Tuesday, January 03, 2006

second draft

Just had some notes back on the first draft of an episode of I've been writing for a new children's animated show (unnamed, obviously).

Note reads: 'Make it less gay please'.

Annoyingly, the rampant gayosity to which they're objecting comes from my inclusion of a previous notes from one of the other producers, who wanted one of the minor characters to say something, well, really quite camp. I thought this was funny and put it in. And now I'm taking it out again, with a mental image of all the people in the office shaking their heads and saying 'I don't know where that came from, honestly, he's not right, it's probably all those pasties.'

This weird variation on Chinese Whispers happens a lot in children's telly, where there are usually at least three people taking turns to poke the writer with a stick, but often not actually talking to each other. I sometimes wonder if I could recreate the scene from that Sidney Sheldon mini series about a conwoman with a dimply chin (that wasn't the title) where she goes on a cruiseship and challenges two chess grand masters at the same time, then plays them off against each other by running from room to room, so they are effectively up against each other, and then they both claim a draw, which she's betted on heavily, or something, I forget the details.

If only I could perfect this technique, and apply it to the world of scriptwriting, I could rapidly become a millionaire and take over the world. But it does rely upon locking any spectators in a room until the whole thing has finished, and then making an escape in a speedboat, wearing a party dress, and I've lost my speedboat.

Other things I've had to take out of scripts for children's telly:

A humorous chase scene across wet cement.
Dramatic climaxes involving people tied to chairs.
A fight between a giant robot library and a sentient carpark.
My concept for a Tim Burton-style series about evil aliens called The HellieTubbies (like the obvious children's characters, only with stitches for eyes and foot-long claws). Apparently this would be The Most Sue-able Children's series ever.
A chainsaw fight.

The odd thing is, it's only the last one where I thought 'hmm.. not sure I'm going to get away with this...'


patroclus said...

I'd give anything to receive feedback like that from my clients. Usually I get stuff like "more jargon, please" and "please make this make less sense". Although it's difficult to imagine how a brochure about accounting software could come across as too gay. (Oo, a challenge!)

And surely the excision of giant robot library vs sentient carpark is the world's loss?

mwpuka: something mumbled by Jamie Oliver through a mouthful of pecan and orange millefeuille.

James Henry said...

I should point out it was a library that turned into a giant robot, not a library where you could borrow giant robots, although now I think of it, the latter is a bit cooler.

Just get PP to talk about accounting software, even in all innocence, it'll end up sounding filthy.

Dave said...

supply of grain for the window? Am I missing something here? I certainly missed C4 last night, sadly.

James Henry said...

'Window'? What are you talking about, man?

*discreetly makes circly temple motion with finger*

It was mostly rubbish. The sitcom's dead! Except it isn't, it's just moved on a bit., but that's a less interesting title. And looking at some of the crap that David Liddiment bloke produced (Sam's Game? - For fuck's sake), he had a certain degree of responsibility for the weakening of the studio-based sitcom format that no amount of black glasses or expensive suits will disguise.

Dave said...

*discreetly makes a motion with his finger at James*

*Blots James' face out of yesterday's picture of the stars of bloggerdom*

James Henry said...

*sews dead prawn into lining of Dave's blog where he'll never find it*

Actually I heard about someone doing this once (into curtains, not a blog). Apparently it was really obvious it was him what did it, and the whole thing was most embarrassing.

*takes prawn out again*

Dave said...

*offers finger in a 'let's make up and pretend it never happened [like the way you correct typos]' kind of fashion*

cello said...

Ah, the curse of PC-ness! If we're not careful there will be no comedy left, for children or anyone else, for fear of encouraging anti-social or unpleasant behaviour. No 'Dad's Army' because it undermines the armed forces; no 'Porridge' because it shows criminals getting the better of their keepers; no 'Tom and Jerry' because of cruelty to cats. In fact, I think the black housekeeper with the droopy stockings has already been edited out in the US.
Anyone who has taken a child to a pantomime knows that there would be nothing left without lots of gorgeous and rampant gayosity. Surely one could argue that it would be unfair discrimination not to have any gay gags.

And by some spooky design the WV is

James Henry said...

Dave: *agrees* - Let's never fight again. And yes, it did originally say 'window'.

cello: well exactly, although I think it was less for reasons of PC than 'that line doesn't really work'. Which is fine, except it wasn't me that came up with it in the first place. Grrr...

Good word verif though....

Dave said...

*Puts James' face back in the picture of superstars*

James Henry said...


Kyahgirl said...

'Helli-tubbies!'I love it! Beats the little freaks with the rabbits.

I'm so glad my kids have moved past that stage. Good luck, you have a tough job!

Anonymous said...

This doesn't just happen in the world of scriptwriting. It happens often in web-design, too. I've lost count of the times a large organisation I cannot name would demand something put in, and then, next day, demand it taken out again.

Now I'm freelance, I can charge them MMAT. (Messing Me About Time - and thats the polite abbreviation.)

Oh, and the chainsaw fight? That was Bob The Builder, wasn't it?

James Henry said...

Wouldn't that have been great? Perhaps it could happen in a Mad max-stye post apocalypse episode, where Bob armours up Dizzy and raids the depot for fuel...

Anonymous said...

I'm not all that up on BTB, as all the characters have different names in Germany. The digger (?? haven't got a clue on the english name) is called "Baggie", for example. This is because the german name for a JCB Digger is a "Bagger".

I learnt that when my mate's son started pushing his toy digger across the floor whilst saying "baggerbaggerbagger".

I thought he was saying something else entirely until I was informed of this fact. Mainly due to childhood experiences involving a driver of one of the diggers.