Tuesday, September 25, 2007

CBS comedy promos

I saw a number of on-air promos for CBS’s Monday night comedy block. Based on the content and what they were clearly selling, I thought back to the golden age of CBS comedy and wondered what a typical promo for their Saturday night line-up would be like were those shows on the Big Eye today.

INT. BUNKER LIVING ROOM – DAY

ANNOUNCER (VO – BRIGHT)
Saturday is a night of laughs on CBS. First, on ALL IN THE FAMILY, not everything is Bunker-dory…

Archie in his chair. A concerned Michael is holding the front of his pants out and staring down at his crotch. Gloria enters.

GLORIA
Michael, what are you doing?

ARCHIE
There’s something wrong with the Meathead’s meat head.

HUGE LAUGH

MICHAEL
It’s all red.

HUGE LAUGH

GLORIA
Let me see.

She peers down his pants.

GLORIA
That’s just my lipstick.

ARCHIE
Oh Jeeez!

HUGE GIANT ENORMOUS LAUGH

CUT TO:

INT. MESS TENT – DAY (BLACK & WHITE)

ANNOUNCER (VO - SOMBER)
And then… on a very special MASH…

Father Mulcahy talking to off-stage reporter.

FATHER MULCAHY
When the doctors are operating and it’s cold, like it is now, here today, sometimes the doctors will warm their hands over the body. Can anyone look at that and not say…Wow, we have the HOTTEST PATIENTS IN KOREA!? Wooooooo!! Suit up!!

HUGE CANNED LAUGH

CUT TO:

INT. MARY’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

ANNOUNCER (VO – SUGGESTIVE)
Then on THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW Rhoda gives Mary advice on how to get through those cold Minneapolis nights.

Mary and Rhoda.

RHODA
Mair, we gotta get you laid.

HUGE LAUGH

MARY
Rho-da!

RHODA
You know I live vicariously through you, and at the moment I’m very horny.

HUGE LAUGH

MARY
Rhoda, that’s terrible.

RHODA
I don’t need to hear the details. Just – you were in bed, you did it. Actually, those probably are the details. I’ll add “had an orgasm” for myself.

HUGE THUNDEROUS LAUGH

CUT TO:

INT. DR. HARTLEY’S OFFICE – DAY

ANNOUNCER (VO)
And finally, what happens when Bob starts a sexual addiction group on the BOB NEWHART SHOW?

Bob leading the group.

MR. CARLIN
Your wife has a vagina, right, Dr. Hartley?

HUGE LAUGH

BOB
Well…uh, yes…yes, sh-she does.

MR. CARLIN
What does it look like?

HUGE LAUGH

MR. CARLIN
Can you describe it? Peterson’s never seen one.

HUGE LAUGH

BOB
He hasn’t. Well, uh…(CALLING) Carol, could you come in here for a ..a…minute?

SPASMS OF LAUGHTER

CUT TO:

INT. SET – DAY

Big CBS LOGO against a white backdrop behind Klinger, who wears just bra and panties and is waving to the camera with a shit-eatin’ grin.

ANNOUNCER (VO)
That’s this Saturday on CBS, the “Tiffany Network”!!

34 comments:

wcdixon said...

Brilliant.

Rory L. Aronsky said...

Wow. I'm so stunned, I'm just going to sit here silent and stunned. That's pure genius I can't even hope to achieve.

Mr. Hollywood said...

Superb piece of creative writing Ken ... and what's sad is what passes for creativity today ... dreck! How I long for those great "Golden Years" of fine shows AND fine writing!

millar prescott said...

Now, that's why I keep coming back!

Joey H said...

This would be hysterical....if it weren't so sadly true.

Anonymous said...

I miss those innocent earlier sitcoms when June Cleaver would chastise her husband for being too hard on the Beaver.
And Ralph would hold up a fist to show how he take his wife to the moon with a pow!
WK

VP81955 said...

If "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" were done today, when Mary tossed her hat into the air, something else would come down, and it would be a different item every week, a la the Simpsons' couch. Given the prurient nature of networks today, I'd hate to think what some of those items might be.

RAC said...

Penises, flippancy, lascivity, vaginas, and one hairy cross-dresser.

CBS: Lewdness without the nudeness. Just watch!

Ken, you nailed it.

Michael Jones said...

Great! Now do ABC or NBC from the same era.
(Doesn't your Newhart bit sound a lot like Monty Python's "Nudge Nudge" sketch?)

Cedric said...

Last night I turned off the TV, looked at my wife and said, "That show was pretty good, I just wish there were more jokes about sex."

Great post. So true. And so sad.

The Crutnacker said...

It's true, but I have to admit that How I Met Your Mother and Two and a Half Men both make me laugh.

What I've always found curious is that shows that "skew old" are to be shunned. When did Madison Avenue come to the conclusion that anyone ever the age of 50 (or whatever the undesirable demo is this week) never buys a damned thing but Viagra, Boniva, and life call bracelets?

Using today's programming logic, MASH, All in the Family, Newhart, The Bob Newhart Show and dozens of other classics would be cancelled in a year.

Tallulah Morehead said...

Very funny.

What worries me is I found "You know I live vicariously through you, and at the moment I’m very horny." unironically funny. Seemed like a good premise to me. It reminded me of a great Dame Edna line: "This woman had no friends, just friends of friends."

What did Emily's vagina look like? Tom Poston took that secret to his grave.

Richard Marcej said...

CBS 1972 Saturday Night Lineup:

(all times EST)

8:00 - All In The Family
8:30 - M*A*S*H
9:00 - The Mary Tyler Moore Show
9:30 - The Bob Newhart Show
10:00 - The Carol Burnet Show

Greatest TV Comedy lineup ever!

jimhenshaw said...

And they wonder why the audience isn't watching anymore.

There's an AOL survey out there that says 62% of Americans think television is worse than ever before and only 7% had an interest in seeing even one new show.

How come the networks don't study those demographics?

emily litella said...

Superb bit and brilliant concept, Ken!

Tag with: More great comedy from the network that brings you the news stylings of Katie Couric...

Diogo said...

I'd like to know why, in the 70's Saturday night was just about the night with the best programme line up of the week, and now, Fridays and Saturday's are like death sentences for tv shows.

Sebastian said...

Jim people still watch TV they just hate it. As if people think that smoking is sexy nowadays or that being obese is.

With more and more free time on their hands, people most certainly spend their time with the media more than they did 35 years ago, they just don't sit in front of the TV anymore. They timeshift, placeshift, use the internet, read, hear on iPod, watch on iPod, blog, comment... and times change of course.

Of course it's all more geared towards sexuality these days in the US media but that's just because it wasn't before. Penis jokes are just funny for a certain amount of time.

Patton Oswald said that he and most of the other comedians he knows grew up with Bugs Bunny and Duffy Duck and thought "Hey those guys are cool" just to later find out "Hey, they were real pr*cks, Bugs is annoying and Duffy totally lame". Back then everything was filled with violence and these days you can not see an uncut episode of "Naruto" during the day but rather on saturday nights during Cartoon Networks "adult" line of programming.

In the last couple of days I saw the "Comedians of Comedy" documentary and the Comedy Central episodes as well as the documentary "F*CK". In the former (TV series), Patton Oswalt explained to the audience that Comedy Central expressed their concern about the amount of sex jokes. Patton was not allowed to say *beep* on stage, but he was allowed to call the meat thingie above his nuts a dick because that thing just annoys the hell out of him :-)

And "F*CK" is, first of all, about the curseword but also about the FCC, the seven words you can not say on TV (-> George Carlin) and how the FCC raised the per-incident fine for cursewords on the air from 30k to 300k once Bush Jr. went into office and how the overall fines rose from 45k a year in 1999 to a couple of millions two years later.

My point is this: I wonder what TV and stand-up comedy will be in twenty to thirty years when the comedians and writers of that time grew up with todays TV and stand-up comedy.

What do you guys thing? More or less penis and vagina jokes?

Jaime J. Weinman said...

The TBN joke sounds like something Jay Tarses would have actually done on the show if the network would have let him.

Doug Walsh said...

That was excellent. And I agree that the "I live vicariously through you. And right now I'm horny" bit was actually pretty darn funny and could be a good episode.

But this is really another fine reminder why the only channels that get much attention in my house are ESPN, Discovery HD Theatre, and Travel Channel.

If not for Jeopardy and The Office I'd probably never watch the networks. Well, except for sports.

LAprGuy said...

Sue Ann Niven's dialogue would be straight out of "Sex and the City."

FredCDobbs said...

Sorry Ken, those jokes are funny!

Anonymous said...

"Nice" disappeared when cable bloomed. Vicious competition pushed the limits. We're left with no barriers, and taste was redefined

All of this makes writing and selling character comedy tougher, I bet.

Dwacon said...

I'll have what Ken's been drinking...

benson said...

Just watched the second installment of "Back to You", and while it was funny at times, there was a heaping helping of the borderline raunchy humor referenced in Ken's piece.

And this from people whose names previously were associated with "classy" comedies.

One other note about Back to You-does this show have enough Executive Producers? I think I saw eight people credited tonight.

Anonymous said...

Ditto on tonight's "Back to You." The orange business wasn't funny enough to justify the blueish humor (and some of my best friends are...); and the goldfish gag was, at best, tired.

Second episode and the show's already on its way downhill.

Patti S said...

Very accurate, Ken! I'm a 50-something gal who's an original fan of all those shows. Today, I'm having trouble fathoming that two comedies I enjoy are ANIMATED! (The Simpsons & Family Guy) What a world!

Anonymous said...

Kudos, my man.

You finally made it up on Defamer.

Can't wait for the teleconference.

-Disappointed M's Fan In Seattle

Steve said...

Great, Ken but compared to the reality of sitcoms today, yours were still pretty tame.

David said...

//Second episode and the show's already on its way downhill.//

I actually thought the second episode was a vast improvement over the pilot. The pilot was fairly enjoyable, but the strong lead performers were backed up by nobody but two-dimensional supporting characters spewing sexual one-liners.

At the very least, with the second episode, I laughed harder than I have at anything on TV in a while when Willard poured the coffee into Grammer's cup. Perfectly executed.

jbryant said...

Missed the Back to You pilot, but after seeing episode 2, I don't feel so bad about it. The risque stuff was too predictable to be funny (anyone else say the punch lines in unison with the actors?). One can't help but admire the skills of Grammer, Heaton and Willard, but they can only do so much. I quite enjoyed Ty Burrell's physical shtick though.

benson said...

I don't know if anyone comes back to the comments section after the day of posting, but here's goes with a question:

Are the producers and writers of Back to You tailoring the show to Fox's "standards"? Would the show have less predictable sex jokes if it were on a different network? The cynic in me says no, but I'm not in the TV biz.

Anonymous said...

The 1972 Saturday night lineup on CBS was classic. But the flood of "It ain't like it used to be!" comments here discount the significant amount of great shows on TV. It's not a great era for comedy, but the hour-long drama has never seen a better time. And cable has not simply allowed for more sex jokes, it has really raised the bar to a degree that most viewers expect writing and production on par with feature films when they're watching TV.

And for God's sake, what's wrong with sex jokes? Lighten up. "Two and a Half Men" and "How I Met Your Mother" are terrible shows, but it's not simply because they're not to the network decency standards of 1972, it's because they're poorly written, formulaic, common-denominator sitcoms.

LAprGuy said...

Lighten up. "Two and a Half Men" and "How I Met Your Mother" are terrible shows, but it's not simply because they're not to the network decency standards of 1972, it's because they're poorly written, formulaic, common-denominator sitcoms.

When you call "How I Met Your Mother" a poorly written, formulaic, common-denominator sitcom, you invalidate the rest of your statement.

Anonymous said...

Strange how you bash the sexing up of current comedies, yet bash the repressiveness of the FCC and Standards and Practices network censors. You don't think the decline of standards leads to the current quality?