Hi all --
As preparation for gnap!'s production of improvised 90210, I've been watching the series and taking notes. So far I've seen 1x01-1x07.
I'm sure I'll have more comments as I keep watching.
These notes are probably not of general interest.
* Score seems to be a vital part of this * Very synth-y. * Very on-the-nose * It punctuates emotional moments and transitions. * (Instead of playing throughout, à la LOST.) * The parents' job is to lose to the kids as often as possible. * Also, set up the kids for awesome comeback. * Think the sitcom 'dumb guy'; you're the Joey to their Chandler. * Lots of sitcom-y jokes * Don't be afraid to go cheesy on the humor. * Act-outs appear to be relatively soft * They usually go to commercial on the moment the A-story lead character feels really bad about him-/herself. * Pacing is pretty slow -- they let jokes spin out for a long while * Dialog can be really, really obvious * Even if your character should catch on to what's up, you can play dumb for a beat and demand that people spell things out. * "What are you trying to tell me, Brandon?" * Keep the time period in mind * Technology * Phones * They don't have cell phones * They might have car phones * Pay phones: they exist! * They don't have Google * All research happens at the library * Clinton just took over the presidency from George H. W. Bush * Get the cultural references right if possible * The leads are virtuous/smart characters whose purpose is to be lured into doing bad/stupid things. * Have embarrassing teenager moments, but sanitized -- not horrid Freaks & Geeks moments. * OMG the kids have secret handshakes. * When talking about science, the writers clearly have no idea what's going on. * This goes for any intellectual topic, actually. * Early episodes feel like they set up high-stakes situations ("Brenda borrows her brother's car, and she...") that lead to low-stakes complications ("... runs out of gas.") * BUT, you can/should overreact to everything. * Most episodes are like a giant game of "It's Tuesday." * So, the car running out of gas IS A DISASTER. * They try to explicitly connect the plot to some broader/vague issue. * ("You rich white kids get everything handed to you on a platter!") * Always always be obvious about this. * As a teenager, react to parents as if they're being unreasonable. * As a parent, try to be casually unreasonable. * Ideally, do so in a way that sets up the teen for a comeback. * Starting with "You don't understand..." is useful. * ... as it sets up, "No, *you* don't understand, Dad!" * As a parent, you never have a comeback/the last word. * A lot of the central cast are defined by qualities that it's much easier for other people to endow them with. * As opposed to qualities they endow *themselves* with. * I'm suspecting that the 'default mode' for an adult in this world is "slightly antagonistic" * And with as little understanding as possible. * For secondary characters, pick one adjective to play and focus on that. * This show has long establishing shots * I guess there's no way to do that onstage. * Never pass up a chance to have a teenager ask their parent for something ridiculous (i.e. a $300 haircut). * If Brandon does something even a tiny bit unethical... * Pile on the heightening so that he feels as guilty about it as possible. * Or make the consequences huge. * Each episode can have some school club or clique or student that only appears in that one episode, and is never seen again. * Useful dialog (parent): "Wow, son. You have a good point there." * Or: "What you said to me really hit home." * Useful dialog (teen): "I can't show my face at school on Monday! My life is over!" * Quick C-story runners are useful * Such as the 1 or 2 scenes with the Casio * We need an exercise for "Steve can feel angsty about *anything*" * Same goes for "Brandon can feel guilty about anything" * The robotics lab = comedy gold. * The show has a puritanical streak, e.g. towards drinking. * Again, consequences far outstrip the transgressions. * Drinking always leads to disaster. * Must have beach scenes! * All horrible problems have pretty clear (if difficult) solutions. * "Just join an AA program!" * "Just see a shrink!" * Honestly, maybe our 'get' could be a teen problem. * It feels like these shows are written around illustrating some teen trouble. * A fun line to say to Brandon: "Yeah, it's unjust, but who's gonna do anything about it?" * Ending an episode with Brenda reading aloud Brandon's Very Meaningful Essay (or vice versa) = GOLD, I SAY, GOLD
Mood: contemplative · Music: ♪ Duh nuh nuh-nuh, duh nuh nuh-nuh! ♫ *tsch tsch*