Do you ever think that TV shows nowadays aren't as impressive as before because there has been so much TV? By this I mean that in 50's, 60's etc TV was still a relatively new thing. But now so many shows have been written and done that it gets harder and harder to do something truly original. Do you think this is true?
I think television drama is way better now that it’s ever been. More layered, better production values, more challenging.
For today’s comedies I think there is so much emphasis on not repeating past tropes that in many cases they lose what makes a sitcom great – namely the COMEDY. I’m sure there are great sitcoms to come, but I doubt any of the current crop will stand the test of time the way a lot of previous shows have.
I do feel audiences are more sophisticated these days and their tolerance for by-the-numbers entertainment is much lower than previous generations, but there’s no reason writers can’t come up with fresh takes on subjects or create original characters based on today’s society.
Hey, movies have been around a lot longer and they’re still churning out original product (for two months during Oscar season).
Johnny Walker wonders:
Which episodes of M*A*S*H from the Larry Gelbert era are your favourite?
Larry presided over the first four seasons. My favorites include: “The More I See You,” “The Price of Tomato Juice,” “Hawkeye,” “The Interview,” “Abyssinia, Henry,” and “The General Flipped at Dawn” (the last two written by Everett Greenbaum & Jim Fritzell). And now that I think about it, pretty much anything from the third and fourth seasons.
From Ted O'Hara:
In conceiving the character we wanted to make him as different from Frank Burns as possible. He had to be an adversary but a worthy one. So the thought was to make him even smarter and more skilled than Hawkeye and B.J.
Executive Producer Burt Metcalfe had seen David Ogden Stiers on an episode of THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW and thought he’d be perfect. Based on that he was cast. There were no other choices.
Once David was on board we started defining the character around him.
The first actual script to feature Charles was written by me and my partner, David Isaacs. It was called “the Merchant of Korea” and revolved around a poker game. Because the episode didn’t require any outside scenes we held it back until late in the season when we stopped going outside to shoot (due to the lack of sunlight starting in the fall).
But we gave that script to other writers to use as a guide.
The two-part episode that introduced him was called “Fade In/Fade Out” written by Fritzell & Greenbaum.
I’m sure I’ve told this story before but a few days before we began production for the season we had David up to the office to talk about the character. We asked him to read a couple of scenes of “Bug Out” so we could hear his voice.
At first he did it in a very thick Boston accent. We said it was so thick it was hard to decipher some of the words. He said, “Okay, what if I just backed off a little?” He did it again and we said, “That’s PERFECT.” And that’s the way he did it every single episode.
The character evolved but very gradually. At least during our years. I can't speak for the last few seasons.
One final word, I can’t talk about the character without stating what an absolute joy and brilliant actor David Ogden Stiers is. I loved working with him and would jump at the chance to work with him again. He’s truly one of my favorite people.
And finally, from Charles H. Bryan:
How does a production work stunt doubles into a multi-camera show? I was just watching a MIKE & MOLLY in which Mike's mom got into a wrestling match with her sister (played by Margo Martindale!). Given that neither showed her face during the tussle, I'm guessing that stunt performers were used. Are these scenes pre-taped? Or would the show stop for a setup with an explanation to the audience?
Wait a minute. Margo Martindale doesn’t do her own stunts? Since when?
But most of the time it’s easier to just pre-tape. Ultimately, the gag is for the viewing audience not studio audience.
I still can’t get over Margo Martindale not doing her own stunts.
What’s your Friday Question?