Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday (the 13th) Questions

Heading to WB to watch tonight's live broadcast of UNDATEABLE LIVE.  Stay tuned.  In the meantime, here are some Friday (the 13th) Questions.   Try not to be scared. 

Michael starts us off:

I read recently that BIG BANG THEORY episodes were down to under 18 minutes, not counting commercials and credits. No doubt driven by greed. My opinion is this has hurt the quality, especially since they usually juggle multiple storylines in each episode due to the large cast. How does this compare to typical episode lengths for shows you worked on?

They used to be a little over 22 minutes. And yes, the quality definitely suffers when you have so little time to tell a story. I don’t even know how you do B stories with that little airtime. On MASH we always had two, sometimes three storylines all dovetailing into each other. And at 22 minutes we always felt hampered.

Ironically, you’d think with shorter scripts it would be easier – less to do. But it’s just the opposite. You want room to tell your story, and let your show breathe. You want characters to be able to develop and that’s hard to accomplish when you have to service your plot every minute.

And the time we forfeit all goes into commercials, which means spot breaks that used to be one minute are now sometimes seven or eight. How do you keep an audience engrossed in your story when you have to pause for fourteen spots and promos?

Of course the instrument has not been devised that can measure the networks’ indifference to these creative issues.

Katherine @ Grass Stains asks:

If you were asked to come on board an existing program today specifically to introduce and write for a new character to help reinvigorate the show, who would you throw into the mix, and why? Pick any existing show. (For example, I'm thinking of the recent introduction of Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the new PI on one of your favorites, The Good Wife. In my opinion, he's injecting some much-needed sexual tension with Julianna Margulies, while at the same time playing a valuable role in the Cases of the Week.)

I would introduce a character in HOUSE OF CARDS who had a moral compass. They sort of had that with the BBQ guy, but he’s been relegated to gardener. It would be nice if someone Frank respected managed to effectively govern with scruples and humanity.

From Bill in Toronto:

Ken, exhibit A: the broadcast television model is in turmoil or broken. Exhibit B: NBC's ratings continue their long slide and the comedy genre practically has been abandoned. Exhibit C: you have the credentials of being on staff /showrunning / contributing to a multiple hit sitcoms over the decades, many in relationship with NBC. My pitch: A hail mary pass is NBC's only solution. It turns away from a non-suit and hands over sitcom development and greenlighting to you for, say, a limited period of time. Potentially restoring the glory of NBC and/or network TV is quite the way to top off your career! What say you?

I say back several Brinks trucks up to my house.  I’m not a corporate guy. Unless I was the top dog who could make the ultimate decisions then I’d be just “answering” to someone. I have zero interest in playing that game, needing approval for every decision, following someone else’s marching orders.

Besides, my approach would be so radically different I’m sure I would scare off the stockholders. Without going into details, just know writers would be given more autonomy. So you can understand why NBC’s top brass would kick my sorry ass to the curb faster than you can say, "Proud as a peacock."

And finally, from Kevin from VA:

My question for you Ken is going back to the days when there were only three networks, are there any shows that you admired or enjoyed and thought were cancelled way too soon?

Okay, I warn you – some of these are fairly obscure and there’s a lot of them. And I’m not listing any of my shows although they all deserve to be on this list.  If you haven't heard of any of these, look them up. 

For comedies:  Top of the list are THE MARSHALL CHRONICLES and FLYING BLIND from writer Richard Rosenstock. THE PRACTICE and GOOD TIME HARRY from writer Steve Gordon. BEST OF THE WEST from fellow blogger, Earl Pomerantz. ALL IS FORGIVEN overseen by the Charles Brothers. THE ASSOCIATES from the team that brought you TAXI. UNITED STATES from Larry Gelbart. HEY LANDLORD by Garry Marshall & Jerry Belson. Nat Hiken’s CAR 54, WHERE ARE YOU? OPEN ALL NIGHT from Tom Patchett & Jay Tarses. BUFFALO BILL from Tom Patchett & Jay Tarses. BOSOM BUDDIES by the late Chris Thompson. GOOD MORNING WORLD from Bill Persky & Sam Denoff, THE GEORGE CARLIN SHOW from Sam Simon, and PARTY DOWN with its amazing ensemble cast that included (among others) Lizzy Caplin, Adam Scott, and Jane Lynch.

But wait! There’s more!

HONEY WEST with Ann Francis. MY WORLD AND WELCOME TO IT from the ‘60s, EYES starring Tim Daly, LATELINE starring Senator Al Franken,

I also miss MY SO-CALLED LIFE from Winnie Holtzman, the cartoon shows CLONE HIGH, TOP CAT, and CALVIN AND THE COLONEL, the baseball drama BAY CITY BLUES from Steven Bochco, and I would have liked to have seen Aaron Sorkin have more time to get STUDIO 60 on track.

I’m probably forgetting another twenty. But if I had to pick ONE show and one show only, it would have to be THE HONEYMOONERS. Only one season, only thirty nine episodes. But every one a classic. A local station in New York still airs THE HONEYMOONERS. Each episode has probably been repeated five thousand times. Or maybe twenty.

What’s your FQ?

64 comments:

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Look forward to seeing you on UndateableLive!
Will you be at both East/West broadcasts?
Sit on the side closer to the singers so we can wave to you! Won't that feel weird?

Tonight is about Danny's origins. We were promised an origin story about a glowing green ring or a radioactive spider.

enjoy!

Roseann said...

Sports Night from Sorkin?

Bill Avena said...

I thought "Manimal" was NBC's Hail Mary to save television.

PatGLex said...

Watched 5 of your shows [Flying Blind / Best of the West / The Associates / Bosom Buddies / My World and Welcome to It]. And, like Roseann, Sports Night was appointment TV for me as long as it was on. (I resented that Sorkin gave it up for West Wing.)

McAlvie said...

"How do you keep an audience engrossed in your story when you have to pause for fourteen spots and promos? "

You don't. You just pretend nobody watches [insert genre here] anymore. It will never, ever be the fault of the network.

Pat Reeder said...

Thank you for mentioning "My World and Welcome To It." As a James Thurber fanatic, that's always my #1 response to questions about the most idiotic cancellations of all time, even more so to me than the original "Star Trek." And both cancelled by the same network. And there's STILL no DVD of MWAWTI!

I've set the DVR to record reruns on JLTV of Dinah Shore's old variety show from the '50s and '60s, and her guests are astounding. On any random episode, you might see Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Louis Prima and Keely Smith, Groucho Marx, Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams, Pearl Bailey, Art Carney, etc. etc. Some nights, we check the network schedule, see nothing but reality shows, then watch Dinah instead and marvel at what television routinely used to be like. And that was the period when Newton Minnow called TV a "vast wasteland!" What would he call today's network programming, a nuclear wasteland?

BTW, I didn't realize that "Big Bang Theory" had been cut back to 18 minutes, but I had noticed that something seemed off. Scenes that you would normally expect to go on a little longer or get a little deeper just come on, punch-punch-punch, then quickly cut away to the other plot. It feels like we're seeing the Cliff Notes version. Now I understand why.

kent said...

Traffic Light. You can enjoy it's only season, from 2011, on Netflix. With all of the mediocre shows that stick it's a pity a clever show like Traffic Light only got 13 episodes.

PSquared said...

In the '60's, the running time of half hour sitcoms was 27 minutes. Today there is not enough time to tell a really good story....or two. Sad.

Cat said...

Ken, how come the Charles brothers never created anything other than Cheers and All is Forgiven (if they even created that, I did remember they were involved). Is it because after you've created the greatest sitcom that ever was you just kinda sit back and relax?

The Nazz, natch.... said...

The Associates....Yes! And The Duck Factory...Jim Carrey, Jay Tarses and Jack Gilford...sublime, or thereabouts.

Mitchell Hundred said...

There was a really good piece on the new Peanuts movie (which I haven't seen yet, for the record), which argued that one of its main flaws was its pace. It didn't really seem content to just let the quiet, reflective moments be.

Mitchell Hundred said...

Oh shit, I forgot to link to it. Here ya go.

Peter said...

No one ever mentions The Powers That Be!!

Great show. Wish they'd release it on DVD.

Igor said...

As per usual, Ken posts to his blog early in the AM: "Heading to WB to watch tonight's live broadcast of UNDATEABLE LIVE."

So now I'm thinking... LA traffic must be even worse than when I left.

(Grammar jokes are fun!)

Roger said...

Big Bang Theory is even worse than that. You'll notice that after every sentence of dialog there is an even longer laugh track. It seems like they get half the dialog of a regular show! Sadly it also makes the show completely unwatchable for me.

mickey said...

Late 60s show that was cancelled without cause: He & She: Richard Benjamin, Paula Prentiss, Jack Cassidy, Kenneth Mars, Hamilton Camp. (Benjamin talks about it a little bit with Kevin Pollak on a recent Chat Show podcast. Sounds like they were a couple of years too early. CBS wasn't ready to transition from rural Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, Petticoat Junction to All in the Family, MTM and MASH.

auragoneboy said...

The Powers That Be

Janet said...

I knew the running time of BIG BANG THEORY was down quite a bit because I watch it online at CBS and the length of the episode is displayed. What I've noticed is that sitcoms today have no time to breathe. They're so short that every line, every movement has to count. There's no room for quiet moments. I watched an I LOVE LUCY episode with my daughter the other day, and there was a scene at the beginning of the episode where Lucy is making pancakes for Ricky and is trying to learn how to flip them in the air. The scene has nothing to do with the show's plot. It's not a big block comedy scene. It doesn't have a pay-off later in the show. It's just a nice little scene, one that's amusing and, in its own way, reflects on Lucy's character. And it's the kind of scene you'd never see in a sitcom today. When you only have a little over 15 minutes (not including opening and closing credits) to tell two stories, there's no time for those little niceties. Every word your characters say, every movement they make, has to be tied to the plot. There's no room for anything that isn't.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

THE BIG DANG THEORY has always been a bad show, but that's besides the point. I've said it dozens of times: it's hard enough trying to cram as much story and content as you can into 21-minutes worth of show and have it all flow smoothly and make sense, 17-18 minutes would be damn-near impossible. I recently wrote a spec for an animated series that utilizes the A-B format (two 11-minute entries per half-hour) and I kept having to butcher the spec and remove chunks from the story because in timing it, it kept going over 11 minutes; finally, I got it down to the cusp of 11/12 minutes, but I feel like I pretty much cut a majority of the actual story out and left a vague shell of what it used to be - but, then again, I was told the spec would be forwarded to the head writer to look at, so even if it does get used, I'm sure he'll rewrite it anyway. I'm assuming they're not using it, because it was back in the beginning of the year I wrote and spec and submitted it, their annual story meeting was back in the summer, and I haven't heard anything - I hope it at least made it to their suggestions bag.

We shouldn't even call hour shows "hour shows" anymore, because they're not even close to being an hour: what used to be 50-52 minutes back in the day is now usually 41-43 minutes . . . that's not even a 3/4-hour show!

Hank said...

I watched BOSOM BUDDIES on DVD recently. I think part of the show's problem was that, in its first season, it was tied down by that silly SOME LIKE IT HOT-inspired gimmick of Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari living at an all-woman hotel by going in drag and passing themselves off as females. That Hanks and Scolari are never for one minute the least bit convincing, in appearance or manner, as women didn't help. It also required you to accept that the other characters on the show were too stupid to see the obvious: that these two "women" were a couple of guys in dresses, cheap wigs, and false eyelashes. I think the show improved a lot in its second season when they pretty much ditched the drag angle. By then, though, I guess it was too late.

Brent said...

Where I grew up, for years and years a local independent station ran those 39 HONEYMOONERS episodes every Sunday night at 10 p.m., and my dad never missed them. He loved that show. Didn't matter how many times he'd seen them, he still laughed at them. He would readily concede that there were other sitcoms which were better, in one way or another, but I don't think any of them ever made him laugh as consistently as THE HONEYMOONERS.

Jackie Gleason, to the day he died, always insisted that the reason there were only 39 episodes of that series made--one season, back then--was that he realized those shows were so perfect that they'd never be able to top them, so rather than try, he chose to end the series. And some HONEYMOONERS fans continue to insist that's the case. In fact, THE HONEYMOONERS, on CBS, was running a poor second to singer Perry Como over on NBC, and neither CBS nor Gleason's sponsor wanted a second season of it. They both wanted Gleason to go back to his old variety show format, which he did, continuing THE HONEYMOONERS as a recurring sketch feature for a few more years, finally retiring it when Art Carney (who played Ed Norton) left the series, though the sketches were revived on Gleason's series in the mid-late '60s.

Gleason sold those 39 HONEYMOONERS episodes to CBS after the series ended, and it remained a sore point with him that the network made a fortune of off them in syndication, while he never saw another dime. Lucy and Desi did the same thing, selling I LOVE LUCY outright to CBS, in what, at the time, was considered a very sharp business deal by the Arnazes. CBS has, of course, made millions and millions off those LUCY films, and continues to do so. Ball said, late in life, that she and Desi honestly never anticipated that show would last beyond five, maybe ten years, at the most. Presumably, Gleason similarly must not have an anticipated a long lifespan for those 39 HONEYMOONERS episodes.

tavm said...

During the mid-'80s when Jackie Gleason was still alive, he unearthed the "lost" episodes of "The Honeymooners"-actually kinescopes of the live sketches from "The Jackie Gleason Show" on Showtime before they became syndicated into the series with the Classic 39. They're much different because of various lengths, as well as more argumentative concerning Ralph and Alice and Norton can really be stupid on occasion. But at the time, I wasn't too familiar with those 39 so all I saw were what I thought was really hilarious comedy performed live in front of millions of people with performers who seemed to love what they were doing. So when I saw some of the 39, yeah, they more kinder but also more refined in honing material they had previous done in the live shows. Both versions are still worthy watch for comparisons and changes in characterizations over the years.

Mighty Dyckerson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Arthur said...

A few shows I thought were cancelled too soon: Bakersfield P.D., Murphy's Law (with George Segal) and Freaks and Geeks, which wasn't even allowed a full season.

sumerlad said...

I think the I Love Lucy example is backward. Mr. Arnaz took a big pay cut to keep the rights to the show and was thought to be an idiot at first. That's the story I read in his memoir anyway.

Bill Slankard said...

Wonderfalls.

Brent said...

I think the I Love Lucy example is backward. Mr. Arnaz took a big pay cut to keep the rights to the show and was thought to be an idiot at first. That's the story I read in his memoir anyway.

That was when they were getting the show started. CBS wanted them to do the show live, as most shows were done at the time, and wouldn't pay for them to do it on film. The only way they could film it, the way they wanted, was to own it themselves. They did sell the show to CBS, though, after it ended. I guess CBS won in the long run.

Someone in another group has told a story about meeting Lucille Ball and asking her to autograph a videotape of I LOVE LUCY episodes. She signed it, pointing out to him as she did so that she didn't make a dime off those things.

Mark said...

I thought I was the only one who remembered Eyes, let alone mourned its passing. I've watched way too much TV and I can spot most plot twists at a distance, but John McNamara (whose Profit also belongs on this list) was always two steps ahead.

In some ways even sadder was the Steven Weber show the D.A., though show runner James Duff was able to salvage some of the elements for a TNT show, and I believe that worked out fairly well...

VP81955 said...

Glad you mentioned "The George Carlin Show," which like "The Drew Carey Show" was "Seinfeld" with a blue-collar mentality. (Whatever happened to Paige French, who played the lovely barmaid?) And I forgot that Sam Simon, who left a wonderful legacy, was behind that short-lived series.

Unkystan said...

George & Leo with Bob Newhart, Judd Hirsch and Jason Bateman. And The Ellen Show, the one with Jim Gaffigan and Cloris Leavhman.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Great show choices from everyone!

One show that didn't get it's due on TV (only 6 episodes), got made into 3 movies.

POLICE SQUAD, became THE NAKED GUN
Brilliant comedy show and films.


The BIG BANG THEORY Going to 18 minutes of actual 'show' is just like buying a package of cookies. You used to get 18-20 oz in a package. Now it's 14 oz. Same price. Just a lot less.

Keith Nichols said...

When a show reaches its first commercial break, I switch to the local PBS station for about five minutes, and if the commercials are still running when I switch back, I return to PBS and usually just stay there. So I end up seeing virtually none of the ads on which so many people waste so much time and money. I suspect PBS profits more from TV ads than the advertisers do.

Chris Harmon said...

I remember watching the pilot of Best of the West over and over because my family had just gotten a VCR, and I was enjoying the novelty of studying a show. In particular, there was a climactic shoot out between Joel Higgins and Christopher Lloyd and after they unloaded their guns at each other, both were unscathed. The series villain, Leonard Frey was watching from a balcony above and exasperatedly said "Well, I mean..." and got a HUGE laugh. I watched that over and over, it was such a great example of perfect timing and delivery.

Honeycutt Powell said...

Friday Question:

I have always been fascinated by the Nielsen ratings. So much so that for over 40 years I've asked many random groups of people (it's always a great topic at parties) if they have ever been a Nielsen family. And no one has said yes. No one. Not only that, but no one has ever said they've known anyone else who was part of a Nielsen family.

So my question is: Have you ever met a member of a Nielsen family?

Thomas Mossman said...

Hanks and Scolari wanted to ditch the "men in drag" concept as soon as possible, arguing that they had great comic chemistry as themselves, but the producers resisted the notion.

At least, that's their version.

Glenn E said...

One show that had a good 4 year run, but still felt like it was cut off too soon, was Hugh Wilson’s WKRP in Cincinnati on CBS. By 1982, the ensemble cast was really firing on all cylinders and the abrupt end left fans as surprised as Andy Travis with cake on his face. The popularity of WKRP reruns even led to a syndicated NEW WKRP in Cincinnati in 1991 but it was not quite the same. Still, for any show to be revived, even 9 years later, it was good to see WKRP get one more chance.

BTW, has anyone ever seen the Bill Persky directed Dick Van Dyke TV movie, Found Money (1983)? It was co-written by WKRP’s own Les Nessman (Richard Sanders). It would be great to find on YouTube someday if anyone knows.

Gary said...

Ken, thanks for reminding me of Best of the West, a great parody of TV westerns. One episode had a scene with a young couple in their humble cabin, and the wife complaining that she can't seem to sweep up all the dirt on the floor. The husband replies "That's because it's a dirt floor!"

VP81955 said...

Speaking of Scolari, the late '90s TV adaptation of "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids," with Scolari as Wayne Szalinski and the luscious Barbara Alyn Woods as his attorney wife, was better than it had any right to be, with some clever writing and situations (the family's experimental misadventures went far beyond shrinking). It was an hour-long syndicated series despite being comedic, which in retrospect may have worked against it.

Anonymous said...

Movies also don't have time to breathe anymore. Look at some of the older movies, and you can just what would be edited out in a modern version.

-bee said...

Some of my canceled-too-soon

Breaking Away (in the 70's) - charming comedy/drama based on the movie. It was before VCR's so I was not able to see every episode, but I remember the episodes I did see as being amazing.

The first seasons of "Grand" and "The Laroquette Show" - fantastic, dark comedies that didn't get good ratings so were 'revamped' in their second seasons by the networks and ruined (and still didn't get good ratings so were eventually cancelled)

The Tom Arnold Show: often hilarious, as Arnold was playing an a-hole anyway it was fine, and the heart of the show were the writers on the show within a show.

The Famous Teddy Z - great showcase for Alex Rocco as an agent

EZ Streets - had some weak links in the cast but in some ways was "The Wire" before the Wire- with a broad canvas of police, criminals and politicians - probably the best showcase Joe Pantoliano will ever have.

Don't Trust the Bitch in Apt (forget the number): Would this have done better with a decent title?

Better Off Ted and Freaks & Geeks: A lot of people mourn the cancellation of these.



-bee said...

Was The Honeymooners actually 'cancelled'? It seems more to me that Gleason ran out of gas to carry through on that dark, desperate vision in a time (which is still mostly with us) when American TV overall was supposed to be selling the American Dream.

Being a child at the time, I vaguely remember his Miami-based variety show which had a whole slew of new "Honeymooners" segments with younger wives, the 'boys' being solidly middle class and all hint of the wolf at the door gone. I PRESUME he could have gone back tot he scenario of the original if he had wanted to.

sanford said...

Shannons Deal and Life are two that I can think of off hand. By the way I am 68 and have never heard of a lot of the shows you mentioned.

Diane D. said...

Chris Harmon
I would LOVE to see that scene! I laughed out loud at just your description of it. So funny!

Jake said...

Enlisted
Surviving Jack
The Neighbors
Boomtown
Brother's Keeper
Frank's Place
Domestic Life
Against the Grain
The Tony Randall Show
We've Got Each Other

Carrie said...

We were a Nielsen family once, some years ago. We had a book. A diary, I think they called it, and were supposed to write down in it exactly what was watched, when, and by whom. We had a diary for each TV.

bruce said...

Frank's Place was a fantastic sitcom: beautifully written and acted. The only comedy of its era (late 80s) to recognize the role of class in people's lives, and a nuanced understanding of race that would make it seem innovative and forward-looking, even today.

Barry Traylor said...

Once everyone has a Hopper DVR like my son does what are the Suits at the networks going to do?

thirteen said...

I grew up living next door in New York to a Gleason friend and bit player, Jay Barney. He said Gleason hated The Honeymooners, hated the scripts, didn't think it was funny, and was more than glad to be done with it. Then, around the fifth season of the second coming of Gleason's CBS variety show, the network told Gleason he was either going to have to start working again, or they'd cancel him. (Gleason had long since just been going through the motions: the opening monologue with little more than a couple of catch phrases, unfunny blackouts during the American Scene Magazine magazine segments, and on and on.) CBS wanted The Honeymooners, so that's what Gleason, in something like desperation, gave them. At the initial staff meeting Gleason, who'd long ago had ordered all the "50s Honeymooners paraphernalia trashed, demanded that the set dressers go out and find exactly the same stuff, even unto the silver nut dish on top of the dresser. One of Gleason's guys then raised his hand and told Gleason that he'd disobeyed Gleason's orders twelve years before, and had rented storage space in Long Island City for everything, including the flats. And that, folks, is why the Kramden apartment looks exactly the same in the later Honeymooners shows.

BTW Gleason would fly Mr. Barney down to Miami for a week every so often whenever Gleason had a part for him, which was two or three times a season.

Pamela Jaye said...

okay, I will mention the powers that be as long as you don't mind that I don't capitalize it correctly because I don't feel like typing and Google Voice Recognition doesn't know it's a show.
in Boston it was regularly preemptEd for reruns of the Golden Girls. Then we were forced to dig through our TV guides and try to find when it was airing. Sunday morning 2 a.m.? Sunday afternoon 2 p.m.? Monday morning 3 a.m.? it varied. so frustrating. Really liked that show. also almost perfect - until they fired the male lead.

John G said...

Ken,

You and I are both huge fans of Dan Ingram, quite possibly the greatest top 40 radio DJ of all time(you won't find anyone saying that in LA though). I would love to hear anything and everything you have about him, especially for the benefit of those who do not know him.

jbryant said...

A lot of great ones mentioned. Big dittos to Freaks and Geeks, Bakersfield P.D. and Eyes. I don't think anyone has said Buffalo Bill yet though.

A couple I have fond memories of but no idea how they'd hold up today are Eisenhower and Lutz (with Scott Bakula, Patricia Richardson and DeLane Matthews) and If Not for You (with Elizabeth McGovern and Hank Azaria).

Allan V said...

Exactly who deserves credit for coming up with the idea of naming Frasier's and Lilith's son "Frederick"? Was it David Lloyd, who wrote the episode where he was born, or did it come from someone else?

Brian Phillips said...

I'd like to stick up for "The Dumplings", with Geraldine Page and James Coco. A married, plus-sized couple that ran a restaurant and were completely besotted with each other. It got great reviews and the axe after less than a season.

Joe Ray said...

I second Bill Slankard on WonderFalls. An eccentric, imaginative show with botched scheduling and lackluster (or just lack of) promotion by FOX despite being a favorite of the critics.

I was a recent Nielson "Family", though the "family" was just my cat and myself. It's all electronic now. There's a box next to the TV that comes on when the set is turned on and tracks what channel you're viewing. The box has its own remote with a button you have to press every 40 minutes or so to demonstrate that you're still watching. A scrolling reminder message appears on the box when it's time to press the button. If you don't press it the box stops metering the TV until you do.

The families are picked at random to represent their geographic area and are only in the program for 2 years.

Hy Aytus said...

Cancelled far too soon:
Gunsmoke
As the World Turns
Art Linkletter's House Party
The Indian head test pattern

Brian Phillips said...

Bee: The show you are thinking of is the Jackie Thomas Show, which also starred Alison La Placa and Paul Feig. I agree, it was gone too soon.

In Roseanne's book, "Two Lives", she says that she was grateful for the critical acclaim and was proud of the show, even though the ratings were low.

After she and Arnold divorced, she was quoted later as saying that all Arnold did was take her money.

Anonymous said...

The theme song from Best of the West has been stuck in my head for the last 30 years.

Storm said...

My husband and I were a Nielsen family for May sweeps, and we had to fill out a "diary", like Carrie and her family. I thought it was odd that they didn't ask outright if you were watching live or DVR, though it did ask you exactly when the program you watched was aired, and exactly when you watched it.

I'm still amused at the idea of the reaction the person reading our diary must have had: "All they watch is old Star Trek episodes, old science fiction and horror movies, and British shows off of PBS? Who chose these weirdos?" (What can I say, we were busy in May, and there wasn't much new on that we wanted to see)

Cheers, thanks a lot,

Storm

The Nazz, natch.... said...

Additional opining. Frank's Place was a wonderful, quiet and funny show. I wanted to be a George and Leo fan (love that Bob...also Marthas Vineyard) but when a view through the rear window of the taxicab (remember, on Marthas Vineyard, off Cape Cod) showed palm trees, I had to give up.

Tim Dunleavy said...

jbryant mentioned "If Not for You" with Elizabeth McGovern and Hank Azaria:

I remember that show got bad reviews when the pilot aired. I didn't get a chance to watch it until the third week, and when I did, I thought, "Wow, this is a really good show! Funny jokes, and good chemistry between the two leads. I'll watch it again next week."

When I went back the next week, it was gone. For good.

Marc Robinson said...

What about Quark or Hot'l Baltimore?

Win1908 said...

I'll add more support for Frank's Place. In my opinion the finest one and done series in TV history.

Also enjoyed Doctor, Doctor with Matt Frewer and Crazy Like a Fox with Jack Warden. Fox started off as a big hit until CBS killed it in its second season by moving it all over the schedule.

I'll Fly Away was great, too. And of recent vintage Men of a Certain Age was surprisingly terrific.

Honeycutt Powell said...

To Storm and Carrie, thank you both ever so much for dispelling what I deemed to be the Myth of the Nielsen Family. Let me see what else is on my list... Anyone ever seen a unicorn? A happy ticket agent at American Airlines? A mother who prefers Common Core?

Katherine @ Grass Stains said...

I've been meaning to come back for a week to say thanks for answering my question! I have a hard time commenting from my phone, and my laptop has demanded things other than blog commenting. ;-)