“Most contemporary long-form television drama[s] are put together by multiple people, even if there is a single creator who came up with the show’s initial premise. It may be helpful to think in these terms when considering the Odyssey.”
— Emily Wilson, from the introduction to her Odyssey translation
Hey, phrase-turning masters (and our new female hire):
Welcome back! As a man gets separated from his companions and wanders, weak and alone, then from a distance he smells the smoke from cooking meat, and the aroma gladdens his spirit, for he knows they will soon be reunited — that’s how excited I am to see you assholes again.
IMPORTANT DIGRESSION: speaking of cooking, there’s a new Phoenician place near where the season 2 writing room will be. I know some of you don’t like Phoenician (Nikos!) but you will after you have this.
Anyway, it was late in coming, but we finally got our pickup from the network, which is what the religious festivals who keep us in olive oil call themselves now. And we deserved it: we put together a 16,000-line poem where the most sympathetic character fights for the enemy and dies at the end. Sure, The Iliad may not have been the poem of choice for an ordinary guy on a trireme, or filled with “news you can use” like Hesiod’s stuff (“Works and Days” drives me crazy, I don’t know why), but it was must-listen material at the cool symposia on the coasts. I kind of hate myself when I say stuff like this, but I think we proved that the epic is the art form that really fits where the Iron Age is at right now.
The only question is, how do we top ourselves?
The network has some thoughts, which mostly boil down to, “How about we actually see the war end, and we win?” I get it: the kind of bards who can memorize 16,000 lines and really put it over don’t come cheap, no matter how much we help them with repetition. So give the people what they want. And even though we shot down the “We Win!” ending with a flaming arrow last season, it’s still worth considering — if we can find a uniquely Iliad way to do it. Be advised, though, that it would have to have the horse. I know this because I pitched that our heroes catapult in — super visual, plus maybe a commentary on the new toys of war — and they were very definitely, “No, the horse.” Anyway, come in prepared to have a take.
Also, come in prepared to meet our first ever female writer, Cassandra, who just finished her apprenticeship in Crete. She had to disguise herself as a boy, and she has a lot of funny stories about it. I mean, looked at a certain way, her stories might be sad, but I thought they were kind of funny. Just look at the kind of things the gods have done.
But she had a season 2 idea that I either love or hate: let’s skip the war almost entirely and, instead, follow one or more of our characters home. She suggested Odysseus and Penelope, but to me Agamemnon is the obvious choice — that whole story is anti-heroic and totally Iliad. Still, the idea of Odysseus and his crew sailing around, encountering the Lotus-eaters, getting addicted to the stuff, and then dealing it all around the Mediterranean might be fun. We’ll discuss.
See you Monday!
PS: I know you’ve probably heard some talk about writing the poem down this time. Ignore it. The technology gets in the way of the experience and always will, not to mention how unfair it is to guys like me who can’t see.
PPS: Some of you have seen that dialogue I did over the break where I called you guys “Myrmidons.” I apologize. If you could have heard me say it with affection with my voice, you would have understood what I meant.