Sunday, August 14, 2011

Notting Whim, Actually: A Controversy in the ATW (Part One)

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

Those of you who have been following the Saturday serial each week were probably more taken aback by the strangeness of yesterday’s episode than any other strange episode we’ve written. Hmm. This just in. There is actually no one who has been reading the serial each week. Ok. Nonetheless, I probably need to clear the air after the airing of dirty laundry that was Episode Thirty-Two of “Flash Ahhhh!”

I could simply say, “Hey Nathan, I think you misunderstood what I said,” but that would be too easy. No, I think I have to tell the story of the controversy that has shaken the very core of According To Whim (although that’s hyperbole exaggerated by extremes to the nth degree) so that everyone can understand what the issue was. I think I’ll tell it as a romantic comedy though, so that no one can understand what the issue was. You see many romantic comedies follow a formula. They meet. They don’t really like each other. They have reason to get to know each other. They start to fall for each other. There is a misunderstanding that threatens to ruin everything they are. They resolve it and live happily after credits.

In this synopsis of our romantic comedy “Notting Whim”… no, no. Make that “Whim, Actually.” No. “Sleepless in the Back of a Volkswagen Bug.” Um… I got it. We’ll call it “The Flashers” so that it has a nice double meaning.

In the synopsis of our romantic comedy “The Flashers” Chris is played by Hugh Grant and Nathan is played by Julia Roberts. Wait, no. Reverse that. Chris has longer hair.

They Meet – Nathan, played by Hugh Grant, is a sketch comedy show writer. He lives in Fort Worth, Texas, but since he’s played by Hugh Grant, he’s decidedly British. One night he writes the beginning of a sketch for his wildly successful public access/You Tube show, According To Whim. You see, in the land of romantic comedy, everyone has to be wildly successful at what they do, or at least assimilated into the wildly successful culture by the end of the movie. Chris, played by Julia Roberts, is also a writer on this incredibly successful show, and is assigned the task of helping Nathan finish the sketch idea by Miguel, their boss, played by Phillip Michael Thomas. Chris writes part of the sketch and passes it back to Nathan claiming that they could write a whole episode around the plot, which is about the two main characters gaining super powers and not really wanting to do anything with them, but that they should trade turns writing to make it unsure what direction the script will go. The script is called “Flash Ahhhh!” and the audience suddenly gets why the movie is called “The Flashers.” Half of them walk out realizing that once again they will not be seeing Julia Roberts’s breasts.

They Don’t Really Like Each Other – Nathan attempts to placate Julia, um, that is Chris, but the idea doesn’t really interest him. He goes to their boss and asks that the sketch be left incomplete. Miguel, being not only the boss, but also comic relief, says some very funny things, probably about honeyed apricots, and tells Nathan that the show is so wildly successful that it can coast on its own for a while. In his infinite wisdom, he feels that he should assign Nathan and Chris to a new project, a blog about the super successful According To Whim. Nathan is reluctant, but trusts his boss and true friend (because bosses in these things are always true friends for some reason) and agrees to the blog. After all, he doesn’t actually have to deal with Chris with his nice boobs and horse teeth. They simply have to write blog posts. The problem is that their blog output is low. Miguel, being their boss, steps in and tells them that they have to write a daily blog, and he does some funny stuff, because he’s comic relief. This only causes more trouble as Chris and Nathan can’t seem to get on the same page about who should write what and when.

They Have Reason to Get to Know Each Other (Part One) – Nathan goes to Miguel and says that Chris is driving him crazy. He’s not sure why really. Miguel in a moment of pure character suggests that maybe Nathan is falling for Chris, you know not in a gay way, but as a creative person. Nathan denies it, but the audience can tell that Chris has gotten under his skin. Miguel, being a boss and a true friend, suggests that maybe they should split the writing down the middle. Nathan says that would be fine, but they’d have to work out a two week schedule because there are an uneven number of days in a week. Miguel smiles that mildly devious boss and true friend smile, and explains that he thinks they should work on “Flash Ahhhh!” as a serialized script to be written on Saturdays.

They Have Reason to Get to Know Each Other (Part Two) – Later at a New Year’s Eve office party, because there always has to be an office party, everyone is having a good time, and only one person is drinking irresponsibly, but it’s ok, because his scenes are pretty funny, and will actually catapult him to stardom even though it’s a small role. The scriptwriters are careful to show him getting a ride from his designated driver later. Nathan and Chris end up talking about how they’re going to work the blog posting. They decide on three posts a week by each of them and sharing the serial post, either that they each do a part each week or that one person writes an episode one week, and the other writes an episode the next. Nathan decides to try the latter. Then Chris points out that since he’s being played by Julia Roberts, and what happens at the office party stays at the office party, that they should run around and lift their shirts at everyone. The remaining audience members are disappointed that all the shots cleverly manage to not show their chests, and are body doubles anyway.

They Start to Fall for Each Other (Part One) – The first three episodes are what they wrote before the blog was started. When it was supposed to be a half hour show, Chris put in a character named Reece/Larry who would either show up later and save them in spite of Chris treating him poorly, would show up and not save them because of Chris’s treatment, or would not show up at all and Chris would say, “Wasn’t that kid supposed to save us?” Chris had no idea which. He figured he would see how the script unfolded. When it became a serial that would last for 52 episodes, Chris made note of the character just in case there was a chance to bring him back in. He figured that with 52, count ‘em, 52, episodes to fill out, they would possibly need the material. In this way, Chris started noting any of the small details that had the potential for future use; not as a means of having some grand scheme for the story, but as a way of generating 52, count ‘em, 52, episodes worth of material.

They Start to Fall for Each Other (Part Two) – Nathan writes Episode Four. He leaves some vague, open ended situations, as is required for this kind of writing. Chris does his best to pick up where Nathan left off, but writing a whole episode allows the story to go way off from where Nathan had thought he might like to take it. Also, Chris leaves the characters in a big cliffhanger situation. Nathan, being a little overwhelmed, has the characters wake up, and it was all a dream. He later apologizes to Chris for doing that, even though Chris wasn’t particularly worried about it, having no specific plot plans in mind. They move over to writing half an episode each, and Nathan writes some notes about how they might proceed with the story. Chris adds those notes to his own notes, and they continue writing the story together harmoniously prior to the big misunderstanding. This is probably done through a montage, maybe using Elvis Costello’s “Everyday I Write the Book.” Or Sheryl Crow’s “Every Day is a Winding Road” if they’re hard up in the music licensing department.

Be sure to read Part Two of this synopsis of the light hearted romantic comedy when it is explained what Chris was doing with the script that caused the confusion. And to find out if Nathan and Chris will ever find true love, or at least complete their serial.

No comments :

Post a Comment