Monday, November 20, 2006

Good Idea or Pants

Tony Jordan has just had two connected projects commissioned by ITV. One is 'Moving Wallpaper' a comedy drama about behind the scenes on a soap. The other is Echo Beach.- The soap itself.

Now when I first read that I thought 'Cool Idea!' And having thought about it I still think 'Cool Idea'

But will it work? That is the question.

See, as I understand it one show will go out on ITV1 and the other immediately after on ITV2. So what you are going to have in effect are two entirely different audiences. One for the comedy show the other for the soap. Granted some of the comedy viewers may tune over to see the soap and how it came together after the behind the scenes shenanigans, but that will mainly be to snigger.

The soap viewers may probably not watch the comedy of the behind the scenes as this could spoil their enjoyment of the soap. Especially if they know some of the comedy viewers are watching along and sniggering. Soap is all about believability.

I suppose it depends on the tone of each of the shows. But with a title like Moving Wallpaper, I don't expect the comedy to be all that complimentary to soaps.

So when I think Cool Idea do I really mean 'Interesting Idea' - because if I really thought it was a Cool Idea I don't think I'd have so many doubts about whether it can actually work.

It's about the imponderable X factor again. They may have it. They may not. But imagine if Eastenders had a comedy called ' Walford Wankers' showing immediately before it based on the goings on behind the scenes of Eastenders. I don't think that would help Eastenders ratings. Not unless they changed the tone of Eastenders.

[I'm available for both, either, Barmitzvahs, Christenings and Funerals Tony]
And let's take a look at the writers' situation. Out of the two, which would you rather watch, the comedy drama or the soap? Let's say 99% would say the comedy drama. Because probably 99% of us would prefer to write it.

So most of the writers on Echo Beach are going to think they won second prize. Unless they are the same writers of course, which I would doubt. Soap is one beast and comedy drama is another, and not many do both well. It's going to take the managerial powers of Zeus to prevent a full scale blood bath in story conference.

I hope this works. I can't help feeling it could be a disaster waiting to happen.


Danny Stack said...

The script for MW popped up when I was a wee lad in C4 comedy, many a moon ago, almost ten years probably. I don't think the Echo Beach thing was part of the pitch then, just the behind the scenes at a soap. It was a good script, as far as I can remember, and no doubt updated/rewritten since.

English Dave said...

Danny, I can imagine a 'behind the scenes of a soap' being a great script and a good show.

The spin off being the actual soap is the minefield.

Bang2Write said...

I'm more than willing to sacrifice my sanity, soul and beanie hat to write for EITHER.


Good Dog said...

Just read the piece in The Guardian.

The 'interesting' thing is it says Moving Wallpaper/Echo Beach will be "broadcast in tandem each night for two weeks."

Since it's based in Cornwall, hopefully it won't go for the culture class cheap laughs with the behind-the-scenes. At least ITV are trying something different rather than churning out another Frost.

English Dave said...

I'm all for different Good Dog. But I worry about misguided. Not from TJ's point of view but from the networks.

TJ makes a fortune churning out ratings winners as far as they are concerned.

They don't seem to get that this could be seen as TJ's 'Fuck You' to them.

Good Dog said...

If it is Jordan's 'Fuck You!' to ITV then good for him.

Could be a worse idea. I mean it could be something daft like a companion piece to Casualty and Holby City that focuses on the coppers who work alongside the paramedics...

Oh, shit.

Good Dog said...

By the way, what do you make of this BBC Vision announcement?

Dramanaut said...

Surely the big investment, here, is the soap? While the comedy drama is more in 'eyecatching initiative' territory, giving the whole package a satisfyingly cross-platform, digital-agey feel? It has to be made to work, of course. When I started out writing, I made a pitch set in a theatre, and was told that 'the audience' isn't interested in backstage drama. What's at stake? Who cares if the dreams of a bunch of neurotic artistes get splatted - serves them right. Aaron Sorkin's recent efforts (which I haven't seen)seem to back this up. Then along comes Entourage, and gets the tone just right. These guys are having a blast - just enjoying the Hollywood ride. Will ITV get it right? I have my doubts, but that's what's going to make the whole thing so fascinating.

English Dave said...

''Could be a worse idea. I mean it could be something daft like a companion piece to Casualty and Holby City that focuses on the coppers who work alongside the paramedics...

Oh, shit. ''

lol Good dog

Dramanaut I hear you. They say exactly the same about the movie world. 'Who want's to see a movie about movies'

They seem to forget Day for Night
The Player
The Big Picture
Swimming With Sharks
Sunset Boulevard
The Bad and The Beautiful
The Day of the Locust
Whatever happened to Baby Jane

Those just off the top of my head. I'm sure there are many more.

As you say it's about tone, character and story more than subject matter.

Good Dog said...

The first film that came to mind was David Mamet's State and Main.

English Dave said...

Good call GD.