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The Wilson Manifesto

Remember That Time When I Developed A Sitcom

Adam Wilson

three weeks or so ago, I sat down in front of my television to watch a highly anticipated (cough, cough) new game show on the wonderful Fox network called, The Chamber. The mere name of it struck fear in the hearts of viewers and contestants alike. No one wanted to sit in the contraption and answer easy as hell questions while steam and fire was shot at them.

While watching the first episode, I turned to my wife and said, "I give it six weeks."

Three weeks later I read that The Chamber has been cancelled.

While I shed tears and mourned the loss of yet another wonderful reality game show (cough, cough), I had a thought: what will the Fox network do to replace this sad loss to the viewing community?

So, I sat down and thought up two great ideas for new game shows, only to put the kibosh on both ideas for reasons stated below.

Idea # 1: Quiz Master

Spend some cash on a host. That's where the majority of the money will go. Get someone decent. Forget Regis. Forget McEnroe (even though he IS better than Regis). Get someone cool. Someone you can respect, laugh at, hate and love at the same time. Get Denis Leary. Or better yet, Bruce Campbell.

The set will consist of only two chair and two spotlights. Host in one chair, contestant in the other. Spotlight on each. Let the show begin with the host talking with the contestant. Mindless banter before the fun begins. The show will come in 30-minute or 60-minute editions. There will be no commercials. No "And now this special message brought to you from McDonald's." Just questions.

Let it be that each question is worth $100. Each question must be answered within 10 seconds after being asked. If you get it right, you get $100. Get it wrong, and go down that much. Whatever you finish with, you either take home, or owe to the producers.

The questions will be a rapid-fire barrage of trivia in categories ranging from Darwin's theory of evolution to Spinal Tap drummers to extremely useless trivia to retired NHL players that now have head office jobs within the league. And everything in between of course.

Sounds good to me. Sound good to you?

So, I called up the Fox network and they said this about Quiz Master:

FOX: "This game show will never work. First of all, Bruce Campbell is not a bankable star. He doesn't have the class and style of a Regis and he isn't the guy you love to hate like McEnroe. By the way, who the hell IS Bruce Campbell anyway? Second, there's no action whatsoever in this show. There's nothing to look at. There's just two people sitting under spotlights asking and answering questions. There isn't even an audience. And no commercials? What's that all about? How are we supposed to make any money off this beast of burden? "

ME: "Yeah, but if the contestant is in the negative, you get money."

FOX: "Too risky. There are actually smart people in this world capable of answering trivia questions quickly and roping money out of us. It would be a waste of our time, and the viewers' time."

ME: "Kind of like That 80's Show?"

FOX: "What?"

ME: "Nothing."

Idea # 2: Gladiator: The Reality Show

This one is it! As Vince Vaughn once said on film: "You're money, baby. Money."

This is the idea I had that is going to make me tonnes of cash and the network execs happier than pigs in fecal matter. Especially the suckers at Fox.

Look at the title, it's gotta be easy to figure this one out. Take four or five people, throw them in a gladiator pit, give them some nice medieval weapons (swords, axes, clubs, that kind of tool) and let them beat the shit out of each other for cash. Of course, everyone wants money so bad, that they would all end up fighting to the death for relatively small prizes like $100,000.

This had to be it. I got excited just thinking about it. You could even have celebrity editions where you could throw someone like Stallone into the pit and have three people fight him for his net worth in Hollywood bucks. That'd be a real ratings grabber.

So, I called Fox again. They were a little more interested in this one.

FOX: "So, we like the idea of the show, but we're a little confused on a couple points."

ME: "What's that?"

FOX: "Well, for one, how much money do the contestants play for?"

ME: "I suggested anything over $100,000. It'll depend on what kinds of competitors are in the pit."

FOX: "And, how do you quit?"

ME: "Quit? Ha. You know how much people want money. They'll do anything. These people will fight to the death for the purse. Of course, if you plan it right, you can have it that all of the contestants beat each other out of their wits, and if you're really lucky, all of them will die."

FOX: "Well, we're a little concerned about showing death on television. We don't want to have people complaining about our programming. We're known for having intelligent, thought-provoking programs that challenge the mind and make you want to be a better person. No one wants to see people on the screen scrambling around for little scraps of cash while throwing their dignity out the window while potentially dying. Like I said, we like the idea, but we're more concerned about the whole death thing. What kind of morals would we have to have to put something like that on the air?"

ME: "I don't know. You DID ok That 80's Show, right?"

FOX: "What?"

ME: "Nothing."

The last I heard, Fox had stolen my idea and was using a new name on it. They didn't like the fact that I'd named the show after a movie, so the big-wigs put their brain together and re-named the show Fight Club: The Television Show.

I know. I shake my head too.

So, I sat down and decided to write a sitcom pilot for Fox. I couldn't come up with anything better than That 80's Show. The best I could come up with was That 60's Show and That 90's Show.

As it turned out, That 60's Show was basically a rip-off of a classic show, The Wonder Years. And That 90's Show was basically Seinfeld.

Damn originality and imagination! It figures that I could only use imagination to write horrible television sitcoms. It's just too hard to come up with original television show ideas when there are just so many entertaining items to choose when watching television now.

Adam Wilson is the author of some incredibly bad poetry, many pieces of short fiction and a novel, all of which, you haven't read. Adam Wilson encourages you to write because he would rather hear from you than get another rejection letter.

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