Dennis O’Neil: Channels

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by Dennis O’Neil

We switched ’round and ’round ’til half-past dawn
There was fifty-seven channels and nothin’ on
Bruce Springsteen, 57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)

Only 57? Well, we were all younger when Bruce Springsteen wrote those lines. Now? I actually don’t know how many television channels I can summon to the flat screen that dominates our living room and no, I’m not going to count them. Leave it at this: a lot.

An upside to tv’s heterogeneity is that we have spread before our eager eyes a veritable smorgasbord of entertainment and some of it is good and some of it is very good – and yes, I’m aware that you and I might define “good” differently. There’s no way I know of to verify my hunch that there is more good stuff on the home screen than at the multiplex where it sometimes seems that film makers sacrifice drama in their rush to serve up yet another explosion. Does what I believe is the widespread devaluation of dramatic verities that date back at least to the fifth century BCE harm the audience? Hey, I’m not gonna touch that one.

Once, the absence of a household tv set or five might have indicated a family with very high standards – it’s Mozart and Shakespeare or nothing! Now, though, ‘t’aint necessarily so. If you abstain from tv watching, you deny yourself some of the best that current culture has to offer, even if you can make frequent trips to the theater and concert hall.

But there is a downside to video’s largesse and to find a precedent we have to go to nineteenth century Vienna. The late and wonderful Hans Fantel, musicologist, critic and writer, once argued that the waltz served as social glue in Vienna and was largely responsible for the city’s relative tranquility at the close of the nineteenth century

Because everyone, from the peasantry to the elite, could share in an esteem for this music. I think that the television of the mid-twentieth century did something similar.

There were no 57 channels, no sir. When I left Missouri in the early 60s, St. Louis had maybe five channels, and three of those belonged to the networks. So if a show was popular – I Love Lucy, Ed Sullivan, The Beverly Hillbillies – people often talked about it the next day. (The cute schoolteacher I share quarters with said she sometimes watched shows because she knew her colleagues would be discussing them and she didn’t want to be left out of the dialogue.

The Viennese had the waltz. We had Dragnet.

And now, the deluge. Only 57? Piff!

The United States is, arguably, more divided than at any time since the Civil War and if you think that I’m about to blame television for that… sorry to disappoint. Television did not cause the problem. But television may not be helping it, either.


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, 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.

Larry Brody’s Poetry: ‘Listen’

by Larry Brody

NOTE FROM LB: 

A short one today. Epiphanies are usually pretty epigrammatic anyway, right? And this is as close as I ever get to an epiphany.

Listen

There’s this voice, see, and it keeps speaking to me,

Sometimes at night, sometimes during the day.

Always it’s uncomfortable, with the tone of an

Instrument long unused. It’s awkward, too,

Shrill and urgent, like a car alarm, a klaxon,

Instead of a siren of old.

The way I look at it, a seduction would be much better,

More fun than an alarm.

Want me to do-right-be-right-feel-right?

Great, hey, no problem, make me an offer

I don’t want to refuse.

Be whispery, lispery, overbite-lickery.

Stroke my chest and tangle our limbs,

Nestle near as you can to my heart.

But these orders from within

And frantic Jiminy Cricketry

Just send me running.

They drive me away from the truth.


Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. Although the book whose cover you see above is for sale on Kindle, he is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, as the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out, “Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you lose your vision, and yourself.” She said it shorter, though, with just a snort.

Munchman: Who Will Stop The Current TV Madness?

Munchman’s TV Musings #8
by Munchman

Last week, Yer Friendly Neighborhood Munchman got all ranted up about the need for TV to come up with something new. On actual Old Media television, I mean. Web series are something else. Or at least they should be…as in original.

This week, well, it’s looking like I’m going to have to dish up more of – choke! – the same. I’d apologize, but it seems to me that’s the broadcast and cable channels job, They’re the ones still pushing the same old TV dreck, right?

  1. The latest example of WTF Fuck TV comes from Vampira herself – Annie Rice. You remember Ms. Annie, don’tcha? She’s the one began the whole modern vampire genre with her book Interview with the Vampire back in 1976, then, in 2005 when she and critics alike realized the vampire scene had itself become a night of the living dead abandoned it in favor of a kind of Christian sleaze thing in which she gave good ole Jezuz a pop bio fix. Just a few years later she realized that the Anne Rice audience was not much interested in God and returned to her vamps, writing the same kind of crap as before except with much less energy. Now, deciding that it’s her bank account that needs reviving, the writer has decided to go all Game of Thrones on her unsuspecting faithful and turn her vampire oeuvre into a never-ending TV bloodbath, with her son acting as exec producer of whatever the hell she’s up to cuz…blood, you know?
  2. Baron Von Munchbatten here is pretty damn sure the Rice TV plunge will be iced by all but the more credulous of her fans, but here’s another rehash type show that probably will get more traction, probably because it’s based on something whose source is a tad more recent: The 2014 feature film Snowpiercer. As far as I could tell when my then girlfriend the hipster tied me into a chair, propped me eyelids open with barbs she’d removed from her old barbed wire emo costume and forced me to watch this meaningless drivel, the only thing interesting about Snowpiercer was the fact that it packed so much action into such a relatively short time and confined setting that its cult audience never had a chance to realize that absolutely nothing in the premise, backstory, or visible behavior of the characters made sense. Audiences being as, um, suggestible as they are, this same trick may indeed work in a TV version, where a lack of rational human behavior has become the norm for most of the series in the past decade. In other words, I’m predicting that the marching morons of the millennial will lap Snowpiercer up like my late lamented cocker spaniel scarfed down his own, eh, caca. Please, God, let me be as wrong as Anne Rice was about you!
  3. Have you watched TV Land’s new original series called Younger? What didja think? An astounding number of reviewers have loved this series about “a newly divorced, 40-year-old mom trying to re-enter the workplace,” but Munchikins has found it to be amazingly clueless about how genuine 40-year-olds, i.e. geriatric cases by TV executive standards, think and behave. The mindset of everybody in this fiasco is stuck in a vapid, empty, pre-teen slot. I’d call it a rut, but ruts are deeper. And it isn’t exactly a groove either, becuz grooves are cooler. It’s just…D-U-M-B.
  4. The goode ole U.S. of A. isn’t the only country where TV creativity definitely needs to be made great again. In the Hindustan Times recently Indian TV star Reena Kapoor has had this to say: “A lot needs to develop when it comes to television. I will say we have not progressed at all and have only gone backwards. People don’t make shows anymore, the way they were made earlier and I miss that.” Whoa! Coming from the star of Woh Rehne Waali Mehlon Ki, that’s really harsh criticism, yeah?
  5. LB keeps saying that if I can’t write positive comments throughout this column I should at least end on an upbeat note, and I agree with him. So here’s a positive thought that I really mean: Chuck Lorre, a punching bag for so many critics who adore shows like Younger as well as a currently has-been actor named Charlie Sheen, is still alive and writing and producing comedies that never cease to make this Munchamaniac laugh. Dude has a studio full of talented writers who come up with new wackiness week after week on series after series, and I’m grateful as hell that he’s still in the network TV game. To be precise, I’m thrilled that Chuck is allowed to be in the game. He’s 64, y’know, and if he doesn’t start dyeing his beard to match the inky blackness of his hair somebody in the executive suite’s going to catch on and Chuck will be as dead in the biz as another once famous Lorre – Peter – is in real life.

That’s it for this week. Seeya soonish with more musings about Love, Money, and the dirty job of writing for TV!

LB: ‘Spider-Man Unlimited’ News

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NOVEMBER 28, 2016 UPDATE: The good folks at Russian Spider-Man website THWIP have stepped right into the breach and created a video that turns the Spider-Man Unlimited Second Season arc into a dazzling visual display in both English and Russian language versions. It’s up on YouTube right now, and you can see the English version HERE.


Like the heading on this article says, after lo, these many, many years, TVWriter™ has some new news about Spider-Man Unlimited.

Nope, sorry, the news isn’t that after sixteen years of being off the air, the series is returning to broadcast TV. That web, sadly, has disintegrated.

But there is good news. Responding to a recent email from a fan of the show, I did some research and discovered some files I’d thought were lost long ago – all the first (and only produced) season scripts for the series, the planned overall story arc for the unproduced second season, and – drum roll – the first five scripts written for that second season.

This means that right now, today, you can hie yourselves (as someone we all know used to say) over to TVWriter™’s Spider-Man Unlimited resource page and find the links to both the arc and the first episode for Season Two, Spider-Man Unlimited: Destiny Unleashed, Part Two, and do the, you know, click and read thing.

As that self-same person who used to say “hie” would say, “Enjoy yourselves, True Believers!”

And while we’re at it, any infidels out there are welcome too.

lboldwriter

LYMI LB

Peggy Bechko’s World: Does Your Novel’s 1st Chapter Explode Out of the Gate?

screen-1

by Peggy Bechko

Speaking of books:

The first chapter of your book is important.

Very important.

It doesn’t seem like such a big thing, the first chapter, or does it? It’s the beginning, that which should tantalize your readers, draw them in and hold on tight. So full of promise – what adventure lies ahead?

That first chapter shouldn’t be the thing to set terror fluttering in the heart of the writer, but rather to be exciting, invigorating, fun! That first chapter can lead to so much. It can grab readers. It can hook a bored editor who’s looking for the kind of book you’ve written. It can keep a browser on Amazon reading that Kindle edition and asking for a full sample leading to that coveted sale because that reader is hooked and just can’t stop reading.

So, NUMBER ONE: don’t succumb to terror. Don’t let the white of the screen before you intimidate you.  There are all sorts of warnings out there that are a trap to intimidate writers. “In the beginning,” they say, “grab me from the first sentence!” or “Don’t waste a single word!” or “get it moving, start your story somewhere after the first couple of chapters and skip the intro altogether.”

Heard this? Read this? Between writing coaches, teachers, editors, agents and script readers it feels like all they’re out there to do is to intimidate writers and scare them into giving up before they even start.

Okay, you, as a writer, don’t need all that tension. The truth is, they’re all looking for that great book and you just might have it. So relax. They aren’t actually expecting perfection from writers. They’re looking for originality and powerful. So breathe in, breathe out and get those first words up on the screen; just let the words flow. The bad and the good.

Editing time will be the time to sort it all out. Oh, and by the way, as a general observation, it’s just fine to want to write a book to entertain. It doesn’t have to have a great and deep message or some thrumming theme. Write what your inner writer wants to write.

NUMBER TWO: have a light touch with description. Yes, yes, I know, you can see it all in your mind, every blade of grass, every cricket chirping at a window, every hair on the black dog’s head. Sounds, sights, emotions, textures and colors. The story you’re writing is so powerful you want the readers to be right there with you, to be immersed in the story.

But don’t feel you have to spill it all in those first few sentences in that first chapter. Sketch out the bones with enough details to give it some punch. Your readers don’t want to hear about the weather, every detail of the hero’s street and how long he’s lived there all in the first few sentences.

Readers always trust writers to fill in detail as the story moves forward. What’s needed in the beginning is those few details, just a taste, just enough to give a feeling of place. Then trust yourself to add the needed information along with the forward movement of the story.

Now turn that blank white screen into a writer’s chapter to be proud of.


Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. blog. Learn more about her 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.

TVWriter™ Don’t-Miss Posts of the Week – Nov. 28, 2016

In case you’ve missed what’s happening at TVWriter™, the most popular blog posts during the week ending yesterday were:

Herbie J. Pilato: The Brady Bunch is Still the Best – and Here’s (the Story) Why

TVWriter™’s Herbie J Pilato’s New TV Series

Peggy Bechko’s Thanksgiving Rant

Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

LB: First Thoughts on the 2016 People’s Pilot Entries

And our most visited permanent resource pages were:

Writing the Dreaded Outline

The Teleplay

THE PEOPLE’S PILOT

The Logline

THE BASICS OF TV WRITING: Overview

Major thanks to everyone for making this such a great week at TVWriter™. Don’t forget to click above and read what you missed and re-read what you loved!

Posts TVWriter™ Wishes We’d Published First

This week’s collection of recent articles from other websites about TV, TV writing, TV biz, etc., etc. is a mini-class in creating your own animated web series, because for many people this is absolutely the least expensive and most enjoyable way to get a foot in the series TV door. In fact, both our Scapegoat/Editor-in-Chief Munchman and our Beloved Leader LB are doing that very thing now. And if they can, so canst thou.

As usual, the plan here is for you to click on the headlines over the excerpts below and visit the site to read the posts in full…and if anybody asks, tell ’em TVWriter™ sentcha, okay?

Self Producing & Making Your Own Animated Web Series
by Gary Hanna

animation

You’ve decided to make your own animated web series. Viewers are already asking, “When’s the next video?”

Animating a web series can be hard work. For starters, remaining relevant is a gigantic challenge. You can easily spend months in between episodes, easily killing momentum and people will forget about you.

Obviously, you have to create more content to stay in the limelight. I hosted a Blab chat recently discussing ways how animators can produce more content around their series, but EFFICIENTLY….

Web Animation

il-jack-0020vert

Web Animation is simply animation on the World Wide Web. Actual shows are relatively uncommon compared to webcomics, but the medium itself is pervasive in the form of commercial advertising.Aside from machinima and fanime, Web cartoons are generally in Flash, as is some advertising. Animated GIFs are even easier to make and don’t require special plug-ins, so they’re used by much web advertising and by many forum avatars. However, some such advertising uses dynamic HTML, which just changes the position of an image on a webpage. Animated SVG (scalable vector graphics) is a new technology still in development.The content of Web Animation often varies greatly from animation seen on television. Media classifications usually aren’t a problem and the length of the work can be anything. In addition, Web Animation is also available worldwide….

What I Do as a 2D Animator
by Andy Orin

The creation process behind 2D animation conjures nostalgic images of smoke-filled rooms where animators labored over their slanted drafting tables, flipping between thin pages while sketching a character into life. Those days may be gone, but 2D animators work in new ways to tell stories with their art.

Pencils, paper, and acetate have given way to tablets and digital compositing techniques that can do anything the old-fashioned methods could do while also streamlining the process…

 

lego-the-journey-of-one

Netflix, the world’s leading Internet TV network, announced today the addition of six new original animated shows that provide best-in-class storytelling for kids of all ages. The new series (LEGO Elves, The Hollow, Kibaoh Klashers, Robozuna, Treehouse Detectives and Super Monsters) will take viewers on wild rides and enchanting adventures that are sure to captivate young audiences everywhere.

Older kids will be met with suspense and intrigue in four new action-packed shows. In LEGO Elves, viewers will be transported to a magical yet dangerous forest as a group of humans and elves team up to protect their worlds from a wicked goblin king. In The Hollow, strangers-turned-friends scavenge through a surreal mystery world as they desperately search for a way back home….

That’s it for now. Seeya next week!