NOTE: The following contains spoilers for a 52-year-old classic musical. If you don't wish to be spoiled, please go watch the film. Or see the stage musical. Or read the original Shaw play. Or just get out of the house for a damn minute.
MY FAIR LADY - NETWORK ROUGH CUT 3 NOTES
A good hello to you and your team. Thanks for attacking our notes with such vigor. While we are definitely getting closer to where we need to be, we are nowhere near where we should be. But the cut as it stands is way too long and we seem to be losing focus. Remember, this is a makeover show. If we’re going to show Eliza in a gown at the ball at the end, let’s do a side-by-side of how she looked as a flower girl. If we can’t shame her by how she looked before, then we aren’t doing our jobs! Also, the entire section with her father should be removed. (We have plans for that for a possible sizzle reel - see below)
Eliza is great casting! She's likable and feisty in a relatable sort of way and we do want to root for her as she does through the process. If people are watching Mama June go from Not To Hot, they'll watch Eliza go from Crass To Class.
One thing to keep in mind that Eliza wants and asks for this makeover; her complaints about the consequences for this experiment casts the show in a dark light. In order to do allay this, let's do some big restructuring in the latter third. Also, we desperately need a bite pass. Where are the bites we requested? Once we emphasize the makeover aspect for the show, we then will feel comfortable giving time-coded notes. Right now, we don't.
Higgins has a great introduction guessing everyone's hometown based on their dialect. And the fact that he does it to song is quite impressive. But since this is lacking a juicy intro package, the audience will have no idea who he is and why he's there. Get Higgins to say something like "Hello, my name is Professor Henry Higgins. I'm the top phoneticist is all of England. I can tell you exactly where you come from just based on you saying two sentences." Get this exactly and put this over b-roll of him working with students. If he's our expert, we need to have him say it and show it. Otherwise, our viewers will be lost!
Since Eliza is the subject of our transformation, we also need to set her up as well. She also needs an intro package that clearly states why she wants to do this. Has she always wanted to work in a flower shop? Has she always dreamt of going to a fancy embassy ball? We have to always plainly state what our main characters want at all times -- that's storytelling!
Every time Eliza speaks, she really needs to be subtitled. I know our audience really don't like to read but with this show, I'll take the risk.
"Wouldn't It Be Loverly" is nice but it doesn't really move the action forward. Please make it a snap-in.
Eliza comes over to Higgins' house and makes him an offer for him to teach her proper elocution. While she says this in scene, we definitely need for her to say it in bite as well. (We already gave this note once!) Our research shows that the bulk of our demographic watch this show as a second screen. They need to be able to follow what's happening while they are on Snapchat. If we don't, they'll be confused and change the channel. And we can't have THAT.
While we've already met Colonel Pickering at Covent Garden, let's go ahead and give him a big intro package here too. Have him say something like "I'm Colonel Pickering. I'm a master of Indian languages and dialects. I recently left the military and I love to help people in need." If he doesn't say it, how do I know he believes this? By merely watching his behavior in scene? That's just not enough!
Higgins agrees to take on Eliza as a client and says some bold things to her (having her sleep in the dustbin is one of my favorites). Does he say anything even more outrageous? If we are going to drive Twitter traffic and ratings, we really need to exploit this. Think less Stacy on "What Not To Wear" and more Gordon Ramsey on "Kitchen Nightmares." (Maybe call the show "Dreadful Diction'? Let's discuss!) Add in some more highly egregious phrases. Our female audience will eat up the insults and those will definitely add some power to the Supertease.
"Let A Woman In Your Life" should be cut. If Higgins is gay, that's fine. We don't need a whole number about it.
Eliza's father has great presence on camera. His take on morality is very interesting and relevant to our current political situation. Which is to say: this is a total snoozeville and not appropriate for our show. However, this lecture tour of America where he talks about income inequality sounds like a great idea for one of our sister networks that wins Emmys. It's like a TED talk that's actually interesting! Put together a sizzle reel with that footage and I'll see what I can do on my end. "Doolittle Says A Lot" has a great ring to it, don't you think?
"POOR PROFESSOR HIGGINS" & "THE RAIN IN SPAIN"
While overly long, this extended montage showing Eliza training is very clever in its use to music and editing to show a passage of time. Kudos to your team for this; please cut it by 2/3's and add bites from all involved.
"I Could Have Danced All Night" is lovely but Eliza's happiness with her progress would be better suited in some bites during the montage. Let's make this number a web extra.
The legendary race track looks glorious, as do most of the people there. This really need some context. Perhaps a great info graphic on the history of the track would be some great take-home information for the audience. That'll make them feel smart!
Please make sure that all of the horses on the race track have signed a release.
When Eliza blurts out "Move your bloomin' ass!", this is lacking the impact that it desperately needs. Let's re-cut the build up to this. Add in some more audio design and a few bites to help raise the stakes. If this moment is not important to us, it won't be important to the audience! Stakes and bites, bites and stakes! That should be our mantra, people!
"On The Street Where You Live" is nice but a bit stalker-y. Make it a snap in.
While it's obvious that Eliza, Henry and Pickering are nervous, again, some bites here would work wonders. Have Eliza say something like "I really feel out of my element here and I know I could do a great job. I hope I don't mess up! That would be gravely embarrassing for myself, Henry and Colonel Pickering!" (Please get this verbatim)
Let's play with the audio design during this scene. Every time someone compliments Eliza, add a cymbal scrape. Every time Zoltan the villainous language teacher gets stopped from talking to Eliza, add a cymbal bow. We need to underline every moment possible. Remember, subtlety is for scripted TV, not reality!
AFTER THE BALL
This whole romance between Eliza and Freddie is afterthought. Let's just go from Eliza's success at the ball to a pick up scene where Eliza is set up in her own flower shop. The whole section where she leaves and comes back to Higgins and the romance with Freddie... that's a whole other show. Based on the ratings and how the audience responds to Eliza, we can maybe do another show tracking her romantic life. As of right now, this just muddies the water and distracts us from what we bought in the first place: A makeover show taking a working class girl (and have fun at how rough she is) and making her a classy woman (without alienating our target audience). Got it?
Please turn these notes around by 5pm today with responses. Thanks a bunch!