Monday, July 02, 2007

Jesus Joney Macaroni

True Dare Kiss ''won'' the ratings with 4.4 million at 9 pm.

There's a headline from Broadcast to chill the soul if ever I heard one.

Location Location Location got 4.8 million.

Enough already with the relationship dramas. WE DON'T GIVE A SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Unless maybe it's about a chef buying a house.....abroad...... at an auction......against the clock.....and we vote on it.

TV drama nowadays has to be more than something I can see out my window any day of the week. Talk To Me, The Chase, Waterloo Road, mindless fucking pap. Don't get me wrong, there is a place for mindless fucking pap but only as part of a calorie controlled diet as they say. If that's all you eat you're heading for a stroke. And that's pretty much all that's on the menu it seems.

I watched an episode of ER this morning. It was fantastic. A real moral and ethical question at stake. Innovative writing and production. I caught two minutes of Casualty on Saturday. Nothing happened.

Perhaps I am part of the MTV generation with a short attention span. Or perhaps I am part of the generation not willing to accept space filling dross as entertainment?

I'm plumping for the latter.


Good Dog said...

A couple of years back, I was having a beer with a comedy writer/script editor and suggested a drama about two property developers who were amateur sleuths called Black & Decker. He immediately got up and went to the bar for another drink.

The thing is, you're right on the money about the differences between ER and Casualty. The gulf between the two is staggering.
You'd get more drama from filming people waiting at a bus stop.

English Dave said...

lol GD my idea for cooking detectives called Basil and Sage was nixed by those Rosemary and Thyme fuckers.

freebooter said...

My pitch for Garden Centre owning hippy detectives Flower and Pot, was also strangely rejected. There may also have been sniggering.

True dare kiss was utter, utter shite almost as bad a Talk to Me, but not containing as big a dumb cock, who the fuck are these shows for?

ER V Casualty - and ER wins by a knockout with a huge bag of cash.

As said in t'Idependent Supp this Sunday - English TV is full of enthusiastic amatuers, because they don't pay enough - discuss --- or not because you can't be arsed, shuffles off.... kicks cat...agon

English Dave said...

As said in t'Idependent Supp this Sunday - English TV is full of enthusiastic amatuers, because they don't pay enough - discuss --- or not because you can't be arsed, shuffles off.... kicks cat...agon

Damn! I missed that. It sounds like a great point freebooter.

Take a show like Casualty. A cameraman probably earns more than the average writer doing 3 or 4 shows a year.

Jaded and Cynical said...

There's no doubt that a lack of investment in writing is part of the problem.

There are people creating drama for BBC1 who have full-time jobs doing other things. How is that a recipe for anything other than mediocrity?

Six months ago, I was an aspiring screenwriter. Now I'm not. Thanks in part to blogs like this, I eventually got a clear picture of what a real writing career in this country looks like. And it's not pretty.

Take the example of James Moran, who has a very good site of his own. This guy is one of the hottest writers in the UK today (if not the hottest). He's had a movie made and is currently working on flagship shows for the BBC, such as Doctor Who.

It took him five years (five fucking years!) to go from getting an agent to having enough work that he could write full-time. And that's a guy who's obviously talented. That's a success story.

And for all that he's in demand today, there are no guarantees that in twelve months time he won't be looking for that old job back.

For some poeple, writing is an obsession and they just have to get it out of their system. These must be the 'enthusiastic amateurs' mentioned above. And good luck to them all.

For the rest of us, writing is a cool career, but still a career like any other. And when you consider the length of time it takes to get established, and the difficulty of doing so, plus the modest rewards and the utter lack of security, the only conclusion I can reach is that:

You'd have to be fucking nuts to pursue a writing career in this country.

Really. Take those five years and train to become an accountant, or lawyer, or dentist, or IT consultant, or anything.

And if you are still absolutely 100% determined to work in TV, forget writing. As English Dave suggests, you'd be better off learning to work the cameras.

English Dave said...

Lol Jaded. All good sense. The trouble is that writers are fucking nuts. It's in the job description.

fionnbar said...

Looking at a filmed writers forum on medical dramas on the BBC website the other day I was interested to note that when questioned on the quality of Casualty compared with ER Mal Young simply flagged up the ratings in his defence. ER was getting 1.5m and Casualty about 9m. I think that while we all appreciate that it's not easy to write an hour of primie time TV it would appear that the agenda is not necessarily set by great writing. I recently saw ER and Forrest Whitaker was guesting and the odds are they didn't go looking for him he probably wanted to be on the show. I somehow doubt if Tim Roth or Alan Rickman's agent are constantly pestering the Casualty production office for scripts.

Good Dog said...

when questioned on the quality of Casualty compared with ER Mal Young simply flagged up the ratings in his defence. ER was getting 1.5m and Casualty about 9m.

Wow, what a total cock! Yeah, never mind the quality, feel the ratings. And... oh, when you get a reply like that, what can you say?

Apart from Forest Whitaker, who appeared over nine or ten episode in a specific story arc, ER has attracted the likes of Ray Liotta and James Woods, Alan Alda, Ed Asner, Frances Sternhagen, Sally Field, Thandie Newton, Clancy Brown, Michael Ironside, Julie Delpy, Ewan McGregor, Djimon Hounsou, Red Buttons, Mary McDonnell, James Cromwell, and of course William H. Macy.

Rob Spalding said...

It seems most British shows have become relationship dramas.
Casualty isn't about people getting hurt and doctors fixing them. It's about the work getting in the way of the relationships these, mostly unlikable, characters are having with each other.

As someone pointed out when the Forest Whitaker ER aired, ER got him, Casualty got Patsy Kensit.

That's why I liked Primeval, it was about people hunting dinosaurs.
Robin Hood finally caught on to the idea it should be about the adventure and got better.

I just want shows thathave relationships in them, but aren't all about them!

Lee said...

Robin Hood got better? Blimey.

Anonymous said...

Can I just make a couple of points.
1. I haven't seen ER for a while but from what I remember it was very much a relationship drama - however the reltionships weren't all of the simplistic 'who's shagging who'variety, they were mainly about professional jealousies, insecurities and rivalries

2. Sorry to pass the buck here but I think a big problem with a lot of UK drama compared with US drama is that shows like Casualty etc have many actors whoare absolutley shite and who can't deliver lines in a casual or throwaway manner - they are peopled by ex-soap stars because that gets the tabloid coverage which the BBC thinks translates into ratings. Who had heard of George Clooney? The point was he was charismatic and could act a bit and that always helps the writing!

3. You can't get away from the impact of having staff writers as they do in the US - it has its downside but it does mean that everyone has to get in a room and thrash out ideas until they're good enough

4. the problem in UK tv isn't the writers - it's the commissioning process that gives the greenlight to shows on a whim, then wants 52 episodes deleivered within six months or less, so what you're seeing on screen is the third draft of a script that should have been properly deveoped and gone to about six drafts after being worked over with a big blue pen!

Okay that was more than a couple of points!

English Dave said...

Believe it or not scripts for The Bill and Casualty do go through about 6 drafts! The problem for me is the nature and tone of the stories being told. That is obviously a subjective opinion but is the major reason I don't watch.

I agree with your point on actors Debs. Not all, but too many can't deliver a line in a bucket. You can see the actor wheels turning as they speak.

I'm all for writer rooms. That's where a story can really be proofed and beaten out long before it gets to script.

Good Dog said...

The thing with hospital drama is it covers birth and death and everything in between, so there’s some scope there. ER certainly uses it to the full potential, with how the work and patient treatment impacts on the staff’s personal and professional lives. Casualty and Holby, perhaps not so much. Every few years ER gets a pretty serious shake-up by introducing new characters that keep it lively.

As mentioned a few posts up, they bring in a pretty high calibre of actors. The thing with Clooney is that by the time ER came around he had earned the success. I remember seeing him in some 1990 mid-season show called Sunset Beat. Was in LA at the time which was probably the reason I tuned in. The show wasn’t that sparky. The day after the network broadcast the pilot they cancelled the show. One of the other leads went on to play Sipowicz’s son in NYPD Blue.

ED, one thing I’d be interested in is how many pages does the average script for Casualty or The Bill run? As mentioned long before, and numerous times since, the English shows do suffer from a pacing issue. I came across a pdf script for an early ER episode that ran 77 pages for a 44-minute episode. So the timing is about 35/40 seconds a page, which certainly gives it some zip.

Lee said...

GD, there's a Casualty script (5th draft) at the BBC's writersroom that is 117 pages long, and a Holby City that's 115. The scripts are formatted to BBC standards, accounting for some of the length, but scenes that just plod along with pedestrian dialogue don't help.

The ER scripts I've seen are all in the 75-80 page range, which is also lengthy for an hour drama, but are packed with action and zip merrily along.

English Dave said...

Yep Casualty runs to about 110 -115 pages, The Bill around 105. Bear in mind they are slightly different formats. The Bill is actually around 48 minutes.

In most UK TV formats you can figure just over a couple of pages a minute roughly

Lee said...

Those poor trees!

Good Dog said...

Thanks for the heads up on the scripts. The interesting thing is, reading them, they're very passive. Maybe I pissed the odd page but there doesn't seem to be much urgency.

Good Dog said...

Oh, and yeah... Rosemary and Thyme: fuckers!

(I feel really good having said that).

English Dave said...

They are the most fuckingest fuckers I have ever fucking fucked.