Friday, July 20, 2012

ANACHRONISM by Peter Kissick

At the instant of apocalypse, four people from the present day find themselves trapped in Victorian England. Soon, they see the entire history of the British Empire changing, as they clash with an increasingly insane and politically powerful Lord Byron.

How It Works

Email Rob the first ten pages of your feature length screenplay (in pdf. format) along with a logline and title. Every Friday one of us (or a guest reviewer) posts one writer's work along with notes and a:


Trash It (Start over.)
Take Another Pass (You're onto something, but it needs more work.)
More Please (I'm hooked. What happens next?)
Somebody Shoot This!

Readers then vote and comment on your work.

This week Dan read the 1st 10 pages of Peter Kissick's ANACHRONISM.

Today I believe I'm reviewing the first TV script we've done on this blog, and it's honestly one of the few that I've read overall. That's part of the reason I picked it, to do something new, and also partly because I sort of liked the concept. Here we go...

So this is a time travel show, made possible by a present day apocalypse in Great Britain (which we'll get to). We don't get to see the time travel stuff in the first 10 pages, but we do get a neat little intro/foreshadowing scene where our female hero, Annie, is singing a folk rendition of "The Times They Are A-Changin" in a tavern in December of 1840. Of course, being that Bob Dylan wouldn't write that song for another century or so, it's a clever little hint at the show's concept, and the fact that Annie is most likely not from the nineteenth century. I liked the intro scene very much.

Fast forward to modern times, and we are in December of 2012 now. There is some kind of global uproar in progress. Riots in the streets, violence, fires, protests, etc, etc. From the blips that we catch on scattered newscasts, we are able to discern that people are anticipating the END OF THE WORLD, and this is the cause for widespread panic. Why? Well...because it's 2012...which, of course, is the year in which the MAYAN APOCALYPSE is supposed to take place. Hynnnnnnuuuhhhhhh...


This was the biggest issue I had with these pages. I was just so confused as to why there is global unrest over it being the year 2012. You know how many people believe in the Mayan apocalypse? No one. Certainly not those in modern day Western civilizations. And yet that was exactly the impression I was getting here. Perhaps there is something later on that clarifies the issue, but for now it seems like this is some alternate universe where an old myth, laughed at for centuries, suddenly turned millions of educated people ape-retarded scared overnight, for no apparent reason.

The good news is, there wasn't much else I had to complain about. The central story follows a young couple, Jacob and Annie (Annie from the intro scene), who make their way to the same tavern (still in business) we saw in the 1840 scene. They're there for some kind of get together with Annie's grandfather and some friends. There is also a charmer named Matthew at the tavern who seems to have some sort of history with Annie. She's clearly still smitten with him in some way, and it bugs the hell out of Jacob, who is actually planning to propose to Annie (incidentally, in the intro scene, a mysterious man named Calvin also proposes to Annie in 1840, so there's another hook to keep you reading).

Anyways, I immediately understood the dynamic between Annie, Jacob, and Matthew. Jacob wants Annie, sees Matthew as a threat. Matthew's a cool cat, just having a good time. Annie is with Jacob, but maybe would rather be with Matthew if she's being honest. And so far in these pages, this is all in the subtext pretty much. For example, Matthew offers to get Annie and Jacob a drink at the tavern, but when he returns, he forgot to get Jacob one. He apologizes and smiles charmingly, but of course what Matthew was really saying to Jacob was: f*** you, mate (or at least that's how Jacob interprets it). 

I thought the drama there was well done, and it kept me interested to see how things would play out. I also felt like the writer was confident overall for the most part, he had a voice, and he could "see" everything going on in his head. And he could make it clear to the reader as well. That's a really good sign. Make things easy to see and understand.

There were a couple scenes with a weird occult dude named Kip who is planning on opening a mysterious letter at midnight, and presumably this is going to have something to do with the time travel concept getting started. Those scenes were pretty much just Kip staring at a clock at a wall, talking to himself, which honestly was kind of dull. I would have liked if Kip had another character to antagonize him, or at least talk to. Maybe a stupid assistant? An overbearing mother? I don't know, something to spice things up. Also, I wasn't sure of the tone in those scenes: is it supposed to be creepy or kind of silly? Minor complaints though, I was still compelled with the overall picture.

Another thing I'd like to point out, and this is going in line with how I thought the writer knew what he wanted, but I definitely pictured this as a BBC/British kind of TV show (I'm assuming the writer is English). I'm not a huge consumer of British TV, and it's mostly for the comedies, but I had no trouble visualizing this as something they would show over in the U.K., and not necessarily in the States. Not sure exactly what it was though. Could have been the clever premise, or maybe the sensible shooting locations and budget awareness, or possibly it was just the fact that the story takes place in England. Either way, it was not terribly hard to see this in its intended (or what I assume was intended) format.

So, keeping in mind I still think the Mayan stuff was ridiculous, and should be seriously attended to before showing these pages around some more, I am giving this a "More Please" based on the good writing and the fact that I want to see what goes down between Jacob and Matthew, if anything at all.


( )Trash It 
( )Take Another Pass 
(*)More Please 
( )Somebody Shoot This!

What did you think of Peter's 1st 10 pages?
Next week Amy gives feedback on the 1st 10 pages of William J. Machin's DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH.

Please share your thoughts on Peter's 1st 10 pages below.


  1. I think it's cool that you reviewed a TV script.

    I like the title but I agree with Dan about the apocalypse thing. That really threw me off. I had no idea why everyone was going nuts over the world ending for no real reason other than, it was predicted by the Mayans.  I think if you showed something happening to the earth, like weird harmful weather or an earthquake or some kind of natural disaster, it would make it more believable.

    I wasn't a fan of the grandfather voice over. It through me off a bit because you didn't start with a voice over in the beginning. It came out of left field for me and took me out of the story.

    Other than that, it's pretty interesting. I'm curious to know how they go back in time.

  2. I think it's a great concept. The actual cause of the apocalypse could be easily tweaked. It's the kind of television I'd like to see.

  3. Loved this script. Great writing, interesting set-up, very visual.

    And although people in Western culture do know about the Mayan calendar thing (as popularized by the movie 2012) like Dan said it isn't believable.

    However, there's great drama here! A definite "more please."


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