A dancer dances, and a writer writes. We just don’t always get our audience.
So, for the fun of it, I’m posting the pilot episode of the sitcom I created three years ago. After all my rambling (albeit very interesting rambling, I’m sure), maybe someone out there would like to see what I’ve done. Maybe not. It’s your choice.
This originally began as something I created to submit to Situation: Comedy, the reality show Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner produced to foster new talent in television writing. I submitted a very early version of the script, which I have since greatly revised and polished after going through a period of studying the genre.
Honestly, no one but the United States copyright office has seen this script, with the exception of two trusted friends and a stuntman. I spent five weeks in Los Angeles back in 2005, and I traveled there with five total scripts—two spec scripts for existing shows (done for the sole reason of showcasing my abilities) and three original scripts, one for a pilot of an original 30-minute three-camera comedy (the one below), a second episode of that comedy, and the other a drama based on an unpublished novel of mine.
This sitcom has a special place in my heart because I had planned out the first season and the overall arcs of the characters. I got emotionally attached to something that never had a chance, like an artistic miscarriage. It was a love letter to the people I taught with my first two years as well as my cathartic caricature of some people and experiences in my life (mixed with a heaping helping of fiction), so in many ways, it was very personal, perhaps in the way Everybody Loves Raymond was for producer Phil Rosenthal.
And no one’s ever seen it. So, since I’m always referring to writing on my blog, I thought I’d take a divergence to post it so someone might find some joy in it. The worst aspect of being a writer, besides the lack of caloric exertion from sitting in a chair and typing, is that nobody ever sees what you do. It’s the same for actors too. You have to beg and plead and coerce just to get your work read, and then, when you find that one person out of two hundred, it really winds up on a pile on a desk before falling into the trashcan to make room for someone’s Caribou (coffee, that is, not the animal, though in Hollywood you never know).
If you are interested in reading it, there are a few things to keep in mind. First of all, my show is indeed copyrighted 2005 by me. Secondly, to make the best use of space (and taking into account how people are used to reading scripts for pleasure as well as the limits on Blogger), I have altered the formatting to reflect that of a published play. And, so you don’t get confused, the abbreviations INT and EXT are interior and exterior.
Please also note that there’s a teaser, two acts, and a tag.
To help you visualize some characterizations (which is the biggest challenge in reading something like this), I’ll give you some insights into the characters. I had seen Nan being played by someone like Judith Light or Jackée Harry. Both are very different actresses, but they both have a deft comedic touch. I think Judith Light would have made the character classy, and Jackée Harry would have made her irresistibly cute.
I never had an actor in mind for Jack, but for the sake of reading, think of a Thomas Gibson type. I’m thinking specifically of his character’s awkward moments on Dharma and Greg, where he is caught trying to justify Dharma in odd situations. Jack has to be a plain-looking character, so Gibson never would have worked, but you get the idea.
I wrote the character Brady specifically for an obscure actor from my youth. Marc Worden was one of the cast members on The Mickey Mouse Club from the 80s and 90s. When I wrote the character, I kept in mind Worden’s laid back voice quality and comedic timing. Actually, even though he’s not plain-looking, Worden could also have been a good candidate for Jack as well. We may never know.
I didn’t have anyone nameable in mind in writing Bob, Nikki, or Cheryl, though I had always hoped to pull people from the Broadway ranks for as many parts as possible.
Some descriptions of the main characters:
Jack Carter—Jack is in his early 30s with average looks. He’s the quintessential single man of his age. He has a dry, sarcastic sense of humor, which is how he sees the world. He’s a fairly sane and normal fellow, surrounded by people he loves but who tend to somehow get him caught up in their insanity.
Nan Carter—Nan is an attractive, professional-looking woman in her mid-50s, very intelligent and witty. As a result of recent life circumstances, she can have three or four emotions within a five minute period—cheerful and up-beat one moment, miserable and manipulative the next. As you read her lines, you need to keep those mood swings in mind.
Todd Carter—Todd is an intelligent and dedicated high school principal highly respected by his employees. He’s in the midst of a late mid-life crisis, though, which means he acts irrationally.
Brady—Brady is in his mid-20s, seemingly laid back, though a very good teacher and beloved by his students.
Nikki—Pronounced with the stress on the second syllable, Nikki is an attractive woman in her mid-20s. She seems flighty, but she’s actually extremely intelligent, mainly lacking a filter. She also takes herself a little too seriously.
Cheryl—Cheryl is in her late 50s. She’s counting her days down until she can retire. She’s a great teacher, but she’s also been a little worn down by life in and outside the classroom. The result is she’s very sarcastic and pessimistic.
Kill Me Now
“We’ve Only Just Begun”
INT. JACK’S CONDO, THE LIVING ROOM - AFTERNOON
IT IS THE INSIDE OF JACK’S CONDO. JACK HAS RECENTLY MOVED IN, SO THERE ARE BOXES STACKED EVERYWHERE, NOTHING IS ON THE WALL, ETC.
ON THE LEFT SIDE IS A DOOR ENTERING THE CONDO. THE DOOR LEADS INTO A SPACIOUS LIVING ROOM WITH HARDWOOD FLOORS AND COLORED WALLS. IN THE BACK IS THE KITCHEN, WHICH HAS A DINING AREA ADJACENT TO IT. OFF TO THE RIGHT IS THE HALLWAY LEADING TO THE BEDROOMS.
JACK IS QUICKLY UNPACKING THINGS. AS HE OPENS ONE BOX, HIS FACE SHOWS HIS SURPRISE AT WHAT’S INSIDE. JACK’S AUNT NAN ENTERS THROUGH THE DOOR WITH A BAG OF GROCERIES IN HER HANDS. SHE’S A LITTLE OVERLY CHEERFUL.
NAN: Happy moving in.
JACK: Hey, Auntie. I’m not ready for visitors yet.
NAN: I’m not a visitor; I’m family . . . for now.
JACK: Nan, what . . . what’s wrong—
NAN: Nothing. I don’t want to depress you with the details of how your uncle doesn’t want me anymore after twenty-eight years of marriage and two children and the downward gravitational shift of my entire body. (FLASHES A FAKE SMILE) So let’s forget about all that. I brought some yummies, and I thought I’d make you some of my famous quesadillas to welcome you as your beloved aunt, perhaps for the last time.
JACK: Auntie Nan, what on earth happened?
NAN: Oh, it’s nothing, really. Nothing a divorce can’t cure. Maybe I’ll move to a third world country and teach hygiene.
JACK: I didn’t know there was anything wrong between you and Uncle Todd.
NAN: Oh, the warning signs have been there since last year when he started going to the gym. (LOSING IT) But I just noticed them all this morning. But I don’t want to bother you with the details. After all, I’m only your aunt through marriage, and in a few weeks, I won’t be married anymore. Really, I’ll be fine. (SWITCHING INSTANTLY; ANGRILY) I’ll be fine once I chop him into pieces and bury him in my garden! Anyway, enough about me. How’s the moving in going?
JACK: It’s going fine . . . a little busy with me starting my new job tomorrow and everything.
NAN: And that’s why I’m going to make you some quesadillas.
JACK: That’s all right, Auntie. I mean, I don’t really have the space or the—
NAN: (BEGINS CRYING) That’s all right. I understand. Your uncle doesn’t want my quesadillas anymore; I can’t imagine you would either. Perhaps they’d let me make ‘em at the homeless shelter.
JACK: Well, I—
NAN: And all because he lost twenty pounds and got a hair transplant. I liked all that hair better when it was on his back. At least then he didn’t think about trading me in like an old Buick! Thank God he’s got such good investments. That’s more for me to take from him!
THERE’S A KNOCK AT THE DOOR.
JACK: (GETTING UP TO GET THE DOOR) Now, Auntie, I’m sure it can’t be that bad.
JACK OPENS THE DOOR, AND IT’S HIS UNCLE TODD, WHO STARTS TALKING THE SECOND THE DOOR OPENS. TODD ENTERS WITHOUT INVITE, NOT NOTICING HIS WIFE.
TODD: It’s official. Your aunt is a raving fruitcake. Give her a rabies shot before she passes it on. (TURNS, SEES NAN; WITHOUT MISSING A BEAT) Hello, dear.
END OF TEASER
INT. JACK’S CONDO, THE LIVING ROOM - CONTINUOUS
TODD AND NAN ARE NOW READY TO FACE OFF, JACK STUCK BETWEEN THEM WITH A RATHER UNCOMFORTABLE GRIMACE ON HIS FACE.
NAN: So, I’m a fruitcake, huh?
TODD: I meant that in a good way.
NAN: Anything else you want to tell me that you left out of your email?
NAN: Oh, I forgot that part. I open my email this morning; “Dear Nan, I can’t bring myself to tell you in person, but I feel the need to move on. I’ve enjoyed being married to you, and I wish you well in the future.”
TODD: It’s one of those things that sounded like a good plan at the time . . .
NAN: Yeah, right up there with cutting down the rainforest and making Jaws 4.
TODD: Tell me about it. I sent it five days ago, and I didn’t know when she’d get it.
NAN: I’ve been estranged from my husband for five days and never even knew it.
TODD: Of course, when she tried suffocating me with a doily, that was a sure sign.
NAN” And it would have worked, if those stupid holes hadn’t gotten in the way! (TO JACK) I’ll give you half the inheritance if you have a satin pillow handy right now.
JACK: This is all very entertaining in a Jerry Springer kind-of-way and all, but I’ve just moved in, and tomorrow, I start a new job . . .
NAN: You’re right. I should instead be consoling you. You have to work with him (POINTING TO TODD) everyday. Last a year, and you might get sainthood.
TODD: That’s what the pope told me the day I married you. And, for your information, there are a lot of people who like working with me everyday.
NAN: Oh? I didn’t realize you employed Lizzie Borden and Charles Manson.
TODD: I think it’s time I leave.
NAN: Why are you telling him that? Wouldn’t you prefer to email it?
TODD: Jack, I’ll see you tomorrow.
TODD STORMS OUT AND SLAMS THE DOOR.
JACK: See . . . things aren’t that bad. Maybe you should just let things settle, and, you know, talk through your problems.
NAN: You’re just saying that because you want me to leave.
JACK: No, I—
NAN: See, nobody wants me. Maybe I’ll volunteer at the zoo. I’m sure they need someone to feed to the bears.
JACK: That’s not what I—
NAN: But anyway, enough of all this depressing talk. I’m going to go home, lock him out of the bedroom, and get a nice, long night’s sleep so I have energy to figure out how I’m going to screw him over in the morning. (LOVINGLY) Besides, I’ve kept you long enough.
JACK: Well, I do start my job tomorrow . . .
NAN: Yes, and have a great first day at school. And don’t worry. Even if your uncle is anxious about working with family, I think you’ll do great.
JACK: He’s what?
NAN: Oh, you know him and his obsession over his work. He’s so worried about you making him look bad. But don’t you worry. Just because you’re a new teacher, I don’t think he’d fire you without a good cause even though he could. Don’t worry a bit. Anyway, nephew dear, don’t think two extra thoughts about me tonight.
NAN STARTS TO LEAVE.
JACK: I’m sure everything will be—
NAN: Yes, Jack, I’ll be fine.
JACK: Just don’t do anything rash.
NAN: Oh, I won’t. (OPENS THE DOOR, THEN TURNS BACK) Say, did Lorena Bobbitt’s insanity defense work?
JACK: Um, I don’t know.
NAN: (SHE THINKS A MOMENT) Well, thank God for Google!
INT. WHITE OAK HIGH SCHOOL CAFETERIA - MORNING
IT IS THE CAFETERIA OF WHITE OAK HIGH SCHOOL, AND ALL THE CHAIRS ARE SET UP AUDITORIUM-STYLE. THERE IS A PODIUM AT THE FRONT FOR A SPEAKER TO STAND. PEOPLE ARE MINGLING ABOUT OVER A TABLE OF DOUGHNUTS, BAGELS, AND WARM JUICE. JACK ENTERS NERVOUSLY, CARRYING A SHOULDER BAG. TODD GREETS HIM WHEN HE ENTERS.
TODD: Jack, welcome to the first day of workshops.
TODD: Now, listen, about yesterday . . . (PAUSE, THEN SERIOUSLY) Just because your aunt and I are getting a divorce doesn’t mean that we don’t love you. We still care—
JACK: Why are you telling me this?
TODD: Did you like it? I wanted to try it out on you before telling it to my kids. I can’t decide if I should try it with tears or not.
JACK: You might want to try it with sincerity. That oughtta work.
BRADY APPROACHES THEM.
BRADY: Hey Todd, is this the man?
TODD: Oh yeah, yeah. Jack this is your mentor, Brady, hand-picked by me. The parents love ‘im. (TO BRADY) Now you get my nephew off to a good start, okay?
BRADY: You bet. Anything for you, Todd.
TODD GOES TO GREET OTHERS.
BRADY (continued): Just remember, do I as I say and not as I do, and you’ll be just fine.
JACK: (CONFUSED) Thanks.
BRADY: My first piece of advice for you is to set a goal for the year. This year, my goal is to keep a grade-book. If I use it for the whole year, I’m gonna buy myself a car. See, if you can give yourself a tangible reward, it acts as motivation. Of course, chances are I’m gonna get the car either way, but we all need unreachable goals, right? (SEES A STRANGE LOOK ON JACK’S FACE) Hey, everything all right? You look a little hungover.
JACK: Sorry, I’m just a little shocked about my uncle’s divorce and—
BRADY: His what?
JACK: Oh, shoot! There I go already. Listen Brady, don’t tell anybody what I said. You can’t tell a soul.
BRADY: Hey, man, sure. I give you my word as a future Social Studies Teacher of the Year Award Winner.
TODD IS STANDING AT THE PODIUM IN THE FRONT OF THE CAFETERIA.
TODD: Excuse me . . . Excuse me, if you could all take your seats.
BRADY: Hey, let’s go sit over here next to Nikki.
WHEN THEY SIT DOWN, NIKKI GIVES BRADY A FRIENDLY SMILE.
NIKKI: Hey Brady, what’s up?
BRADY: Do I got something you’ll never believe. But you can’t tell anyone, got it?
NIKKI NODS, AND BRADY SAYS SOMETHING TO HER THAT CAN’T BE HEARD, AND SHE REACTS WITH WIDE EYES, HER HAND HELD IN SHOCK TO HER MOUTH. IMMEDIATELY, SHE TURNS TO SOMEONE ELSE. WHILE TODD IS TALKING, THE MESSAGE IS RAPIDLY BEING PASSED AROUND.
TODD: Good morning, everyone. Thank you all for being here on this early August morning. I hope you’ve all had an opportunity to get some breakfast. Before we begin anything, I’d like to take a moment and introduce all of the new teachers who will be joining us this year, and this year—
AS TODD SPEAKS, A HAND SHOOTS UP.
TODD (continued): Yes, Betsy. Do you have a question?
BETSY, A QUIET, UNASSUMING YOUNG TEACHER WHO LOOKS LIKE SHE’S JUST BARELY GRADUATED FROM HOME SCHOOLING, STANDS UP MEEKLY.
BETSY: As the high school union representative of the White Oak Education Association and on behalf of all fifty-eight teachers in the high school, I’d like to offer my condolences on the dissolution of your marriage.
AT THE WORD OF THIS, THE REMAINING TEACHERS WHO HADN’T ALREADY HEARD LET OUT A GASP OF PITY, STARING AT HIM.
BETSY (continuedd): We hope you and the young tramp you’ve traded your ex-wife for will be truly happy.
TODD: (SENSITIVE OF THE ACCUSATION) There is no other woman!
BOB, AN OLDER MALE TEACHER, SHOOTS HIS HAND UP.
TODD (continued): And no, Bob, I’m not interested in marrying your daughter, even if she did finally wax off her Groucho Marx.
NODDING AND SADLY UNDERSTANDING, BOB LOWERS HIS HAND.
TODD (continued): Now, I insist on knowing how this got out. We haven’t even called to tell our kids.
TODD LOOKS DIRECTLY AT BETSY. AFTER BETSY SPEAKS, THERE IS A PROGRESSION OF TEACHERS SEATED IN A LINE.
BETSY: Well, Marie told me.
MARIE: Daniel told me.
DANIEL: But you weren’t supposed to tell anyone! Melissa told me.
MELISSA: I heard it from Genevieve.
GENEVIEVE: I was sworn to secrecy, but I knew I could trust Melissa . . . even though Barry told me not to tell.
BARRY: I refuse to answer on the grounds that I may incriminate Shawn. (REALIZING HIS MISTAKE) Oh!
SHAWN: Well, Mia told me, and she told me not to tell anyone, but I thought Barry was trustworthy.
MIA: I guess you can’t trust anyone these days! . . . (SHEEPISHLY) Right, Cheryl?
CHERYL: At least not Nikki.
SITTING BESIDE BRADY IS JACK, WHO IS LOOKING SHEEPISH.
BRADY: I will not name names. My lips are sealed.
WITH THIS, EVERY EYE TURNS TO JACK, WHO IS AT THE END OF THE LINE.
TODD: (ACCUSING IN TONE) Did everyone get a chance to meet my nephew, Jack?
SHEEPISHLY, JACK WAVES.
TODD (continued): As long as the cat is out of the bag, I might as well set it free. And how did I wind up with a trampy mistress?
NIKKI: Don’t you know?
BRADY: Were you a little liquored up there, Todd?
TODD: There is no other woman!
HE LOOKS OVER AT JACK.
JACK: Hey, I didn’t say that.
MARIE, ONE OF THE TEACHERS FROM THE GOSSIP LINE, WHO IS A LITTLE OLD FACS TEACHER, RISES.
MARIE: I’m sorry, it was I who said that. See, Betsy asked me why, and I . . . Well, you see . . . I mean, she . . . (EXASPERATED) Oh poop. She asked me why. I’ve been a teacher for thirty years. When I don’t know the answer to a question, I guess I’m just used to making it up. But I never said she was a tramp.
TODD: (EXASPERATED) Well, thank you, Marie.
MARIE: I called her a skank.
CHERYL: What’s a skank?
THE MEETING BREAKS INTO A SIDE DISCUSSION AS PEOPLE TRY TO ANSWER CHERYL’S QUESTION.
BETSY: A tramp.
DANIEL: Well, not quite a tramp. Perhaps more of a loose-moraled woman. Somewhere between tramp and hussy.
MIA: Maybe with a disease.
GENEVIEVE: Think Madonna pre-child.
MIA: Without the glitzy music career.
DANIEL: Or a J.Lo music video. Not that I’m complaining.
TODD: Does anyone mind if we have a meeting?
BRADY: So Todd, um, why are you getting divorced. (EVERYONE REACTS LIKE HE’S CRAZY TO ASK) Like you’re all not dying to know . . . Cowards.
TODD: Okay, consider this the official press release! Marriage is hard. It takes a lot of hard work, and sometimes, it just doesn’t last. Trust me, Jack, you should be happy your fiancée dumped you at the altar.
INSTANTLY, EVERY WOMAN ON THE FACULTY LOOKS OVER AT HIM WITH SINCERE PITY IN THEIR EYES. JACK IS RATHER UNCOMFORTABLE WITH THIS.
TODD (continued): It’s better to have loved and been dumped than to have ever gotten married at all.
JACK: (DRYLY) Thanks, Uncle Todd. I’ll remember that one for my poetry unit.
INT. JACK’S CLASSROOM – LATER MORNING
JACK’S CLASSROOM IS A REGULAR-SIZED ROOM WITH BARE INSTITUTIONAL YELLOW WALLS. THE DESKS ARE ALL SHOVED INTO ONE CORNER BECAUSE JACK HASN’T YET HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO DO ANYTHING WITH THEM.
IT’S RIGHT AFTER THE MORNING MEETING, AND JACK, BRADY, AND NIKKI ENTER JACK’S CLASSROOM.
NIKKI: I don’t think we’ve ever had such a fun meeting before. Certainly makes you look at our principal in a different light.
JACK: You can thank Brady for that.
BRADY: Hey, at least I didn’t rat you out. Oh, by the way, Jack, this is—
JACK: (READING HER NAMETAG) Nikki. Hi, I’m Jack.
NIKKI: (SERIOUSLY OFFENDED) It’s pronounced Ni kki’.
BRADY: (ASIDE TO JACK AS IF IT EXPLAINS IT ALL) Drama teacher.
JACK: Oh. (TO NIKKI) Sorry.
NIKKI: Nikki is what you name a dog. Ni kki’ is what you name an artist.
JACK: That’s funny. My name works for both.
BRADY: So, you got dumped at the altar, huh?
NIKKI: Brady, what’s up with you and the rude questions? Obviously, we’re all dying to know what stupid thing he did to louse it up, but you don’t see anyone else rushing out to get the scoop. Really, you may know the ins and outs of the American economic system, but you’re a little stupid in the tact department.
THERE IS AWKWARD SILENCE.
BRADY: So, um, why did she dump you?
NIKKI: At the altar? I mean, I’m not asking, I’m just finishing the question for Brady, that’s all.
JACK: I don’t know.
NIKKI: Oh come on, you don’t know?! Surely you can come up with something better than that?
JACK: No, I really don’t. I walked down the aisle between both my parents. Out came the wedding party and the ring bearer and the flower girl and she just . . . just didn’t.
NIKKI: You cheated on her, didn’t you!
JACK: No! I loved her with everything I had, but she just got cold feet and ran out of the church. I haven’t seen her since.
BRADY: (AFTER A MOMENT OF HEAVY SILENCE) Bummer.
NIKKI: So did she run off with your sexy best man or something? Your best friend? The really hot wedding gown designer who was so cute she was sure he was gay but was thrilled when he wasn’t? Anything romantic like that?
BRADY: Jack, I had no idea you were a character on One Life to Live.
JACK: As far as I know, she didn’t do any of those things . . . thank God.
NIKKI: (WITH A DISAPPOINTED SIGH) And that just goes to show you, life never reflects art.
BRADY: (ONCE AGAIN, ASIDE TO JACK AS IF IT EXPLAINS IT ALL) Drama teacher.
JACK: Oh, still?
BOB ENTERS THE ROOM. HE’S JUST A LITTLE TOO ARTIFICIAL.
BOB: (SMILING) Hey, guys. I hope everything is good. Hi, Jack, I’m Bob. You’ll love teaching here. I know I love my students. I love my administration. I love my sub-par salary. I love the cafeteria food. I love doing detention. I mean—supervising detention. I was never in detention as a kid because I was so good. But like I was saying, I love everything about this school.
BRADY: (AS IF HE’S GONE OVER THIS WITH HIM BEFORE) Bob, would you cut it out? He’s not a spy.
BOB: Who said anything about Jack being a spy, just because he’s the principal’s nephew and his own eternal flesh and blood and confidant. That’s just stupid, Brady. Who would ever think such a stupid thing? Ha ha ha ha ha. (TO BRADY) Fool! I hope you’re the first to go. (TO ALL) I guess I’ll be going. Gotta sharpen all those saws before the students return. It’s a pleasure meeting you, Jack. I’ll see you in the lounge.
BOB DUCKS OUT.
BRADY and NIKKI: Ignore him.
BOB DUCKS BACK IN.
BOB: By the way, Jack, if you’re ever looking for something to do on a Friday night, my daughter Jolene is a great girl.
JACK: Okay . . .
BOB: I live just down the street from Brady, so if you ever just wanna stop by . . .
BOB: I just need a day or two notice so she can shave her armpits.
JACK: Don’t we all.
BOB DUCKS BACK OUT.
JACK (continued): What’s up with that?! One minute I’m a spy; the next minute he wants me to go out with his daughter?
BRADY: The man’s desperate enough to give his own daughter to the enemy. Doesn’t that say enough?
NIKKI: (TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT TO SAY) Oh, Jolene’s a nice . . . girl.
BRADY: I finally had to go out and buy a fake wedding ring before Bob stopped trying to hook me up with her, and even then, he offered to pay for an annulment.
JACK: I don’t think my uncle would be too happy with me dating someone so closely associated with the school, you know.
NIKKI: Oh, yeah. Now that he’s single, I bet he can’t stand the competition.
INT. JACK’S CONDO, THE LIVING ROOM - EVENING
JACK’S LIVING ROOM IS A LITTLE MORE PIECED TOGETHER, THOUGH THERE ARE STILL BOXES ALL AROUND. JACK IS UNPACKING A BOX. THERE IS A KNOCK AT THE DOOR.
JACK: It’s open!
NAN: Hi, Jack. I was just stopping by to see how moving in was going.
JACK: I’m still unpacking.
NAN: Would you like some help?
JACK: If you want. There are five boxes of books that need to go on the shelves there.
NAN WALKS TO THEM.
NAN: (OPENING BOX) Let’s see . . . Nine Coaches Waiting, The Moon-Spinners . . . such pretty covers.
JACK: I packed them all in alphabetical order. You just have to put them on the shelf in that—
NAN: I have a better idea. I did this with all our books, and it looks much prettier.
JACK: I don’t want them pretty—
NAN: I’ll put them in color order. See, these three are all dark blue, so they should go together.
JACK: I want them in alphabetical—
NAN: This teal would look much better with other teal books, don’t you think?
JACK: Do you care what I—
NAN: I don’t like this orange spine . . . Do you really need (READING) The Opposite of Fate?
JACK: Who cares about Amy Tan.
NAN: Oh, look at her picture on the back. She is awfully cute . . .
JACK: Actually, I was just going to take a break. Why don’t we stop now . . . (TAKING A BAG OF COOKIES OFF A BOX AND HEADING TOWARD THE COUCH) Would you like some refreshments?
NAN: No, I’m good.
JACK: Have a seat.
THERE IS AWKWARD SILENCE AS THEY MUNCH ON COOKIES.
JACK: So . . . Had a good first day at work.
NAN: Good, good. That’s good . . . good. . .
JACK: I have nice desks in my classroom.
NAN: That’s always good . . . good . . .
JACK: So, anything new with you?
NAN: Not really.
JACK: So . . . How’s the . . . divorce?
NAN: Good. Good. And yours? I mean—um, how was your first day of workshops?
JACK: Like I said, it went well.
NAN: Good. So . . . This place has two bedrooms, huh?
JACK: (GETTING UNCOMFORTABLE WITH WHERE THIS IS GOING) I’m sorry, what?
NAN: Two bedrooms. It has two bedrooms?
JACK: Well, not if you count the office I’ve wanted for all these years and am finally getting to have.
NAN: Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be homeless?
JACK: (TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT SHE’S GETTING AT) Um . . . sure, yeah. I guess I thought about it once, when I was a small child . . . of two.
NAN: I haven’t. (LOSING IT) I’ll let you know what it’s like.
JACK: Now, Auntie Nan. It can’t be that bad.
NAN: You know how they say the woman always gets the house. I get the shed.
JACK: Well, I’m sure—
NAN: Of course, who’d want to be all alone in that big old house anyway? All alone would be terribly dreadful, wouldn’t it?
JACK: I don’t know. I kinda like it.
NAN: But couldn’t you use some help with the mortgage? A first-year teacher’s salary isn’t exactly—
JACK: Actually, I just paid off my car, dropped down to liability on my insurance, paid off my Visa, and I’m doing all right.
NAN: Well, you don’t worry about me, Jack. For a week I’ll visit your cousin Marsha and her family in Ohio, and for another I’ll stay in Joey’s dorm room. And after that . . . under the bridge on Franklin Avenue.
NAN STARTS CRYING INTO HER HANDS, AND JACK IS LEFT LOOKING PAINED.
END OF ACT ONE
INT. JACK’S CLASSROOM - AFTERNOON
JACK IS HANGING POSTERS IN HIS CLASSROOM WHEN CHERYL ENTERS.
JACK: Oh, hi.
CHERYL: We haven’t been formally introduced. I’m Cheryl.
JACK: Hi. Jack.
CHERYL: Have you had a minute to look over Chad’s “To Do” list before the first day of class?
JACK: Yeah. Tell me, is Chad the head of the English department or the high school militia? (PICKING THE LIST UP OFF HIS DESK) I’m supposed to submit goals to him, curriculum outlines, classroom expectations, lesson plans for the first two weeks for each class, and I think donate my kidney or something.
CHERYL: Yeah, Chad’s a great teacher, but he’s a little too gung ho about being department head.
JACK: I have no idea how I’m going to get everything done. Do you do all this stuff?
CHERYL: Of course I do. Let’s see, my five goals this year were to figure out how to use the computerized grade-book, to grade essays within two months of getting them, to not harm any students, to not harm any parents, and in the event that I do, to not get caught.
JACK: (LAUGHING) Wow. I should‘ve taken notes.
CHERYL: I came by to let you know that if you need to raid any files, feel free to stop by and look through mine.
JACK: Thanks, I just might do that.
BOB ENTERS WITH A POTTED PLANT.
BOB: Hey, there. I brought you a potted plant. Thought it might cheer up your room.
JACK: Hey, thanks. Could you just set it on that desk there?
CHERYL: Nice to see you pawning off a plant this time and not your daughter. I’ll talk to you guys later. Jack, let me know if I can help at all.
CHERYL EXITS, AND BOB SETS THE PLANT ON THE DESK.
BOB: She’s got a great sense of humor, doesn’t she . . . (LAUGHING) pawning off my . . . Anyway, aren’t these workshop days just the funnest?
BOB: Yep, I love my job.
JACK: Good for you.
BRADY: Hey, Bob. Say, Jack, could you give me a ride home? I locked my keys in the car.
JACK: Yeah, sure. I was just gonna head home myself.
BOB: Hey, if you feel up to it, why don’t you stop by and meet my daughter? It’s right on the way.
JACK: Ah, well . . .
BRADY: Sorry Bob, but I’m in an awful rush. (MAKING IT UP) I have an appointment . . . to have my body hair waxed off.
BOB: Try electrolysis. Jolene’s had some great success with that.
BRADY: Yeah, I’ll keep that in mind for next time.
BOB: Well, it’s too bad you can’t stop by. Did I mention my next door neighbor is an ordained minister?
JACK: No, you didn’t.
BOB: And I have a friend who owes me a few favors who’s a judge.
JACK: Hey, I’ll let you know if I ever need a restraining order.
BOB: (NOT GETTING IT) Huh? Well anyway, when you see that super principal uncle of yours next time, tell him I said hey.
JACK: Will do!
BOB: (CONTEMPLATING SOMETHING) Well um . . . Well, I talk to you folks later.
BOB RUSHES OUT.
JACK: Thanks! I owe you one.
BRADY: Nah, that one I owed you for telling Nikki about your uncle’s divorce. Next time, you won’t get off so cheap.
JACK: You thought that was cheap? Let me paraphrase our meeting. (ACTING OUT THE PARTS) “You’re cheating on your wife.” “No, I’m not.” “Well then, why not?” “By the way folks, here’s my nephew Jack, the loser.”
BRADY: Wait ‘til you meet Jolene. You got off cheap.
INT. JACK’S CAR - AFTERNOON
JACK IS DRIVING BRADY HOME IN HIS COUPE.
BRADY: And if you run out of sick days and just need a day off, it’s good to kill off cousins, uncles, and aunts. You can never have too many of those dying on you.
JACK: (NOT REALLY) That’s good to know.
BRADY: Never, and I mean never, tell anyone a grandparent dies unless it’s true. For my first three years of teaching, dead grandma was my standby. It didn’t take long until the math teachers were figuring out that divorces could give me four grandmas but not five.
JACK: (AWKWARDLY) I’ll keep that in mind.
BRADY: I ended up concocting this great story about being adopted and finding another set of four grandmas, but that’s one you can’t pull off more than once every two decades.
EXT. BOB’S FRONT YARD - CONTINOUS
BOB’S BACK IS TO THE CAMERA, AND IN FRONT OF HIM IS THE FIGURE OF HIS DAUGHTER JOLENE; SHE’S SCRATCHING HER ARMPITS. SHE CAN ONLY BE SEEN FROM BEHIND, THOUGH SHE IS RATHER MASCULINE WHILE WEARING AN OVERLY FEMININE DRESS. SHE HAS A MASS OF BLACK HAIR.
BOB: Now, trust me on this one, Jolene. When I push you, you run out in that street. He may be a spy, but we can’t be too picky these days, right Sweetie? Okay, that’s his car there—go!
BOB PUSHES JOLENE INTO THE STREET.
INTERCUT BETWEEN JACK’S CAR AND BOB’S FRONT YARD
JACK: Fortunately, I don’t get sick very often. (SEES SOMETHING ON THE ROAD THAT FRIGHTENS HIM) Oh, my retinas!
JACK SLAMS ON THE BRAKES WHILE BRADY COVERS HIS EYES. THE CAR SWERVES OFF THE ROAD AS BOB IS HEARD.
BOB (off camera): Go get ‘im, Jolene!
THERE IS A SOUND OF THE CAR SLAMMING INTO A TREE. EVERYTHING BLURS.
EXT. JACK’S CAR - IMMEDIATELY AFTER
THERE IS A CLOSE-UP OF JACK SITTING IN HIS SMASHED-UP CAR. OPEN AND CLOSING HIS EYES, HE STARTS TO GAIN FOCUS OF WHAT HAS HAPPENED. THE BACK OF JOLENE’S HEAD CAN BE SEEN AS SHE NEARS THE CAR, BENDING TO HIM. JACK SEES HER FACE AND PASSES OUT.
INT. JACK’S CONDO, THE LIVING ROOM - AFTERNOON
JACK WALKS INTO THE LIVING ROOM WITH HIS STEERING WHEEL IN HAND. HIS UNCLE TODD ENTERS BEHIND HIM.
JACK: Thanks for picking me up, Uncle Todd.
TODD: It’s the least I can do after you told the entire school I was leaving my wife for a trampy mistress.
NAN WALKS IN THE FRONT DOOR.
NAN: Aha—I knew it!
TODD: Would you—
NAN: I knew there was another woman! And a trampy one at that. Listen, Mr. Universe, you may have more hair and less lard than you did a year ago—
TODD: Nancy, there isn’t—
NAN: —but you’re still the same old coot who farts for hours after eating Mexican food and likes to watch Power Rangers.
TODD: Would you listen—
NAN: Furthermore, I could have married Albert Russelman, but I picked you because I thought you were sweet and considerate. Maybe I made the wrong choice. Sure, Albert’s in prison, but at least I’d still be married, you two-timing, cheating, dishonest, slimy butthead.
TODD: (FINALLY GETTING THROUGH) There is no other woman!
JACK: It was a mix-up at school when I accidentally told Brady who told Nikki who told someone else who told someone else who made up the story about Uncle Todd having an affair.
NAN: Oh. (BEAT) Well, you’re still a butthead.
TODD: Listen, I didn’t come here to air our dirty laundry in front of my nephew, hence the entire school. I’ve already had my professionalism compromised, and I don’t care to have it happen again.
JACK: Uncle Todd—
TODD: The fact is, Nan, that you are a wonderful person and the mother of my two wonderful kids . . . but we just don’t have it anymore. There just isn’t anything between us, and it doesn’t feel right anymore. I want out. That’s it. That’s all.
NAN: But that’s not it, not to me. On our wedding day, you promised before a church of witnesses—
TODD: Nan, don’t make it any harder than it already is. Please? Just let me go. (NO RESPONSE) Jack, let me know if you need anything.
TODD LEAVES. THERE IS SILENCE UNTIL NAN RECOVERS.
NAN: Something happened to your car?
TODD: Yeah, I was driving another teacher home and something jumped out—
NAN: Like a deer or something?
TODD: Yeah . . . or something. Long story short, I have a steering wheel.
NAN: Oh Jack, how awful. What was that you were saying yesterday about paying off your car and dropping down to liability insurance . . . ?
JACK: Oh, Auntie, don’t you worry about me. I’ll be fine. Let’s see, I can get rid of my Internet, my call waiting and caller ID, my cell phone, conserve electricity, stop going to movies and plays . . . (GETTING DISHEARTENED) and the grocery store . . .
NAN: (TURNING TO GO) Well, I guess I had better go. I have to find a room I can rent for $600 a month plus utilities.
JACK: (VERY RELUCTANTLY) Hey Auntie, I, um, I have a room open . . . for $600 a month plus utilities.
NAN: Well, Jack, if you don’t want me here—
JACK: No Auntie Nan, really, I can’t think of a better roommate than you.
NAN: You’re just saying that. That’s all right, I’ll just . . . I’ll just burden someone else with my existence.
JACK: Auntie, why wouldn’t I want you as a roommate? You’re smart and you’re fun and you make great quesadillas and you’re funny—
NAN: Yeah, I am, aren’t I? Can I get the big bedroom?
JACK: —and for $200, you can get bathroom privileges—every other day.
NAN: The small bedroom sounds perfect. I’ll run home now and start bringing boxes over. I’ll see you shortly, roomie.
NAN EXITS. JACK IS LEFT ALONE.
JACK: (TO NO ONE IN PARTICULAR) Kill me now, and get it over with.
END OF ACT TWO
INT. THE TEACHER’S LOUNGE - MORNING
THE TEACHER’S LOUNGE IS A BIG ROOM. ON ONE WALL ARE MAIL SLOTS FOR THE TEACHERS. THERE’S ALSO A REFRIGERATOR, SODA MACHINES, A COPY MACHINE, AND A FEW OTHER THINGS. OFF TO ONE SIDE IS A TELEPHONE WHICH IS PARTITIONED OFF FOR PRIVACY. CHERYL IS DRINKING A CUP OF COFFEE AND LOOKING THROUGH HER MAIL AT THE TABLE WHEN NIKKI ENTERS TO CHECK HER MAIL.
NIKKI: (SEEING A CLIPBOARD ON THE TABLE) What’s this?
CHERYL: It’s a petition from the secretaries in the main office.
NIKKI: (READING IT) It’s a request for the cafeteria to stop serving Mexican food indefinitely.
NIKKI: So, it is true!
BRADY ENTERS THE LOUNGE.
BRADY: Hey guys.
NIKKI: Did you sign the petition?
BRADY: About what?
CHERYL: The secretaries in the main office want the cooks to stop serving Mexican.
JACK WALKS IN.
CHERYL: Jack, what do you think of the petition?
JACK: What petition?
BRADY: Never mind.
NIKKI: The secretaries in the front office—
BRADY: I’ll give you ten bucks if you don’t listen to another word.
CHERYL: They want the cooks to stop serving Mexican food indefinitely.
JACK TURNS AND STARES AT BRADY.
JACK: Way to go, Brady.
BRADY: All I did was tell Daniel!
NIKKI: I heard it from Karen.
CHERYL: I heard it from Bob, Ryan, Terra, Nina, Eric, and Peter. And Tom.
TODD ENTERS THE LOUNGE WITH SOME PAPERS TO PUT IN THE TEACHERS’ MAILBOXES.
TODD: How are things going?
TODD: Have you guys tried Pablo’s, that new Tex Mex restaurant—
TODD TURNS AROUND, AND NO ONE IS IN THE ROOM EXCEPT FOR JACK, WHO IS HOLDING THE PETITION IN HIS HANDS.
JACK: (LOOKING AROUND) Wow, what a strange and unrelated coincidence.
JACK: Nothing. Nothing at all.
TODD: What do you have there?
JACK: (HIDING IT BEHIND HIS BACK) Nothing, just a, um, a petition.
TODD: (SUSPICIOUS) For what?
JACK: Let’s make a deal. You don’t ask me about this petition, and I won’t tell anyone about your affinity for Power Rangers.
TODD: Deal. (STARTS TO HEAD OUT) Good recommendations or not, I’m not so sure hiring a family member at my school was such a good idea.
JACK: I guess only time will tell, beloved Uncle.
TODD: We’ll see.
TODD EXITS. BREATHING A SIGN OF RELIEF, JACK ALSO EXITS. AFTER A SECOND, BRADY STEPS OUT FROM BEHIND THE PARTITION.
BRADY: (AMAZED) Power Rangers? Who’da thunk?
END OF EPISODE
My own observation since writing this is that I’m concerned that Jack is too passive. In later episodes, he definitely takes a more proactive role in his life. I’m concerned, though, that he comes off as put-upon or a downer rather than only getting caught up in the drama of people around him.
Since writing this, I also would like to make Bob a stronger character. I think his characterization needs a little boost, and I’d like to make him a stronger male figure (as opposed to another dopey man on television), even though he does want a divorce for unclear and potentially stupid reasons.
I had a lot of fun ideas for other episodes for the first season. I wanted Marissa Jaret Winokur to guest as Jack’s former fiancée and dreamed of Carol Channing guesting as the school’s legendary former drama director. In more teacher-related stuff, I wanted to add some of my own awkward moments—bizarre conferences, the email you accidentally send to a parent instead of to your colleagues, dealing with budget cuts, the school gossip mill. And Nikki’s winter musical was going to be Jane Eyre, by the way. I had an idea for incorporating a musical number from the show.
Also please note that I specifically created two great roles for women over forty. Nan obviously needed to be over-40, but I incorporated Cheryl because—beside the fact that as a teacher you work with and befriend people of all ages—there are so many incredibly talented actress in Los Angeles and New York who can’t get jobs simply because they are over 40, which is the dumbest thing ever. If I ever did make it in Hollywood, it was going to be my goal to open up roles for all ethnicities, women with curves, and women over 40.
Well, if you got this far, thank you for reading! I do hope it was a pleasant diversion, maybe provided a few laughs. If anyone has any additional observations (good or bad) based upon your experience or learning or whatever, I’d love to hear it in case I do get a chance to do something with it (please be brutally honest, though). Please be aware that, hopefully obviously, if I ever ended up doing anything with this, your thoughts would be much appreciated but financially unremunerated.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
the Broadway Mouth
September 10, 2007