Red Right Hand: TAKE A BOTTLE, SHAKE IT UP
*He is not a secret agent. Not at all.

 

TAKE A BOTTLE, SHAKE IT UP

So last week's Leverage was a bottle show. And a damn good one. And then the other day, Showrunner Sir John Rogers (he received an OBE on my New Year's Honor's List) posted the Q and A for that episode. And it got me thinking about bottle shows. Well, more than I usually do. More often than not, when I write a script, it tends to be a bottle show...or real damn close to it. It's a good way to focus on the elements of the show that your supposed to be showcasing in a spec. Little or no guest starage. It even shows budget consciousness.

What I was thinking about, however, were favorite bottle shows I have seen. And here's some of them.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Drumhead"
Deep Space Nine: "Duet"
It shows like these Star Treks that have actually made me look forward to bottle shows. It depends on the writing staff, sure, but in the case of the first couple of Trek series, a budget saving bottle episode was when they would really ratchet up their game. Quality character driven drama at its finest. Also, Trek is allegedly where the term bottle show originated. Ship in a bottle.

The West Wing: "17 People"
They said to Sorkin that there had to be an episode with no guest stars and nothing outside of standing sets. A true bottle show. And he delivered a pivotal episode for the series and a fantastic showcase for Sheen and (my favorite) Schiff. I don't think there's even a single extra in it.

Doctor Who: "Midnight"
A bottle show that's not a bottle show. If it were a true bottle show, it would have taken place entirely in the TARDIS control room with just The Doctor and Donna, but it's a damn solid, tension filled, creepy play set in the cabin of what amounts to a tour bus of the future. Just a handful of scenes in the whole script. And one of them is 42 pages.

©2016 Michael Patrick Sullivan