So, we got some good discussion going on what shows are good show to 'spec.' For those new to the lingo, a 'spec' script is one you write without assignment (if you write a screenplay at home with no deal attached, that's a spec too.) In TV Land, if you want to get a staff job on a TV show, you need to have a couple (or three or four..) spec scripts of current TV shows to peddle around. I personally have written spec scripts for 'Lost' and 'House'. I will spec another show in a few months once I decide what to put my energy toward. Even established writers have spec scripts they keep current.
So, after my last post, I was very pleased to receive some feedback from Paul Guyot regarding shows to spec. So, without further ado, I reprint his remarks here:
Lost - good spec.
The Shield - was the hot spec the last few years, its time may be up.
Deadwood - too specific.
Nip/Tuck - good.
The O.C. - good spec if you want to write for that particular genre. VERONICA MARS would be better because it shows you as a teen angst writer as well as crime and comedy.
Medium - not a good spec, except for a very specific genre/tone.
Everwood - not enough of Hollywood watches the show.
Rescue Me - hot spec.
Gray's Anatomy - hot spec.
Cold Case - has replaced CSI as that genre's go-to spec.
Without a Trace - only a single storyline, not a good spec.
Veronica Mars - good.
Boston Legal - becoming hotter. If you can nail that DEK voice, you've scored.
Battlestar Galactica - don't waste your time, unless you want to write ONLY for the Sci-Fi channel.
Law and Order: SVU or CI - not anymore.
The Sopranos - time has come and gone. Was THE spec to read/write prior to THE SHIELD, but I know of several agents and execs who won't read them anymore.
CSI (every flavor) - can still get away with it, but they'll ask you for something else.
Law and Order - nope.
House - this is THE hot spec right now. If you can nail a HOUSE spec, you'll get meetings.
24 - nope.
Desperate Housewives - another hot spec.
As to your question re: DEAD ZONE, the only execs likely to read (and give a meeting off of) a USA network spec are USA and Lifetime execs. I know that WB, TNT, 20th and FX people won't read them, or if they do it will only be as a second or third reading - meaning after they've read something else of yours. My agency (CAA) as well as Gersh and Endeavor won't read any "query specs" from any cable network shows except FX and the premiums. Why is this? It's just one of the many, many unfair Hollywood attitudes - there is a stigma against smaller cable company shows - they're perceived as inferior in quality or else they'd be on another network. THE SHIELD should have broken that attitude but all it did was make the execs think FX is somehow "more special" when it comes to cable networks.
If THE CLOSER remains a hit for TNT, it might be a worthwhile spec, but that's at least a year away.
There ya have it. I plan on updating my list. I suggest you do the same. Thanks Paul. Immensely helpful, as always.