I haven't had much new to say lately, and I've been juggling three projects, so I've been quiet here.
This is just to say that Lisa and I watched THE WEST WING Season 2 finale, "Two Cathedrals," for at least the fourth time. The show, and this episode, just gets better and better. That, kids, is how this is done. A brilliant writer on a brilliant show... if you haven't seen it, and you hope to write one hour drama, there's your homework.
I met with an emerging writer today, and struggled to crystallize a direction for him to take his script. I was a little surprised to see he hadn't done his homework. It was a script about two guys who don't want to commit, who meet and fall in love with two girls who don't want to commit. I assigned him WEDDING CRASHERS and HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 14 DAYS and THE WEDDING PLANNER and HAROLD AND MAUDE. I am pretty sure that when Shakespeare was writing revenge tragedies, he read tons of revenge tragedies, and when he was writing comedies, he went and saw comedies. "If I have seen farther," said Newton, "it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants."
Don't worry that you'll steal too much. It's a lot of work to steal too much. To write Hemingway pastiche you really have to rein in your sentences. If you just pursue your own feeling of emotional truth, you will be original enough. And if you find yourself stealing even half of what Aaron Sorkin did on "Two Cathedrals," you're a better man than I am, Gunga Din.
Probably the best episode of anything in TV history. Powerful both because it builds on everything that's happened in the season so far, but also as a standalone episode. Everything that TV should strive to be.
Not to, y'know, gush or anything.
Oddly I started to watch "Two Cathedrals" at the weekend. The problem was I realised I really need to watch the equally brilliant "18th and Potomac" - a title doesn't make sense till Sorkin punches you in the gut by turning the comedy side plot line on its head.
That punch really only works because you've had two seasons of build up. Once you've seen those you need both "Manchester" Parts 1 and 2 to see the consequences.
So I've found myself needing to start at the beginning again. I'll even wade through the uneven post Sorkin bit to get to the excellent later episodes.
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