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Wednesday 30 September 2009

Eleventh Hour on DVD

Danny Cannon dropped by my office this morning and mentioned that the Eleventh Hour DVD boxed set is now scheduled for October 2009 release.

Danny's had a hand in the presentation and the quality specs, so technically the set should be well up to snuff.

I Googled to see if any public announcement had been made before mentioning it here, as I'm not in the business of breaking confidences, only to find that it's been on Warners' own DVD site for a few days already. According to TV Shows on DVD, pre-orders will ship on October 20th but here's an odd thing... if their information's accurate, the discs won't be available in stores but sold online-only as 'manufacture-on-demand' under the Warners Archive program.

Make of that what you will. In the course of the day it's been suggested to me that healthy sales may lead to a wider release with extras, commentaries and the like. Warners know that I'm up for a contribution if they want to call on me.

But how you achieve healthy sales with a product that has no retail presence is another question altogether...

Monday 28 September 2009

Can't Let This One Pass

In a press release following the release of Thursday night's viewing figures, CBS announced:

The second season premiere of THE MENTALIST on its new night improved the 10:00-11:00 PM year ago time period premiere of ”Eleventh Hour”

which is hardly comparing like with like... Eleventh Hour's number was for a new show and was the beginning of a rise, while The Mentalist's figure shows a fall in numbers from its previous season.

I'm not going to knock The Mentalist. I think it's a successful, light-touch entry in the 'brilliant amateur' detective genre, at its best with straight cases, on less certain ground when it addresses its 'Red John' mythology. Creator Bruno Heller was responsible for Rome, one of my favourite shows of recent years. And their writers' building is just across the street from here, so their people can easily find me.

But why use The Mentalist to knock Eleventh Hour? Especially when the argument doesn't really stick.

And if you could only have seen the Eleventh Hour story we had lined up for that night...

Friday 11 September 2009

On the Lot (2)

I spent yesterday as writer-on-the-set for filming of my bylined episode of The Forgotten. A lot of time is spent in the writers' room swapping ideas and working up stories, but every now and again you have to shut the door and write one. And that's as much insider leakage as I'm prepared to offer... the omerta of the writers' room prevails.

It was a long day on the Warners lot, but a fast-moving and productive one. It took me a couple of hours to pick up the rhythm and to fully get my head around having a role in the process, after a career-so-far in which the writer onset has always been essentially a visitor. When I showed up there was even a chair with my name on it. Well, not my name, exactly. But it said 'Writer'.

The episode's director is fellow-Brit Bill Eagles and the producer is another fellow-Brit, Matthew Carlisle. My first contact with Matthew was back last year when he was producer on Eleventh Hour; our DP is also Eleventh Hour's David Stockton.

In fact, what I found yesterday is that a large number of The Forgotten's department heads and crew worked on that show. I know it because they made a point of seeking me out to tell me so. Not an easy show to make, they all agree, but everyone seems to regard it - and working with Rufus and Marley - with unusual affection.

And I see traces of it everywhere. The traffic cone that protects Danny Cannon's parking spot in Warner Village still has the show's name stencilled on it. The location scout for my Forgotten episode included a loft used in filming Olfactus. On the way back from the tech scout, Matthew and unit production manager John Scherer pointed out the freezer plant used in Containment.

But that was then, and this is now. I understand that Human Target now occupies our old offices on the Warners Ranch. And me - well, I'm in a place that I didn't even imagine two years ago, still learning new stuff and still buzzed by the wonder of seeing it made.

And free food, when you're shooting.