Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The scene that saved our lives

Here it is -- the fateful scene we wrote that morning in Les Charles' office. (See yesterday's post for explanation.) The episode is "Never Love a Goalie Part 1". As I watched it again last night, memories of that morning flooded back -- the feeling of blessed relief. I think more impressive than remembering how to write a joke was that I recalled all that Harry Harlow shit from my UCLA Psychology classes. Anyway, enjoy.

17 comments:

Matt said...

Thanks Ken.

Love the insight! I'm in radio myself (and also photography) and I've had moments of agonizing self-doubt too.

Side note: are you back through Cincinnati next week?

benson said...

Wow. You guys were back. Banana daquiri-great line. The Frasier line about enough carnage for one life. Also fun to see Cliff have the upper hand on Carla for a few seconds. And Eddie Lebec, the Tuukka Rask of his generation.

Mac said...

Great story. It's inspiring to hear that others have moments of hideously wretched self-esteem as well. Inspiration comes from weird places sometimes.

Jonathan said...

Really great insight into the creation of this scene. Thanks. Speaking of great lines, I was struck by the effectiveness of Ted Danson's delivery of the Banana Daiquiri line as well as his "Bombo would have wanted you to." Both are really funny in part because the delivery is understated when it could have been hammy (and, of course, because they're funny lines to begin with). I'm always curious about the interplay between the script and the actor. In a scene like this, do you write with an actor's/character's voice in mind, or is that something that emerges in rehearsal/shooting and is more a product of the actor and director?

Tom Quigley said...

Ken, was going to write something pithy and witty about how much I liked this scene, but just can't come up with anything right now... Maybe later...

Okay, it's later. If I'm correct, this is the episode in which Frasier gets arrested for fighting at the hockey game, right? Couple of thoughts:

(1) It's great how Carla's character is always available for a zinger whenever a joke is needed somewhere. And as far out as the joke may be, it's always something that we would expect to be completely natural coming from her.
She was always a great "go to" character for something like that.

(2) If you and David really did agonize that much over writing this before starting out, I can't see how you could have done any better a job even without all the pent-up anxiety. No signs of rust in your work whatsoever. It just goes to show that you don't ever lose it, it just gets buried in some mental storage room in a remote corner of the brain.

Dave Williams said...

Extraordinary scene. You introduced Jay Thomas to the Cheers audience and made Carla endearing and lovable. That scene probably propelled the series through the rest of its run.

Michael said...

The moral of this story is exactly the same as the answer to the question I ask every pitching coach when I meet them through my MLB job: "What's the hardest part of your job working with pitchers?"

Answer: "Getting them to trust their stuff." Most young pitchers throw 90 in the minors, but think they have to throw 95 in the big leagues, instead of trusting exactly what they've done in the past to make them successful in the future.

The two of you, trepidation-filled as you were, only had two choices once you got into the office with the "secretary" -- trust your stuff, or not.

You made the correct choice, and we're all the better for it -- because few things in life are better than laughter.

gjs said...

Woody: It sure is exciting seeing a sports figure in real life.

Sam: What about me?

Woody: Well, I can't speak for you, Sam. I only know I'm excited.


Good stuff.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the good old days, Cheers and St. Elsewhere on Thurs. night. Was it Thurs?

Max Clarke said...

Carla gave Eddie one of those fake tv 555 phone numbers, ugh! Same thing happened with Nanny G-Spot in another great Cheers episode, One Hugs, The Other Doesn't.

Otherwise, a great scene. I remembered some of the lines before they were spoken, a sure sign of great writing.

This scene accomplishes so much in just a few minutes. Cheers episodes were great at that, packing so much story and laughs into the minutes. You thought you'd watched something much longer.

The Eddie order, when it got to the red straw and the two lime slices, seemed like sexual imagery.

Frasier got his dead chimp. Later, Liluth would get her dead lab rat, Whitey.

Glad it meant so much to you, Ken, it still sparkles.

AHF said...

Just in case you weren't already planning to discuss after his first start, my Friday question is: what are your thoughts on Strasburg?

Patrick said...

I find the last two posts so interesting, in a few different ways. First, I think its a nice touch that this scene is based on a newly introduced character that is always covering up his lack of confidence with superstition. His success is something that he doesn't recognize as coming from within himself. I was half expecting him to order a stuffed potato to go with the soda. Is this a form of Method Writing? Also, if I remember correctly, the Eddie character arcs through a serious slump as a goalie, and loses his job with the Bruins. It would seem that you and your partner may havebeen writing away your fears going into the initial story line. Just sayin' ... Pretty amazing stuff that you two came up with either way.

Anyway thanks for the post, as always. I used to watch this show with my father, who was a sports writer in Philly. He always connected with the pro sports point of view that the series was partly based on. Sam, Coach and Eddie were three charaters that gave us lots of laughs around the house. After his days with the papers, my father tended bar with a one-time pro football player. Watching that scene and hearing your insights behind its construction brought back great memories. Thanks again.

Mary Stella said...

Loved all the lines cited above, but really loved when Diane is expounding in her special way about the privilege of jury duty and Frasier sees right through it with "Couldn't get out of it."

Ken, if you mentioned this and I missed it, I apologize, but was this the first time you'd written for Cheers? I can't imagine that it was because you so perfectly hit the right tone and character for each of the players. If it was, then you were even better than you thought!

KEN LEVINE said...

This was not our first CHEERS. We wrote and produced the show the first season and wrote episodes the third season. Starting with this episode (season five) we stayed with the series until the end and wound up writing 40 of them.

Emmett Flatus said...

Wish I could watch it all. Link here froze and the direct YouTube did the same. What I saw I really enjoyed.

Lizbeth said...

I could sit here all day and watch old episodes of Cheers.

They absolutely hold up. The jokes are timeless, the characters and situations classic.

Nowadays sitcoms are too wrapped up in stunt casting and making timely pop cultural references. I love 30 Rock but I'm not sure it will hold up 20 years from now.

Middle Browser said...

How 'bout Nick (Dan Hedaya)? Who was the genius who came up with that character and that actor to play him?