BEHIND THE STORY...
This series, about a mascot performer, his dog show wife and a child was loosely based on my (then current) home life. I thought it gave a unique family set up. I also worked hard to keep the sex of the child undetermined. I thought this was different and funny. It was pitched to several networks over several years. Most felt this was more of a book or feature idea, rather than a series. One exec surprised me by stating how the idea, of a child always being upstaged by friends or family was a sad story. They said audiences would never enjoy seeing a character always struggling. I suggested such well-known characters as Ralph Kramden and Charlie Brown were popular, but the exec remained firm. This full pitch features a listing of "comedy points" and "key themes". The development exec at a major network would listen to a pitch and then ask, "well, what makes this show funny?" Their next question was "What are the key themes in the show?" So I began putting them in the written pitch to help them along. Many who pitched at that network wondered how someone could be a development exec and not know what made shows funny, or what key themes would be in a show.
And now my pitch...
Dog & Pony Show
A Proposal by John Cawley
Dad is a famous mascot. Mom is a dog show junkie.
Chris is just one of the pack… and hopes it is only a phase they are going through.
Chris could be considered an average kid… if it wasn’t for the rest of the family.
Living in the shadow of two famous parents can really be rough. After all, Dad is the famous, Perky Pony, sports mascot extraordinaire! Mom is head of HouseHorse Kennels, a top breeder and shower of Great Danes. In many respects, Chris is just one of the pack.
Whether assisting Dad at special events, helping Mom at shows, or hanging with friends, Chris is constantly trying to be noticed as an individual.
Chris always being treated as a dog by Mom.
Disturbances from such a large amount of large dogs.
Dad’s weird special events... and general appearances in public.
Chris’ attempts to create an individual identity.
The series will encompass two aspects of growing up.
The importance of developing your own style and personality.
Accepting people (and parents) for who they are.
It is going to be a great Sunday. Mom’s dog show and Dad’s special event are at the same fairgrounds. The whole family can have lunch together. To Chris it just means double duty.
First, it’s helping Mom with the king sized canines without being stampeded everytime the doorbell rings. Then it’s putting together all the props Dad will need at the event. Luckily Bo and Santerra have dropped by to lend a paw… er hand.
At the dog show things are going as usual for Chris, boring. That is until Dad arrives for lunch. Not being as familiar with a two-legged horse as the HouseHorses are, the rest of the dogs go wild!
Can Chris and associates round up the dogs, rescue Dad and still have some fun? Of course, because this is just a regular day when your whole life is a DOG AND PONY SHOW.
CAST OF CHARACTERS…
CHRIS – Chris is probably close to your standard12 year old. Chris wants to establish an identity. Living with such famous parents, it is difficult for Chris to be seen as anything other than the offspring of a famous mascot or dog breeder. Chris wants to be a member of the family… not just another dog in the pack. Though Chris is not really interested in what Dad and Mom are doing, Chris feigns interest. Chris wants to be accepted by peers. This is not easy since Chris’s best friends seem more interested in the famous parents than Chris. In many ways, Chris is a struggling tween. The one thing we don’t know is Chris’ gender! Through careful writing and design, Chris will never fully be identified as either male or female. Even Chris’ parents never refer to Chris in a specific gender. Again… Chris is searching for an identity.
DAD/PERKY PONY – Dad IS the Perky Pony. We never see him outside of his slightly tattered mascot suit. Being a true performer, dad is always ‘on’. Full of pep and vitality, Dad handles work and chores with equal amounts of cheer and humor. We see him at the mall, driving, golfing, and doing everything in his suit. And when out in public, he never misses a chance for photos, waving to cars, shaking hands and generally being a great pony. Dad loves mom and all his kids, including Chris. Dad hopes that his “colt” (Chris), will want to take over the family business when Dad is ready to retire. The neighbors all refer to Dad as either “the Perky Pony” or simply “Pony”.
MOM/LAURA (aka Mrs. Pony) – Mom is the perfect example of a working mother. She defiantly handles housework with her own business, running HouseHorse Kennels. It’s a 24/7 type of existence keeping everyone happy… at least as happy as possible. Mom is very attached to her dogs. They are as much her children as Chris. In fact, sometimes she refers to Chris and the Danes as the same group. At least she doesn’t use a leash on Chris… that is, not since Chris turned 7. Though she has made a name for herself in the dog world, folks still refer to her as “Mrs. Pony”. She longs for the day when she is known as Mrs. HouseHorse-Pony. [It is suggested Mom be a person of color, Black.]
THE DANES - They are the biggest family around. How many are there? No one really knows. You just know that any room in the house will be filled to the brim with these gentle giants. Since they all look alike, it is also impossible to tell them apart. (There is one exception, a fluffy mongrel of a dog that forever seems out of step with his bigger pack brothers.) Mom simply calls names, one after another, and various ones respond. This both confuses and irritates Chris who can’t seem to remember any of the names. This pack will often react as a group, including stampeding the door at the sound of a knock. At times, they will even be animated as a block with many dangling legs running.
BO – Bo is Chris’s best male friend. Bo loves to hang around Chris for companionship… and the dogs. Bo thinks he might like to be a major dog handler when he grows up. His take is that a job where you only work weekends has to be the bomb! Chris enjoys Bo’s company, but wishes Bo wasn’t so infatuated with Chris’s Mom and the world of dog shows. [It is suggested that Bo be an Oriental.]
SANTERRA – Santerra is Chris’s best female friend. She loves to hang around Chris because Chris seems so hip in clothes and lifestyle. After all, Chris “lives” with the Perky Pony! Pony is one of the most famous folks in the town. Chris appreciates having Santerra around, but wishes Santerra wasn’t so hung up on the Pony. Santerra can talk at length about how great it would be to be a roadie for the pony. Perhaps if she worked hard enough, she could become a famous mascot herself, the Merry Mare. [It is suggested that Santerra by Hispanic.]
text, image and format © John Cawley
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