Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Gah! I’ve been memed!

So it seems that Josh and Adam have prodded me out of my apathetic oblivion, and forced me post again. It was bound to happen sooner or later. The meme in question:…Why do I write TV?

Let me start by answering a different question: why do I love TV?

Watching TV was something I always did. Usually it was a family thing; every Sunday night, we would always gather around the television for the latest episode of Alias, tense with excitement at every commercial break. The commercial break was one of the most important times for us; we’d use the time to process the events of the episode so far, and trade theories for what would happen next. My mom was usually right.

As an aside, this is why I’ve never bought the argument that television is bad for you. I certainly think it has the potential to be bad, but it all depends on how it’s used. We never vegged out on the couch and channel surfed—TV was something that was always scheduled, and always done together. Some families have game night. Some families go out to sports games. But for my family, we watched TV together—whether it was the Cosby Show and Full House, Alias and the West Wing, or the big granddaddy of them all: Star Trek.

Some of my best Childhood memories were spent on the couch—and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I know for a fact that I’m much closer to my mother especially because of television. Even now, every time we talk on the phone, after we get past the part about my siblings and old friends, the conversation always turns to the latest episode of Battlestar or Lost, and we do the same thing that we did long ago: trade theories…except now I’m usually right.

Even though I’d always loved TV, but it wasn’t until college that I realized I wanted to pursue it as a career. I had come in to college with some sort of nebulous ambition to be a director or writer or something—just so long as it was in film. And so I spent almost two years watching and making films, and even went through a short-lived pretentious film student phase. If you’d heard of it, I didn’t like it. But after a while I wised up and began watching television again, on the wondrous invention known as DVD.

There are two particular TV-watching moments in college that were specifically defining. The first came while watching “firefly” during my freshman year. Like everyone else, I didn’t hear about the show until it was already cancelled and on DVD, and also like everyone else, once I sat down and started watching it, I couldn’t think about anything else. It was smart, it was funny, it was exciting—I hadn’t loved anything this much since I’d been at college, even though I was being exposed to mind-blowing movies every week in film class. It was the point when I decided to watch another episode rather than work on a film paper due the next morning that I realized: I liked TV more than movies.

Which begged the obvious question: if I liked TV more than movies, then why was I going to school for film? Well, strictly speaking, I wasn’t. My school didn’t (and still doesn’t) have a film major—the degree I am patiently waiting for even now is a B.A. in Communication, with a concentration in film studies. But regardless, why wasn’t I learning about television? I eventually finished the film paper, but that question continued to bug me for a while. Until I reached the other defining TV-watching moment. I’ll give you a hint: it involves single-malt scotch and high-class cigarettes.

Battlestar Galactica seemed like a show made specifically for me, and only me. While there were other people who watched it, I knew that it wasn’t really their show. It was mine. It had everything that a show should have: all of the complex character-centered storylines that my film-concentration-educated brain wanted to see, while miraculously joining that with all the spaceships, robots, and military campaigns that my 12-year-old brain desperately needed to see.

I devoured the first season—only to find that it was over after 13 episodes. I had to wait over 2 months before new episodes aired, and that simply wouldn’t do. So, partly as an excuse to re-watch the episodes, I downloaded this new-fangled thing called a “pod-cast”.

And it quite literally changed my life.

I don’t say that to be overly dramatic, although it does come off that way. I just mean that I would most likely not be doing what I’m doing right now were it not for that podcast. Listening to Ron Moore’s frank discussion of the actual business of making a show— discarded story elements that didn’t make the final cut, the proper placement of this act break or that plot revelation, and most of all the act of “breaking a story” in “the room”—is what made me decide to write for TV. And the more I read about the process of television writing (especially from Jane, Alex, and Lisa), the more I realized that it was what I needed to do.

So basically, I blame it all on my mom, Joss Whedon, and Ron Moore. When I’m penniless and sleeping on the street, with only a “House” spec to keep me warm, I’ll lay three equal portions of blame at their feet. Until then, I’ll keep writing, I’ll keep blogging (no really, I will!), and I’ll keep living the dream.

And now for the tagging.
1. Carlo Conda
2. Peter Rowley
3. Jill Golick
4. Jane Espenson

And last, but not least:

5. Ron Moore. I know he doesn’t read my blog, but on the off chance that he does, it could get him to update some time this year.

4 comments:

Josh said...

Because Ron's not busy or anything ;)

Jill said...

"only a House spec to keep you warm"! Funny. I've done this meme, tag me on the next one.

Adam said...

Great post. I've never bought the argument that TV is bad for you either. Like you said, it can be harmful if used in the wrong way... but really, television offers such a breadth of creativity and humor that I see it as a valuable and integral part of our culture.

I saw on your profile that you're interning at a TV studio? That is awesome. I would love to try to do that sometime, although I'm majoring in English and not Communication :\. Any pointers?

Laura said...

2 months, Matthew. 2 months.