Monday (4/13/09) 1:11pm - ... wherein Peter revises the beat sheet.
Okay, just sent off a second draft of the beat sheet for the spec script. (The first draft is here.) Lots of hours of effort have led to slow progress, but progress nonetheless.
Here’s a quick rundown of what I changed since my last beat sheet:
I haven’t been able to fix the A-story yet.
I’m still not 100% satisfied with the “replace the car with a duplicate” con, and act IV still doesn’t feel action-y enough.
I suspect this week will be all about revising the A-story.
New teaser with more action.
Harry is now the surveillance expert that the “burners” have employed to keep tabs on Michael.
At the end, the burners no longer shoot Harry.
This is no longer a ‘third mission.’
Instead, Michael attends a wedding at his mother’s request.
One thing that did not change: I’ve left the act IV act-out pretty much as is. Yes, the last act-out is supposed to be the point of maximum peril, but it turns out “Act V” is just a three-minute tag. The A- and B-stories end in Act IV. Then the tag contains (1) the end of the C-story and (2) a hint at next week’s B-story. Typically Michael checks out some evidence he obtained in this week’s B-story, or he gets some ominous message about how much trouble he’s in.
I’ve also rearranged things a bit so that the act lengths are closer to correct.
An industrial spy steals a valuable automotive prototype from an eccentric inventor, and Michael has to track it down and get it back.
Michael helps a freelance surveillance expert break free from gun runners who have taken him captive.
Michael’s mother gets him to attend the wedding of a family friend, and tries to convince him to put down roots in Miami.
Teaser (4 min)
Michael accompanies a gun-runner acquaintance (Seymour) on a deal – selling ordnance to some other arms dealers. (B)
Michael spots Harry (a surveillance specialist) casing the scene. (B)
Michael talks the two parties out of a shootout. (B)
The other arms dealers capture Harry. (B)
Back at home, the people who burned Michael tell him that Harry was one of theirs, and they want him back…or else. (B)
Act I (10 min)
Sam tells Michael about the stolen-car case, gets him to meet Alan (the engineer). (A)
Alan tells Michael that his car -- an irreplaceable, high-efficiency prototype he's spent 15 years and all his money building -- got stolen, right before he was scheduled to take it to a car company. (A)
Michael agrees to take the case. (A)
Michael attempts a straightforward bribe with the gun-runners; that goes wrong when Harry recognizes Michael and freaks out. (B)
Mom reminds Michael that he promised to attend a wedding with her. (C)
Michael tracks the car to a warehouse via a WiFi gauge on the engine. (A)
Sam and Michael surveil the warehouse, discover that a rather high-priced mercenary ("Bob") stole the car. (A)
Bob hears some noise, draws a gun, approaches where Sam and Michael are hiding (A)
Act II (10 min)
Sam and Michael escape somehow. (A)
Sam checks with Alan’s car-company contacts to suss out whether the car company arranged the theft. (A)
They bug Bob's cell phone (how?), and discover that, if Alan has actually done what he said he's done, Bob's boss will have Alan killed. (A)
Michael visits Mom looking to borrow something (don’t yet know what); Mom uses this as leverage to get Michael to go to the wedding. (C)
Michael convinces Seymour to tell him where the gun-runners might be keeping Harry, only by promising to let Seymour tag along on the job. (B)
They prepare a duplicate prototype car; Alan makes the engine look like a complete lunatic designed it. (A)
Sam shows up at the site as a next-door neighbor; claims he heard some kind of disturbance and was ready to call the cops; draws Bob away from the warehouse. (A)
Meanwhile, Michael and Fiona temporarily disable the warehouse's security system. (A)
Michael and Fiona sneak the prototype out of the warehouse (A)
Michael and Fiona sneak the duplicate into the warehouse (A)
Michael and Fiona make some horrible noise (A)
Bob draws a gun; Sam desperately tries to keep him out of the warehouse. (A)
Act III (10 min)
Michael emerges with some innocuous explanation for the noise. (A)
Fiona drives off with the prototype. (A)
Michael drops by the wedding’s rehearsal dinner, and finds Fi there. Fi finds ways to make the rehearsal dinner as unpleasant as possible (what?) Mom argues with him about putting down roots in Miami. (C)
Sam cases out the facility where Harry is being kept (B)
Sam (somehow) convinces the arms dealers that Michael is a government agent, and that there are a ton of gov’t forces casing the safe house. (B)
Michael et al take the prototype to a car-company site for testing. (A)
The test gets underway. (A)
Bob shows up at the testing facility! (A)
Act IV (6 min)
Michael figures out that one of the car employees is a mole for Bob's bosses. (A)
Michael forces the mole to tell his contact that the car was a dud; Bob breaks off. (A)
Michael rescues Harry. (B)
Harry reveals that the burners had assigned him to watch Michael and make sure he stayed out of the burners’ way. (B)
Michael tries (and fails) to convince Harry to leave the burners. (B)
The burners reclaim Harry. (B)
Tag (3 min)
Alan thanks Michael et al for their help. (A)
Michael goes to the wedding. (C)
Michael finds a set of the surveillance photos Harry had made of Michael’s recent jobs, and a note saying that Harry was now willing to help Michael out. (B)
I was randomly searching for something on the internet and came across your beat sheet for Burn Notice. Just thought I'd give you a tip about how the writers of the show break these episodes. Might be useful.
Every episode of Burn Notice turns on a relationship that Michael establishes with an adversary. He has a goal that has to be achieved with that adversary that involves some form of espionage-related deception technique. In your episode, Michael has no relationship with Bob. He has no task to achieve with him.
The fact that your bad guy has no relationship with Michael is part of the reason your episode is so light on action. There's no conflict possible other than avoiding and running away.
Also, when breaking the episodes, MUCH more attention is paid to the ending. In a Burn Notice ending, the bad guy is usually delivering what he believes is his killing blow, which turns out to be his undoing. That scene (known as the rat-f*** scene) is often what the episode idea begins with, and the writers work backwards from there. In any case, that scene almost always involves a measure of poetic justice, in which a version of the bad guy's plan is his own undoing.
These things are also true in the season three episodes, FYI. ;)