Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Where Things Stand Right Now

Hey everybody! It's Mike here and I believe now is the most appropriate time to address a couple of things.

If you haven't noticed recently, I became an absolute ghost after "Girl Meets the Texas Movie" wrapped up. I had no idea that the show not being on would decrease my interest in writing about anything else. The reason for that is mostly school-related, because as a high school senior, you have to worry about a number of pressing engagements. Homework, college applications, scholarships, financial aid, Honor Society, the senior committee........it takes its toll on you at some point. You want to know why kids walk into high school looking like Michael Jackson at age 25 and wind up looking like President Obama? Everything between those walls of education becomes a major source of stress, confusion, and frustration. I'm not going to divulge my high school experience at this moment because it involves long-winded explanations and seems gratuitous to an extent so I will spare you the details. One thing I will say is that school has started giving me a short-term memory, at least when it comes to this blog and a few other things. 

I know what you're thinking. You probably know this scene. This is the scene where I tell you that I'm quitting the blog to focus more on school and my other huge personal project which I will share with you shortly.

See, that's the thing. I'm not quitting this blog. If you really want to know why my output has been absolutely nothing lately, it's because of school. But I still have more downtime than some of my classmates can afford for one reason or another so when the time comes, I want to start mapping out my blog posts and then drafting them here before I officially post them. I have heard some of the things that have been going on in my absence and it's a little disheartening. Unknown is a great guy who gave me the opportunity I have been craving for a while: To have my writing out in the world for a built in audience to check out. I don't want to give up that opportunity so easily. I might not be able to devote as much time to this blog as before, that's just not feasible right now. But I'm not going anywhere. Girl Meets World is back on Friday and we are going to get one of those episodes. You know the one I'm talking about. The one that gets heavy promotion in online circles and has that "OMG THIS IS ABSOLUTELY BANANERS CENAWINSLOL" feel to it. I'm not really expecting much from that episode. Just because Maya's dad is in it, doesn't mean this show will not drop the ball. The Texas episodes changed the game and flipped the script entirely, but from what I hear, a lot of the episodes that will be aired in the coming weeks were filmed before the Texas stuff so I don't really expect much from some of them. But still, Maya's dad. I will be reviewing that.

I also plan to make up for lost time with a review/retrospective/rant of one of my favorite Nickelodeon shows of all-time. I'm not going to spoil it for you, but this is what you should know: The chipmunk has pneumonia. ;)

So the point of all of this is to let you know where I'm at in my life right now and why I might not always be as present as Unknown, who really does not deserve any of the attacks he has been getting. These anonymous comments are ridiculous and I can see why the blog is migrating soon. It will be like starting over, but Unknown will not be starting over alone. Christian and Sean didn't become a success story overnight, and if we work hard and do exactly what they do, we'll never have any success at all.

Haha, I fooled you! Make your own path as I always say.

Alright, let's address one very important thing. This is something that should have been done a very long time ago. I just recently thought about why I haven't seized this opportunity yet, but now The Undertaker is a battered mess in the ring, and I have the Money in the Bank briefcase. I'm cashing in on the World Heavyweight Champion right NOW!

None of you guys watch wrestling, do you? Anyway, I have my own show. And by show, let me elaborate before you guys start thinking I have South Park Studios in my bedroom. In eighth grade, about three years ago, I came up with an idea for my own adult animated comedy series. I'm a huge fan of a lot of adult cartoons so this was perfect for me. I named it Thank You, Heavenly after a line in "Another Me" by Jeff Hardy's band Peroxwhy?gen. Please don't ask what the title has to do with the show itself, it doesn't. I never changed it because the title just......stuck, you know? Anyway, I came up with the main characters and the plot for the pilot episode in one period of science class. At the time, Thank You, Heavenly was meant to capture the essence of my three favorite cartoons: Family Guy (pop culture references, cutaway gags, random humor), South Park (satire/social commentary), and Arthur (educational value/wit). I look back on the first season as a learning experience. Even in the fourth season, Thank You, Heavenly is still a learning experience. However, compared to three years ago, the show is in much better shape. Back then, I thought all my episodes were genius. I look back on some episodes and I realized that the show's voice wasn't very unique or interesting. It was too much like the shows I looked up to. In trying to be like them all at once, I was restricting Thank You, Heavenly from finding its own unique voice. Am I there right now in season four? Yes, but my opinion of my own work can only go so far. After more than 70 episodes, I have to get more feedback for my series so it can improve. I want to believe that Thank You, Heavenly can be the next Simpsons or Family Guy, but without the opinions of others, I'll never get there. That's where you guys come in.

I wanted the permission to promote Thank You, Heavenly as much as I can on this blog while I have this audience and get feedback for episodes from all four seasons at this point. I simply come up with an idea for an episode, see which characters will best fit the story I'm trying to tell, arrange the story in a way that caters to that specific character, and then I start writing the script. Then I publish it on FanFiction, add some final thoughts, and there you go. Trust me, the script is not professional so I don't need to hear about the look of it. I utilize the South Park method most of the time of writing episodes days or weeks before I post them but I treat the series as seriously as I would if it were a real job. Like, I have guest stars (not actual guests, but you get the point), incorporate licensed music, describe visual expressions and other gags while dealing with the limitations of having only writing to work with and no animation background whatsoever. I can barely draw a stick figure, but I believe that the writing comes first. If your show lacks a genuine heart and soul, does it really matter how nice it looks?

Okay, I'm getting off course now and this post is already as long as it is. I just want to post links to episodes that I have already completed and see what you guys think. Your feedback will be a huge benefit to Thank You, Heavenly going forward. Tips, constructive criticism, positive feedback, character moments you enjoyed, that sort of thing. I treat Thank You, Heavenly like my wife or my baby. It has been mine for three years and mine alone. To some, it might be a silly little project, but a lot of love and hard work goes into each script hoping it can make people laugh or warm their heart a little bit. This is the first thing in my life that I can actually say that I have stuck to for this long. I was very close to giving up completely in season one, but I stuck to it and have been sticking to it throughout my entire high school life. Hopefully, I can go all the way with Thank You, Heavenly one day but until then, your support and advice is all that matters. Are you ready?

Just so you're not confused about certain things, let me give some clarity:

-There are five main characters on Thank You, Heavenly. They are all in the fourth grade and attend iCarly Elementary School in Seattle, Washington. Sparky MacDougal (10 years old) is the leader. He is cool under pressure, an everyman, mild-mannered, prone to a competitive streak, and the absolute best at solving everyday problems. His best friend is Buster Newman (9 years old). Buster is dimwitted and is sometimes unaware of certain things, but is kind-hearted and often is the most in touch with his emotions. He represents an average kid more than any other main character. Ryan Kennedy "RK" Jennings (10 years old) is my favorite character. He is a lot of things, but can shift into different personalities depending on the story. RK is a product of having watched too much television, almost to the point of being dependent on it. RK is sarcastic, blunt, eccentric, a little carefree, cheeky, and possibly unstable. However, he has a soft spot for his friends and fears losing them more than anything else in the world. His best friend is Wade Saltalamacchia (8 years old), the baby of the group. He is also the most prominent black character in the series. Wade is a more toned down version of Huey Freeman, much like how RK is a toned down version of Eric Cartman. He is very cynical and represents the straight man of the group more than anyone else. He is also an aspiring scientist, and has been known to experiment with laboratory chemicals and invent several gadgets, including a fully functional time machine. RK and Wade have an awkward friendship, but they still care about each other at the end of the day. The last main character, Jaylynn Michelle Huie (10 years old) was Sparky's old pen pal from Portland and moved to Seattle for a better life. She has Wade's cynicism, Buster's sensitivity and a few of RK's eccentricities while also being the most rational of the group after Sparky. She mostly calls things as she sees them and is very laidback, but is prone to losing her temper easily, much like Wade. 

-RK is bisexual (although this is de-emphasized after season one and hardly brought up again) while Jaylynn is lesbian. I'm not consciously trying to make the characters LGBT as they are the only two in the entire series that represent that group. With Jaylynn, it just seemed to fit her character more. For RK, it was more for shock humor if anything else, but in the back of my head, I was hoping to portray characters who were comfortable with their sexual identity.

-Thank You, Heavenly is, at its core, a deconstruction of most cartoons that feature kid characters like South Park and Arthur. The kids usually know more about the world around them than expected and are very informed on pop culture, they live by themselves with no parents, and have the tendency to display sophistication and wit beyond their age range. In other words, the kids are meant to be a more exaggerated version of the cast from Arthur. Despite this, the key is keeping their overall personalities childlike, instead of just being adults in the bodies of children. 

-Because this is an adult animated comedy starring kids, expect a lot of swearing and off-color jokes. The show specializes in lowbrow and highbrow humor. To describe it in one sentence: The son of The Simpsons and South Park, with Family Guy being the uncle.

-Thank You, Heavenly is also influenced by the following shows: Hey Arnold, American Dad, The Boondocks, the early seasons of SpongeBob SquarePants, Full House, Martha Speaks, The Parkers, Who's the Boss, Everybody Hates Chris, My Wife and Kids, Drake & Josh, etc.

That's it for now. Comment if you're interested in episode links and remember, Mike's still here. :)

Hi, it's me again. I'm just popping by real quick and I hope Mike doesn't mind if I add more here. I'm also treading lightly because I don't want Blogspot to eat everything up again (and I've backed up everything Mike wrote as a second draft just in case too).

Anyway, congratulations to Mike on getting senior year in high school together and I hope he'll be successful in mapping out his college plans. And yeah, having already gone through all that I can tell you first-hand that everything he said of the high school experience is true, but then again you already knew that. Even when they try to show how stressful it is for high school students to apply to college (Teddy in Good Luck Charlie, the gang in Suite Life on Deck, Justin to WizTech in Wizards of Waverly Place) it's still very much an idealized, rosy nostalgia. We're told kids get crippling amounts of homework but are only shown it in passing, really. The social clique warfare of high school tends to dominate because, quite frankly, the academics are boring (and kids watch these shows to get away from that stuff in the first place). And even so, unless you happen to be watching The Lifetime Channel that stuff's still played for laughs. 

On other notes, I like Mike's description of this Thank You, Heavenly thing. I've got some advice I'd like to give: first of all, don't be afraid to tap the recorder icon on your phone on selfie mode, or use one of the prepackaged free animation programs on the Internet, and just see what happens and put it on YouTube. You don't have to use one of your Thank You, Heavenly scripts (or you can, you can think of it as a rough draft), you can just write a new script from whatever idea or just start writing and see where it takes you, or just start filming right away and see where that takes you (hopefully you can make it into something coherent in post-prod). Of course the first few times are going to suck but it'll let you practice and get a feel for the whole process.

I had my own idea for a TV show too. It was more or less like Good Luck Charlie except focusing on two teen girls instead of just one and focus on more of the low-concept aspects that GLC was so good at. As it turns out Disney Channel ended up making this show anyway and called it Liv and Maddie. Of course, the two shows really have as much resemblance to each other as Chris Pratt has to Bruce Campbell, but superficially they're similar enough I doubt any network would want to have a "flood" of such similar shows anyway. 

Looking at the bigger picture though, I always liked the idea of a "big sister" show. That was another essay I was going to write for this blog and since then I've found another blog that'd like to take it, but maybe I'll repost it here. It's pretty self-explanatory - the type of show that revolves around not just a teenage girl but a "big sister" of some type. Someone who has to navigate around or take care of other family members. Liv and Maddie is that type of big sister show and so is GLC. Jessie was another good big sister show (with more or less an adopted big sister) at least during its best seasons and episodes. Girl Meets World is another example, or if its not it's close enough in all but name (Auggie doesn't factor into the show enough, really, to make it literal, plus Maya and Riley are the same age so technically there isn't a "big" sister aspect to it either). Lizzie McGuire is probably the "ur" example of what I'm talking about, or Clarissa Explains it All, etc. on Nick. Even Stevens would be the inverse (little brother), and Wizards of Waverly Place would be the reverse big sister (middle sister in this case). I Didn't Do It, Best Friends Whenever and A.N.T. Farm are not big sister shows and we can see where they ended up or are seemingly headed ratings-wise. I think the audience still cares about the big sister, but, eh, we'll see.

2 comments:

  1. Well said Mike. I can definitely understand the stress of senior year (both high school and college) but Thank You Heavenly sounds intriguing. Can't say I'll be a huge help since Shipping Wars is planning on scaling back after the LMS fiasco...but share the links and I'll do my best to offer good feedback. If I could offer one piece of advice is, look for constructive criticism and ignore stuff like "This sucks, you're no good" and all that stuff. Hating something for the simple sake of hating it does no good.

    Also, your name is awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  2. https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11530633/1/The-Fourteenth-Year

    https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11542429/1/S-P-A-R-K-Y-the-Letter-Man

    https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11567034/1/To-Be-or-Not-to-Be-a-Role-Model

    https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11588211/1/The-Halloween-from-Hell

    These are the first four episodes of season four. The fifth one will be posted tonight. And thank you in advance for the support. I hope you enjoy the episodes!

    And yes, I will definitely avoid those hateful anonymous comments. They do nothing for anybody.

    Thanks for the compliment, I'm flattered. You have a great name too.

    ReplyDelete

So we might be sparse on updates/posts for a while (also Andi Mack mini-review, whatever the hell episode # it is)

I'm taking a month-long summer course as a prerequisite for career advancement, and well I don't know what Mike's doing but if h...