Sunday, November 18, 2007

A little Pantherama

It has been a weekend filled with drinking. And since my weekend started on Thursday, today will be a much-needed detox day. I think I might try to catch up on Weeds season 3 on, a cool site that lets you watch a certain number of shows per month for free. Some people are saying you shouldn't watch any TV online until writers get paid for it...and I think this site might basically be pirating...but I'm going to do it for right now. If you also make $90 a week after taxes and rent, feel free to criticize me.

Back to Thursday. 10 or so of my work friends and I went straight to Barney's, which was pretty hopping. Sometimes it gets too crowded on the weekends, but Thursday seems like the perfect night to go. There's also karaoke, which is fun. I was standing near the karaoke stage when a familiar FNL quarterback walked by: none other than Jason Street, Scott Porter. Seems taller, sans his wheelchair. I sort of did a double take and turned to my friend Betsy, who echoed my excitement. She's more of a Riggins girl, though. Scott sang three or four songs and, as it turns out, has a great voice. He's also really nice and hung out with my friends and me for a while. Before he left, HE shook MY hand and said, "I'm Scott, by the way." As if I didn't know. ;)

Strangely enough, Scott was absent in this week's ep of FNL...but I did find it to be one of my favorites of the season. I think my favorite scene was the tiny one at the end where Matt, his grandma and Carlotta are eating breakfast. Grandma is the only one who speaks, blathering on about something or other...but the scene is about the fact that Matt had kissed Carlotta the night before, and neither of them really knew how to respond. In the kitchen, Matt was nervous, feeling that he had crossed a line, and was afraid that Carlotta might be upset with him. This is all conveyed in a series of glances. Then Carlotta smiles, and we know everything is fine. I love scenes like this, but I do think they are kind of a challenge to write, especially for a newbie writing specs or pilots. Because you're doing what screenwriting teachers always tell you not to do: writing what characters are thinking and not saying. Stuff that supposedly can't be shot. It may be breaking a rule, but it makes for amazing television...I may try to get my hands on the script to see how it was written.

Something else I liked about the ep was that there were a few scenes where characters are talking but not listening to each other because they each are pursuing separate goals. In one, Tami basically forces Lyla and Tyra to plan the entertainment portion of Pantherama. She won't listen to their excuses; she basically dumps the project in their laps and walks away. Later, Tami and Eric have a similar conversation where they each want something and plan to use the other to get it (and I feel this is a common thing with them). I think it works so well because it reminds us that these are each characters pursuing goals, and they are not to be used as devices for a plot or arc. Moreover, these kinds of scenes are efficient because they reveal character, weave plots together and advance two things at once, often complicating them. Another great scene was when Santiago moved in with Buddy. The two characters were on totally different planes...Buddy was a little nervous and worried because he wasn't entirely prepared for it, and he is a bit embarassed about his sparse bachelor pad. Meanwhile, Santiago is overwhelmed because it's more than he's ever had. We don't even realize how far apart these two are until the end of the scene, when Santiago says something along the lines of, "This is the first real bed I've ever had," and suddenly Buddy is brought into Santiago's world. Anyway, I guess the whole idea is that we need to think of our characters individually: their wants, their tactics, etc., and never use a character as a device for another when s/he has goals of their own.

Some links: Dirty Sexy Money just became the first full-season pickup since the strike. It may not even happen, but the two sides have agreed to negotiate, which is an important step in the right direction. (Maybe they'll come up with something by Christmas - my roommate and I concurred that keeping our jobs would be the best Christmas present ever.) Anyway, I haven't watched Dirty Sexy Money in a few weeks; I had kind of given up on it because I think it has fundamental flaws: 1. the tone is totally off. I feel its dramatic moments are genuine and well done...but when it tries to be funny, it misses the mark completely and feels like a terrible Arrested Development knock-off. 2. the main character is the most boring person on the show. 3. I don't buy WHY he's continuing to work for this family if they're such a pain and he really doesn't care about the money. Yes, I know that he's trying to find his father's murderer, but I don't think he really needs to keep the job to do that.

One more thing - I saw Lions for Lambs last night, which was a huge disappointment. (Stupid Lars and the Real Girl being sold out.) It's basically an hour and forty minutes of Robert Redford taking the theme of The War is Dumb and beating you over the head with it. It's painfully slow, with literally no plot, just talking and talking in these interminable, visually static 12-minute scenes.


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Josh said...

I love people capitalizing on the strike! <*shit-eating grin*>

Where's the love for Peter Krause? True, he's playing the straight guy, but that's kind of the job of many (if not most) leading characters.

Maybe I'm easy, but I've been liking Dirty Sexy Money quite a bit so far. I do know a number of people who share your views, though. My bosses were the first ones to point out the Arrested Development similarities to me, joking that they thought the show even used some of the same sets...but still, I don't know, the comedic and dramatic bits both work for me more time than not. It's like Dynasty or Dallas or one of those shows, but with better acting and higher production values.

Or something. Here's hoping negotiations go smoothly next week...

Amanda said...

One of my old coworkers at FNL once went to a comic convention with Scott Porter. Apparently he brought a knapsack full of sci-fi figurines...

...but we still love him :-)

While I was still with FNL, our dept. had a huge discussion about the episode that aired on Friday. Many felt it was a huuuuge mistake to end the episode on a character who had only recently been introduced. As a writer, how do you feel about that?