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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Q. I've written all my specs for U.S. shows primarily because it's easy to find sample scripts on the web, but I would really like to try a Canadian spec next. Any idea where I can get my hands on scripts for Canadian T.V. shows that are currently on the air? Particularly Rookie Blue?
In general it's not a good idea to spec shows in their first season. They are particularly likely to get cancelled (though as GH points out below, ROOKIE BLUE has been renewed). They also may still be finding their legs, and the tone may change between the shows you've seen and the time your spec is polished.

I'm also not sure how many Canadian showrunners and producers watch Canadian TV shows, even the ones that also air in the US. I hear a lot of talk about MAD MEN. Lots of people watch FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. Everyone seems to be a big fan of THE WIRE and BREAKING BAD. But I don't know how many employers could tell whether you'd written a great ROOKIE BLUE script or a so-so one. If they do, they don't seem to mention it.

It's a peculiar thing, the big gap between what the industry watches and what the average guy watches. Most TV is mac'n'cheese TV like LAW & ORDER. You know more or less exactly what's going to happen. You know what the characters are going to do. Most members of the audience seem to want that. They're coming home from a hard day at work and they want to relax. They want the bad guys to wear a black hat and the law man to wear a white hat.

People in the biz want TV to challenge them. They want complex story telling. They want characters that are good and bad. They're open to experimentation in narrative.

If I had to guess the most popular show in the TV industry right now, based on, say, Facebook posts, I would guess it's MAD MEN. And Christina Hendricks is on every magazine cover. In real life, MAD MEN is a critically acclaimed cable show with a pretty small audience. In real life, Snookie kicks Joan's ass.

For scripts, you can contact the production office and see if they're willing to help a writer out. Or try tracking down some of the writers on the show. They may have a strict policy about letting scripts out, they may not.


This is a huge question that must be very troublesome for writers---who are you writing for? Will execs buy because they like it or because they believe their audience will? I'm a newbie at looking at viewership stats---I'm wondering how good the demographics are behind the volume numbers. Who is watching TrueBlood? Who is, by contrast, watching The Closer? Who wants to park their brain most of the time and who want's to enjoy a challenging story, in demographic terms?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:32 AM  

In my experience, speccing a show that doesn't interest you, just because it is the current 'hot spec,' can really backfire. I've had good sucess through the years speccing shows I loved, and thus having the only one of its type stand out in a huge stack of "Sopranos" or whatever everyone else was doing.

"Rookie Blue" has been renewed for a second season, and it airs on ABC in the US, so why assume no one is watching it? How about an answer to the original question? In this specific case, I'd suggest contacting the show itself or one of the writers if you can -- they might be flattered by the request and interested in helping an aspiring writer. (I doubt the same applies at "Mad Men.") If you have an agent, they may be able to help you get scripts, as well.

By Blogger GH, at 10:42 AM  

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