The Spec Slayer

A question about writing TV spec samples…

Why can’t I write a TV spec sample using my favorite TV show that’s been canceled? I just don’t see why it has to be a current show.

Marcie Ross, Sunnydale, CA





Dear Marcie,

Some might think it’s just a big network conspiracy to make sure aspiring TV writers watch every episode of as many current shows as possible while also investing in DVD collections of those same shows. But there’s actually a method to the madness. It’s a means of letting execs see a little variety in the specs that pile up on their desk week-after-week… year-after-year.

Especially after they’ve read a gazillion variations of this spec script…

                   BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER

                     "Halloween, Her Way"




  Steam slightly clouds the scene as we just make out Buffy's
  nude silhouette in the shower as she finishes rinsing her

                      BUFFY (SINGING)
            It's a dead man's party.  Who could
            ask for more?  Everybody's comin',
            leave your body at the door Leave your
            body and soul at the--


  Buffy shuts off the water and slides open the shower curtain
  listening intently.


  Buffy, with a towel wrapped around her body, finishes tucking
  her wet hair into another towel as she walks across the room
  and picks up the phone.

            Hello?  Giles?

                      GILES (PHONE)
            Yes, I know you're supposed to have
            the night off, but there have been
            reports of a strange demon sighted in
            the cemetery.

  Buffy sits down on the edge of her bed where there's a nice
  dress and shoes spread out ready for her to change into.

            But, it's Halloween.  Nothing--

                      GILES (PHONE)
            Yes, quite right.  Nothing ever happens
            on Halloween, but we've been proven
            wrong before.




  She pulls the dress up off the bed and hangs it back up in
  the closet.

            All right, I'll go make a quick check.

  She tosses a pair of jeans and a long-sleeve comfortable
  shirt onto the bed.  She tosses her patrol bag onto the bed
  and fills it with her tools... crucifix, wooden stakes, flask
  of holy water, and a small axe.


  Buffy wanders through the cemetery, stake in hand, looking
  out for any sign of trouble.  She hears a sound and turns in
  that direction.

  She spots something out of place on a tombstone.

  She approaches and sees it's a rose.  She looks around but
  doesn't see any sign of anyone... or anything.

  As she grabs the rose, a monstrous demonic figure in
  silhouette rises up behind her.  She smells the rose and
  then her eyes go wide as a hand grabs her shoulder.

                                          BLACK OUT.

                          END OF TEASER

                 ACT TWO


  Buffy spins around with a wooden
  stake in her hand, but the
  demonic figure swats her arm
  aside.  He pulls off the mask to


  They look deep into each
  other's eyes for an eternity
  before giving in to their desire
  and kissing passionately.  In
  the midst of their passionate
  exchange, Angel lifts her up and
  seats her on top of the tombstone
  as she wraps her legs around his waist.

            Angel... we can't... we can't do this.
            You'll turn... bad... again.

  Angel stops kissing and rests his forehead against hers.  He
  takes a step back letting his hand slide gently across her
  cheek and then run through her hair.

            You're right.  But... but maybe there's
            a way.  Maybe we can find a way to
            make it work this time.  I--

  He turns his back to her.

                      ANGEL (cont'd)
            I need you, Buffy.  I--

                      SPIKE (O.C.)
            Can you believe this bloody loser?

  Angel and Buffy look up to see SPIKE scratching his nails
  across the tops of tombstones as he strolls toward them.

                      SPIKE (cont'd)
             Wants to endanger the whole world again
             for a little piece of...  happiness?

  Spike brushes past Angel and sits on the edge of the tombstone
  right next to Buffy.

                      SPIKE (cont'd)
             Tell you what, luv.  I'll take care of
             the physical happiness while you and
             Angelus enjoy the finer points of ooey-
             gooey mushiness.




             That's enough, Spike.

  Spike puts his arm around Buffy.  She looks dazed and confused
  like a lost, little girl.

             Enough?  I think the lady and I were
             just getting warmed up.

  Angel grabs Spike and lifts him up off the ground.


  Angel switches to his vampire face.  Spike puts on his vampire
  face in return.

             Well then, let's go... Angelus.

  Angel tosses Spike through the air smashing him into a
  tombstone, which cracks in half on impact.

  Buffy watches on as Angel and Spike fight.  They tear into
  each other with claws that shred away their shirts revealing
  rippling muscles and perfect bodies glistening with sweat.  

  Buffy bites her lip as she plays voyeur to the two vampire's
  violent dance.


  A pair of combat boots jogs over the ground of the cemetery.
  The soldier's feet come to a stop within sight of the two
  vampires fighting.  Buffy still breathes heavily as she
  watches them.

  A military A3 bag drops beside the boots.

            Hey, you vampire freaks!

  Angel and Spike continue fighting.

                      XANDER (cont'd)
            Listen to me, dammit!

  Angel and Spike turn their heads toward Xander who keeps
  most of his appearance hidden in the shadows.




                      XANDER (cont'd)
            I'm tired of you two running around
            with your chiseled jaws and fancy
            accents making it impossible for us
            normal guys to get a second look from
            a woman like Buffy.  I could have had
            a shot at her if it weren't for you
            tainting her with your vampire charms.

            I don't think you have us to blame for

            And...  I gotta deal with your ever-so-
            smugger-than-thou attitudes belittling
            me in the process.  Trying to make me
            less of a man.  Well, I've had enough!

  Xander reaches into the A3 bag
  and pulls out a vest, which he
  puts on.  He goes through the
  Commando/Predator military
  soldier suit up sequence as he
  gets ready for battle.

  He steps into the light
  looking like Rambo as he snaps
  a clip into his M16.

             XANDER (cont'd)
       And I mean it this time.

  Buffy gasps as Xander opens fire on Spike and Angel riddling
  them with bullets.

  Spike and Angel look at each other, unfazed by the bullets.
  Then they look at Xander.

                      XANDER (cont'd)
            Crap.  I should've known that <i>From
            Dusk Til Dawn</i> cross on the bullets
            trick wouldn't work.

  Xander pulls out his combat knife as he, Spike, and Angel
  prepare to throw down.


  Stands up to go save Xander's butt when a female hand covers
  her mouth. 


  Xander, Spike, and Angel circle each other, exhausted but
  determined.  Their clothes are shredded leaving the men
  practically half-naked under the moonlight.




                       WILLOW (O.C.)
             Oh, boys!

  The three men turn to see Willow holding Buffy close.  She
  has a wicked grin on her face as her hand slides across
  Buffy's stomach along the waistline of her jeans.

  Buffy looks like she's in a hypnotic trance.

                       WILLOW (cont'd)
             I was just thinking...

  She stops to nibble lightly on Buffy's ear as another female
  steps out of the shadows.

                       EVIL WILLOW
             We... we were just thinking.

  Evil Willow slides up alongside Buffy and pulls Buffy's head
  back by her hair to plant a deep, passionate kiss on her
  while regular Willow fumbles around with the button to Buffy's

             Right, we were thinking...


  As her jeans drop to the ground.  Looking past the jeans,
  Xander, Spike, and Angel look on in eager anticipation. 

                       WILLOW (cont'd)
             Why can't we all just share her?

  As the boys continue to stare, more clothes land beside the
  jeans on the ground... Buffy's shirt, Willow's shirt, Buffy's
  bra, Evil Willow's shirt.

             Do you think this is one of those
             strange Halloween enchant--

 Xander, Angel and Spike go wide-
eyed as they see something off
screen that makes Buffy MOAN
with pleasure.

            XANDER (cont'd)
       Was that... I mean... did they
       just... do what I think they
       just did to her? 

  Spike starts running toward the moans
  tearing off what little remains of his shirt.  Angel and
  Xander follow him doing the same.


… and well, you can probably tell where it goes from there for the next 36 minutes. Those fans of Buffy (especially the aspiring TV writers) were extremely passionate about their show, and it showed. In a lot of ways.


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