It would be easy to write a list of my own New Year’s resolutions (“I resolve to stop ripping on Two and a Half Men until I actually sit down and watch an entire episode.”)
But resolutions are so easily broken. It’s much more enjoyable, therefore, to suggest New Year’s resolutions for other people, and then tsk-tsk from a distance when they break them.
So here’s a quick list of suggested New Year’s resolutions for the writers of our favorite TV shows. Add your additional suggestions in the comments.
“I resolve never to let a character say something negative about another character, and then use the phrase, ‘Ooh, he’s right behind me, isn’t he?'”
“I resolve to always have a flexible one-season plan, but never a locked-down five-season plan.”
“I resolve to readily abandon any long-term plan as soon as a better idea comes along.“
“I resolve to never introduce a mystery unless I have some vague notion of the answer.“
“I resolve to rarely ever have my characters directly state their feelings. If they ever do, I resolve to write that expression as fumbling, self-deceptive or particularly poetic.“
“I resolve to rewrite any sitcom episode speech that could easily be prefixed by Kyle or Stan from South Park saying, ‘You know, I learned something today ... '”
“I resolve to let Tim Minear write and direct at least one episode of my show, even though it will likely mean my show will be canceled within five episodes.”
“I resolve to find ways to make the fans happy, to make them applaud, to cause them to smile and cheer, but never — ever — by having their favorite characters hook up. In this area, I resolve to constantly deny fans their wishes. If their characters ever find romantic happiness with each other, I resolve to kill at least one of them within three episodes. I resolve for that to just be the way I roll.”
“I resolve to answer at least one ‘will-they or won’t-they?’ romantic pairing with a definitive ‘they won’t.’"
“I resolve to use fan-favorite secondary characters with steady moderation, because, like a giant cookie, sometimes too much of a good thing is a bad thing.“ (R)
“I resolve to introduce a character that has an interesting personality instead of rocking good looks. I resolve to not write any ‘fat jokes’ about this character, hilarious as my wit may be.”
“I resolve to give the wife or girlfriend character one character trait beyond ‘naggy fun-killer.’”
“I resolve to figure out some other place to show businessmen meeting than ‘fancy restaurant’ or ‘mostly-clothed strip club.’ I resolve to find some other place to show journalists meeting their sources than ‘dark parking garage’ or ‘beneath a bridge embankment.’“
“I resolve to write at least one crazy-gutsy episode a year, one that will angrily divide fans and critics.”
“I resolve to specifically write, ‘there is to be no wacky music in this humorous scene’ in the script, and then underline it five times.”
“I resolve that, if my character must visit a therapist, he will not be Dr. Exposition.”
“I resolve to credit my co-writers whenever possible. If I win an award, I will let my co-writer give the speech.”
“I resolve to only dip into the well of crudity when the cleverness, wit and creativity of the joke truly justifies it, not because crudity can make for an easy Two and Half-Men-style lazy laugh line.” (See what I mean about how easy it is to break your New Year's resolution?)
Update: Shawn Ryan, showrunner for The Shield, Terriers, and now The Chicago Code, tweets that "Except for the narration, I'm on board [with this list]"
Chicago Code uses narration as a key storytelling device. We'll review it when it premieres in February.