RED RIGHT HAND 40 12 00 20 16 02 16 52 02 50 44 46 30 32 20 00 46 38 16 42

*He is not a secret agent. Not at all.



How about the half-hour drama?

There used to be shows like this, but now the half-hour format belongs to the comedies. Why not try a few half hour dramas? They worked before? Dragnet was half an hour. Have Gun Will Travel. Even Gunsmoke started out in a thirty minute time slot.

I know there's probably some discussion about what the audience will accept. Well, there hasn't been one of these in so long, how can anyone really know what the audience will accept at this point. There have been syndicated attempts like Jack of All Trades (which I loved, but it was really a comedy) or Cleopatra 2525 (which I did not, but was a straight-up sci-fi adventure program), but I'm on about some serious game networks or cable channels.

What got me really thinking about this is another visual medium close to my heart. Comics. While the done-in-one story has been a rarity in comics for about twenty-plus years, they're creeping back in. Warren Ellis' Fell is predicated on the slab-of-culture format that says you should get a complete story for a low price. It's also bloody fantastic. A dark, edgy detective story (where "dark, edgy" is defined as if all other dark, edgy detective stories are kind of smurfy).

Then, last week, I picked up the first issue of a new run of Jonah Hex from DC Comics. In the seventies and early eighties, Hex was like a gritty western TV series on paper. Each issue was a complete story. A morality tale usually. Jonah would pick up at the end of the issue and move on to the next town, or the next job. This new run appears to be doing the same thing. The first issue is a complete, edgy western tale with a slight dose of the strange.

Either one of these books could easily be a TV show, but the content of the issue, taken at face value, would give you about 22 minutes of screen time. That's a half hour show. No extraneous stuff, the format would force some tight storytelling. Thirty minutes seems a great format for escapist adventures, like Fell or Jonah Hex.

When I wrote my spec pilot, King Vs. Queen, what I really wanted to do was write it as a 30 minute crime drama with lots of shooting. Well, there's not much of a spec market place for such a thing, so I went with the typical 55-60 pages of crime drama with just some shooting.

Surely there's budget versus return issues, but there must be a way to work that out. I leave that to people better than me. People who can count.

Maybe someday.

Not today.
©2024 Michael Patrick Sullivan
<< Home