E, C, B/A, C, E, C, D/B
Act III - D, C/D/E, C/E/A, B/D, C
Act IV - C, E/B, C, C/D/A, A/E/D/B, E, A, C/A

(Note: where beats include a / mark, this means that the scene has elements of both stories. When this happens, I'm listing the beats in the order that they occur in the scene. In the scene/beat count above, every appearance of A, B, C and so on is counted as one full beat rather than a half, even if there is a slash mark.)

51 story beats. In 33 scenes. Efficiency or overcrowding?

(Shrug) It worked for me.


Republibot 3.0 said...

This has got nothing to do with "Tower" or anything like that, but I was interested to know if you had access to the original "Terminator Salvation" script. There are lots of odd periscopes in the movie that indicate to me it was re-written repeatedly and quickly. Also the structure of the movie is kind of a mess.

I'm interested to know how it differed from the original draft, if you know anything about that.

Josh said...

i don't have it, but from what i've heard that big twist we all learned about a year or so ago is gone, so i imagine that screwed with the structure quite a bit...

republibot 3.0 said...

Yeah, I'd imagine so. As it is, the film feels very cut-and-paste. 'Let's take this scene from the first draft, and that one from the second, and bill can make up something to tie 'em together, then scene three from draft seven...'