Friday, August 20, 2021

Friday Questions

Working our way through August FQ’s.  You have to be vaccinated to submit one. 

UPDATE:  I will discuss the Mike Richards one-day fall from grace for my weekend post. Stay tuned. 

Chris Dahl gets us started.


I was reading a blog other than your own (hard to believe, but I do read other blogs) and in the comments section of this different blog a conversation evolved around the timing of episode releases.  Netflix is famous for dropping entire seasons at once to allow for bingeing and initially people seem to have enjoyed this. It was almost a selling point for the streaming services.

But it seems a trend is starting, at least on Disney+, to now drop new series episodes weekly just like in the good old network TV days.  The argument is that it retains the best of both worlds, allowing excitement/buzz to build over a period of time promoting the series while also allowing newcomers to catch up and join the fun.  Thoughts or comments?

I can see advantages to both.  It’s very appealing to have viewers return every week instead of one time only for an extended period of time.  Once someone is on your site they’re more apt to see what else they offer and stay longer.  But there is an additional burden placed on these shows.  Are they compelling enough that viewers are willing to wait a week to watch a new episode?   Especially when so many show are dropped in batches.  

The advantage of dropping a whole series at once is that it’s something only streamers can do.  Broadcast and cable networks can’t compete with that.  And viewing habits have changed.  With so much product out there it’s nice to find a show you like and immerse yourself in it for two or three nights then move onto something different when it concludes.  

What I find interesting about binge-watching is this:  According to viewer research, people will re-binge shows they like — occasionally multiple times.  I guess it’s like hearing your favorite song over and over except the song is ten hours long.

From Rory W:

When you were a baseball announcer, did you get approached to do local radio or TV ads?

I was listening to the radio broadcast of my hometown Cleveland baseball team when Jim "Rosie" Rosenhaus did an ad for Rose Pest Control and was wondering how sponsors approach announcers?

Do you just get a random call from someone saying, "Hey, do you want to do an ad for Neverwet Basement Waterproofing in Syracuse, NY?"


I did a couple of ads when I was with the Orioles in Baltimore.   I was the voice of some Lexus dealer (for which I was given a new Lexus to drive during the season), and my partner,  Jon Miller and I went to Washington DC to record spots for Food Giant or some market in the region.  The car dealer just called me.  He probably did that a lot — free spokesman for a loaner car (and for me, free car for an hour’s recording), and Jon got the call for the market.

I never had an agent.  In the case of the Lexus dealer, the agent’s commission would be what, the trunk?

Steve McLean has a two-part question.

I recently heard an interview with actor/director Peter Bonerz who said, "I always made the argument for the laugh track...sitting at home you become part of a larger audience." (Interesting since he is probably best known for his role on 'The Bob Newhart Show' which did not have one.)

THE BOB NEWHART SHOW did use a laugh-track to supplement the live studio audience.

That’s the network's rationale for the laugh-track.  When you go to a theatre the laughter is a shared experience and can be contagious.  But just sitting at home alone things might not seem as funny.   That’s the theory, but I think it’s bullshit.  Hearing real audience laughter is one thing.  Hearing fake laughter is insulting.  As a viewer I resent being “told” when something is funny.  Let me decide on my own.  

And the second point I'm interested in your thoughts on, Peter said that when directing later sitcoms, "The audiences come in so hot, they have been warmed up to such a degree, that they overlaugh the show. They literally laugh at anything.”

He’s absolutely right.  Audiences of hit sitcoms come in so primed to laugh because they love these characters and are so excited to be there.  

On CHEERS we really had to fight against that.  We knew that certain laughs the last couple of seasons were not earned.  We made a conscious decision to ignore that and keep our standards high because we knew the show was going into syndication, and that after a few years new viewers would join and hold the show to its highest quality.   

A hit show can be a trap the last few “beloved” years.  And it’s easy to let down knowing you’re still going to get huge laughs.   We took enormous pride in our work, and I believe it’s one of the reasons CHEERS still holds up so well today.

What’s your Friday Question?  Again, you must be vaxxed. 

43 comments :

ScarletNumber said...

> With so much product out there it’s nice to find a show you like and immerse yourself in it for two or three nights then move onto something different when it concludes

I would argue that someone can do that when the season is over. I prefer shows to be released on a weekly schedule to allow for proper digestion, reflection, and commiseration. There was nothing better than going to school the day after a new episode of Seinfeld or The Sopranos aired to discuss and debate it during homeroom or at lunch. With shows being dropped all at once that communal experience is gone because everyone watches at their own pace. Sad!

Honest Ed said...

'The advantage of dropping a whole series at once is that it’s something only streamers can do.'

Not quite the case, here in the UK, the BBC often drops episodes weekly on it's channels while making all the episodes of the show available from day 1 on it's iPlayer streaming platform. As does channel 4. Sometimes I just binge the lot, sometimes I'm quite happy to just watch it every week.

Chris said...

Friday question: there's an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond in its third season (episode 8 - "The Article") that has an unusual tag: usually they're one scene and you can tell the episode is over without looking at the time.

This one is two separate wrap-ups, one is Ray finding out he was right all along about notes he gave his friend over a Sports Illustrated article, which then dissolves to his parents' kitchen where his mother, who had repeatedly asked Frank, his father, to not read during dinner, has shredded his paper he stashes under the table so he can read while she's cooking with her back turned.

I've seen it a few times and it always throws me, I find myself automatically thinking "Huh? Is this episode longer than I'd thought?" which brought me to the realization that I've never seen a double tag, neither on Raymond, nor any other show I can remember of. Is this something you've seen elsewhere? If you did, did it also throw you?

maxdebryn said...

This just in - Mike Richard's has stepped down as JEOPARDY host.

zapatty said...

Why am I not surprised at this development ? Mike Richards has already stepped down as *new* JEOPARDY! host for past questionable behaviors.

Michael said...

Just saw breaking news that Mike Richards is out as host of Jeopardy. I wonder if David Faber would be willing to leave CNBC if offered Jeopardy job full-time.

Friday question: I have recently viewed several Youtube videos that are compilations of opening credits to short-lived 80s and 90s shows and was surprised how many featured actors who previously starred in successful shows. How many second chances do they usually get before before becomes tough to get another chance?

Tim G said...

With regard to communal laughter, this memory sticks out. In my 20s I was watching Marilyn Monroe in Niagara at a great theater that showed old movies. I was with a fellow student and enjoyed seeing Marilyn Monroe on the big screen. At the end, Jean Peters drifts toward the Falls in a boat (she appeared to always be just on the verge of going over with repeated approaches). A helicopter sent down a rescue chair on a rubber rope, which bounced out of her reach. Her hair didn't look too bad considering the water and the elements. The whole scene was so protracted that I began to laugh, which spurred my seatmate to laugh. Not just chuckles but the deep down laughs that seemed to come from the diaphragm. Think Herman Munster. Of course laughing made us laugh even harder.

It was a lot of fun but nobody joined in.

While we recovered after the credits, people filed out and two older women with handbags (probably younger though than I am now) walked by. The first one sniffed, "Apparently SOME people thought this was a comedy." The other said "It wasn't a comedy, you ASSHOLES."

So much for shared experiences. I probably would not have laughed if I was watching at home. Those two women had a point though. I'd probably think the same thing now.

Jim said...

Words sure do matter, even if artfully crafted ones are sometimes unintentional.

I was surprised by one word in your August 16th Jeopardy! post, the one about new host Mike Richards being a “somewhat safe pick”. “Somewhat” stuck out to me like neon, even I knew you were referencing the audience adjustment to a new face after decades of the incumbent’s.

Somewhat safe. I disproportionately pondered that word, almost as if knowing an abrupt resignation was looming within hours. Why didn’t you just write “safe”? (I obviously need to get out more)

How do virtually zero public figures survive the exhumation of past or present perceived slurs, except for the last occupant of the White House? I will never understand that. One scandal kills off most careers. Two or three have always forever doomed anyone’s.

There is no rational explanation for that one notable exception, but there are somewhat irrational ones.


N. Zakharenko said...

"sitting at home alone things might not seem as funny...is bullshit"

Gotta disagree with you there.

Laughter is catching. Someone laughs in a theater, and you find yourself joining with greater zest than you would normally.

Tell a joke to a group of people, and they all laugh -
Tell a joke to those people individually and I bet you don't get the same hearty reactions

Given the choice of:

Happy Days, Chico And The Man, etc which took 5 minutes to start because each characters' entrance was staggered, so we got whistles, screams and maniacal clapping for each entrance-
That might be the feeling for the 200 or so audience, but for those at home - nyeh.

Give me the 60's canned laughter any day, because it was not over the top.
it was r-e-s-t-r-a-i-n-e-d.

Dick York under a spell talking gibberish to Larry, with a bleachers audience acting like they're reacting to prime Laurel And Hardy slapstick?

Twitch me out of there quick!


Ere I Saw Elba said...

Live audience response and laugh track dubs are both problematic to a point. They have their pluses and minuses. Live responses can often be out of proportion to the actual comedy, particularly if an audience is cranked up and the show has popular iconic characters or catch phrases. Laugh track enhancements can feel phony, but I would argue are often necessary to keep the pacing of the show moving.

Of course it's bullshit to say that its purpose is to "make you feel like you're part of the audience", but from a creative point of view, it makes sense to give the viewer some time to respond with the expected laughter before moving on, especially with dialogue-dense shows like MASH.

Think about it another way: Shows that are funny and smart but have no laugh track or live audience response often gravitate toward that ironic deadpan style, which gets old fast, and more importantly, is just not an entertaining experience. Basically it prevents jokes and comedy from happening.

As the old cliche goes, comedy is all about timing. I think there are different ways to get there.

Buttermilk Sky said...

I saw THE CONVERSATION in a packed theater. After Gene Hackman destroys his apartment looking for a bug he sits in the ruins mournfully playing his saxophone. The audience thought it was hilarious. I wonder if they would have been amused watching at home.

John (formerly) in NE Ohio said...

@Rory-
I remember Hammy doing JB Byrider ads. Long enough ago that he might have still been working with Herb. I always thought that ad should have been beneath him. But I shouldn't begrudge someone their money.



@Ken, FQ
Did you ever turn down an endorsement that was beneath you?

Scott said...

When an entire season drops at once, I tend to not "binge", per se, but I will watch one episode per night to try to space things out a little bit. What I do find myself doing with series on Disney+ that release weekly is waiting until the entire thing is done, and then following my one episode/day routine. I have to be more careful to avoid information about shows that "go viral", but for me, it's worth the trouble.

Michael said...

I'm reminded of Dick Van Dyke saying in his charming autobiography that Carl Reiner would talk to the audience before the show and then Morey Amsterdam, who was known as the Human Joke Machine, would come out, and sometimes he'd go a little too far. So I guess the warmup needs to be done carefully.

My feeling about the laugh track is similar to that of a baseball announcer rooting for his team. I can decide when and whether to root, thank you. YOUR job is to describe the game.

Mike Barer said...

The Seattle Times reported that Richards has resigned as Jeopardy host. They know have the task of lining up more guest hosts on very short notice.

Curt Alliaume said...

Giant Food (or more commonly just Giant), not Food Giant. Two different chains, but Giant is in Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware; Food Giant is in the South.

My wife grew up in Maryland when Giant sponsored both the Baltimore and Washington editions of It's Academic (kind of like G.E. College Bowl for high school students). She appeared on the Washington one as a contestant in 1983, then was a "prize girl" for one Baltimore episode when she was at Giant while working her way through college. (She's never let me see any pictures of that.)

sanford said...

I just saw the news about Mike Richards. I would think they could make some kind of arrangements with Miyam. She was my choice, although Ken Jennings would be fine. So now we are going to have more guest hosts. I am getting a little sick of cancel culture. Especially when it is something from ten years ago. I do get that a lot of this is purely a business decision. One can imagine if there was social media 30 years ago and even before. How many celebrities would have been canceled for the things they said or did. We would have no kind of art.

Call Me Mike said...

Friday Question - After recently watching a "very special episode" of WKRP in Cincinnati, "In Concert," which addressed the Who concert disaster of 1979 and the dangers of festival seating, I realized Cheers never really did an issue episode such as that. Were you ever asked to write one? Did the network ever push for it?

gottacook said...

Ere I Saw Elba: I hardly think that a show with no laugh track "prevents jokes and comedy from happening." Just watch any episode of Malcolm in the Middle.

Sanford: It's not merely the recordings and lawsuits from years ago in Richards' case; it's those combined with the growing perception that he inserted himself into the selection process in such a way as to become the consensus choice within Sony.

Darwin's Ghost said...

So Mike Richards is history because he apparently once described a woman as overweight and frumpy.

It's such a relief that this monster has been exposed. Such crimes cannot go unpunished. We should all be grateful to the brave, courageous Gen Z internet soldiers who've brought this foul creature to justice.

Ere I Saw Elba said...

@ gottacook

Some shows can pull it off with no laugh track or live audience: MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE is indeed a good example, also THE WONDER YEARS and FRANK'S PLACE. But they are few and far between, and most current ones fall flat. My two cents.

Call Me Mike said...

A followup to my earlier question, Ken, I remember now that you and David Isaacs wrote "The Boys in the Bar," but I'd never consider that a "very special episode." I'm talking about those episodes of sitcoms where the comedy came to a screeching halt to make way for the issue.

Case in point, the episode of WKRP I mentioned. For the first half it's funny. Then they come back from commercial and Johnny Fever is talking about a bunch of kids who died at a concert, and I'm like, woah, this took a turn.

Greg Ehrbar said...

Dick York was great with or without the laugh track. When he spoke Italian uncontrollably, yelling, 'EN-DORR-AAH! EN-DORR-AAH!" with that frantic talent for facial control that talented artists have, it really didn't matter. The laugh track is like background music and usually, it's built into the timing.

The Flintstones had a laugh track because ABC expected it. Hanna-Barbera hired laugh track master Charley Douglass (at first, then used their own) and some critics found it silly.

But who cares? To quote Tom Bosley, "That's Hollywood." Land of make-believe. Sally Field couldn't really fly, nuns don’t fly as far as I know and most of the time it was not her up there in the sky, anyway. Same with Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews' double was actor/dancer Larri Thomas, the lady who blew Dick Van Dyke a kiss during "Chim Chim Cheree”).

People also get indignant when the singing is dubbed, but why let it upset you? Should the actor be embarrassed hitting flat notes in a great musical? We are not always seeing any actors in the second unit driving shots or chases. We are not usually seeing them in stunts. And in today's CG effects, we are basically seeing state-of-the-art cartoons with the actors' face "glued on" in post. We see mimes and dancers in green tights with actors "glued on." Sometimes it's not even all that convincing.

It's odd what is completely accepted and what causes indignation. We live in tough times. These creative works are there to be enjoyed. They’re available in large quantities. Take a breath and take in something nice for you.

As for streaming, I’m all for getting the whole series at once, and not having parceled like my grandmother with her partial baby Ruth candy bars (she would rip them in pieces, sticking her long painted fingernails in them). They stand to lose the audience after a few shows that way. It may not entice audiences to sample the others. They also punish you because if you don’t watch, the spoilers from those who do will ruin it for you, and it’s often hard to avoid them if you follow the entertainment business.

I look at the streaming selections when I choose to look, no matter how they throw ads and lists at me. Why? Because the internet has trained me to ignore and delete unwanted clutter. (Sometimes they force shows to start automatically to cook their streaming numbers for awful shows, which is not playing fair. I am shocked! Shocked that they would do such a dishonest thing!)

Owning entire seasons of shows in the past has also afforded the luxury of not waiting for each episode or season. I am still smarting from months of waiting for half seasons of Mad Men. We stopped watching Better Call Saul because who wants to “study” the past shows to keep up? I have better things to do. This isn’t school, this is entertainment. So we will wait and binge later. As someone who loves owning and streaming entire series, it’s a pleasure to re-stream and re-watch the great ones.

mike schlesinger said...

Sorry, but I'm pro-laugh track. You have to remember than in the pre-TV days, all radio comedy shows had live audiences, so when the tube came along, it was expected to continue with that tradition. Lucy, Benny, Bilko, Honeymooners, et al did continue with live audiences, but shows that logistically could not be done that way (e.g., "McHale's Navy," "Get Smart," "I Dream of Jeannie") had to go to the box. The illusion of an audience worked fine for me (though of course a live audience was always preferable). And oddly, the pandemic has brought it back, as game shows are now using canned responses--not only laughter and applause, but also stuff like groans and gasps--but in the digital era, it's much more realistic-sounding.

Mike Doran said...

Best Warmup Story:

Late in its run, All In The Family brought in Hal Kanter as head writer, also giving him the warmup spot, since he was the acknowledged master of the form.
One evening, Kanter goes before the audience, and warms them up to a fine pitch, per his usual wit and skill.
Then Kanter brings out Norman Lear, who has entered his Papal Period.
Lear sermonizes for about ten minutes or so, then asks the audience if there are any questions.
And one guy asks: "Can we get the other guy back?"

Brian M said...

On the subject of laugh tracks -

I don't know if this is an example of the Mandela Effect, but I seem to remember that when M*A*S*H first aired in Canada in the 1970s, it definitely did not have a laugh track, which made it seem special. Then when I started buying the DVD sets in the early 2000s, we were offered the choice of watching episodes with or without a laugh track, which made me wonder why anyone would have added this annoyance to such a classy show. Later comments on the show by others suggested that it had originally aired with the canned laughter, contra my memory.

Another series that I recall as originally airing sans Campbell's Creme de Rire was Room 222, the early 70s very with-it high school comedy.

When exactly did the producers of M*A*S*H decide to drop the laugh track? Could it be that they experimented in certain markets first?

Mike Bloodworth said...

One thing about binging is that if a show stinks you won't watch the rest of it. Sort of a defacto, personal cancellation.

I must disagree with Ken. I have said many times that most sitcoms are so unfunny that without a laugh track you wouldn't know when to laugh. I think that's why so many "classic" shows seemed much funnier than they actually were.

I knew Mike Richards was getting some flak for his previous comments, but I didn't know he was out as host until today's blog.
I want to be careful how I say this.
The problem with the current mindset is that you will never find anyone that doesn't have at least one skeleton in their closet. Even worse is some people's desire to keep looking until they find something offensive or inappropriate. There is apparently a cottage industry
of individuals whose only job is to search for people's misdeeds. And how far back do you go? Can anyone truly say that they DIDN'T do anything stupid in college? How about high school? Because you asked a girl to show you her underwear in elementary school, should that disqualify you from jobs today?
Please excuse the proselytizing, but there was only one sinless man and even he was crucified. So, good luck finding a man, woman or other whose shit doesn't stink. Even if you did they probably wouldn't be a very interesting host.

M.B.

Daniel said...

POSSIBLE FRIDAY QUESTION: I'm re-watching "Fatal Attraction" (1987) and the writer's credit says: Screenplay by James Dearden Based on His Original Screenplay." Do you have any insight into what that means? Why the "Based on His Original Screenplay" addendum at the end? I've never seen that before.

Darwin's Ghost said...

Daniel, Wikipedia has the answers you seek.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatal_Attraction#Writing

Necco said...

Will people PLEASE stop screeching about "cancel culture." It's 2021...Internet, etc. This isn't MGM protecting its "stars." You are a hundred times more responsible for what you say now. The Internet doesn't ever go away. Stop creating podcasts. Stop v-logging. Stop Tweeting. UNLESS, you have the sense to know that you will be held responsible for everything that you say/type. Stand by what you say, if you believe it. But don't make stupid comments that can easily be seen as hateful to anyone. I'm not talking edgy "comedy." There's always a place for that. It's GD common sense. Don't blindly post things publicly, without thinking first.

The problem with public social media, is that there is no self-control for/with a lot of people. The public isn't in FRONT of them. It's a "blind" screen. There is no reality check. No safety net. Nobody is seeing your script before "production." There is no table read. You aren't testing your comedy routine in small clubs.

With social media, you are standing in front of the whole world, immediately. It's not Burbank, or a comedy club in Chicago. It's the entire GD world. Forever.

I have DOZENS of e-mails, that I have never sent. I save them. I consider the "send/post" button to be sacred. Being f-ing sure, that I REALLY want to be responsible for what I have said/typed. Yes, we all say/do stupid things, but you MUST have the common sense to monitor your choices.

Linda said...


Ike, whose 90% tax on the wealthy, and unheeded warning of the need to defund the Military Industrial Complex — of money better spent elsewhere than on Corporate-backed Waste — would be pejoratively branded today as a Socialist

SIMILARLY, today’s rich and their politicians — to rile an aggrieved base — use and promulgate the phrase “Cancel Culture” to pejoratively define Empathy.
But C.C. is just folks — and even companies — continually recognizing and addressing behavior or actions that are gratuitously offensive, unfair, and inaccurate when it comes to minorities and the less powerful. Such self-examination and self-correction is a necessary good, and it’s been ongoing since our founding. Why punch down? Does it help to cater to those willfully oblivious to any suffering that doesn’t impact themselves?

Joe South Walk A Mike in My Shoes
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=In4UDYxxqVU


sanford8/20/2021 9:42 AM
“I am getting a little sick of cancel culture.. One can imagine if there was social media 30 years ago and even before.”

Mike Richards... “cancelled” ....?
You mean like in the blacklist period, where those with “progressive” ideas— like unionizing, affordable good health care and schooling, fair wages, equality for races creeds and sexes, or free speech — were not only fired, but were also prevented from finding work in an entire industry - or were jailed if they didn’t reveal the names of similar thinkers? (It was never about Communism, which was, in any case, legal)
Unlike Richards, directors and writers and actors were truly “cancelled” — not for sexist or anti-Semitic comments, but for private life political/social activities, or their film/radio contributions. (And note, the only studio head “cancelled” for approving any so-called subversive work was Chaplin. Which is to say, don’t look for any Sony execs to be ash-canned)





Darwin's Ghost8/20/2021 10:42 AM
“So Mike Richards is history because he apparently once described a woman as overweight and frumpy...
We should all be grateful to the brave, courageous Gen Z internet soldiers who've brought this foul creature to justice.”

• You understated what Richards said
• Left unmentioned his many work place issues
• Mischaracterized the age, type, & extent of his foes

He was canned by a Japanese company, not Gen Z
Sony ‘s stock owners are rich, old + conservative
His statements weren’t those of an actor or stand-up “in character” - like a Carroll O’Connor or Sarah Silverman
He said offensive things as “himself” — and once it was discovered, any future “playing himself” as a host became highly problematic.


Greg Ehrbar8/20/2021 11:21 AM
“The laugh track is like background music and usually, it's built into the timing.......,. But who cares? To quote Tom Bosley, ‘That's Hollywood.’ “

Laugh tracks are our surrogates; they stand in for us — each home audience member — and they can’t but fail to misrepresent us and our reactions, and thus annoy us by doing so..
The stunt, voice, double, and CGI workers should share in the nominations and awards of the performers e.g. Marni Nixon should’ve been nominated alongside Deborah Kerr



mike schlesinger8/20/2021 12:09 PM

“Sorry, but I'm pro-laugh track. You have to remember that in the pre-TV days, all radio comedy shows had live audiences, so when the tube came along, it was expected to continue with that tradition. Lucy, Benny, Bilko, Honeymooners, et al did continue with live audiences, ...”

Those radio and TV audiences were generously sprinkled with overly-enthusiastic production staff and family. And the casts, guests, and announcers of many radio comedies often joined in on the awkward guffaws- a tradition continued on Skelton Burnett and SNL
Bilko in later seasons switched, I think, to recording live audience responses to projected filmed episodes

ScottyB said...

Helllo @kenlevine. It's sort of a running joke about "Can you read my script?" So here's my FQ: Have you ever ended up reading anyone's script? Bigger FQ: Have you ever read anyone's script where you all knew it would be more than halfway to awesome if they accepted your hel, or at least a major helpjng hand to refine it, seeing that you''ve been there and done that?

Clark Barr said...

I said a lot of stupid things online in the past. Do I regrets them ... sure. But is it me at this point in my life. No. It was stupid but I don't believe it. But I don't get to create my public image. The untold numbers of people will always believe that I do. Because... you don't own people's perception of you. If you do this and later in life try for something big it will bite you in the butt. Especially if you try to sell a show, product, movie or a political career.

Life would be so much better if we listen to Grandma lessons in our head:
"If you have nothing nice to say... don't say it"
"Keep your hands to yourself."
"Not so funny now, is it Mr. Funnypants?"

Rippidy DoDah said...

Gee Mike Richards.. who's the Boothslut now Mike? Who's the Boothslut... now?

Jim, Cheers Fan said...

On CHEERS we really had to fight against that. We knew that certain laughs the last couple of seasons were not earned.

I'd love to know which episodes this refers to...

A hit show can be a trap the last few “beloved” years.

I've watched Modern Family mostly in syndication, so I've always been a couple of years behind. Man, they should've killed that show off a couple of seasons before they did

Then Kanter brings out Norman Lear, who has entered his Papal Period.
Lear sermonizes for about ten minutes or so, then asks the audience if there are any questions.
And one guy asks: "Can we get the other guy back?"

That's hilarious. I thought Lear had mostly stepped back from AITF after a couple of years to focus on his other shows (Maude, Good Times, etc). Sally Struthers-- who is not a fan of her former boss-- said she only got decent lines and stories after Lear had stepped away. Also said Lear used to invite the cast members to dinner parties. Everybody but her.

Alec Horowitz said...

Ken, I have a Friday question for your next one

Not only are younger viewers of TV misunderstanding the intent of a sitcom like "Bewitched" but a whole genre of sitcoms where the humor and plot often evolved around a out of this world secret. This was a big genre for awhile, with shows like ALF, I Dream of Jeanie, My Favorite Martian, and of course, Bewitched. Sitcom writer Howard Leeds, of "Facts of Life" fame, did probably the most weird version of this, taking a failed one of these, "My Living Doll" and recycling the premise into a family sitcom format with "Small Wonder", which actually ran for 96 episodes as a syndicated sitcom in the 80s. I always thought it was both a easy way to add a gimmick to a template for every week's script. You don't see these sitcoms anymore, except for kid ones, but not generally more than that. My question is what happened to this genre of sitcom? Do audiences except at least some degree of reality from a sitcom? "Two and a Half Men" might not be realistic, but at least none of the characters is a alien or robot. What says you?

Mitch said...

I think Fox News deserves a laugh track

That Guy said...

Was just watching the Cheers s2 finale, "I'll be Seeing You" - in part one, Christopher Lloyd enters and he basically gets a laugh for appearing immediately (presumably because he was fresh off "Taxi" and the audience was expecting something Reverend-Jim-like) - however, the rest of the role isn't exactly Reverend Jim-ish - Lloyd is, of course, great in the role as written, but did you ever get the sense that you should move a role closer to an actor's popular perception rather than stretch expectations?

Stephen Cudmore said...

Ken, Friday question:

Gary Burgoff's last episode of MASH was the 5th of season 8, but I noticed that he was credited on the 6th as well. Doing a little googling I found out he was *actually* credited for 12 episodes that season.

I assume that was negotiated into his contract because it would affect his royalties going forward. So how come the version streaming on Disney Plus starts using the updated credits without his name as of episode 7? Is he getting screwed out of credit he's entitled to for work he didn't do?

Justin Russo said...

Ken, I have a question that would tickle your music knowledge:

Personally, and forgive me, but I am not the biggest early rock fan. At age 35, my go-to's are Ella Fitzgerald (first and foremost), Sarah Vaughan, Peggy Lee (and though later, the Queen of Rock - Tina Turner). With the onset of bop circa 1947, rock wasn't too far behind. Ella, always an innovator, switched from swing to bop to standards between 1936-53 alone. There is one song however, 1949's SOLID AS A ROCK that though is jazz at heart sounds like an early rock song. As a music historian and fan, what are your thoughts on this?

DyHrdMET said...

to your point about keeping the quality of CHEERS high in the past few years going into syndication, the only episodes I ever watched on first-run network TV were the final 5. I had never seen it before then (I was 15 at the time). All the fuss about the show coming to an end drew me in. At the time, it was syndicated at 11pm and 11:30pm on one of the local TV stations. And that's how I got into the show - 2 completely distinct sequences of episodes (one in each timeslot), neither one starting with the pilot (in terms of when I started watching), until I eventually saw all of the episodes and pieced it all together (imagine learning the show jumping from a Frasier & Lilith episode into a Diane & Coach episode every night). And the show still holds up, almost 30 years after its conclusion and almost 40 years after it was born. I watch it at 11pm and 11:30pm every weeknight on Decades TV as I go to sleep.

Svetlana said...

I know Susie Meister from reality tv! She's fascinating. How did you meet her?

Sami said...

About the laugh track debate, I don't notice it if I find the show funny, and since I'm usually watching by myself, I guess I can see the communal argument. I suppose it is a little more fun to let my own laugh really rip along with the laughter on tv--canned or live. I do find it jarring--again canned or live--when it feels like every line is a one-liner joke punctuated by laughs. I noticed this while watching a re-run of Big Bang Theory recently. It was an episode from near the end of the series, and it just was not holding my attention, much less making me laugh. I don't even remember what it was about, but I remember being annoyed at the constant laughing every time someone finished speaking because it was not funny to me. I think I changed channels.

On a kind-of-related note, I noticed old sitcoms like I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched use music throughout the episode almost like old cartoons like the Flinstones and Jetsons do. Kind of clues you into the stakes or how to feel. I don't mind it. Seems appropriate for the time and story.