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Pilot Script Review: Running Wilde

June 1, 2010

(Picture courtesy of FOX.com)

When I first found out that Mitchell Hurwitz and Will Arnett were teaming up in a new Fox sitcom, I had mixed reactions.  I was excited to hear that my favorite sitcom creator, Mitchell Hurwitz, was returning with a new show. (I was a fan of the Happiness Isn’t Everything pilot, but that was put to death almost immediately.)   I continue to watch Arrested Development on a regular basis and it still provides more LOLs per minute than any other show in the history of time.  (And if my opinion means nothing to you, then check out media scholar, Jason Mittel’s blog post “Best TV of the Aughts:  The Top Tier.”  He at least has some street cred…)  So, mix one of the best sitcom writer/creators with one of the funniest comedic actors (Will Arnett) and you’re sure to have a hit, right?  Hopefully.  My hesitation comes from the fact that the show is airing on Fox, which, despite having one of the greatest sitcoms of all time with numerous award nominations and wins, Arrested Development only lasted two and half seasons.  But, I guess that’s all in the past and bygones should be bygones…  Now, on to the Running Wilde (aka Wilde Kingdom) review!  (Possible spoilers ahead).

Synopsis (from FOX): “From the Emmy Award-winning creator and the star of the critically acclaimed FOX series “Arrested Development” comes RUNNING WILDE, a romantic comedy starring Will Arnett (“Arrested Development,” “30 Rock”) as STEVE WILDE, a filty-rich, immature playboy trying desperately to win (or buy) the heart of his childhood sweetheart, EMMY KADUBIC (Keri Russell, “Waitress,” “Felicity”), the uber-liberal humanitarian who got away – all told through the perspective of a 12-year-old girl.”

Writers: Mitchell Hurwitz, Jim Vallely & Will Arnett

Read the script: The Running Wilde script isn’t posted online anywhere (to my knowledge).  I don’t want to piss anyone off by posting it myself (I try to avoid all types of conflict).  However, if you e-mail me (eshawcomedy@gmail.com) and ask nicely, I may send you a copy.  But, you’ll have to promise to post a comment to this post with your review of the script.

Watch the trailer: Running Wilde trailer

Official homepage: FOX’s Running Wilde page

Overall Thoughts: Assuming Arrested Development is the standard, this comes pretty close.  The script is filled with running jokes, silly situations, and quick dialogue that any AD fan would appreciate.  I especially like the fact that the show is narrated by a child who doesn’t actually speak (at least to the first part of the pilot) and I almost wish she didn’t speak for a few more episodes–I understand why she had to eventually talk to Steve, but I really enjoyed the fact that the audience was the only “person” she talked to.  I do also think that this show has more commercial potential than some of Hurwitz’s other work:  Running Wilde is a good title.  The show has a clear premise.  It has odd, yet, likable characters.  Let’s hope FOX doesn’t screw it up…

Number of LOL’s: Three times…although I have a feeling the pilot will play better on screen than on the page–A lot of quick dialogue that will sound better coming out of Will’s mouth.

Favorite Line(s):

Migo: “You know, maybe you’d feel better if instead of thinking about what you have, you think about what others don’t have.”

Steve: “Hey. That does make me feel better. I mean, I’ve got more than them.”

Grade: 9 out of 10

Lesson: If Mitchell Hurwitz sitcoms can teach us one thing about writing (of course we could learn probably four thousand, three hundred, and nine things) it’s that we should all be more like Native Americans.  But, instead of “not wasting any part of an animal,” we should utilize every object, moment, line of dialogue, or situation and squeeze out as much comedy as possible.  I.e. don’t waste your jokes!   For example, in Running Wilde, there’s the competition between Steve and his neighbor in which both attempt to find the rarest/most expensive horse.  Steve learns that the smaller the horse, the rarer it is.  This could have been a one-scene joke, but the small/baby horse is woven throughout the script.  (“His breath is so milky”)  The horse even shows up on the last page of the script.   We get the joke, but we wouldn’t have understood it without first seeing the earlier scene, so it feels like an inside joke.  As you write your sitcom scripts and you’re rewriting, instead of adding more jokes, see if you can re-use what’s already on the page in earlier scenes.  If possible, try and fit inside jokes into each act of your script, with the comedy building on each reference.  (Note:  I’m not talking about catch phrases.  If you’re trying to force catch phrases into your script, it will seem contrived and unfunny.)  So,  even though we (non-native Americans)  stole this country from the real-Native Americans hundreds of years ago, their methods and lifestyle can still apply to writing silly television shows.  For that I thank them…and I also really enjoy corn. (That last line was slightly contrived and barely humorous, but at least it wasn’t a catch phrase…)

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. June 1, 2010 1:03 pm

    Playing patterns is something that brings the viewer/reader into an inside joke. It’s stressed in improv comedy to hit a pattern at least 3 times because even if it’s not funny to the audience the 2nd time, it will be the 3rd. That’s what everyone loves about Arrested Development, we are in on the jokes and repeat viewings only make it funnier. I can’t wait to read this script.

    • June 1, 2010 1:18 pm

      Dustin,

      Agreed – The “rule of 3” is pretty vital to comedy writing and definitely should be mentioned when discussing “inside jokes.” Thanks for the input!

      Evan

  2. andrew A. Lee permalink
    June 7, 2010 11:29 am

    the script isnt quite arrested development, but its a nice little taste of whats to come, much better than “sit down shut up” and “happiness isnt everything”

    I am pleasantly surprised with this, Instead of the usual unlikable but likable GOB bluth type character who gives children “forget me nows” that cannot carry a lead role, They did their best to make Will a 3 dimensional person who is clueless jackass rather than a jackass, and although not even close to being as elaborate as AD, its still full of fun gags, strange but likable characters( I loved the dialouge between Fa’ad and steve) and subtle wordplay, and I hope that it gets the ratings it needs to survive.

    8/10

    some great lines

    “fa’ad will feel a holocaust of envy!”

    “I have a great idea for the rich guy. kiefer sutherland. He owes me a boat”

    Migo:

    • June 7, 2010 12:02 pm

      Thanks, Andrew – Yeah, I was happy to see they created a lead character that should be able to carry a show. I’m always concerned when really good supporting actors are thrown into a lead role, but I think Will Arnett is a good fit as Steve.

  3. July 5, 2010 6:33 am

    I didn’t hate the pilot, but I didn’t love it either. I’d like to give it at least a B, but it’s a C script… Of course, I love smart TV such as Arrested Development, Frasier, and Modern Family.

    Likes: It attempted to be emotional, and not just “humor, humor, humor.” The wordplay, as someone pointed out above, was well done, and right up to alley of Arrested Development. Some of the reoccurring jokes were funny, as well, though I didn’t like the box of oil joke. It was lame, especially since it kept exploding multiple times…

    Dislikes: The little girl. This could be make or break. In Arrested Development, the narrator worked because he wasn’t one of the family. He was omniscient, and it worked. Trudy was Emmy’s daughter, yet she knew everything going on. I don’t like that. Never have. Also, she seems to point out the obvious a lot in her voice overs. Other than Trudy, there weren’t any truly LOL moments for me. I chuckled once or twice, but it was a quiet read for me. And the tribe loving in Beverly Hills? Pretty lame. Cheap laughs.

    Of course, the biggest flaw of this script was the fact that it was written for Will Arnett. He was one of the co-writers, so obviously when this was written, he knew he’d be Steve. Anyone can say “Well, this was written way before casting,” but let’s face it. Again, we all knew he would be Steve just based on writing credits. I don’t think he can play a three-dimensional character. I’ve never seen him play one… ever! He’s a one-trick pony. He’s good at that trick too, but this is new for him. I can’t see him succeeding.

    Arrested Development failing was probably the worst thing to happen to Mitch Hurwitz. I believe that cancellation ruined his writing. Why? Arrested Development was considered “too smart,” so on every show since, he’s tried to dumb down his humor, and it’s not working. Perhaps magic only happens once…

    Grade: C

  4. July 5, 2010 4:58 pm

    @Matthew Bacon – Thanks for the review! One thing I definitely agree with you on is the fact that the canceling of Arrested Development has probably been detrimental to Hurwitz’s writing. If he can’t make a living (on network tv) writing something as great as AD was, then there’s no motivation for him to write smart comedies.

  5. FJR permalink
    July 12, 2010 10:20 pm

    I was really excited to read this script and found that all of my expectations were met. The story was a lot of fun, and all of the characters have a lot of potential. I’m interested to see how a love story exists in a universe with seemingly the same style and tone as Arrested Development. I can’t wait to see how the finished product turns out.

  6. August 25, 2010 2:28 am

    I agree pretty much with Matthew. Hurwitz writes a lot of great dialog jokes, but this wasn’t anywhere near the AD standard. I can’t see where anyone gets “likable characters” anywhere in this script. I find no reason to care about a single one of the characters in this script. AD always navigated that line elegantly, but these people have zero redeeming qualities, and there’s pretty much no depth or complications to them. Again, I do think there is some good comedy in there, but it’s all built on an extremely shallow, cynical premise, and do we really need another comedy that fits that bill? I think Modern Family shows that another route is possible. Why do I want to watch rich people being jerks together and facing no consequences for their actions, while meanwhile people trying to do good are made fun of? It feels like some kind of Republican joke ie. not funny. The depressing aspect overshadows the humor. That being said, I will watch it to see where it goes. Hurwitz gets as many chances as he wants, given he made AD. David Cross is signed on now, so a lot of funny people involved, but then again there’s Let’s Go To Prison to remind me that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Thanks, Evan. Keep up the good work.

    Grade: C-

    • August 25, 2010 9:17 am

      @MK – Thanks for detailed comments! I’m beginning to think that I was blinded by my love of Hurwitz and Arnett and THAT was the reason why I enjoyed the script so much. Oh well, that’s why I wanted other people to comment, because…well…what the hell do I know? Although I liked the premise and thought it was clear, I don’t disagree that it’s pretty shallow. I can see how someone wouldn’t really want to watch a rich guy “become a better person,” especially in today’s tough economic times. I’m glad you brought up Modern Family – a show that doesn’t have a crazy premise, but it is able to excel on the character level and make the audience really care about everyone. Oh and it’s freaking hilarious…and had a near-perfect pilot.

      Thanks again!

      • August 25, 2010 12:02 pm

        For the record, I wouldn’t necessarily mind watching a rich guy become a better person, but I think the pilot gives us every reason to believe that’s NOT going to happen.

  7. October 6, 2010 9:26 am

    Average script. Serviceable script but doesn’t pop like the arrested development pilot script did. Some funny stuff (horse callback, fa’ad as doctor) but nothing lol worthy.

    Still astounded that a sitcom can have four acts. Would have preferred the original choice of Frau as there were more flexibility. The omniscient narration from puddle takes me out of the story… Is she telling this story from the grave?

    The AD script didn’t ride on Bateman star power like Running Wilde clearly does. The ensemble cast isn’t that interesting outside of the unpredictable Fa’ad.

    Overall, this nicely sets up story engine but it’s clearly a vehicle for arnett.

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