Fill yer hand, friend, and after a few seconds of blurred action and sharp noises, the cordite smoke lifts… and I’m the last man standing with a television concept I’d been sweet on for a few years.
Back at the saloon, I take a stool at the bar. Two-Fingered Frank serves up a double and, after the barest hesitation, leaves the milk bottle within reach. The shot goes down but I don’t taste it. I begin to pour another but then I stop. I turn the concept over in my hands. I remember the last time I saw it; the amount of work I put into it. I admire the craft and heart inherent and also remember working against seemingly innumerable constraints and frustrations. It was mine now – mine.
The following morning, I need hair of the dog and some several raw eggs before I’m on my way; it’s not until I’ve carefully shaved my tongue that I feel human again. Sunlight glints off something in my saddlebags. Before I realise it, the concept’s in my hands again. Only now do I feel its dead weight. I may be the one-and-only now but it’s been years since I was in that space. After years of wading around in ninety minute-plus stories, packing a decent story into forty-five minutes with beats to match opening credit sequences and commercial breaks is a different beast to tame. And don’t forget story and character arcs to be entwined and paced over thirteen episodes.
When your major television influences include The Wire, Battlestar Galactica, Bodies and, of course, The Shield, you’ve set yourself a freakin’ high bar, friend.
Movement in the corner of my eye and I draw instinctively, ballpoint steady, elbow nice and relaxed. It’s only my reflection in the mirror. Gone is yesteryear’s cocky inkslinger, replaced with a wary, slightly squinty, keypuncher.
So be it.
What’s the point of aiming high if you can’t just shoot for the moon?