I am not a professional editor or critic. All the opinions in the following review are just that; opinions.
Hello thesuperpapagai ,
Thank you so much to take the time to submit a formal review request for your "The Haunted House (Pilot)" . I have to say, it’s not very often that I get request to do something like a TV Pilot, so this was a very interesting. That being said, let’s dig right into it.
WHAT I LIKED:
I think my favorite aspect of the piece was the world that you created. It seems to be almost an urban fantasy piece because the characters all seem modern, and there are occasional references to technology, but you’ve established a world where magic and monsters are in the forefront. This isn’t something that I see a lot of, and I think there’s a lot of untapped potential in this particular fantasy market. You did a good job creating this unique world that audiences haven’t seen much of outside of your story, and I for one would like to see more of it.
I would have loved to see a little more of the setting, but this was only the pilot.
That being said, if you get the opportunity to show off more world mechanics/history/interactions etc. in future edits of this piece, I think you should absolutely take it because as I think there’s a lot of potential here and it’s one of the strongest elements of the piece. The fact that all that potential comes through in a script format is especially impressive to me, because that’s usually something that gets overlooked until it’s passed off to a set designer or artist as the case may be. Very wonderful annotations.
More Sympathetic Characters
As much as I loved the world, there were times when I didn’t want to continue to the story. A large part of that was because I actively disliked the characters, especially Rose and especially in the beginning.
In the first scene she’s getting mad at a woman they failed to help for not being able to pay a retainer without her husband, even though she knows the rough situation the woman is in. It doesn’t paint her as a very compassionate person, and she seems very selfish right off the bat. There was nothing in the scene that made me want to see more of the main character, and that’s a pretty big flag for me when I’m watching a show.
I think a more interesting dynamic for Rose might have been that she feels personally attacked by the woman quitting their service. Instead of being mad at the loss income, perhaps it could be a sore spot with her that she’s failed to return the woman’s husband - and when the woman quits paying for the service she could be trying to set up the haunting not to teach her a lesson but to attempt to prove that she’s capable as a hero and worthwhile as a freelancer. I would have empathized more with her if her actions were out of pride than greed.
Another alternative that would have drawn me in would have been if David or Greg (or any relevant main character) tried to reign in her antics. As it was, I didn’t care much for them either. Greg came across as very bland to me, and David came across as spineless. All three came across as pretty immature as well, and it made me wonder what demographic you’d be hoping to reach.
The good news is that when you have flawed characters there is a lot of room for character growth, another aspect which I look for in the shows I watch. A season of these guys learning lessons to improve might have me really appreciating where they started by the end (although it doesn’t seem like they learned anything by the end of this episode - in fact Rose seemed to be more cruel, if anything.) The bad news is that a second episode would be a tough sell for me, because I’d be happy not ever watching/reading about Rose again.
I will say the adoption of Greg seemed nice, but it was also a bit of exposition that seemed a little bit forced when it first comes up in the dialogue. Overall, however, all the characters that I had warm feelings for at any point in the piece were characters who were being victimized.
I think there was a lot of potential here in this piece. The world was intriguing, and even the basic plot of causing a haunting had a lot of room to really shine. I like the idea of watching the antics of heroes for hire. It was clear to me while reading that you have both the imagination to fuel a project like this and the technical foundation for scriptwriting as a medium. Where the story really fell short for me was in its characters and the message that they seemed to give.
I hope that this review was helpful, and I’d be happy to review more of your work in the future as well as answer any follow up questions you might have.
All the best,