An archive of the work of television writer-producer Daniel Knauf

What's Not On?

If you are a television fan, you and I no doubt have much in common. For instance, both of us enjoy a good story well-told. Both of us hate ads. Both of us crave engaging characters. But the following is the primary operative difference between me and you:

You've been watching television since you can remember. You flip on the remote. You're presented with a colorful, happy, flashy grid of available content. 

You ask yourself, "What's on?"

I've been creating television for almost 20 years. I flip on the remote. I'm presented with a colorful, happy, flashy grid of available content. 

I ask myself, "What's not on?"

Granted, given the fact that the colorful, happy, flashy grid is a reflection of the marketplace, a smarter question for me to ask might be, "What's on and how can I subtly tweak it to make it fresh enough to sell?" This is, after all, a proven strategy that has made many show-creators wealthy beyond the wildest dreams of avarice. 

But making television is so damn hard, I cannot imagine a greater folly than creating something I don't want to watch. So I keep pitching these strange, wonderful, oddly beguiling things. And the studios and networks pay me to develop them into show-bibles and pilot scripts. This takes me many months, crafting them, feeding them, cuddling them, loving them...

... until the inevitable day that the network says, "Holy shit, this is crazy! What the fuck were we thinking?!"

So in case you are curious about what I've been up to since CARNIVÀLE, I humbly urge you to check out What's Not On. It will not only give you some perspective on my creative sensibilities, but an insider's nuts-and-bolts look at the process of constructing a television series.