Friday, June 5, 2020

The full script for CRISIS ON INFINITE TEEN DRAMAS is now available!

You guys were here at the start of this less than two weeks ago when I dashed off four pages of CRISIS ON INFINITE TEEN DRAMAS as a joke. It was basically taking the format of the big comic book mega-crossovers (and the Arrowverse crossover that the original CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS inspired) and applying it to some of the biggest teen dramas of the last 30 years.

The reaction was so good that I wrote another four pages. And then another. And another.

By then it was becoming clear to me that I'd have to finish this script I had no plan for when I started. It makes sense that I'd be drawn to something like this - teen dramas are among my favorite shows. Three years ago, when I listed the 16 Great TV Shows that made an impact on me as a writer, THE WONDER YEARS, GILMORE GIRLS, EVERWOOD and 13 REASONS WHY all made the list. Two years ago, I wrote an alternate season 3 premiere for 13 REASONS WHY, using it as an example of how to write a spec episode.

This script went from idle joke to completed spec in about eight days. I've held it for a few days because with all the protests happening across the country, it didn't feel appropriate at all to say, "Hey guys! Check this out!" It's now clear that several days into this, there IS going to be no golden time to be silly. The next five months until the election (and probably several months after) are going to be marked by continuing tragedy and aggression from Donald Trump and his party as they terrorize a nation to distract from their terrible pandemic response - and maybe make an undemocratic power grab as a bonus.

The world sucks, and things are bleak right now. Take joy where you can find it. If this script is in line with your interests, I hope it can make you smile for 75 pages. It's a loving tribute to many of the shows and creators whose work has inspired me and healed me throughout my life.

You can download the full script here.

After you click that link, press ONLY the button that says "Download" next to the script title, and ignore any pop-ups you get or any messages telling you that your Adobe Flash is out of date.

Some credit where credit is due:

BEVERLY HILLS, 90210 created by Darren Starr

DAWSON'S CREEK created by Kevin Williamson

EVERWOOD created by Greg Berlanti

GLEE created by Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk & Ian Brennan

KATY KEENE developed by Roberto Aguirre-Sacsa & Michael Grassi, based on characters by Archie Comics

PRETTY LITTLE LIARS developed by I. Marlene King, based on the novels by Sara Shepard

GILMORE GIRLS created by Amy Sherman-Palladino

ONE TREE HILL created by Mark Schwahn

RIVERDALE developed by Roberto Aguirre-Sacsa, based on characters by Archie Comics

THE OC created by Josh Schwartz

VERONICA MARS created by Rob Thomas

13 REASONS WHY developed by Brian Yorkey, based on the novel by Jay Asher

THE WONDER YEARS created by Neal Marlens & Carol Black

Sunday, May 24, 2020

The 4th post of pages from CRISIS ON INFINITE TEEN DRAMAS

For Part 1, go here.
For Part 2, go here.
For Part 3, go here.

With today's pages, we've reached that point in the story where it becomes necessary to have plot and exposition that will justify why everything is happening. I felt a little guilty about that, so instead of four pages, it turned out six pages as a bonus for the holiday weekend.

Enjoy and start your speculations on who Dark Monitor is.






Full script now available here.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

CRISIS ON INFINITE TEEN DRAMAS continues with an EVERWOOD/RIVERDALE crossover

For Part 1, go here.
For Part 2, go here.

Another day, another four pages of CRISIS ON INFINITE TEEN DRAMAS. Today, Archie and Veronica take a trip to Everwood, Colorado.




I'm firming up my plans for the rest of this. I'm 90% sure of how this ends, so I might do one more post of pages sometime this weekend, but then go silent until I have the complete script. I feel like writing the ending is going to tell me things I should revise on the way there.

So enjoy these serialized bursts while they last and at some point in the near future, you WILL get to read a complete script.

Part 4 is here.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Part 2 of CRISIS ON INFINITE TEEN DRAMAS

I wasn't sure I could get a whole script out of this... but after kicking around some things in my head yesterday, I was able to crank out the next four pages of CRISIS ON INFINITE TEEN DRAMAS late last night.

For Part 1, go here.





And I have been overwhelmed by the reaction to this very silly project. Allow me the indulgence of sharing some with you.

First, from showrunner Marc Gugginheim, who among many other shows, oversaw the actual TV crossover CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS:



SUPERGIRL writer J. Hothham had this incredibly kind comparison to make.


Liam here suggested something I didn't think I could do because it would conflict with another fantasy idea... but after some thought I'd say it's at least on the table.


I like how Jeremias thinks, but instead of a comic book, what about a live read?


And so, after a long morning of thinking about things I've decided that if you guys are willing to put up with a few scenes of traditional crossover exposition and some metaphysical techonobabble, I might be able to land this puppy in the next few weeks for you.

I probably won't be able to do everything you wanted to see in this, but we'll have some fun. Too early to know the posting schedule, but I imagine I might use the long holiday weekend to plow ahead and assess where I am after that. Stay tuned!

For Part 3, go here.
For Part 4, go here.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Presenting the first four pages of CRISIS ON INFINITE TEEN DRAMAS

Yesterday, while goofing around on Twitter and talking about my latest binge of ALL-AMERICAN, I accidently gave myself a new project.



This is not too dissimilar to how a joke tweet a few years ago resulted in me writing a script for alternate timeline episode of 13 REASONS WHY that mashed that show's premise up with AWAKE. So really, no one should have been surprised when late last night I dropped this tweet on my audience.


Here are the four pages of CRISIS ON INFINITE TEEN DRAMAS.





I'm not sure if I'll continue. I have a few notions and some scenes in mind but the overall premise and story is still evolving. Maybe I'll turn out some pages, maybe this is where it ends, but I'm really getting a kick out of some of the reactions I've gotten so far.

















Is there more coming? We'll see...

UPDATE: Yes, there's more. Find Part 2 here.
Part 3 is here.
Part 4 is here.
Full script is here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Thought's on Quibi's muted launch, from A Friend with a Quibi show

When my twitter feed hasn't been full of people tweeting about Trump and the pandemic, I've seen a lot of tweets about Quibi and it's less-than-spectacular launch. It was the first of three major new streaming platforms set to launch in the year (HBOMAX arrives next month, and Peacock later this summer), so it would seem to be the canary in the coal mine as far as how much content can be put into the market before the audience stops consuming it.

The numbers haven't been great, the platform never seemed to have a breakout hit and all the conversation about Quibi seems to be ABOUT Quibi rather than about the shows. CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg did an interview in the New York Times where he blamed COVID-19 for the muted response. He said: "I attribute everything that has gone wrong to coronavirus. Everything. But we own it... If we knew on March 1, which is when we had to make the call, what we know today, you would say that is not a good idea... it’s regrettable, but we are making enough gold out of hay here that I don’t regret it."

I'm not sure I share this perspective. For two months, most of the country has been stuck at home starved for new content. Netflix added over 15 million subscribers in the first quarter of the year - more than double what they had projected. Correlation doesn't always equal causation, but that's an interesting data point.

This late March article from the Verge claims, "While the television industry as a whole saw a 20 percent increase last week compared to the month prior, HBO Now saw the highest usage on its platform since summer. The percentage of people binge viewing series has increased 65 percent, while movie watching is up 70 percent on HBO Now."

The captive audience is there. I don't think coronavirus was a huge factor. I think the biggest issue is Quibi made it too much work to access their content. You can only watch on an iPhone or an Android. You can't watch on Apple TV and you can't Chromecast it to your TV. Plenty of people stream to their phone, so this didn't need to be a fatal error, but I think when you're building an audience the more barriers to entry there are, the fewer people will go to the trouble of going through them.

I reached out to a Friend with a Quibi Show and here's what they had to say when I suggested that having a captive audience at home should have been a boost rather than a detriment, here's what they had to say:

"The service was always designed to be on the go. It’s the only possible way it made sense. I’ve got 10 minutes to kill. So... all of at home with HOURS to kill, we’re choosing longer things. I watched all of the baseball doc, which was 18 hours long. Same with Last Dance.

"BUT... had they actually done what they said they were going to do... they could’ve weathered it. They kept talking about being SHORT FORM HBO AT THE START and instead they did YOUTUBE, BUT YOU PAY." 

This friend had their own thoughts on what went wrong:

"#1: Their ads ignored the content and focused on the concept. "Shows are REALLY short," they told us, which is akin to the doctor telling you "don't worry about the shot...it'll be over fast." No one wants a shot. And no one is inspired by how quickly something will be over. TV is concept. Cool concepts sell. And they may have a TON of cool concepts, but they didn't seem want to tell their potential audience about it. Just IT'S FAST!

"#2: After sitting in rooms with artists and saying they were going to do high-end, short-form TV... they led with glorified YouTube entertainment...which we were going to have to eventually pay for. And it wasn't even clever YouTube entertainment. It was a judge show and a prank show...which have been around since the 80s.

"#3: All they cared about was star fucking. What's the show about? What's the draw? Who cares, it's from X with Y and Z. Moreover, while saying they were doing high end TV, they did movies. They handed control to whomever was the most namey person on the call sheet regardless of smarts or vision.

"#4: And yes... the pandemic. You can't launch 'TV you can watch on the go' when there's nowhere to go.

"BUT... #1-#3 were the REAL issues. And #4 was the nail in the coffin." 

Definitely solid points there. Even if Quibi doesn't think any of these were magic bullet issues to be concerned about, I hope their internal post-mortems look deeper than just assuming COVID-19 was a once-in-a-lifetime fluke that derailed an airtight plan.

And the reality is that even if that WAS the case, COVID-19 is a reality for every other service looking to launch in the next year, so someone is going to have to figure out how to achieve success under those circumstances. It's natural selection, the future of streaming will have to adapt or die.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

My Top 10 Films of 2019

I admit... my intent to be more active on this blog last year took an even faster nosedive than I expected. I'm sorry to say of late that I've not felt terribly inspired with new ideas, but at least the end of one year gives me a very easy top to post about - my Top Ten Films of 2019!

1. Apollo 11 - It's remarkable to see footage of one of the most significant events of the last century looking not like faded newsreel, but vibrant color, as if it was shot in the present. Compiled from recently-recovered archival documentary footage, this film lets the events on screen tell the story. There's no omniscient narrator or talking head interviews to cast this like a tale you're hearing around the campfire. Knowing there were tens of thousands of hours of raw footage that had to be culled to make these 93 minutes makes the achievement even more remarkable. By showing the voyage of Apollo 11 as something unfolding before the cameras, the events become all the more immediate. Man landing on the moon has never felt more real or more awe inspiring. This is a film that should be shown in every elementary school.

2. Uncut Gems - Adam Sandler totally disappears in the role of diamond district jeweler/hustler Howard Ratner. You don't feel any trace of the actor's usual comedic persona even in the film's funny parts. This is a film that keeps piling the sandbags up against Ratner one after the other, with even brief victories quickly washed away. Every time you want Howard to just take his money off the table and stem his losses, he doubles down. It's like watching that guy walk the wire between the World Trade Center towers... he's got to fall sometime, right? Also, people who don't follow basketball at all (me) will probably be shocked at how the actual basketball player in the cast is such a natural actor. (Seriously, Kevin Garnett has more presence than almost any other athelte/actor I can think of.) I feel like this might be a little too intense for the Oscars to award Best Picture, but ten years from now when we look back at 2019 - this will be one of the first films that springs to mind.

3. Parasite - This one was released with a lot of "Go in knowing NOTHING" hype and I worry that might have scared off viewers afraid of a HEREDITARY kind of viewing experience. It's actually a dark comedy that turns into a thriller mid-way through with a surprising twist. It's gotten a lot of hype over its themes of class warfare, but more than that, I just appreciate it's a really well-made thriller about an underdog family who targets and cons a wealthy family who REALLY needs to do a better job of vetting their hired help.

4. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood - Tom Hanks never quite makes you fully forget you're watching "Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers" but he completely embodies the goodness that was Fred Rogers and makes you believe a man could be as generous and compassionate off-screen as he was on it. It was a year where we really needed films about GOOD people and the difference that kindness can make in a person's life. Matthew Rhys has been underpraised for his role as basically the cynical audience stand-in, a man used to seeing the dark side of life and unsure how to profile a man who seems to have no dark side or skeletons in his closet. There's a subplot about Rhys's character's father that could have been cynical in its heart-tugging but Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster's script makes you believe that a man like Rhys can find his heart, just as easily as it makes you believe in Mr. Rogers.

5. Avengers: Endgame - The one big franchise this year that completely stuck the landing. Yes, the time travel logic is counter-intuitive and there are plenty of nits to pick there, but everything here works on an emotional level. The final fates of several Avengers feels earned, much like a circle closing. I wrote in my review that it feels more like a series finale than a feature film, and while there's a lot of truth to that, it's a series that a LOT of people have been watching for a decade. Balancing spectacle and heart so ably, if this becomes the rabbit that every other blockbuster film tries to chase, we're in for some entertaining movies.

6. Booksmart - It's a disservice to write this off as a "female SUPERBAD." I see the similarities, but it also has a lot more to say about finding and redefining one's identity than the earlier film grapples with. SUPERBAD is about the end of the high school days and the one last chance to go after what you want. The second-best parts of BOOKSMART are about Amy breaking free of the box she's been in throughout high school. (The best parts of the film are Billie Lourd, obviously.) I also like that is specifically avoids making this a literal "coming out" story for her. She's out, but this is really a story about breaking free of the person you used to be.

7. Knives Out - I've watched this movie twice, and it might be my pick for favorite dialogue of the year and favorite ensemble. This is one of those movies where the joy that everyone felt making it on set clearly permeates on-screen. It's a whodunit that seems to tell us the "who" halfway through and briefly morphs into a suspense film as we worry the responsible party will be exposed. Everyone brings their A-game here. I want Rian Johnson to make a new Benoit Blanc film every other year, alternating with a new original film with this cast. I can't pick a favorite member of the cast, but this is a real coming out party for Ana de Armas. Not only was she usually cast as the sex bomb before this, but she was a sex bomb IN A MOVIE I SAW and I completely didn't recognize her until I went to look her up. Johnson's script should be required reading for anyone working on a script with a large ensemble, to study the economy of information that fleshes out everyone.

8. Dolemite is my Name - I'm a sucker for films about never-gonna-bes who don't let any talent deficiencies get in the way of their creative dreams (See: ED WOOD, also from the screenwriting team of Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski.) I knew nothing of the story of Rudy Ray Moore before I watched the film. At first, you pity the guy for his fruitless pursuit of fame and fortune, then you find yourself admiring his hustle and savvy in finding the right audience for his comedy. And when he seems ready to blow ALL that money on making a film before he's even learned how to direct, you want to scream "No, Icarus! Don't fly too high!" The whole time you're bracing for the brutal payoff this hustling underdog is courting... but the movie has much more up its sleeve. This is the kind of movie that will inspire a lot of passionate (and hopefully) talented people to bet on themselves in pursuit of their dreams. It's also EASILY Eddie Murphy's best performance since... his dual roles in BOWFINGER, maybe?

9. Little Women - The back-and-forth timelines were confusing. There, I said it. Particularly in the first half, I feel like the movie could have handled those transitions more effectively, but that's one of the few bad things I have to say about this film. Having never read the book or seen any other adaptations, I came to this with virgin eyes and felt that writer/director Greta Gerwig did a remarkable job balancing the stories of these four sisters in this perfectly-cast period drama.

10. Hustlers - She's being pushed for Supporting Actress, but this film BELONGS to Jennifer Lopez's Ramona. Constance Wu's Destiny is our eyes and ears, what what passes for the film's moral center, but without J.Lo's seduction into their increasingly ugly grift, this whole movie would collapse. She's the ringleader, the one who keeps pushing them further and further, taking on bigger risks. Soon what began as a clever scheme making victims of Wall Street douchebros who deserved it treads into uglier, more dangerous territory. Ramona and Destiny's friendship is a well-drawn depiction of the emotional manipulations that come into play as a friendship takes a slow slide into toxicity. You're torn between wanting to be loyal to a friend like Ramona even as it's inevitable she'll take you down with her.

and the rest of my Top 20:

11. Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood
12. The Art of Self-Defense
13. Queen & Slim
14. Toy Story 4
15. Jojo Rabbit
16. Bombshell
17. The Irishman
18. Frozen 2
19. Ford v. Ferrari
20. Ready or Not

Of the big Oscar films and would-be Oscar films, I still have to see 1917.