Got a good sitcom question from reader, Scott:
I think it was the 4th episode (of BACK TO YOU). If you caught the episode then perhaps you can explain some things... The guy who plays the investigative reporter wasn't in the show at all. The character is the one that cracks all the smart ass one liners (he's the maury amsterdam, murray slaughter, chandler bing). But the actor playing him was out sick/got another job/fired/quit.
There's another character, the weather reporter (Ayda Field, pictured: right) , who is a silly often oblivious, bimbo type. However, in this particular episode she kept saying witty smart ass one-liners. And it was sooo out of character. Should we as the audience just presume that the writers of the show didn't want to depart with their great lines and therefore handed them to another character, even if the lines didn't fit?
didn't you ever run into this situation personally?
I haven’t seen the episode but have it Tivoed so I will soon. I still have to get to PUSHING DAISIES (a lot of you really like it), the replay of game two of the American League Championship Series (don't tell me who won), and fast forwarding through four TELL ME YOU LOVE ME’s to watch the sex scenes. But your question speaks to a larger issue. New series need time to find their way. The good showrunners are the ones who understand and embrace this. They don’t pre-write ten episodes and just film them as is.
Instead, they really listen to the audience reaction, they continually analyze what’s working, what’s not, what’s missing, are the stories being told the best way, is the tone right? In general, how could they do this better? And as a result characters may begin to shift a little. I don’t know the thinking behind any of the BACK TO YOU midcourse corrections but the fact that the show is evolving already is a good thing. Watch your favorite comedy series. Usually the better episodes come late in the first season or even the second.
The Fonz was originally supposed to be a minor character in HAPPY DAYS. Frasier first appeared on CHEERS in season three. WILL & GRACE really became “Jack & Karen”.
If you watch the first five or six episodes of CHEERS you’ll see we were all over the map. We didn’t know whether the show should center on its central cast or a series of colorful characters that entered the bar (a la BARNEY MILLER). So there are episodes that went in both of those directions. The one thing that became clear early on was that Sam & Diane needed to be at the heart of every episode. Their relationship was the key. And eventually the series settled in. (And the nutty characters coming into the bar was ixnayed.)
Also on CHEERS when Rebecca was introduced her character was meant to be a stern, together martinet. But it just wasn’t clicking. We found though that when Rebecca got a little rattled Kirstie Alley was really funny. And so we not-so-slowly moved her in that direction to where her character became a mess. And suddenly we had something.
Part of the fun of watching new series is seeing how the writing staff experiments and shapes it. BACK TO YOU has top people at the helm. My guess is they’re only going to make the show better. And if they give the hot weather girl a lot more to do I won’t need to fast forward through TELL ME YOU LOVE ME.