Genre: TV Pilot – Paranormal/Procedural
Premise: When the FBI and CIA can’t figure it out, they send their cases to “Weird Desk,” a super secret organization dedicated to explaining the unexplainable.
About: Weird Desk was heading towards a 13-episode order last year on ABC when it was surprisingly derailed. For awhile, nobody knew why until word surfaced that Joss Whedon’s S.H.I.E.L.D. killed it. Although not exactly alike, there were some crossover elements that may have been too similar for the network’s taste. Writer David Titcher has been around for a long time, writing for shows like Punky Brewster and Who’s The Boss. More recently he scripted a couple of the Noah Wylie TV films, The Librarian. His biggest credit to date is probably 2004’s “Around the World in 80 Days,” which starred Jackie Chan.
Writer: David Titcher (rewrite by Carl Binder)
Details: 62 pages – 1st Revision, January 20, 2012

shadow people 2

Like a lot of TV series, this one seemed to be flying towards the air when, out of nowhere, an evil obstacle intercepted it, killing the series as quickly as it was birthed. There are so many possibilities for why things get cancelled, and one of the main culprits is that your show is too similar to something else.

The thing is, people say Weird Desk got the boot because of Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D. But this has way more in common with The X-Files and Fringe, with a little Men in Black thrown in for good measure. The whole time I was reading it, I was thinking, “Man, this is a LOT like these shows.” So much so that I couldn’t imagine it getting on the air without a lawsuit. So maybe that’s the real reason behind its death? No way to know for sure. But what about the script itself? SHOULD it have been on TV? Did we miss out on some super amazing series? Was it at least better than S.H.I.E.L.D.? Let’s find out!

I get the feeling that Titcher is a big Indiana Jones fan. Morgan Tuttle is like an autistic lab version of Indiana Jones – the man is willing to go to whatever lengths necessary to get the job done, as long as it adheres to the laws of science. Weird Desk starts off with a rather wild teaser that has Morgan exploring the backyard of Albert Einstein’s last residence.

He’s looking for Einstein’s diary, which supposedly has the schematics to create a bomb so powerful it would make nuclear bombs look “like firecrackers.” He eventually finds some underground tunnel, goes inside, leaps into a bottomless pit, doesn’t die due to an Einstein anti-gravity floor, and finds the diary. What’s inside is so devastating, however, that he burns it on the spot.

Morgan then heads back to “Weird Desk,” a top-secret United States agency that investigates the paranormal, the extraterrestrial, the weird. Upon his arrival, however, Morgan is shocked to learn that he’s been assigned a PARTNER!

(cue record scratch)

Rosetta Stone (yes, Rosetta Stone), informs Morgan she isn’t thrilled about this either, but the only way they’d make her an agent is if she partnered with the guy nobody wants to partner with. Whereas Morgan believes in science, Rosetta believes in weird. Not everything can be explained with a mathematical proof, dammit!

So the two rush out to take on their first case. Up in a Washington suburb, a number of people are seeing “shadow entities,” shadows of people that whip by in someone’s peripheral vision.

They meet with Sara, someone who’s been seeing the shadows. Morgan thinks it’s all in her head. But then Rosetta starts seeing these entities too!!! Eventually the two determine that the combination of a rare gene that enables certain people to see beyond the normal spectrum combined with our dimension intersecting with another dimension is what’s causing these sightings. Uhhh, wha?? Yeah, that’s what I said. And that was the end of the pilot!

I read this before I researched the writer. When I finally did that research and found out that Titcher wrote for 80s sitcoms and scribbled out The Librarian movies, a lot of what I’d read made sense. Weird Desk has an extremely 80s feel to it; that safe, comedic “everything’s going to be okay” gloss that you’d find in 80s classics like, say, Teen Wolf.

Even the subject matter of the first show was kind of tame. Shadow entities? That sounds like the least frightening thing to explore in a crucial make-or-break pilot episode of a series where you can literally use ANYTHING as your antagonist. Although don’t tell that to Miss Scriptshadow. She thinks shadow people are terrifying.

Still, when you break down the evolution of this TYPE of show, you see that they’ve gotten edgier, not less edgy. Just watch the pilot of Fringe, with all those ooey gooey dead passengers in the plane, to see what I mean. I understand that if you’re writing for one of the Big 3 networks, you have to be a little more mainstream, but you’re talking about the network who brought us Lost, one of the more thought-provoking shows ever put on television. There isn’t anything thought-provoking about Weird Desk. It’s just rehashing stuff we’ve already seen from The X-Files and Fringe, in less intense fashion.

Then there were little things here that didn’t add up. For example, the first scene shows Morgan going after Einstein’s diary. He succeeds, goes back to base, and finds out he’s being forced to take on a partner. There’s no cause and effect to that. If you’re going to be forced to take a partner, don’t you want the previous scene to show the hero nearly dying or screwing up BECAUSE HE DIDN’T HAVE A PARTNER?

That way, when a partner is pushed on him, it makes sense. “Oh yeah, he almost died cause no one was there to help him. Obviously, he needs a partner.” We got nothing like that here. So the partner thing came out of nowhere.

Then I couldn’t really figure out Morgan. This is a guy who claims to only believe in science, setting him up as the guy who thinks there’s a rational explanation for everything, but he solves this case by stating we’re intersecting with another dimension. True, he explains this via a bunch of gobbledy-gook that sounds like science, but it’s hardly “rational” sounding to us.

You can’t be mushy on your character beliefs. You can’t say a character sorta maybe is an alcoholic. They either are or they aren’t, or else we’re going to be confused.

But honestly, none of that stuff really mattered. Weird Desk’s biggest weakness is how safe it is. I don’t think you can write things this safe anymore. It’s gotten too competitive and audiences are expecting edgier fare. Look at shows like Extant, which has a woman coming back from space, pregnant, even though there was no one else in space with her. Or The Black List, on NBC, which has a dark anti-hero driving the story.

I hate to use the word “cheesy,” but this did feel a little bit like The Librarian 3. I think we will come back to a day where idealized 80s fare is in. The entertainment business has proven that it’s cyclical. But right now this feels too light for prime time TV.

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

What I learned: For the most part, your scenes should follow “cause and effect” logic. Because Thing A happens (cause), then Thing B happens (effect). Early on in Weird Desk, we get an effect (Morgan is assigned a partner) that didn’t have a cause. We never saw Morgan do anything that warranted him needing a partner. I don’t want to say that every single moment in a script should follow this logic because some narratives aren’t linear, and there are times where you want to withhold the cause for storytelling purposes. But for the most part, if shit just happens without a clear cause, the reader’s going to get frustrated and give up on you.

  • lesbiancannibal

    Damn, I had a similar idea for a show just yesterday called ‘Top Men’ (who? Top. Men)

    Basically a government lab were all the X-Files type stuff is brought in for analysis – spaceships, arcs, devices etc.

    You could have a new object every week.

    Erm, also Carson, other dimensions are pretty sciencey, haven’t they just proved the multiverse or something?

    • IgorWasTaken

      That sounds like a good premise. Maybe it could be called – CSI: Outer Limits

      (Or – CSI: Dubuque)

    • witwoud

      “haven’t they just proved the multiverse or something?”

      Not yet. The theory’s stuck in development hell.

  • SinclareRose

    Could have sworn they just played the series finale to this show a couple of weeks ago on the SyFy channel. It was called Warehouse 13.

    • lesbiancannibal

      ah, damn, missed this too, might watch it.

  • romer6

    The Librarian is getting made into a TV series next season. Maybe that´s why this one was cut out. And maybe that´s where the writer is working these days.

    • SinclareRose

      Hey, if any of the episodes are directed by Jonathan Frakes, I’m all in!!
      He’s my Number 1. Hehe. Get it? Number 1. Jonathan Frakes…… ;)

      • romer6

        hahaha, I got it. Make it so.

  • UrbaneGhoul

    I think a genre show like this has to be odder, serialized with an overarching story that can last seasons. It’s one thing for NCIS to be a regular police procedural, but the type of fans who’s pay any attention to a sic-fi show like this aren’t going to settle for a procedural. Maybe there was one since it was going to be 13 eps. But if it has a “safe” feeling, it won’t even attract a cult audience which is what show like this would become.

  • Randy Williams

    Speaking of exploring famous people’s backyards…

    I once tooled around the backyard of one of the most notorious mass murderers of all time’s last residence before they demolished it.
    I didn’t find an underground tunnel, nor leap into a bottomless pit. No, no diary, either.

    What I did find, I also burned, but a few hours later………………………….a twenty dollar bill.

  • Panos Tsapanidis

    I love your tip about introducing the partner angle in an organic to the story way.

  • Randy Williams

    The writer wrote “Punky Brewster” and this pilot idea, especially when you describe how “safe” it is, sounds like a kid’s show, to me. Why didn’t they go that route?

    Some super secret kid’s club. They use the empty “wierd desk” at the back of the classroom that once belonged to that kid that disappeared and everyone believes was abducted by aliens but actually moved to Orlando, for their headquarters. Exploring backyards, the science geek, the foil hat character, the interfering teacher. Unidentified objects found in P.E. lockers. “Too light for prime time” but not for Saturday morning.

  • Nicholas J

    Having your main character jump into a bottomless pit for no reason and get saved by an anti-gravity floor sets the tone early on that they will never be harmed and the writer will always save them. Whenever Mulder and Scully got into trouble I knew they’d be fine the next week, but it at least FELT like they were in real danger.

  • fragglewriter

    Great what I Learned tip. I was thinking of this and sequencing will remembering the movie “Apolcaylyse Now.” I watched that movie for the first time a few months ago.

    The scene that I liked was when Martin Sheen’s character wanted a boat ride to Marlon Brando’s hut. He specificaly told the guys on the before he departed “No Stops.” So as you know, they encounter another boat, shit hits the fan, and Martin’s characters shoots. He ends the scene “I told you not to stop.”

    I think this fits the caus & effect model. If you didn’t understand the scenes before, of how he needed to reach Marlon Brandon’s character, and what ostacles he encountered, you wouldn’t understand why he shot the people on the boat.

  • Poe_Serling

    “Weird Desk’s biggest weakness is how safe it is. I don’t think you can write things this safe anymore. It’s gotten too competitive and audiences are expecting edgier fare.”

    As astute commenter Randy Williams already mentioned above or below:

    This project seems like a perfect fit for one of the children’s television networks: Nick, Disney, Cartoon, etc.

    Keep the basic concept. Just retool the lead characters. Perhaps make them junior agents in same secretive low-level branch of the FBI.

    To me, even the title Weird Desk has more kid appeal than adult. Much like Lab Rats, Kickin It (some episodes as teenage spies).

  • IgorWasTaken

    Carson wrote: “I don’t want to say that every single moment in a script should follow this logic because some narratives aren’t linear, and there are times where you want to withhold the cause for storytelling purposes. But for the most part, if shit just happens without a clear cause, the reader’s going to get frustrated and give up on you.

    Carson, great WIL today. The “default” way, and your list of exceptions.

    If we don’t want to go the default way, we should at least be aware we’re doing it, and have a good idea of why we’re doing it.

  • ripleyy

    Fringe pretty much killed everything in the paranormal-procedural department. Even if “Weird Desk” did get aired, it wouldn’t have last.

  • witwoud

    Sounds like they’re fudging it. ‘It’s kinda supernatural but it’s kinda sciency too.’

    Interesting fact: when they were conceiving the X-files, the plan was that Scully would be proved right some of the time. In some episodes, there WOULD be a rational explanation for the weird phenomena. Trouble is, none of these scripts worked. Whenever the ghost turned out to be a hoax, or a cloud of vapour, the story fell flat. I guess the lesson is: if you promise something supernatural, you’ve got to deliver it.

  • Scott Strybos

    An easy fix to the why-is-Morgan-getting-a-partner issue could be his superiors finding out that Morgan burned Einstein’s diary (that probably didn’t go over well) and now he needs a babysitter.

  • SinclareRose

    What I learned from Carson’s What I Learned: If you write a screenplay and have clout in Hollywood, a lot of your scenes can have no cause or effect. I just watched Monuments Men yesterday.
    I understand that it was based on a true story and a lot of things happened to these people, but there were at least five scenes that had no business being in there. I thought they were setting things up, but alas, no. I honestly kept waiting for the cause of the effect. Or, was it the effect of the cause? In either case, it didn’t happen.
    Now I’m going through all of my scenes to make sure this is happening.
    Thanks Carson, for the two more weeks of work. J/K. Hey, I have to blame someone for the crazy amount of time it’s taking me to hack out my screenplay. ;)

  • Linkthis83

    OT: Some useful videos on the monomyth and storytelling — not formulas, just for reference:

    Favorite quote from this video: “Whud ya gunna do? Me, personally, I’m gunna save da galaxy and make out wit my sister.”

    Favorite quote from this video: “Can you be a mentor to other people…on their journey? What calls to adventure are you ignoring? Go do your call and do it with nobility and help others with theirs.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMl9cLz2b_s

    TED-Ed = What Makes a Hero:

    Michael Arndt special feature from Toy Story 3 = Setting a story in motion:

    • Malibo Jackk

      Film school in 20 minutes.
      (Who would have guessed it would be this easy?)

      I r a screenwriter.

      • Poe_Serling
        • Malibo Jackk

          Love it.
          One thing I’ve noticed — If you do something, someone will criticize you. If you do nothing, like the dog on the porch — they leave you alone.

          The other day I realized just how f*cked up the world can be.
          Someone mentioned that nearly half the world lives on $2 a day.

        • Linkthis83

          I’d say I’m more like the vehicles in this story. Early in my journey I was prone to veer and swerve. Now, I don’t give a shit who is doing what, it’s not going to knock me off course.

          The dog is only pretending to attack, but it doesn’t. The father acts on what he believes is right, not considering the dog.

          Plus, we assume and infer that the dog got killed because his skills were off. Maybe, just maybe, he was finally strong enough face his fear even if it meant getting crushed.

          By the end of that story, the dog was ready to be a screenwriter! Hell yeah, Sparky!!

          Let that be a lesson to the rest of you. Don’t let anybody else decide what your choices mean. People do it all the time. Make your choices, embrace them and don’t let others opinions dictate your worth.

    • fragglewriter

      That Hero Journey vid was the best thing I’ve watched.

  • Kirk Diggler

    Everything that happens once the driving test starts is great. It’s funny and visual, has conflict and it moves. And it forces you to have shorter dialogue exchanges.

    Which brings me to the build up to the scene. Not everything works. The cat in the glass stuff should be shorter. Have Calvin tell Greg how adorable it is, then admonish him to get back to work.

    The stuff with Calvin hinting about where’s he’s going this weekend… maybe Greg saw a brochure on his desk and asks him about instead…. the way it plays makes no sense… Calvin tells Greg it’s none of his business, then why does he insist on mentioning it? The way it follows into the scene with Rhonda where they are openly and publicly discussing his sex life or lack there of is too on the nose.

    If Calvin is the buttoned down type, he should be aghast at this type of thing. Joy is the loudmouth who talks about anything that comes to mind, not Calvin.

    Why not have Rhonda (played by Jane Lynch) return to Calvin a book that he apparently left behind in the restroom. Some cheesy self help book relating to rekindling the marital romance. She can needle him about it as she hands the book over. Calvin would prefer to keep that personal stuff close to the vest lest he appear vulnerable in front of his co-workers.

    The stuff when Calvin/Joy meet in the car can be cut down a little. The line about her being a medium was quite funny, but find a way to get to the drive test quicker.

    The joke with the Rottweiler is funny, however I think the set up to the joke diffuses it a little, it’s taking too long, and you didn’t show the best part, Stitch pulling the old man along.

    Why not skip having Stitch in the backseat. As they pull out of the lot, Stitch pulls the old man along in the chair toward Joy’s car. Calvin can have the same OMG reaction. Joy stops the Duster, rolls her window down, Stitch comes over to her pulling the wheelchair, then Joy gives Stitch a treat…. leading to Calvin’s line “You tied your dog to a wheelchair?” Which works better than Calvin simply stating something that we already saw her do but without the visual pay-off.

    Which means you can cut a lot of stuff with Joy talking about Stitch. The joke works great, it’s just taking too long to get there.

    The stuff with the radio is okay, it might be funny if Calvin allows her to listen to the radio, but only if he gets to choose the station. And he chooses some crappy 70’s-80’s light pop that features bands like Air Supply… tying into the fact that he is trying to rekindle things with his wife. The up and down look Joy gives him once he chooses a station would be funny without even a word.

    These are just a few thoughts. The stuff that works work very well. The time Calvin sits in the Duster until they pull out is almost 6 pages. That is a lot of time just to be sitting in a car. Keep the best stuff, trim the rest. Good luck.

  • klmn

    OT. Has anyone received the newsletter? Carson’s twit page says it’s been sent out, but I’ve received nothing.

    • astranger2

      I received one after the scripts were posted.

      • klmn

        Congrats.

    • Poe_Serling

      Yeah, it was sent out on 5/24. Here you go:

      https://madmimi.com/p/4fddd4?fe=1&pact=22811236188

      • Matthew Garry

        I think those “web version” links in the newsletter are person bound, since it seems like you can unsubscribe the original subscriber with them, so you might not want to post them online.

        • Poe_Serling

          Thanks for the heads-up.

      • klmn

        Thanks, Poe.

    • astranger2

      Oops, sorry. I know you were looking for the link Poe provided. I wasn’t sure how to provide that. ; ( But Poe came through.

  • guess who

    Very interesting premise.

  • Ambrose*

    Maybe he’s a very distant cousin of ‘Kolchak: The Night Stalker’.

    A wise man once said: “Don’t go with your first choice. Or your second. Keep coming up with new and better choices.”

    So, it seems like this writer who named his female lead “Rosetta Stone”, might not have heard that bit of wisdom, or maybe he had plodded through a plethora of even worse name choices. Though that’s hard to imagine.

    • Bluedust

      Yeah, Cheech and Chong used the name Sister Rosetta Stone for one of their routines back in the 70s. Strange idea to name a character something goofy like that in a series that’s apparently about dark and supernatural happenings.

  • Nicholas J

    I think in a comedy you are allowed a little extra fluff in scenes, especially if you have a good joke and can squeeze an extra line or two out of it. I thought the comments about the cats doing their business in the cup was funny and worth keeping in. You could probably stop after he says ‘that was actually quite disgusting’ or whatever it was, since then you just go back to the cats being cute and that’s just repeating what you already said in the setup of the joke.

  • gonzorama

    Whenever Joy enters things bog down. We get it – she’s wacky. The first scene starts out strong then slows way down. It shouldn’t take five and a half pages to show us Joy is going to be trouble.
    The DMV stuff also starts out strongly, then slows down when Joy enters the mix. You have a lot of funny lines, but too much doesn’t make it better. Trim the fat and it’ll flow a lot more smoothly
    Great job so far! I think you’re onto something.

  • Logline_Villain

    If the writer wanted to up the fear factor from employing mere “Shadow People”… he should have utilized the ultimate in scary entities: “ScriptShadow People!” :-)

  • Randy Williams

    This is fun stuff…. “tapeworms….it really is the silent killer” LOL!

    Why is Calvin married? I want to see him hook up with Joy.

    I can picture a black cast with these characters, a “Driving Ms. Jay-Z”

    Yeah, get Beyonce on board, literally, in the back seat.

  • Linkthis83

    I’m confused on the following:

    1) If she is driving in the first scene, why is she at the DMV?
    2) If we see a picture of her driver’s license, why is she taking a driving test?
    3) Did you purposely switch her from driving a white Ford Focus to an orange Duster?
    4) Did I miss the clues that would’ve answered these questions for me?

    (1-6) CHURCH/FUNERAL SERVICE:

    p3 = “Well, what can I say? You give a good service.” = Instead of this joke, I think you should have her appealing for more sympathy = “It has been a tough couple of weeks. So much loss, so sudden.” — something like this.

    p3 = “…loss of Wesley” = funny

    **I truly think this scene should end on page four. Do the engine rev, the tires screeching and have her wreak havoc through the throng. But leave it on Joy and her car and let us witness the results of her carnage through the back window or rear view.

    (6-11) DMV- INT.

    (11-17) DMV-EXT

    p13 = “I’m a medium. Still talk to her once a week.” = fantastically funny.

    (17-23) DRIVING TEST – EXT.

    (23-25) DMV LOT – EXT.

    SUMMARY: You sure as shit know how to channel MM. I’m assuming Calvin is supposed to be Kevin Hart? I think I remember you saying that when you first posted this idea.

    The opening scene works for me and is humorous. We learn that she is a funeral crasher, although, I’m not sure if that will come back into play later in the story (it didn’t in these pages)

    SUGGESTION – if it does come back up later, perhaps there is a huge funeral coming up that she wants to crash. A famous person or something. Just an idea.

    Back to the opening scene, we learn what she’s capable of as a person. She’s a train wreck in constant locomotion. However, we don’t learn anything story related. That’s alright, except I feel we should learn that she needs to go take a driving test at the DMV — maybe that’s what she tells the people she’s late for, instead of a whitening with her dentist. Cause and effect. I was just hearing something about that ;)

    Pages 6-25 are all DMV. We are introduced to Calvin and his relationship problems, and that he is going to Costa Rica soon. We learn that Joy needs to get to NYC (I’m assuming that part was true – though not the need of a heart). There are some good moments of humor, but otherwise, I didn’t find enough STORY in these pages to make me invest further. The other stuff felt a bit clunky as well. The dog for one. UNCLE DUSTY for another (and she’s driving a Duster – coincidence?)

    The other thing that is mucking this up for me is the fact that I’ve seen her drive and I’ve seen her driver’s license. I’ve also seen her driving two different cars. Why is she taking a driver’s test? There’s no need for her to. And she’s at the Albany DMV, so she won’t even be going out of the state (not that matters, but just an observation).

    I do find this fun and funny. I can see MM and KH for sure. I’m missing story and stuff for me to invest in.

    • Randy Williams

      Yeah, It skipped a beat for me too, when the dog “Dusty” came after the car “Duster”.

      Didn’t want to say anything, though. The author can be quite sensitive about character names or the lack of them.

      • Linkthis83

        I’ve got no fear. Besides, it’s been historically documented by G that I ride the short bus.

        • Randy Williams

          LOL!

        • grendl

          She’s at the DMV because she drove into a casket at a funeral.

          She’s in a Duster because she drove into a casket at a funeral.

          Characters can drive different cars in a script.

          Thanks for the notes, Link. Are you waiting for me to retract my short bus statement?

          Fine, I retract it. You’ve referenced it about ten times. It was a joke. You’re a bright guy.

          But lets not nit pick about what car a character drives when you see it plow into a coffin. And people lose their licenses in NY for such things, especially repeated offenses. Do I have to show that montage?

          • Linkthis83

            It’s my call back humor. I will place it on moratorium.

            I think the vehicle questions are valid, unless in the state of NY the punishment for driving into a casket is immediate revocation of driving privileges.

            There’s nothing in the script at this point that says she is at the DMV for this reason.

            Also, I thought you had established her car as the Ford Focus. By switching cars without telling the audience why, I’m forced to assume there is a story reason. Which is why I asked. Because I wasn’t sure if you had made a mistake (even though we know that’s not possible) or if there was a story purpose that we would find out later. However, even if it is something to be learned later, where it is right now, is just confusing. Although, it must be confusing only to me sense I’m the only one to mentioned it.

            No montage necessary, but I think asking the audience to assume that off of one coffin crash Joy has been cited, license revoked, and must retake the test in order to regain her driving privileges to take a trip that we don’t know she needs to take until she reveals it midtest is too much. Also, I feel a chick that literally crashes funerals isn’t worried about driving under a suspended license.

            And you are welcome for the notes. Thanks for making the script available.

    • Kirk Diggler

      My feeling is that she can crash anything where there is food and people. I don’t believe it should be limited to funerals, but it’s not my script so I’m just guessing here. There is only so much humor to be milked from the funeral thing, the opening set piece said it all. The other day I was talking to a lady friend, she was mentioning how she had to attend an end of school year party with her daughter and that she had to bring a large pan of fried rice, every parent would bring a different food item etc.

      Joy can crash things like this, only she shows up with a cartload of expired Spam. “Honestly, this shit don’t go bad!”

      If you limit it to funerals, it’s just the same beat over and over.

      Your comments about ‘story’ are correct. I feel there is a scene missing before Joy gets to the DMV, just a little peek into her life before we get to the driving test. We need a reason to feel a little but of sympathy for her and you can do that by showing a glimpse into the misery of her home life.
      In fact I have a brilliant way of taking some of the exposition that Joy drops about her husband on her cell in front of Calvin into a scene after the funeral that is a ‘show don’t tell’. It’s important to know what Joy’s goal will be 10-12 pages in…. just my personal opinion.

      That’s why tightening the opening scene down to 4 pages is wise because it will allow a little room for character development before arriving at the DMV. We know she’s a train wreck…. but why?

      • Linkthis83

        Yeah, I didn’t mean to imply that it was only funerals. I meant that’s something we learn that she is capable of, which means pretty much anything is possible. I just liked the concept of crashing a major funeral — raising the stakes — but also just for a fun ending (if it fit).

        After thinking about it more, I realized that my issue is that I have no idea what is real, except for the scenes we see. I don’t trust anything as true that comes out of Joy’s mouth in these pages. Except a NEED to get to NYC, but not the WHY. And I also didn’t believe one word of the stuff about her ex. I assumed all that was just to try and rattle the person giving her the driving test.

        Now that I realize that I don’t know what is real in Joy’s world, I have nothing to invest in. Other than she’s a mess. And I wouldn’t expect us to get the full reason of why until later in the story. We do need something immediate though to invest in. Some sort of situation or scenario. There does need to be a real world scene between the funeral and the DMV. Maybe on the exact same day she receives a letter about your driving being revoked AND an email/text/phone call stating she has to be in NYC.

        It’s a fun premise and set up. The writing is good, it’s just light on the story right now. And especially by page 25 we should know more than we do.

  • Linkthis83

    What it feels like you’ve done is basically gone ahead I thought the numerous ways MM could interpret these pages and included them for her :)

  • Linkthis83

    To follow up on my own suggestion about her crashing another funeral:

    Of course, I have no idea where this story is going to go. However, when it gets there, I think the final scene(s) should be:

    -The world is mourning the passing of Puff Daddy
    -Joy has crashed the funeral
    -She is trying to sing Candle in the Wind
    -We pull back to reveal Greg watching it on YouTube as she is swarmed by security.
    -Roll credits (story is now full circle)

  • lesbiancannibal

    You should all watch this.

    It’s the writer of Milk, Dustin Lance Black, on his creative process. Excellent.

    (wish there was a forum on SS where we could post and share info)

    • Malibo Jackk

      I need a bigger kitchen.

    • Linkthis83

      Thank you for posting this.

  • Linkthis83

    Thought of a lame joke, but I’d totally laugh at it.

    I can picture KH making a wise-crack to Joy about her and her dog. Referring to them as Turner and Mooch (Turner being the dog of course — I know it’s obvious — it was stated for those who may not have gotten it :)

  • ElectricDreamer

    On third reading of the opener, I had less niggles.
    Sometimes re-reading scripts distances you from how you’d write it.

    Only two things stuck out about the new chunks:

    1) The Rottie reveal was cheap. If that dog was sitting in the car, we’d see it.
    The car’s establishing shot would reveal the canine.
    However, if the dog’s laying down, then pops up and freaks out Calvin, I’m on board.

    2) Joy needs to make some kind of a pit stop during the road test.
    It’s a free food/taboo event that she can’t resist, like a raccoon seeing a shiny.
    And Calvin is along for the crazy ride. This scene needs a DETOUR.

    In general, I like the slack pace of the scenes. Though there’s still fat to trim.

  • ElectricDreamer

    One more nugget hit me on the hamster wheel…

    Methinks Uncle Dusty needs a rethink. He’s too safe a wheelchair candidate.
    To me, that scene would really up the ante…

    DOG-LOVING WHEELCHAIR KID
    Mom and Dad say I’m too sick to play with dogs.

    JOY
    Those bastards. Here ya go, sweetie.

    Joy kisses the kid on the head, hands off her Rottie with a rap sheet.

  • ElectricDreamer

    I politely disagree with the idea of setting up Joy in a backstory-style environment.
    Her behavior is downright parasitic at times. She makes herself at home anywhere.
    So why not learn about her while being the parasite she is.

    Like the idea of learning about Joy through her far-too-personal public interactions.
    She gives away details to many strangers that the reader can piece together.

  • Linkthis83

    Ummm…you can talk to me, when you’re going to talk about me. It’s cool.

    What did I deny you? Any suggestion I make is with the hopes that it is one possibility to help. I’m always open to the chance my suggestion may not apply to the story the writer is trying to tell.

    I always advocate that if there’s a way you want to tell your story then you should do it that way and disregard what anybody else says. This is me all the time on here and offsite with people’s scripts.

    All you had to say is “Link, I don’t want your feedback on my script.” You didn’t have to complain to somebody else about me. Sorry I wasted your time. I sincerely thought I was helping.

    And the short bus designation for me will always be on the table. That’s the way my personality is. Sometimes I can be spot on and at times way off. This is who I am.

  • Kirk Diggler

    I know you weren’t replying to me but….

    I kind of assumed Joy was your protagonist based on the title, but your title actually mentions both main characters, Joy is the noun, Calvin is the verb. So it can work either way. In some regards, I’m pretty sure Joy will look at Calvin as the antagonist and he will look at her the same way. But yeah, if Joy is the antagonist, I agree we don’t need a glimpse into her life. I made an assumption.

    Regarding Link: He has posted his work on this forum, same as you have. He is as open to constructive criticism as anyone else. I’m pretty sure he is not telling you how to write. You asked for feedback and got it, hopefully SOME of it was of use.

    • Linkthis83

      “hopefully SOME of it was of use.”

      I don’t stand a chance, Dawg. He’s going to light me up for that comment. LOL.

  • Linkthis83

    -The reason we think Joy is the protagonist is because your structure says so. She is driving the pages you have. Figuratively and literally.

    -Your scenes are too long. They lose impact.

    -You have no HOOK other than “Look at Melissa being crazy”

    -Calving hasn’t been set up as a character we are invested in. 25 pages into your script we should know a substantial piece of story. Like in IDENTITY THEFT, we know his identity has been stolen and how catastrophic this could be to his personal life.

    -IDENTITY THIEF did in 10 pages what it has taken you 25. You have the jokes, but no substance.

    -You know in your heart where the story is, but it’s not in these pages.

    I assumed all the above stuff is obvious which is why I didn’t mention it. I was trying to offer things that I thought captured your intent. For emphasis and effectiveness.

    -The car issue I had is something I had. If you think it makes me an idiot. That’s cool. You are entitled.

    -Sure you had consequences for her wrecking into the casket. But I did not read one word of the car being wrecked, the car being undrivable, the car being damaged, her being cited for this accident, her license being suspended, her ex loaning her car, i didn’t know the first car was hers. I thought you were showing us that she was a car thief possibly.

    -Your pages, and intent, and motivations aren’t clear. The story is foggy.

    -And oh yeah, I also gave you compliments. However, once my credibility is thrown out, then even my compliments suck too.

  • Linkthis83

    p3 = “…loss of Wesley” = funny

    p13 = “I’m a medium. Still talk to her once a week.” = fantastically funny.

    The opening scene works for me and is humorous.

    You sure as shit know how to channel MM

    Pages 6-25 are all DMV. We are introduced to Calvin and his relationship problems, and that he is going to Costa Rica soon. We learn that Joy needs to get to NYC (I’m assuming that part was true – though not the need of a heart). There are some good moments of humor, but otherwise, I didn’t find enough STORY in these pages to make me invest further.

    I do find this fun and funny. I can see MM and KH for sure. I’m missing story and stuff for me to invest in.

    ——————————————————————————-

    All of the above is from my review. I’m not here to stroke your ego. Your problem with me is I didn’t kiss your ass enough regarding your pages.

    THEY DIDN’T DELIVER.

    And they shouldn’t. They aren’t ready yet.

    Kirk even agreed about the lack of STORY.

    If your goal is to write something better than IDENTITY THIEF, good luck. You stuff isn’t better. Not yet. Your concept is. Your pages aren’t.

    Your pages are bloated with your own self musings. Not story.

    From the very first read of your pages, I’m also doubting your sincerity with this script/concept. I read REAL MONSTERS. I know what you are capable of. You are better than this.

    The difference between you and I, I’m open to the possibility that I provide no usefulness in my reviews. I tell every writer that. Including your boy, Bifferspice. Who very much liked my feedback and plans on implementing some of it. You better get at him and spread your wisdom. Let him know that my feedback does not have the Grendl stamp of approval. Please save him before my influence ruins it. I’m responsible with my feedback. I don’t want to ruin anybody’s script. Not one bit. That would be the worst feeling. To have somebody trust you and it plays a role in hurting their script.

    I don’t do this shit lightly. And I certainly don’t do it with total disregard for others.

    I haven’t crowned myself anything. Not sure why you used that expression. Go ahead and give your last word. These are mine to you.

  • ElectricDreamer

    I won’t be polite, if you agree to not say please. ;-)

    You say Joy is an antagonist. That surprised me.
    To me, she’s a flawed protag that overcompensates with parasitism.

    As an antagonist, there’s little to no room for growth for Joy.
    That’s where my mind goes when you play the villain card with Joy.
    It does make me wonder, will Joy learn anything in your story?
    A classic villain will fall in the end, unchanged. Typically.

    But if Joy will change, then that makes her a conflicted villain.
    And if she’s a villain with mixed conviction, that tends to read weak.
    21st century antags with a dark past/conscience are such a bore.

    Do you see Joy as a classic villain? Or just Calvin’s villain?
    I ask because I’m currently story-cracking a comedic two-hander.