Posts Tagged ‘tv’

Megan McCafferty, an of young adult novels, was speaking today to students at Central Regional High School, where she graduated. She said that she came up with what she thought was a great idea for a picture book.

Her agent declined it because there wasn’t enough potential for a stuffed animal to come out of it.

“Wow,” said an English teacher behind me, sadly.

Christopher Nolan was told by the film studio to make his Batman movies more “Toyetic.” Now, I suppose, books need to be.

This should come as no great shock, really. Everything is merchandised.

But two things make this worse. The first is that here’s this New York Times bestselling novelist, and she doesn’t have the muscle to get a non-toy book published. Secondly, marketing toys to children when you’re trying to get them to read is a downward slope. Reading should open doors to more reading, not to buying commercial products.

My wife and I were in Toys R Us and were surprised to see Fancy Nancy and Pinkalicious dolls. Reading is a very private thing, most of the time. And despite the popularity of these series, we just never thought of the idea that hundreds of thousands of kids read them. Hundreds of thousands of potential customers.

I saw a Splat the Cat at Barnes and Noble. I almost got it, but I didn’t because:

  1. I’m cheap
  2. My daughter has enough stuffed animals already
  3. I don’t think she’d play with him the way she’d play with her other toys. Maybe I’m wrong about this.


This is depressing. But I guess you have to think of it in terms of children’s TV shows. There isn’t any children’s program on TV right now that isn’t trying to sell you something. Except maybe the public broadcasting shows. But if Sesame Street is any indication, with Elmo’s face on everything, the other shows will have marketing potential too. A quick Google turned up Word Girl (My favorite PBS show) costumes.

So, I guess we just have to live with it. Books aren’t just for education or entertainment anymore. The main thing they teach us is how to be a consumer.


It seems everyone is all too complacent to beat the drum of a form of media dying. But I march to a different drummer.

I’ve come from newspapers, which people say are dying. Then I saw this:

This article says monthly comics are dead, turning over to online and graphic novels.

This is something I said about newspapers and I’ll say it again for comic books: They didn’t stop making books when movies were invented. They didn’t stop making movies when TV was invented. They didn’t stop making TV shows when the Internet was invented. All of these things have existed simultaneously. You just have to be smarter about your project, and you have to work harder, and your expectations can’t be as high.

When articles say that not as many people are buying movie tickets anymore, they’re comparing billions of dollars in sales. They’re still doing OK. Just not as many people are getting rich. Or, they’re merely getting rich, and not filthy rich.

You have to be smarter. You have to work harder. And the chances of being wildly successful are slimmer. But people think that if you have to be smart and industrious in order to get a small benefit, that it’s just not worth it.

I have to thank those people. Leave the business now. I don’t need the competition.

There’s a major problem with “(Blank) My Dad Says.”

The hint is in the title. (Blank)

When you read the pages and pages of bizarre things on the real Shit My Dad Says tweet….thing…you open a small window of his house and listen in on half a conversation. You never hear what was said before or after, so you just have to imagine the context. That’s a large part of the humor.

But in the show, they put everything in a context. Usually, a simple, comfortable sitcom context. And that takes a lot of the fun out of it.

It’s an old example, but no one’s ever put it to use this way: The shower scene from “Psycho.” It was more powerful for what it didn’t show than what it did.

The Promise of Premise

Posted: July 19, 2010 in All, Comic Books, TV
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There’s a difference between a great character and a great premise.

They’re not mutually exclusive, but they don’t always go hand in hand.

I was thinking of this while watching the first two episodes of “The Ghost Whisperer” with my wife. She talks to ghosts and helps them find their way(The Ghost Whisperer, not my wife.). Not the first time it’s been done. But maybe the first time it’s been done on an hour long weekly show.

There are hundreds of variations. Different things ghosts need before they move on. Do they even want to? Can they and their loved ones say goodbye?

It’s a good premise. And a regular series needs a good premise. Something you can sink into in front of the couch every week. The shows creators make a promise to you that you’re going to get some of the same ingredients every week, but maybe in a different recipe once in a while to shake things up. You know that the story is going to be about a ghost losing its way.

Other shows are the same. You know that House is going to have a medical mystery. You know Monk is going to feel uncomfortable about something.

So that’s part of it.

In comic books, I’ve seen very few premises. Often, if there is one, it gets lost. I’m using comics because it’s a serial medium.

The X-Men are heroes who defend a world that hates and fears them. This sometimes gets lost in them fighting the villain of the month, or each other. Spider-Man has the Parker Luck, but not much else. Batman has monomania and vigilantism.

The other part is character.

We don’t care about the premise if we don’t like the characters living within it.

I think that you can have one but not the other in certain circumstances.

I liked “Noble Causes” because it had a great premise, and the characters were decent. It seems like a lot of the independents that are going to survive do so because there is a premise that you can explain in one sentence. For example: “Invincible” is about the son of Superman.

But a premise can quickly become a gimmick.

If the premise is all there is, then it’s just window dressing. You have to have both: premise and character.

Sometimes a formula just works

Posted: June 8, 2010 in All, Comedy, TV
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Look at “The Honeymooners.” It’s a lovable louse who’s always scheming but has a heart of gold. He’s got a dim-witted comrade-in-arms, and a wife that shoulders the burden of their goofiness and provides the emotional center.

It’s the same formula that’s been used for practically every successful sitcom. At least the family-related ones. Even “The Simpsons.”

Once, he was asked what made “The Honeymooners” so successful. You know what he said?

“It’s funny.”