Thursday (12/11/08) 8:05pm - ... wherein Peter goes on yet *another* TV-inventing lark. Only it's not TV.
So after these two posts, I sat around for a long time trying to think up another group of actors to dream up shows for. After a while I gave up -- partly due to lack of ideas, partly due to getting beaten up by the Month of Travel and Dancing.
Then this chirp sort of fell into my lap.
As I understand it, Mr. Grunberg told Mr. Wheaton he should guest on Heroes. Later, Mr. Kring (the showrunner) said he had no plans to give Mr. Wheaton a guest role (but he was a fan). Finally Mr. Grunberg suggested he and Mr. Wheaton do a comedy webseries together.
Well, this sort of writes itself, no? Let's figure out what sort of webseries those two actors could do.
Okay, let's get the main problem out of the way first: with Greg Grunberg and Wil Wheaton, it might be nigh-impossible to write scripted material that's funnier than just the two guys hanging out. If you write comedy for these two actors, you have to find a way to top, say, Greg & Wil playing MAME arcade games and talking smack, or perhaps resurrecting Celebrity D&D.
I'll get the other obvious thing out of the way, too: frankly, "Mr. Grunberg repeatedly trying to get his friend Wil a guest spot on Heroes" sounds like a hell of a funny idea for a webseries -- just do a series of three-minute episodes where one strategy after another falls on its face.
But the whole reason I'm doing this thought experiment so I can practice coming up with show ideas that I could theoretically develop; alas, this one is too tied to these specific actors and this specific situation to be useful to me.
So let's throw out another Big List of ideas, this time for webseries instead of TV shows. As usual, I'll use initials: "GG" for Mr. Grunberg, "WW" for Mr. Wheaton.
And we shall take it as a given that whatever they wind up doing, they should somehow bribe Johathan Coulton into doing the theme song. I mean, *obviously*.
- In a Star Wars machinima, GG & WW voice stormtroopers keeping the peace on Tatooine.
- ... yes, this is perilously close to the wonderful Troops.
- ... it's also pretty much the same as what GG proposed working on -- a buddy-cop comedy called "Barefoot & Pregnant" -- only with a rights- and logistics-nightmare-inducing twist.
- On the other hand, what are Rooster Teeth up to lately?
- Also: any show in which GG is an upstanding, respectable cop while WW has entered law enforcement purely based on his love of violent cop movies would be a win.
- WW DMs the long-running Heroes on-set D&D game
- Yeah, this idea serves no useful purpose beyond being fun to imagine.
... especially if Hayden Panettiere is the one absolute-rules-stickler who nearly de-funs the game for everybody.
- GG plays a 'geek marriage counselor' who helps WW's character and WW's character's wife work through geek-related marital problems.
- He's jealous of her 'undying love' for the latest incarnation of Dr. Who.
- They're irked with each other's behavior in Halo.
- It's the holidays. He wants to build a Christmas tree out of a massive quantity of green LEGOs; she wants a tasteful artificial tree festooned with spaceship ornaments.
- I wonder who would play WW's wife in such a webseries. I suppose Kristen Schall would be on the wrong coast for such a gig.
- (Ah well. The whole thing's fantasyland anyway.)
- Instructional videos on "How to Be a Pain On-Set".
- I suggest this *only* because item #1 from this post made me laugh like a hyena. Expanding that sort of thing into a webseries has potential, IMHO.
- I think generally, people who are classy & professional do the best job of lampooning those who are less classy & professional.
- GG & WW pilot and co-pilot a 777 on a lengthy international flight.
- Over a series of short conversations, WW realizes GG might be clinically insane.
- This is probably the most useful/feasible idea of the lot.
- All you need are the scripts, two actors, and (okay, this is tricky) a cockpit, and you're pretty much good to go.
- WW plays a organizer at a sci-fi convention where GG is a celebrity guest. Each episode gives us another bizarre crisis over the course of the convention-day.
- I admit, cons aren't 100% my thing. But I get irritated by MSM coverage that's pretty much "OMG NURDZ IN COSTOOMS HOW KUH-RAZY!" (Yeah, well, they're using their imaginations, and you're just quietly inching towards death.)
- So I figure a webseries like that could, yes, draw on the oddball problems one can encounter running a con, but also depict the positives about cons.
- Dramatic re-creations of...
- ... xkcd strips (featuring GG as Hat Man).
- ... Bastard Operator from Hell stories (WW as Simon, GG as the CEO)
- Yeah, these aren't ideas I can run with -- still fun to imagine, though.
This was a lot of fun. It was a refreshing change of pace to come up with webseries instead of TV shows. There are narrower constraints -- in most cases, you want just a single set and an concept that's conducive to three-minute episodes -- and that makes for an interesting puzzle.
One last thing: regardless of what webseries they wind up doing, any episode that ends with Wil Wheaton shaking his fist at the sky and screaming, "Grunberg!" is a categorical win.
 I far prefer 'chirp' to 'tweet' for some reason, even though everybody says 'tweet'.
 I, of course, have no idea what I'm talking about. Nobody knows how funny Messrs. Wheaton and Grunberg are in conversation, because (AFAICT) they've never met. This is just wild-assed guessing based on twitter conversations.
 A failed TV pilot. No, really.
 And frankly, I think it gets even funnier if you play it close to reality. If Mr. Wheaton is desperate to get on the show to burnish his acting career? (inaccurate) Eh, that's kind of cliché. But if Mr. Wheaton loves Heroes but is perfectly happy in his current career as a writer? (accurate) Then the concept makes me giggle uncontrollably.
 ... okay, that and to entertain my ones of readers with wacky show ideas.
 That, and its quasi-reality makes me feel a bit queasy. It's like the storytelling equivalent of the 'uncanny valley' effect.
 ... anybody out there have their own suggestions?
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