Here are this week’s Friday questions. Later today, some random suggestions and observations. So come back.
Kaan gets us started.
What do you think about replacements in comedies? I literally hate that. And it doesn't matter if the "new guy" is better, I would never give him a chance.
I think comedies are more personal than Drama series. If you like a comedy and connect with it, its very very hard to tolerate any changes in the cast.
I immediately stopped watching Becker when Reggie was replaced by Chris (Terry by Nancy) and I have stopped watching Two and Half Men when Charlie got replaced by Waldon (Sheen by Kutcher)
So my question is: Are the writers and producers aware of this? Do they know how delicate this is? Or is this just my personal view?
As always, it depends on the show and just who you are losing. But often times as a producer I welcome cast changes. It shakes things up, changes the chemistry and relationships. Keeps the show fresh. To me the key is not to replace a character with someone essentially playing the same character.
I think a perfect example of that was on MASH replacing Frank Burns with Charles Winchester. Frank was hilarious but also such an idiot. We all thought it would be interesting to give Hawkeye and B.J. a worthy adversary as opposed to just a straw man.
I think Ted Danson will reinvigorate CSI. And given time, I think Ashton will settle in nicely on TWO AND HALF MEN.
But of course you do run the risk that the replacement will suck and take the show down with him. And if you watch reruns on cable or Netflix and one of the new guy’s episodes come on you get that same disappointment you had as a kid when a THREE STOOGES short would come on and you’d see it was a Shemp episode.
From Brian Phillips:
Here is a Friday question: Sometimes, when a show is redone it turns out worse, i.e. "Hawaii Five-O", "Coupling" and sometimes it is generally agreed it is as much fun or better, such as "Doctor Who".
Are there any shows that you have been involved with that you would definitely bring back and others that you wouldn't?
I would love to revive ALMOST PERFECT and BIG WAVE DAVE’S. THE MARY SHOW and AfterMASH may rest in peace.
By the way, I saw a promo for the new Tim Allen sitcom where Nancy Travis plays his wife. He looks old enough to be playing her father.
What words or phrases do you find yourself having to remove from the second drafts of your scripts because you tend to use them too often in the first versions? It might vary from show to show, I realize.
In dialogue, starting sentences with “Well,…” and having characters incessantly call other characters by name. People don’t do that in real life. “Thanks for passing the chips, Frasier”. “No problem, Niles.” This is a trick used to orient the audience to characters, but once they clearly know who everyone is it’s silly to continue the practice. And yet, it’s an easy trap I sometimes fall into.
My partner, David hates when a character reacts by saying, “What?” I, however, like that device. So we often have to bargain. “I’ll give you two ‘whats’ if you give me one ‘well”.”
And finally, aspiring writer, Ben has a question about spec scripts.
How do you know when your spec is out of date? I'm not talking about when to finally chuck that Golden Girls sample...I've got a Parks and Rec that was current as of the end of last season, but due to a few developments with the characters so far this year, could be seen as outdated. Do I need to rewrite before next staffing season, or are showrunners forgiving as long as your sample demonstrates you can write in the show's voice?
Most showrunners are forgiving. If you have to change your script based on what actually happens on the show you’ll be rewriting your spec every week. Example: PARKS & RECREATION – Is Leslie going out with Ben? Is she not? That changes from week to week. You’d go nuts trying to nail down that relationship.
But if there are major changes – like Ashton Kutcher replacing Charlie Sheen – to where the whole axis of the series shifts, then yes, you might want to update.
BONUS HINT to those planning specs: You might not want to write that FREE AGENTS.
As always, best of luck.
What’s your question?