Monday, March 15, 2010

Idea Garage Sale: "Dig," The Sitcom

I was too tired to type yesterday, and today I'm still a little wiped with a lot to do, so this week's sale idea is late and old. Back in 2008 the British members of a forum I go to, The Cabinet of Wonders, were griping about how monumentally bad a fantasy drama about archeologists called Bonekickers was. And I had this thought (yes, I'm cut and pasting directly from that two-year-old post; I'm that tired):

You know, if you're going to make a series about archeology, it needs to be a sitcom. No, I'm serious. Harlan Ellison once summed up the formula by saying: "Every sitcom is about a family in a house." Well, there you go - the family is the archeological team and the house is the dig site and lab. Conflict and humor are provided by all the things that routinely happen on digs - nonexistent budgets; academic rivalries, disputes, and hassles; unexpected discoveries; accidents; outsiders who don't understand what's going on but think they do. All sitcoms depend on the wit and attractiveness of the core family, so as long as you had strong characters in the roles it'd fly. If it looks like you're going to need a new season, you just find an unexpected layer under the site just as they were about to wrap up; if it looks like cancellation, you hit bedrock.

If I did scriptwriting, I would totally pitch this. You'd have the Patriarchal Old Archeologist who "owns" this dig and the "New Blood" with whom he's always at loggerheads, the eccentric who never leaves the microscope bench because there's so much use-wear analysis to do (or whatever labor-intensive thankless job the nature of the featured dig requires), the various specialists - including one who provides the romantic tension with the New Blood - and semiregulars in the person of the volunteers, the leader of a different nearby dig who is competing for resources, and of course the Evil Administrator who is always threatening to shut them down so the grant money can be used for something useful like the football team. Your sets would be the Lab, the Patriarch's Office, the Specimen Room, and the Dig, which is the only set that ever changes.

All you've got to do is fill in those details, and you're in. :)

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