Genre: TV Pilot – Action/Apocalypse/Martial-Arts
Premise: A century after the fall of society, a large swath of land known as The Badlands is being fought over by bands of gangsters. Gangsters who know kung-fu.
About: AMC has only ordered three shows straight to series. Better Call Saul, The Walking Dead, and this one. The show comes from the unlikely duo of Al Gough and Miles Millar, who created Smallville, a very successful show, but not traditionally one that gets the ultra picky execs at AMC to go green-light crazy. It must have been the pitch of the season. The show is slated to come out this fall.
Writers: Al Gough & Miles Millar
Details: 59 pages

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It’s Tuesday which means it’s Carson TV recap day. I finished House of Cards Season 3 this weekend and… wow. Can somebody tell me what in the Declaration of Independence happened to that show? What had previously been a masterfully crafted political expose about Machevellian manipulation covering a half-dozen captivating storylines devolved into a plodding mist of unfocused yuckiness.

You turn your ruthless main character – the whole reason we watched the show! – into a sniveling cajones-less whiner? You focus on macro plot elements devoid of drama (Will Russia be our friends??)? You change your minds throughout the season (Frank’s not running for president. Oh wait, yes he is!)? And you destroy the one relationship we love above all else – Frank and Claire? I think I speak for the people of America when I say: What the hell were you thinking???

The thing is, I’m actually a little relieved. The previous two seasons were so well written they made writing look near-impossible. If this was the standard amateur writers were being held to, they had no shot at breaking in. The way the show would deftly pay off in episode nine something it had set up in episode two showed just how much thought and effort went into the construction of this saga. Every single storyline and character had bite, had a point, had a say in the bigger picture. Shakespeare himself would’ve had a tough time making this writing staff. To see all that come crumbling down like – sorry, but I have to say it – a “house of cards,” proves just how difficult this craft is. There is no secret pill. Nothing comes easy. If you want to write something great, you must continue to work your butt off and push yourself.

Looking at the situation a little closer gives us more insight into what may have happened here. House of Cards was originally picked up for two seasons. It’s no surprise, then, that they wrote two seasons worth of great material. The third season was the first season they had to write on the fly. And that may be why they couldn’t even write their own John Hancock. I have more respect than ever for TV writers now, as House of Cards proves how difficult it is to keep the campaign afloat. The writers of Breaking Bad, Lost, The Good Wife – keeping the story compelling for that long and with that kind of consistency is a huge coup. Let’s hope House of Cards learns from its mistakes and rebounds for Round 4.

Speaking of good writing, there’s no other network that cares more about writing than AMC. They’ve been chastised for their gladiator style “bake-off” contest where in-development scripts battle for a shot on the channel’s roster. But what’s wrong with a little healthy competition, no? The channel has been aching for another apocalypse show (they wrote another one which I liked quite a bit – but it ultimately ended up being too weird for them), and this genre-friendly horse looks to be who they’re putting their money on. Let’s see if it’s worth the bet.

Who knows how long ago society crumbled? It doesn’t matter to these men. All that matters is the area known as the Badlands, a large expanse of dirt disputed by a handful of feudal-like lords known as Barons. The one we follow, a man named Quinn, is getting ready to transfer his town over to a new leader, either his temperamental biological son, Ryder, or his adopted son, Sunny.

It is Sunny who is out in the Badlands one day, checking on a slave transport Quinn sent out earlier, when he finds that everyone in the transport has been slaughtered. Sunny tracks down the rival gang who did it, and learns that, for some reason, they saved a single teenage boy (M.K.). In an epic martial arts battle, Sunny takes down the gang all by himself.

He then takes M.K. back to town and places him in the Clipper program, a training ground for the town’s soldiers. Meanwhile, the town prepares for Quinn’s third marriage (polygamy in the future baby!) but Quinn’s given bad news that night. He’s got cancer. This means he’ll have to transfer his kingdom over sooner than he wants.

When Ryder gets this information, he knows he has a job to do. The only way he’s taking over the town is if he takes down Sunny. But he’ll have to do so in the shadows. He can’t risk being seen killing the chosen one. Public Relations 101.

The increasingly mysterious M.K. escapes town and is captured by Quinn’s rival, a ruthless woman named “The Widow,” bequeathed her position by killing her husband and all her children. Sunny and Ryder will need to work together to take The Widow down, but they’re surprised when it’s actually M.K. who saves the day. This is just the beginning of what will surely be an epic battle to control… the Badlands.

Let me start off by mentioning the action-writing style here, which was very unique. Typically, fight scenes are written in short staccato-like clips to keep the eyes moving down the page quickly – mirroring the pace of the fight.  But these guys write in much bigger 5-6 line chunks, breaking them up with a single word, usually the name of a character (that the camera is focused on) before moving on to the next chunk.

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 5.31.38 AM

 It’s not something I’m used to but it was strangely pleasing. The blocks of writing were all so uniform, they created a balance to the page that grew on me. I’m not sure I would recommend anyone else trying this, but it worked in this case.

On the story side, Badlands uses a formula that’s been growing in popularity. We have the leader of an empire who’s getting ready to pass his empire down to someone new. This is the perfect plot point for a TV show because it packs a one-two-punch into the story’s longevity. The first season is about the young guys jockeying for position to take over the job (in this case, Ryder and Sunny) and the second season is the aftermath of the takeover.

Both situations can fill a season’s worth of material (of course, if you’re smart, you can extend it to three seasons by having the cancer go into remission for the current leader, allowing him to keep his spot for season 2) which is great. You’ve seen what happens when you don’t have a clear plan for a season (ahem, House of Cards). They’re doing this exact same thing on Empire and, if I remember correctly, they’re doing something similar with the FX show, Tyrant, as well.

Another teachable moment is how the writers handle the martial arts. Many amateur writers coming into this situation would have focused solely on writing great martial arts action scenes. Gough and Millar know that the martial arts scenes, just like the zombies in The Walking Dead, are secondary. They mean nothing unless you set up a compelling world first.

So this pilot sets up the mythology (the rules for the Badlands), it sets up Quinn’s town and how it operates, and it sets up the key relationships, such as the conflict between Sunny and Ryder and the bitter head-butting between Quinn’s multiple wives. These are the things you want to focus on when you’re writing a pilot. Not the action. Sure, you’ll write action scenes, but they’ll emerge naturally from the storyline.

Badlands is a pretty solid script. My only fear is that it may be too simplistic. JJ Abrams would not be a fan, as the number of mystery boxes here is limited. When I finish a pilot, I like to have 4 or 5 unanswered questions to look forward to. This script really only has one – the mystery of M.K. It feels like they could’ve gone a little further than that. Nonetheless, it’s a good pilot.

[ ] what the hell did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[x] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: I don’t know if this lesson is specific to AMC or not. But it’s worth noting if you’re writing a pilot. I asked myself, why is it that AMC passed its beloved bake-off competition with Badlands and gave it only the second straight-to-series order for an original show in the channel’s history? The answer is the same reason that they greenlit The Walking Dead straight-to-series. Gough and Millar took a genre that’s been popular in the feature world but is yet to be translated into a television series – the martial arts flick. That was really smart. So if there’s a movie genre out there that’s never been turned into a TV show before, you might want to scout it out and see if it’s ready for a transition.

  • S.C.

    Popular movie subjects less covered by TV:

    Archaeology
    Alien invasion/occupation
    Baseball
    Basketball
    Boxing
    Dinosaurs
    Dreams
    Fast cars
    Fighting robots
    Hostage rescue
    Pirates
    Poker
    Private military contractors (mercenaries)
    Talking animals
    Toys
    Train travel
    Vietnam War

    There are past exceptions, there may be some projects in the pipeline, but I think these are all possible avenues for future TV shows. Any others?

    • Nick Morris

      No slasher shows…yet.

      • S.C.

        No, it’s all intellectual serial killers in suit and tie!

        • Nick Morris

          I know, right?! Lovable, good-looking killers with a heart of gold. But where are the relentless, killing machine monsters?

          • walker

            Washington DC

          • Midnight Luck

            We need DEXTER, with a maniacal EDGE.

            Maybe they will turn AMERICAN PSYCHO into a TV show, and keep Bateman totally psychotic.

            I would watch either of those shows in a heartbeat.

          • Nick Morris

            AMERICAN PSYCHO series sounds sort of familiar. Not sure if I’ve heard something about that at some point or if I’m imagining it. But it could work and I’d take that over DEXTER any day.

          • Midnight Luck

            Yeah, i believe it was in a post i made a month or two ago talking about 40-some favorite movies becoming TV shows (Uncle Buck! Real Genius!).
            I think i forgot about A Psycho, but some recess of my mind still remembered and dredged it up.

          • S.C.
          • Midnight Luck

            awesome. well, here’s hoping it is awesome.
            I actually don’t have much trust in TV, it seems to tend toward the lower production value, low character development, lower story construction end than movies do.
            I know it is most likely because of the quick nature of most TV productions, but I have always felt if HBO, or NETFLIX or anyone else (AMC) can make a TV show with high end quality and production value then any of them should.
            Would hate to see A. PSYCHO turned into a cheeseball fest.

      • 3waystopsign

        Would the upcoming “Scream Queens” by Ryan Murphy count? I don’t know too much about it but it seems to be in that general area.

        • S.C.

          Not sure about SQ. There is Scream the TV show:
          http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3921180/?ref_=tttr_tr_tt

          It kind of proves Carson’s point: popular ideas for movies are now becoming TV shows. Could get to the point where there won’t be any more movies about some subjects because of TV shows.

          • Nick Morris

            SCREAM is on the way and there were rumblings for a while about a FRIDAY THE 13th series focused on Jason’s origin story. But I fear that they’ll go the BATE’S MOTEL route and try to make Jason all sympathetic.

          • S.C.

            I remember when I was a killed an anthology show (I think it was) based on Friday the 13th. I think Brian Helgeland cut his teeth on that show.

          • S.C.

            Freudian slip.. I meant “kid”!

          • Nick Morris

            I remember that one too. But sadly, it was F13 in name only.

        • Nick Morris

          Based only on what little I’ve seen thus far re: SCREAM QUEENS, I’m gonna say no.

    • ChadStuart

      Falling Skies on TNT pretty much has the Alien Invasion / Occupation concept going right now.

      • S.C.

        Yeah, and there’s V, remake and original. Still, The Walking Dead meets War of the Worlds might be a good pitch, given the continued popularity of TWD.

    • Jonas E.

      There are a couple of shows about Pirates, though not that great

      • S.C.

        “Arrr, matey” pirates, yes. But South Sea pirates? Somalian pirates? Swedish (internet) pirates? Lots of ground to cover there!

      • carsonreeves1

        They tried to make a couple of shows about pirates that didn’t do well. It’s the same problem as when they were trying to make a bunch of pirate movies that were bombing before Pirates of the Caribbean came around. You just need to find the right angle!

      • LV426

        I really enjoyed Black Sails this season. It was a definite improvement on the first season.

        • charliesb

          I hated it last season, and only started watching Season 2 because there is absolutely nothing on in the early months of the year. But i was pleasantly surprised to see how much better it was and how Flints backstory allowed me to understand what the hell was going on in Season 1.

          • LV426

            Yeah, the second season really did enhance the first.

            Did you see the finale? KA-BOOM!!!

    • LV426

      How about…

      A sci-fi series about genetically engineered animal-human hybrids owned by the future privatized military. During their downtime, these “animen” soldiers love to play poker and argue about which boxer, basketball team, or baseball team is the best. They dream of driving fast cars after surviving their long tours of duty. In battle against foreign threats they go up against everything from giant robots to cyber-pirates and homicidal robotic toys run amok. A standard hostage rescue is a walk in the park.

      They are owned by the monolithic private military corporation. Many of these soldiers never make it to freedom as they get killed in action before that can happen. It’s a lot like bomber crews in World War 2. Hardly anyone makes it home. In this case, the big inner conflict is that these hybrid soldiers never had a home. Born into service and trained from birth, they are like prison inmates that can’t hack it back in the real world. So some of the ones that finish their service and earn their freedom actually re-enlist!

      The big mystery box would be a main character uncovering some sinister motivations in the labs of the big bad military mega-corp. Their plans for making genetic hybrids goes beyond just making better soldiers.

      It’d be a series that explores honor, duty, loyalty, corporate corruption, the after shock and effects of war on individuals, class strife, and the potentially terrifying future of warfare.

      Title: CHIMERICA

    • charliesb

      I tried to keep it within the last 10 years, a few go back a couple years more.

      Archaeology – The Librarians
      Alien invasion/occupation – Invasion, Threshold, V, The Event, Defiance, Falling Skies
      Baseball – East bound & Down (bit of a stretch I know), Back in the Game
      Basketball – Survivors Remorse
      Boxing – Lights Out, Kingdom
      Dinosaurs – Terra Nova
      Dreams – ?? Awake
      Fast cars – The Transporter
      Fighting robots – I got nothing… But there are two new shows with androids coming up : Westworld and Humans
      Hostage rescue – Kidnapped, Standoff, Hostages, every version of Law & Order
      Pirates – Crossbones, Black Sails
      Poker – Lucky, Tilt
      Private military contractors (mercenaries) – Pretty much every procedural has them, but i can’t think of anything in the last 10 years that was specially about them.
      Talking animals – Family Guy, Bojack Horseman
      Toys – I got nothing
      Train travel – Are there even movies about this? Oh wait Snowpiercer.
      Vietnam War – It’s been a while

      So Toys, Trains, Fighting Robots and the Vietnam War? :)

      The reality is the people watch TV because they want to be invested in characters. It almost doesn’t matter what your premise is (almost). Give audiences characters to root for, and boo at, who they’ll want to succeed and who will inspire emotion when they fail, and you’ll be more than half way there.

      If you look at two of the most successful tv shows on TV right now WALKING DEAD, and EMPIRE each have plot lines and premises that would make most people roll their eyes. But they are hits because people love (and love to hate) the characters. In terms of plot its hard to believe that were 5 seasons in on Walking Dead, but in terms of character development it feels every bit that long. (ok maybe not for everyone – But Rick, my God, Rick has gone full Shane! And Carol? nobody would have guessed the woman from season 1 would turn into the complete sociopath she is now). But I digress.

      When I’m starting a new screenplay, I’m usually looking for a concept, I start with something big and then look for characters that would be affected by it. But when I start a pilot, it most often comes from starting with characters (usually in conflict) and then building out a world and premise from that.

      • S.C.

        You clearly watch more TV than I do!

        This is the sort of TV I watch:

        • charliesb

          I do watch a lot of TV, but I didn’t actually watch all of these shows. I do try to watch the pilot of everything I can though, because I like to keep my eye on what makes it through the process and actually gets on TV.

        • LV426

          In the future, is England going to be a dystopic totalitarian state that goes all Hunger Games, but instead of an updated tournament based on The Most Dangerous Game/Battle Royale, they’ll just have everything be decided upon life or death quiz shows?

      • LV426

        A time traveling train could be a fun premise. It’d be like a spaceship show (Star Trek, BSG) with a cast of regulars living on the ship/train, mixed with a Doctor Who style premise. Who has his TARDIS (an old police box), but here the train is the time machine. Or perhaps the train is just a train and certain train tunnels are the portals between different eras and worlds?

  • S.C.

    Just checking: the show’s now called Into the Badlands.

    Prefer the original.

    • walker

      Maybe they were trying to avoid confusion with the excellent film Badlands (1973) by Terrence Malick.

      • S.C.

        I don’t know about confusion, but you can bet your house it was some rival project you’ve never heard of and are never likely to hear from that forced them to change the name.

        Mind you, I wouldn’t be surprised if Malick did object; Paramount once destroyed lots of copies of Days of Heaven thinking they were destroying excess copies of Days of Thunder!

        • walker

          Unfortunately it pretty much ruins my plans for a remake of Badlands focusing on the kung fu.

          • LV426

            What if instead of kung fu, they had telekinesis ala Carrie?

  • Charles Walters

    A bunch of unlikeable, yet compelling people backstabbing and battling for a throne? Where have I heard that setup before? I don’t know, it’ll come to me …

    • S.C.

      Game ofThorns? That what’s I thought it was called when I first saw it.

    • Frankie Hollywood

      One of Hollywood’s favorite maxims: “Give me the same, but different.”

      If it’s tried and true once, it can be tried and new twice.

      • S.C.

        There is nothing new under the sun, and you can waste a LOT of time thinking that there is.

        Meanwhile, the smart guy has repackaged, I don’t know, Sink the Bismarck and made the Black List.

        Or added cheerleaders to the obscure 2007 comedy Kickin’ it Old Skool and sold it for $500,000 (January spec sale Senior Year).

        • LV426

          Bismarck… In Outer $pace!!!

          • S.C.

            Don’t tell us… FRICKING WRITE IT!

            An indomitable space commander searches the galaxy for the space cruiser that destroyed his home world.

            And, of course, there’s no bang when things blow up. ‘Cause there’s no sound in space. And it’s too much like fun.

          • LV426

            I could see it as a kind of reverse Battlestar Galactica. Earth sends out a new state of the art military starship to track down an alien super-warship that is bombing our offworld colonies. We must stop the alien threat before it reaches the Sol System, and Earth.

  • S.C.

    Always remembered this. Paul Schrader and brother Lionel wrote a script, The Yakuza, and sold it for $350,000 ($50,000 less than Butch Cassidy and $100,000 less than Lucky Lady would sell for, but still pretty impressive).

    Their pitch: The Godfather meets Enter the Dragon.

    Classic.

    Seen the movie. Enjoyable, but it’s not really much like either of them. Still, what a great pitch. Combine the most successful movie of all time with a cult success and get the best of both worlds!

  • kenglo

    Okay…I read the review, love the fact there is a martial arts based TV show coming on, and I looked this up (because it wasn’t on my radar for some reason) and noticed the star/headliner of the show – DANIEL WU???

    DANIEL FRICKIN’ WU??

    please…..

  • kenglo

    I mean…at least if you are doing a martial arts story/film, get people who can actually do martial arts……

  • kenglo

    Geez….

  • Buddy

    the premise sounds cheesy to me. I’m not going to watch this one.
    Hey Carson did you hear about WHITE CITY, an AMC project ?

    OT: Watched BATTLE CREEK’s pilote : story is ok (disappointing when you know it’s from Gilligan & Shore), but the casting and the photography…man, it’s one of the most terrible things I saw on TV this last few years. Can’t believe they asked to DRIVE’s DOP to do this !!

    Enjoyed MAN SEEKING WOMAN and LAST MAN ON EARTH. Anyone with me here ?

    • Frankie Hollywood

      I watched the first 2 Battle Creeks, not interested in going any further. Also read an article a couple weeks back saying it’s already on the chopping block (so why bother).

      Man Seeking Woman looks trippy as hell, but I just wanna punch Jay Baruchel in the face every time I see him = annoying.

      Surprised Last Man On Earth is getting tons of love, was waiting for the verdict, now I’ll XOD it to catch up.

      • Buddy

        yeap !

    • cjob3

      There’s really no wrong way to use a margarita pool.

    • carsonreeves1

      Which one is White City again? What’s it about?

      • Buddy

        “White City is set in Afghanistan and follows a group of Western diplomats and journalists — focusing on “war junkie” Jon Liston, who oversteps his bounds after an exchange with insurgents.”
        The network has given the greenlight to the drama pilot WHITE CITY which is billed as “a gripping geopolitical drama focused on Western diplomats and journalists living in Afghanistan.”

        Stephen Gaghan exec produce & directed the pilote.

        http://www.thewrap.com/amc-greenlights-afghanistan-drama-pilot-white-city/

        • LV426

          White City sounds interesting. I’d definitely watch that.

  • klmn

    Cancer again?

    Does every tv show and movie need to have cancer?

    That should be your next article, Carson. “Give your fucking pilot cancer.”

    • Frankie Hollywood

      And title the article, Breaking Bad: Riding the Coattails.

    • Linkthis83

      Cancer is this generation’s asthma.

      • Midnight Luck

        I’d say this year’s ADD or ADHD

    • carsonreeves1

      Cancer, ironically, is starting to die out.

      • Gregory Mandarano

        Well I hope it doesn’t die out before I sell ISBR.

  • Frankie Hollywood

    If anyone has this script I’d love to read it. lanzoweyn@live.com

    Please and Thank You

    • carsonreeves1

      AMC is terrible at teasing their shows. They need to fire everyone in their tease department. Their first teaser of Better Call Saul was like leftover B footage of a scene that was never used in the show. I don’t know what they’re doing over there!

      • Frankie Hollywood

        Agree. And that CGI blood isn’t going to win any awards. Not as bad as Expendables, but you gotta spend money to make money/get viewers.

  • Magga

    Since House of Cards is a remake, i’d say they have a pretty clear plan for the story. And it was never top tier TV

    • Spatula City

      It was a remake of a UK series that was based on a series of novels, actually. It’s not necessarily amazing to remake something that has already been done twice.

  • klmn

    “Gough and Millar took a genre that’s been popular in the feature world
    but is yet to be translated into a television series – the martial arts
    flick. That was really smart. So if there’s a movie genre out there that’s never been turned into a TV show before, you might want to scout it out and see if it’s ready for a transition.”

    • Poe_Serling

      You gotta remember that Carson’s cinematic consciousness only goes back so far and it’s always in color. ;-)

      All kidding aside, I think it would be a worthwhile teaching tool to explore more of the classic films from a screenwriting perspective, whether it’s The Wild Bunch script/film or something else.

      **And forget Kill Bill… the ultimate fight for me: Norris vs. Carradine (fighting in a pull over sweater no less).

      • S.C.

        Asked whether David Caradine was a good martial artist, Chuck Norris replied: “David Carradine is as good a martial artist as I am an actor.”

        • Poe_Serling

          I think Chuck needs to revisit his own Oscar-worthy performance from Silent Rage, which wiki points out is a ‘romantic/action/science fiction/horror movie.’ Just shows that CN is not limited to just one genre.

          • S.C.

          • Poe_Serling

            Yup, that clip just proved that Chuck is the Daniel-Day Lewis of martial arts/action-film stars.

          • kenglo

            More shows –

            And last but not least –

          • Buddy

            ahah this one was sooooooo badddddd…. :-D

          • kenglo

            I was so mad that Martial Law brought in Arsenio to ‘beef it up’ that was the beginning of the end.

          • GoIrish

            I think there’s a joke in here somewhere about CN being his own genre.

      • S.C.

        I’ve got the Wild Bunch remake script (CARTEL) by David Ayer. Maybe Carson could compare the two, in seperate reviews.

        • Poe_Serling

          Ayer vs. Peckinpah/Green… I’d tune in.

          • klmn

            Kinda OT, but I tried to watch Killing Jesus on the National Geographic Channel Sunday. Pretty slow moving, so I switched it off, but I noticed the screenwriter was Walon Green. So he’s still in the killing business.

          • Poe_Serling

            Walon Green is also the writer of the legendary unproduced script Crusade.

            During the mid ’90s it almost got made with Schwarzenegger starring and Carolco producing.

          • andyjaxfl

            I wish I could up vote 1,000 times every time Crusade gets a mention. Damn you, Renny Harlin!

          • Poe_Serling

            Cutthroat Island’s failure took the wind out of Crusade’s pre-production sails, pretty much sunk Carolco, and left the project floundering forever in Development Hell.

          • andyjaxfl

            I read the Green/Goldman draft at least once or twice a year, mostly for sheer entertainment but other times for a little motivation. It’s 135 pages of masterclass storytelling.

            Have you ever read Green’s first draft of Crusade? By all accounts it’s top notch, though a bit different than the revised draft that’s been circulating around the past few years.

          • Poe_Serling

            “Have you ever read Green’s first draft of Crusade?”

            No, but it’s always possible someone on this site could have a copy to share.

          • andyjaxfl

            Good idea. I’ve tried a few different sites in the past without any luck, but you never know with this crowd!

          • andyjaxfl

            Verhoeven is looking to make a TV show about the Crusades similar to The Vikings. The project was announced back in February but hasn’t gained any traction in the US, though a few news outlets in Europe have reported on it. Looks like it’s not connected to Green’s script, so unfortunately not stitched in the donkey scene…

            http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=nl&u=http://www.televizier.nl/nieuws/tv-series/paul-verhoeven-maakt-engelse-tv-serie-van-crusade.5260079.lynkx&prev=search

        • klmn

          Could you send the David Ayer script to kenklmn AT yahoo.com ?

          Thanks in advance.

          • S.C.

            Sent! Tell us what you think.

          • klmn

            Sure thing. It’ll be a few days before I can get to it.

      • carsonreeves1

        You’re joking but it’s true. I especially don’t know anything about TV shows before the 1980s.

      • klmn

        My favorite Chuck Norris scene – the fight with Bruce Lee in Return of The Dragon.

        But my favorite Kung Fu fight scene of all time is Jackie Chan in the metal shop in The Legend of Drunken Master.

        • kenglo

          I dunno klmn, this one was pretty good too!!

          • klmn

            And then there were all the fights between Clouseau and Cato…

      • kenglo

        Filmed in El Paso…my buddy and I were extras in this film….Chuck’s a nice guy….

        • Poe_Serling

          “….my buddy and I were extras in this film…”

          Did you guys get any screen time?

          • kenglo

            Yes sir, in the beginning and in the end scenes, downtown El Paso, near the courthouse. I was home on military leave and my friend told me about the film. So we amble down, get picked for background scenes, met Chuck, took pictures and all. What’s funny was I ran into an El Paso Sheriff who remembered me when I was younger, I was kind of the ‘karate kid’ of El Paso, but he remembered me, and we ALMOST set up an appointment to work out with Chuck and his stunt team. But I had to leave to my duty station so that never happened. I didn’t get to meet Carradine, but my friend did.

            Years later, I worked with Carradine in a war film in the Philippines of all places. . That’s me as ‘TEAGUE’ circa 1985.

          • Poe_Serling

            Those are great stories and even better memories!!

      • romer6

        Isn´t that Chakotay from Star Trek: Voyager?

        • Poe_Serling

          Yeah, Robert Beltran. He also played a great villain in the TV Western El Diablo. Written by John Carpenter, Tommy Lee Wallace, and Bill Phillips.

          • romer6

            One of my favorite series ever.

    • brenkilco

      TV martial arts is even older. it’s generally forgotten now that Kung Fu icon Bruce Lee got his asskicking start as the sidekick/chauffeur/houseboy of the Green Hornet in the short lived mid sixties show.

      • klmn

        Yeah, but that show really didn’t showcase his martial arts. And I read somewhere that Lee was turned down for the role of Caine in Kung Fu because he “looked too Chinese.”

        • http://antixpress.com/ kidbaron

          Wasn’t Lee involved in the initial idea of the show?

          • klmn

            Don’t know. Maybe Poe or Brenkilco can answer.

          • Poe_Serling

            Here’s a Kung Fu TV series site that looks at Bruce Lee’s involvement with the series.

            http://tr.yenisehir.wikia.com/wiki/Kung_Fu_%28TV_series%29

          • kenglo

            As usual, POE IS A BEAST! Very enlightening Sir!

            I had a book my father bought me in 1979 or 80 or something….It also stated Lee came up with the idea. Oh well….I like the legend version!

          • kenglo

            Original title was ‘The Warrior’ and yes, Lee and Stirling Silliphant worked the story.

      • BoSoxBoy

        Different spin is the key-

        Kung Jew, starring Ben Stiller and Mel Brooks.

        Stiller: Master, I hear the grasshopper.
        Brooks: What?
        Stiller: I said I hear the grasshopper at my feet.
        Brooks: You fear the helicopter in the heat? Mashugana.

        • LV426

          Judd Hirsch as the villain.

  • carsonreeves1

    lol

  • Adrian P.

    House of Cards Season 3 – some mini spoilers included

    I’m glad I’m not the only one that felt like Season 3 took a nose dive towards boredom. The whole Russian plot points were boring. It had some interesting parts, ie when the Russian President was with Frank in the secret area of the White house and he smudged his cigar against the wall. It was a small gesture but symbolized his lack of respect for Frank and the white house/America.

    I can take disagreements and conflict between Frank and his wife because that is totally realistic in a marriage but for her to totally give up on them especially with all the crap they’ve been through to get where they are (the White House) for such a stupid reason. If she left him it should be for a better reason than what the writers presented.

    If they’re was a season arch where he started to disrespect gradually her over the course of the season on a continuous basis and then the marriage became totally unbearable, then I can see why she would leave. For some reason the writers made them not sleep in the same bed from episode 1 and I still don’t know exactly why this happened. She had a cold? Really???!

    • carsonreeves1

      The problem with the Frank-Claire disintegration was that it was totally manufactured. There was nothing natural or honest about it at all. It only happened because the writer needed it to, not because that would’ve really happened between them. So frustrating! #bringKateMaraback

  • Malibo Jackk

    Thinking about doing a series called PILOT.
    Each week a different airline pilot — but basically the same story.
    Everyone says what a great guy the airline pilot is. We love the guy.
    Then he dives an airliner into the ocean — or into the side of a mountain.

    And we find out he was the most depressed man on earth.

  • Midnight Luck

    Sounds like a futuristic sword and sandals, and I can’t say I much like s and s. They bore me to tears. Then add in fighting over who gets some throne? Uggh so bored now I think I yawn, am yawn, in a yawn COMA.

    All i think when I hear someone has added Kung Fu to something is, great they are trying to be all Matrix-y. That is super boring and awful sounding.

  • LV426

    Did they actually have passages in this script that were like that?

    Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah fight grenade blah blah blah

  • S.C.

    Some pilots that didn’t quite make it, courtesy of Saturday Night Live 1979, so ‘scuse the poor quality of the video.

    http://www.fuzzymemories.tv/index.php?c=841&m=xxmiscxx

  • MichaelAQ

    Good timing on this article. I’m trying to finish up a pilot, and need to make sure that the mystery boxes I leave are clear, and intriguing.

  • fragglewriter

    After reading this review, I was a litle dizzy and I really didn’t understand all of the necessary conflicts in a TV show, but it’ll probably play out better on screen.

    Taking a peopular genre and translate it to a televesion series has no better chance of working unless it’s intriguing (look at Gang Related as an example). But I do advise writers to put a spin on it to make it seem fresh.

  • ripleyy

    I think writing “BLAH BLAH BLAH FIGHT KNIFE” should be the new trend. Seriously, cut all the action out of your epic set piece and write “BLAH BLAH BLAH BUILDING FALLS BLAH BLAH BLAH” ;)

    • jw

      Can you imagine what a Bruckheimer script would look like if that was the case? Holy merry mother of… BLAH for 3 pages… EXPLOSIONS for 15… BLAH for 2 pages… BUILDINGS FALL for 20… BLAH for 1 page… the world ends for 25… With this structure you could probably write a Bruckheimer script on 1 page using bullet points and then improve the entire $250 million dollar picture. ahahh I mean, realistically, could it possibly be ANY worse?

      • LV426

        Transformers: Blah of the Moon (page 157):

        Blah blah blah blah BOOM Lasers Blah Blah Pew pew BOOM blah blah blah.
        Blah blah blah blah Optimus knees Megatron in the crotch CRUNCH blah blah.

        MEGAN FOX

        Blah blah blah blah CLOSE-UP ON HER ASS IN TIGHT JEANS IN SLO-MO blah.
        Blah blah blah blah blah BOOM BOOM Lasers Blah Machine gun fire blah blah.

        OPTIMUS: Blah blah. Roll out! Blah blah blah have courage Autobots. Blah blah blah.

    • klmn

      Yes, everyone submitting to the SS 250 should write in this fashion.

  • jw

    Carson, I’m with you on House of Cards. What a cluster-fuck of epic proportions. Here’s my take on how it possibly went from absolute genius to utter amateur, while keeping the same writer — SOURCE MATERIAL. Mr. Willimon ran out of it. Because this is based on a UK series, I think the first 2 years he was pulling from a shite-ton of material and then season 3 comes along and he has to actually show some creative chops and all of a sudden we have giant stinking pile of scripts that should have been burned instead of filmed. Such a shame. The characters, the storyline, the intrigue and back-stabbing. It’s every possible element you would EVER want for a TV show sitting on a fucking platter and he just walked over and knocked the entire platter over like a jack. Sucks.

    • S.C.

      The second novel in the HOUSE OF CARDS trilogy – and the second mini-series made by the BBC – To Play the King is about the Royal Family, specifically Prince Charles.

      British politics 101: The monarch (currently Elizabeth II) is head of state, and remains so, passing the reign to her son, Charles, when she dies (or abdicates). Prime ministers (heads of GOVERNMENT) come and go, the monarch stays on the throne. And usually keeps their mouth shut.

      Charles is different. Rightly or wrongly (a bit of both) he likes to interfere in politics. Rightly because he has some good points to make, wrongly because as an unelected member of the royal family he shouldn’t intervene in matters of government.

      Anyway, a fictional version of Prince Charles is Francis Urqhaurt’s opponent in the second series. Urqhaurt (the Prime Minister) engineers his abdication and puts a young Prince William in his place.

      But… America doesn’t have a royal family. So they can’t do that storyline. So it just becomes another WEST WING with knobs on. And that’s why, for all the class involved, I can’t get involved with it.

      (**Spoiler** The third book The Final Cut has Urqhaurt engineering a war in Cyprus to boost his popularity against his rival, the Home Secretary (equiv. Attorney General) so that may be a future direction for the US series.).

    • bluedenham

      I have to agree with you. Just watched episode six, where, instead of developing some wonderfully Byzantine backstabbing or manipulations by the “first couple,” the story has Claire suddenly develop a conscience. WTF? It destroys everything we’ve grown to know and love about her ruthless ambition.
      I also find the subplot about the “work program” utterly boring and pointless – and I’m a politics junky!

  • S.C.

    Nighty-night. Here’s a bedtime story read by… David Hasselhoff!

  • romer6

    OT: Since the subject is TV series, I´d like to say how impressed I am with a series called “The 100″, from The CW. Yup, that CW. I advise anyone willing to write a TV series to watch it. Wow, that show is awesome. I just finished the first season, but season 2 already aired and season 3 is confirmed. I must say, the lesson here is clear: use a simple plot, very easy to follow and make the shit hit the fan as much as possible. I don´t remember watching a series where so many things go bad as in this one. That is a great drive for the story and it keeps the tension building one episode after the other. They take a lesson from Lost but kind of improve it a little bit: there are misteries being presented every week but they don´t take long to reveal it, but little afterward they present another one. It is not procedural but every week there is something to be done that is solved that same week. And, man, the characters are great (not all the actors unfortunately). There is no good and evil, there is no right or wrong. The show takes chances that I´d never expect from a CW series. It is a great scifi series that is really worth following. If you have the chance, take a peek and let me know what you think. I´m learning a LOT! It already helped improve my pilot 100%. Really.

    • LV426

      I like it.

      Reminds me of Lost meets Battlestar Galactica. Although as you said it has mystery, but doesn’t disappear up its own bum in a recursive structure of unsolved mystery after unsolved mystery within another giant mystery box ala Lost.

    • charliesb

      I stopped watching early in Season 1 maybe the third or fourth episode. I guess this means it got better?

  • charliesb

    Completely OFF TOPIC – but have we all seen the new full Mad Max Trailer today? I have not anticipated a movie like this since… honestly I can’t remember, it’s been THAT long. Jurassic World almost got me with those few notes from Williams score, but lost me again moments later with a rehash of the plot from the original.

    • Casper Chris

      Sure looks uniquely amazing. Probably style over substance though.

  • august4

    Here’s a question for anyone out there who’ll answer… If you’re about to write a pilot, should you use ACT breaks or not? The Walking Dead didn’t, Breaking Bad did… it seems to be a writer’s preference. Thoughts?