Genre: TV Pilot (Horror)
Premise: (from network) Set in the volatile world of 17th century Massachusetts, ‘Salem’ explores what really fueled the town’s infamous witch trials and dares to uncover the dark, supernatural truth hiding behind the veil of this infamous period in American history. In Salem, witches are real, but they are not who or what they seem.
About: When you think about cutting edge television, WGN America probably isn’t the first channel that comes to mind. But that’s only because they’ve never had an original television show to TRY and become cutting edge with! Enter Brannon Braga & Adam Simon’s new pilot, Malice (now known as “Salem”). You might have heard Braga’s name before. He’s made many geeks happy writing on shows like 24, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the short lived but cool Flashforward. Co-writer Adam Simon, who’s been writing for over 30 years (his first credit was 1990’s “Brain Dead”) is best known for writing the 2009 film, “The Haunting in Connecticut.” Salem debuts this Sunday.
Writers: Brannon Braga & Adam Simon
Details: 61 pages (May 2, 2013 draft)

Salem-poster-tree

Only two more episodes left of Breaking Bad. I’m trying to extend them out as long as possible because I don’t want it to be over. After that, I’m not sure where I’ll head on the TV landscape. I watched one season of Mad Men, which I liked but didn’t love. I was thinking of getting back into it but people don’t seem to be too excited about it anymore.

I liked The Walking Dead, but also left off somewhere in Season 2. That’s probably the leading contender since the show only seems to be getting bigger and bigger. There’s also Game of Thrones. I watched 5 episodes of that and, I’ll be honest, became pretty impatient with the format (lots of talk talk talk talk talk scenes, which would be fine… if your story didn’t occur in a land of dragons and blue people). It seems like it’s a big universe to set up though, and appears to be the show with the biggest number of payoffs (I feel like every month I’m reading about another huge shocker on the show). So maybe I’ll hitch a ride on a dragon and become a Throner (is that what you call yourselves?). What do you guys think I should watch?

Maybe Salem can become my new watch-fest. Yeah, it’s on WGN America, which has never had an original show before, but here’s how I see it. If you’re the first ever show on a network, they’re going to let you go nuts. These execs know that the way you get noticed in TV these days isn’t to do what everyone else is doing. It’s to do something different. So let’s see what kind of show we’re gonna get.

Although the writers never tell us what year it is (tsk tsk writers), I did some online research to find out that the Salem Witch Trials occurred in the 1690s, in Salem, Massachusetts. When your reader has to do your research for you, that usually makes said reader angry.

After getting over that, I was introduced to our hero, John Alden. 16 year old Alden is in love with 16 year old Mary, but unfortunately has to head off to war. That’s one of the great story options you have whenever you’re writing a period piece. You can always write in some war that your hero has to go off to.

This, of course, means your hero will come back, older and wiser, to a place that has changed a lot, which is exactly what’s happened to Salem. Alden is now 27, thought to be a casualty of war, but pops back in to his old haunt, only to find three bodies hanging just outside the town. Apparently, since he left, his town has been overrun by witches. They’ve even brought over an English heavyweight to get rid of them, a witch-expert by the name of Cotton Mather.

Alden doesn’t believe in witchcraft, and yells at anyone who tells him otherwise. All he cares about is finding Mary again. But that turns into an unwanted surprise. Mary has gone off and married Old Man Sibley, a guy Alden and Mary used to despise as children.

The good news is she clearly still holds a candle for Alden. So we’re hoping these two are going to make it happen. Excccccc-cept we learn that Mary’s holding a little secret from her former lover. Turns out Mary’s a witch. She’s so evil, in fact, that she’s cast a spell on her husband so that he’s a prisoner in his own body, a slobbering vegetable.

Eventually, Alden comes to realize that maybe this witchcraft stuff isn’t so ridiculous after all, and goes to Cotton to see how he can help stop them. Cotton tells him this won’t be as simple as a few hangings. This is going to be a long drawn out war. A war that the witches will do anything to win.

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Salem was pretty good. I noticed something immediately that I didn’t see from yesterday’s film. If you read that review, I commented that, in horror, you need at least one super memorable scene, something that freaks people out, the kind of thing you can imagine people talking about afterwards.

Remember, in this day and age, with social media and the good old fashioned internet, word of mouth is as powerful as ever. If you can come up with something that chills people, freaks them out, or unnerves them, everyone’s going to be talking about it, and that means more people are going to watch your movie (or your show).

Oculus didn’t have a single scene like that. Salem had three. The first was when Mary, as a pregnant 16 year old, has an abortion, with her servant literally reaching her hand inside her and pulling out the fetus. It was terribly uncomfortable. But it was MEMORABLE.

Next, there’s a scene where a young teenaged girl who is thought to be a witch is tied down and shaved. Every single inch of her is shaved, and one of the men watching this finds himself getting inadvertently aroused. It’s disgusting and sick. But it’s MEMORABLE.

Finally, there’s a huge orgy that occurs with all the witches in the forest, wearing animal heads, and covered in a strange moss-like grimy substance that seems to enhance all the slipping and sliding and pleasure for everyone involved. It’s disarming. But it’s MEMORABLE.

If you’re going to do horror these days, you have to push the envelope a little bit. You have to freak us out. It’s almost like you want whoever reads the script to say, “Are they really going to film this?” That’s when you know you’re pushing the envelope. Salem had that.

There’s something else I’m catching on to in a lot of these pilots I’m reading. There’s usually a character who starts out one way and ends up another by the end of the pilot. I’m not talking about a character overcoming his flaw, like you’d see in a movie (a man who’s selfish learns to be selfless), but rather their beliefs change or our perceptions of them change because of new information.

So here we have Alden, who doesn’t believe in witches. But by the end, he realizes they’re real. There’s Cotton, who we see as bad since he’s killing witches, when we know there are no such thing as witches. But then we learn that witches are real, and all of a sudden, Cotton becomes a guy fighting a just cause. Then there’s Mary. She starts out as the perfect little princess of our story, but then turns out to be a witch.

So when you’re writing these pilots, make sure characters are changing (or our perception of them is changing) during the course of the story.

Finally, probably the hardest thing to do with a pilot like this (something steeped in history and lore) is to pack all that mythology in there. It has to feel like its bursting with possibilities. Think of it like a dinner. Too many amateur pilots I read feel like they ate a couple of sushi rolls and a piece of celery. Your pilot should feel like a five-course Thanksgiving meal. Like its belly is full – that it can’t even eat one more mint. Braga and Simon clearly did a great job researching and filling this world up as there arose details around every corner. It reminded me a lot of Travis Beachem’s “Killing on Carnival Row” in that sense.

Unfortunately, whenever you’re doing a show like this, you’re only as good as your budget. Once Upon A Time had big ambitions but its budget made it look like it was 1982 again. So I don’t know if WGN America will be able to show off this rich complex period world Braga and Simon have created. But if they do it justice, they should have a good show on their hands.

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

What I learned: Don’t be afraid to make one of your main characters a “bad guy.” I think as writers, we often want to protect our characters. Particularly our main characters. We want them to be good and just. But Salem taught me that it’s usually more interesting if you make one of those main characters “bad.” I thought Mary was going to be a typical unattainable romantic interest as she had married the town leader while Alden was gone. That might’ve worked out okay. When we found out Mary was a witch though, now her character takes on a whole new meaning and is far more fascinating.

  • MaliboJackk

    There’s a WGN channel?

  • Peter

    “What do you guys think I should watch?”

    Please watch TRUE DETECTIVE. Only 8 episodes, the writing is top notch and the last two episodes are divisive and up to discussion if the creator and writer Nic Pizzolatto is the new Vince Gilligan or if he blew it.

    • astranger2

      What an AMAZING show that is. Hard to explain to others. The dynamic between Rust and Marty is so unbelievable… Definitely NOT your grandfather’s detective show. One of the early shows where Marty conversationally asks Rust, “How’s you mother? She still alive?” … and Rust answers matter-of-factly, “I’m not sure…” And the look Marty gives him… I enjoyed the last episode when Marty rolls his wheel chair into Rust’s hospital room to see if he’ still alive after he gets knifed, and Rust asks, “what are you doing here?”

      • drifting in space

        Well now he doesn’t have to watch it SPOILER!

        • astranger2

          Yeah… fixed it… hope in time… my bad…

    • Robin the Boy Wonder

      According to Carson, Nic Pizzolatto blew it. Right out of his ass!

    • mulesandmud

      True Detective has certainly made for good conversation (aka heated argument) and is finely crafted in places, but overall I’m baffled by the love it gets. It’s clear as day to me that they had two hours of story that were then stretched and inflated to fit an eight hour format.

      Probably still worth watching though, especially for someone in the business.

      • drifting in space

        That’s kind of exactly how I feel.

  • David Sarnecki

    If you watch The Walking Dead over Game Of Thrones I will kill you myself.

  • mcruz3

    Two words for your next TV venture:

    ORPHAN BLACK.

    • ScottStrybos

      I have recently become really interested in watching this series. I am embarrassed to admit that I skipped this series because it was Canadian. An act made worse by the fact that I am Canadian. Born, raised, and living. In the past we were usually more miss than hit when it came to the quality of our productions. Luckily, every once and a while, a show (or film) like Orphan Black (I hope) comes along and reminds me that we are just as good as everyone else.

      • cjob3

        Slings & Arrows is Canadian. Brilliant show. I was really enjoying it til it got yanked from Netflix.

      • tom8883

        Canadians, on average, are average. They’re content with what history has blessed them with and therefore (on average) they do not strive. They’re not as politically correct as the British (on average), thank God. Of course, I’m speaking in stereotypes here, but that’s what movies, do–right? That makes it okay. (To speak in stereotypes. From within this the context of this domain.)

    • tom8883

      No. Unless you’re a teenager.

      • ScottStrybos

        You’re saying Orphan Black is more for teenagers?

        • tom8883

          That’s a general opinion of mine. I tried watching it several months ago, so I can’t recall in detail what I thought–but I think my evaluation had something to do with weak concept plausibility. I do recall problems with the logic of various aspects of the show.

          • drifting in space

            I saw a preview for the show and thought the same thing.

            Different strokes for different folks.

          • tom8883

            Birds of a feather flock together. I wanna fly with the birds who bring in 200 mill opening weekend.

          • ScottStrybos

            My interest in Orphan Black is slowly lowering back down to the resting indifference I had for it before the recent hype-blitz, no doubt calculated to correspond with the premiere of the new season.

          • Randy Williams

            Pilot script I read while back. Couldn’t get into it.
            http://www.zen134237.zen.co.uk/Orphan_Black/Orphan_Black_1x01_-_Pilot.pdf

      • mcruz3

        Your loss, dude.

  • Cafte

    For some reason LUTHER (with Idris Elba) popped into my head. One of my favorite series. It’s a detective show with a very fascinating main character who’s balancing on the line between right and wrong and has no qualms about bending the rules to apprehend the suspects.

  • Casper Chris

    OT:

    Oh, I was totally wrong when I said last script to receive a genius rating was in 2009. Desperate Hours received a genius rating too in 2012.

    But why doesn’t it show up here then?
    http://scriptshadow.net/genius/

    Did I miss others?

    • Gregory Mandarano

      The third act of that script was off the hook.

      • Casper Chris

        I remember a lot of men in long coats stepping out of a train with tommy-guns and a big gun fight in a town.

      • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

        The third act act was the worst and weakest part of the script

        • tom8883

          Hahaha–“Sex on waterbeds is amazing.” / “Dude, sex on waterbeds is horrible.” I love how in the end it’s always subjective and nobody knows anything.

          • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

            Or it’s just personal taste…

  • Gregory Mandarano

    Carson. Why don’t you watch 24. Or arrested development. Or caprica / battlestar galactica. Or star trek deep space nine.

  • leitskev

    Cool, didn’t know about this. I live by the Shawsheen River and walk along it most days. This is where, according to the official Salem trial transcripts, the witches performed their Satanic baptisms. Martha Carrier, one of the killed “witches”, who refused to confess, lived somewhere within a mile of where I now live(the exact location of her property is unknown). Her husband was 7’6, lived to be 114 years old, and may have been the royal executioner who took off Charles I head. When he fled England, he arrived in Montreal and walked to Massachusetts…through hostile Indian territory and when there was nothing but deer trails! Sorry to go Cliff Clavin on everyone!

    • Poe_Serling

      The stuff about Thomas Carrier would definitely make for a memorable character. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him show up in some shape or form in future episodes of this new show.

      • leitskev

        There’s a house up the street built by an Abbot in 1689, a few years before the witch scare. This Abbot was the one who accused Martha, resulting in her arrest. I’ve been in the house. No idea how a 7’6 man could move in those things. These people weren’t much more than 5 and half feet tall. They tortured confessions out of the kids, too. Doesn’t sound like Thomas put up much of a fight, though. Sounds like old Martha might have been a trial herself!

        The house next door(still there also) was owned by Abbott’s brother. Was built in early 1700s. A cousin of mine grew up there and said the kitchen and fireplace date to the 1670s. This is in Andover, adjacent to Salem at the time, and ultimately had more witches tried than any other town, including Salem.

        Also fascinating are the grave stones. These people just didn’t see death the way we imagine. And they actually had a sense of humor about it. Many have expressions taunting the living like “As you are, so was I, now before you do I lie.” That’s one I remember, but some were more clearly meant to be funny.

    • Ange Neale

      Probably not even witchcraft at all but likely ergot poisoning. Ergot is a fungus which grows on rye — LSD’s derived from it. Victims would’ve rather confessed to it than had it tortured out of them as they wouldn’t have understood what had happened to them. PBS doco on it at
      http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/previous_seasons/case_salem/clues.html

      • leitskev

        Yeah, we learned that theory in high school. Interesting. I don’t believe in witchcraft, it just makes for good story. The house on my street, which is typical of how they were constructed at the time of the trial, has 3 foot thick walls. Because Indian raids were a big worry, they built houses like fortresses. The well is still attached to the house…done so they could still get water during a siege. They also have a bed in there called the “death bed”. All the houses had one. Basically it was a portable bed they brought down to the main room where it was warmer. Someone dying would spend their final days there until they kicked it. Another issue was small pox, which could wipe out whole families. And when this happened, the town would typically order what was left of the family to leave, though it was not enforced. At the cemetery, I found a family that lost five kids all within a couple months, presumably to smallpox. Into all that tension came a witch scare. Personally, I think the girls just began thinking it was harmless trouble. But then with all the attention, they couldn’t back out. Then people in the village took advantage. If your neighbor was accused of witchcraft, you actually got his land often as compensation for damages, so they had incentive to accuse. People still start witch scares today, just under different names, like the Occupy movement that demonized the “one percent”.

        • Ange Neale

          Wow, fascinating slice of history, leitskev!
          Smallpox ran riot here in Australia and New Zealand, too. The Aboriginal people and NZ’s Maori had zero immunity to it, and typhoid, cholera, scarlet fever, etc. Even common influenza was devastating. Made land seizures by colonial governments for white settlement so much ‘easier’, for want of a better word.

          Scary thing is, since most of us in developed nations have had no exposure to smallpox for five or more generations, if the remaining wild strains held in secure labs ever got loose, we don’t have enough vaccine on hand to protect hundreds of millions, let alone billions.

  • Wes Mantooth

    If you haven’t watched it yet, make Eastbound and Down your next priority. Funniest TV show I’ve seen in years and a case study on how to successfully pull off the unlikable protagonist.

    • cjob3

      Good call. First season especially. Second season not so much.

    • Robin the Boy Wonder

      F@%k you! F@%k your face! Piece of s#!t!

  • Robin the Boy Wonder

    Wanna be Tyrion Lannister when I grow up. Can’t wait to binge on GAME OF THRONES series 4. Really liked THE AMERICANS. Struggling through THE NEWSROOM at the moment. Then I’ll finally get around to HOUSE OF CARDS and TRUE DETECTIVE…

  • Nathan Labonté

    Mad Men, you should watch. It’s a brilliant show and payoffs come later on in the show. It’s the best-written and one of the best-shot TV shows (ever?). People aren’t excited about it right now because of Game of Thrones. And besides, some people prefer zombies being chopped up to quality drama.

    Hannibal is my favourite network show currently airing. It is brilliant at creating atmosphere, it’s very gory, and the end of Season 1 is a huge payoff (if you’re interested in payoffs). One thing I’ve found very interesting about Hannibal is its soundscape, which helps create tension and atmosphere. Silence of the Lambs is one of my favourite movies and Hannibal borrows from it, but becomes its own.

    Sherlock contains some of the most tightly-scripted 90-minute mysteries I’ve seen. Benedict Cumberbatch takes the role of Sherlock as his own, the visual style is great, and simply everything about this show is perfect.

    Orphan Black is some really good sci fi with one actress playing multiple roles, which proves to be very entertaining. Season 2 premieres this upcoming weekend. The story is so fast-paced, it just runs with the premise and doesn’t stop.

    Rectify is a really slow-burning show about a man who spent I forget how many years in prison (it was quite a few), and is now released back to his hometown where not everyone has forgiven him for what he may or may not have done. This show is so hypnotic and beautiful, the main character being extremely well-acted.

    I’m just getting into Justified, so I’ll see how that plays out (I’ll probably watch the whole show; it’s looking pretty good).

    If you’re looking for comedy, I would suggest:

    Arrested Development: My favourite comedy ever. Literally everything about it is brilliant, and in terms of payoffs, this show takes the cake. In the 4th season, literally everything is about payoffs. AD is the best comedy you could go with, but there’s also…

    Community: Brilliant show (except for season 4) in terms of meta-humor and character development.

    Parks and Recreation: Starting at Season 2 (The first 6 episodes, Season 1, isn’t very funny), this show is constantly hilarious with the jokes coming very quickly thanks to great characters.

    Flight of the Conchords is a show about a New Zealand band duo in America. I think this is one of the funniest shows ever. It’s hard to describe. It must be watched.

    Those are my recommendations. Take ‘em or leave ‘em. I started watching Game of Thrones but I found it to be too dense and not interesting enough. As for The Walking Dead, I got bored of repetition by the end of Season 1. And Breaking Bad is actually my favourite TV show of all time.

    Anyway… I’ve spent too much time typing. Time to go eat a sandwich or something.

    • Gregory Mandarano

      Sherlock and FOTC are both brilliant.

    • Magga

      Mad Men, Sopranos and the Wire are absolutely equal to Citizen Kane, The Godfather and Vertigo. It actually shocked me to see that a writer I regularly turn to to learn how to improve just admitted to the equivalent of not having the energy to finish Star Wars or not really knowing if they should watch Schindler’s List because that ending was sort of divisive. TV and movies have switched places today – the silver screen is the idiot box and TV is where you find quality drama – and I’d go as far as to say The Sopranos is worth the entire career of Kubrick, and needs to not just be watched, but rewatched.

    • Ange Neale

      ‘Conchords’ are hilarious in an off-beat way, aren’t they? For those unfamiliar with them, ‘Business Time’ is worth a look on youtube.

      • drifting in space

        That’s why they’re called business socks.

      • Linkthis83

        FOTC are fabulous. I think “Mutha’uckers” is great. “Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros” will always be my favorite.

        “Jenny” from the comedy special is awesome:

        • Ange Neale

          I hadn’t seen ‘Jenny’! Brilliant!

        • drifting in space

          The humans are dead… the humans are deeeead…

          • Ange Neale

            Smell this one – it’s dead.

    • Sullivan

      Sons. Of. Anarchy.

  • FD

    Sounds to me like Carson needs another TV Series Pilot Pitch week. I’ve got one called “IncarcerNation”. I’d be willing to change it to “InCarsonNation” on request.

  • Somersby

    True Detective is compelling for sure… The only problem is the number of times you have to rewind just to understand McConaughey’s dialogue–including the most important final few lines of the series which are virtually unintelligible. Still, worth watching. Just keep your the remote within reach.

    A couple of really good British series – all available if you look hard enough – are The Escape Artist (3 episodes) and Broadchurch (8 episodes), both with David Tennant. I believe Fox picked up Broadchurch to remake it for U.S. television. Both series are really well written and feature excellent performances.

    I also liked The Fall with X-File alum Gillian Anderson (5 episodes–though I understand it has been renewed for a 2nd season and will continue with the same storyline,)

    • tom8883

      The thing is–and this isn’t exactly good advice for writers–is that you don’t necessarily have to understand all of his dialogue. Because a lot of its function to create supense, mood atmosphere. And it’s worth keeping in mind that these monologues no doubt attracted him to the role.

      • Somersby

        I don’t mind missing a throwaway line or two — but if they are vital to the characters development or to the story, then the actors and crew need to make an effort to make sure they’re heard.

        What frustrated me most was the final lines of the last episode of “True Detective”, McConaughey’s character indicates his entire worldview may have just shifted. That’s pretty important stuff. Up to this point his brooding character has gone on and on about a nihilistic, pointless interpretation of life. He compared it to an unbroken flat disk that allows no progression, only repetition of the same old shit.

        Dark indeed.

        But at the end of the series when Cohle and Marty are discussing the on-going battle between good and evil, Marty says something like, “the dark has a lot more territory.”

        Knowing Cohle, you suspect he’d agree. But as the camera pans up to the night sky, what Cohle says–and I only found this out after a search online because I just couldn’t make it out from the dialogue–is, “Once there was only dark. If you ask me, the light’s winning.”

        Cohle, for the first time, is expressing something close to hope, maybe even redemption. That’s huge, and very telling.

        I only wish I could have heard it.

        • tom8883

          There were issues with execution…. Interestingly, these ideas regarding the “unbroken flat disc” stuff (Nietzsche’s Eternal Recurrence) is meant by Nietzsche to be positive and life-affirming when understood as intended. Could make for an interesting character arc in season two. Although he did go a whole hell of a lot of years in his dark place. So it will be challenging to make a big shift believable.

          • Somersby

            “Could make for an interesting character arc in season two.”

            We’ll never know. Apparently, the series “will start afresh with a new case and new police investigators for its second outing.” (The Independent)

          • tom8883

            I was wondering how that was going to work. Probably for the best. Hmm.. it makes for an exciting new format. A series that could go on and on, but with each season being like a series unto itself with a whole new set of characters and story. Could do the same thing for the medical world and legal world. (What would be even cooler is if somehow there were these mysterious links between the seasons.)

  • OddScience

    1. ORPHAN BLACK
    2. House of Cards (and I hate politics)
    3. True Detective
    4. House of Lies
    5. Sherlock

  • cjob3

    Sounds like we have the same tastes, Carson. I got bored with Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. Mad Men I do watch, but I like but not love. Same with Battlestar Gallactica, which I only watch to finish now. I don’t really even like it.

    For sitcoms, if you’ve never watched Peep Show, I recommend it.

    I didn’t watch much West Wing when it was popular but I’ve been watching the 7th season ‘cuz it’s got Alan Alda as the republican nominee. He’s amazing. One entire episode is devoted to an hour long debate. No subplots, no backstage, nothing but a one hour back and forth between the two candidates. Pretty awesome.

    • Nicholas J

      Upvote for Peep Show. I really hope they don’t stop at 9, I’ll miss the El Dude Brothers when it’s over.

  • ScottStrybos

    Carson, a show I would highly-recommend is White Collar. It may have lost a little of its flavor in this last season, but in the beginning it was AMAZING. The pilot is brilliant. And I am not asking you to commit right now to all five seasons. All I am asking you to commit to right now is the Cold Open. Watch the cold open for the White Collar pilot and try not to be hooked.

  • wlubake

    Go to FX. Justified, the Americans, Sons of Anarchy, upcoming Fargo. I’ve really just bought into watching whatever they offer. I may eventually lose interest, but they make some compelling TV.
    Seriously, if you want to explore a great hero and villain (and some killer dialogue), Justified is the show for you.

    • drifting in space

      Fargo looks good.

    • astranger2

      Justified is great. Love those Elmore Leonard characters — especially Boyd Crowder and Mags Bennet from earlier episodes. If you’re a Tim Olyphant fan then DEADWOOD is a must. There’s a series that deserved a few more seasons…

  • Dale T

    If you haven’t enjoyed Game of Thrones to now then it’s safe to say you won’t like the rest. I know you’re so against exposition but there are people that actually like indulging themselves in that. They love the conventions of being inside an authentic universe more than they love a good story (a combination of both is impeccable though), and the world of Game of Thrones is as fleshed out as any.

  • drifting in space

    Since I am a robot, everything I say is cemented in accuracy.

    Watch Game of Thrones. Someone mentioned FOTC. Do that as well. Priorities.

    Anything else is just noise.

    This show looks good though. I am a fan of anything that took place before anyone I know was born.

    [EDIT] It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Best show on TV since Seinfeld. Except for Game of Thrones. I think I have a problem.

    [EDIT #2] Turn also looks interesting. Again, going back to history.

    Shows I need to watch:

    1. Walking Dead
    2. Sopranos
    3. The Wire
    4. Justified
    5. The Americans

    Actually that list just goes on and on forever. Not enough time in the day after a full workday of computing.

    • bluedenham

      Put The Wire and The Americans at the top of that list.

    • Linkthis83

      “I’m doing stuff Lawri…thhaaannnngggggs!”

  • UrbaneGhoul

    “Written by Brannon Braga” is the scariest thing about this show.

  • ElectricDreamer

    Carson, go back and binge watch — HANNIBAL.
    It’s a fantastic show that you will have a edge when it comes to reviewing.
    You can compare/contrast how the TV SHOW honors/tweaks the MOVIE mythology.

    That’s an added layer of UNIQUE ANALYSIS that would enhance your posts, IMHO.
    The show’s a PROCEDURAL HYBRID with a lot of refs to the movies and novels.

    Check out the series premiere trailer!

  • fragglewriter

    I think factors such as the economy, accessibility and cost are why TV has become the go-to for bringing back people to television. Even though movies are what people craved for the edge of what TV won’t show, but now with the censorship on TV not so so, TV has to deliver to the audience of it wants to bring in the big bucks from advertisement and become known as the new NBC/CBS/ABC (in their prime).
    Definitely a good tip. I never understood why the main characters has to be a goody two shoe. Get them dirty, relatable.

  • Nicholas J

    Watch Game of Thrones, but don’t expect to watch a show about huge battles and awesome dragons. Yes, they are a part of it, but a small percentage. All that talk talk talk is the story. It’s a show about battles of wit and awesome characters. It’s about subtext and scheming and strategy. The dragons and magicians are accessories.

    The Walking Dead slows waaaaay down in Season 2, picks up a tad at the start of Season 3, but then sucks really really bad for the second half of it. It turns into watching nothing happen for 40 minutes, waiting for some possibly lame cliffhanger in the last 5. Character work becomes nonexistent, and some characters you want to die, not because it’s fun to hate them, but because they are annoying as shit. The zombies are laughably easy to kill, except, of course, when the show conveniently doesn’t want them to be. I almost stopped watching it…

    But after all that, the first half of Season 4 was decent, and the second half was phenomenal. They are finally doing things they should’ve done forever ago. Showing us how they survive, how they hunt. Developing characters and revealing who they were before we knew them. Zombies are a threat again. Characters are split up and they juggle multiple storylines really well. Heavy, and I mean HEAVY decisions are made. Characters go through realistic TRAUMA, forcing them to become things they never would have pre-apocalypse. It’s good stuff, I hope they keep it up next season.

    • drifting in space

      Game of Subtext.

      • Nicholas J

        And I love the way each character’s subtext is different. Tywin is respectful, yet condescending. Cersei is polite, yet shrill and insulting. Littlefinger is obedient, yet defiant and cryptic. Varys is helpful, yet plotting. Bronn is humorous, yet threatening. Tyrion is all of the above. Joffrey doesn’t know how to use it, Lady Olenna doesn’t need it. Masterful dialogue, and it’s even better in the books.

        • drifting in space

          I just started reading the books. The show and books have ruined all film/TV for me. I’d rather read/watch them than anything else.

          I had to force myself to finish American Hustle last night.

          • Nicholas J

            Yeah, that happened to me too, but it goes away.

            I always recommend people don’t watch the show until they’re ahead in the books of where the show is. They’re much more enjoyable when you don’t know what to expect, and it makes the show better when you watch it. But then you have to stay away from spoilers online and that’s super hard.

  • ripleyy

    That poster is, by far, the best poster I’ve ever seen. Really well done. The story also seems really cool and fascinating as well! I can definitely see it lasting two seasons, but after that, I’m not sure (check out “The Vampire Diaries” to see how the writers struggle to keep the story moving)

  • tom8883

    True Detective. No questions asked. There are some sequences which are amazing–e.g. the undercover drug stuff gone bad around episode four (I think it’s episode four). Watch it for McConaughey, if nothing else. Also the flashback structuring works, which to do it like this to structure a season is unique.

  • bluedenham

    True Detective, The Wire, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, The Americans.

    Also check out House of Lies, DaVinci’s Demons, Black Sails.

  • gazrow

    The Red Wedding from season 3 of Game of Thrones is quite possibly the best piece of television I’ve ever seen.

  • Midnight Luck

    interesting, after all the hoopla of the book, all the talk as the movie was being made
    the trailer for GONE GIRL is released,
    not sure what I think of it
    pretty low key

    http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/fox/gonegirl/

    • fragglewriter

      I watched the trailer a few minutes ago. It seems very blah.

      • Midnight Luck

        Yeah, not a big fan of Affleck as an actor (he seems to be getting quite good as a director however), he always sullies my feelings about a movie, so it might just be that. But overall the preview seemed just humdrum.

        • astranger2

          And here I always thought when I first saw Affleck as an angst-ridden teen jacked up on roids in an After School Special — his shelves would soon spill over with Oscars… hasn’t really expanded his range much since… (… when’s the second installment?)

          • Midnight Luck

            he ended up being the Keanu Reeves for a new generation.

            the only thing I ever saw him in where his limited acting range worked was Forces of Nature and Changing Lanes.
            He barely worked in those, but Steve Zahn, Sandra Bullock, and Samuel L. Jackson are what really made those movies, he could have been swapped out with someone else and the films would have been even 10 times better.

          • astranger2

            After the Academy shunned him for Best Director on ARGO, I felt sincerely bad for the guy — he was genuinely distressed EVERYONE came up to tell him he got shafted on the lack of recognition for his directing… but not ONE person gave him the courtesy Hollywood condolences on losing out on a Best Actor nomination…

            … I remain supremely puzzled on how “killer CGI” comes into play in the story?

    • mulesandmud

      Wow, what an awful music choice. I don’t know if they’re going for counterpoint, or just oddness, or if the song is especially relevant to the film, or what, but the music gives the whole thing a tonal lobotomy. A reminder of all the delicate craft that goes into cutting a trailer. Compare the teaser for Dragon Tattoo, Fincher’s last:

      Doesn’t give me the slightest clue about plot, but the combination of editing, music, and glimpses of privilege drop you square into the mood of the thing.

      • Midnight Luck

        exactly.

        how could they have chosen the music so poorly? it was like nails on a blackboard, and not in a good way.

        I would say within a week they will recut the trailer and swap out the music with something that works much much better.

        even Social Network worked amazingly. For a slow, low key trailer it was great, music worked, all of it together was phenomenal.

        Girl with the Dragon Tattoo worked even better though, as you said. The remake of the song upped the energy and gave the whole thing a “I must look at THIS” vibe. Didn’t even need to know what it was about to want to see it.

        So how could they bungle the Gone Girl trailer so badly?

  • Randy Williams

    What about the revolutionary war series, “Turn”?

    You’re not watching that?

    You gave the script a “worth the read” and made “cabbage” a screenwriting term.

    Me, I prefer Euro cop shows especially Nordic ones. I like foreign tongues and gloomy skies pull over sweaters and angst to the snowy rooftops.

    Enjoy the character studies, too, where people sit around all gloomy. This is a good one about the aftermath of a school shooting.

    http://wn.com/klass_elu_parast_class_life_after

  • James Lion

    If you haven’t already, for a new TV series try “Sons of Anarchy”. It’ll probably appeal to your inner-breaking bad craving.

  • lysdexicuss

    Stick with Mad Men; gets better as each character has a long, interesting story arc. I thought season 6 had some of the best stand-alone episodes in the series.

  • Midnight Luck

    Best shows out there right now:

    1) House of Cards
    2) Orange is the New Black

    and actually the one Carson covered is quite good:

    3) Les Revenants

    but then again, not a fan of Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Justified, etc…. So, take my assessment as you will….

  • nicohajj

    Carson if you have not seen it yet: watch “TWIN PEAKS” and “SIX FEET UNDER”. Best TV SHOW ever.

    • Midnight Luck

      Six Feet Under, absolutely one of the best shows of all time.

      • nicohajj

        I know this is not dating date but i like what you say Midnight Luck!

        • carsonreeves1

          I think Midnight Luck is a guy, if I’m not mistaken? Or maybe that still applies?

    • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

      My friend Larry was a writer/producer on Six Feet Under. I tried to set up an interview with Larry and Carson, it was all set, but I guess Carson had changed his mind :/

  • ScottStrybos

    A show I am interested in is a British series called The Fall. It stares Gillian Anderson. I have heard good things. Has anyone on this board seen it?

    • Casper Chris

      Somersby already gave it the thumbs-up in this thread. So that’s one.

    • Marija ZombiGirl

      And here’s a second “thumbs-up” for that show. Worth it indeed :)

  • heyyouguys

    Maybe you guys watched less television, we’d be having more good scripts, yes?