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October 05 2006

An Open Smile on a Friendly Shore - Jane Espenson blogs about dividing the writing of single TV episodes among writing staff. In her ongoing on-line screenwriting seminar, using Buffy and other examples, Jane explains several ways that one episode's writing chores can be split among multiple TV writers.

Jane uses "Conversations With Dead People", "Life Serial" and other TV shows to illustrate conceptually how one TV episode can be split up King-Solomon-esquely and divied up to "milling and embittered writers" like so many hungry birds.

You'll all be glad to learn that "Conversations with Dead People" had an "atypically modular structure."

Ah, CwDP. Beautiful episode. I heard Jane's commentary on it, and was very disappointed at a line that had to be cut.

Dawn: “They said I couldn’t bring you back.”
Joyce: “Well maybe I’m the first.”

Not because I think Joyce was The First in that scene, but because I like wondering if she was.
Check it out -- I just noticed that Jane's blog has the lunch typo "jalapeno poppers" -- I cut-and-pasted from her blog to make some of the tags, and now we have it, too (thus errors are passed around on the interwebs.)

I'm tempted to leave it for a while, as "jalapeno poppers" could produce sensations I've never had before... Jane always comes up with the fun lunch treats.
"Poppers" made sense to me. We don't have Jack in the Crack out this way, so maybe it is a typo, but some of the restaurants here have something similar. It usually involves sticking a wad of Monterey Jack cheese in a jalapeno pepper and then breading and deep-frying the lot. Yecch. But then Jane routinely eats things for lunch that I wouldn't feed to my dog. Must be a California thing.
QG, poppers are deep fried jalapenos with a layer of mozzarella cheese in between the pepper and the batter.

Not surprised you didn't know about them - I think Jane is the first woman I've ever heard of that likes 'em..:P

Or...ya know... typo.
Thanks, all, for the Word -- I think you'all can imagine the picture that I had in my young and impressionable mind.
At some point, either on the commentary or in the special features somewhere, they clarify that Joyce was the First in that scene. Although it was meant to cause confusion - we all kinda wanted her back, just like Dawn :P
At some point, either on the commentary or in the special features somewhere, they clarify that Joyce was the First in that scene.

Yeah, they said so in the commentary. But I'm not sure what I'm choosing to believe, you know? One of those things.
I've got the chronic and apparently incurable "List-Meme Disease" so here's some things I just purely love about these two classic and very different Buffy eps:

"Life Serial"

BUFFY: Maybe I should ease back in with some non-taxing classes, like, introduction to pies...

the Logan's Run shout-out:

WARREN: Francis 7, this is Logan 5. I'm in position, do you copy?

Warren's very trippy test -- the "Omega Pulse Sequence," the Geeks' van Star Wars horn, the oblique SNAFU reference:

BUFFY: So, situation normal then.

all the "Magic Bone" talk, Anya's helpful retail advice to Buffy:

ANYA: Don't worry, don't be nervous. Do what I do, just picture yourself naked.

Scully wanting Andrew so bad, the whole looping sequence, an "Ask me about curses!" nametag, poker-for-!kittens! & Clem, Andrew getting smacked for liking Timothy Dalton best -- well, the whole distracting Geek/Bond discussion, Jonathan-as-Demon:

DEMON: I am well struck! I call on the misty portal to my demon dimension, where I will lay my head and gently die.

and of course, free cable porn.


"Conversations With Dead People"

the whole concept of the episode's parallel time-framing (if that makes sense), Jonathan & Andrew always:

ANDREW: Ah, I didn't like it there. Everybody spoke Mexicalan.
and
ANDREW: "It eats you starting with your bottom."

Dawn being a little sister alone in the house, Willow being dear and vulnerable *sniff*, seeing Cassie again & being gladdened by that at first, all Holden Webster/Buffy Summers dialogue & action:

HOLDEN: Well, you were never around. A lot of kids thought you were dating some really old guy, or that you were just heavy religious. Scott Hope said you were gay.

Scott Hope coming out, seeing all the havoc in the Summers' house in darkness & flashes (very scary), Andrew & Jonathan for humour:

ANDREW: I have shin splints.

and pathos:

JONATHAN: No, I'm serious. I really miss it. Time goes by, and everything drops away... All the cruelty, all the pain, all that humiliation. It all washes away.

Also Psych 101, insane troll logic, "I'm here to kill you, not to judge you," and can't leave this out:

HOLDEN: Oh, well, you know, not my God, because I defy him and all of his works, but... Does he exist? Is there word on that, by the way?

Saint Joyce, setting up all the arcs for the next few shows, and the music that framed the show playing us out...

(Hope this wasn't too much, but these eps are so different and yet, co-authored by Jane, which is just so nifty.)

ET: can't even believe I originally typed "uncurable" which is probably used to describe poorly tanned hides, not diseases.

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2006-10-05 10:04 ]
Bra-VO, QG! I usually refrain from the kudos you so readily and deservedly receive from everyone (and not that you give one whit what I think anyway!), because hey - can't have you getting a big head, right? You might decide to get a better job elsewhere (can't think of where that would possibly BE, but... you know)!

This post of yours was just pure fried gold, and I so concur! Yay! Bet you made Jane all reminisce-y...
I am! I am all reminisce-y! Some of those were Esporiginals, some were Joss, some were Drew Goddard, some I don't remember who they came from, but well chosen!

And, yes, I did mean Jalapeno poppers... all deep fried and crispy with soft gooey cheese inside.

Kittens!
(Hee. Fried gold. Thanks, Willowy, I got all reminisce-y, myself, and it was almost like live-blogging or something, since a transcript makes me see & hear the episode all over again...)

Ms. Jane, coolio!, and must say that "Esporiginals" is great, wish I could make my name do suchwise, but it's all Germanic & leaden. (My so-called real last name, not my moniker on here...)

(I just watched PR3 "Reunion Show" and Vincent's Laundry Tantrum scared the crap out of me. Never in my life have I cared about my clothing -- or maybe anything -- like that strange man cared about his laundry...)

ETA: Oops! Ta & Tiny Tabbies!

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2006-10-05 08:13 ]
GLORY be to God for dappled deep fried things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape Buffys plotted and pieced

"Pied Beauty"
Gerald Manley Hopkins (assisted)

"All things counter crispy, original, spare-ribs, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled french-fried (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet & sour; adazzle, dim dim-sum;
He fathers-forth whose beauty caloric intake is past change:
Praise him"

"Pied Beauty" - from Stanza Deux
Gerald Manley Hopkins (also assisted)
:> & (o)(o)

ET: fix automatic & knee-jerk atheistic deletion of "Praise him."

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2006-10-05 08:28 ]
Blog? Hell, it's a frakkin' salon in here (as in "very witty, Mr. Wilde, very witty!"). ;-)

And, as we really should on all Espithreads(TM) --
Kittens! :-)
Wow, QuoterGal, truly named you are and no messing. A monster quote post and yet so non-monstrous ;). And Jane getting all reminisce-y, it's like you programmed her head ! In the good way. Probably.

!Kitt3nz, yo!

(not deep fried though, that's beyond the pale even for an eater of deep fried pizza and a trier of deep fried Mars Bar)
Hey JaneEsp, If you wander back in and care to answer, does the old thing of someone writing a particular character still happen? I am trying to remember examples that do not involve screen icons who were working a hundred years ago, but I am having a hard time. I think that is because I first read about it as something that Mae West and WC Fields would do for themselves no matter who had written or was directing the film they were in. It seems like I read about it later as well in different circumstances though...

Lovin' the blog as always.

QuoterGal, You have been going great guns/full speed ahead with the great quotes lately. Even more than usual. Make sure you don't overdo it or pull anything. I've found hot baths before bedtime help. ;-)

Ohhhhh, I can't help it. Add to Life Serial, Spike when accused of cheating "He's got ex-ray vision." Demon: "I'm not using it." That always tickled me. Add to CWDP Buffy's response to Holden's question about God. "Nothing solid." ...and so much more.

Kittens!
Poppers: available around Chicago, so not just California. Jalapenos halved lengthwise, filled with cream cheese (or sometimes cheddar), breaded then fried. Very tasty.
Poppers: available around Chicago, so not just California.

Yes. When I lived there, I used to gobble 'em up at a sports bar in the western suburbs. Thanks for the memories.
newcj: "I've found hot baths before bedtime help."

Don't worry, newcj, I make sure to warm up before engaging in vigorous or strenuous quoting -- don't want to pull a brain-string or something. Or get brain-splints.

ET: Dang it. !Kittens! so small you can't see them without a magnifying glass!

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2006-10-05 22:46 ]
Great quotes, QuoterGal, as always. Those are two of my favourite episodes. I love Buffy's expression every time she takes a drink. And the slug candles. So many good scenes - and quotes - from both. Now I want to go back and watch Season 6 again, and I just finished it a few weeks ago!

Kittens! especially Maine Coons and Tuxedo Cats!

[ edited by samatwitch on 2006-10-06 06:34 ]
Jalepeno poppers at Jack in the Box are a real guilty pleasure. Not the greatest cheese, of course, but they're good. Sometimes basically the same idea in Texas has sausage instead of cheese inside or sausage and cheese.
They also sell frozen jalepeno poppers in the supermarket. They're okay, though not fabulous IMO.
Ooh! A question to answer! I'm referring to the one about a writer servicing a particular character. I know what you're talking about with old movies, but I believe that had to do, as you say, with writers working for an *actor* and punching up their material, no matter what character they were playing. And I think that might still happen, a bit, in features.

The writing-for-one-character thing you're asking about, if I understand what you mean, isn't really done. It used to be a pretty common assumption about the process though. Even ten years ago I was frequently asked "which character do you write for?" Joss once joked about being asked that same question on Roseanne. He imagined himself striding into the writers' room, announcing that Darlene would be ending the scene with "that's not a pekinese" (or whatever) and striding out again, his job finished.

And yet, the idea isn't totally crazy. Marc Cherry has famously spoken about in season one, he wrote all of Bree's material on Desperate Housewives, although I believe he means that he wrote all the material for all her scenes, including all the lines spoken by all the other characters in those scenes. And I, also, have spoken about how much I enjoyed writing for Anya, although, of course, in practice, I don't suppose I wrote any more lines for her than any other writer did.

Hope that helps!

Jane
How Especially nice, newcj [AKA Fairness Girl, Global Repercussions Girl, The Three Faces of Eve and Multiple Girl(s)] will be so happy to read this.

(Anya, Cordy 1.0, Faith -- any of the more shamelessly direct women would have been my first choices to speak for. I loved Anya's inability to adopt human guile.)
They also sell frozen jalepeno poppers in the supermarket. They're okay, though not fabulous IMO.
Did you deep fry them, newcj? I think the ones at Jack in the Box are frozen, too. But they have to be deep fried to have the goodness. The homemade ones are always deep fried.

Jane Esp, as others have said, I think your insights can be appreciated by those who don't have aspirations towards actual screenwriting careers. Though that as your target audience might benefit many.
This thread is so perfect, all y'all, I won't ruin it with any of my crap. Peace. Out.
Awwww, thanks JaneEps. Yes, you answered the question and it is much appreciated. JaneEps = class act

(rubbing hands together in an evilly anticipatory way) So tempting to run back to Jane's blog to remember all the other questions that have occurred to me over the months and try to take total advantage of JaneEps apparently generous nature. Naw, I want Jane to come back, like everybody else does. ;-)

Agreed, Quotergal.

dreamlogic,I have actually always had them at parties where they had been baked. I had no doubt deep frying would improve them greatly.

JLV, You ok? Let me feel your head for a temp...
That's because deep frying improves everything. Trust me, i'm Scottish, we know these things (I think we're still top of the league for coronary heart disease in Europe. Yay us. We're number 1 ! We're number 1 ! ;).

(OK, apart from the aforementioned Mars Bar. If you didn't think chocolate could be superheated to the point where it can actually melt tongues, just try one. Also, something about the process takes the sweetness of the Mars Bar and turns it into a malevolent, instant diabetes inducing force. In short, I wasn't a fan ;)

jlv, don't think 'crap' think 'fertiliser'. Like how they grow roses ;).
Quotergal, ...and the rest of us agree too, even though Newcj didn't bother to say so. ;-)
newcj, I'm fine, just miss your girls. Afraid you're not eating enough to sustain all of you--buy some more poppers. And the temp is cute, but why did she want you to feel my head? Kinky.

Saje, word, and thanks for that one.

P S. Jane Esp, I love you.
The Mummy Hand and Kitten Poker parts of Life Serial contain some of the finest and funniest moments of all of BTVS!

All of those mentioned above, and then "Oh, you saw the cheating then" and "Timothy Dalton should win an oscar and beat Sean Connery on the head with it!"

Not only the writing but all the delivery of the lines was hilarious. Especially loved the "He's got x-ray vision" "I'm not using it" exchange. Perfect!

And my kids LOVE Jalapeno poppers. Me, I don't think that food should hurt!

They did have to order both the deep-fried twinkie and the deep-fried oreo at the fair once. I think they enjoyed the decadent novelty of it but I haven't seen them order it since!
JLV, Glad to hear you sounding more like yourself. Unfortunately I think I am probably eating plenty for all of us at this point. (I am headed to a weekend in the mountains with unlimited amounts of really good food, so I may be big enough to be a few people by the time I get back...)

As far as the temp, I had not thought about the kinkiness factor. If it makes you uncomfortable, forget I said anything, if not...well that is between you and the temp. BTW, I'm no judge, how hot was she? ;-)
newcj, I didn't have a thermometer, so I couldn't take the temp's temp.

Have mountains of hilly fun on your weekend jaunt!

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