Friday questions, and I have one for you? Why does ANYBODY shop on this day? You know the crowds are worse than any other day of the year. Why not wait until tomorrow? Or February and just apologize that you're late? Anyway, hope you had a fabulous turkey day, and here are some Friday questions for your leftover pleasure.
I agreed with the outstanding post you did a couple of weeks (months?) ago concerning "Outsourced" and why it was a subpar show. However, I think since then it has gotten better and better. It's still not great, but it has improved and is pretty enjoyable now, at least sometimes. I'm curious what shows through the years you originally thought were drivel, only to tune in weeks, months, or even years later only to find that the quality of the show had improved and turned it into a good show worth watching?
PARKS & RECREATION for one. That went from one of the worst to the best. Others current examples are (in my opinion) THE BIG BANG THEORY, THE OFFICE, and COMMUNITY.
It’s not unusual that it takes a show some time to find its groove. You see what works, what doesn’t, and make changes accordingly. Cast members like Michael J. Fox on FAMILY TIES breakout and you make midcourse corrections. Even classic series like MASH needed a little time to find its sea legs. The first year of MASH is way more shenanigan heavy than it would become.
I would say (again, my opinion) CHEERS’ best season was its first. But that’s very unusual, and even then – watch the first six episodes. There was a lot of experimentation going on. There’s one episode where a bunch of different outside colorful characters come into the bar and we had four or five stories going. It was more like BARNEY MILLER in that regard. What we all discovered was that Sam & Diane were really at the heart of the show and so we wrote to that. And stories centered on our core characters worked better than ones featuring outside characters. But it was a trial & error process.
The key is you have to be open to throwing things out and following the direction the show wants to go in; not necessarily where you want it to go. Tossing scripts, replacing actors, losing characters -- that's not easy to do and sure not fun. But sometimes for the good of the series you have to.
The only show I can think of (and I’m sure there are others) that was consistently excellent, almost at the same peak quality, start to finish was FRASIER.
Not sure if you've seen the new TV series "The Walking Dead" yet, but it prompted a Friday question in my brain.
The main setting is the zombie apocalypse, and of course none of the zombies have any spoken dialogue (and if the show stays true to its source material, they never will). So the question is, does this mean there's zero chance any actor playing a zombie will ever get paid beyond "extra" status? If spoken dialogue is the ticket into a big jump in pay, is every one of these shambling corpses out of luck no matter how integral they might be individually in a given episode?
I think in this case they are paying significant salaries to the main cast. You’re not going to get the caliber of actor you want for your series if you’re paying him less than a hundred a day. Even in this economy, and even if business affairs did try.
Maybe in addition to Actors’ Scale, and Extras’ Scale, there should be Zombies’ Scale. Imagine what that picket line would be like if they ever struck.
Brian Doan has a long question:
Ken, I'm curious about how you are defining "hit" in your response about the popularity of writers. I would not dispute your contention about the respect/fame that writers have in the UK versus the US, but I often think of David Chase, Matt Weiner, and others (like David Simon, or Joss Whedon, or Ron Moore, to name three that fans seem to follow from show to show) as creators of cult programs more than big hits-- they win awards and have great media penetration, but their numbers are smaller compared to "hits" on larger networks.
Yes, a “hit” is a relative term based on expectations. MAD MEN is a big hit on AMC compared to most of its other fare. If MAD MEN were on NBC and drew the same number of viewers it currently has it would be cancelled in two weeks. Same with THE SOPRANOS, THE SHIELD, practically any cable offering. Also, demographics now play a huge role. Shows like BUFFY and DAWSON’S CREEK are targeted for a specific young audience and both delivered nicely. Network execs didn’t expect them to get big overall numbers.
Then there’s the prestige factor. Shows like THE SOPRANOS and MAD MEN do wonders for the image of their networks. It also helps lure other top writers to those networks.
And winning awards doesn’t hurt either. Although awards can only take you so far. ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT still got cancelled despite all the Emmys. Awards can buy you time but if ultimately the audience isn’t there, you and your trophies are gone. But the winners of the awards go make bigger deals elsewhere so don’t feel too sorry for them.
I vaguely recall that when Coach died on Cheers and Woody replaced him, that at first Woody's personality was very different from Coach's, but over time his personality morphed until he basically became a younger version of Coach. Was this my imagination? Is there a behind the scene story here?
I would contend that Woody and the Coach were always different.
The Coach was a little addled because of all the times he had been beaned in baseball. He may have appeared dumb but in fact he was just confused.
By contrast, Woody was an innocent from Indiana. It’s not so much that he was dumb; he was just incredibly naïve. And he took everything literally. Woody has a definite logic; it’s just that it’s screwy.
All I can say is that I wrote them very differently.
What’s your question?