Having finished our pilot, now we're trying to figure out what to do for an encore. That throws you into all sorts of questions you don't have to answer the first time. Do you show range by telling a fluffier story than your intense, raw pilot? Or do you go dark again, one-two-punch-style? Do you write episode two, which plays off episode one; or try a center-cut episode meant to show what the typical episode might be like. Do you pursue some of the story arcs suggested in your pilot, revealing more about the characters we got to know before, or serve the characters who were underserved in the pilot? In a pilot you can have a shocker of a plot. It's like a film in that you can bring in someone new, or kill someone off, or burn the house down, or shoot the President, whatever's the premise of the story. But you can't do that in a second episode, or it starts to look like you don't have a template that allows you to generate compelling stories with the cast and the venue you have. (Kind of like going to war. You can choose where and when to start your war, if you're starting it. But once it's on, you have to fight the war you have.)
All of these questions are in the service of the big question: what second episode will most convince everyone that we have a great series here that people will want to watch?
I think we do have a great series. The network challenged us to do stuff they haven't seen before, which is not what you expect to hear from a network -- or rather, you don't expect them to mean it. That makes the show harder to write. The previous incarnation of the series would have been a breeze to write, very soapy, very Spelling. This incarnation is tougher. We're trying to do episodes that get at the universal truths of growing up female, but magnified and intensified by the business our girls are in. That criterion means we have to throw out eight perfectly good story ideas for every one that fits the template. And of course you have to throw out unnumbered not-so-great story ideas to get one perfectly good one.
I look forward to the day we have a writing staff. For the moment it's just us. Thank goodness we love each other.