Earlier this month, we revisited the cold open and first act of my first ever TV Pilot, Out of Bounds. If you’ve made it to this point, I tip my hat to you. You survived the cringe.
A quick recap before we get into things.
Bob, the son of Satan, sets out to strike a deal with a down-on-his-luck college basketball player, in hopes of taking over his father’s marketing firm (Yikes, I know). Marc, the basketball player, has just suffered another concussion and has just had his first run in with Bob.
I am disappointed that we’ve read 14 pages, and that is literally all that has happened. Hold on to your butts. Today’s act is a whopping 15 pages. Without further ado.
As a current academic coordinator for a college athletics department, the first joke on this page hurts me. It is such a bad joke, and it’s so played out. Boo, younger Nick. Try harder dude. Stop taking the low-hanging fruit.
At first sight, I thought “bear with me” was wrong, but it’s actually right. Yay.
I do like how quick I introduce Bob to the team. Earlier drafts pushed this off to midway through act two. This puts him front and center and officially combines the worlds of Bob and Marc.
I don’t make the rules very clear on this page. I say, “no one notices the man in the devil suite” but what I should have said was, “No one can see his devil suite.” Either way the idea of having multiple shots of the same character in and out of a costume sounds like a nightmare for everyone involved, especially the actor.
John and Tony get character descriptions, but they fall flat here for me. I could not stop cringing through the dialogue on this page. Just a bunch of characters being direct with no room for subtext. This all reads like bad improv.
Give’em hell is not a pun, but it’s pun adjacent. All hell puns from this point forward equal one shot.
The ribbing between the guys here feels a little better at the top of the page, but the dialogue gets stiff once the relationship with Sarah comes up again. I didn’t mention the ISIS joke on the first page. Not because I didn’t like it, but because it was a bad joke and I’m upset it got another beat here.
I like this Detroit gag better than the last one in the first act. Reading this conversation back this feels like a good character moment between my two MCs. There are some things that would have to go (Like Brady in a dress), but I like the development we see here for Bob.
Marc needs more moments like this and I don’t think they ever come. This would be a perfect point for both characters to come to some sort of understanding through the similarities of their daddy issues.
Marc’s daddy issues come up here, but a better writer (me now) would clean this up. The dialogue is just awful. I’m not crazy about the Giannis joke, but I think it would land, since he’s actually a really good guy.
Another hell pun. Drink.
Bob’s reason for picking Marc, and this conversation in general, just aren’t well defined. There needs to be more before this point and we’re already at 15 pages. This second act as a whole would need a good chopping.
I still love Dr. Mister. I wrote him as an older Dr. Spaceman, from 30 Rock.
I’m starting to notice a trend in these pages. There’s not a lot of room to breathe here. I’m trying to make a bunch of jokes, but don’t give characters time to react to what is going on. In the last two pages I go from Bob and Marc’s conversation, to a phone call with Dr. Mister, and then back to the original conversation. In each of those moments, no one stops to even acknowledge anything that is going on. It just keeps going and going and going. These characters need time to think and take in the moment.
Catscan would be one of my darlings that would need to go. No saving the cat here.
This page would see a significant cut. I’m trying to explain everything and that really doesn’t need to be happening here. At this point in my writing journey, I didn’t know we were allowed to keep secrets.
The breast cancer awareness pen is a weird detail, but I like it. Especially with how the NFL really hammers down on the pink every October.
I forgot about Plaxico’s legal troubles until rereading this. Still so much that would need to be cut from these pages. Marc’s reading of the fine print could simply be cut down to Bob iterating that Marc could face jail time for his marketing exploits. I believe this page was originally where act two ended.
I don’t completely hate this page. The back-and-forth between Sarah and Corey is alright here. Action lines involving sports were very new to me here, and I obviously did my homework in prepping for these scenes (no I didn’t). Chunk’s ribbing of Marc here is great.
A lot of unnecessary action lines on this page. These need to be shorter and quicker. Convey the feeling of a basketball game when you’re trying to cut into a big lead. Marc is looking into the stands for his Dad, but that’s not totally obvious.
This is my master class. Today’s lesson, writing the most uninspiring and lackluster montage. At this point the script would have been better served to just cut to later in the game, where the Devils have tied it up.
I do enjoy that Bob gave Marc a taste of how good he could be. It’s kind of sad that Marc thought that was all him. That’s the kind of stuff this script needed more of.
Oooff, underage smoking. I mean, I guess the son of Satan would be pro-tobacco.
Marc going back to being bad is another highlight of this act for me.
Are Migos still popular? I feel like music ages so much faster these days.
It is my dream to cast Blake Griffin in one of my shows, but not like this. The Field of Dreams joke doesn’t land, but I would consider reworking it. Blake’s lines are okay. My dialogue has been awful, but I could write Blake Griffin’s voice for days.
I actually really like this page. It gives the reader a better look at the rules. Basically, do what they say, or you’re going to have a bad time. I had no problem dumping on the Pistons here. Would update this page to reflect Blake’s recent trade to Brooklyn.
This page really isn’t needed. The beat about getting Blake out of Detroit is repeated. The better of the two act breaks we’ve looked at so far.
End of Cringe
Holy shit, a 15-page second act. We made it through the mound of dialogue (all bad) and lived to fight through another bad act.
This act is a great lesson about killing your darlings. Back then I wanted to hold on to everything. There was a fear that I would never be able to top myself. That’s some bullshit. I’ve written laps around this script in the last five years and I’m going to keep getting better.
We’ve got one more act for next week. I can promise two things. It will be shorter than act two, and we will cringe our way to the finish line.
What’s the cringiest line of dialogue you’ve ever written?