There Is Something (Too) Seriously Wrong With The Way New Scripted [Fiction] TV Shows and Movies Are Made Today

by Herbie J Pilato

Everybody Mumbles And Looks The Same — Everything Is Too Edgy

I watched some new television show the other night because I always try to watch new TV shows and at least give them a chance.

But those chances are becoming far and few between because, sorry — I am simply and sadly repelled by the way some of these new shows are produced, presented and performed.

Exhibit A: What I Observed

Some dark character, on what is a dark show, was being tormented by some other dark character. And the one being tormented said something to their tormentor, though I’m not sure what — because the tormented character was grinding their teeth through every line of dialogue, amidst the scene being filmed in bleak, dingy cinematography with the constant annoying music score (i.e. “noise”!) that usually blares in the background of all new TV shows today.

So, much so, I screamed at the set, and said, “What? What are you saying?!! I can’t understand one word you’re saying…!

Read it all at Medium.Com

Writer/producer Herbie J Pilato is the host of the TV talk show THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, now streaming on Amazon Prime and the author of several pop-culture/media tie-in books. He has been part of TVWriter™ for over 20 years and is Contributing Editor Emeritus. Learn more about Herbie J HERE

Ken Levine on Developing Plots for the M*A*S*H TV Series

The Great Ken Levine gives us the inside scoop on the writing of MASH in one of the best -how-to columns we’ve ever seen.

by Ken Levine

MASH episodes tend to be complicated and I’m often asked how we plotted out stories. So here’s how we did it.

First off, we chose the best stories we could find – the most emotional, the most interesting the best possibilities for comedy. Plotting is worthless if you have a bad story. Chekhov would pull out his hair trying to make “B.J.’s Depression” work.

(Side note: stories where your lead character is depressed generally don’t work in comedy. Moping around is not conducive to laughs. Better to make them angry, frustrated, lovesick, impatient, hurt – anything but depressed… or worse, happy. Happy is comedy death.)

We got a lot of our stories from research – transcribed interviews of doctors, nurses, patients, and others who lived through the experience. But again, the key was to find some hook that would connect one of our characters to these real life incidents.

Some of these anecdotes were so outrageous we either couldn’t use them or had to tone them down because no one would believe them….

Read it all at

Listen to Ken’s podcast!

Larry Brody: Live! From Paradise! #90 “Dyeing”

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THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to  the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.

In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.

Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.

by Larry Brody

A couple of weeks ago I did something embarrassing.

I mean really embarrassing.

I dyed my hair.

And it’s all the fault of…well, I’d like to come up with some universal symbol of evil, but even though I’m as out of touch with myself as the next guy I know the sad truth: My own vanity’s to blame.

Thanks to the recent holidays, plus my birthday and requests for pictures from readers of this space, I’ve been forced to see myself through the lens of a variety of cameras. And my reaction every time has been the same:

“Who the !@#*! is that?”

Because—guess what?—that old boy with the dingy, washed out gray hair is not who I see in my mirror in the morning when I brush my teeth. Or reflected in the window of Sweet Jane’s antique shop whenever I peer into it to wave as I go by.

He couldn’t be.

What I see there is a man I know well. Myself. Thin face, slight smile, dark lines. A touch of my father in the mouth and jaw. A bit of my mother around the eyes.

Oh…and light brown hair.

So what’s this gray business in pictures? Is it a trick of the light—no matter where I am? A product of the flash going off—even when no flash is used? Do wicked little invisible Anxiety Spirits gather ‘round every time someone gets me in their rangefinder and do a quick tint just to drive me nuts?

It’s not that I mind aging. On the contrary, I’m proud of myself for having survived as long as I have considering the obstacles just plain old everyday life thrusts into our paths.

I’ve got no objection to the new spots on my face or the softening of my belly or the creasing of my skin. I’m aware of these and so many other symptoms of the fatal condition that is life. And I don’t think I’d mind the hair thing so much if it was, say, white or silver. Definitive. Strong.

Right out there.

Anything but this insidious, invisible-to-me-except-when-snapped gray.

Learning that other people have seen my hair in this flawed coloration for quite a while hasn’t exactly made me feel better either.

“Gray? Well, I guess I’d describe you as having gray hair,” said Sweet Jane said when I asked her. “But it’s not something I’d dwell on.”

Beside her, Brannigan the Contractor snickered. “Gray? Gray? Absolutely right your hair is gray! What do you mean you can’t see it? It’s right there all around your face!”

Then there was Gwen the Beautiful. “Yes, your hair is gray,” she said. And then, quickly, seeing the look on my face: “A beautiful shade of gray that I get to look at everyday.”

“How have I missed it?” I said. “Am I that blind to myself?”

“As a mother,” Gwen said, “I’ve learned that the best answer to that question is in an old poem. Something about ‘What a rare gift it is to see ourselves as others see us.’”

“The poet who wrote that didn’t mean it literally,” I protested. “He meant that we should know ourselves better. Our hearts. Our souls.”

“Well, then let me tell you what I’ve learned as a woman,” said Gwen. “If you don’t like what you see when you look at yourself, change it. And that’s pretty easy to do when all you’re talking about is the color of your hair.”

Which is how it came to pass that two weeks ago we went to Wal-Mart and laid out six bucks for a box of #60 Light Brown Acorn hair color. After which we came home and Gwen did the deed.

When she was finished I looked at myself in the mirror.

I looked the same.

Out came the digital Nikon. Snap. Snap. Snap.


And presto! There I was. Larry B with the light brown hair.

“I look the same,” I said.

But I don’t feel the same. And instead of feeling more like myself I feel less.

Because now, everywhere I go, without saying a word, I’m lying about how I look. About who I really am.

And you know the problem with telling a lie. Once you’ve started you’ve got to keep going, just to keep from being found out.

Wonder how much a brow lift will cost?

Hmm, I think I’ve just gotten past the shame….

10 Most Viewed TVWriter™ Posts of the Week – March 30, 2020

Good morning! Welcome to another new week at TVWriter™, starting with our latest look at the most popular blog posts and resource pages during the  last week.

They are, in order:

How To Write The Perfect TV Series Review To Captivate Your Readers

‘The Following’ Season 4 was Cancelled by Fox Because the TV Series Became a Victim of Lazy Writing!

Corporal Punishment and Primetime TV

Writing the Dreaded Outline

Herbie J Pilato On TV’s Wonder Couple, Lynda Carter and Lyle Waggoner


8 Tips for Writing for Children’s TV Shows

Supernatural Season 1 Finale – Recap and Review

The Outline/Story

The Silver Surfer

Big thanks to everybody for helping us have another terrific week at TVWriter™. Don’t forget to click above and read what you missed and re-read what you loved!

BBC to open up its Writers’ Academy to non-professionals

A couple of days ago we posted about how The Society of Authors in the UK is setting up a fund to help writers get through the financial problems that are part of the current worldwide Covid crisis.

Today we bring news of another way our British cousins are supporting our favorite art form – TV writing. Wow. Just wow.

The BBC is to throw open the doors of its Writers’ Academy to anyone who wants to have a shot at writing for television, in a move dubbed “X Factor for writers”.

In the past, only professional screenwriters have been allowed to apply to the academy, but in a bid to bring in voices from different backgrounds any budding writer will be able to try to follow in the footsteps of previous winners such as Killing Eve and The Victim writer Rob Williams.

The eight successful applicants will write for BBC Studios’ biggest shows such as EastEnders and Casualty, have lectures from writers such as Line of Duty’s Jed Mercurio and Years and Years writer Russell T Davies and get three months of paid training.

The move may be welcomed by those in self-isolation due to the coronavirus outbreak who are looking for something to focus on. Recently, stories have been shared about the creativity that has emerged from historical quarantines. William Shakespeare is thought to have penned King Lear during a plague outbreak and Sir Isaac Newton reportedly discovered gravity while in quarantine.

The head of the BBC Studios Writers’ Academy, John Yorke, said writing could help people cope with anxiety….

Read it all at

by Tara Conlan