Originally Posted by vfxproducer
I don't think its the writers. There are a LOT of good scripts out there that never get produced. You need to blame the development people at the studios. I see three major reasons why broadcast TV is so bad.
1) The people who are the gatekeepers, who decide which scripts get moved up the chain to the execs, are apparently all kids in their 20s. Whenever a development person goes to set during the filming of a pilot, they look like kids who just rolled out of bed from their sorority or fraternity. Half the time, I think they are interns who should be getting people coffee, until they are introduced as "Meet Joe from (fill in studio name here)" They simply haven't had enough life experience to learn good story telling from bad. They also haven't lived long enough to see what formats have been done a million times before that audiences might be bored with.
2) You'd be surprised at the differences between the original script for a pilot, and the script that actually gets on the air. And all the people in the process who had an opportunity to give the writer "notes" for "improving" the script. So the writers have to pick their battles. Some 'notes' they can deflect, but when the guys signing your paycheck keep asking you to make changes, you have no recourse but to accommodate some of them, if you still want to keep working. Even if the suggestions are outright stupid.
3) Writers don't have control of the final edit of a show, particularly a pilot. Remember that the cut for any TV show goes like this: The editor gets his/her cut, then the director, then the producers, then the studio gives notes, then the network. All along the way, other people are having their input about what makes the show funny or dramatic. And again, sometimes the people empowered by the studios and networks to give notes on the edit are MBAs with zero experience in story telling. And pilots have even more problems. They get shown to test audiences. And then the marketing dweebs who question the test audiences also get input about what the final show should be.
The end result is watered down pablum that often is only a shadow of the original concept.
One of the reasons old TV shows seemed to have better writing is that they had less interference from non creative types. The writers had a lot more control of their product. And the development people and network execs were story tellers, not just MBAs and glorified accountants. And the reason why cable nets like HBO seem to have better programming is that they are still run that way.
On the subject of Sleepy Hollow, we can take it off the list of potential cancellations. It just got picked up for a second season. Good for them.
Excellent post and it explains a lot. I have often wondered how some of these people get their jobs. Personally, I can watch something and have very little interest in it, but I can still see where it would appeal to others. If an exec can't do that, then he shouldn't be in that position.
If you are talking shows that may be canceled (and not shows that I like or dislike), then I would think Dads would be next. I could see Hostages(personally I like it) going downhill if people fall behind.
As for shows that I dislike that need to go, I think MJF and Sleepy Hollow. SH got renewed, but it is just the sort of crap that Fox thinks is good. I made it through one and a half episodes before I said good night.
I follow my friends theory of two in a row. When he reads a graphic novel and two in a row are bad, he drops it. I try to do the same with TV. I will give the Millers another chance, because I can see the potential and the two leads are great.