First of all, let me just say I love time travel and the concept of retroactive continuity. They use it in comics all the time for expository purposes, but I always thought it was a brilliant untapped source for comedy. I wish you had gone one nerdy step further and called your show Retcon.
I enjoy the tone of your writing. I cracked a lot of smiles reading this. I also think you've laid out a few interesting events that it's obvious we'll get to see played around with in forays into retconning.
As much as I enjoyed it--and again, I think the potential for a great show is there--I do have two criticisms.
Firstly, the premise hinges on the idea of making a very specific act happen at a very specific time and location. As such, I don't think the series is as open to sustainability as you might hope. Even "Groundhog Day" was about a man reliving an entire day over and over and discovering how to be a better person, and it's running time is under two hours.
The synopses you've proposed for five episodes could quite easily be condensed to two episodes, and by that point you're already running the risk of getting too repetitive. I recognize the concept that different things will have been affected and there will perhaps be an escalation of things getting fucked up, but I still feel your basic premise is too restrictive for a multi-episode series.
Secondly--and this is much more minor of a critique--I feel you are lacking some in writing technique. You have a lot of great dialogue exchanges and, again, it's obvious you have cleverly set up a few events to revisit in the throes of time travel, but there are some issues regarding grammar, syntax, and descriptive language.
So there you have it. I've written such a long post because I strongly believe your project has great promise, and I want to help you find success with it in any small way I can. This is a show that, once beefed up, I would absolutely love to watch. I wish you the best of luck with it!
Thank you for your kind words Justin.
The comedy is supposed to be more about the character interaction with a way of being able to change the dynamic between two or more characters every week with a slight tweak in time. The important thing, for me, was to make each episode and the fallout from it, based on one slight change at a time, rather than have an episode with multiple changes going on at once.
Saying that, there are a few unresolved things that aren't mentioned in the bible... I didn't want to get too spoilery.
Basically the unmentioned mystery is why time changed in the first place and it hasn't been addressed yet. This becomes a lot more important a few episodes down the line.
I have the whole first season mapped out on my head and, while the first few episodes might seem in danger of becoming repetitive, there are a couple of game changers on the way and ways of keeping it fresh.
In terms of the grammar, syntax and descriptive language, I found the site and got excited about an idea that just came to me, and tried to get it on immediately. But I could not proceed without including a bible and a script... so I proceeded to write both of them in just over 90 minutes in an effort to get the idea out there rather than as my honest to god final draft pilot.
I then spent another hour a week or so later, taking on board some of the things people had mailed me to make a quick draft two.
I know I will have to take the time out soon to make it read more like a script. There is little or nothing in the way of cuts or zooms or descriptions in it and it is definitely based more on the dialogue.
I agree with practically everything you've written, though and I am glad you see the potential in it. I will definitely be taking the time out to make a more polished draft, and improve upon my bible to show the scope that I envisage the show having.
I mean, How I met your mother has been going for 7 years and it's just a guy telling the convoluted story to his kids (who must be bored out of their tree by now) of how he hooked up with his wife...
I don't watch HIMYM, but I know it's successful because the showrunners quickly realized they couldn't stick with the premise. It's not specifically about Ted meeting his wife. It's about a group of 5 friends, one of which happens to be narrating from the future. If it was REALLY about how he met his wife, she would've been introduced in the first episode and we'd know who it is by now, because there's no character that requires 7 years of exposition to set up.
That said, I suppose I should have thought more than to take your show at face value, but with its title and its strong resemblance to "Groundhog Day," it really played out in my head as the same series of events playing out over and over with different relationships, emotions, etc. and therefore with different outcomes. I recognize your aim to play with the dynamics between the characters, as demonstrated when James goes back in time toward the end of the episode.
When I read your script and wrote my post, it was 2 AM here. Now that I'm more awake, I've noticed the pattern in your synopses of the time travel point getting moved further and further back as James tries to set things up to avoid mistakes he's made in previous retconning attempts. There's definitely more room for exploration in that concept. If you're also suggesting the focus shifts from getting a kiss from Charlene to why the timeline was altered in the first place, that could be good too.
It sounds like you've spent more time mapping out the series than writing the pilot, which is fine. You don't need to include camera directions; most execs would discourage them anyway. There are just some things you can do to tighten the writing or punch it up to make it more descriptive. And there are some rookie things like "James is sitting" rather than "James sits," but it's nothing that poses a serious problem to your script. I may try my hand at it when I have some time and if it wouldn't bother you terribly.
This is what I love about Amazon Studios: it allows a stay-at-home dad and aspiring writer in Texas the opportunity to read a really fun script from someone in Glasgow...and then I get to have a conversation with him about it. It's just too cool.
I would be honoured if you had a go Justin.
And I know what you mean. Too cool.
Awesome! I'm working on 3 projects right now...one should be finished (and uploaded here) early next week and another I'd happily put a bookmark in for the time being. I should have it ready to share with you in a week and change. I'd rather send it to you personally first and let you decide if you want me to upload it on here.
Hi Justin. Sounds great. If you feel more comfortable sending it to me first that is great. But I am happy for you to just post it here too.
A Participant says:
I read the Retcon :) script top to bottom. If there wasn't for HIMYM, I'd say this is not sustainable, but darn it - anything goes, as long as it's funny. That fortunate show is not much more than 'friends' slowed down in pace and perked up in price.
If you can make it just convoluted enough to keep it going, but avoid the 'Lost' syndrome, you've got yourself a runner. I'd enjoy more popular culture references to make it contemporary, while giving yourself the benefit of local misunderstandings between Hal and his Grandpa... But then again... I liked the movie references you used already.
Good writting and fun to read. Would watch.
Thanks Tony. I'm glad you like. Definitely open to sprinkling more pop cultural references in to it. I think it would be fundamental to the show. Definitely wouldn't want it to have Lost syndrome as I think it would become overly frustrating for a lot of people. I have definite arcs running through in my head - the first of which, and the overall story being about trying to get the two people who belong together... well... together. But there is a lot more underneath - something based on conversation with Justin above I should probably get into the Series bible...
I went through your script and "corrected" some things, but found myself leaving the actual content completely untouched. For that reason, there's no sense in me uploading my "revised" copy and having my name attached to your work.
I am going to try to focus on some of the other projects I've already started--one series I'm co-creating with someone, and two films. I'm still keeping an eye on your project. If you write any more episodes, I'd love to read them!
Honestly, feel free to upload your version. Or at least pass it on to me to see what you changed? :)
I am interested in hearing more about your other projects. You need to keep me up to speed on it.
And I'll pass more episodes on to you as and when. We can exchange email addresses if you'd like.
Of course, at the moment, I am going to work on tweaking the pilot.
Justin, I had to come on here and comment on your script. First of all, thanks very much for taking the time out to do a rewrite. I really appreciate that.
Second of all, I think you hit the nail right on the head. I don't have a bad thing to say about any changes you made... and you made it look more readable as a script.
This thing ever gets off the ground, I would try and urge them to hire you as a writer :)
Haha...I'm glad you liked the changes, John. Honestly, I wouldn't normally work on someone else's script, but as you know by now I'm a fan of your idea and I knew some mild cleaning and punching up would be easy and fun.
I thought it was really good Justin. I am very happy with it