But What I Really Want to be is a TV Writer

I have always said that if I were to start over again there are some jobs I would love to try out. The first would be bartending. We all know I know a thing or two about bars, and after all these years of being a patron, I think I would make a great bartender. Plus, it would lend very well to my story development process. I think being a lighthouse keeper would be wicked cool as well. (I know there aren’t very many of those these days, but a dude can dream.) I like the idea of the solitude of lighthouse keeping and think it would also help my writing. Then a few years ago I realized there was one job I would REALLY like to have tried – television writer.

I would love to write for a TV show, or multiple TV shows. If I were to seek out a “real job” in writing instead of working on my own projects, that would be the ultimate job for me. I haven’t ever really tried to, but I did write for a friend’s mockumentary once and it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.

Being able to give a voice to an actor’s interpretation of a character is thrilling and so much fun. It’s as if you’ve taken one of your characters out of a particular story and actually molded a human model of them. Watching an actor pull on the character like a suit of clothes and make it come to life is an amazing and fulfilling thing to watch indeed. It also gives you insight on how to develop the character as the story goes on as you learn to understand how the actor will interpret what you write.

I don’t actually watch a lot of TV, but the shows I do watch are the ones that typically have brilliant writing in them and while I watch I can imagine how the writers came up with the lines and often think to myself “damn, that actor or actress must be so much fun to write for.” For example I love Justified, Elmore Leonard’s writing is just the most incredible platform for any writer to work from. I think cobbling together lines for either Timothy Olyphant (Raylan Givens) or Walton Goggins (Boyd Crowder), would be the kind of thing that would make you want to stay up for weeks. Or, imagine being a writer for Family Guy. That show has lost a little of its pizzazz, but the pop culture references are brilliant and putting words in either Brian the Dog or Stewie Griffin’s mouth, must be gut busting fun.

If I were to take this fantasy job out to its logical conclusion in my mind, the ultimate TV writing job would be for BBC. British Television is in my mind by far the best. The writing is funny, intelligent and insightful no matter what you watch. There are few shows in the United States that I would say have all of those elements. I’ve watched and loved so many British shows over the years its hard to pick a favorite, but the one I absolutely would have sold my soul to write for was The Thick of It with Peter Capaldi. It’s like an R-rated, much more realistic and much funnier version of The West Wing. Almost every line of every character’s script is memorable. Those writers surely were sad when that series ended; although they were probably all exhausted, but in a good way.

So, yeah, if I were to do it again… But, hey if any of y’all know someone in Hollywood – be sure to pass along my deets!

They Killed Brian!

RIP Brian Griffin

RIP Brian Griffin

Ok, so I go from Dick Gordon’s The Story going off air to a cartoon dog’s death on Family Guy. Hey, at least I have range.

Like most Family Guy fans, I’m completely distraught that Brian Griffin was axed off of my favorite adult cartoon. Family Guy has been a guilty pleasure of mine since it went on air back in 1999 and Brian the Dog was by far my favorite character. Who wouldn’t love a talking dog that drinks martinis and writes horrific novels? He also got the best lines in the show. Which brings me to why I like the show so much – the writing.

I can’t stand potty humor of which Family Guy is replete with, but when you put the slop through a figurative colander some really good juice comes out. The creator Seth MacFarlane is a brilliant writer and comedian and since he’s of my generation and comes from my home state, his pop culture references are totally relatable to me and bring back some great memories from my childhood. They once opened the show with the opening scene from The Great Space Coaster – I nearly bust a gut.

From what I understand, of all his characters Brian has the most characteristics of MacFarlane himself. I definitely see that and have watched both Brian and MacFarlane progress over the years. When Brian drank martinis, Seth drank martinis, when Brian switched to Scotch, Seth switched to Scotch. Brian is a tree hugging, pot smoking, Prius driving, womanizing Liberal and MacFarlane has never minced words on where he falls on the political and social spectrum and he’s rarely ever seen with the same woman. It was a very cool progression to watch – creator and character growing and becoming famous together.

The New Guy - Nothing Against Vinnie, But I want Brian Back

The New Guy – Nothing Against Vinnie, But I want Brian Back

I think from the brouhaha I’m reading in the news, blogs and on Facebook, Brian was certainly one if not, the most beloved character. So, why the hell would MacFarlane kill him off? I mean, this is a comedy after all, there’s no need to kill off a favorite character especially if he’s a cartoon dog. All I can think of is that it’s a “kill your darlings” situation. The producers said they wanted to “shake things up”. Well, they sure as shit have done that. A new dog “Vinnie” who also talks and has the voice and look of a New Jersey gangster voiced by former Sopranos star Tony Sirico, immediately replaced Brian. Kind of hacky, I think. I use the “kill your darlings” metaphor because I can’t help but wonder if MacFarlane is looking for a bigger challenge – like Brian was too easy to write, something like that.

I honestly don’t think this is going to work and cautiously predict a death knell for the show. Seth MacFarlane has made it no secret that he feels Family Guy should have jumped the shark five seasons ago, but insists on giving the fans what they want for as long as they want it. But, I have to wonder – is this what they want? I don’t. I want Brian back.