what killed our TV series sparked a lot of conversation in the comments section. So I thought I’d follow up on some things.
Reader Elf asked:
Was there ever any justification given for the network demand that Kevin be dropped? Did they not like his performance? Did they have research that showed he scared small children? Did he sleep with one of the network executive's wives?
The reason given (and I say that because who really knows?) was testing. And it’s not that Kevin tested particularly bad; it’s just that the others tested higher.
When I asked to see the testing they would only provide me with the comments people wrote. There were the usual “love her” “hate her” “I can’t stand the shoes everyone wears” comments, but there were also a lot of comments saying “this is a real cute show and I’d watch this if it were on the air.” And this was after we had been on the air for a year. What this tells me is that a bigger problem than Kevin was the CBS promotion department. On the air for a full season and all these test subjects thought it was a pilot?
And there too, maybe that affected the testing. If these people saw episode 16 and thought it was the pilot then they weren’t properly introduced to the characters and relationships.
RareWaves wondered if we had considered pulling a BEWITCHED and just swapping lead actors. No. Never for a moment. So much of the relationship was the chemistry and dynamics. That changes significantly with a new person in the role. Better to find someone else, go down a different track.
Bill Jones said...
Excellent story and guidance. However, this part struck me:
"we did one where Nancy overhears who she thinks is the man of her dreams but all she knows is that he spilled salad dressing on himself so at a big industry party she goes around checking out every man’s crotch. And we did one where she goes to a grief counseling class, doesn’t realize it’s for people who lost pets, shares her story and makes it seem like she had sex with her dog."
I'm going to remember this the next time you call out current sitcoms for "too many vagina jokes," etc. Crotch jokes and sex-with-dog jokes aren't exactly highbrow.
Glass houses, etc...
There are ways of dealing with this subject matter in somewhat sophisticated ways. In the case of the dog sex episode, everything was inferred. It was a comedy of misunderstanding not bestiality. And the fun was everyone’s reaction to the story. In today’s series I imagine characters would have sex with dogs. “Dude, I got so wasted last night. I think I did this really bad thing.” We stayed well clear of that.
As for the crotches. The fun was Nancy and the other characters circulating a party having to take discreet quick peeks at guy’s crotches. In some cases they were spotted and the fun was their excuses. At one point Nancy was discreetly checking some guy out and he said, “My eyes are up here.” It was a nice play on the complaint women often have about men always fixated on their breasts. I believe the bit was done in a subtle and tasteful way, but you may disagree. 2 BROKE GIRLS is on every week, Bill. Check it out.
And finally, Chip Zien, from our cast checked in:
Maybe I'm wrong... But I thought the premise of the show was a devilishly handsome but frustrated overlooked member of a writing team with glasses struggles with lack of respect issues and his inability to meet nice women. There was another concept? What?!
The truth is Chip’s character “Gary” was my favorite to write of in the series. I’ve since written a screenplay and stage play where essentially that same character appears and I always hear Chip’s voice when I write it. In ALMOST PERFECT, we had Gary married to “Patty” (played hilariously by Lisa Edelsten) – every Jewish boy’s dream/nightmare. Anytime we had a scene between the two of them, especially an argument, Robin Schiff (one of the show's co-creators) and I would just channel Patty and Gary. The rest of the staff would sit back as Robin and I just dictated the scene. Clearly, we were both in need of serious therapy.
The table reading for the pilot was on a Thursday. The next day was Good Friday so we planned to not rehearse; just resume on Monday.
The actor we had chosen for Gary did not do well at the table reading. We decided to replace him. But with whom? At least we had one day’s reprieve because of Good Friday. Talk about scrambling. Our casting director discovered that Chip had only been hired as a guest star in the pilot. They had no hold on him other than filming the actual pilot (which had already been shot). It’s a gamble production companies sometimes take. They figure the actor won’t get another pilot so if their show is picked up they can negotiate a better deal. But if he does get another pilot, you’re fucked.
So Chip was available. We watched his tape again and knew instantly that he was the guy. A call was made to Chip who said he was interested.
Things were going a little too smoothly. We called CBS and they wanted us to see several other actors, none of whom were even remotely right. We didn’t have the time to waste. We had to close Chip’s deal and get him on a plane to Los Angeles.
Thus a long call to CBS. We said time was of the essence, they obviously like Chip’s work if they approved him for another pilot, the actors they suggested were totally wrong for what we had in mind – let’s just do this. They begrudgingly gave in. Usually that means they’ll hate the person, but we would face that potential problem later.
So Chip arrived on Monday, was fantastic, and on Wednesday we had the network runthrough. To their credit, after Chip’s first scene, the executive who had his doubts took us aside and said, “He’s perfect! I didn’t see what you were going for, but now I get it totally.”
Unfortunately, that executive was replaced and the rest is "our show was history."
I’ve inquired about getting ALMOST PERFECT released either on DVD or on streaming sites. So far I’ve hit a brick wall. It’s too bad because it was a good show that deserved a better fate.