The Aflac Duck

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This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.

So, how do I do this? On the one hand, I want to share something about a certain network. This certain network ordered a pilot recently based on the caveman character in the Geico insurance ads. Have you seen them? Kind of funny. The idea is that if you're a caveman somehow living in today's world -- I don't mean like a caveman, I mean an actual caveman, with eyebrow ridges and stringy hair and like that -- anyway, the point of the commercial is that if you were such a caveman, making your way in the modern world, you'd have to deal with a lot of prejudice. People thinking you're stupid or oafish or dazzled by fire or whatever.

The precise connection that a touchy, easily offended caveman has to the insurance products of Geico is unclear, to me at least. But the commercials are funny enough to have inspired at least one network to say, um, okay, how about that as a show.

But how do I do this? I am, as hard as it is to believe, still working in this business, still working with networks, still working -- I hope, anyway -- with people, in this town, who might do something like order a pilot that I had a hand in. So I've got to be careful not to offend those people, those same people, who just ordered a pilot based on the Geico caveman.  And whatever I may think about such a decision, that, say, it's a lot of money to spend -- more than a million, probably -- on a one-joke idea with no characters, script, cast, or anything -- that, say, it must be incredibly galling or insulting to the many people who work in comedy development at that network to learn that of the dozens and dozens of scripts that they worked on for the past nine months, an angry caveman bit -- no script, no cast, no joke past the angry caveman bit -- is moving to the top of the heap.

But I need to talk about this carefully. Because I still work in this town -- at least, up until this particular broadcast is over. And what I actually think about this decision needs to be framed carefully. With respect. So let me think about this.

Because, you know, I would get it if they ordered a pilot with the talking cockney lizard. Sort of Kermit meets Borat.  He goes on adventures. Make it a quest kind of thing -- can he get back to the boggy swamp, or wherever. Meets people along the way. Helps them out.  Highway to Heaven meets Mister Ed. It's anthology. Which is harder to do, but you start with the cockney lizard and work your way out. Or, if he's a cockney lizard, why not give him a setting -- an office, a coffee shop, something, the local pub -- and a regular cast of characters he interacts with. Could work. I'd order that. Cast contingent, but I'd order it.

Or the Aflac duck -- another insurance animal; what is it with insurance companies and wacky ads? -- you know? The duck that keeps quacking "Aflac" when people can't remember the name of the company? I see him as married and struggling -- part Al Bundy, part Ralph Kramden with a wife and some ducklings. Set the whole thing in one of those blue collar towns with a duck pond, give him a mercurial boss and a "perfect" neighbor played by a swan, and a slacker best friend -- maybe not a duck; maybe that cockney lizard if that other pilot doesn't go and the lizard is available -- and it's a solid family comedy from the dad's point of view. A Homer Simpson/King of the Hill type thing, but live action, like the commercials, like According to Jim. According to Duck. I don't know. Could work.

I just don't get the caveman show. And as someone who has heard from a certain network that the problem with my pilot was that they just didn't see what episode two was going to be, it's a little weird to hear that they've ordered a pilot with no episode one. So let me think about how I can talk about this without being too bitter, or too insulting, or too confused.

Nope. Can't do it.

That's it for this week. Next week, we'll get all up into New Media. For KCRW, this is Rob Long with Martini Shot.



Rob Long