Saturday, May 07, 2016

Comedy 101 is back in session

Hello class. Here's another installment of Comedy 101. Today I'm showing an episode of ALMOST PERFECT, the mid '90s CBS series starring Nancy Travis I co-created with David Isaacs and Robin Schiff.  Monday I'll discuss how we broke this story. Whether you're an aspiring sitcom writer or just interested in how they are made, this is a rare glimpse into the thought process that goes in to making just one episode of network TV. So watch the show and come back Monday.

To set it up: Kim (Nancy Travis) is the Executive Producer/Head Writer of a gritty network cop show called BLUE JUSTICE. Her boyfriend, Mike is not in the biz. He's an assistant DA. The show starts in black. You have to fast forward. The show begins :27 seconds in. I know there's a way to edit out all the blacks but I don't know how to do it.


Stephen Marks said...

"...800 guys named Dave." I didn't get that joke, maybe someone could explain it to me, or was it one of those inside Hollywood references.

Neil D said...

"I know there's a way to edit out all the blacks but I don't know how to do it."

There are some advertising companies that could help you with that.

YEKIMI said...

I know there's a way to edit out all the blacks but I don't know how to do it.

I know it's not what you meant but after reading that Donald Trump is ready to offer you a job in his administration.

David Z said...

You can add to the end of the link &t=0m27s

("and time equals zero minutes 27 seconds")

Or a website like will do it for you.

Johnny Walker said...


Johnny Walker said...

It's interesting as there's only one story in this episode (although I guess there a little story about the writer's script being changed). I think the last time we had comedy 101 with Almost Famous there was a B story, too?

I was surprised when she adapted to being a great director so easily. At first I thought it was going to be a dream, with a cut to reality and everything going wrong, but it was very clever how that was subverted to reveal that the issues were going to come from him *believably* undermining her role as director. Having a DA on set saying the story wasn't realistic was a great idea for a gritty cop show - I can just imagine it happening, especially with him not realising how much work he was creating by sharing his opinions. That turn also gave the writer something to react to, when his script was rewritten. I thought it might continue along those lines (maybe being a show about him learning to respect her job a bit more, or something like that, or maybe about her learning something about communicating with the staff) but it was ejected in favour of simple farce.

(I noted that you had the writers watching the performance, and not their scripts :)

It was quite an unusual episode in the end, I'm looking forward to reading Monday's post and learning the thinking behind it all.

RCP said...

I found myself wondering how the network would react to a director not only taking up so much time but also dismissing a group of extras in favor of his or her partner. How much leeway does a director (especially a first-time director) actually have on set? Or am I being a stick in the mud? Funny episode.

BluePedal said...

"Nobody directs the Fatman" - Love that line.

As a Dave I started noticing all the other Daves around me. Somewhere close to 800 0f them. Almost all were annoying, stupid and irritating. It was then I made the decision to ask people to please call me David.

The Artist Formerly Known As Dave

i could be a bob said...

I know, I know - it's just a TV show.

But wouldn't Kim as director have had some SAG or union steward on your case about having Mike The Boyfriend given a speaking part?

I saw the casting people in the credits and you've written about how important it is to cast. I figure most of that is done before the show starts. How much would they have to do for "Lights camera Mike"?

Johnny Walker said...

@RCP She's not just a director, she's the Executive Producer ;)

Brian said...

My favorite line is "Nobody directs the Fat Man".

David G. Whitham said...

Funny episode. I loved the Dave Niehaus reference.