If it's what they want, why do we resist?

I watched Role Models again last week. How great was the moment when the boys arrive at the LARP (ahem, LAIRE) battlefield dressed as "warriors" from KISS -- in the fire-spewing Minotaur truck? It's a real stand-up and cheer moment -- largely because it is also the fully realized payoff to all the KISS and Minotaur truck references sprinkled throughout the earlier parts of the script. And who doesn't love a satisfying payoff?

Writers, apparently. I've been reading a lot of unproduced scripts lately, and the satisfying payoffs are few and far between. Sometimes the setups are still there, but it feels as if the requisite payoff has been removed from the script out of sheer perversity.

Is this intentional? Does, somehow, giving the audience what they want make us feel -- dirty? Is this an attempt to avoid those nasty little rules of structure that bring authorship dangerously close to mere craft and away from the simplicity of pure art?

Get over it people. Writing is both craft and art. And many rules are there because... those are the rules. Writers have been writing for a long time. Some things work and some things don't and, well -- we kind of know by now. Right? You want your script to move out of the unproduced pile and edge just a teensy bit closer to the produced pile? Then if you show me a fish in act one, I better see that fish again in act three. Them's the rules.


The comings and going of TV 2009-2010

Still too much to process... some pilots I've read; many I haven't read yet. But it is time to bid a fond farewell to Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, now officially dead.

It was a classy show; I still can't figure out why it so completely failed to click. My Tivo will miss it next year (though my Tivo and I may have been part of the ratings problem.)

I apologize for the infrequent postings lately. After noting the slowdown in postings around the writer blogosphere and attributing it to an uptick in the job market, I went out and got a job myself. I didn't expect the call -- it was from a resume I sent in two years ago. But there's hope for that uptick; the person who interviewed me said she hadn't touched the pile of resumes in two years and was only now, finally, hiring.
So there. Uptick away!


But I can't act that

An old cardinal rule of acting... you can't ever have as your goal in a scene, getting the heck out of that scene. It just doesn't work. Unless each character has something they are fighting for that forces them to be there, things get dull quick.

Last Friday night's Dollhouse ran smack up against this problem. SPOILERS AHEAD...

The Alan Tudyk architect character didn't ever want to be in any of his scenes. He didn't want to let FBI agent Ballard in. He didn't want to accompany him to the Dollhouse. He didn't want to show him how to break in. He didn't want to actually go along with Ballard into the Dollhouse. He didn't want to walk past the security cameras. One assumes he didn't want to hack the computer either, though he certainly did it pretty quick. And yup, it got dull.

Now I know he was supposed to be doing this to prevent agent Ballard from turning in his pot farm. But, c'mon, an FBI agent has already seen the pot farm. That game is over. Wouldn't running away be a better choice?

So of course the architect turns out to be evil super-villain Alpha. Who didn't see that coming? I sure did -- possibly because I knew this ep was written by someone abso-effin-lutely talented who wouldn't have left that character twisting in the wind for so long without some reason for him to be there.

Still, that leaves an awful lot of dull episode before the reveal. And how much more interesting would it have been if the architect had some reason of his own -- not hard to imagine, the guy is a disgruntled former employee, right? -- to want to get into the Dollhouse himself. If we were all invested more in that character, wanting him to get over his agoraphobia or whatever that was and win his little victory, we would all have been actually devastated by the reveal. And not just mildly relieved.

Though that still leaves another problem. I get why Ballard needed the architect to break in. But if the architect really is Alpha, why in heck would he need Ballard to help him break in? No reason I can tell.