And I love the opening of the show. I am about to read the rest of the script and bible. I am hooked
Cheers man. I'm glad you've enjoyed it so far.
A Participant says:
Solid concept, excellent writing skills.
I gave it 4/5. It's snappy, but I'd like some more verbal fun. Overall it's a solid concept and well written pilot.
On the personal note. I'd not watch it. The entire premise of the show is not up my alley. Sex, sexual life, more sex, girlfriends, boyfriends, some more sex and sexual themes. Then some sex. It's perfect for 90% of couch potatoes, but I personally get tired of it quickly. Not sex. The sex jokes.
Was that sitcom joke? yes. It was pathetic.
A Participant says:
Oh, I finished it.
You know what would make this stand out even more and perhaps earn a 5 points on my scale?
A an easily solvable secondary story, which Andy (the main guy in secondary story) can not solve, even though solution is exceedingly simple. Andy must be obsessed with it, but Alex could not be bothered or wants Andy to solve it himself.
The "aftermath" scene at the end should include Alex, solving the secondary problem with one swift move, leaving Andy baffled or long faced.
Something else comes to mind. I might be off here. You could have Alex not completely in control of his gender switching. Or perhaps have a common action that he or people preform make him change gender involuntarily. This would create a bazillion of awkward situations, worthy of the best sitcoms out there.
Also - and this might be a problem, since you have already developed an intimate relationship with your characters: Andy and Alex both start with the same letter. Not so good as you want to differentiate your characters on this level as well. Alex and Ben or something. :)
Sh... crap. I almost wish I came up with this concept. You sold this to me. If I was at CBS, I'd sign a contract with you.
Cheers for the feedback. It's funny because most of the points you've mentioned are things I've thought about already.
I debated whether or not to include a B story for the other characters in the pilot. Ultimately I thought there was too much going on already, what with Alex's job search and him coming to terms with his new ability (I actually cut out a couple of scenes from the beginning involving an initial failed job interview). It's something I'll continue to think about though.
In terms of not having complete control of his ability, this is something I'd like to deal with in future episodes. In the mini-bible there's an episode where he involuntarily transforms in his sleep and again when he gets too drunk. I thought about including this in the pilot too but wasn't sure. Maybe that instead of the period bit would make the episode a little less racy (which addresses one of your other points). I do believe the first episode is probably the raciest of the series. My original idea when writing the pilot was that I wanted to differentiate this from the scenarios you saw in movies like Big and Freaky Friday which played to a much younger audience. However, as I continued to plot out future episodes the show became somewhat less racy. It's something to think about because I don't really want to put off a segment of the audience if subsequent episodes are reasonably tame in comparison (as you can see in the Mini Bible).
I actually came really close to changing Andy's name before submitting this, however for some reason Andy just seems like a dopey name to me which kind of personifies who the character is. I'm not really sure if it is a big problem for the audience though - mainly just for people who are reading the script and trying to keep track of who's saying what. Leah (the girl in the cold open) was actually originally called Anna when I wrote this. I'm not really sure why I had all these 'A' names stuck in my head.
Glad you've been enjoying my feedback posts around the forum. You asked for my thoughts on your script, so here they are. As usual I'm harsh but honest! :)
First, I think you've got a ton of originality here and I like the fearlessness with which you write. In my notes for States of Entropy I mentioned that I felt the humor was "hack-y" and I don't think you have that problem, which is good.
What's bad is that the original ideas are getting lost from a lack of discipline and clarity. I don't see a clear B story here, let alone a C story. You also spend a lot of time with unnecessary back-and-forth dialogue. Here's an example I cribbed from ScriptFrenzy (http://www.scriptfrenzy.org/eng/node/2000003):
30 ROCK (BAD)
JACK: Uh, Tina--you got a minute? Uh... is your boyfriend selling beepers?
TINA: Uh.... Yeah.
JACK: Wow. Isn't that sort of like... Uh... out of style?
30 ROCK (GOOD)
JACK: Hey, I just bought a beeper from your boyfriend.
JACK: Yeah, I'm expecting a phone call from 1982.
The information delivered in both dialogue excerpts is the same, but in the second set -- which of course is the one that was actually used on 30 Rock -- the three lines are used for a setup and a punchline. Consider these lines from page 6 of your script:
ANDY: Who was that?
ALEX: Who was what?
ANDY: The chick who just answered your phone.
ANDY: I just called you and a chick answered.
ALEX: No they didn’t.
SO MUCH wasted time. It's fine for a first draft, because you're just figuring out plot beats and such. But it can't stay in the final draft. Each and every line has to do double- or even triple-duty in a sitcom: it's a setup, or a punch line, or a plot point, or a character point. Ideally it's two or three things at the same time. I'm talking EVERY LINE.
When Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David were writing Seinfeld, they would count jokes on a page. Each page had to have AT LEAST three jokes before they were done. That's why the dialogue is so sharp, and that's why it is so rewatchable. You hear jokes you didn't get the first time, or you remember jokes you had forgotten about.
I think what you have here is an interesting idea and some dialogue sketches about it. But I also think there are a lot of questions you haven't answered for yourself or your audience. This is a HUGE thing to build a sitcom around. It's not impossible, but it's going to be very difficult to do it in a relatable way. You're charging headlong into "sexual difference" territory and it's gonna be tough to keep it from falling into stereotypes. So far I don't see that happening -- but then you don't have a lot of jokes in here yet, either.
I think in order to make this work, the REST of the sitcom has to be totally predictable. Think "Bewitched" or "I Dream of Jeannie." Those work because it's the same old family-com we know and love, only there's one character with magical powers. I haven't watched the pilots for those in years, but that's a good place to start your research. My guess is that neither one bothers with the "origin story" because the origin story isn't what's funny. Sure, we find out through the course of the episode and the season HOW this came to be, but what's important in the first episode is that you let the audience in on what's funny about this situation.
That idea is called "in medias res" and I think your whole script could benefit from it. The old adage "start late and get out early" applies here. For instance: there's no need for the back-and-forth between Andy and Alex on the intercom. Cut from getting buzzed up to Andy holding the vibrator, sitting on the bed next to female Alex. "This. Is mental."
Boom-- you've just turned 6 pages of unfunny dialogue into a setup and a punchline. That's the kind of hacksaw you need to take to this piece. It's fine for a first draft but it needs a lot of rewriting.
Finally: you need a B story. The sitcom format simply doesn't hold up to a single through line. Go back and watch literally anything. There's a B-story there. Even in the infamous "Chinese Restaurant" episode of Seinfeld, there's a B- and a C-story. Jerry thinks he recognizes a woman and George needs to use the phone. You HAVE TO HAVE it. In this case, since the A story is SO BIG, your B story has to be something very very simple and very very relatable.
The unemployment thing is interesting, but it has to be someone ELSE. Alex's story is just the fact of his ability. That's enough for the audience to swallow at once, and if you do it correctly they will be SO CURIOUS what happens with it that the B-story will be a hilarious way of building tension. Comedy (like horror) is about building tension and releasing it. Setup, punchline. Setup, punchline.
My biggest concern is that the idea is simply too difficult to make into a sitcom. It will take great dexterity with the form to be able to deliver it in a fresh way, without resorting to stereotypes and hack comedy. I appreciate your originality and I think you have raw talent -- I don't know that you're going to be well-served pursuing this project. If you feel passionate about it, DO IT. Ignore anything I say or anyone else says. But if you feel unsure about it or you have another idea that scares you or thrills you more, try that.
Above all, write and rewrite. This is probably four or five pages of story/dialogue. The rest is fluff, which again is fine for a first draft but you need to generate a lot more pages for your next one.
Good luck and keep writing!!
PS: Names DO matter. Don't use Andy and Alex as the names. I've done this (see my screenplay Dutch Tape for a terrible, awful example of exactly this mistake). If you feel like naming your characters inter-changeable names it is likely because the characters themselves are inter-changeable in your mind. When you have a strong character, that character DEMANDS a strong name.
I often start with generic names, and a vague sense of the character. I write a bunch of sketches like this, and dialogue snippets, and tons and tons of pages. Eventually the characters start to pop off the page, and that's when their name becomes very clear. "Eric" suddenly becomes Garth, or Ryder, or Anders.
Cheers for the feedback. I agree with everything you've said and will definitely work on those points in the next draft.
The job search was the original B story but I felt like it wasn't really working so I cut out a few scenes dealing with this between the cold open and the intercom portion, but evidently should have trimmed out a bit more (and obviously come up with a new B story).
In terms of the dialogue, I had actually originally written this script as sort of a dramedy for the BBC Writersroom, however when it didn't go anywhere I rewrote the script to resemble more of a standard sitcom. I think this is part of the reason why some of the dialogue isn't as punchy as what you'd expect from a sitcom. It's something I will need to continue to refine.
Truthfully, I think I would prefer to be writing a fresh take on the generic 'group of friends' concept because 1) I can relate to it better; and 2) there's so much more potential in terms of future storylines (especially ones which, as you say, don't rely on stereotypes). However, I guess I decided to pursue this as I feel the concept is more attention grabbing and my main concern right now is getting exposure. Amazon recently stated "a bunch of underemployed New Yorkers in an overly nice apartment is most likely not right for us" so I think I may have made the right decision but we'll see.
I definitely do believe in the concept though. If you read through the episode outlines in my mini-bible, I think there are enough things you can do with the concept to sustain at least one series and beyond.
Hey, I wanted to make a posting here to tell you that the idea is truly smart, witty and genius. It is the type of idea that could fall flat on some people and miss, but if it is executed right, it could be seriously funny as well as have dramatic parts coming from the lead living a double life.
The cold open starts out pretty good and the progression of the pilot is smart, however much like the one comment earlier, there is some wasted time/lines. My point is maybe more about the action beats, there are places, such as in the opening when he first realizes he has a vagina, that its just a block of text and that acts as a wall for a reader to climb. Maybe breaking it up into 4 or 5 small one lines of action, it spaces the script out more but you breeze through it.
In terms of the B storyline, it is lacking a bit, but that doesn't mean you're not on the right track, it is more a case of just lacking that extra punch, that could come from everyone reading your idea and instantly thinking it could be genius. This makes people, for example me want to see something big or crazy and while it may be good you play it more straight on/realistic, a little bit of reworking or like Toby said, adding some more comedy to the pages can make it snappier.
I still gave you a 4/5, because by Amazon's scale that makes it a "I like it", which I do, I like the premise, the overall idea for the pilot and where the show could go, but I do want to stress that it does need some work/tightening to be great, and hopefully this and the previous comments have you thinking of story lines or premises for future episodes etc...
Also, as a little favor is there anyway I could get you to give my show proposal a once over or read and some constructive criticism so me and my co-creator can build on it.
Thanks for the feedback. I will definitely work on the points you and everyone else have raised in the next draft.
It's definitely been tricky getting the dialogue right. Because its such an absurd concept, I felt that it was especially important for the dialogue feel natural so that the show had some grounding in reality. I kind of feel that when a show is too cartoony, when the characters find themselves in absurd situations it's not quite as funny as when 'real' characters find themselves in absurd situations (not sure if that makes sense). However, most of the feedback has been around punching up the dialogue and cutting out the deadwood so that's something I'll definitely work on.
I like how you threw in a plea at the end regarding reviewing your script...lol. Will try and make time this weekend to do that.
The concept is attention grabbing. It's original. No disputing that.
I just think you waste the potential to really get something meaningful out of this premise.
It's really obvious a guy wrote this. The show is called "Man Woman," but really it's just "Dude who sometimes has a vagina." You don't treat the idea of "woman" very much beyond sex, and if that's meant to be intentional, it wasn't treated with a lot of self-awareness. As soon as he finds out he can transform into a woman, what's the first thing he does? He shoves a vibrator in his cooch. What does he use his power for? Basically to get him more pussy. He becomes a woman so he can befriend a girl he's interested in so her female self can talk his male self up. The male self is treated as primary and default.
Here's a question: If you were Alex, would there be any situation, besides the ones described above, where you would willfully change into a woman? Would your character ever want to just spend a whole day as a woman, and see how that changes his perspectives on how women are treated and perceived? Would Alex ever want to change into a woman when the situation didn't benefit him? We live in a culture where women are often not treated as actual people, and your character, as a man, would be used to being treated like a valuable, respectable person, and would probably get genuinely shocked at the way he gets treated by other men when he is a woman. Honestly, I think a lot of women wish they could transform into a MAN and camouflage themselves from a culture of casual abuse.
Gender and sexuality are political issues. Lawmakers are constantly trying to politicize gender and sex. You can't deal with something like this without being a little politically-minded about it. I won't even delve into how transgendered people might feel about the premise of this show. That's its own can of worms.
Of course, it's comedy. Not everything has to be super-intellectual. There's room for sex jokes. I think you SHOULD answer the question of "what would a guy do if he had a vagina." It is funny. But if you do that while also taking into account the implications of said attitudes, then you have something funny and thought-provoking. If you treat the female Alex persona has more than just an accessory, you have the potential to really create something progressive and uplifting as well as funny.
Just my two cents.
Cheers for the feedback.
You've raised some good points, however I do feel like if I went in that direction I'd be making more more of a drama than a comedy (or at least more of a high-brow comedy than the one I intended). Truthfully, if I discovered I could transform into a woman, those probably would be the first things I would do (maybe that says a lot about me...lol). The pilot episode is meant to be more of an origin story while I feel subsequent episodes deal more fully with the potential of this ability.
I would need to discuss with LGBT individuals more fully to get an idea of how they perceive the show. At the end of the day though, this isn't a show about a transgender man or a man dressing up as a woman which I could see as potentially demeaning. It's a broad comedy about a man who suddenly has the ability to become a woman. Saying that, if you read through the mini-bible, I feel like later episodes will deal with transgender issues to an extent when Alex's friend Andy starts to develop feelings for Female Alex. I feel like it raises some interesting issues given the fact that Female Alex is essentially just Alex with the appearance of a woman (which Andy is fully aware of).
Just a fast note-
When girls PMS-there are warning signs...soreness...bloaty...moody....I think if these things are played up a bit it could be hilarious!
I don't know if that was tmi-but I just wanted to give you a lady's point of view on the white pants and the bar scene :)
Yeah, I actually did some research on this...LOL...however, didn't want to foreshadow it too much. But yeah, I definitely think you could do some funny stuff with this. Will think about it a bit more. Cheers for the feedback - no amount of research by a guy can compare to hands-on experience..lol.
I totally get where you're coming from. I'm glad you didn't think I was flying off the handle going PC police on you.
However, I think you CAN explore these issues and still make it comedic. Any situations where there's a potential for drama, there is also a potential for comedy, because the set-up's the same (building tension), the difference is only how the tension is resolved.
So you're taking your own feelings and opinions as the baseline for this script (I'm assuming from you saying "Truthfully, if I discovered I could transform into a woman, those probably would be the first things I would do"). That's a great place to start. Here's the question you can work from: How would a lot of the things you do in your life become awkward/not quite right if you were a woman? I think Alex, as a female, would be familiar with what it's like to be PHYSICALLY female, but not what it's like to be CULTURALLY female, and you get a LOT of potential for humor from the clash between how Alex is used to acting growing up as a dude and how he is expected to act by others because he happens to be a dude.
I'm sure you were planning on getting there eventually, I just think for a pilot you can throw in a nice balance of that kind of situation along with the "hey what would a guy do if he had a vagina" things. It would be a good way of showing off the gamut of things your main character might get into in the rest of the series.
No, not at all. It's good to get everyone's viewpoints. It's very easy when writing to lose track of how other people might perceive the show (I guess you encountered that yourself with some people thinking your script was too morbid).
Cheers for the additional feedback. Will definitely look at incorporating some of these points into the next draft. I think going in that direction will certainly extend the shelf-life of the series.
For all those who left feedback, please don't think I've just ignored this since I've yet to upload a new draft. Was just conscious about resetting the 45 day option period. Now that this has passed though, am working on a new version of the script which incorporates this.