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Pilot Script Review: Big Lake

July 23, 2010

I kind of stumbled upon this show via one of my blog readers (what?  Yeah, I guess someone is reading!).  Honestly, before this week, I had never heard of Big Lake and I’m not sure if that’s due to the lack of promotion or what, but it is a Comedy Central show, so I understand there are some budgetary limitations.  So, while my last two pilot script reviews (Mr. Sunshine and Running Wilde) were for high-profile major network shows, Big Lake is one of those shows that you may have never heard of and may not ever hear of it  again, if not for accidentally catching it on Comedy Central…  (Possible spoilers ahead).

Synopsis (from Comedy Central): “Big Lake is a modern take on the traditional family sitcom, the tale of a big dreamer in a small town, complete with a cast of self-centered characters who always keep things interesting.

Chris Gethard (from Upright Citizens Brigade) stars as Josh, a discredited financial whiz kid who finds himself crashing on his parents’ couch after crashing Wall Street and losing his father’s entire retirement fund. Josh cooks up a myriad of get-rich-quick schemes to try to pay back his father’s money with the help of his two friends: Horatio Sanz (Saturday Night Live, Idiocracy) plays Glenn, the ex-con friend fresh out of minimum-security prison, while Chris Parnell (Saturday Night Live, Anchorman) is Chris, a burned-out high school teacher of Josh’s. Meanwhile, Josh’s 13 year-old brother plays up to his parents as being another innocent middle schooler, but in actuality, he lives a tough double life as a glock-packing drug dealer who wants as little to do with Josh as possible. And Josh’s mother is oblivious yet affectionate while Josh’s father views him as the black sheep of the family and sincerely hopes to kill him.”

Writer: Lew Morton

Unfortunately the script isn’t posted online anywhere (sorry, I cannot distribute this script via email, either).   So, you’ll have to wait until August 17th and watch the pilot on Comedy Central.  There are some trailers posted on Comedy Central’s website, so check out the link below.  (On a side note,  I tried to Google “Big Lake Trailer” and all I got was a bunch of search results for trailer rentals in Big Lake, MN…  See for yourself!)

Official homepage: Comedy Central’s Big Lake page

Overall Thoughts: This isn’t your typical Comedy Central show (I don’t mean that to be a compliment, nor an insult, but more a description of style).  It does occasionally flirt with the obscene and there a few curse words, but this show feels more like a major network show.  I’m not sure how often it’s done, but my guess is that the writers/producers are walking the fine line, so that it could be sold to other networks if the first season is a success.  But what do I know?  Nothing.  Anyway, the script moved well and I think the characters were all quirky enough to keep my attention.  At no point did I feel bored or did my mind start to wander.  So, overall…it was good, with potential.

My main concern before I read the script was that the premise would have been very topical about two years ago, but in 2010 the “main character was a rich banker who has to move home” idea might be stale.  After the initial set-up though,  I wasn’t bothered by it  because I was intrigued at Josh’s main goal:  To repay his parent’s the money he lost them.  So, instead of just having the whole “fish out of water” scenario where we just meet a bunch of “wacky locals”, Josh has a tangible goal that can be tracked throughout the series.  Oh and it shows he’s got some heart, too…awwww.   The comedy comes from the fact that it also offers an endless supply of get-rich-quick scheme storylines.

My favorite aspect of the show is the dynamic between Josh and his younger brother, Jeremy.  The fact that Jeremy is a 13-year old, big-time drug dealer (and “facilitator”), really cracked me up.  The main reason:  Josh is scared of him.  He’s literally afraid to upset his little bro and it’s great!  I have a 14-year old brother, so maybe it hits home, but I think the show is worth watching just for the Jeremy character.  I also enjoyed the fact that he talked with a lisp when he was “good” Jeremy around their parents–Nice touch!

So, this was a solid pilot, but nothing really blew my mind (except Jeremy) as being exceptionally unique, edgy, or hilarious.  Luckily, the potential is there,  so I’ll definitely be watching the entire season.  I’m also excited to watch the pilot, because I know most (if not ALL) of this cast is well versed in stand-up comedy and/or improv.  So, even though nothing necessarily blew my mind on the page, the actors can easily take what’s written and blow my mind off the page…like a full-on double rainbow.  Okay, that was a hack joke…but I don’t care.

Number of LOL’s: Twice, but I cracked a grin at almost all of Jeremy’s lines and actions.

Favorite Line(s):

Jeremy:  “Did you see the brand-new Mustang GT parked two blocks down?  That’s mine.  I bought it.  I street-race that bitch.”

Chris:  “Yeah I burned out on teaching in 2001.  That’s when I realized high school kids are all A-holes.”

Grade: 7 out of 10

Lesson: Scripts are a lot like meals.  Some meals leave you hungry for more food, but not necessarily the same food you just ate.  Other meals can leave you satisfied, but they force you to crave what you just ate.  Big Lake left me appropriately satisfied, but I finished the script wanting a bit more.  More get-rich-quick schemes.  More of the crazy history teacher.  More Jeremy!  Looks like the writers did their job.  That’s the sign of a good sitcom, so keep that in mind when you’re writing yours.  If you have something great, be it an object, character,  or situation, don’t exhaust the reader with the greatness of the item.  Parse it out.  Give a little here…and a little more there.  Don’t force-feed the reader (wow the food references in this post are getting out of hand!) until they’re tired of your great sitcom nugget.  Pull back a bit and make the reader mentally beg for more.  One of the best compliments a writer can receive is “I want to see more of _______!”  So go out there and make your scripts crave-able!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Andrew A Lee permalink
    July 26, 2010 12:44 pm

    I think Lew Morton worked for Futurama and Newsradio

    anyways, this looks cool

  2. July 26, 2010 1:32 pm

    @ Andrew – Yeah, I think you’re right, and those were two great shows!

    Also, they’re not credited as being the writers of the Pilot, but I know a lot of funny NYC comedians (many from UCB) took part in the rewrite process (in addition to the lead actors).

  3. July 28, 2010 4:43 am

    I just hope this secures a job for Chris Parnell.

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