Friday, September 30, 2005

The Night Stalker

I've been off the grid the last couple of days (burning the midnight oil for Monday's contest deadline) but I just wanted to type a few words about the "Night Stalker". The fall TV season has been an embarrassment of riches when it comes to sci-fi/supernatural shows, thanks to "Lost" and "Battlestar Galactica". When ABC decided to revive one of the granddaddies of supernatural television and bring in one of the people behind "The X-files" (a show inspired by "NightStalker"), who could have asked for more?

There was some resistance from hardcore fans. They balked at the very thought of their beloved Kolchak being revamped for today's viewers. I'm not one of those people. Yes, I enjoyed the show as a kid but I'm not remake-phobic. Heck, half the fun of the new "Battlestar Galactica" is seeing how they've blended the old with the new. Now my first impulse was to compare it to the old show and/or "The X-files" but after watching the premiere, I had no problem judging the "Night Stalker" on it's own merit.

I once saw a story on "20/20" about a commercial pilot who drank so much that he often blacked out during flights. The premiere of the "Night Stalker" almost drove me to drink. Someone (or something) is attacking women and dragging them off into the night. Carl Kolchak suspects sinister forces are at hand. The same sinister forces that attacked his late wife...or maybe he's just a lunatic who killed his wife then made up stuff about sinister forces. GASP! An FBI agent seems to think so.

The creature's actions have no rhyme or reason. First, it's killing pregnant women, tries to snack on hot female reporter then all of a sudden it kidnaps a little girl and it's up to Kolchak to save her! I've seen episodes of Scooby Doo that made more sense. Perhaps the biggest offense is that no kind of explanation is even attempted. The little girl can't remember what happened and that nasty FBI agent got rid of the physical evidence of a...something that attacks people and um...just a mess.



Sunday, September 25, 2005

White Skin

Last night, I caught this movie purely by accident (missed the first couple of minutes). I thought it was going to be another one of those foreign language relationship dramas, but "White Skin" (aka "La Peau Blanche") goes off in a much different direction. I really liked the deliberate way the story unfolds. No spoilers here. You'll have to see it for yourself (be warned: the imdb entry for the film gives away the twist). A good rental if you're looking for something different.




Saturday, September 24, 2005

Update: Werewolf Spec

I forgot to mention that I pulled a rabbit out of my butt a couple days ago. My final action sequence is back on track, it came as quite a surprise to me (and the rabbit). The solution also created a ripple effect that addresses a couple of nagging bits earlier in the story. So the script and I are on good terms again.

You have to be a little crazy or naive to write a werewolf (or vampire) script because to some it's akin to walking onto the stage of a packed house, holding a sledgehammer and carrying a watermelon. You're thought to have reached into the hack grab bag and removed the biggest, most uncreative box. The genre has been beaten so much into the ground (by bad movies and even worse scripts), it's no wonder that folks give it a weary eye. Hopefully, this script is exception.



Thursday, September 22, 2005

"Lost"

Refusing to buy the first season on DVD was my protest of the crappy season finale. I've had it up to here with polar bears, the others, cursed numbers and mystery websites. There's no way I'm gonna get sucked into another season of answering questions with more questions. They're making it up as they go along, people! The emperor has no clothes! Only a complete idiot would continue to watch this crap!


Great episode, huh?


This season, I'm just going to sit back and enjoy the ride, cause it just doesn't get much better than this.




Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Update: TV Pilot

Starting working on storyline ideas but I've got a decent amount already. I really took Todd McFarlane's DVD comments on monster-of-the-week stories to heart. Yeah, the very nature of the show is supernatural but I didn't want a monster to pop up every week, just to create conflict.

Initially, I dove headfirst into all kinds of phenomena, folklore and mythology then tried to build episodes around them...after a dozen or so, I suddenly felt an urge to raise a clenched fist and shout, "And I would've gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!" That's when I decided to go back to the drawing board.

If there's anything I've learned in this mostly uneventful quest is that character is king, especially when it comes to television. Good stories put characters in places they don't want to be, bringing out the best or worst in them. So when I tried coming up with future storylines, I looked at my characters and everything else fell in place. Now it still might be crap but it's far more interesting crap.




Sunday, September 18, 2005

Thoughts on "Threshold"

Above average cast for a TV show. Kinda reminds me of the "X-Files" meets "C.S.I.". As much I as loved "X-Files", I'm not so sure I want to revisit that territory so quickly. The first hour of the premiere was beaten by "Dateline" and the second hour was beaten by a rerun of "Special Victims Unit". Of course, the spin CBS will put on this is that "Threshold" won in the magical 18-49 demo.

A government geek squad investigating alien contact. It was okay. Didn't really grab me. CBS has a short leash when it comes to sci-fi shows and "Threshold" stumbled out the gate. I wish the show focused more on the characters and not much on the freaky stuff (is William Malpother typecast to always play creepy guys with super strength?). Lots of crazy stuff happens on "The 4400" and "Lost" but the characters come first.

I tend to watch/write stuff that feature the everyman thrown into fantastic/horrific situations so maybe I'm way off base. I do think "Invasion" will probably do better than "Threshold" because it'll be more of a human story (and having "Lost" as its lead-in won't hurt either).

Friday, September 16, 2005

Idea for a script

Can you see the potential?

LONDON (AFP) - A British newspaper said that a Chinese cosmetics company was using skin harvested from the corpses of executed convicts to develop beauty products for sale in Europe...(more)

Update: Zombie Spec

Hallelujah! I came up with an ending (and correctly guessed the spelling of hallelujah). It's still light years away from a presentable draft but now I've got all the parts. Even in this rough state, I think the script meets one of the goals that I set initially: write a less is more story that slowly builds until all hell breakes loose.

Looks like a couple of characters weren't as necessary as I thought. The location of the "last stand" needs some tweaking. If I'm lucky, I should have this vomit draft done in a few days. I'll probably take a break before starting the dreaded rewrite.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Another Night Stalker Review

Like the title says, follow the link:

The Night Stalker






Tuesday, September 13, 2005

"Supernatural" Premiere

I already predicted this show was going to do well for the WB. Even though it was up against the season premiere of "House", I think tonight's ratings will be just fine. I liked the concept, horror is hot right now, the promos were intriguing but when I finally got a taste...

A couple of things bugged me (kind of spoilery, look away if you haven't seen it yet):

It's established that the ghost preys on unfaithful men but when we she encounters someone who is faithful she decides to attack him anyway. Huh?

Why would bullets bother a ghost? Did I miss the part where someone said the bullets were blessed, dipped in holy water or something like that?

Before the woman became a ghost, she drowned her children then took her own life by jumping off a bridge. In her ghostly form, she sucks the life force out of men. She obviously has a connection to water, why not have her drown her victims inside their cars? What became of her victims?

What was the purpose of talking to the widower, other than to provide some exposition to the audience about the nature of the ghost?

Why kill the girlfriend after giving her only a few minutes of screen time? Didn't they do the same exact thing to the Mother?

I'm probably being a little too harsh, it is a pilot after all. Maybe I'll revisit this topic after a more couple episodes.




Monday, September 12, 2005

Series Bibles

Series Bibles

Here's a collection of series bibles that I've come across over the years. I'm sure most of you are familiar with them but just in case..... some are very brief (just an excerpt or summary) while others are quite detailed.

Buck Rogers

UPDATE: February 23, 2010

If you're looking for TV Bibles and Scripts, forget about my dead links. Go here:

TV Writing

Friday, September 09, 2005

Update: Werewolf Spec

Actually made some real headway since last time. I don't think it was the stuff I had planned (comics, movies, etc). I think the problem was my approach. I was too busy trying to think of what would look cool. Instead, I tried coming up with the worst case scenarios for my protagonist. Force him to confront the thing he fears the most. Came up with some good ideas which lead to cool scenes. I'm still thinking about how to make the stakes higher than they already are.

Another thing that needs to be addressed, quite frankly, the screenplay isn't all that scary (lowers head in shame). It's a little too much action and not enough horror.

Hollow Man 2

As a young lad, H.G. Wells' "The Invisible Man" was one of my favorite books. Forget flying, super strength or super speed, I wanted to be invisible. Got bullies? Poof! A dirty room and an angry Mom? Poof! A bunch of cheerleaders chan--you get the idea. I say this all to say, now I have "Hollow Man 2" to look forward to.

According to The Movie Blog, Christian Slater and Peter Facinelli are set to star and this time we'll get dueling invisible men. Probably coming soon to a video store near you.



Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Update: Zombie Spec

Okay, who was I kidding? There's no way in H-E-double hockey sticks this script would be ready for a Sept. 16th contest deadline. It is a vomit draft after all and I've got a lot cleaning up to do. Instead of saying how pleased I am with it, I figured I'd be more specific and vague at the same time. The dialogue is barely there, really rough. I've started smoothing out the edges in a couple spots. My second act is akin to a big bowl of alphabet soup. There are lot of letters floating around, some of them form the occasional word but it's nothing I'd let any sane person read.



Cliches

There was really good entry posted at Scriptwriting and Script Reading in the UK on cliched openings. Nothing wrong with a popular cliche if you know what you're doing, case and point: The teaser in the "Buffy" pilot goes a little something like this: a boy and girl sneak into the high school. They start making out. The girl stops and asks, "Did you just hear something?" He goes, "No." She says, "Good" then procedes to vamp out and bite him. Maybe some of you are rocket scientists and knew what was coming but they got me. Along with a cliche comes the expectation, play your cards right and it can work to your advantage.

Serenity Poster



Nimble little minx isn't she? Here I was, wondering how a cancelled sci-fi show, headed for the big screen, was going to attract an audience. Summer Glau's bad ass pose might strike the fancy of one or two people.



Monday, September 05, 2005

Spawn: The Animated Series

Todd McFarlane says the series will be making a return. I'm not exactly sure how it's going to work since he says it's not a continuation of the HBO series. Keith David is back as the voice of "Spawn". Other voice actors include: Michael Jai White, Mark Hamil, Clancy Brown and Cree Summer. Really looking forward to this.

The Spawn: Ultimate Collection DVD is a pretty cool set. McFarlane loves to talk on the commentary and often has some interesting things to say when it comes to the look of the series, establishing tone and developing storylines. For one, he talks about avoiding monster-of-the-week episodes. Filling the world with endless creatures makes your own special character less unique. This is exactly the sort of thing that hurt "Smallville", all those Kryptonite villains (and giving too many of them the same motivation, revenge).

Watching the complete series on DVD is a lot more satisfying than the weekly piecemeal. If you're interested in coming up with your own comic/toon, TV show idea, it might be worth a look. Here's a link to the teaser trailer:

Spawn

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Update: TV Pilot

Still polishing the teleplay. I'm going with Slamdance over Scriptapaloozatv. I've been working on the concept summary, which prompted me to change the title...several times. I finally settled on something that better captures the spirit of the show...for now. There's nothing like a writing contest to make me slowly unravel.




Thursday, September 01, 2005

Update: Zombie Spec

I haven't updated the progress bar in a while but I'm on the verge of 80%. I still have a way to go but I'm satisfied with the way I was able to put the story together. The International Horror and Sci-Fi screenplay contest (and its September 16th deadline) is tempting. I know can complete the screenplay in time but will it be ready? There's a difference. Either way, it'll motivate me to crank out pages at a faster pace.



Update: Werewolf Spec

A couple of cosmetic changes here and there but honestly, not a whole lot of progress. Basically, I'm stuck on the final action sequence in Act III. I think I'll watch a couple action movies for some inspiration...on second thought, I have some old comic books lying around...that might really do the trick.



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