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JTony Loves Brains
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life of the mind by JTony Loves Brains

October 24th, 2007 2:02 AM

INSTRUCTIONS: write the pilot for a sitcom.

Fast Forward to April 23, 2014:

I realized that I had never completed this task by uploading the completed first draft of Looking for Paradise and in all this time I had not actually typed the handwritten teleplay up or presented it to anyone. You few who read this will be able to read the teleplay in its entirety for the first time ever! Remember it is very rough, a true first draft, but I hope you enjoy it just the same.

The file is located in the files section below. It is a PDF that has been zipped up.

October 24th, 2007

I've been working on this one for a while, and tonight I finally wrote the last "Fade-Out" for the first episode of my "Sitcom" Looking for Paradise.

When I write, I write straight ahead, usually with pen and paper (this was written in a killer orange and black composition book) and I try desperately to edit as little as possible as I go along. This puts the need to type it all in as an extra, hated step, and one that I have not yet nearly completed. I did complete enough typing to put in the initial scene. The scene you read has not been edited except in the most minor and superficial of ways. It is, essentially, how it came out of the pen.

I will be typing in and then uploading the entire sitcom, but that may take me a bit. For those of you interested, message me or say so in the comments and I'll make sure you're updated when it happens.

The entire thing is a bit too long, coming in at 36 handwritten pages. The excerpt below is the first 6 of those 36 pages, so you'll see that this is really way to long for a half hour show, but it is probably too short for an hour show, too. Still, with some cleaning up in the middle (the most boring part, occurring in a psychiatrist's office) it could come down to a half hour (with commercials).

I welcome any and all criticism. The first part below is probably the funniest, and much of the rest needs punching up with jokes or laugh lines.

I came up with the story from my own life: Separated from my wife, looking for a new place to live and a new job. No, I have not ridden any elephants. I wanted to see the funny side of all of this, so I wrote it. I hope it came out well. Now, if I only knew what to do with it.

Looking for Paradise - Episode 1, Draft 1

Fade in-

The scene is a hotel cafe, based on the ideas of hip multicultural, literary "world cafes," but swallowed digested, and pooped out by the corporate culture that runs the hotel chain's marketing department. Think cardboard coasters with images of Ché.

We see RUBY a dark haired woman of 35. Her hair is combed, but barely. Her clothes are nice, mid-level business attire (not biz casual, not biz formal), but they are unevenly pressed and placed just slightly askew, as if she put the clothes away too hurriedly and put them on in a hurry as well. The straight lines on this girl have gone crooked.

RUBY is on the telephone, multitasking by filling out a form, stacking papers into piles, then putting them into envelopes all the while keeping the phone conversation going.

Uh huh… mmm… yeah… oh, Sandy, I really can’t have this conversation right now. I know, Greg’s habits are disgusting, I told you that when you started seeing him,… uh huh,… yeah… And then he ATE IT??? Oh my God, that’s disgusting!!

Look, we have to have this conversation another time. I have a bit of a crisis on my hands. Well, that’s why I called you. I… I have to find a place to live. … Yeah, I have to find an apartment or something and I thought you might help.

Yeah, um, Rick kicked me out… yes, kicked me out. Um, because I stole money from the company…. $30,000… and went to Vegas… huh? Yes, all of it. .. Yeah, when he came to pick me up at the Vegas Police Station, that was it.

No, Rick wouldn’t press charges, he just fired me and wants me to pay it back. Then why id he have to pick me up at the police station?… Oh, It was nothing. … Anyway… no, really, it was nothing… no, let’s just move on… Sandy, you’re driving me crazy…

Alright!… it was for public nudity… and riding a stolen elephant… sort of simultaneously… Well, it seemed like a fun thing to do at the time!… In hindsight, sure, it probably wasn’t very wise, but how many times are you going to have the opportunity to ride an elephant in the buff? [Other patrons of the Café look up at this] Some things are just hard to pass up! …

So look, I can tell you all that later. I need to look for an apartment tomorrow and I want you to come with me. You can? Oh good! Have breakfast first? OK, meet me here at about 10.

Oh, and don’t tell Mom. Really Sandy, don’t even kid about it. You remember how she was when Rick and I got married. She went on about what a bad idea it was. I’ll never hear the end of it. So don’t breathe a word. OK? Good. Oh, and tell Greg I said BUUURRRRRPPP!!! [Other patrons look up again]!!!! He he he. . Love you Sis!

RUBY hangs up and focuses on sorting her mailings, chanting “cover letter, resume, in the envelope, stamp, seal. Cover letter,…” her chant begins to become a little song/rap, and she starts moving to the rhythm until she’s actually rocking out to it. Other patrons notice, but this time are less judgmental, more open to joyful exuberance.

A woman, AMANDA, in her early 60’s enters the café, scans the tables quickly, homes in on RUBY and declares:

Ruby, what on earth has gotten into you?

RUBY abruptly pulled from her resume rock out, sheepishly looks up at AMANDA.

Hi Mom.

Ruby, I don’t know what I’m going to do with you.

How did you know where I was?

Rick told me, of course. I called to get that wonderful _________ Recipe of his that the Dachshund meet-up group loved so much, and when I asked for you, he told me the whole sordid thing. Poor man.

Poor man? What about me? He wasn’t the one who had to clean up Elephant poop for 13 hours. I don’t know what they’d been feeding Jamy there, but it sure wasn’t pretty!

Oh, please, Ruby. You got off easy. Quit thinking of yourself just this once. You got yourself into the problem, now quit whining about it. Rick, on the other hand, didn’t ask for this, and now he’s got to explain the missing $40,000, and a wife who is bonkers.

I’m not bonkers, Mother, and it was $30,000.

It was 40. Rick had to bribe the circus so they wouldn’t press charges, or you’d have been doing a lot moor than 13 hours of jumbo poop duty, he he…. I said “poop” and “duty”.

Mother, grow up, this is serious. Look, was there a particular reason you dropped by? Besides sticking me in the ribs with that Satan’s pitchfork of a tongue?

Yes. I want to know what you are going to do. What’s your plan?

What do you mean, “what’s my plan?” Obvious, isn’t it? Get a job, get a place to live, get my life back.

It’s that last part that I’m interested in… what’s your plan to get your life back? You know there’s no going back to Rick. As soon as you can get a place, Rick’s writing you off. Of course I told him not to marry you in the first place, but who listens to me.

Thanks a lot for your support, Mother.

What? I was looking out for you as much for him. I knew you wouldn’t make one another happy. I told you not to marry him, too. My point is that you can’t have Rick to fall back on anymore. There will be no more rescues from Rick. The next fight you get into at the mall over the last Electrohead CD…

Radiohead, mother….

Rick won’t be there to make sure you don’t go to jail for breaking an 18 year old cheerleader’s nose (though it did improve her looks, if you ask me). When you max out the credit card on a set of antique tarot cards… 15 decks of them, he won’t be there to negotiate a lower interest rate for the 57th time. You’re on your own kid. So what I want to know is, what’s your plan?

I don’t know Mom. I just know I have to take it one step at a time, and my first steps are a place to work and a place to live.

Well, you’d better hurry up and figure out how to make sure that the next step doesn’t come up with Elephant Doody all over it. Here, let me help you with those.

AMANDA and RUBY begin packaging up the resumes, with AMANDA starting in with the “Cover letter…resume…” chant.


- smaller



I believe this is really a singer called Alizee, but the image had the basic feel I was looking for.

4 vote(s)


(none yet)

5 comment(s)

(no subject)
posted by The Vixen on October 24th, 2007 2:33 AM

Oh lord, I can't wait to read this! Tomorrow....when it's not 2:30 in the morning.....

(no subject)
posted by Charlie Fish on October 24th, 2007 7:42 AM

This is great, but I feel like I would need to read more of it to get a real idea.

Are you going to submit this anywhere, or is it just for SF0?

I thought the exchange from when Amanda says

I said “poop” and “duty”

To when she says

15 decks of them

needed a bit of work. It feels a bit too expositional, like you are forcing the narrative on us. And the horribly worn lavatory joke is no good.

But apart from that, I can't fault it so far...

Needs work...
posted by JTony Loves Brains on October 24th, 2007 9:43 AM

Oh, you are so not kidding when you say this all needs work. Like I said, it is totally unedited, from my head to my hand to the pen. And your comment about it being overly expositional is right on, too, and I'm afraid to say it gets worse from there (the Dr.'s visit scene is all explanation of what her condition is, and I think reads like a stone in the middle of the story).

I am so thankful for the feedback, though. I wrote it originally for SF0, so don't have plans for submitting it anywhere, but who knows.

(no subject)
posted by The Vixen on October 26th, 2007 12:42 AM

So I just re-read what you wrote in your proof (and in your comment) and then I read what I wrote and um..... I think I responded to an issue/problem that your completion doesn't have. I've never critiqued a script/sitcom before and I went all "Novel" on you. Whoops.... but I'm leaving my critique because it's good general advice for writing a story.

Here's what I would do:

Take it apart bit by bit, and then dump the excess plot so that you have just one paragraph remaining. That paragraph will contain the heart of the story.

I used to be intimidated by writing longish scenes/stories. I went about them all wrong. You see, instead of coming up with an outline for a plot (including beginning, climax and resolution), I would write the story from the beginning with only a fuzzy idea about what was going to happen. The story would then run so completely off track, I'd question why I'd even written it in the first place.

Start small. Before you even begin writing the story, work on the characters. I find it helpful to write up something of a character "profile," including their personal history, likes, dislikes, mannerisms, etc. If this is too compartmentalized for you, write a few scenes that highlight character interaction (two to three people) and try to develop their personalities from there.

Once you have a feel for the individual characters, work backwards. The climax/resolution is the most important factor in a well written story, so form a clear idea of "what happens" and then you can fill in the rest. You know, like with the plot and everything else in between :) Ok, just kidding. But really, once you formulate a solid base, you're then free to play around with the details without fear of going off track.

Since your story is a sitcom, you have a lot more freedom to work with the characters. Having it in script-like form makes the description of setting and mood easy: you don't have to worry about making it sound pretty. Just precise. You also have the luxury of focusing in on dialog without all that excess directional slosh (like, "She said" or "He quavered.") Just take it slow, one scene at a time, and your vision for this story will materialize.


(no subject)
posted by JTony Loves Brains on April 23rd, 2014 2:45 PM

Note that I've finally submitted the full text of the Pilot episode if anyone is still interested.

Looking for