Thursday, January 22, 2015
In defense of multi-camera sitcoms
Before MULLANEY premiered there were big articles from the folks responsible claiming they were doing something really daring by committing to a multi-cam format. The show itself is terrible and has been unanimously rejected by America, but trust me, it’s not because of the number of cameras.
Was anybody bothered by the fact that CHEERS was multi-camera? Or FRIENDS? Or FRASIER? Or SEINFELD? Or ALL IN THE FAMILY, THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, or THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW? You get the idea.
The fact that the bar has been so lowered by shows like 2 BROKE GIRLS doesn’t mean quality shows can’t be mounted. Networks just have to buy them and writers have to write them.
The swing away from multi-camera shows has been such an over-reaction. It’s as if theater owners no longer staged plays because movies gained in popularity. No one wants to just watch actors relate to each other on a stage when they can see giant explosions and special effects on a screen.
Obviously there’s room for both.
Why can’t that be translated to today's television? I’d like to think if Noel Coward was around in the ‘90s he’d be writing for FRASIER. I'd probably be squeezed out to make room for him.
With a few rare exceptions, every great iconic sitcom from I LOVE LUCY to SEINFELD has been multi-camera.
Networks just have to once again embrace them. And I’m not just speaking to major broadcast carriers. Premium cable networks and streaming services -- this goes for you too. Who subscribes to these services? People with money who can afford them. Grown ups. The same grown ups who grew up on quality multi-camera shows. God forbid Amazon or Netflix or HBO would air a new series in this format.
There aren’t comedy writers currently toiling on middling single camera shows who wouldn’t kill to do their own CHEERS? There aren’t network executives who would love to be proud of their comedies and not have to justify them with bullshit excuses or niche numbers?
It sure seems worth doing... and not just because they feel obligated to toss in a couple of gluten-free items. Oh, and another thing – multi-camera shows are CHEAPER. So really, what’s the big downside?
UPDATE: But if you're a big fan of single camera shows, I have one for you to check out. It's DOWN DOG, one of the Amazon pilots currently under consideration. It was written/created by Robin Schiff who co-created ALMOST PERFECT with us and wrote ROMY & MICHELE'S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION quite nicely without our help. Here's where you go. And if you like it, please give it a whole bunch of stars. Thanks.