Sunday, April 29, 2012

Every scene should have a purpose.

Probably the most troubling aspect of The Big Bang Theory this season has been the fact that the girls have gotten individual scenes.

Why, you might say?

Well, I think the most obvious problem with this is that it has gone against the premise of the show. The Big Bang Theory was supposed to be about our four guys and a girl next door.

It was never meant to be about three girls.

The second problem with the girls having individual scenes is that it has marginalized Penny as a character. She used to be part of the gang and the voice of reason when the guys did something silly.

Nowadays she doesn't have a function on the show at all. That's bad too. She's useless even though she shouldn't be.

But the biggest problem I've had with this is that these individual girl scenes never have anything to do with the story.They're like cutaway scenes from Family Guy. They don't serve the story and are completely pointless.

This is so wrong. Every scene is always supposed to have a purpose. There aren't really any exceptions to this rule. 

The fact that they keep doing this over and over again just goes to show that they don't really care about their craft anymore.

If you don't belive me, watch the 'Stag Convergence' 5x22 with and without the girl scenes.

How is this even possible?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Another Big Bang Theory spec script.

Here's another Big Bang Theory script that I wrote. This was when the show still rocked (between seasons 2 and 3) and all my friends watched it.

Anyway, let's see what the 'story', or the 'unstory' is.

Cold open: The guys are excited about the upcoming Comic Con. (Morena Baccarin baby!)  However, Leonard thinks that they have forgotten something, he just doesn't know what it is. Others disagree. Penny comes down and tries to help them with this.

Main Titles

Scene A: Howard comes in and sees Sheldon and Raj arguing about the Hulk movies. After they're done, he says that something unexpected has happened and it's possible that they might not get the tickets to the Comic-Con.

Scene B: Leonard shows up with the tickets but is still wondering that they have forgotten something. Sheldon insists that Leonard is paranoid, until Raj figures out that perhaps the thing that they forgot was Penny's upcoming birthday. Others agree. Birthday, of course!

Scene C: Guys try to figure out what to buy Penny. Nobody seems to come up with anything good and unsurprisingly Howard suggests buying erotic lingerie. No deal, and Sheldon is unwilling to pony up the dough.

Act Break.

Scene D: We are shown that the guys are having a Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock tournament to decide who has to or who gets to buy the gift. Then Penny shows up and the guys try to circle around what they're doing.

Sheldon eventually says 'enough' and tells Penny what it's about.. and that it's between Howard and Sheldon, who 'has' to buy the gift. This bothers Penny and things don't get better when 'sleazy' Howard wins the tournament.

Scene E: Leonard of course can't help himself  and goes to Penny's apartment to talk to her. Things don't go that well. Leonard explains the thought process behind the tournament. Big mistake. To make matters worse..

Leonard shoots himself in the foot multiple times. Like that he didn't lose to Howard, Comic-con is only once a year, unlike Penny's birthday and that simple things are hard to remember.. so does that make Penny simple?

Things get so bad that Leonard has to ask if there's even a birthday party the next day. Penny doesn't give an answer. In the end he promises to buy Penny a very expensive birthday gift to make up for his screw-ups.

Scene F: Leonard goes to the hallway, where he sees Raj and Howard. Leonard says that things didn't go well. Howard and Raj have decided what to buy Penny. It's a secret though.

Tag:  A scene at Penny's birthday. Finally we got see what they bought. Leonard has bought expensive jewelry and the guys.. they have bought Penny a ticket to Comic-Con. But where's the erotic lingerie?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

South Park is mean-spirited?

One thing that got me thinking was when an unnamed producer said that South Park is a mean-spirited show.

I thought that hmm.. mean-spirited? Let's see.

The video above is South Park's song about figure skater Brian Boitano.

I know, Brian Boitano might not say or matter that much to you.

Neither did he to me. But then I watched the video below:

I think the question has been settled: not mean-spirited.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Should there be an 'unstory' credit?

One of the thing that has been bothering me for quite some time is the fact that no matter how awful an episode of a show is, someone is usually entitled to a 'story' credit.

Especially on 'Two and a Half Men'. Teleplay by Lee Aronsohn, story by Chuck Lorre.

Even though that episode would have absolutely nothing in it that would constitute as a story, the writer in question gets a story credit.

That can't be right, but that's the way it goes.

A 'story by' credit should mean something. It should mean that someone has written something that not only entertains us but also makes us feel good inside.

But too many times there's no story in the script. There's only that credit.

There are exceptions of course. If someone alone writes the episode, then that person gets a 'written by' credit and teleplay/story doesn't come to play.

There's nothing wrong with that. 'Written by' doesn't mean that he or she is going to tell you a story. It only means that he or she wrote it. It's a neutral term.

Story by credit, however isn't.

So I'm thinking that this problem needs to be fixed. What if we'd come up with a new credit: 'unstory'.

Would that make the situation better?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Obstacles, but not observations and opportunities.

One of the reasons that I didn't like the latest episode of Modern Family (Election Day) was that the episode had too many setbacks. For example, Claire lost her tooth, Cam and Mitchell accidentally left their microphone on, Phil had to do favors to his neighbor and Jay ran into his former girlfriend that he didn't want to meet.

'Election Day' wasn't good because there weren't enough redeeming qualities in the episode. The storylines ran almost purely on obstacles and setbacks that didn't really add up in the end. It was just too obvious and I'm not a fan of writing like this.

If you want to write a script that runs on setbacks and obstacles, you'd better provide something that also counters the negative setbacks with some positive things. That would be something like having solutions, observations or opportunities for the characters. Otherwise your episode is going to be pretty depressing to watch.

Modern Family is supposed to be uplifting but it was pretty depressing to see Claire chipping her tooth and not recognizing the implications of that in the interview. I bet that in real life she would have observed that she had a problem. So that was lazy, one-dimensional writing.

I also didn't like when Cam & Mitchell left the microphone on and started badmouthing a person who was nearby. It just wasn't believable that they didn't observe their voice from the loudspeakers. (I did like when they saw an opportunity to use the mic but the setback just wasn't handled well)

Phil's problem with taking the old-timer to vote wasn't believable either. To me it felt like the obstacles were pretty randomly put together and weren't well thought out. Phil's reaction wasn't that he was going to handle the situation. It was more like him being a passive-aggressive passenger than being someone who saw an opportunity to save the day. It just wasn't good or funny.

The same unfortunately has to be said about Jay's storyline too. His obstacle was his former girlfriend as an official who apparently tried to prevent him from casting a ballot (that's supposed to be illegal by the way). There was no observation and no opportunity here either. Disappointing.

So, how do you handle an obstacle? How do you counter a negative with a positive that the audience doesn't know to expect? Well, I mean, I guess you just have to find a way. If your script has an obstacle, try to make an observation and try to find an opportunity for the characters. It's not easy, but you are supposed to write something that the audience wants to see but nevertheless won't see coming.