munchman: Who’s Afraid of DOWNTON ABBEY?

…The writer of this article, for one. ‘Cuz, you know, if DOWNTON ABBEY wins one or two or a dozen, that’s one or two or a dozen fewer for good ole Ammurican shows:

Somebody’s Brit Granny but not mine

Emmys 2012: How ‘Downton Abbey’ might affect the drama races
by Rick Porter

When the Emmy nominations are announced on July 19, you’ll probably see quite a few repeat nominees. It’s what the Emmys does, to a large extent, and as discussed previously, it’s unlikely that any new shows not named “Homeland” will get a bucketful of nominations.

There is one returning show, however, that has the potential to shake up several races: “Downton Abbey.” PBS’ British import is moving from the movie/miniseries field to the drama series categories this year, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the show come close to matching the 11 nominations it received in 2011.

If “Downton” scores a big nomination haul, though, that means other shows and performers might get left out in the cold.

Read it all

Do you suppose this guy knows he’s a chickenshit moron? Or does he just think he’s chickenshit? Cuz morons never seem to catch on that the point of this article is absurd because of course the caliber of the competition dictates who or what wins. That’s the %$#@! point.


MODERN FAMILY Exec Prod Writes a Book About Writing Comedy

We’re hoping that it’s at least, you know, funny.

Everything you ever needed to know about comedy
by Ken Levine

Dan O’Shannon is one of the executive producers of MODERN FAMILY.  He was a showrunner of FRASIER and an executive producer of CHEERS.  The man knows funny.  Recently he wrote a terrific book called WHAT ARE YOU LAUGHING AT?  A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO THE COMEDIC EVENT.   Somehow he managed to explain comedy, which to me is harder than trying to describe the color red over the radio.   As insane as it is to plug someone else’s book when I’m still shamelessly hawking mine (available here — go buy it), I really recommend Dan’s book (which you can order here).  Recently, I had the chance to talk to him about it.

What possessed you to write this book?

Like many who actually create comedy, I occasionally see books and articles that academics write about humor. And like many who create it, I find most of it tone deaf. It’s like reading about bicycle riding from someone who’s never been on a bike. One day I asked myself how I would define and analyze comedy, if I was so smart?

It seems like such an enormous undertaking. Explaining the world might’ve been easier. How did you go about organizing this bad boy?

A lot of people start right in analyzing joke structures. I chose to analyze the comedic event, which includes the study of context, as well as structure, content, and transmission. And I relentlessly asked myself questions: What changes in social context or delivery might enhance or inhibit the laugh? How does being part of an audience make you laugh differently than when you’re alone? How does being in the presence of the source of the comedy enhance or inhibit response? How can a joke be funnier through repetition and then stop being funny and then start being funny? Why do things cease to be funny? Four years of stand-up followed by twenty-seven years in sitcoms provided me with thousands and thousands of hours of experimentation.

Read it all

OMFG, what if this book, regardless of whether or not it’s funny, is actually helpful? How cool would that be? Someone read this baby and write us a review.

Whatie Looks at Amazon Studios (PART 2)

by Whatie

In part 1, I talked about the concept behind Amazon Studios and what I liked about the new approach.  Here’s what I don’t like.

Of course, Amazon Studios has taken the new “crowd power” mentality all the way home, as well. Originally, when a writer posted a project on Amazon Studios, that writer automatically agreed to allow anyone at all to revise the script and upload a new version of it. Of course, that revision did not replace the original; both versions would sit on Amazon Studios to collect comments, and people could read them both and decide which one they liked better. Now, the revised Amazon Studios TOS says that writers may opt either to allow anyone to create revisions or to “control” who can make revisions by making the upload of that project’s revisions an invite-only process.

Frankly, I hate this. Comments and critique are one thing, but letting some random stranger take my stuff and rework it pushes every control-issue button I have. Sure, as anyone savvy in the television industry will point out, once a sale is made, there’s always a chance – no, make that a likelihood – that somebody will make changes to my work that I cannot control or stop. The difference there is that this happens AFTER the sale has been made. I have given up my rights to creative control when I signed it over.

At Amazon Studios, you agree to give up your control before you’ve made a sale, and there’s no guarantee a sale will ever take place. (In fact, if you look at percentage odds of how many projects go on Amazon Studios compared to how many Amazon Studios actually buys, well, the odds are not in your project’s favor.) Not only that, but the doors are way too wide: literally anyone can mangle your script to taste and post it for all to see, anyone at all. Someone could take your poignant love story and throw in aliens invading the wedding to do anal probing.

You might simply suggest that a writer like me could opt to make a project’s revisions invite-only and avoid that problem entirely. Well, technically, that is true; however, in practice, it is not. I have come to the conclusion that writers who make use of this option get lower ratings than their piece otherwise deserves, accompanied with sharper public comments. If you believe that the Amazon gods in charge actually give weight to the ratings and comments, then that means said writer has damaged the project’s chances by making this choice.

Such writers may also get private harassment (through the IM system) from people I dub “crowdheads” who fervently believe that such behavior is both selfish and outdated, and therefore makes you both a bad person and a loser who cannot get anywhere in this modern information-sharing world. Mind you, none of these crowdheads are professional writers, but they certainly know more than you do about what it takes to succeed in the professional world. (Well, okay, sarcasm aside, they probably do have a better handle on what it takes to succeed on Amazon Studios, since they embody the philosophy behind the new approach.)

On the plus side, I have to say that, out of all the television projects I have looked at on Amazon Studios so far, none of them have actually been revised by someone other than the original writer. That’s right: not a single one. None. Zero. Many people have left some very helpful comments and critiques, sometimes including some explicit suggestions for how that person would fix this or that issue or line, but not a single one has gone so far as to upload a revision.

So, you know, maybe the boogey man isn’t so scary, after all.


io9 Always Comes Through…

…With interesting and thought-provoking posts – even if you aren’t a science fiction fan. (See, it’s supposed to be an s-f site, and…)

Which new TV show will be your crack? Our First Impressions!
by Charlie Jane Anders

Every year, television offers you a herd of new shows. Some will become your new favorite series, while others will earn your everlasting hate. And our first clues as to which are which come from the pilots. Last night at San Diego Comic Con, we watched the pilots for five new TV shows — including Arrow and Eric Kripke’s Revolution.

Here’s our spoiler-lite round-up of our early reactions to five shows that are coming to your screens soon…The usual caveats apply — what we were shown last night were probably early cuts of these pilots, and they may change a lot before they air. And these are just our initial impressions.

Read it all

Are we hungover? Stoned? Still  asleep? All these shows sound great. Can it be that TV is finally understanding the genre? Or is Charlie Jane Anders simply the most wonderfully enthusiastic writer on the web since…since…hmm, don’t think we’ve ever read a “wonderfully enthusiastic writer on the web.”

Supernatural Season 1 Finale – Recap and Review


**This episode originally aired in May 2006. If you are unfamiliar with the series, be aware this review contains spoilers.**

 “I coulda killed you a hundred times today. But this, this was worth the wait.” John Winchester

I have to be honest, it wasn’t the easiest thing in the world sitting through this entire season. After the first few episodes I had basically given up on the show. It’s not that it was all together bad, I just wasn’t that interested in the “ghost of the week” angle. The only thing that kept me going was the hope that things might pick up if and when they found their father. And thankfully, it did. The back-half of this season really pushed the show to a new level and the finale “The Devil’s Trap”  sealed the deal.

When Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) finally catch up with their father, John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), things take an interesting turn. They track down the Colt, a badass demon killing pistol built by Samuel Colt himself, and use it in the search for the Demon that killed their mother. John gets himself captured but Sam and Dean manage to rescue him. Unfortunately, it’s no longer John. Dean discovers his father is now possessed, by none other then the very Demon they’ve been hunting.

He starts using his demon magic to squeeze the life out of Dean, but Sam manages to grab the Colt and shoot John in the leg. It’s enough of a wound to expel the demon but not enough to kill him. However, John refuses to let the demon leave and demands that Sam kill them both to finally end their chase and exact revenge. Sam considers it but can’t bring himself to kill his own father. As a result the demon escapes and the three Winchester men leave injured and generally bummed out.

The season ends with a shocking and captivating cliffhanger. As they make their way to the hospital, an 18 wheeler unexpectedly crashes into the side of their car leaving all three bloody, unconscious, and completely at the mercy of the demon possessed man inside the truck.

I literally gasped watching that final scene. And how often do you get to legitimately gasp? Throughout season one they managed to provide enough depth and character development (a rarity for the CW) to make me really care about what was happening. This show has its hits and misses, and it certainly isn’t for everyone. But the last few episodes of the season really make for some exciting television.

So if there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call?


(Sorry, I had too)

Season 1

Thinking Man Rating: 11 Thumbs Up


Thinking Man Rating: 15 Thumbs Up

**Be aware the Thinking Man rating system is based on awesomeness and should be disregarded if you are not now, or have never been, awesome.**