This is Exactly What Happens When I Pitch Television Shows

Joel Watson of Hijinks Ensue has captured my VERY ESSENCE. And also my Coke Zero. Which is apparently my VERY ESSENCE. Now you know!

I mentioned on Twitter the other day that I had pitched some TV shows to TV show types in Hollywood. As things do on Twitter, things quickly spiraled out of control. And involved a goat.

And that’s where Hijinks Ensue’s Joel Watson comes into with a cartoon retelling of my TV show adventures.

Every word of it is true. Except the nouns and the verbs, and most of the adjectives. But the conjunctions? They have the gritty tang of veracity.

Also, my wife says I am much more handsome than that cartoon version of me. Of course she is right.

I will note for completeness’ sake that Joel’s take on the titular character of my soon-to-be-in-production television show is actually the second version. Here is the first.

It’s fun when you think up weird crap and then The Internets just runs with it. Occasionally terrifying as well. But mostly fun.

36 Comments on “This is Exactly What Happens When I Pitch Television Shows”

  1. OMGoddess…. *laughs wildly* That’s beautiful – just beautiful! hehehehe. One of the authors with whom I occasionally work on editing gigs has told me some great Hollywood stories, too, but this one … that cartoon is HILARIOUS… not to mention that awesome picture of you with the fuzzy, yellow crown… This all was JUST what I needed to get me rolling before I head off to the doctor’s office… :-D

  2. Is it wrong that I now what to see ‘Sherlock Holmes, Vampire Goat’? Just a short animated skit would be fine.

    But who would be best to voice the characters?

  3. I see your character has the ubiquitous, in cartoons, “glasses eyes”. That’s where the eyes (and lids) seem to be more part of the glasses than the person’s head. I mean, do your eyes come off when you take off your glasses?

    Sorry, just an early-morning observation.

  4. Funny, that’s the same thing they said about Star Trek (and probably The Big Bang Theory too).

    No wonder so many of us have abandoned TV for books…

  5. What happens when your Vampire Goat fights a Chupacabra? You’ve got goats on the brain lately John. I won’t be at all surprised when the planet of the goat people shows up in The Human Division.

  6. How about a sitcom about the zany life of a science fiction author living in Ohio. I hear Harry Anderson is still looking for work.

  7. Hey, wait a minute. They told Roddenberry that Star Trek was too cerebral. Look where that went. John, you’re almost a billionaire. I’m going to dress like a Consu at the first ever Old Man’s War convention.*

    *Plans subject to change based on whether Jim wants to ever have sex with his wife again and how this might impact it.

  8. Two words Johnny: REALITY SHOW. Its the only sure way to get eyeballs in todays video market. You gotta set up cameras around your house & stage actions with the wife & kid. Maybe have one set of neighbors play the disgusting hillbillys coming over to “bar-ie a cup a molasses fer makin moonshine”. You could have Jesse James, Honey Boo Boo and those two assclowns that build motorcycles just happen to drop by. Heck, I bet there are Amish in Ohio they are hot on TLC right now and you could load up your office so people could help you overcome your hoarding.

    Stick with me Johnny – the future is so bright your gonna need sunglasses!

  9. The thing that really made LOL was the zombie honey badger. Naturally Watson will run on Linux…

  10. I approve of anything that quotes community. I do feel the need to clarify, though. Does the use of that phrase imply that Sherlock Holmes, Vampire Goat will be as magnificent and glorious as The Cape?


  11. I wonder what the acceptance rate is for TV show pitches to even get past the pitch? Its probably really low. I would also think that Sci-Fi type shows have a much lower acceptance rate due in part to the cost of producing them.

  12. Because of shit like Honey Boo Boo my tv remains thoroughly off. Give me something to think about and I might turn it back on, and even watch an ad or two.

    Love the cartoons, both of them.

  13. I don’t recall who wrote it or where I read it — though I believe it was a mystery writer — but the essay he or she wrote on selling to Hollywood recommended meeting the movie people in the desert at the California/Arizona border, at a literary/movie Checkpoint Charlie. You toss your story to their side of the border, they toss money to your side. And everybody walks away. Very quickly.

  14. No idea how TV studios are run… but the downward spiral favoring idiocy in TV shows is faster even than that exhibited amongst the European Royals suggestive of too much inbreeding amongst the studio decision-makers.

  15. …wondering how many versions of “Sherlock Holmes: Vampire Goat” we see nominated for Hugos next year…


    “Yes, Holmes, but _Why_ does it taste of Murder?”

    “Baah. Beahhh.”

    “A hint of lilac in the blood? Uh, you’re eating the evidence again, Sherlock…”

  16. I almost asked the Google who/what Honey Boo Boo is, but decided I was better off being unenlightened on that point.

    (And if any of you try to explain it here LA LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU LA LA.)

  17. It’s not that reality shows get tons of people to watch them, it’s that they’re cheap to make. And the quote from the satirical TV exec is exactly the reason even though I work in The Industry and can write off my cable bill, I will be cancelling next month. I’m not paying $50 for the privilege of having trash on in the background while I wait for HBO to take my $20 for decent programming. Especially when my TBR pile is as high as it is now.

  18. Maybe you can twist this backwards like Rosemary Sutcliff reverse engineered the Arthurian myth with Sword at Sunset? A vampire goat sleuth. There are possibilities here. Hmm, M-theory might help.

  19. John, John, John….
    You forgot to couch it in terms of “X meets Y”.
    You know…”It’s SGU meets Honey Boo Boo…with vampire goat detectives!”
    That would have gotten them to sit up and take notice.

  20. Wow for kicks I goggled Honey Boo Boo. I honestly thought it was some sort of internet meme. Never in my wildest nightmares did I expect it to be a show actually on air. I feel stupider for knowing this now so thanks a bunch. This just confirms the wisdom of watching just a select group of channels. Unfortunately that includes the Sci Fi channel as well.

  21. PLEASE keep pitching shows! I LOVE shows that are “too cerebral”! I also loved Joel’s take on the Sherlock Vampire Goat –with a nod to the Benedict Cumberpatch version –which is actually one of the more cerebral crime shows out there (IMO). So….”too cerebral…” is this what caused the death of Stargate Universe? Because it was the BEST incarnation of the Stargate series, again, IMO. Stupid whiny people complaining about it being “too dark.” I NEED more darkness! Go watch kittens on FB if you want fluffy and light! -_-

  22. You receive the +5,000 “Mallet of Goat-Slaying Awesomeness” for prompting that comic.

    Oh… and zombie-honey-badgers… they’re the next big thing. I foresee a movie deal there! Spielberg! Lucas! Oh… Wait… That would inevitably result in zombie-honey-badgers-in-a-fridge… Er… Maybe you can do a deal with Aronofsky, craft something more cerebral? Honey-badgers-with-power-tools? OK… Work with me here… “Requiem for a Honey Badger”… Anyone?

    Oh. come on, you know you want to see that!

  23. I just noticed you’re drinking Romulan ale in your next author photo.

    @ Frankly

    Stick with me Johnny – the future is so bright your gonna need sunglasses!

    Step aside, good people, it’s the assholes on parade :)

    @ Kristi

    Because of shit like Honey Boo Boo my tv remains thoroughly off.

    You mean there’s really something called Honey Boo Boo? No, wait, never mind, I don’t want to know. [not kidding]

    What is this “tee-vee” of which you speak? [mostly kidding]

    @ SFreader

    No idea how TV studios are run… but the downward spiral favoring idiocy in TV shows is faster even than that exhibited amongst the European Royals suggestive of too much inbreeding amongst the studio decision-makers.

    @ Donna Leonard

    So….”too cerebral…” is this what caused the death of Stargate Universe?

    Just when it was starting to go somewhere.

    Because it was the BEST incarnation of the Stargate series, again, IMO.

    For my money, the strength of SGU was that they tried to do something different. SG1 was awesome, taking the innovative idea behind a craptacular movie and making something worthwhile out of it. But the show played the idea out. Stargate Atlantis had a few good episodes and two or three characters like McKay and Weir that were decent, but they were flogging a dead horse. SGU didn’t try to compete with SG1 any more than SG1 tried to compete with Star Trek. Instead, they attempted something new. IMHO, the only weakness was that they were too slow to start revealing that the show had a larger arc to tell. Episodic television just doesn’t sell like it once did.

  24. Donna: ….”too cerebral…” is this what caused the death of Stargate Universe?

    I watched it from the beginning but eventually gave up.

    The plots contained within each episode were fairly good. The thing that caused the death of SU for me was the long term plots were borderline silly. The biggest and most important long-term plot[1] was whether the main scientist was really trying to get them home or if he was really trying to keep them lost, keep them away from earth, for his own personal reasons. Was he a danger or was he an asset?

    If you have a bunch of people on an airliner flying at 30,000 feet, and suddenly some mad scientist jumps up and starts trying to open the door, screaming that he’s trying to save everyone, the immediate reaction will be for a dozen or so people to tackle him, tie him down, and keep the door shut. When he’s tied down and starts screaming about how they have to open the door because (insert mumbo jumbo) or they’ll all die, they’re not going to just go “Oh, maybe we should let this guy run around with free reign just in case he has our best interests at heart”.

    Hell no.

    But that’s essentially what all the other characters did on SU.

    It seemed liek the writers were trying to create a long-term-mystery within SU as to whether or not the main scientist was trying to help or harm. But no one, especially a cadre of military personel, would sit on their asses and just let this guy run amok, when if the answer to that mystery swung one way, he might end up getting everyone killed. It made the show entirely unbelievable for me.

    [1] Writers: Is there a term to distinguish “long term plot” versus “episode level plot”?

  25. @ Greg

    Actually, it’s more like if you have a bunch of per-industrial Europeans on an airline flying un-piloted at 30,000 feet away from Europe, lunatics in other aircraft trying to board it, and Leonardo da Vinci jumps up and starts trying to open the door while the others are trying to talk him into fixing the magic portal back to per-industrial Europe. But other than that, exactly the same…

  26. @ Greg

    I think screen writers call long-term plots “arc plots”, but I’m not sure.

    @ John Scalzi

    Sorry for the double-post. Didn’t notice Greg’s footnote until I’d posted my reply to him.

    *chants in supplication* “All the heavenly posts are one; forgive me moderator for I have double-posted!” *prostrates before computer display*

  27. Any one on this thread who hasn’t read Three Bags Full, which is a murder mystery featuring a flock of sheep as the detectives, should go do so right now. I’ll wait.

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