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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Mustn’t-See TV

I signed up recently to take a class that my friend Jenn is teaching. I registered a few weeks ago and learned — just last night — that the class may involve writing a script for a sitcom.

The name of the class, by the way, is “Sitcom Script Writing”.

Yeah, yeah. I never said I was bright. Stop snickering.

Anyway, it got me thinking. That’s a hell of an undertaking. Even if it’s a script for an existing show, with all the characters already established and all that pilot-episode weird sexual tension just a distant Season One memory. It’s still pages and pages of words. Very few of them made up, ideally. Color me daunted, a little.

Still, I’ve got a couple of things working for me. Fourteen hundred and change incoherent rambles in this joint, for one. I came up with a few show ideas, once. They were universally unwatchable, even in summary form. A few were likely illegal. Together, they violated at least six commandments.

So, you know — good stuff.

“The only thing behind those awful ideas are more awful ideas. Terrible, sickly, palsied ideas who are pissed to have been stuck behind the first batch of stinkers for so long.”

I also mapped out an episode of 24, and planned an entire season of MythBusters. Which they never even called me about.

(Personally, I think they just don’t want to tackle the “can’tfight city hall” myth. Chickens.)

More relevantly, I also once pretended I knew something about how a sitcom should be written — actually, how NOT to write a sitcom — which I should have realized would bite me in the ass someday. Twelve rules, I came up with. I’m sure to break at least six of them — half of my own rules, damn it to hell — in the first page of anything I might manage to write.

Out. Freaking. Standing.

So, with failure assured and selling out a virtual lock, I figured the least I could do is get a few awful ideas out of the way before the first class.

I harbor no misconceptions, mind you. The only thing behind those awful ideas are more awful ideas. Terrible, sickly, palsied ideas who are pissed to have been stuck behind the first batch of stinkers for so long. Some of them probably have their pants around their ankles, for reasons I’m not at all prepared to think about right now.

So. Bad sitcom ideas. Coming right up. Don’t forget to tip the waitresses.

Unless you’re a Nielsen family. Then RUN! RUN LIKE A MILQUETOAST CHEETAH!! SAVE YOUR EYES!!

Meh. Let’s do this thing already:

Bad Sitcom Idea #1: Ever wondered what wacky misadventures befall your average young pretty dental assistant? Meet Jean, a twenty-something tooth scraper fresh out of school who just can’t seem to put it all together. She’ll drill a canal all the way to your heart as you ‘root’ for her to get her act together, find a guy, and to turn the X-rays off already, Mr. Johnson’s been in the machine for three hours! I guess his teeth won’t be having children any time soon! You’ll feel like you’re sucking nitrous through the spit-cup hose when you turn in for a dose of Hi, Jean!

Bad Sitcom Idea #2: If there was ever a hobby crying out for its own series, it’s stamp collecting. Clearly. So in this new series, Stamp By Me, follow the lives of four friends — each living in his mother’s basement — as they track down rare finds, fight over uncancelled goodies and generally philatelate their way through life, love (of stamps, mostly) and friendships that last like they’ve been licked on the back and stuck on an air mail parcel. We’ll send it LOD — Laughs on Delivery — right to your door.

Bad Sitcom Idea #3: In World War II-era France, a dysfunctional family has retreated underground to the catacombs under the city of Paris, dodging shrapnel and Gestapo raids as they wise-crack and put each other down. The father earns the family’s meager income by selling stiletto heels and fancy womens’ boots in a small shop topside, while the precocious teenage daughter flirts with any and all suitors — from Strasbourg salesmen to SS soldiers. This one’s called: Buried, With Children.

Bad Sitcom Idea #4: What would the glamorous world of rock stars be without the rock stars? Hilarious, is what. In this show, we follow the lives of the ‘other guys’ on tour — the amp luggers and sycophants, publicists, caterers and hangers-on. Who’ll accidentally break a string on the guitar player’s favorite axe, or forget to toast the baloney for the green room spread, sending the drummer’s mistress into a tizzy? That’s the fun these anonymous schmoes will have on Roadies and Toadies — where the magic happens before the magic happens.

Bad Sitcom Idea #5: In a bid to pull Jan, everyone’s favorite Brady, out of semi-retirement, this show is a vehicle for actress Eve Plumb. She’ll star as a plucky-but-tough empty nester divorcee who’s forced to start a contracting company with her handy but not-so-bright ex-husband to make ends meet. He installs pipes while she instills homespun wisdom in her now-grown kids and her company’s clients. It’s wholesome family fun on Plumb and Plumber.

Bad Sitcom Idea #6: Two words — MILQUETOAST CHEETAH! It’d be animated, most likely. Gilbert Gottfried’s not doing anything these days — he’d probably take the main voice role at a cut rate. Maybe he’s the Chee-tos cat’s wimpy brother or something. Demanding boss. Harpy wife. Cheese puff food fights with his bratty kids. Seriously, look — there’s a character sketch, half the casting and a product tie-in, already. Get a bunch of artsy twelve-year-olds in some Third World country to draw some cute whiskers and black spots on some old Garfield cartoons, and you’re finished. I’m not doing all the work for these monstrosities.

All right, that’s bad enough for now. I’m already frightened to see what’s lurking behind those heaving nightmares. And in another week or so, we may all find out. Hide your retinas and children, folks. This could get ugly.

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