Tuesday, February 28, 2012

TV Shows I Have Invented But Which, To Date, Nobody Has Actually Made

[This post was originally published as a couple of notes on Facebook in February 2010.]

So, most of what's currently - or has ever been - on television is pretty awful, I think we can all agree. But it doesn't have to be. Television, the form, is fine; it's the content itself that's the problem. With that in mind, here are a few ideas for shows that I think would be really good, if only someone would pay me lots of money to actually make them.

Police Cops

Ahh, the cop show - repository of more cliches than you can point a stick at. But for years, I've dreamed of another kind of cop show - one in which our heroes, the detectives and officers of some city police station, are simple, happy people who take their job seriously, but who are essentially mid-level bureaucrats. They are committed to their job, yes, but in the same way that you & I are (assuming that you & I have a job, and that we're reasonably committed to it). They punch in at 8am, and out at 6pm (or whatever). They're all happily married/dating, or single by choice. Those who are married have a couple of children whom they see often and get on well with. Two officers in our station are indeed dating, but they're both rookies, and the department's HR section is aware of the relationship, since they lodged the appropriate paperwork once it became clear to them both that this was a serious relationship.

The captain in charge of the station is well-respected by both his/her subordinates, and by the big brass at police HQ (or whatever it's called). This is because s/he has neither been a political appointment, nor an unruly headkicker. They just get the job done effectively, a task made easier by the mature and professional approach of everyone else in the station. None of the cops has a drinking problem - although several of them get together on Friday nights for drinks & dinner at a nice but casual restaurant nearby. (Spouses/partners often attend too.)

Watch throughout the thrilling first season as the young rookie detective is accepted well into the unit! He humbly learns from those who've been doing the job since he was in short pants, and in turn also helps them take advantage of recent advances in computer technology! Follow the on-going story of the cynical older detective, who falls for an entirely stable new girlfriend of approximately his own age, and be swept off your feet as he proposes in the season finale! Watch as the detectives solve cases calmly, methodically and without getting personally invested! Look how none of them ends up investigating a crime apparently committed by their ex, or long-lost school friend!

[Yes, the title needs work, since it's currently a Simpsons reference. Other than that, though, doesn't this show sound like a breath of fresh air?]

So You Think You Can Paint

Lots of people, statistics show, sing in the shower/while driving/when cooking, and they're well catered for in the modern television environment. Plenty of people also dance like nobody is watching, but also sorta wish someone was, and most of the tv schedule is about these people. Ditto for cooking - once something people did because otherwise they'd starve, now an almost-entirely competitive activity. (According to a confidential source, 10% of all meals prepared in Australia this week will be done for the camera.)

So what other popular hobby enjoyed by the masses can be made into a television game show, I asked myself. And then I answered myself, The Visual Arts. But 'So You Think You Can Visual Art' makes for a title too clumsy and grammatically troublesome even for commercial television, so we're going to generalise to just Paint. All the visual arts will be represented, though - painters, sculptors, origami-makers, installationists, quilters, photographers, film-makers, graffiti artists, and those people who make things out of twine.

The great diversity of contestants is what makes SYTYCP so exciting! Rather than forcing contestants to try things outside of their chosen field, each week everyone is set a theme for the next round. (Note: might need to spread the show out in production, to allow everyone to actually do their thing for each round. Show it weekly once it's finished, though.) Thus, one week the theme might be Childhood, the next week it could be Red, and so on. Expert judges - along with a popular celebrity more recognisable than the average art critic, but not a sportsman or former model - will offers comments each round, before it goes to a popular vote as per in those other shows on which this one is loosely based.

Finally, a television show for all those who can't sing, dance or cook, but who still want to prove to the country how talented they are!

The Law Is An Ass!
(Unlike the first two, both of which were the product of much thought over an extended period, this idea is fresh & new. Which is code for: not-entirely-thought-out.)

It's Wallace & Gromit meets Mr Ed meets... The Practice.

In this animated show, we follow the trials (pun intended) and tribulations of a small but determined law firm staffed entirely by horses. (Their opponents, as well as judges, juries etc, are all human; clients are both animals and humans.) Combining heartfelt drama, exciting plot twists, good-natured humour and the occasional office dalliance, The Law Is An Ass! combines everything you've always loved about legal dramas with the noblest of all beasts - the talking, anthropomorphic horse.

Throughout the first season, the scrappy law firm of Caufield & Sons struggles to gain acceptance from the human-dominated legal community. Young firebrand attorney Star fights to have the courthouse modified for improved equine access, while older associate Misty deals with trying to establish herself in the profession while also raising two foals. The firm's head partner, Abercrombie, faces the toughest decision of his life when asked to represent local farmer Mr Jones, accused of selling beef which is, in fact, horsemeat. Whatever the case, Caufield & Sons act with dignity, honesty, and plain old horse-sense, and become the most sought-after legal representation in town.

Yes, the show exists only because of its name... but then, that's true of most television.

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