Scalzi Comic Dare: All My Sweet Pitches

HijiNKS ENSUE PODCAST Episode 87 “” is live!

Alternate Title: Pitch Slapped
Alternate Alternate Title: Pitch Slapped 2: Pitch Better Have My Money

In the past, only Wil Wheaton has been deemed worthy to wield the power of THE COMIC DARE. This week, however, another was found who possessed the strength of will and the Strength Of Wil (TM) required to harness The Comic Dare’s awesome might and use it for its most righteous purpose: SAYING DUMB STUFF ON TWITTER THEN FORCING ME TO DRAW IT! That person, the Beta Ray Bill to Wheaton’s mighty Thor is noted sci-fi author, Internet opinions haver, and celebrated balding ukester JOHN SCALZI (hold for applause).

Scalzi occasionally finds himself in the precarious position of being asked by TV executives how to put things on our watching boxes that are not overwhelming terrible, reprehensible and offensive. So far they don’t seem to be taking his advice to heart. He had just one such meeting earlier this week at which he pitched original ideas for shows, and clarified via INTERNET SHOUTING that said shows would not involve “goats, vampires or sleuths with mental issues.” As we all know, these are the three cornerstones of modern televised shenanigans. Well, the last two are. The goats… must be an Ohio thing. Subsequently he issued the challenge to bring Sherlock: Vampire Goat to life and I, obliged by my 1000 year curse… uh, obliged.

TV is at an all-time weirdness juncture. It is currently producing fictional dramas and comedies that will certainly go down in history as “the best things humanity was able to accomplish before The Fire Ocean cleansed the Earth of all Mankind” (Breaking Bad, Sherlock, Game Of Thrones, Community). But it is also falling prey to a dangerous trend in which networks do not simply steal genre ideas from each other (“You got a cop show, a medical show and a medical cop show? We got those too! Suck it!”), but they now steal ENTIRE SHOWS from each other and put them on the air AT THE SAME TIME. Sherlock is a modernized version of A.C.D.’s Holmes and it is essentially perfect. CBS saw that show and thought, “Yeah! Let’s do exactly that right now while they’re still doing it try to stop us you can’t HAHAHAHAH!” And now we will soon have Elementary. House M.D. (which was also based on Holmes… so in addition to the remaking current shows epidemic, we also have the “Every show is about Sherlock Holmes” epidemic) was off the air for many 15 minutes before another 3 or 4 “I’m kind of crazy, but also brilliant, but it’s my craziness that lets me see the world in a particular way and catch things others miss and it also makes relationships hard and it also makes me seem like a jerk because I am” shows got the green light. Perception is the only one that comes to mind immediately, but I am almost certain and totally unwilling to further research that there are more. LOTS more. Is Numb3rs still on TV?

At least every network tried their hand at the “fairytales are totally real” genre this year. Vampires? Forget about it. The CW just started making “Twilight: The Horrible Show on TV instead of the HORRIBLE movies in the theater” before Edward even married that werewolf frankenstein or whatever happens in those things. I know that doesn’t fit the premise I’m trying to establish because I don’t think there are any other vampire romance shows besides The Vampire Diaries… oh wait, Trueblood. There you go. I’m still right.

Anyway, what I’m saying is that televised fiction is currently straddling the finest of lines between its crowning achievement and it’s most uninspired dreck.  There’s lots of middle ground, but most of it is so unremarkable it isn’t worth mentioning. By not being quite as bad and the worst stuff on the air, it becomes wholly forgettable. Save us, Scalzi! Save us from the Hollywood Industrial Machine that you are now apparently a part of! Oh, and call me about SH:VG. I’ve got some ideas for Moriarty.

COMMENTERS: Feel free to pitch your own “Current TV Trend Mashup” show idea.  

UPDATE: Scalzi speaks. 

Posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , .


  1. Apparently Charlie Sheen's sitcom is signed for 90 episodes already. I really, really wish I was kidding. Community is barely struggling but HIS SHIT is set for the next 3 years?!

  2. You should really give The Vampire Diaries a shot. It's a remarkable show. I was extremely incredulous going in–I started watching it for research on my thesis–and for the first four or five episodes it definitely seems to conform to all your worst suspicions. But the series quickly found its footing, and it is, I firmly believe, one of the best genre shows on TV right now.

    True Blood, on the other hand, is fucking atrocious. That show is painful to watch.

    • I'm going to need you to post your home address, because on the basis of your word I am going to watch the first season. If it is not good, I'm going to mail you a riled honey badger. (Note: please do not actually post your address)

    • I have heard much the same opinion of Teen Wolf. I admit to being exceedingly skeptical. And, I currently have enough shows to keep up with, and an ever-growing backlog of "I really ought to catch up on that series some day". So, I probably will skip testing these assertions.

    • Goddammit, you know. It iS horrible, but I just cant get enough of Sookie Stackhouse and her misadventures. It's retarded how much I like that stupid, stupid show.

      • But…but…she has the name…of a cliche hooker…I tried to watch it…I tried to watch…the first time I heard the one dude say "Sookeh" I couldn't take it seriously…. >< Besides, I watch the UK (read: PROPER) Being Human, that is enough vampire for me.

      • I can guaranteed you, I am not telling you that. Do not watch True Blood. At its very best, it was a not-especially-compelling hodge podge of all the standard vampire tropes; at its worst, it is the dumbest fucking thing I have ever seen.

        • I liked True Blood for the first 3 seasons, then it became a real mess. If you read the books, you would believe the show is a masterpiece in comparison! Charlene Harris created an interesting world, but her writing style is simplistic and kind of boring. The only other vampire series I have read is some of the Anita Blake books (stopped reading when the books became orgy-fests)….so I have no idea if the Twilight or Vampire Diaries books are any good.

          Vampire Diaries and Teen Wolf are enjoyable genre tv, don't know if I would recommend them…..
          The UK version of Being Human is much better (Seasons 1-3, Season 4 is crap).

      • Y, think I managed to suffer through almost the first 3 seasons with the thinking "It got boobs"…

        And it actually did, it had boobs, right?… and some bush I think as well?… So when a show like that can't keep me watching… it simply doesn't have enough boobs….

        Did I just talk about boobs there?… Wow… This comment is becoming just as interesting as the show it self… hmmmm…. BOOOBS!

  3. CW is apparently doing a high school monster drama called Copeland Prep with Bret Easton Ellis, Josh Schwartz and Catherine Hardwicke developing it. More teen creature angst on the way.

  4. I would love a show about a cannibal (not really, he just occasionally nibbles on murder victims and other gross evidence) cop and his superior-shagging cyborg partner, solving bizarre food-related crimes in post-deadly avian flu world where chicken is banned! Starring Ken Leung and Josh Holloway with supporting character cast full of vampires, weirdoes and a murderous luchador rooster..

  5. The only Sherlock rip off that really works on its own was the re-imagined Dirk Gently series, which was spoofing it, and the BBC cancelled it too :o(

    • The Dirk Gently series is NOT a spoof of the Sherlock series. It is another BBC show, based on ACTUAL BOOKS written by the late, great, dearly missed Douglas Addams (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy).

      • Yes, the characters are based on the much loved Adams novels, however the series drew from other sources as well and were deliberately shot in a manner to spoof and mirror BBC One's series Sherlock (which is one of the reason's it was on BBC Four). If you look at them you'll see that it was set up so that where ever Sherlock zigged, Dirk Gently zagged.

      • Yeah, but it was only four episodes long (three episodes and the pilot, but the pilot is in-continuity and doesn't differ the way pilots usually do). It was intended to mirror Sherlock on BBC One with each series being three episodes long, but BBC Four lost its budget for anything except documentaries in a round of short-sighted cost cutting so it only got one series. It follows the format of alternating sci-fi mystery with conventional mystery. Pilot is sci-fi, then a conventional for Ep1, Ep2 Sci-fi again, Ep3 conventional.

        Of course, when I say conventional it's filtered through Dirk's personal idiom of bizarre chaos and tangled explanations which make sense to no one.

      • It was kind of meh. None of the characters were like the characters from the books. The one episode/series that was based on the actual book had been changed so much it was more like snapshots of the novel.

        And Emily whatsername essentially reprised her role from Friends for this (minus the insecurity) making me just not like her at all.

        If you're going to 'base' a TV show on a book and not follow the actual story in the book, you should at least keep the characters the same otherwise you've just bought a bunch of familiar names.

  6. I always find comments like "there is so much mediocre stuff nowadays" to be odd. Maybe it's just an age thing, I dunno. But, it's not like the '80's were wall-to-wall brilliant TV. Commercial art always follows the bell curve. Some of it is so painfully bad that you question whether WWIII isn't a valid cure. Some of it is so amazingly good that you want to wrap it around yourself like a big fluffy blanket of awesome. The vast majority of it, though, ranges from "tolerable" to "pretty good". Whether that's a result of us as consumers automatically rescaling to fit the current offerings or producers shooting for a sweet spot that is more geared towards getting viewers to not turn it off than to specifically seek it out.

      • Of course, there's WAY more stuff that exists now that didn't exist in the 80's. Disregarding the accumulative nature of media, and even ignoring the massive entertainment generator that is the Internet, how many more TV channels are there now than there were thirty years ago? And with that explosion of content, the quantity of bad stuff gets multiplied.

        • Not only that, but it was such a hassle to get up and change the channel. I don't know about you, but I think some things in the 80's got ratings because people were too lazy to get off their asses and change the channel…. Plus ugh, MASH and Carebears reruns RUINED 80's sundays for me, gyah!

  7. Homeland is essentially "I am Bipolar and that's what makes me a brilliant CIA agent" , but because it's on Showtime, it's Crazy=Brilliant, now with more TITTIES!
    Oh, guys! BY THE WAY! It's Inara's (Morena Baccarin) titties, so at least check that part out.
    Drama is slim pickins for the fall line-up, but I am going to give Revolution a chance.

  8. THE DEATH FACTOR: A reality show in which every season one of the contestants is murdered and the others spend the next 8 (16 shows) weeks trying to solve the mystery. Celebrity judges provide clues and the TV audience votes off one of the bottom two "detectives" every other episode. The winner (even if the murderer wins!) gets to become an Arizona governor.

  9. I’m really enjoying “Perception,” but it strikes me as more derivative of “The Mentalist” than “House” to me. Well, “The Mentalist” meets “Monk.” Meets “I can’t tell the difference between reality and the voices in my head” (I’m told this tracks “A Beautiful Mind” pretty well, but I haven’t seen that yet — so I’m going to cite “Eli Stone” instead).

    And in the “Fairytales are real” camp, I’m surprised you left out “Once Upon a Time” (meh) and “Grimm” (which has some real potential).

    • I was going to mention "Monk" too. Great series, very watchable even today.

      “I’m kind of crazy, but also brilliant, but it’s my craziness that lets me see the world in a particular way and catch things others miss and it also makes relationships hard and it also makes me seem like a jerk because I am” certainly fits Monk to a T, lol. Although he's not really that much of a jerk. Except when he is. XD

      • Jeff Goldblum was in a show called Raines in 2007 that sadly was cancelled. There were moments of brilliance and real potential. If you like Monk, try finding some episodes of Raines (episode 2 is my favourite).

      • Yeah, your whole description of that style of detective show actually made me think instantly of Law & Order: Criminal Intent. I bet 20 of us on this comment board could think of a different show that fits that description.

        Whenever you get something seriously unique and different on the air like Pushing Daisies, however, it gets cancelled like it was written by Joss Whedon or something. With a *vengeance*.

    • I watched the first 8 or so eps of GRIMM and I just found it to be too silly. Every time they went into "He's a BEE-man so he needs to do BEE STUFF!" territory I just couldnt take it seriously. I like the main guy (Man-Buffy) well enough, but I hate his partner. The werewolf BFF was the best part. The idea of a secret demon world within our own is great, but I think it suffered from poor execution overall. I think they should have stuck with one main demon species as the big bad instead of the "animal themed monster of the week" format.

  10. He's a time-traveling supergenius from an alien world who thought he was the last of his species…until his half brother from Earth came knocking on his police box door! Now our good Doctor will have to deal with his half-human, half-Time Lord brother, and his brother's precocious pre-teen son! Join us this fall for Doctor Who and a Half Man, on Fox!

  11. Is it a rumour, but has SyFy (spit!!!) Not putting out a call for scripted shows for next season? No mash up idea in my noggin yet. However, the idea that there will be four 'toddlers and tiara" type shows on cable by next spring makes me want to punch kittens.

  12. Personally I didn't think Numb3rs was in any way related to House, I stuck it over with the CSIs as a crime drama rather than a medical drama. WP calls it a police procedural.

  13. I cannot tell you how jealous I am that you hang out with John Scalzi, especially since he's spent a long time in a town only a few miles from where I grew up, AND used the town name in his novel. Curse you!

    • Scalzi is one of those guys that I was introduced to, sat down to dinner with and within about 4 minutes realized we were going to be friends. I am incredibly grateful to get to hang out with him. He's a super genuine and hilarious guy.

  14. Let's see…

    I am a reformed con man.. now I solve crimes (The Mentalist)
    I am a forensic anthropologist… now I solve crimes (Bones)
    I am a writer.. now I solve crimes (Castle)
    I am a math genius.. now I solve crimes (Numb3rs)
    I am OCD.. now I solve crimes (Monk)
    I am a paranoid schizophrenic.. now I solve crimes (Perception)
    I am a chess grandmaster.. now I solve crimes (Endgame)
    I am a telepathic paramedic.. now I solve crimes (The Listener)

    .. and so on.
    In all fairness… I really like Castle and Perception.. but I fully admit what they are.

    • What's amusing is that same description for Castle could be applied to Murder She Wrote. Now I'm picturing Nathan Fillion as an elderly grandmother type.

      • Endgame is awesome! Both Endgame and the Listener are filmed in Canada, but I believe they are both aired on US networks too.

        I am a former workaholic heart surgeon…now I solve crimes (Body of Proof)
        I am a layabout son of a detective….(Psych)
        I am a white collar criminal…(White Collar)

    • I am a psychic… now I solve crimes (Medium)
      I am an apolitical succubus with abandonment issues… now I solve crimes (Lost Girl)
      I am a wizard… now I solve crimes (Dresden Files)
      I *pretend* to be a psychic, but am just really super observant… now I solve crimes (Psych)

    • I am the orphaned son of the richest man in Gotham… now I solve crimes.

      Hey, we are required to watch Castle anyway, because of the Firefly Law. We should be grateful it's pleasant to watch.

  15. Sherlock Holmes: Vampire Goat could be a good show. Moriarty could be the Chupacabra, and Lestrade could be a Werewolf Bigfoot!

  16. Honestly…at this point, I barely watch dramas anymore….I watch Doctor Who, reruns of most of the Stargate series, Primeval (because it's sorta silly, and now Alexander Siddig, yay), and then I basically flip flop between cartoons and Discovery, History, and Nat. Geo….but now that I think about it, there are a MILLION shows now that are modeled off of Mythbusters… not just that though, there are so many more "real" reality shows….and auction/antique shows….argh, so many. If I hear "YEEEEEP" one more time I'm going to start eating my furniture!

  17. Other shows to pitch?

    Chewbacca, The furry ears …… Life as a geeky tree dwelling Wookiee adolescent.
    Olive with a Twist ……. Popeye's poifect woman [a perfect 36 = 12-12-12] travels the world bringing this classic dance move to the masses.
    Romantically Apocalyptic – based on the web comic by the same name but will be set in Hollywood's TV executive offices of the 90's.
    Magical Chicks – A supernatural high school drama staring anamorphic barnyard animals
    Least I could do – A NOVA series where we learn the true meaning of such phrases as "Quantum Leap" and "I am Batman"

Leave a Reply