Some new ones, including a few from the drama side, a few more used in the room rather than actually seen on the show, and a few that are just too cool to let go regardless of how wide-spread they are. Thanks to all for the comments and e-mails.
"a blow": A joke strong enough to end the scene on. In drama, also a plot development or reaction strong enough to end the scene on. The point is, you're going to the theater equivalent of a blackout when leave a scene. You want to keep your sense of momentum up. Usually heard in the context of: "Yeah, it's funny, but let's take five minutes to beat that blow."
"the Two-Two": a couple names here, but this one was invented by David Landsberg, originally referencing a specific scene on our show -- Act Two, Scene Two. After all the setup of the first Act, you'd come back from the Act break with a recap scene, and to make sure all your ducks were in a row (Act One, Scene One) so you could unleash the big "and now all the comedy coincidences and motivations collide" scene -- Act Two, Scene Two. The Two-Two eventually came to mean the climactic big-funny scene in any sitcom regardless of its actual show position. Anything after the Two-Two was epilogue, fallout, wrap-up, whatever.
"the Winona Ryder": A sappy or inappropriate voice-over, based on Winona Ryder's old lady POV in Edward Scissorhands.
"French it.": to solve a transition or blocking problem with a French Scene. Sadly, many TV writers have no theater training -- and so the following definition is in order ...
"French scene": Creating a new scene purely through a new configuration of characters (based on a tradition from 17th Century classical French drama). Stay in the same locale/set, move different characters through. This is very useful on sitcoms, where you have a limited number of sets, and any time you can French the scene, you just saved yourself a setup and lighting. A false origin of this term comes from the use of French doors on a set to indicate an inside/outside, through which you can move lots of actors organically in and out of the set.
"phlebotonum": The placeholder word for the magic thingie/spell/ hoo-haa needed in a script, used until the internal logic of the magic/sci-fi setting can be applied.
From Buffy. Although the idea that Trek writers had a place-holder phrase for the Trek science talk in every script turned out to be untrue, this one is well-documented. And, with the exodus of Buffy/Angel writers to other shows (they all should have been MINE on Global, but we'll just let that go...), it's spreading fast and into other contexts.
"break the story": Lay out the plot structure of an episode.
I'm a little surprised that I got requests of the "whaddya call" nature for this, but here you go. I understand the confusion -- there's a slight difference in how a newbie would think this should be used as opposed to how it is used. You would think it's in the context of "break the episode down to its component parts." Well, yes, but it's almost always used in the active sense, where you break a story that doesn't exist yet. A writer has an idea, he brings it into the room, and often he and the rest of the writers break the story together.
"That's a show saver": a picayune note or suggestion, really made for the sake of contributing rather being actually helpful. The other writers are slaving away trying to fix dialogue, character, plot, and you just fixed some punctuation. Never used in positive sense. Level of scorn in delivery directly proportional to how shittily the rewrite's going. Often used under your breath re: an executive's note.
One can make a correction in a script and save oneself the scorn by announcing "Got a show saver" first, much like saying "j'adoube" in chess." Example: "Got a show saver. They should be entering from the kitchen, not upstairs."
"Bail on the pitch": when pitching, do so without enthusiasm or half-heartedly. Usually done when you realize half-way through that the idea's dumb -- you're bailing out of the idea, like parachuting from a burning plane. "Wow. Way to bail on the pitch."
"house number": a suggestion that you know isn't the fix to a problem, but is in the neighborhood of the fix. Q.E.D. "house number." Applies to everything from individual jokes to entire plot points. You know that this suggestion might seem vague -- or even suck -- but you're just fishing around here, and this might help.
"the bad version": Now, this is tricky. When an executive is flailing around for a suggestion they believe solves a problem in a script, they'll often say "This is the bad version", and give you the hacky/trite solution that points to what's bothering them. They are attempting to call the mulligan of a "house number", but are unaware of the terminology. Also, this is almost always truly bad, where a house number can also be vague.
Led to one of the most beautiful moments in television. (I'm paraphrasing, but it was years ago) On a sitcom, a young executive said "Here's the bad version..." At which point the star, Damon Wayans, said "Don't give me the bad version. They paying you to sit there and think of the bad version? Give me the good version or shut up."
On hearing that story, sitcom writers to a one will smile, curl into a ball and roll around in joy.
"the Rock and Roll": the fine art of all the actors on a set lurching (in perfect coordination) back and forth while acting out a collision, or, explosion, or say, the strike of photon torpedoes against one's port shields. We're waiting on the name of this used on the Trek sets, but this is the original phrase used on the old Irwin Allen shows, so they get points for precedence.
"the idiot ball": On a sitcom, demarks the character who's misunderstanding of a situation or comment - and his predicate bad decisions -- fuels the comedy of the episode. That character is "carrying the idiot ball" for the episode.
As far as I know, this is one of the most specific phrases on the list. Not particularly widespread, but so beautiful, it deserves dissemination. Invented by Hank Azaria on Herman's Head. Hank would ask the writing staff "who's carrying the idiot ball this week?" Note that this is not a compliment. The person carrying the idot ball is often acting out of character, or misunderstanding something that could be cleared up by a single reasonable question that they're not asking solely because the writers don't want him too. It's almost as if the character is being willfully stupid or obtuse.
Enjoy. The origin of "the No/akamura" is still being plumbed. We'll report (breathlessly) as we discover more.