DOLLHOUSE and the Unconventional Pilot

Joss Whedon’s / Eliza Dushku’s Dollhouse had a lot going for and against it. Whedon had some blank checks to cash, Dushku had a deal with FOX, the premise was fascinating, and one actor playing multiple roles week to week is always a juicy prospect. Whether because of marketing, timing, direct competition in an era … Continue reading

Pilot Season: ATLANTA

Donald Glover’s Atlanta is unique in many ways: it plays with style, tone, and ancient mythology while still staying mostly grounded in reality; it evokes a hyper-specific place* but with characters you could imagine living in most US cities; it hits a dark notes most US half-hours won’t come near; it clearly utilises Glover’s experience … Continue reading

On the Unique Joys and Upcoming Trials & Tribulations of Saint Ted Lasso

Like the buoyancy of its titular character, the exact vibe of Ted Lasso is hard to pin down.       It’s a family comedy with sex and swears, a deceptively simple drama about people trying real hard, dotted with very American jokes and thoroughly English sensibilities. It’s the weird characters and team-microcosm-within-a-specific-organisation-within-a-specific-town of Parks … Continue reading

Inside the Fast Turnarounds and Wild Stories of Live-Shoot K-Dramas

The more k-dramas I watch, the more impressive it is to know how the sausage is made. Part of the fun in movies and TV is studying how they write and shoot; in the case of k-dramas, some are fully pre-produced, but the ones which aren’t are usually still shooting the middle episodes when the … Continue reading

Looking Good for Cheap: Directing Marvel’s Agent Carter

While Marvel is tearing up the big screen, DC – in form of the Arrowverse and an assorted hit-or-wide-miss offering every season or so – owns the small screen, with two major exceptions: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter. The former has several seasons and loosely connects to the films, and for my money the … Continue reading

How Moving Shots Reveal Story, Create Tension (and so much more)

From The Bold Type to I May Destroy You to Supergirl, a recent trend in television is to keep the camera moving. Network procedurals, prestige cable dramas, limited run series, even talk shows (hello, Patriot Act) often ply this technique, sometimes as a cheap way to up production value. . Advantages and Drawbacks When used … Continue reading

GLOW’s pilot mechanics

I’m writing STAY AT HOME HITMAN, a sometimes-raunchy half-hour comedy-drama involving suburban politics and scholastic espionage, mental health and struggles of new parenthood, relationships and drugs of all sorts, with a smattering of class struggles, internalised and external homophobia, infertility, familial expectations, meddling lollipop ladies, and body disposal. I revisited GLOW because despite its much … Continue reading

Stumptown Finale: or, I Heard You Paint-By-Numbers

When Stumptown premiered, I wrote about how its pilot uses what amounts to paint-by-numbers writing to great effect. I want to bookend the season by talking about how the finale still paints-by-numbers while incorporating much of the show’s growth, true surprises, long- and short- running arcs, and character development. Stumptown Season 1 turned into a … Continue reading

Stumptown pilot and the Economy of Storytelling

I’ve written before about the myriad of things which would go into Perfect TV Pilot Bingo, including shows like Glitch and The Night Of which set up mysteries, shows such as Doctor Who which have mini-pilots every few seasons, even TV shows which shoot a mid-season episode first to sell the show but still need to make … Continue reading

Better Call Saul: Art of the Montage

Like Breaking Bad before it (but better in almost every way – fight me), Better Call Saul loves an out-of-context cold open, a seemingly inconsequential detail or character beat which will come around in a few episodes or seasons, and a long montage. In fact, like this groundbreaker before it, Better Call Saul brings us … Continue reading