The Hudsonian’s GLOWing Review

Gotta love GLOW, if for no other reason than Marc Maron looks and sounds like a younger (i.e., middle-aged) Stan Lee

Glow Season 1 Review
by Joshua Hudson

(This article contains spoilers!)

Doesn’t the word “comedy” mean I should be laughing? Why do people think that because a show runs for a half hour that it automatically means it’s supposed to be funny? Or better yet, when you only write one legitimate joke and pack the rest of the script full of awkward moments, why would you say your show is a comedy?

This was my initial impression of GLOW, or Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, the latest in the Hollywood trend of shaming original ideas for tired concepts and reboots of classics. Through four episodes, this show had little to nothing to offer me. The actors are great and as someone who watched wrestling growing up, I had to see how the first season would play out. Episode five finally made me laugh. Once.

How can that mean this show is a comedy?!?!

I’m struggling to find that meaning. Meanwhile, here’s what you need to know about GLOW, especially if you’re old enough to remember the original: In this series, Gorgeous Ladies, um, Wrestle. Yeah.

Episode five introduces more of the wrestling the show touts. Yes, it took five episodes to get these ladies wrestling outside of wrist locks and the occasional clothesline. But when they start wrestling and showing off moves, it felt like I was watching 80s WWF. It was cheesy, gimmicky, and downright enjoyable. The personas were so stereotypical that social justice warriors will have a field day with it. To that I offer this: lighten up. It was the 80s for crying out loud!

The show also got funnier. Like, I found myself laughing at some of the gimmicks and even some of the dialogue. (Still not enough to categorize as a comedy, but I’m tired of fighting that battle.)

Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin as Ruth and Debbie truly carry this show. Their story, packed full of exciting drama that can make you love and hate them both throughout the season, is awesome. And Marc Maron as Sam brought a dry, lethargic sense of energy to compliment all the moving parts. Crazy to think on the surface, but it works. I promise.

If you have patience, give it a try. If you don’t, it’s not exactly groundbreaking television so you’re not missing anything. But if you like wrestling, definitely check it out as episodes 5 through 10 will bring a smile to your face.

NOTE FROM LB: I too have watched all of  GLOW. But my perceptions differ from Josh’s.

I didn’t expect it to be funny because it’s done by the same women who do Orange is the New Black, which also seems to me to be a so-called comedy in spite of having very few laughs.

I loved the first episode of the series because wrestling be damned –  it was dead on about showbiz and the personalities in it, especially Mark Maron’s director character. For me, the series gets weaker as it goes along, but I stuck with it for the ’80s feeling it duplicated so well…and was rewarded by the big Episode 10 finale, which totally overwhelmed me because of all the perfectly orchestrated heroic moments of “victory” for the group of dauntless young women.

Another thought re the “Where’s the funny? problem here. I seldom find any of today’s new “comedies” funny. I think that in our current cultural climate we have to redefine the word into something more Shakespearean. Shakespeare’s comedies weren’t very funny either. They were called comedies simply because they weren’t tragedies. They had happy endings. Their protagonists didn’t die. So it is with GLOW. 

In other words, even if you don’t like wrestling, I think you should give GLOW a try for a very basic human reason: It’ll make you feel good. And feeling good isn’t something we come by all that easily these days.

Joshua Hudson is a producer, writer, and actor. Find out more about him at Hudsonian Productions. Hi, Josh!

Squee! A Podcast: How Peak TV has Changed TV Criticism

If you like the podcast, you probably should !buy-buy-buy! this book

Yeppers, kids, some people are talking about “peak TV” still. And some of what they’re saying remains interesting.

Like these words from Alan Sepinwall of What’s Alan Watching, to Todd VanDerwerff of Vox.

This is a podcast, so everything’s easy peasy. Just sit back, close your eyes, and listen – oh, no wait. Sorry. First you’ll need to CLICK HERE

Gerry Conway’s Alex Kurtzman Story

by Gerry Conway

Alex Kurtzman today, at almost this very moment

Alex Kurtzman is in the news right now, obviously, because he’s the director of the much-reviled “The Mummy” reboot. For what it’s worth, I kinda liked the movie, probably because my expectations were lowered by awful reviews, possibly because I generally like popcorn movies, and possibly because I worked for a year with Alex and his former partner, Bob Orci, when we were a lot younger and far less grey. But I’m not here to discuss the merits of The Mummy. I’m here to relate a story about Alex Kurtzman at 25 which proved to me that he and Bob were (and are) blessed by the Goddess of Good Luck.

In 1998 I’d been working in TV about nine years, and had experience as a mid-level producer on a number of network TV shows, most recently, at that moment, on an NBC show called “Players,” which introduced Ice-T as an actor in the Dick Wolf universe. I’d worked on the pilot for the show, though I ended up receiving no credit, and as a result I developed a relationship with the head of TV development at Universal TV. When the show ended, Universal wanted to keep that relationship alive, so they offered me a pilot deal, along with a role as consulting producer on “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.”

Ostensibly, the reason I was hired as consulting producer was to provide “guidance” to the two new, and very young, co-executive producers who were acting as writer-show runners: Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci. This was ridiculous on several levels. First, at that point, Alex and Bob had been on the show for several years and already knew more about it than I ever would. Second, though I was older than Alex and Bob, and had worked in TV a few years longer, I was by no means better qualified than they were: Alex and Bob had been to film school, knew the technical end of filmmaking much better than I did, and Alex, at least, had been part of the film community his entire life– his father was an agent. Third, while I’ve always been realistic about my particular set of skills (I’m a skilled craftsman possessed of moderate talent), Alex and Bob were extremely bright and talented, and already as skilled at the craft of TV writing as anyone I ever worked with. So, despite my ostensible “leadership” position I recognized immediately the only guidance I could provide Alex and Bob was the reassurance that yes, indeed, they knew exactly what they were doing.

I could also introduce them to the concept of playing hooky as a team-building skill.

Let me explain. Producing television, under the best of circumstances, is an all-consuming, life-draining and time-sucking enterprise. People who don’t work in TV imagine it to be a fun, glamorous, and joyful experience. And so it is, maybe fifteen percent of the time. The rest of the time it’s hard work. Long hours (especially if you’re a show runner) are the rule, not the exception. When I ran a show called “The Huntress” I typically put in ten-to-twelve hour days, five days a week, and another ten hours over the weekend. Family life disappears. Relationships strain. Tempers flare. If you don’t find a way to make those ten hour work days fun, you burn out. There has to be more to your life than just making television.

Alex and Bob, I thought, were two very serious, very dedicated, very driven and ambitious young men (they were both about 25) in positions of incredible responsibility. They were writing all the time, pursuing both their TV career and outside screenplay work (they’d written a spec script with one of the best premises I’d ever heard and were shopping for a new agent). Without realizing it, they were on the verge of burning out– at least, that’s how it seemed from my point of view.

Alex was friendly and open, comfortable as a long-time member of the film community, a good-looking and smart young man. (I briefly wondered if I could set him up with my daughter, but she was in college in Washington, DC.) Bob was a bit more reserved, a bit more intense, but equally smart and equally good-looking. They were very much Generation X types– self-contained, achievement oriented, earnest and, in my opinion, a bit tightly wound.

So, as their ostensible guidance counselor, I decided to encourage them to do something completely useless and irresponsible.

The first script I worked on for “Hercules” was based on an outline by another writer on the show, Paul Coyle. Paul really was a senior writer– his career extended back to “The Streets of San Francisco” in the mid-Seventies. During a conversation at a story meeting with Bob and Alex, Paul and I discovered we were both fans of Las Vegas, though for different reasons. I liked Vegas for the night life, great restaurants, and relatively inexpensive hotels– I don’t gamble, so I always feel like I’ve taken advantage of the casinos underwriting the hotels, restaurants, and shows. Paul, on the other hand, was almost a professional poker player– he paid his bills during slow periods by spending weekends in Vegas, picking up several thousand dollars a visit. The two of us, and a few of the other writers at the story meeting, waxed enthusiastic over the joys of Vegas, entertaining ourselves for a few minutes until we realized Alex and Bob were staring at us blankly.

Alex and Bob, it turned out, despite growing up in Southern California, had never been to Las Vegas.

I knew immediately what had to be done.

“Road Trip!!!”

Yeah, well, that’s not what I said, but it’s what I thought, and over the next couple of weeks I made the case that Alex and Bob and Paul and me (the other writers demurred) should take an afternoon flight from the nearby Burbank airport to Las Vegas, spend a night in the City of Sin, and return to Universal Studios the next morning, refreshed and less likely to burn out by avoiding, for one Tuesday at least, yet another ten-hour work day.

After only a slight hesitation, Alex and Bob agreed.

A week later we were on our way. Paul spent the flight explaining the in’s-and-out’s of gambling in Las Vegas to Alex and Bob, who said they never gambled before. Which games to avoid, which casinos had the fairest slots and best tables, how to bet and under what circumstances. Paul himself planned a night of poker at downtown casinos where the house took the smallest cut. From past experience he figured he’d clear two or three grand. For my part I advised Alex and Bob to catch a show. Don’t bother gambling, I said, or if you do, just set yourself a loss limit – in my case I allow myself to lose a hundred dollars at blackjack, then I’m done. The boys– to me, they were always “the boys”– thought that sounded sensible.

After a great dinner at a first class restaurant, we split up and agreed to meet for breakfast the next morning before flying back to Burbank.

I saw a show, played blackjack for thirty minutes, quit when I was up by twenty dollars, went to bed.

Next morning, the four of us met for breakfast as planned. I felt relaxed and content. Once again I’d beaten the Las Vegas system by not playing along. I hoped Alex and Bob had done the same. The point of this adventure, after all, was to help them unwind a bit. Losing a lot of money wouldn’t exactly achieve that goal. So when we met up I was a bit apprehensive– especially when I saw the glowering expression on Paul Coyle’s face. He looked like a man who’d eaten the outside of a pineapple.

“Son of a bitch,” he muttered. “Son of a bitch.”

“Uh… How much did you win?” I asked.

“Eight hundred,” he said. He glowered. “I lost eight hundred. Son of a bitch.”

I turned to Alex and Bob. They were grinning. I’d never seen them so happy. “We won five hundred,” said Bob. “Each,” said Alex. “About. Maybe it was more. I think it was more.” “We should come back,” said Bob. “Definitely,” said Alex. “This is great. This place is great.”

“Son of a bitch,” said Paul.

A few months after I left “Hercules” there was an article in the trades announcing Alex and Bob had sold their spec script to Richard Donner and were currently in negotiations with Donner and Steven Spielberg to write a sequel to “The Goonies.” I sent them a bottle of champagne with a note of congratulations. Alex and I met for lunch. He was excited and happy and I was happy for him and Bob both. “It’s amazing,” he told me. “Donner took us in to meet Spielberg and pitch him our idea for the sequel. Spielberg liked it and right there said, let’s do this, picked up the phone and told his producer to make a deal with us. Like he was ordering a pizza. Just amazing.”

I wasn’t surprised. Like I said, Alex and Bob had written a terrific spec script with what’s still the best premise I’ve heard for a thriller (so, naturally, it’s never been produced). They were hard working, driven, talented and ambitious. And as their night in Vegas proved, to me at least, they were and are two very lucky sons of bitches.

Gerry Conway is one of the Kings of TV and film and comic book writing and also one of our Beloved Leader Larry Brody’s longest-lasting and closest friends. Everybody who comes to TVWriter™ should be reading his insightful blog, where this article first appeared. Learn more about Gerry HERE.

Best Video Game Review Ever!

Persona 3’s ending made me appreciate all of life’s little endings
by Steven Strom

LB’s NOTE: I didn’t write the review that follows. I’m just the honored messenger who is bringing it to the attention of TVWriter™ visitors everywhere…because it’s awesomely written and filled with insight into the human condition and makes me want to run out and find this old game and play the living crap out of it even though I know the ending.

The writer here is Steven Strom of Ars Technica, and his approach to this piece about Persona 3 reminds me of the days way back in the mists of time when book reviewers understand the basic, gut reaction readers have to a wonderfully written novel and used that plus their own response as the basis for their recommendation.

That whole being-lost-in-the-wonderland-of-a-great-book-and-crying-because-you’ve-finished-and-it’s-all-over-thing doesn’t happen all that often anymore. Or if it does it certainly isn’t being talked about much. I never thought about game-playing being able to have the same effect. Now that I know it can, I’m more than impressed – I’m gratified by this amazing storytelling evolution.

My only tiny cavil about what’s coming is that Mr. Strom hasn’t told us the names of the writers whose backbone storyline made him feel so much. Or is that attributable to the artists? The entire game development team? I honestly don’t know, but I intend to learn more about how a game like this comes to be so I can enjoy such things even more.

That’s been more than enough from me. Read on:

It was easier for me to walk away from Persona 3 than I expected. The game about nine friends and a dog—which celebrates its tenth anniversary in the States this year—follows a similar arc to most role-playing games. That means the gang of plucky young people ultimately saves the world. Yet its 21st century characters and setting made Persona far more relatable and endearing to me than the high-flying heroes of Final Fantasy or Chrono Trigger. It helps, too, that this was the series’ first game to sport a now-signature blend of dating sim and turn-based dungeon crawling.

Playing Persona 3, I felt I was experiencing the first game designed to let me take my time. Whether that meant meeting up with a friend for kendo practice or hanging out with a couple of elderly used booksellers, there was nearly always something more digestible, recognizable, and less world-shatteringly urgent to do than fighting gods and monsters. It’s the kind of stuff that let me inhabit a game’s world for a bit rather than simply tour through it. Tearing up specters and saving the Earth from supernatural threats is fun, but it’s a bit harder to relate to in a way that feels like my real life.

By the end of the game, I was nearly as attached to the city of Iwatodai and its inhabitants as I’ve ever been to a real place. The downside is that this made it that much harder to eventually say goodbye to those virtual sights I saw and friends I made along the way. What made that goodbye easier was a special, quiet message before the closing credits—one that reminds me how to accept the end of comfort and friendship even today.

The one, true ending

Sure, it was a heart-wrenching lesson. The weight of time spent with people—even fictional ones—makes us feel comfortable around them. Dependent, even. When that comfort is gone, especially after taking 80+ hours of gameplay to get acclimated to it, it feels like one of the best, most reliable parts of your life is missing. You wonder what the hell you even did with yourself without that routine.

That’s how it felt for me nearly finishing Persona 3 a decade ago, anyway. Yet Persona 3‘s ending does something that I’ve seen replicated, but never quite matched, in its sequels. It made me feel good about that loss and the anxiety over what to do next that came with it.

Spoiler warning for a decade-old game. Reader beware….

Read it all at Ars Technica

Peggy Bechko: Resuscitating Your Draft

by Peggy Bechko

As writers, we’ve all written screenplays or novels that sit around in our drawers for years. Something’s wrong, but what? Being a pro, you’ve already decided that script or novel needs major rehab, and you sure aren’t clinging to a story that just doesn’t work. BUT, what to do? How to approach the rewrite and the rehab?

Since you’re ready to do some major revisions I’m glad you asked. Let’s think about this and ponder a couple of radical methods for that revision.

First thoughts…

Have you considered that maybe your script or novel is focused on the wrong protagonist? You know, the guy/gal who gets all the action. For example, in animated world, were you aware that Frozen’s main character, Elsa, started out being a villain? If you’ve see it you know she ain’t a villain no more, she morphed into a ‘Disney Princess’. That was one major overhaul.

Another example: remember reading Ripley in Alien was originally written for a male lead? Could you see anyone else in that part now? Another new direction, another major rewrite.

So, is there someone in your story that could do the same? Some character you may have misunderstood? A character who could change from villain to hero? One that could move up from supporting character to main protagonist?

Take another hard look at that novel or script. Think about the motives behind the actions of your protagonist, supporting characters and villain. If those motives aren’t clear and your character’s desire to move forward strong, then your focus might be misplaced when it comes to your ‘hero’. Maybe reconsider? Perhaps a shuffle of your characters?

Will this take a lot of work?


Is it worth it?

You better believe it.

Another idea. Have you considered the genre you’ve written the script or novel? Did you label it from the get-go, then trap yourself inside?

Is it a Romance, a thriller, a SciFi action flick? Whatever it is now, you might consider changing it. Could that romance become a thriller? Should your thriller morph to SciFi? Maybe your SciFi is actually Horror. Take a little ‘what-if’ trip and consider all the angles.

It’s possible that you’ve locked your story into a genre where it doesn’t fit. It’s possible that you, as writer, were uncertain as to what your genre could be and cubbyholed it before it was ready. If the story is ‘misplaced’ it’s very possible that you, as the writer, are trying to be funny when you shouldn’t. Or maybe whatever stakes you’ve chosen for your hero just aren’t powerful enough and great humor could result if you pulled that string.

You probably didn’t think much about the genre as you wrote the first draft unless you were writing ‘to genre’. That’s good. Great even, but once you have the basics laid down for your story you need to make sure your work is in the right genre. If that element is wobbly it’s just not going to fly.

What’s the take-away? If you have a story that’s been languishing somewhere, now is the time to get it out, dust it off and reread with a clear eye toward what the problem might be. And one last tip. Think about where the story belongs. Is it a novel? Is it a feature script? Maybe it should be a TV series or a mini-series. Don’t close your mind to any possibilities.

Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her sensational career HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page and her terrific blog.

Rejection: A Wilderness Guide for Writers

Mark Evanier, a fan favorite writer of – and about – television, film, comics, theater, news and – yikes! – politics, is one of the brightest lights of the interweb. He’s been writing about the trials, tribulations, and joys faced by writers, actors, and other living creatures for years. This is the most recent of a series on dealing with rejection:

Rejection, Part 20
by Mark Evanier

If you want to have a career as a writer, it is very important that you not look desperate. If you are, do what you can to conceal it…and yes, I know that might not be easy, especially if you’re really, really desperate.

This applies to the wanna-be writer who hasn’t sold much, if anything. It also applies to the once-established writer who’s hit a career lull and hasn’t sold anything in a while. It’s probably more important for the latter. If you’re new in the business, you have more of an excuse for appearing desperate. People who might hire you or buy your work can think, “No one’s given this kid a chance.” If you have some credits then what they’re going to think is: “Gee, people have given this guy a chance and if he’s now this desperate, maybe his work isn’t that good lately.”

Desperate people make others uncomfortable. We try to avoid them for the same reason we sometimes give money to homeless people on the street so they’ll go away. But in The Arts, we don’t usually give jobs to desperate people to lessen their desperation because they may not be able to do those jobs. In fact, we often suspect the reason they’re desperate might be because they just don’t have it in them to do those jobs. And if we give them those jobs and it turns out they can’t do them, that creates bigger problems for us.

And unlike the homeless guy outside the CVS Pharmacy who went away after you gave him a buck, these people tend not to go away. They come back again and again begging for another chance.

So you don’t want to look desperate and one good way to achieve that is to not be desperate, at least financially. We’ve discussed that in previous installments of this column.

The story I’m about to tell you is is not about a writer. It’s about a guy who was doing (or trying to do) cartoon voices but it’s the same situation. Because I was casting voices for a cartoon show I was writing and producing, he came after me seeking work. He came after me at conventions, via e-mail, and then when that didn’t work, he started phoning me.

He was not without talent. He had enough that he’d landed an agent…but there are agents and there are AGENTS. He had an all lower-case agent, one of those who has limited clout or connections to sell anything. There are agents like that who represent writers, too. They’ll take on almost anyone who looks competent enough to maybe someday get a job, then they do almost nothing to make that happen. If the client somehow manages to get a gig through his or her own contacts and campaigning, the agent will step in, close the deal and take their commission.

(What kind of agent do you want? The one who is in touch with the people who do the hiring, be they producers, directors, casting people or whatever. You want the agent who can and will get those people on the horn and say, “Trust me. You’ve got to meet with [YOUR NAME HERE] because this kid has really got something!” And then the hiring person thinks, “Gee, that agent represents some really good people. It probably won’t waste my time to take a meeting with that client!” If it’s an agent of the “anyone who looks competent” criteria…well, that agent probably can’t get that buyer on the phone and if they do, their recommendation means very little.)

In the world of voiceover in Hollywood, there are about fifty-five agencies. About nine of them represent about 90% of all the actors who work a lot. They’re the top agencies that represent the top people. I won’t list these agencies but if you go to, you can browse the demos of most voice actors and find out who their agents are. There, you can easily look up the superstar cartoon voice actors and see which agencies represent a significant number of them. You can also hear the demos….

Read it all at Mark’s blog, NewsFromMe

Dennis O’Neil: Après View Wonder Woman

Looking at Wonder Woman from a new angle

by Dennis O’Neil

So all hail, Princess Diana! For the second week in a row, she has conquered the all mighty Box Office!

You commerce-and-finance majors might consider declaring a holiday. Liberal arts dweebs like me will be satisfied with being grateful for a genuinely satisfying movie-going experience.

There’s a lot to be said for the film and no doubt a lot of it is already being said, with, again no doubt, more to come. It’s the kind of flick that prompts après theater discussion, which is kind of rare these days, especially among those of us who have logged a load of birthdays. We were so happy with the afternoon’s entertainment that we didn’t mind not remembering where we left the car.

I’d like to focus on only one aspect of it and maybe get in some opinions about superhero movies in general. And it affords a chance to blather about something that’s been bothering me for years.

Somewhere in the mists, when I was first creeping into the writing dodge, someone must have told me about the storytelling virtues of clarity. In order for the story, whether you’re experiencing it on a page or on a screen or by hearing it on a recording device, to be fully effective you must know what’s going on: who’s doing what to whom and if we’re pushing our luck, why. Where are the characters? How did they get there? Where are they in relation to one another? How did they get whatever props they’re using? How did they get the information they’re acting on?

Et cetera.

I’m particularly annoyed at lame fights. Surely, way out west, the movie crowd is aware that there’s entertainment value in well-choreographed kickass. If there’s any doubt, let them unspool some Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee, the patron saint of cinematic brawling. Many modern action movies – or maybe most of them – render action in quick cuts, blurs, blaring sound effects. Not my idea of amusement, at least not in mega-doses.

Back to Wonder Woman (and maybe we can, please, have an end to complaining?) None of what I’ve bitched about applies to WW. While in the darkness, I never found myself wondering what was happening on the screen. This, the director was kind enough to show me and thus allow me to relax into her work.

A word about the lead actress Gal Gadot: she’s extraordinarily beautiful (duh!), but her face is not only gorgeous, it is expressive – it seemed to change from shot to shot. And that quality is a blessing for a performer.

So, yeah, all hail to Wonder Woman, I don’t expect to see a better movie this year.

Dennis O’Neil is one of the top writer-editors in comics, having guided the careers of just about every superhero the world has ever heard of. He’s also a damn fine writer of TV. LB still remembers that time he and Denny collaborated on a series created for the BBC, without ever knowing they were doing so. Or knowing each other either. Ah, the magic of TV! This post was first published in Denny’s column at ComicMix.