The Words on the Page

The Great Indoors

January 17, 2017

The Great Indoors

Written by Mike Gibbons

Revised Network Draft - January 2016

Multicam Sitcom, 46 pages

 

"He's a cocky, undisciplined nomad with zero management experience." - Brooke

 

The Great Indoors is a fun, workplace sitcom about an adventure reporter who is forced to manage a group of digital-obsessed millennials who have never explored the great outdoors. The irony in the premise alone made me want to check out this show, and I found the script to be a fun read.

 

While some of the complaints are a bit stereotypical - participation trophies and having a podcast because you can, not because you necessarily have anything to say - exploiting these stereotypes is where the show shines. Joel instantly becomes likable as a fish-out-of-water character and, even though we might not be outdoor adventures, we quickly empathize with him as he seems the most "normal."

 

One technique this piece used that I enjoyed was asides to the audience in the action lines. For example, Joel's initial description: "Joel is a 35-ish outdoorsy, guy's guy who could anchor a huge sitcom." Only a few were used, but they made me giggle and fit the tone of the show well. Thanks to them, I was instantly able to picture these characters.

 

While I usually let the script stand on its own, I decided to watch the aired pilot of the show and see how much was changed in the nine months between this draft and its October air date. To my surprise, while the premise remained the same, many of the characters felt different. First, Joel became Jack - which sounds like a cooler name overall - and he no longer had a broken foot. These may be small changes, but they lifted him to more of an aspirational standing. Emma, the female digital millennial, was described as a "beautiful blonde" in the script but became a gorgeous Asian woman on the screen. With all of the talk about whitewashing in Hollywood, it was nice to see that a network role seemingly written for a caucasian went to a minority - and Christine Ho brings Emma to life beautifully. Another change has to do with the character of Eddie. In the script he was Joel's roommate, but in the aired pilot he was the owner of the local bar. This was a smart move as it gave the cast as a whole another place to hang out and provided a place we could see them all together other than the office.

 

The biggest shift was the relationship between Joel and Brooke, his probable love interest. In the script I read, they clearly had history and each was upset that the other was working at the magazine. In the aired pilot, Brooke has actually requested Joel be pulled from assignment and brought to work in the office. With Brooke wanting Joel there, a more interested dynamic was reached.

 

While the aired pilot had several differences from the script I read, the concept remained strong in both. Really, it was the details that were changed. Seeing the differences between the two, and theorizing on the reasons why, proved informative.

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Writing for film, television, and the stage is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult - and most rewarding - art forms. The language needs to be visual and evocative as each script must achieve two important tasks...
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