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Peter Rogers's Blog
Artist-in-Residence at Chez Firth

Sunday (3/1/09) 7:04pm - ... wherein Peter writes at the rate of twenty words per hour.

My homework for TV class this week is to come up with three loglines for spec scripts for our show of choice.  I'm doing Burn Notice, and I came up with five loglines.  Could people (especially Burn Notice fans [especially innocentsmith]) advise me on your three favorites?

(... and if you can think of any adjustments I should make to those three favorites, lemme know.)



"Reprogramming"
When a dangerous cult abducts a child, Michael goes undercover to rescue her -- but can he survive capture and brainwashing himself?

"Marked Cards"
Michael matches wits with a master thief to foil a heist at a Miami casino.

"Perimeter Warning"
An EPA official finds signs of environmental damage near a local nuclear plant, but can't prove her case.  Michael must break into the high-security site to gather the incriminating evidence.

"Hotwired"
When thieves steal a valuable automotive prototype, Michael has 24 hours to track down the car before they ship it out of the country.

"Fifteen Kilos"
When a high-school English teacher receives a misdirected shipment of heroin, rival gangs scour Miami for it, and it's up to Michael to keep her out of the crossfire.[1]

______
[1] Total h/t to shadyglenn on this one.  Brilliant!




Wow.  Yes, that's what I've spent my entire week coming up with -- literally hours and hours.  I'm having a damn good time, but good Christ on a pogo stick, coming up with loglines is hard work.

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Mood: [mood icon] accomplished · Music: not the John Dickson soundtrack, that's for sure
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From:racingpenguins
Date:Sunday (3/1/09) 7:27pm
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Never seen the show, but I'd vote for Reprogramming, Perimeter Warning, and Fifteen Kilos...especially if that last one starred Kate and her witty one-liners as the teacher.
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From:hujhax
Date:Sunday (3/1/09) 7:29pm
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~ thanks! ~
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From:ext_68735
Date:Monday (3/2/09) 10:46am

My two cents

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"Marked Cards" feels pretty stale from the log line. It could be an episode of any number of shows. The other four all show promise, but only "Fifteen Kilos" and "Reprogramming" give me any real stakes for the clients.

With "Perimeter Warning", why can't the EPA official just go to her bosses? Are her bosses involved in a conspiracy? What forces her to go outside normal channels?

"Hotwired", to me, has the most potential but it's really missing that key element. Did one of the junior engineers on the project take the car for a joyride? Why can't the authorities be called in? What is at stake for him?

The key to Burn Notice is that these are jobs that *only* Michael Westen can tackle. The victims can't trust the authorities, or the authorities don't believe the victims. Something is going on beneath the veneer of Miami glitz and glamour in its dark (though sunlit) alleys and dens of iniquity.
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From:hujhax
Date:Monday (3/2/09) 10:53am

Re: My two cents

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Thanks!  And yeah, I kept hitting the brick wall of "but why can't s/he just call the cops?"  I'd worked out an explanation for "Hotwired", but never quite figured it out for "Perimeter Warning".  Let me see if I can clean up those two loglines to address those concerns....
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From:hujhax
Date:Monday (3/2/09) 1:10pm

Re: My two cents

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(a bit more blathering about the loglines)
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From:innocentsmith
Date:Monday (3/2/09) 12:33pm
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Sorry for the wait on responding - my new place, she does not have the internets yet.

"Reprogramming" sounds pretty darn brutal and angsty, if Michael himself is going to get brainwashed. It could be a compelling episode, but it might potentially be a series-changing one, if the show had to continue on from that.

"Marked Cards" sounds like fun, but then I like that kind of thing. But why exactly is Michael foiling the heist? The people he helps are usually more nice and unassuming than your standard casino owner, yeah? Is there, like, a down-on-his-luck cashier who'll get blamed if the heist goes through? Or what?

"Perimeter Warning" sounds cool, too, though I do wonder about the chain-of-command thing.

"Hotwired" sounds very cool. Though - is the prototype legally dodgy or what? Why not just call the cops?

"Fifteen Kilos" could be excellent. Kind of your classic Burn Notice plot in some ways, and a great setup for lots of complicated plot connections. Definitely use this one, I'd say.
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From:hujhax
Date:Monday (3/2/09) 1:09pm
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Sorry for the wait on responding - my new place, she does not have the internets yet.

~ no worries ~
and best of luck getting Interneticated.

"Reprogramming" sounds pretty darn brutal and angsty, if Michael himself is going to get brainwashed.

Aha -- good point.

It could be a compelling episode, but it might potentially be a series-changing one [...]

Yeah, I definitely don't want to do anything series-changing in a spec, and definitely don't want to go all angsty on Burn Notice.  If I run with this one, I'll have to find a way around that....

"Marked Cards" sounds like fun, but then I like that kind of thing. But why exactly is Michael foiling the heist?

I was imagining <hand-waving>that there's some low-level security guy that the thief is leaning on (leverage involving threatening the guy's family), and it turns out the best way to handle it is to try to catch the thief in the act.  (Also, the casino is preparing for a massive auction event to benefit... I dunno, kittens with cancer or something.)[1]

"Perimeter Warning" sounds cool, too, though I do wonder about the chain-of-command thing.

Yeah, the more feedback I get about that (and the more I think about it), the more I worry about its logistics.

"Hotwired" sounds very cool. Though - is the prototype legally dodgy or what? Why not just call the cops?

I figured that <hand-waving>this was the life's work of some solitary inventor, some freakish-fuel-efficiency design.  He was on the verge of selling it to The Car Company when the prototype gets stolen.  ("But can't he just build another one?"  "Quiet, voice-in-my-head!")

"Fifteen Kilos" could be excellent. Kind of your classic Burn Notice plot in some ways, and a great setup for lots of complicated plot connections. Definitely use this one, I'd say.

Thanks!  Yeah, that one's getting the most positive feedback, so it's definitely in the final three.

______
[1] Side note:  even if my hand-waving explanations sound rock-solid (ha), if the loglines prompt these sorts of 'huh?' questions, well, that's a bad thing.  If I use them, I'll need to put enough explanation into the loglines so they look solid at first glance.
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From:innocentsmith
Date:Monday (3/2/09) 2:35pm
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I was imagining that there's some low-level security guy that the thief is leaning on (leverage involving threatening the guy's family), and it turns out the best way to handle it is to try to catch the thief in the act.

Do you have the heist itself figured out? If not, it might be interesting to have the employee in question be a cashier rather than a basic security type, since I don't think I've seen that as much. And/or possibly a woman rather than a man, since ditto. The thief could possibly be an ex? (Not that that isn't a bit cliched.)

Alternatively or in addition, you could consider bringing in the issue of it possibly being an Indian casino - as I'm guessing many of the Miami casinos are? - as the tribal politics involved in their operation can be a big deal. However, this might be a little much for you to use if you don't know much about the subject and/or didn't know how to research it.

(Also, the casino is preparing for a massive auction event to benefit... I dunno, kittens with cancer or something.)

Hee.

even if my hand-waving explanations sound rock-solid (ha), if the loglines prompt these sorts of 'huh?' questions, well, that's a bad thing. If I use them, I'll need to put enough explanation into the loglines so they look solid at first glance.

Well, some of them would require more explanation than others. I think in the case of "Marked Cards" and "Hotwired" all you really need to do is add "In order to help a _____..." to the start of the logline. "Perimeter Warning" might require more explanation; otoh, I don't know how clear most people's understanding of the chain of command in such issues would be - mine's not expecially keen. So if that's something you can come up with an explanation for in the episode itself, I think most people would assume there will be some explanation while reading the logline.

("But can't he just build another one?" "Quiet, voice-in-my-head!")

Yeah, and - again - why can't he call the cops and/or the FBI? Is he paranoid that the government will try to steal his design, or what?

(I'm getting a mental image of an inventor who's a cross between Doc from Back to the Future and Frohike from The X-Files, and it's breaking my brain a little.)
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From:hujhax
Date:Monday (3/2/09) 3:57pm
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Okay, imagonnago with "Marked Cards", "Hotwired", and (of course) "Fifteen Kilos".  Coyote points out that I'll have a damn difficult time making "Marked Cards" feel like a Burn Notice ep instead of a generic heist movie, but I just giggle too much at the thought of spies + casinos to let that one go.  And yeah, I'll have to sort out those major "but, wait --"-style questions for "Hotwired", should I go with that one.

Here are the final versions of the loglines I'm handing in (one hour ahead of deadline!):
"Hotwired"
Industrial spies steal a valuable automotive prototype from an eccentric inventor, and Michael has 24 hours to track down the car before they ship it out of the country.

"Fifteen Kilos"
When a high-school English teacher receives a misdirected shipment of heroin, rival gangs scour Miami for it, and it's up to Michael to keep her out of the crossfire.

"Marked Cards"
A security employee at a local casino gets wind of an upcoming heist -- but nobody believes his warnings, so he hires Michael to catch the thieves in the act.
I know these are far from perfect, but everyone's feedback has helped quite a bit.

*is grateful*

*warm fuzzies*
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