Ready for some Friday questions besides why did LeBron pick Miami over the Cavs or Clippers?
Mary Stella gets us started.
This week's TV Guide says The Cosby Show single-handedly brought back the sit-com. Do you agree, disagree or . . .?
I absolutely agree. In the early 80s there was a lot of talk that sitcoms were dead. Many sitcom writers were writing hour MAGNUM P.I. specs hoping to still stay in the business.
Despite how good CHEERS was its first season, the ratings were dismal. They improved slightly the second year, aided by the Emmy for Best Comedy. But then COSBY premiered year three, started getting ungodly numbers like 40 shares and suddenly everything else on NBC’s Thursday night went through the roof… including CHEERS. Sort of like the Cavaliers when LeBron joined them except Cosby won championships. Within a few years all of the networks were flooding their schedules with comedies again and the genre was once again viable. But make no mistake, no sitcom has ever had the impact on network television that COSBY did. And there was no ridiculous hype fest with America's greatest opportunist, Jim Gray to announce which network Cosby would be taking his show on renewal years.
Kirk Jusko queries…
You mentioned the Mary Tyler Moore as being the Holy Grail of sitcoms, and it made me think of a question. Although the show was funny throughout its' seven-year run, I thought it lost a little something after Rhoda (Valerie Harper) left. Not laughs, but, at the risk of sounding a little corny, some heart. I wonder what your opinion is of this.
I don’t think the MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW ever lost heart. The writers were always vigilant about that. I did think that the character of Rhoda lost heart when she spun-off into her own show. Personally, I thought she should have stayed in Cleveland... sorry, I meant Minneapolis. After the first season when it was clear the marriage with Joe wasn’t working, I think the producers had trouble really deciding what the series should be about. It kind of drifted from season to season. She had a much clearer role and function in THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW.
I really missed her on MTM because I loved that Jewish voice. No one could write Rhoda like Treva Silverman. And Treva was not involved in the spin-off.
And finally, from Carson:
My question is about continuity. Sometimes there are glaring continuity issues that always leave me wondering, why doesn’t the actor say, “hey, this isn’t right!” A prime example is from The Andy Griffith Show where the character of Goober Pyle is suddenly, with no explanation and for just one episode, referred to as Goober Beasley. How and why does this happen?
Sometimes it happens when writing staffs change and they are unaware of previous details. I can’t speak for the ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW. I never worked on it. I was Opie’s age.
Usually though, someone from the cast and crew will flag the inconsistency. But not always.
I told this story before but it applies.
In the seventh season of MASH we did an episode called Preventive Medicine. The story seemed very intriguing. The number of arriving wounded had increased because of one careless Colonel. Hawkeye slips him a mickey then to keep him from returning to the front removes his appendix. This was before malpractice suits and HMO’s but there was still that pesky question of ethics. It created a nice debate between Hawkeye and BJ. We did a lot of rewriting on that episode, the cast was happy, we were happy, and they went off to the ranch to make it.
On Friday night my partner, David tuned in to the MASH rerun that CBS was airing at 11:45. After watching a few minutes he came upon a horrible discovery – IT WAS THE EXACT SAME SHOW THAT WE WERE FILMING. Identical. Same plotline, same argument. The only difference was it was better (no surprise there – Larry Gelbart vs. us).
We were mortified. I mean, it’s one thing to steal from other shows, but to steal from your own? We looked like a couple of blithering idiots (y'know, like the owners of the Cavs, Knicks, Bulls, Nets, even Clippers). And again, the amazing thing is that no one on the cast or crew caught it. And a lot of them were there for the original episode.
So it can happen. And when it does we all look like Goobers.
Thanks for the questions. Oh well, Cleveland. You still have Betty White. What’s your question?