October 16, 2015 by T. Gregory Argall
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the pitch process for animated television shows.
You see, last week I watched the first episode of a show called “Moonbeam City.” It was… weird. It was amusing and funny at times, and utterly baffling at other times. Contrary to my expectations I kind of enjoyed it.
Basically it a high-concept cartoon parody of 80’s cop dramas, featuring voicework by Rob Lowe and animation like an Duran Duran album cover.
I imagine the pitch meeting when somewhat along these lines…
NETWORK EXECUTIVES: “Thanks for coming in. We’re eager to hear your ideas.”
CARTOON WRITERS: “Okay, we would like to produce for you an animated series about –“
EXECS: “We love it! Brilliant! Here’s a big pile of money.”
WRITERS: Ummm… Thanks? So the idea is a sort of lowbrow/highbrow mashup of the different –“
EXECS: “Hey, whoa. Spoiler alert. Don’t tell us the whole plot before we see it. Just take the money and make the show.”
WRITERS: “Really? Just like that? No catch? No conditions?”
EXECS: “Alright, you got us. There is one condition. We’ll give you this ridiculous pile of money to make your cartoon, but at least 50% of the money must be spent on alcohol and/or drugs. Preferably 75%, but at least 50.”
WRITER: “Uh, sure. We can do do that.”
I think this production business model was originally used for pitching “Beavis and Butt-Head” when MTV first decided to ignore what the “M” was for. “SpongeBob SquarePants” is another obvious recipient of this type of production backing. And there have been many others since, including “Drawn Together,” “Brickleberry,” and “Aqua Teen Hunger Force.”
I think it’s my turn. I’d like to be given a big pile of money to produce an animated series with absolutely no editorial oversight or rational thought. I’ve got a couple of ideas ready.
A 70s-style moustache partners with a pair of sunglasses to investigate suspicious goings-on in a small town modeled after a big city, only, you know, small.
“He’s a big moustache. She’s a pair of sunglasses. Together, they solve crimes.
Don’t miss ‘Stache & Shades this fall on a network with more money than brains.”
Or, perhaps, the story of a turtleneck sweater possessed by a demon. He was sent from Hell to spread evil across the Earth but all he really wants to do is design clothes and show his fall collection in Milan. The world will know and love his avant-garde style and creativity, no matter how much blood must be spilled or how many innocents must die to achieve his vision of patterns and pastels.
It’s… Murray The Demon Turtleneck Fashion Beast From Hell.
I think this one could do really well in the big pile of money cartoon sweepstakes.
I just have to figure out how to get into the meeting.
Try to be nice to each other.