Posts Tagged ‘The Americans’


Spec This TV Show – 4. February, 2016

Planning on applying to the upcoming television fellowships? Then you’ve been eagerly anticipating the WB Writers Workshop approved spec list. It’s the most restrictive among all the fellowships, which includes CBS, NBC/Universal, and ABC/Disney. You want the show you spec to be on this list (unless you want to write multiple specs). So, without further ado, here are the approved shows to spec for the 2016 WB Writers Workshop…

…but first my two cents. From all of my unscientific research into the specs that make the cut at the Austin Film Festival, in both the half-hour and one-hour categories, I would recommend choosing a show in its second through fourth season. Why? I don’t know why specs from shows in their 2nd through 4th season do better than first season shows and shows into their fifth season and beyond. I just know that my graphs tell me so, and who doesn’t love a good graph about one-hour dramas?


TV Drama Specs 2015
Create your own infographics

And here’s something for all you half-hour writers.

TV Sitcom Specs 2015
Create your own infographics

BTW, I’m no Nate Silver, so take my graphs with a grain of salt. In the list below, I’ll bold shows in their second through fourth season for your reading ease.

Also, you really should check out the A TV Calling blog for another opinion on what would make a smart spec.

Now, without further ado, for real this time, that list…

2 Broke Girls – 5th season airing.
American Dad – 11th season airing.
Archer – 7th season premieres soon.
Blackish – 2nd season airing.
Bob’s Burgers – 6th season airing.
Broad City – 3rd season premieres soon. I predict this will be a popular show to spec.


Brooklyn Nine-Nine – 3rd season airing. Is it me or did everyone spec this last year?


Faking It – 2nd season just wrapped.
Family Guy – 14th season airing.
Fresh Off the Boat – 2nd season airing.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – 11th season airing.
Last Man on Earth – 2nd season airing. If I were to spec a half-hour, this would be my first choice.


Louie – 5th season wrapped summer 2015.
Modern Family – 7th season airing.
Mom – 3rd season airing.
New Girl – 5th season airing.
Silicon Valley – 3rd season premieres soon. I suspect many people will spec this show.


South Park – 19th season just wrapped.
The Big Bang Theory – 9th season airing.
The Goldbergs – 3rd season airing.
The Middle – 7th season airing.
The Mindy Project – 4th season airing.
Togetherness – 2nd season premieres soon.
Unreal – 1st season just wrapped.
Veep – 5th season premieres soon.
Workaholics – 6th season airing.
You’re the Worst – 2nd season just wrapped. My second choice, if I were a half-hour writer.


Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – 3rd season airing.
Arrow – 4th season airing.
Bates Motel – 4th season starts soon.
Better Call Saul – 2nd season starts soon.
Black Mirror – Xmas special aired in 2014 (?!), 3rd season ordered but no air date set.
Blindspot – 1st season airing. Guessing that everyone that wrote a Blacklist last year will spec Blindspot this year.


Blue Bloods – 6th season airing.
Bones – 11th season airing.
Castle – 8th season airing.
Chicago Fire – 4th season airing.
Chicago Medical – 1st season airing.
Chicago PD – 3rd season airing.
Criminal Minds – 11th season airing.
CSI – Series ended 2015.
Daredevil – 2nd season airing soon. I’d been breaking an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with The Punisher but Netflix beat me to the punch (my spec would have been awesome).


Elementary – 4th season airing.


Empire – 2nd season airing.
Fear the Walking Dead – 2nd season premieres soon.
Gotham – 2nd season airing.
Grey’s Anatomy – 12th season airing
Grimm – 5th season airing.
Halt & Catch Fire – Renewed for a 3rd season.
Homeland – Renewed for a 6th season.
House of Cards – 4th season premieres soon.
House of Lies – 5th season premieres soon.
How to Get Away with Murder – 2nd season airing.
iZombie – 2nd season airing.
Jane the Virgin – 2nd season airing.
Law & Order: SVU – 17th season airing.
Major Crimes – 4th season premieres soon.
Master of None – 1st season wrapped. Why is this Netlfix half-hour under the drama category?
Masters of Sex – 3rd season wrapped.
Mr. Robot – 2nd season ordered. All the cool kids will spec this show.


NCIS: Los Angeles – 7th season airing.
Once Upon a Time – 5th season airing.
Orange is the New Black – 4th season premieres this summer.
Orphan Black – 4th season premieres this year.
Pretty Little Liars – 6th season airing.
Ray Donovan – 3rd season just wrapped.


Scandal – 5th season airing.
Sherlock – 4th season airing in 2017 (SERIOUSLY!?!).
Sleepy Hollow – 3rd season airing.
Suits – 5th season airing.
Teen Wolf – 5th season airing.
The 100 – 3rd season airing.
The Affair – 2nd season just wrapped.
The Americans – 4th season premieres soon.


The Blacklist – 3rd season airing.


The Flash – 2nd season airing.
The Good Wife – 7th season airing.
The Originals – 3rd season airing.
The Vampire Diaries – 7th season airing.
The Walking Dead – 6th season airing.
Transparent – 2nd season just wrapped.
Turn – 3rd season premieres soon.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – 2nd season premieres soon. Wait a second, another Netflix comedy corralled with the dramas? This has got to be a mistake.

So, what do you plan to spec? Me, I’m going to with an iZombie. Wish me luck.

Posted in Writing

AFF 2015 Day 1 – 29. October, 2015

Welcome to the first official day of the 2015 Austin Film Festival Writers Conference.


Technically, things kicked off last night at the Film & Food Fundraiser/Party (where I stuffed my face with Shake Shack).


Of course once I wandered down to the Driskill Hotel Bar, I kept meeting old friends and making new ones.


Enough about last night. Here’s what I’m attending today…

12p, Opening Remarks – Shane Black (Lethal Weapon) and Terry Rossio (Pirates of the Caribbean) would like to welcome you to Fantasy Island… I mean AFF.

1p, Anatomy of the Writers Room – Writers from Justified and The Americans lay down the law of the writers room.


1p, The Life of a Screenwriter: Structure On and Off the Page – Practical tips from Justin Marks and Terry Rossio.

2:45p, The Hart Chart – I’m told there will be graphs.

5p, Austin Film Commission Opening Reception – A good excuse to meet, mingle and drink.

11p, WGA West Late Night Welcome Party – Hey, I love your library!

See ya at the fest.

Posted in Festivals

Consumed June 2015 – 30. June, 2015

I declare June the cruelest month (screw you, Eliot). I cleared half a dozen deadlines by the 5th, I still have three more projects to complete and damnit, the little things been sweating me. Oy! Even my spirit animal be quittin’ on me!


Here’s what I consumed…

iZombie – I’ve been unfairly comparing this show to my beloved Veronica Mars but each episode has improved upon the previous. How often can you say that? And I’ve gone a whole season without posting sexy pics of Aly Michalka, who plays the role of Peyton. Pics like the one below.


Friends – I’m up to the part where Rachel had her baby. Still enjoying it but I can sense that the end is near.

Agents of SHIELD
The Blacklist – Two seasons and we’re radically changing the show. Hmm. Looks like it’s about to take a turn for the darker. If so, I’m along for the ride.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Attack on Titan
The Last Man on Earth – I don’t write half-hour but if I did I’d be crushing this show.

Modern Family
The Americans – I didn’t enjoy season three as much as the previous two but there were episodes that I still can’t shake.

Better Call Saul – It’s okay to say I was let down, right?


Brace yourself. I have a confession to make. I’m having a country music moment.


Easy. Relax. Breathe. It’s not all about hot girls in cowboy boots (although that is a particular weakness of mine).


…where was I? Oh, right, my new found fascination with country music. Allow me to explain. It all started with a cover by Sturgill Simpson. That lead to picking up the album and loving it.

Then this really cute girl in my book club suggested Robert Ellis. At first I resisted but again I was won over.

Then I started wandering around the country music aisle on my own and I kept hearing about Nikki Lane and her excellent album.

Yes, I’m officially on a country kick but can you blame me? Nikki is crazy talented but also…


I mean…





Yeah, let’s get back on topic.

Mislaid by Nell Zink – I enjoyed this book with a devilish glee.


My Education by Susan Choi – Still reading it. Have to finish soon so I can discuss it with the cute girl from group.

Doctor Spektor
Lazarus – A very slow burn but I’m sticking it out.

Real West
Queen & Country – Goddamn if this isn’t one of my favorites. Just reread the first three collections and I totally dig the different art styles by Steve Rolston, Brian Hurtt and Leandro Fernandez respectively.



The Secret History of D.B. Cooper
Manifest Destiny – I freaking love this book (please keep getting better).

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Four
Meteor Men
Hellbreak – I wish I had come up with this idea.

Princess Ugg
The Sixth Gun – Not what I was expecting. Liking it, and totally surprised. Awesome!


Avengers: Age of Ultron
Jurassic World – This was a bad movie.


It’s okay that we all liked it but let’s not delude ourselves. I mean this is a thousand times better, right?


Far Cry 4 – I need to finish this just so I can move on to Arkham Knight.


Posted in General

What Should I Spec for 2016 – 4. June, 2015

Who is a glutton for punishment?



Why? Because I’m already thinking about shows I can spec next year. As the greatest limiting factor is the Warner Brothers list of approved dramas, here are the shows on their 2015 list that I’d consider for next year.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC) – Renewed for season 3

Halt & Catch Fire (AMC) – Season 2 just debuted

Orphan Black (BBC America) – Season 3 currently airing

Sleepy Hollow (Fox) – Renewed for season 3

The Blacklist (NBC) – Renewed for season 3

The Flash (CW) – Renewed for season 2

Arrow (CW) – Renewed for season 4

Gotham (Fox) – Renewed for season 2

Hannibal (NBC) – Season 3 airing this summer

Shows absent from this year’s list but that I think / hope will be on the 2016 one…

iZombie (CW) – Renewed for season 2

Daredevil (Netflix) – Renewed for season 2

Agent Carter (ABC) – Renewed for season 2

Better Call Saul (AMC) – Renewed for season 2

So, which to spec? I’m not looking to spec my favorite show. I’m looking to spec the show that I can knock out of the park. Therefore, let’s look at my newest spec and the 3 previous ones that have placed in contests / fellowships. They are…

The 100


The Americans




Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles


What do they have in common? All four features 1) bad ass female leads, 2) non-traditional families, and 3) violence/action. Two of the above feature spying/undercover work. Two are firmly science-fiction dealing with the post-apocalypse. Based off that, let’s narrow the list to shows that have at least three of the above elements. Those shows would be…

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Bad ass females (May, Skye), non-traditional family (the team), tons of action, sci-fi (super heroes), spying/undercover work


Orphan Black – Bad ass females (the clones), some action (more suspense than action, really), non-traditional family (the clones, Fee, Ms. S., et al.), sci-fi


Agent Carter – Bad ass female, action, spying/undercover work


Sleepy Hollow – Bad ass female co-lead (Abbie), non-traditional family (Ichabod’s family + Abby), plenty of action, sci-fi, preventing the apocalypse


The Blacklist – Bad ass female co-lead (Elizabeth), lots of action, spying/undercover work

iZombie – Bad ass female lead (Liv), sci-fi, pending zombie apocalypse (kinda)


If I had to pick a show right now, it’d probably be iZombie or Agent Carter. I still have a viable Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. idea but it’s getting increasingly difficult to get excited about that show. I also harbor a deep desire to spec Orphan Black but it’s serialized within an inch of its life (but boy, do I love the difficult ones). Did I miss any shows? Did I get something wrong?

Posted in Writing

Consumed March 2015 – 31. March, 2015

As this goes live, I’m plowing through act five of my pilot (which is due tomorrow). I sent in my Witchblade script. I’m a networking animal between Emerald City Comicon and WonderCon. I’m behind on my spec of The 100 and don’t even ask about my mini-comic. Let’s just be impressed with how much I actually consumed.


Marvel’s Agent Carter – Goddamn this show is good. Please come back next year so I can spec an episode.


Broad City

The 100 – Hands down the best show on the CW.


Friends (seasons 6, 7)

The Last Man on Earth – Maybe the second best post-apocalyptic comedy.



Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – The best post-apocalyptic comedy on TV. Goddamn this show kicks ass.


Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Powers – I love the concept, the actors, the writing, the creators, but those first few episodes have a real “Saturday night on Sy-Fy” feel. Let’s hope they can clinch the closer.



Community – Looking damn good on Yahoo.


Modern Family

The Black List

The Walking Dead – Yawn. Can we finally get a Y: The Last Man show, or how about The Last of Us instead?


The Americans – Such a great season. Why isn’t this show reaping more awards love?



Better Call Saul – Slowly getting better.


Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman – It took me three days to get half way through, three years to finish the whole damn thing.

People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo–and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up by Richard Lloyd Parry – Makes me miss Japan (twisted, I know).

Satin Island by Tom McCarthy – I didn’t love this book but its imagery comes to me as I’m about to drift off to sleep. I won’t say it’s worth the read but if you miss long, eloquent rants in the college quad…



No One is Lost by Stars – You cannot beat this song.

The Last Broadcast by Doves – I remember loving the heck out of this album. I was convinced that they were gonna be the next big thing.

Alvvays by Alvvays – Lordy, I’m in love.

Brill Bruisers by The New Pornographers – More love.

After by Lady Lamb the Beekeeper – I’m not totally into this album, but the tracks that do get to me strike a deep vein of musical ore.

And the War Came by Shakey Graves

Nikki Nack by Tune-Yards

Our Love by Caribou – One of the ones that got away, Chrissy X, loved one of Caribou’s older tunes. How f**ked is it that I still think about someone that treated me like s**t? Goddamn you, Chrissy X.


Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Three (DC Comics)

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman (DC Comics)

Wasteland (Oni) – One issue left!


Jupiter’s Legacy (Image)

Helheim (Oni)

Brides of Helheim (Oni)

Rat Queens (Image) – Really damn good. Also played The Resistance with the writer. Super great guy!


Veil (Dark Horse)

Nowhere Men (Image)

Helblazer vol 1 (Vertigo)

Hit (BOOM!)

Constantine vol. 1: The Spark and the Flame (DC)

Evil Empire (BOOM!)

The Black Hood (Dark Circle)

Batman: Arkham Knight (DC) – I love DC’s weekly digital titles.


Fables: The Wolf Among Us (Vertigo)

Mortal Combat X (DC)

Trees (Image)

Afterlife with Archie (Archie Comics) – I reread this and loved it even more. How can you beat this page? You can’t.


The Walking Dead (Image)

They’re Not Like Us (Image)

Life with Archie (Archie Comics)

Imagine Agents (BOOM!)

Flash Gordon (King Dynamite)

Bitch Planet (Image) – Maybe Kelly Sue‘s masterpiece.


Wytches (Image) – “Pledged is pledged”


And I’m out!

Posted in General

Consumed February 2015 – 28. February, 2015

This month I haven’t read, watched, listened or played much of anything because I’ve been diligently working on my writing. In particular, I’m close to being done with my Witchblade script and I’m in the middle of my pilot. Hell, this month I haven’t played a single video game, nor have I watched a movie… I know, right?! Here’s what I did consume.


Friends (seasons 3, 4, 5, 6) – I just finished the 2 part “what if” episode where Joey is famous, Monica is fat, Rachel looks like a goombah’s wife… I’m pretty sure this is where I originally stopped watching the show because, ya know, they had a 2 part “what if” episode.


The Americans – I’m a couple of episodes behind but that one with the suitcase? HOLY!




The FlashGrodd is coming.


The Blacklist

Sleepy Hollow – That finale was the best episode since the winter break.


Constantine – Was it me or did they finally let good ole Johnny boy enjoy a smoke?


Marry Me

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Marvel’s Agent Carter – I’ll give you one reason why I love Dottie.


Okay, I’ll give you two.


Bob’s Burgers

The 100

Better Call Saul – Only two episodes in and I’m reserving judgment.



Parks & Recreation – Adios to a great show.


The Walking Dead


People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo–and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up by Richard Lloyd Parry – I’m only about a fifth of the way through and I’m still waiting for the book to grip me, but it does make me miss Japan. Wait, flights are only $600 round trip? Who wants to get me an early birthday gift?


I Love You, Honeybear by Father John Misty – It’s good but what’s with all the hype? Has the world been clamoring for a pretentious Beach Boys album with songs that end abruptly?

Closing Time by Tom Waits – Now this, I feel this album in every pore of my body, and in every pour of bourbon


Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Three – There’s a new creative team on one of my favorite books. So far, not bad.


Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman – So you gotta love the Jae Lee cover…


…but that Noelle Stevenson art is equally sweet.

Wasteland – I’m less than twenty issues from the end and I’m already slowing down my reading because I don’t want it to end.


And that covers this month.

Posted in General

One Cop & Two Lawyer Shows That Better Kick Ass – 5. February, 2015

Allow me to stop being a writer for a moment and just be a fan. Television f**king rocks. This week alone I’m excited to catch up on The 100


… and Agent Carter


… and Broad City


… and The Americans


… and Gotham


… and Arrow


… and The Flash


… and Archer.


And then there are all the shows I haven’t even started yet like Justified, Togetherness and 12 Monkeys.


But right now I want to highlight three up coming genre busting shows. First, the cop show.


Yeah, it’s a cop show about superheroes but I’ve been following the comic since its inception. Hell, at one point it was one of the only comics I was reading after I got “too old for comics.”

Man, I’ve been waiting for this show since they shot their first pilot with Jason Patric and Lucy Punch.

And now, the first of two lawyer shows.


You did know that the Daredevil’s alter ego is attorney at law Matt Murdock, right? Okay, yes, I know we still hold the Ben Affleck movie against Marvel (heck, even Ben regrets it), and so far Marvel doesn’t have a great television track record, but the comic book nerd in me is holding out hope.

And finally, that other lawyer show.


Honestly, I’m so fucking nervous that this will suck so I’m doing everything I can to lower my expectations.

… but the early reviews are positive.

So if I’m not answering my phone, now you know why.

Posted in General

A Look Back at 2014 – 31. December, 2014

Was your 2014 a goddamn roller coaster ride? Mine was. There were lows, there were highs. One of which was finishing my third spec and making it to the Second Round of the Austin Film Festival Writers Conference (as well as making the semifinals of the Final Draft Big Break Contest).


For those keeping score, I’ve placed three times at Austin with specs for The Americans, Nikita, and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. To me, that’s definitive proof that I can write. Television is a good arena for me. Now I need to level up… but that’s for my next post. Let’s get to the fun. Let’s get to my “Favorite _____ of the Year”. Ready? Let’s do this!

Favorite Movie of the Year – Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy was pure fun, an unexpected joy. With this movie Marvel proves they can do just about anything and we’ll go see it.


Here’s to many more years of fostering good will amongst the fans.

Favorite Line from a Movie This Year – Snowpiercer

Favorite Album of the Year – Year of the Caprese by Cherub


Cherub was my discovery of 2014, my favorite live act of SXSW and their album is equally awesome. Go. Pick. It. Up.

Favorite Book of the Year – Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki & His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami


I enjoyed the hell out of this book. Yes, I wanted to truncate the first third, loved the second third, and wanted to rewrite the final third but the language is so lush, so seductive, it’s irresistible.

Favorite Comic of the Year – Injustice: Gods Among Us

I’m not that familiar with the DCU — I grew up a Marvel kid — but the Injustice books are an awesome introduction to the characters.


Yes, it’s an alternate universe not beholden to company wide events but it’s such a great, heartfelt story that you won’t feel cheated. If you want to get into DC comics, this is the best introduction.

Favorite Game of the Year – Destiny


I know. Everyone hates the game. The acting is awful but it hooked me… for about 3 months straight, until the first DLC dropped. Plus we can thank them for this awesome music video.

Favorite Television Show of the Year – Hannibal

What ya cooking, Dr. Lecter?

What ya cooking, Dr. Lecter?

I loved the first season of Hannibal and I couldn’t fathom how the second season could get any better. But it did. It was freaking awesome. I’m very excited for the third season. But let me also say that over the Xmas break I discovered The 100.


How did I just discover this awesome show?

Favorite Animated Show of the Year – Rick and Morty


You must watch this phenomenal show. Need proof? The best thing about Rick and Morty is that it can have both DMX and Mazzy Star as part of their soundtrack.

And with that, I say adios to 2014.

Posted in Off-Topic

Austin Film Festival 2014 – 6. November, 2014

Holy conference, Batman! The Austin Film Festival ought to come with a warning. “AFF may cause a feeling of elation, a boost to self confidence and general buzzing about. The inevitable crash can be eased by emailing everyone you met, enjoying good brisket and starting your next script IMMEDIATELY!”

Yeah, it was that good.

While this was only my second year attending (I placed in the second round with my spec of The Americans), it was so unbelievably productive that I’m already planning next year’s trip, as well as the next show I’ll spec.

If there’s one thing that makes the Austin Film Fest worthwhile, it’s the people. The panels are great — trust me, I’m gonna tell you all about them in a minute — but the people are the reason to go. Last year my buddy Ted told me that I could do more networking in 5 days at AFF than I could in one year in LA. He was 100% right. And don’t go expecting the guest of honor (this year I believe it was Mad Men creator Matt Weiner) to buy your script but go to meet your peers. These are the people that’ll come up with you. These are the future staffers that might actually staff you. At the very least, they’ll read your script and give you notes (a big “thank you” to all of last year’s attendees that have read my work and given me notes).

One thing that made this year better than the last (and last year was great) was that my goals were clearly defined. This year I wanted to meet a potential mentor and I wanted to get into a strong writers group. While I haven’t sealed the deal for either of those yet, I do feel that I’ve made great progress. Stayed tuned.

As for the panels, they rocked. Instead of giving you the blow by blow, let me bullet point the panels I attended and share one nugget of wisdom from each.

And I haven’t’ even talked about the parties, BBQ or all the wonderful people I met but I have to get cracking on what I’ll be submitting next year.

Want one more piece of advice? Do yourself a favor. Write something, place and attend (regardless if you place or not). It’ll do wonders for your career, your self-esteem and your networking skills.

And to wrap up with what I borrowed from Ben Blacker (met him at last year’s AFF), here’s what I read/watched over this trip.

I’m still trying to finish The Strain. They should hire me for season two.


Started Masters of Sex. So good.


Loved the art on Down. Set. Fight! Gotta find a way to work with this guy.


Started Daniel Way‘s Deadpool run. Really wanted to dig in after his Let’s Talk Comics interview.


Mind the Gap. What a great idea. Who’s developing this?


Injustice: Gods Among Us is fucking awesome. Everyone needs to read it.


Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami. Loved the middle, didn’t love the beginning and I’d like to rewrite the end.

Illustration by Clifford Harper/

… did I mention that AFF gave my confidence a real boost?

My Americans Spec Gets A Little More Love – 3. October, 2014

Good news, everyone! My spec script for The Americans got a little more love today.

Undeniably Bad Ass

Undeniably Bad Ass

It was selected as a quarter finalist for the Final Draft Big Break contest. Check it out:


With that and Austin, I’m feeling pretty good… HIGH FIVE FOR ME! BTW, in case you’re wondering how I knew I had to spec this show, it was this moment from season one…



God help me but I LOVE writing for a woman like that.

Posted in Writing