Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tips for Surviving Your Story

I watched the first episode of "Fringe" last night on Hulu. Some sort of flesh-eating virus is wandering around in television land as part of the Fringe plot. And, at least in the beginning of the show, whenever something creepy is about to happen, electricity starts acting strangely. Electrical storms, cell phones not working, street lamps flickering.

Right at the climactic moments of one of those creepy scenes, one of the street lamps on the show flickered and then WHAM my computer screen went white and then froze. It wasn't, as I immediately guessed, a gimmick designed to frighten me. So I rebooted the computer, all the while wondering, Am I the next one to succumb to a flesh-eating virus?

Realizing I might actually be in a television episode, I quickly rehearsed five ways to make sure I would survive to the end of the episode:

1) Do everything you can to be the most interesting person in the room. No one wants the interesting guy to die. Be sure to have 50 more IQ points to than the average guy. Or keep saying, "I can do some great magic tricks but I can't show you until next week."

2) Have messy, unresolved relationships with as many people around you as possible. Let's be frank. If you're dating someone, do your best to build the romantic tension without actually moving forward significantly in the relationship. This will keep the audience tuning in week after week and keep you a vital part of the story. *DO NOT* under any circumstances say something like, "I love you and will always be here for you" before getting on a train or something.

3) Try to get the show named after you. You know who is never going to die on "House"? House, that's who. Or the Dukes of Hazzard. When Bo and Luke left they were going to have to rename the show or get someone to come in who would also be named Duke. Enter Coy and Vance. You don't want to have to rename the show, "The Bishops of Hazzard." It's confusing. Ditto "Gray's Anatomy." If you kill of Gray and have to call it "Smith's Anatomy" you're going to lose viewers.

4) Don't make comments that would cause your death to be ironic. For instance, if you happen to be at a meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and this General says, "Asteroids are headed for the earth and all of us will die in a fiery conflagration" don't respond with some smart aleck response like, "It's not the asteroids that we have to worry about it... it's all those meteorites!" If you can't resist a comment like that, you probably deserve a space rock to the forehead, so get ready.

5) Pay attention to the music. If you're chasing a bad guy and there's this exciting music playing, you're probably fine. But if the BG turns down a dark alley and creepy music starts playing, back away. Try to find a coffee shop where hip people sit in the middle of the shop on a set of strangely arranged sofas. Feel free to jump into their conversation, especially if it's about dating and relationships. If you hear occasional laughter... that's the laugh track! You're safe at last.