Updated Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Prep

So, I've got a list of 30 scripts here, pulled from a vast and awesome resource called, quite simply, TV Writing.

There's an utter ton of scripts here and it was a bit of a challenge to figure out which ones I was going to pick.

A good number of the shows here I've never seen before, so I often went with pilots -- that said, not every show had a pilot available, so I went with whatever seemed most interesting at the time.

Here's my list, in reading order (Due to potential legalities, etc, rather than linking to them directly, please find all the scripts I'm noting here at the above website):

June:

1. Castle 1x01 - Chapter One
2. The Big Bang Theory 2x05 - The Catalina Alternative
3. Psych 1x11 - He Loves Me He Loves Me Not He Loves Me Oops He's Dead
4. Dexter 1x12 - Born Free
5. Friends 3x06 - The One With The Flashback
6. Deadwood 1x01 - Pilot
7. Party Down 1x01 - Pilot
8. Gossip Girl 1x01 - Pilot
9. Modern Family 1x01 - Pilot
10. Pushing Daisies 1x01 - Pilot
11. Episodes 1x01 - Pilot
12. The Walking Dead 1x01 - Pilot
13. The Office 1x02 - Diversity Day
14. Alias 1x01 - Truth Be Told
15. Flight Of The Conchords 1x03 - Mugged
16. The Borgias 1x01 - Pilot
17. Shit My Dad Says 1x01 - Pilot
18. Weeds 1x01 - You Can't Miss The Bear
19. The Wire 1x01 - The Target
20. Frasier 1x01 - The Good Son
21. House 1x01 - Pilot
22. Due South 1x12 - Hawk and a Handsaw
23. Smallville 1x01 - Pilot
24. Community 1x01 - Pilot
25. Justified 1x01 - Pilot
26. Bored To Death 1x01 - Pilot
27. Dark Skies 1x01 - Awakening
28. Entourage 1x01 - Pilot
29. Mike & Molly 1x01 - Pilot
30. West Wing 1x01 - Pilot

And that's the list. I'll be getting started tomorrow with Castle, but until then...

Cheers!
Brandon

Monday, May 30, 2011

Life Is Slow Right Now

Sometimes the hardest part about playing the TV game is the 'hurry-up-and-wait'.

Just as quickly as irons can smoulder in that fire they can cool just as fast... and then you're back to sleepless nights up with the baby, where you're too tired to spell, let alone start up a laptop.

I've gotta admit that writing's been a bit tough the last week or so. A unique combination of 'not having much to say' combined with 'trying to figure out where all these leads are leading' while ensuring that I'm keeping up my end of said bargains has kept me off kilter.

Add into that a solid dose of 'trying not to nod off at work'.

Good times.

On the bright side, I'm almost done the re-vamp of my show bible for Pipeline -- that's been decidedly more painful than expected... but in a good way. It's helped me trim off the fat and hone in on what my show's about.

Which, really, is never a bad thing.

In other news, I've got an idea that's going to give me something to do during the slowdown, something that will keep me on point, or at least thinking about TV when I'm sitting up at 4 am or so.

It's a nice little exercise that, if you're interested, you can take part in too.

In June I'm going to try and read 30 TV scripts in 30 days.

Any genre, any length.

They just have to be made for TV and have actually been produced.

Now, I'm still putting together a list of shows (so far, it's a lot of pilots, as that's what's easiest to find) but if you've got any suggestions, I'm open to it. I'll have a list, with links, posted for you tomorrow, if you're interested in taking part. I'm not sure how much of a 'review' I'll be able to post as of yet, we'll see how the timing works out, but the plan is to write something to commemorate each script.

Anyways, just putting that out there. If you're interested, or have any suggestions, let me know in the comments.

That's all for now, folks!

Cheers,
Brandon

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Waiting For The Event

Warning: Spoilers ahead for the Season (Series) of 'The Event'.

More and more I've come to realize that I'm a sucker for Sci-Fi on Network TV.

More and more, I've come to realize that I'm a masochist.

And I'm not entirely sure why that is.

You see, usually, I give a show 3 episodes and if it doesn't make the grade, I bail. But for some reason, for Sci-Fi, I've got a weakness.

I realize that now.

For some reason, when it comes to Sci-Fi on Network TV all of my safeguards go out the window and I'm willing to put up with some crazy, crazy amounts of bullshit.

And, sad as it is to say, nothing quite takes the cake like The Event.

You see, plot-wise, there were some great ideas there; spattered throughout the mess there truly were some fantastic scenes and twists. But getting to those moments, getting to those reveals... execution-wise... it was just... yikes.

This was a show that spent most of its time telegraphing its punches... and then, with a few notable exceptions, played them straight. The episodes themselves often devolved into nuggets of new/interesting story wrapped in layers and layers of useless padding and expository/re-expository dialogue.

In fact, it was all so meted out, so slowly paced that it took me 3 episodes to realize that I'd managed to miss 2 earlier episodes in the series (apparently my PVR decided not to tape them).

Anyways, for those who never watched The Event -- or those who never cared but might be slightly interested, I've decided to share a bit of my pain... maybe get a bit of closure, maybe try and make it all make sense for myself ('cause it certainly didn't make that much sense when I watched it).

I've decided to try and sum up the entire first season/series of The Event.

*deep breath*

Aliens crash-landed on Earth a good 40-50 years ago. They were captured and held prisoner in an Arctic mountain range by the US Government. They were here on a mission of peace (theoretically). Aliens look exactly like us, their DNA is only like 1% different from ours. Also, they age super slowly.

NOTE: Everything gets crazy convoluted for most of the season, but I'll try and make it make sense (I'm condensing the entire series and trying to make it chronologically relevant).

Essentially, the newly-minted President Martinez finds out about said Aliens and wants to give them a shot to integrate themselves; had even planned to release them and introduce them to the world. His major chief of staff (or something) thinks this is a horrible idea and that they should either be left to rot or destroyed where they are because they're a threat (as it turns out he's ultimately right, but whatever). The President overrides him and continues with his plan to bring them public.

Then someone tries to kill the President by flying a plane into him.

Yes, you heard that right.

Eventually (near the end of the season) it turns out to have all been a plot by the Vice President, who was working for some shadowy figure who was apparently from some race of 'Sentinels' who guard the Earth against Aliens and didn't want the President letting the Aliens out... or something (but I'm getting ahead of myself, more on this later). In what is actually kind of a cool scene, the Aliens inadvertently (or advertently, I can't remember) save the President by using Alien technology to teleport the plane away at the last minute.

Anyways, over several episodes we come to find out that some of the original Aliens escaped capture and integrated into our everyday life. One of them (the leader of the Aliens' son, as it turns out) has been working behind the scenes to get Human technology up to snuff so that they can build a device that would allow them go home. Almost all advancements in Human technology come from this one guy's knowledge.

The leader of the Aliens, Sofia, a seemingly nice lady given the circumstances (she's been in said Arctic prison for a good 50 or so years), has been adamant to the President that they're a peaceful folk. Secretly, she's been having her son work on said Portal back home. Once she realizes the tech is feasible (saving the President from the plane turned out to be a 'test run') she goes on to tell her people that as soon as the portal is finished, they're are all going to leave Earth and head back to their home planet.

Her son doesn't want this, he's realized that he quite likes his new life on Earth and so he stages a coup against his mom -- attacking the secret Government prison directly and freeing all of the Aliens in an attempt to wrest power from his mother. (In the end, that doesn't really work and mommy pretty much slaps him on the wrist -- even though he actively killed a large chunk of his own people who were "traitors" for wanting to stay by his mom's side... oddly enough, this point is never brought up or addressed)

The US Government, of course, doesn't like being under direct attack from what amounts to sleeper cells of Aliens and so President Martinez spends a lot of time waffling on what the hell to do about this situation. His borderline 'good' relationship with Sophia ends up blown all to shit after a series of lies and miscommunications, eventually leading him to realize that these people are a threat. He ends up saying enough is enough and -- in a weird, entirely out of character moment -- he orders the Army to kill Sophia's son and a bunch of his followers. (He blows up a bus load of them with an attack chopper).

Sophia (who is now free from the prison and out amongst the populace) is displeased about this turn of events and decides that all Humanity must pay (seriously) which ends up all well and good because, an episode or two later, it's revealed that her home planet -- the one she's been trying to get everyone back to -- is about to be destroyed because their sun is imploding. Vindicated (so it would appear) she goes about plotting the utter death/destruction of 5.8 billion Humans to make way for her people.

And so she ends up sending a bunch of Aliens to Siberia to dig up an original version of the Spanish Flu virus from a frozen grave (why Siberia? That's never explained) and then proceeds to weaponize said virus (it kills too fast, so they want to slow it down...).

Also, the Aliens are immune to it.

President Martinez ends up in a brain-hemorrhaged coma after the Vice President (now working with Sophia) slips Alien poison into his morning meeting coffee. (This is also a really cool scene)

As Martinez's life hangs in the balance, the VP takes the reigns of the US Government and immediately becomes Sophia's bitch. (He acquiesces to her every whim based on her promise to 'spare' the American people from the wrath of her superior technology. This is actually a lie as she plots to make USA ground zero for her biological attack and from there infect and kill the world).

We then come to learn that apparently the Aliens were here first, long before we got around to being here. (More about the 'Sentinel' stuff... but I'll explain that later).

Anyways, sprinting toward the finish now, at the last minute the President is saved, the Alien biological attack is thwarted and things are looking good -- except the Aliens had finished their 'Open A Wormhole In The Fabric Of Space' portal machine and the Alien race -- all 2 or so billion of them -- teleport their entire planet just out past our moon. Apparently they're all extremely badass and Sophia was actually trying to kill us all with a virus as an 'act of mercy' as compared to what her people will do to us.

The Alien planet (of which half of it glows like embers in a fire) hangs in the sky, bigger than the moon, like the ominous threat that it is.

End of Series.

Now, if that sounds even remotely palatable that's because I've completely left out an entire major storyline and a metric shit-ton of filler. This other storyline actually took up about 1/3 to 1/2 of the general running time of the show.

It was also an utter mess at the best of times. (Pretty much every episode had that character repeating lines and all the new information he'd managed to learn the episode before).

You see, this other storyline was supposed to tell the story from the 'ground level', that involved a regular civilian human... but it was pretty much a clusterfuck from the word 'Go'.

His storyline broke down like this:

A regular civilian (a hacker, of course!) ends up on a quest to save his kidnapped girlfriend after she disappears from aboard their cruise ship (and no one even knows who he or she is, or that they were ever aboard to begin with). After a long (REALLY LONG) and convoluted find/rescue mission, he saves her and it ends up being revealed that said girlfriend is a half-alien. It also turns out that she's an annoying witch of a woman who has absolutely no chemistry with the would-be lead of that tale. (She gives him crap for saving her life...!)

Her father, as it turns out, is a full alien who was one of a few aliens who escaped into the wilderness all those years ago. They discover that there's a shadowy figure who's been pulling the strings, an old man who somehow manages to suck the life force out of children (leaving them withered and old but in the bodies of kids) to keep himself alive.

After the convoluted plot to save his girlfriend, she ends up choosing to leave him to go be with alien dad -- the boyfriend hooks up with a hot but ultimately clueless (at least as clueless as he is) assassin who used to work for said old string-pulling 'Sentinel' man. After even more convoluted and ultimately irrelevant plot points, he and the once-evil Assassin lady end up tracking down and confronting 'Sentinel' man who explains to the hacker in cryptic terms that he is of a race of 'Sentinel's that protect the Earth from 'threats'. He then explains that hacker boy is their last chance to stop the Aliens and save the world. Finally, he hands the hacker a cryptic (ancient) scroll and then proceeds to blow his own brains out with a hand gun.

(WTF?)

Hacker and friend then learns that the Aliens are actually evil (thanks to hacker's girlfriend calling him and telling him that the Aliens are actually evil) and thus hacker and assassin end up in Siberia, trying to stop the spread of this lethal virus. How the hell they manage to travel from Paris to Siberia with no money and with next to no time passage is never explained either.

Anyways, it turns out that the hacker's half-Alien girlfriend ends up being the vehicle for the Alien leader to weaponize the deadly virus (being a half-breed and all) -- and that's pretty much the culmination of the girlfriend's story. Yeah... worth it!!

Eventually, hacker and assassin end up back in the US, and hacker boy ends up talking down Sophia from releasing the virus in Dulles airport -- even tho' the US Government had already pretty much contained the entire situation. The hacker's story basically culminates in that he's there to keep an airport's worth of people from being killed by weaponized Spanish Flu. Not bad... I guess... but certainly a far cry from "saving the world".

So, yeah, end of Season One: Aliens teleport their whole planet into Earth's orbit, ominous talk is spouted, we're essentially doomed.

And that was where Season 2 was going to pick up.

There were some cool ideas in here -- and if they'd done away with the 'ground level' stuff entirely, kept it as just the US Government trying to deal with this threat it probably would've been a stronger show for it.

Certainly a leaner, meaner show.

But it didn't and now there will never be a Season 2.

And, like most cancelled 'Alien-invades' us shows, Humanity basically ends up Fubar'd.

Maybe it's time to just bite the bullet and start with the invasion itself?

(Note: Stephen Spielberg's new series 'Falling Skies' apparently does this).

*sigh*

I wish I had something profound to say after all of this, something to make it all make sense and add some perspective.

As a writer, I'd like to think my stuff would come out better... but, hell, I don't know that I can say that. I don't know what happened in that writing room or what pressures were placed on whom.

All I know is that, as a viewer, I really want to like shows like 'Flash Forward' or 'V' or 'The Event'... and yet every time I come away from it feeling hollow, like I've wasted my time.

How does one fix that? I don't know... but it can't bode well for Sci-Fi on network TV.

Cheers,
Brandon

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Meeting tonight

Got some cool stuff going on about Pipeline that I can't talk about just yet... (fingers crossed).

For the moment, enjoy a bit of Youtube video goodness.


Cheers!
Brandon

Monday, May 16, 2011

Share The Goodies

I've been watching all sorts of trailers for the coming onslaught of new shows, trying to decide which ones -- if any -- I'll end up watching.

Weird thing is, there's not a whole lot that's speaking to me at the moment.

Which kind of leads me to the one question that I haven't heard being asked when it comes to Pilot Season down South:

Why aren't we (the viewer/would-be audience) given the chance to choose what we want to see on TV?

We've got the internet and they've got an utter fuck-ton of pilots made every year that never see the light of day.

Why not put them up on the web and let people watch them?

Hell, maybe make an American Idol of TV shows sort of thing out of it?

Do it all on the web, maybe round-robin style?

Maybe you tease that the top one or two shows will get a prime-time slot on network TV -- and, hey, maybe -- in doing so -- you guarantee yourself, a small but vocal audience so that the show hits the ground running.

The best part of this idea is that, at the very least, a whole host of people's hard work is going to be out there and watched by an audience instead of collecting dust on a shelf (or worse).

And hey, you never know, it could spawn a whole new kind of cross-over hit.

Could be worth a try, folks.

Just sayin'.

Cheers,
Brandon

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Oxygen = Good

This past week has turned out to be an almost Socratic lesson about spreading oneself too thin.

Yes, it's always nice to have a bunch of irons in the fire but it's not so great when they all start to melt at once.

Needless to say, I've been a tad busy since my last post.

And to those of you who've asked me to read your scripts and I had to turn you down, I'm truly sorry -- long ago I made a promise to myself that if someone asked me to read their script I'd make time to fit it in ('cause, hell, I know how tough it was for me to find a reader when I was just starting out) but man... I'm learning the hard way that that is one hard ball to keep in the air.

In other news, the script reading that I had for Pipeline last month has started to bring about good news that I can't quite talk about yet. I've re-written my spec pilot now using the notes that I gleaned from that night and this thing is officially firing on all cylinders now.

Also, that web series I mentioned a while back has been pushed closer to the front of the burner -- we'll be meeting up on Friday to tackle a final pass on the 8 scripts we've put together.

Oh, and Boom Bang, one of my short films, has officially attached a Director (a big one too!)... next up (and hopefully locking in soon) a Producer.

Finally, another project that I've been working on for Ink Canada has a locked script and we're doing a final scout for locations and such. That one's coming together quite fast and should start shooting next week. *fingers crossed!*

Yes, when it rains, it pours... Not that I'm complaining. Hell, bring on the rain -- just... as long as we're not shooting externals, okay?

Cheers!
Brandon

Thursday, May 05, 2011

The Call

I've been thinking about the ramifications of this past election, about what went down and how I'd react to it. How I'd process my... feelings.

I tweeted that night, in a moment of disbelief, that "I have never felt so disconnected from my country as I do at this moment."

As the haze clears and the emotions sort themselves out, I think, if nothing else, that I have this election to thank for one thing: Clarifying, in no uncertain terms who I am and what I believe in.

What I will fight for.

And I think it's something that I think we need in Canada -- at a cultural level -- an education, of sorts, about not just who our Government is but how we each see ourselves, politically.

What do we stand for? What issues matter to us? What do we want from our Government?

I've had an inkling of it for a while now. A few bits I might've been able to put into words before, but this election, this... wall. It gave me something to judge myself against, gave me what I needed to see it clearly.

My name is Brandon Laraby, I'm a Libertarian in the basic sense that I believe you should have free reign to do what you want as long as you're not hurting anyone else. Your life is your life and your body is your own; you should have the right to make your own decisions about it.

I'm also a Socialist in the Canadian sense, in that I grew up far below the poverty line and witnessed people with less than nothing giving, freely, the shirts off their own backs to help one another. I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for a few kind strangers who cared enough to support me when no one else could (or would).

I think that when times are tough I should work to help my fellow humans and when times are good I should share my wealth. In My Canada, the knowledge and wisdom that my grandparents instilled in me lives on -- that kindness and compassion for each other has value, especially when it's the hardest thing to give. Even moreso when it's the last thing you want to do.

I know I've had my fair share of downs, I know how easy it is to lose everything... and, sad as it is to say, it's getting easier.

I am fine with paying my taxes, as long as I see that I'm getting my money's worth and that we are using our riches to help one another instead of spreading destruction. I came from a household that relied on welfare and disability pension to put food in my belly when I was a child... and I fought my way out of that system -- tooth and nail -- to become a working, tax-paying member of society.

I want my Canada to have the best healthcare in the world, to be the forefront of modern medicine -- where Doctors clamour to cross our borders to learn at our Hospitals -- where people who need treatment get it and those who need medicine can continue afford it.

I'm fine with paying to make sure those safety nets continue to exist.

May you never have to use them.

I believe that our future generations deserve our respect in the form of the chance at a quality education. If we're going to pay taxes then I say we spend our money to ensure that our children are not being put through the meat grinder; That they get the education we wish we had and not what some rigid book says they need.

I want my internet to be neutral, that my kids would experience all the things -- good and bad -- that I have. I want them to be challenged by the flow of information, to make their own sense of it and gain a respect for it unfettered by someone else's designs or 'protections'.

I demand that any Government I fund be a transparent and accountable entity in all of its dealings and that it represents the true will of the people through some form of Proportional Representation.

I also demand that no Corporation have more rights than a Human being.

I believe that those who work for the benefit of others, who give of themselves to benefit our society, who work to raise our interactions with one another for the common good should be encouraged and rewarded.

I believe in rehabilitation, not incarceration (with the exception of incorrigible, violent/sexual criminals) -- that every new prison is a marked failure on our part; a failure of our society and our system to give those who have made mistakes a second chance to re-integrate fully.

I believe that a debt repaid is a debt repaid. Not forgotten, but forgiven.

That said, I know that there is evil in the world. That there are those who would wish others harm simply for existing. My Canada would empower people to have the right to defend themselves and to look out for one another -- to help, or get help, when needed. My Canada would take a compassionate, enlightened approach to how it enforces the law. There are many ways to create and uphold order but our current system has proven to be far too open to corruption and personal/political vendettas.

I think that the veil of mystery surrounding drugs should be lifted; that they be properly studied and controlled -- get the facts, the full, honest facts first -- and then decriminalize and tax those that are no worse than the drugs we have already legalized (and taxed).

I believe that we should not fear guns, but be taught to respect them. I held my dad's shotgun at 13 years old, got my own .410 for my 14th birthday and got a good cuff upside the head the very first time I accidentally pointed it (unloaded) at anywhere near another living thing. I grew up with a solid understanding and respect for the power a gun holds.

I know how to use one... but I hope I never have to.

Finally, I say all of this knowing that, for all of our disagreements and frustrations, we are still incredibly blessed as a nation; that there are no single 'right' answers and that the real world doesn't always allow for my ideals to exist.

But when it does, when those stars line up, when there's a chance to bring forth the kind of Canada that I believe in -- the compassionate, kind and just nation that I've already witnessed so many times, in so many small places in my life -- that's what I'm willing to fight for.

Piece by piece.

I'm a dreamer, I know that. I've got an idealist streak in me a mile wide... and I know that too. But I also believe we need that vision forward, that continual dream of a path toward something better. That hunger for the betterment of us all.

Thank you Mr. Harper because for all of your flaws and all the things I dislike about the way you work... you've, in turn, shown me what I care about.

And all I can ask of my fellow Canadians is that you take some time to do the same. To put it down on paper, even if you never show anyone. Just to know, to work it out, to ask yourself the questions and get the answers:

What do I believe in? What will I fight for?

What do I want my Canada to look like?

Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, May 02, 2011

VOTE

There's nothing left to say, no witty barbs or cute, off the cuff remarks.

It's all over but the cryin'.

Get out, take some photo ID and a proof of address and do the one duty asked of you (and not forced upon you) as a Canadian Citizen.

But while you're here, if you have a moment, allow me to share a bit of rather infuriating, news:

Apparently Stephen Harper hasn't learned his lesson. Apparently Harper's gonna do what Harper's gonna do.

It wasn't enough that his Government fell due to Contempt of Parliament -- today he flagrantly (one might say Contemptuously) broke a basic Election Day rule. No Campaigning On Election Day. Simple, straight forward, everyone gets it.

Except him.

Apparently he's above the rules... and he doesn't care 'cause he knows he's getting another Minority... possibly a Majority. Worst he'll get is a slap on the wrist. Nobody cares, right?

This is the man that has been running our country into the ground. And he'll probably get another swing at bat.

First-Past-The-Post sucks.

Cheers,
Brandon