Writing On Spec

An award caliber procrastinator discovers a new and dangerous pursuit to keep him from actually writing another script. Why another Blog? I love to talk screenwriting. I love to talk story. I live in Richmond, VA. It's almost easier to get produced than find another screenwriter here. We are the anti-LA.

Monday, July 31, 2006

There's Nothing on TV

I hear that so many times, and I'm not even IN the TV business.

Just watched the preview from We. The Screenwriter

It looks great, but one of the comments that bugged me was when a TV writer said that whenever he says he's a TV writer, the response is, "how come there's nothing good on TV?"

I just don't understand that comment at all. Do they mean there's really nothing on the channel I watch? There's nothing at the time of day I want to watch TV? My television is really just an aquarium and I don't like the fish? Really? I believe currently, television represents just about any kind of show you could want to watch. So much more than used to be on television (as far as the spectrum or range of shows that is).

What were the shows you thought were good? They're pretty much there now, perhaps disguised a little differently, but they're there. Maybe you just got tire of looking through the listings or you don't watch commercials so you miss all the previews of new shows.

Are you a big 3 snob? Only watch shows on NBC, CBS or ABC?

I just don't get it.

I've enjoyed a variety of shows for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it's TV... that's television. What are the expectations from television these days? Has it changed since the days of Leave it to Beaver, My 3 Sons, Quincy, Rockford Files, Dallas, etc.? I don't think so. It's still there to entertain.

Maybe the problem is that there are good shows, but you're not paying attention so you don't watch and then they're cancelled. Gone are the days when a good show would get a couple years to develop an audience. You get a few episodes and pray for a hit.

This past year sported three engaging and creative sci-fi type shows (Threshold, Surface and Invasion) on the Big 3 networks. But all 3 were cancelled. Over There and Thief both came and went from FX. Critically acclaimed and fantastic shows. Gone. Nobody watched them.

Maybe it's just that you don't recognize the show, so you don't tune in? Do you only give a show one viewing? Maybe the reason there's "nothing good on tv" anymore is your fault. Maybe you're just not tuning in or giving some of the new shows a chance.

I know that for myself, often my favorite cd from an artist is the one that first drew me to them. The other cd's often just aren't as good for some reason. Perhaps that's the way it's going with TV. Many of the popular actors are out of TV from the past generation and now nobody recognizes the new popular actors/acresses. Maybe it's fewer spinoffs, so all the shows are "new" and original so there's no familiarity inherent to the show.

I don't know.

I do think it's a falacy that there's nothing good on TV anymore. They may not be your "cup of tea" but here are some shows that are entertaining to watch:

Nip/Tuck, Rescue Me, Blade, Smallville, Supernatural, House, CSI NY, CSI LV, CSI Miami, Eureka, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, 4400, Windfall, Numbers, NCIS, Medium, Las Vegas, Monk, Psych, The Loop, Scrubs, The Dead Zone, Criminal Minds, The Shield, New Adventures of Old Christine & Saved.

These are all night shows, so we're not even counting shows during the day or on channels like discovery or history that show a variety of educational materials.

And that's excluding all the reality shows (since I despise them on pure principal - doesn't appear to be much "creative" writing - although I understand there are writers on the shows).

If you still can't find anything on TV, maybe you should just sell it and play outside instead.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Unknown Screenwriter said...

I have something good on my television every night...

A movie playing from a DVD.

Unfortunately, the good shows that are on television don't seem to have longevity anymore... And, unless you can get the demographic that loves a particular show to write into the network, not really much we can do about it from the comfort of our own homes unless we're hooked up to a Nielsen box.

Add to that insult that everybody's SCRATCHING for the next hot reality television show and networks don't really care if a GOOD SHOW lasts anymore if they can replace it with some fucked up reality series for a year or two.

I was raised on LEAVE IT TO BEAVER, BONANAZA, HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL, etc. etc. and when I flip through the channels, I'll still leave it on one of those shows IF it happens to be playing on TV LAND or whoever plays those shows...

I do however recall recently that EVERWOOD was cancelled and I thought that was an outstanding show. After it was cancelled, the public reared it's head and screamed back with letters and emails but alas... The show remains cancelled.

Hence, the reason, I shove a DVD into the DVD player.

In fact, I just purchased season 1 and 2 of LEAVE IT TO BEAVER.

Unk

Monday, July 31, 2006 at 9:22:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Dave said...

Yeah, it's sad how little time a new show is given to succeed. I can't stand the current Reality trend.

Seems to appeal to alot of folks though.

Recently saw where Aquaman (regardless of how good it was) got yanked before it premiered (which it won't now).

Perhaps there will be life for shows on downloads instead of TV. Might be interesting to see (i.e. Heroes is premiering on iTunes).

Tuesday, August 1, 2006 at 2:49:00 PM EDT  
Blogger wcdixon said...

I'd go the other direction and argue that there's soooo much good television out there that it puts most movies released of late to shame...

Veronica Mars, Six Feet Under, Soprano's, Battlestar Gallactica, The Wire, Sleeper Cell, The Office, Entourage, Deadwood, and on and on (some no longer on but only recently)...as well as many Dave already mentioned.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006 at 7:00:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Webs said...

I was going to respond here, but I had a lot to say, so I made my own blog post on it at 101.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006 at 12:20:00 AM EDT  
Blogger YesMSG said...

Hi, Dave. Thanks for the kind mention of WE, THE SCREENWRITER -- I made it and, given the rather niche audience it's geared for, am very pleased you found it!

The comment you refer to was made by longtime TV writer-producer Larry Brody, who's won about every award one can win in TV over the span of his career. What Larry actually says is this...

LARRY BRODY: If I'm anywhere in the world and someone asks me what I do for a living and I say, "Write television," the next statement to me is not a statement, it's a question. And it's always, "Why is TV so bad?"

The counter to that, not in the trailer, is one that I believe you might appreciate as much as I do. It's from Ronald D. Moore, who currently runs BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, but also did ROSWELL and STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION for several years, among other things...

RONALD D. MOORE: I kind've always go back to a quote of Harlan Ellison's that I read year's ago. "Every endeavor, ninety-percent of it is crap and there's only ten-percent of it that's worth anything." So when you think about it in those terms, yeah, there's ten percent of TV that's excellent, that's outstanding, that is to be remembered year after year, and ninety percent is crap!

Having written a lot for TV, my own feeling is that some of the best, most provocative and entertaining stories you'll ever see can currently be found on TV. But as always with television, these are the best of times and the worst. And you gotta wade through a lot of worst to find the best!

While we won't know the status of broadcast and distribution of the movie for a few months yet, if you're interested, you can watch the first eight minutes of WTS at here: http://www.randomcove.com/production/footage/wts_first_nine_Medium.mov (if we start chewing through bandwidth, I'll know it's you to blame).

Thanks again for the support.

--msg

Friday, August 4, 2006 at 8:37:00 PM EDT  

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