Evil Gal Productions

Mere Smith
is a recovering Southerner,
longtime TV writer,
author and blogger.
January 25th, 2011 by Mere Smith

Pilot Season I

Ah… pilot season.


It’s like the season of Christmas, only with more bodily injury.  (Seriously — even fruitcake can’t fuck you up this much.  Even if you eat it.)

The season of reading ’til your head feels stuffed with overcooked pasta, your legs go numb as OtterPops, your eyeballs spurt blood — and possibly, for those of us with laptops, your reproductive organs melt into carcinogenic Chernobyl-sludge.

And so far I’ve only read 21 of them.  That’s the worst part.

I know more are coming.

Usually pilot season brings upwards of 90 scripts.

It’s like living under the sword of Damocles, except Damocles is Right There In The Room, he’s in a really bad mood because someone keyed his chariot, and he doesn’t like the way you’re looking at him, asshole.  It’s a feeling akin to watching two teenagers have sex in a “Friday the 13th” movie — you just know something very, very bad is about to happen.

Like, more pilots are coming.

Now, given that an hour-long pilot is usually between 60 and 70 pages long (say, avg. 65), and half-hour pilots are anywhere from 45-55 pages (avg. 50), I’ve plowed through about 1,260 script pages in the last four days — as well as summarizing all the stories and characters, along with their tones, dialogue styles, and my gut reactions.

I think Congress gives out military metals for that shit — and if they don’t, they fucking well ought.

True, I have read awesome pilots (Shonda Rhimes’ new one, for example, and that’s not just me sucking up) (okay, it’s a little bit me sucking up) (Shonda, baby, I’d like to pour caramel all over your hot, gorgeous body and… what?  Too much?), some so-so pilots (you think I’m gonna name names?  Shit, sucking down won’t do me any good.), and some pilots so goddamn awful that the writers are destined to go straight to Hell screaming (again, no names — I’d like to keep working in Hollywood — until it’s my turn to go to Hell).

What I can tell you is this: more lawyers, more doctors, more cops, more… yawn.

Oh, and also vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and aliens.  Usually in teenage form.  Thanks, Stephanie Meyer.  No, gee, really, thanks a lot.

However, unlike three years ago (the last time I went off about lawyer-doctor-cop-yawning), now we also have a kinda-sorta-half-hearted attempt at Real People Shows.

You know, Real People?  The ones that live in what Hollywood refers to as “The Flyover States”?  The ones that have American accents (of any kind)?  The ones who eat at Cracker Barrel and shop at Wal-Mart and Target — unironically?

Turns out these Real People are starting to be represented in pilots now, too, which would normally make me shout, “Hooray!” — that is, if Hollywood People knew anything at all about Real People.  Which — according to my reading — it appears they don’t, except in a certain detached, amused “hmm, that’s sociologically interesting” way.  The way you might study shit-hurling monkeys at the zoo.

Apparently Hollywood thinks all Real People come from the South.  Or Chicago.  Or sometimes even places exotic enough to be named O-hi-o.

Hell, it’s all one big foreign country to Hollywood People, with New York only getting a pass ’cause it’s like Hollywood’s older, meaner brother: the one who beats them up, then gives them a dollar to not tell Mom.

This town’s a fuckin’ puss.

What can you buy for a dollar these days anyway?

Tomorrow: Some Advice For Writers Working On Real People Shows.