Red Right Hand: OBLIQUE STRATEGIES
*He is not a secret agent. Not at all.

 

OBLIQUE STRATEGIES

Last week was largely "teh suck." Owing primarily to respiratory congestion, a sore throat, and a failed bid to take over the country of Switzerland by means of military force (lesson learned, don't fuck with the Swiss, they keep their gear in their closets). Also, my scripts were being read by an individual who will remain unnamed. Things went swimmingly in the early part of the week. My specs were well-received indeed. The pilots - not so much.

Usually it's the pilots that grab the attention, but it was apparent that there were clearly some issues of personal taste at work. There was an interest in seeing something more grounded, mainstream, mayhaps even procedural. My pilots are usually where I tend to push things pretty far. See that dot on the horizon? Yeah, that's where I pushed things.

I've had ideas for something a little more...shall we say "marketable?" I usually backburner them, then take them off and wrap them in tin foil and put them in the freezer. Then when it's time to move and I'm cleaning out the freezer they become those things that you don't remember what they are and just throw away with out unwrapping them. Should I just go ahead and write one of these? Might it be a bad idea if I'm not totally feeling it?

I did at this point what one usually does when in need of advice. I consulted avant garde musician Brian Eno. In 1975 he co-published a set of cards called Oblique Strategies. On each card was a reasonably cryptic phrase. The idea being that when you have a problem and the solution is eluding you not unlike a fly that won't land anywhere you can swat it, you can draw one of these cards at random and the cryptic phrase will aid you in approaching your problem from a new angle.

As with anything worthwhile, there is an online version. So I clicked (first edition version) and I got this:
"Make a blank valuable by putting it in an exquisite frame."*
It seems so obvious. If I'm not thrilled with the prospect of a procedural or a cop/doctor/lawyer show, it's because I'm not thinking about it properly. Don't just make it a cop show. Make it my cop show.

So with some thought, I took an idea I've had rolling around for a while for a cop show and really started thinking about it seriously. The scenes started coming to me rapidly. There's some procedural elements I need to break, but I know what I want them to do and I'm confident I can take the puzzle apart and recognize the individual pieces. Fortunately, I'd done some of the leg-though before, as I'm drawing on my abortive web series Area Five, using elements of what would have become the arc of the series (of which the one episode that was shot was the only one without a piece of the arc in it).

So that's where I'm going next. Well, that and a Leverage spec...probably...given its recent renewal and the fact that there's not a lot to choose from in the spec landscape.

My question to you TV writerly-types. What are you specing and why?

*Yeah, I got advice from basically a cookieless fortune cookie.
©2017 Michael Patrick Sullivan