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Watching TV is a Job

I’ve been trying to write spec scripts and pilots, which means a lot of reading, writing, and especially watching. That third thing is tough since I’ve spent the past few years focused on using any free time to create rather than consume. Sitting and watching and actually paying attention to a show is a little unfamiliar, and it’s the constant “I should be doing something else” feeling that keeps bothering me when I’m watching a show recently.

Luckily, TV’s sort of designed to make you just sit there.

How much time to do you give a new show?

Whenever I see that a new show’s rating are low, I think back to this article on why Nielsen Ratings are inaccurate but we still use them anyway. That article is from 2011 so doing a little more research shows that the Networks are doing a little more homework these days, though you wouldn’t be able to tell from the slew of shows that still get axed each season due to low ratings.

“The Crazy Ones” just got canceled, and that’s too bad: I like Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar. I wanted to write a spec script for this one since it was a David E. Kelley show, was about advertising (which I enjoy), and was relatively new so there wouldn’t be too many specs for it yet. Also, I find it weird that a TV show was named after an old Apple ad campaign. It’s too similar to Cavemen, if you ask me.

I watched the first three episodes and I couldn’t do it. I really wanted to like it, and I went it expecting to like it, but I didn’t. Looks like the writing staff is fairly new (I think?) expect for Kelley, which could account for the troubles, but who knows what they had to contend with reigning in Williams’ persona.

Was three episodes enough of a chance to give a new sitcom? Probably. The pilot is always a rush to explain the universe, so episodes two and three are then playing in the sandbox. I think if a comedy hasn’t grown on you by episode three, it probably won’t (non-comedies I think get more of a pass, as Breaking Bad did).

Luckily, I found “Ground Floor” on TBS.

Ground Floor

Great pedigree on staff, and the pilot hooked me in right away. Really great writing (though it did get a little weak in the episodes before the finale). I binged the first season (just ten episodes) and got to work on my spec. It just got renewed for a season two, so it’ll be around for a while.

“Ground Floor” reeled me in with just the pilot. “The Crazy Ones” couldn’t after three episodes. Definitely a lesson for me on what the differences were between the two, when it comes to my own writing. Maybe the simplest goal of a tv pilot is to make watching it not feel like a job at all.

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