The Friday Questions of October begin this week.
Andrew starts us off.
Did the cast and crew of Frasier and Seinfeld get along, since they were always in competition for Emmy's, etc.? Was their attitude mutual respect, friendly rivalry, or disdainful competition?
I never got the sense that the actors felt they were a “team” in competition with other “teams” from other shows. I’m sure there are some actors who bristle that they always lose Emmys to some other actors, but for the most part I think actors appreciate the good performances they see from their peers.
It’s the same for writers. When I would watch a “competing” sitcom (notably SEINFELD) I was thrilled when it gave me some genuine laughs.
From Powerhouse Salter:
What current drama series would you say has a good sense of humor? By sense of humor, I guess I mean a relaxed and subtly comic air that relieves the overwrought drama and succeeds in doing so without resorting to one-liner jokes or a wacky supporting character.
THE GOOD WIFE to be sure. I get more laughs from THE GOOD WIFE than most comedies. SUITS provides some hearty chuckles as well. I don’t watch CRIMINAL MINDS but I’m guessing they’re not a laugh riot. In fact, I don’t watch a lot of current hour dramas so I imagine there are a few that do employ humor that I just am missing. Is WALKING DEAD funny?
Ike Iszany asks:
Watching Cheers on line I notice they put a title card in where the first commercial break would be. When you write and direct a show do you use the breaks to your advantage or are they something that gets in the way? When I watch some sit-coms on DVD I feel like they suffer without the breaks. You can feel the show changes tempo a bit in the second segment without the break.
I finally found a person who likes having commercial breaks.
Actually, we design our stories around the commercial breaks and try to build to our act break. We want the moment of greatest suspense to come right before the commercial. That way we (in theory) hold the audience through the ten minutes of endless spots.
If there were no commercials (e.g. our show as on AMAZON) we probably would break stories differently.
DwWashburn has some observations and questions about MASH:
In my opinion, the only two "missteps" that the series took was the introduction of Loudon Wainwright III as the camp's minstrel and the marriage of Margaret. Since you were there during the latter, can you give any behind the scenes insight for this storyline. Did they know from day one that this was a mistake? Was it dropped quickly because of fan reaction, network notes, realization that storylines were limited, a combination of these or other reasons?
The decision to marry off Hot Lips came the year we were writing freelance for the series. So we were not in on the reasons for the decision.
We just inherited it. The problem was we were dealing with a long distance relationship and could only see one side. And it meant Hot Lips couldn’t be interested in anyone else. It cut down on her storylines.
Plus, any value there was to a long-distance relationship we were getting from B.J.
We tried to do some one-sided stories, and those resulted in Hot Lips screaming at unseen-hubby over the phone. It just made her a shrew. So we quickly abandoned that.
We even brought her husband in for an episode. If memory serves we had to cast a different actor because the original Donald Penobscott wasn’t available. There wasn’t much chemistry.
The storyline just didn’t work so we bailed the beginning of the next season and broke them up. That was our decision. We received no pressure from the network or studio.
Oh well. Some things work and some things don’t. But you gotta try.
What’s your Friday Question?