The Substandard Pilot


The pilot episode opens in the interior of JVL’s office.


An intern (Maria) is delivering JVL’s morning coffee.  JVL is dressed in his Mark Zuckerberg Halloween outfit (a $95 gray hoodie with PrAna jeans).  His intern is dressed identically.  She has a Kitty Sanchez-like devotion to JVL (minus the marital infidelity…JVL, and thus his intern are honorable people).  She even decided not to attend Georgetown, although she was accepted, out of devotion to JVL. JVL’s office is decorated in what was once called anal-eclectic-nerd-chic.  Clean lines, modern flair, un-ironic framed comic books decorating one wall.  The other wall has a picture of Grand Moff Tarkin.  His desk is flanked by four Purell dispensers on the walls.  One 64 ounce Kirkland brand hand sanitizer sits at his desk

Maria: Good morning, Mr. Last! I have your coffee!

JVL: Is it..(cut off by Maria)

Maria: Keurig coffee?  Of course not.  I know how you feel about that disgusting, germ-distributing device.

JVL: It’s nothing more than…(interrupted again)

Maria: A delivery device for three strains of highly dangerous bacteria.  And weak, overpriced coffee.

JVL leans back in his chair, folds his arms, and grins triumphantly, knowing he’s earned a convert.

Maria: Is there anything else I can get for you?

JVL: A job at an office where I don’t risk being poisoned by the coffee machine?

Maria laughs…a little more than is appropriate

Maria: Oh, Mr. Last, you’re so funny.

JVL: Would you like me to rank the coffee options within a six block radius of this office?

Maria: Nope, you’ve done that every day since I started here two weeks ago.  I could recite that list from memory.

JVL smiles again

JVL: Not necessary.  I think I’m good.  Thanks, I’ll give you a call when I want some lunch.

Cut to Vic’s office.  He’s on speakerphone (he was once told that all “power-brokers” take their calls on speaker).  This was reinforced by several episodes of Entourage when Ari takes calls on speaker while working a stress ball in one hand.  Vic taking calls on speaker has nothing to do with assisting the “screenwriter” in moving the story forward.

Voice on phone: I’m sorry Mr. Matus.  As I’ve said so many times, it is physically impossible to manufacture an anatomically accurate bobblehead doll of you.  It’s really a wonder your neck can support your own head as it is.  We tried using a highly expensive polymer developed by NASA for the neck, but it still wouldn’t support the head.  It’s just not possible.

Vic: That just won’t cut it!  You’re fired.

Voice on phone: Fired?  We have no legal contract.  You just called to see if we could make a bobble-(interrupted by Vic)

Vic: You won’t talk me out of it.  Good day to you sir!

Vic settles into his chair and looks around his office.  He has a picture of his book about vodka on one wall.  The opposite wall features a picture of General Patton.  Few know that Vic has a button under his desk that when pressed slides away the Patton picture to reveal a picture of Vic’s hero, Field Marshal Rommel.  On his desk are framed photographs: one of his family and two of Emma Watson.  Vic is wearing a suit. 

The phone rings.  Vic answers, puts it on speakerphone, and leans back in his office chair.

Vic: You’ve got Vic!

Blue Yeti: Hey, this is Blue Yeti from the Ricochet Podcast Network.

Vic: I know who you are.  You don’t need to introduce yourself like that every time.

Yeti: Fine.  Anyway, I’ve got a new sponsor for the Substandard Podcast.  It’s SimpliSafe home security.

Vic: That’s great, but why are you calling to tell me?  Just email me the copy and I’ll read it.  I only struggle reading the ads for butt wipes.

Yeti: (hesitates) There’s just one catch.  One of their selling points is that their security system is easy to install.

Vic: Yeah, so what?

Yeti: I heard on the podcast that it took you a year to hook up your Blu-Ray player.

Vic: But there are all those wires.

Yeti: There are just two.  The power cord and the HDMI.

Vic: You sound like JVL and Sonny.  Anyway, so what?  I can’t operate every electronic device.  What do I look like, a garbage millennial?

Yeti: I really don’t want to have this conversation again.  You are not a garbage millennial.

Vic: Darn right.

Yeti: Well, word got to Simplisafe about the Blu-Ray player.  They’re big fans of the show.  They want to send you a system, and they want you to be able to install it at your house.

Vic: Fine, I’ll just have an intern do it.

Yeti: (Pauses again) They were clear that you had to install it yourself.  They want you to be able to say on the show how easy it is to install.  They think it will really help it sell.

Vic: (offended) What, if I can do it anyone can?

Yeti: Yes.  That’s exactly what they said.

Vic: Alright.  Send it over.  I’ll install it.

Yeti: They would really like to do the ad this month.

Vic: This month?  That’s just not realistic.

Yeti: I have confidence in you.

Cut to Matthew Continetti talking on the phone with John Pohoretz

John: Matthew, Sonny made me read the Dark Tower series.  He said it was good and it was terrible.  You gotta do something to help me get back at him.

Matthew: I already have.  I made him write a review of Tyler Perry’s new movie.

John: Does Perry dress up as a grandma in it?

Matthew: You know it!  And that’s not the best part.  I assigned it after they did the press screener.  He’s going to have to watch it with Tyler Perry fans!

Cut to Sonny at a showing of “A Madea Halloween 2.”  He looks as miserable as he did on the Facebook Live Substandard podcast.  He’s continually shaking his head, but people around him are laughing raucously and spilling popcorn on him.  He’s utterly miserable.

Cut to JVL in his office.  He’s working through lunch.  In front of him are three Arby’s roast beef sandwiches, a large curly fries, and a large cookie butter shake.

JVL: (shouting) Maria!!!

In rushes Sandy, Vic’s intern.  She’s a neatly dressed journalism major from Georgetown.  JVL loathes her, but not only because she got into Georgetown and he didn’t. 

Sandy: Mr. Last!

JVL: Where’s Maria?

Sandy: She had to go home.  She got sick.  She accidently took a sip from my coffee cup.  She was fine until I told her it was my cup.  She immediately started retching and saying something about bacteria and Keurigs.  It was hard to understand her because she was crawling out of the office.

JVL: That’s awful.  I’ll have to call her and give her my homeopathic remedy.  It has apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper…(trails off and thinks about the other ingredients)

Sandy: What was it you wanted?

JVL: Oh.  Yes.  Sandy, would you look at my desk?

Sandy: (confused) Okay.

JVL: What do you see?

Sandy: A picture of your wife, your two sons, and just one of your daughters.

JVL: What else?

Sandy: A delicious meal of high quality fast food.

JVL: From where?

Sandy: Arby’s!  They have the meats!

JVL: Vic, what time is it? (Utters a string of expletives that get bleeped)

Sandy: (looking around) Vic’s not here.

JVL: Why would I want this garbage food?  You mixed up our orders!  This is Vic’s food!  See, this is what you Georgetown cocktail party elitists think we all eat.

Sandy: I’m 20 years old.  I don’t go to cocktail parties.

JVL: You all do.  You snooty, establishment-types.  I know your type.

Cut to childhood memory of JVL.

His mother is played by Jessica Walter and his father is played by Jeffrey Tambor  Child JVL is played by…who cares…child actors are always terrible.

Mother: Jonathan, here is your peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Child JVL: Again?

Mother: Cold Cut sandwiches are for A plus students.

Child JVL: But I have straight A’s.  My school doesn’t even give A pluses.

Mother: (sips her fourth martini of the morning) They would if you were worth an A plus.  Isn’t that right, dear?

Father: (looks up from newspaper) Sure, listen to your mother son.  A mother’s love isn’t deserved, it’s earned.

Child JVL: (mumbling) How about a father’s love?

Mother: What?

Child JVL: Nothing

Cut to Vic picking his way through a thick cut of tofurkey in the break room.  He has a bottle of kombucha next to it.  He sniffs it and grimaces. 

Vic: What did I do to deserve this?

(To be continued)


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