//
you're reading...
tv writing, writing

Spec Script Sunday – iZombie

 

Okay, so, Spec Script Sunday isn’t really a thing (yet), but that doesn’t mean I can’t do it. ;o) This will be for the show iZombie and has spoilers for seasons 1 and 2 so if you haven’t seen the show, A) What the heck are you waiting for, it’s awesome! and B) You probably shouldn’t read more than 5 paragraphs down.

I talk a lot about the process of novel writing and a good deal of that applies to script writing. You need awesome characters, a compelling/quirky/interesting storyline, and a great universe. Learning to outline for scripts actually taught me how to outline for novels. Before I started thinking I could work in tv as a writer, I never outlined. I pantsed it. Now, I wouldn’t dream of writing anything without at least a vague idea of what happens in the beginning/middle/end, but generally I have a detailed roadmap before I do any writing.

Television, as everyone knows, changes constantly. Beloved shows get axed. Shows that people roll their eyes at get renewed for inexplicable reasons. It’s so hard to keep up with what’s going on in the world of tv that most of us specialize: procedurals (cop shows, mysteries, etc.), dramas, sitcoms, et al. I happen to love almost all tv. I can happily spend an entire weekend just watching shows, even ones I’ve already seen. Still, as a writer, I do have a specialty: genre. I love scifi, urban fantasy (think Buffy The Vampire Slayer), and fantasy, as you all know. My pilots would find a home on any of the genre heavy networks: Syfy, CW, Netflix, HBO, or Showtime.

Because tv shows are constantly changing, tv writers like myself always have to have new scripts ready to go. I generally have 2-3 original pilots and 2 spec scripts ready at any given time (I have been slacking a bit during the writing of Epic Fantasy Novel Now Turned Epic Fantasy Novel Sequel – I only have 2 pilots and 1 spec).

There are technically 2 definitions to “spec script.” It used to mean a script written on the writer’s own time without a contract, whether that was original or for an existing show; you were writing on spec, or on speculation. More commonly today, a spec script is a sample of writing for an actual show airing on television. I’ve done specs for Supernatural, Person of Interest, Hawaii 5-0, Grimm, Castle, and a host of others over the years. Like I said, I like having a couple on hand at any given time. Plus it’s just fun to write scripts.

Last year, my spec was iZombie. I wrote it before season three aired so, naturally, almost everything in it has been shot to hell. That happens. Actually, it happens most of the time. Heh. Either your storyline will get used (That happens to me a lot. A friend says it means that I’m, “in the tv zeitgeist” which, yay? heh.) or the show goes in a completely different direction than what you’ve come up with. That doesn’t mean your script isn’t still a good writing sample, though.

In that vein, since I always share parts of my novels with you, I figured that it was time I shared an excerpt from one of my spec scripts, iZombie. Forgive the lack of proper script formatting, it didn’t copy over as it should have and I couldn’t quite tweak it right.

I wrote this as the actual season three premiere, just to give fellow fans a starting point in time. For those who don’t watch, here’s a short primer on the series. If you haven’t seen the show, I apologize for the spoilers.

Previously on iZombie:

When a zombie scratches Liv Moore at a boat party massacre, she becomes one and goes to work in the medical examiner’s office for the steady supply of brains. Her boss, Ravi Chakrabarti, susses out her condition and starts work on a cure. Liv works murder investigations with Detective Clive Babineaux, who thinks that she’s a psychic due to the memories she accesses from the brains.

Liv’s former fiancé, Major Lilywhite, also gets turned and she uses the untested cure on him and Blaine–the drug dealing criminal who originally scratched her–turning them into human zombie detectors. Vaughn du Clark, CEO of Max Rager, and his daughter Gilda are experimenting with his energy drink formulae to cause zombie-ism. They’ve blackmailed Major into killing zombies by threatening Liv, but he only kidnaps and stores them for Ravi’s cure. Gilda gets turned in a lab accident that released one of the test subjects.

In the end, Vivian Stoll, head of the paramilitary company Fillmore-Graves, buys Max Rager but a minor zombie apocalypse kills hundreds of employees at the celebration, including Vaughn. When the dust and blood settle, Clive knows about zombies, Major is a zombie again, Blaine seemingly has no memory before the cure, and Vivian asks Liv if she’s with or against the new zombie government, which is going to make Seattle the Zombie Capital of the world.

Without further ado, iZombie: Dancing On The Brain – The murder of a contestant on a ‘Dancing With The Stars’ type show seems to spark a change in Liv’s loyalties to Team Humanity while Ravi is plagued by the visit of a prying cousin.

TEASER – ONE WEEK AFTER THE BRAINS HIT THE FAN

INT. HOTEL BALLROOM – DAY

Salsa music rocks through the beautiful, old-world ballroom as JAYCELLE PHILLIPS (early 20s), dancing since before she could walk, and DARIAN (early 30s), a living, breathing Ken-doll, whip around the room in perfect time to the beat.

A glossy sign stands by the doors: Dance Off! To The Stars!

PETER (mid-20s), hipster personified, and MYA (mid-20s), bitch personified, stride into the ballroom in perfect sync.

MYA

Hey! It’s our time.

Jaycelle comes to a graceful stop before facing Mya.

JAYCELLE

We’ve got the room for another hour.

MYA

No, you don’t. Our time was moved up. Sorry.

She’s really not.

Jaycelle and Darian walk over to them and Jaycelle gets right in Mya’s face.

JAYCELLE

We’re on the schedule.

Smirking, Peter waves a piece of paper in Jaycelle’s face.

MYA

That’s what you think.

Jaycelle grabs it and reads it.

JAYCELLE

This is bullshit!

Mya pushes Jaycelle, who comes right back and shoves her hard.

FRED (O.S.)

Knock it off!

FRED MILLS (mid-40s), charming as the original snake and just as oily, strides over to them.

FRED

Mya and Peter have the room. Jaycelle, come with me. Now.

Jaycelle scowls but follows him out of the room.

INT. HOTEL HALL – DAY

Jaycelle and Fred walk a short distance from the ballroom.

FRED

You’re going to cooperate starting now. No more of this crap about going to the committee.

JAYCELLE

You can’t tell me what to do.

Fred grabs her.

FRED

Try me.

JAYCELLE

Get off me!

She slaps him and runs down the hallway.

FRED

You’re finished here!

Darian watches through the cracked ballroom doors.

INT. HOTEL HALL – DAY

A MAID with cart knocks on a door.

MAID

Maid service!

She opens the door and pushes the cart forward.

INT. JAYCELLE’S HOTEL ROOM – DAY

The Maid goes about sprucing up the room, humming cheerfully. She stops short on reaching the bathroom: Jaycelle’s body lies on the floor, her head at an unnatural angle.

The Maid screams.

INT. SEATTLE POLICE MORGUE – EXAM AREA – DAY

The maid’s scream merges with the sound of the bone saw LIV MOORE uses on a cadaver’s head.

RAVI CHAKRABARTI walks in with an armful of fast food bags.

RAVI

Lunch is served! Well, mine. I see you’re still working on yours.

Liv cracks the skull and pops the brain into a bowl.

LIV

At least mine’s calorie-negative given the workout to get it.

RAVI

And the fact you don’t metabolize anything.

LIV

Well, if you want to get technical about it.

Ravi sets his bags on the table in the kitchen and pulls out a burger. His easy smile drops away.

RAVI

Have you heard from you know who?

LIV

If you mean She Who Must Not Be Named, no. No word from the Zombie Government Stooge. I don’t know if that’s good or bad.

RAVI

I’m pretty sure it’s terrifying.

The morgue phone rings and Ravi sighs, putting his food back in the bag as Liv picks up the phone.

LIV

Medical Examiner’s office. Oh, sure. We’ll meet you there, what’s the address?

Liv looks longingly at the brain.

Ravi pats her shoulder.

RAVI

I’ll put it in the freezer for you.

INT. JAYCELLE’S HOTEL ROOM – DAY

It’s pouring like the end of the world outside the window.

CLIVE BABINEAUX and Liv look down at Jaycelle’s body while Ravi holds a thermometer in Jaycelle’s abdomen.

CLIVE

Time of death?

Ravi pulls out the thermometer and looks at it.

RAVI

Given consistent room temperature and current body temperature, I’d say three hours ago.

CLIVE

At least the cause of death is obvious.

RAVI

That’s not like you, Detective, jumping to conclusions.

CLIVE

Her neck is broken.

RAVI

Ah, but did it kill her? We don’t know yet. Patience, Detective. All will be revealed in time.

SAHI (O.S.)

I’m with the copper on this one. Looks open and shut to me, cousin mine.

Ravi, Clive, and Liv all turn around.

Willowy and stylishly dressed, SAHI CHAKRABARTI (early 20s) stands in the doorway. She wiggles her phone at Ravi.

SAHI

You don’t think Auntie took off the phone tracker just because you’re in America now, do you?

OFF Ravi’s astounded expression.

SMASH TO MAIN TITLES:

END OF TEASER

ACT ONE – ALL IN THE FAMILY

INT. HOTEL HALL – DAY

Ravi hurries Sahi down the hall, away from the murder scene, a firm grip on her arm.

RAVI

Sahi, what are you doing here?

SAHI

Scoping out the marital field. Yours, not mine, thank God.

RAVI

Are you joking?

SAHI

You don’t think I have money for a trip here, do you? I’m still in Uni. Auntie needs a timetable for grandchildren and she needs it now.

RAVI

Oh my God.

SAHI

Oh come on. You had to know it was coming.

Ravi takes a breath, visibly calms down.

RAVI

Where are you staying?

SAHI

Here. How convenient is that?

RAVI

Oh, wonderfully so. Go to your hotel room and I’ll pop round for dinner and we’ll talk.

She eyes him for a second, then smiles brightly, gives him a long hug, and walks away.

RAVI

That was far too easy.

INT. JAYCELLE’S HOTEL ROOM – DAY

Clive and Liv watch Ravi hustle Sahi out of the room.

LIV

How bad a person am I that I find that hilarious?

CLIVE

Terrible. I’ll start questioning staff while you, you know. Get lunch.

LIV

You’re not really good with euphemisms, are you?

Clive looks down at Jaycelle, then back at Liv.

CLIVE

No.

He leaves, passing Ravi on his way out.

RAVI

What’s wrong with Detective Babineaux?

LIV

Squeamish. More importantly, who was that?

RAVI

My younger cousin, Sahi. Apparently, Mother has decided to find out who I’m seeing, probably in anticipation of contracting out my marriage, and me cranking out grandchildren.

LIV

Seriously?

RAVI

Yes. Shall we?

They each take a side of Jaycelle, lift her into the body bag and zip her up.

INT. SEATTLE POLICE MORGUE – EXAM AREA – DAY

Liv and Ravi wheel Jaycelle into the morgue only to find Sahi waiting for them, engrossed in her phone. She looks up when they enter.

RAVI

You said you would wait at your hotel!

SAHI

No, you said I would.

RAVI

Sahi, why on earth are you here? In the morgue.

SAHI

Because you don’t want me here, obviously.

RAVI

Because we work with dead bodies! You shouldn’t be seeing this!

SAHI

Why not? I’ve taken biology. You’re not getting rid of me that easy.

Stymied, Ravi looks at Liv.

Liv pulls $20 from her pocket and holds it out to Sahi.

LIV

Hi. I’m Liv. Ravi’s my boss. How’d you like to get yourself something nice at the mall?

SAHI

Make it fifty quid and you’re on.

Liv looks at Ravi, who scowls and pulls out his wallet.

RAVI

I know I had more in here this morning. Liv, could I pay you back?

Liv rolls her eyes but pulls out more money.

LIV

Forty bucks. Take it or leave it.

Sahi collects the money, trips against Ravi, and leaves, whistling cheerfully.

LIV

Wow. She’s… quite something.

RAVI

Don’t remind me. Mercenary little thing. Always has been.

LIV

Now that cousin dearest is out of the way, lunch!

BRAIN FOOD MONTAGE

–    Penne boiling in a large beaker

–    Brain chopped with fast movements

–    Brain sautéed with mushrooms and onions in a pan

–    White sauce being made in a beaker

–    All items tossed together

INT. SEATTLE POLICE MORGUE – KITCHEN AREA – DAY

Liv eats at the small table with gusto.

Ravi sniffs deeply and then looks at his fast food burger.

RAVI

That smells really delicious. You’re getting disturbingly good at cooking brains with lab equipment.

Clive walks in.

CLIVE

Ix-nay on the ains-bray. Anyone could walk in.

LIV

And no one could possibly decipher that super clever code right there.

Clive winces as she takes another bite.

RAVI

Did you need something?

CLIVE

Just if she got a hit off, you know. That.

LIV

She, is right here. And it takes more than a few bites. Need time to digest.

RAVI

Not technically. It’s fascinating really. Liv’s body doesn’t actually digest, so –-

CLIVE

That’s okay. I really don’t need the details.

LIV

Done!

Clive and Ravi look over to see the empty bowl.

CLIVE

Great. Let’s go see the co-contestants.

LIV

Aww. You saved the best interrogations for me? How sweet.

CLIVE

(to Ravi)

I wish I could say that’s from the brain, but it’s not.

RAVI

Not even a little.

INT. HOTEL BALLROOM – DAY

Liv and Clive stand with Darian, who’s in tears.

DARIAN

I still can’t believe it.

CLIVE

I understand you and Jaycelle were pretty competitive with one of the teams, a Mya and Peter?

Music starts playing and Liv’s foot taps in time.

DARIAN

Sure, but it’s part of the gig. Everyone’s super competitive. Jaycelle was serious about her career. I don’t think she had a great childhood.

LIV

But you don’t know?

DARIAN

No, we were assigned together. We got super close, but she refused to talk about her past.

Liv catches sight of Peter and Mya rehearsing at the other side of the ballroom.

LIV

Wow, is she heading for a fall with that posture.

DARIAN

Jaycelle always said that.

CLIVE

So were you and Jaycelle partners off the dance floor, too?

DARIAN

Oh no. You’re more my type than she was. And even if I was straight, I got the feeling she was waiting for someone.

LIV

I knew she was going to miss that step! No sense of time.

DARIAN

Jaycelle always said that about Mya, too!

CLIVE

Right, well, thanks for your time.

Clive ushers Liv quickly away and she does a few dance moves on the way.

INT. MAX RAGER CEO OFFICE – DAY

WORKMEN clean up and put together the room that’s covered in glass and blood.

INT. HOTEL BALLROOM – DAY

Liv and Clive stand with Mya and Peter.

PETER

That’s what all the teams are like.

MYA

Exactly. This is a competition. We’re not here to make friends.

CLIVE

Everyone else I’ve talked to has said how much they liked Jaycelle.

MYA

If they were dancers, they were lying.

CLIVE

Why?

MYA

(reluctant)

Because she was damn good. Probably would’ve won.

PETER

If you want to talk to someone she really hated, that’d be Fred.

Liv’s hips move seductively to the music, garnering attention from Mya and Peter.

MYA

Hey that’s pretty good.

CLIVE

Thanks for your time.

He tugs Liv away.

CLIVE

No visions, just dance moves, huh, twinkle toes?

Liv shrugs and twirls into a pirouette.

INT. HALL OUTSIDE PEYTON’S OFFICE – DAY

Ravi walks up to Peyton’s door with a paper bag only to find BLAINE chatting cozily with PEYTON in the office.

Ravi scowls and squishes the bag. Jelly stains the paper bag like thick blood.

END ACT ONE

 

Advertisements

About Nancy M. Griffis

Author and screenwriter who loves scifi/action/adventure/urban fantasy genres. I have two published novels, Mind Games and Eternal Investigations, as well as a short story published for charity called "Home Fires Burning." All are available through amazon.com and barnesandnobles.com.

Discussion

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Nancy at the Tim Burton exhibit in L.A.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 683 other followers

Me on Twitter – NMGrif

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: