Friday, June 05, 2020

Friday Questions

Friday Questions have arrived.


Liggie asks:


Have you seen any of the Korean baseball games ESPN has been showing as a substitute for everybody else's lack of live sports?


I have because my friend, Jason Benetti of the White Sox calls the weekend games.  He’s the perfect announcer because he has a sense of humor and perspective (and calls a great game).  He does his best to fill in the viewer on some background, but who are we kidding?  No one gives a shit about KBO baseball in the U.S.   Especially in empty stadiums.  


There's a reason the games are carried live in the middle of the night.


We watch because we’re baseball junkies and just want to see baseball of any kind.  Happily, Jason keeps it entertaining. 


Someone unknown wonders (please leave your name):


Is there any room within sitcoms to address major social issues — I’m talking about beyond the bullshit 1970s “Tonight ... on a very special Blossom/Family Ties/Diff’rent Strokes”?

 

Let’s put it this way – no one’s stopping sitcoms from doing it.  MOM sometimes deals with social issues, BLACKISH does as well, I guess you could say THE NEIGHBORHOOD does if by social issue you mean one joke played out week after week.   I’d also give a shout out to ONE DAY AT A TIME.   And I’m sure there are others (and you will enlighten me in the comments section). 

 

But it’s not like the ‘70s where there was a real appetite for that.   I think people want more escape from their comedies now.  It’s pretty clear we’re not going to improve things by shedding light on social issues; we’ll improve things by voting out Trump and his despicable cronies in the senate.   

 

From Fed the Musez:

 

If you and David had started your writing careers ten years earlier (ca. 1966) what shows would you guys have tried to write for (knowing that the "Dick Van Dyke Show" wasn't an option as it had just concluded its five-year run)? I'm guessing something like "Good Morning, World" (because of your interest/experience in radio).

 

Definitely GOOD MORNING WORLD, also because it was created by Bill Persky & Sam Denoff who produced THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW. 

 

I would want to write for BEWITCHED (just so I could meet Elizabeth Montgomery). 

 

Beyond that, HE & SHE, LOVE ON A ROOFTOP, and OCCASIONAL WIFE.  And I list those knowing most people have never even heard of them.  But unlike the stupid GILLIGAN’S ISLAND fare, these were shows that tried to be romantic comedies about real people. 

 

And finally, from John E. Williams:

 

I've been watching the final season of Cheers and noticed that several times there were teasers filmed "outside" the bar, in front of Melville's. Were these all filmed in Boston or L.A., and were they filmed at the same time or were they separate shoots?

 

Filmed at the same time.  Someone took a home video of the shoot.


 

 

 

 

 

34 comments :

maxdebryn said...

Just curious. As a young kid growing up in the 60s, I loved BEWITCHED (as did my Dad). I am wondering if I was the only one who preferred SERENA to SAMANTHA ? Don't get me wrong, I adored SAMANTHA, but when they introduced SERENA, I adored her just a wee bit more.

Stephen said...

I suppose the obvious response is that people still watch GILLIGAN'S ISLAND, as opposed to HE AND SHE or LOVE ON A ROOFTOP.

And I say that as someone who likes HE AND SHE, though it does tend to come off as DICK VAN DYKE-LITE.

There's also THAT GIRL, which lacks the snob appeal of the sitcoms you named, but at least its heroine didn't fly, perform magic or have a family of hillbillies or monsters.

Y'know who loved GILLIGAN'S ISLAND? Phil Silvers. He was the show's primary financial backer and made a fortune off of it. He said late in life that he had barely seen a nickel off THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW because of the way residual payments were set up back then, but with GILLIGAN, the checks just kept rolling in.

Elf said...

Brooklyn99 has acknowledged that their group of too-good-to-be-true cops is not necessarily representative of the NYPD as a whole. One episode had Sgt. Jeffords stopped by uniformed cops while in civilian clothes looking for one of his daughter's toys. The character talked how he was treated solely as a black man and not a police officer, then once the patrolman learned of his identity, everything changed. There was a debate between the sergeant and Capt. Holt whether seeking a departmental inquiry was the right thing to do, and so on. It never got heavy-handed or lecturing and fairly depicted the plight many black people go through while still remaining funny and true to the characters.

So yes, when done well, there's always room for good social commentary. But it has to be earned and it has to be done with characters people care about. It wouldn't have been as impactful had the victim been someone who'd never appeared on the show before. Plus, in this instance, having the victim be played by the Terry Crews, it carried extra weight by making that massive, muscular man thoroughly helpless.

marka said...

I've wondered what the big difference was between writing a half hour show and writing a movie. But even more, what about the difference between writing for actors versus writing your books. How were they similar and what were the biggest differences or surprises when doing the books or movies?

Kendall Rivers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kendall Rivers said...

@Elf I remember that B99 episode and honestly it kinda ripped off one of Barney Miller's greatest episodes "The Harris Incident" which was a similar premise but Barney did it much better and much funnier imo. That was a show that knew how to blend drama and comedy and deal with controversial subjects brilliantly with characters you love and relate to. That's probably why Barney holds up more than a lot of issue driven sitcoms from the 70s or the ones now that will be dated as hell down the line.

Kendall Rivers said...

Friday Question: On your point Ken about people wanting more escape from their sitcoms now more than ever with channels like METV, Antenna Tv, Get Tv, Tv Land etc. thriving probably now more than ever with a bunch of beloved and classic escape type sitcoms which ones would you personally recommend to people for pure laughs and hours of unadulterated escape?

Glenn said...

I recognized the teaser with Woody and the bike right away, Also, I love the shot early in the vid of a toupee-less Ted Danson, but then later we see him in all his Sam Malone hair glory.

ScarletNumber said...

Warning, that Cheers video is over 1 hour 20 minutes. Exterior shots are interesting but not THAT interesting.

Liggie said...

I got to hear Benetti call a game for the first time last week, as I've been DVRing some of the KBO games, and I enjoy his commentary. Boog Schiambi, I already know was good, and would love him to get the Sunday Night Baseball TV gig instead of just the radio side. I understand the KBO fan experience is incredible, akin to college football and European soccer, but not having fans doesn't bother me as much. I've seen several soccer games played without fans, as the home teams were being punished for fan misbehavior or (less commonly) financial shenanigans.

The only recent "very special episode" I know of, which wasn't promoted as such, was the "Mom" where we learned that Violet's biological father beat Christy. There were still several jokes in the course of the episode, but the only acknowledgement that this was a VSP was Violet hugging Christy at the end, and a graphic listing resources for abused women in the fade-out. Probably the last time there was an intentionally promoted and structured VSP was the "Family Ties" where Alex talks to an unseen psychiatrist in a dark stage, in the aftermath of his friend's suicide. One of the best TV single-episode performances I've ever seen, and that pretty much ended the genre as it was nigh-unsurpassable.

Teri Mueller McGuinness said...

A billion years ago when I was a secretary at (some show biz place), I was making small talk on the phone with (an agent or some such) while he waited for my boss to finish another call. He said "Oh my (niece, neighbor's daughter, something that gave me the impression it was a little girl) told me the cutest joke..." He told me the joke (which I don't recall), and it was cute, little-kid humor. I asked "How old is she?" He said... "It's Elizabeth Montgomery."
I may be fuzzy on the details, but I remember the Elizabeth Montgomery part.

TimWarp said...

Occasional Wife is ringing no bells, but I loved "He & She" and "Love on a Rooftop."

DwWashburn said...

I was such a fan of Occasional Wife in my youth. Mainly because I had a big crush on Patricia Harty. Don't know if the show would hold up upon re-viewing today but I sure liked it back then.

Troy McClure said...

I just read that Bruce Jay Friedman, the screenwriter of Splash and Stir Crazy and writer of the story that was adapted into The Heartbreak Kid, has died. RIP.

Michael said...

Ken, you're not fooling me. You listed "Occasional Wife" because Vin Scully did the narration for it.

D McEwan said...

Just for the record, because I know you don't like the show, but The Conners do social issues every week, since several of their plotlines are steeped in social issues. Becky's storyline about having the baby of a sweet deported Mexican lad is a heart-rending weekly reminder of what's Trump's and Stephen Miller's inhuman and deeply racist policies are doing to American families, while the rest of the show is about trying to stay afloat and alive in a Republican-ravished-and-ruined economy.

Kendall Rivers said...

@Liggie I love the hell out of that Family Ties episode and I believe it won Michael J Fox his second or third emmy for Ties If I recall. I definitely think it was one of the most unique and daring episodes in sitcom history to do literally a whole episode all carried by one star for the most part and just digging into a character's psyche was unheard of then and still haven't seen that done that brilliantly since. It definitely could've killed the VSP genre because I don't think tv gets better then A is for Alex.

DBenson said...

On social issues: I know the old business model was to run up enough episodes for syndication, to the point of taking a loss on network runs to assure that bigger payoff. Is that still the case? If so, wouldn't that create an incentive to stay away from anything that might become incomprehensible in five years?

Gary said...

I hadn't seen GOOD MORNING WORLD since it aired in 1967 but I remembered liking it as a kid, so I got the DVD set of its single season. Watching it now I was amazed at how many episodes were recycled plots from THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW. I know there are only so many sitcom stories and there are bound to be similarities, but I thought this was really blatant.

Alas, Joby Baker could've become the next Rob Petrie, but it wasn't meant to be.

Mike Bloodworth said...

I watched "He and She" when I was a kid. But, the only thing I could remember was Kenneth Mars walking across the plank to get from the fire station to the apartment.
I remembered the name "Love on a Rooftop," but I still had to look it up on imdb. I had watched that show, yet can't remember anything about it.
Never heard of "Occasional Wife." Even Googling it couldn't jog my memory.

FRIDAY QUESTION: Even though you joined "M*A*S*H" after Col. Blake And Trapper left the show, did you and David have any story lines in mind for those characters? If yes, did you rework any of them for Col. Potter or B.J., respectively?
Along those same lines, in your current plays, have you taken old ideas or plots that for whatever reason didn't make it into a show and adapted them for the stage?

M.B.

Randy R. said...

When I went to Tokyo with my wife in 2000, we made a point to go to a baseball game. I don't think it was the Tokyo Giants we saw, but another team who shared the stadium, and it was great fun. They had cheerleading sections with people banging drums and another noisemakers (in Japanese headbands and Yukata, informal men's kimonos traditionally worn at festivals and such), otherwise not too different than a college football game crowd. The one thing that was a novelty were girls walking around with big plastic kegs being carried on their back and little hoses, selling beer, like the candy, drink and food vendors at U.S. baseball games! And the baseball was great too!

Cheryl Marks said...

I LOVED He & She. I was in 9th grade and started watching it because I was a big fan of Paula Prentiss.

A few years back she did an on-air commentary of "Where The Boys Are" the first movie I saw of hers. She said the studio kept casting her with Jim Hutton because he was one of the few actors that was taller than she was. They did have great on-screen chemistry. Damn, I miss rom-oms like that ...

Gron said...

What was the name of the 1960's tv show about a guy who wasn't enrolled in college, but dropped in to classes?

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Stephen: I'm glad you mentioned THAT GIRL. As chaste as Anne Marie's relationship with Don was, I liked that show at the time I think because she had goals for her life and wasn't just another young wife. I always loved Paula Prentiss's work, and I liked HE AND SHE and also GOOD MORNING WORLD, but when I also got the DVD because I'd remembered liking it, I could see why I didn't have more memories of it, where Marlo Thomas has always stuck in my mind. (I did like BEWITCHED, though.)

wg

Unknown said...

OK, FQ, why is it I can see Gilligan Island, the Monkees, Dick Van Dyke, but not the Occasional Wife , "He & She" and "Love on a Rooftop"?
I guess the question breaks down to, is the rights to He & She too expensive? Or in big turmoil that you can't approach it?

gottacook said...

YouTube does offer (at the moment) six or seven episodes of He & She.

Griff said...

"What was the name of the 1960's tv show about a guy who wasn't enrolled in college, but dropped in to classes?"

That was HANK, a thin but often charming family comedy that NBC aired in 1965 and '66. Dick Kallman, an appealing young actor, played Hank, an enterprising guy who runs a food truck on a university campus and does myriad odd jobs in order to support himself and his orphaned little sister... and, determined to get a college education, "drops-in" on classes, wearing complicated disguises. High concept -- and the writers ran outta ideas fairly quickly -- but the show was well cast, and Kallman was easy to take. This was also a rare show of the period that wrapped up its storyline in its final episode.

Anonymous said...

From just seeing the headlines on social interactions between actors and crew on the Glee set the best I can think of is that they were all into "method" acting and reconstructed the high school social rankings on the set between the "cool" kids and the rest.

sanford said...

I remember the 3 shows you mentioned. No doubt you can find all the episodes on you tube. Callan married Patricia Harty. They were married for two years.

J Lee said...

"Bewtiched" during its first two seasons would have been fun to write for, especially before Alice Pearce's death -- paired together, she and George Tobias were really three-camera, live audience sitcom characters in a single-camera TV show, and the shows that highlighted them were probably the funniest of the entire series (the writing team of Fred Freeman and Lawrence J. Cohen were especially good here). Once you get past about the first 1 1/2 season of the color episodes, meeting Liz would have been about the only highlight, since it was one of those 60s shows that slapsticked-up/dumbed-down its plots, I suppose as an effort to target a more youth-based audience.

iamr4man said...

Regarding the TV show “Hank”, Mark Evanier did a blog post discussing the show.

https://www.newsfromme.com/2015/11/16/hanks-for-the-memories/

WB Jax said...

Ken, In addition to the shows you mentioned, could see you guys writing (then) on "That Girl" (mentioned by a couple of people here--perfect choice) "Hey Landlord," "I Spy," and "The Lucy Show" (these shows having connections with DVD producers/writers). Also think you and David might have had (at least) one really good "Get Smart" in you, the 1966-67 season of the series benefitting from Buck Henry's presence as story editor--how fun would that assignment have been!

Jim said...

Vin Scully narrated ‘Occasional Wife’. He would have spoken your words (“...PLEASE stay on script, Mr. Scully...”).

Who most honored you by doing that, per your own list? One name, please.

Paul Duca said...

HANK...sponsored by the Bell System.
Ran on NBC in the 1965-66 season.
Ma was nice enough to spring for a finale after it was cancelled, to wrap things up