VSL:WEB // The truth about TV

Even the best TV shows — the ones that got their props enshrined at the Smithsonian — began uncertainly. The Pilot School website invites you to see your favorite show take its baby steps.

Read the Untitled Tina Fey Project that became 30 Rock, or Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men pilot — which got him a gig writing Sopranos episodes long before his show aired. Note which shows are destined for pay TV (get to page 3 of Californication, and you’ll understand why it appears on Showtime and not NBC). On your way out, drop by the Pilot Hell section, and look at scripts that never made it past production. Our favorite? A zany terrorism-related, Chicago-based sitcom called The Cell. “There’s an awkward silence,” read the stage directions on page 25. “Just the one?” we’re wondering.

This post is from Observer Short List—an email of three favorite things from people you want to know. Sign up to receive OSL here.