Thursday, August 07, 2008

Friday questions of the week (plural):

Several questions this week. You keep askin’, I’ll keep answerin’.

From MB:

In both comedies and dramas why are married couples most often shown sleeping in full-sized beds rather than queen or king? I think I understand why not king (the bed would take up too much room on the set). I do remember the days when a married couple couldn't be shown in a bed together at all but it has been a long time since two twin-sized beds was the norm.

Easier to shoot, easier to light, takes up less room, and sets always look bigger on camera. But at least couples can now sleep in the same bed. Rob Petrie must’ve been the most frustrated husband in America. No wonder he was always tripping over things. And then standards & practices allowed couples to be together in bed as long as one had their foot on the floor. So I guess the zealot church groups and parents committees deemed that doggie style was acceptable.

From Sebastian:

I was wonderering since you seem to write everything on your Blog alone but have written a lot about writing with your partner in the last couple of days, would you consider your Blog only half as good, totally different, just as funny but in a different way? And where's your partner's blog? Does he have one? And if not why not? :-)

His would probably be funnier. Here’s an example of a post he wrote. But he has no interest in blogging. He has a life.

From Paul:

Here's a weird question for you. I know you wrote a few episodes of Wings, but I'm not sure if you were on set often or not. I've heard that Paramount's Stage 19, where the show was filmed, was haunted. Did you ever hear anyone on the show talking about that?

I have heard that and from time to time have been scared to death on that stage but it was always due to live actors. They did film the movie GHOST on that stage. But there have been some very successful shows shot there. LAVERNE & SHIRLEY and WINGS to name just two (the only two I know). We also shot the pilot of ALMOST PERFECT on Stage 19.

If there’s a haunted stage at Paramount I would say it’s 32. I personally have directed the final episode of four series on that stage. Wait a minute… maybe it’s me.

From Chad:

Is there a character you've written for whose comic voice most perfectly aligns with your own?

There were elements of me in the Chip Zien “Gary” character in ALMOST PERFECT and Adam Arkin’s “Marshall” in BIG WAVE DAVE’S. So when America didn’t make those shows big hits they were rejecting me personally. Not that I hold a grudge.

And finally, one from DwWashburn (I wonder if it’s the same guy the Monkees sang about):

Many sitcoms used to end their tags with a freeze frame over which the beginning of the end credits was superimposed. Did the director instruct the actors to "ham it up" or something else significant so that an interesting pose or facial expression could be used in that freeze frame.

God, I used to hate that practice. None of my shows ever employed it. Directors didn’t have to instruct the actors in those shows. Most of them mugged shamelessly anyway. Plus if you hit pause at practically any moment you will find the actors frozen in goofy poses and expressions. Hey, maybe more people would warm to Katie Couric if she ended each newscast like that.


Roger Owen Green said...

So why is it you answer the Friday question on a Thursday night?

Anonymous said...

With respect to sitcoms that "used to end their tags with a freeze frame over which the beginning of the end credits was superimposed": I always hated that MASH started to do just that in its last four or five years; even worse, the music over those credits was always the same. What possible good reason did someone come up with for ossifying the show in that way?

Anonymous said...

My favourite use of the "freeze frame/credits superimposed" was in Police Squad with Leslie Neilsen, where there was no pause, they just froze in place... usually while action in the background continued uninterrupted.

It was probably that use that showed other shows how stupid it was to do that, so they stopped.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ken,

So I'm still wondering about stand-up comics who transition to sit-com writing. Generally speaking, what do they bring to the table that non-comics don't? And what are their weaknesses?


Unknown said...

Oh boy :-)

Yes that special effects bit is totally hilarious and I love it every time I read it. If I were you I would re-post it _at least_ every two years.

So I guess I have my answer :-)

LouOCNY said...

The 'freeze frame' ending seems to happen when a series has been on a few years, and are probably running of good 'closer' gags. HOGAN'S HEROES is a great example of this - the last two seasons, when Ivan Dixon left the show, and they replaced him with a bland token black actor, and they moved from the Desilu/Paramount Culver lot to a lesser facility.

I know people put HOGANS down a lot, but darn it all, the thing is funny! They had a decent cast, they had decent writers and decent directors. What I always find interesting about it is that all the people who complain about it never realized that 3/4 of the cast were persecuted by the Nazis in some way....

Anonymous said...

Ken, do you think you might do a piece on your thoughts of the UCLA basketball team during your college years? I watched a documentary on HBO, "The UCLA Dynasty" about the years when the John Wooden coached team dominated (between 1964 and 1975--10 national championships, 4 undefeated seasons, an 88-game winning streak, superstars Bill Walton and Lew Alcindor, a.k.a. Kareem-Abdul Jabbar). I don't even like sports and I was fascinated.

You certainly have as much right to comment as the Doors' Ray Manzerek...although not as much as Beau Bridges, who played for Wooden in the pre-championship years. But what impressed me most is Wooden himself--it was only produced last year, and he has to be in his 90s, but still all there in every reasonable way.

Anonymous said...

I always thought Ken based Marty Crane on himself, going by his 'Perfect Weekend'.

Mr. Peel aka Peter Avellino said...

Somebody mentioned MASH but the music wasn't always exactly the same. Sometimes they played the 'sad' version of the theme to remind us that we'd just seen a 'sad' episode. Which probably plays more than a little hackneyed today.

Those Police Squad endings are brilliant.

Anonymous said...

Ah, yes indeed - I forgot that once in a while they used the "sad" subdued snippet of the MASH theme over the freeze frame.

This is analogous to series that have a few minutes of story leading into the opening titles - sometimes they would use an alternate bit of transitional music, such as the occasional LA LAW that opened with a low hum instead of the usual 4-second sax solo.

For what it's worth, the original STAR TREK did a freeze frame at the end exactly once: the season-2 (intentional) comedy "A Piece of the Action."

Alan Coil said...

I find that picture of Katie Couric strangely compelling...

Anonymous said...

Weird question I've always wondered- where exactly did those paintings from the opening credits of CHEERS come from?

Karen said...

Regarding that picture of Katie Couric: I'm impressed that Warner Brothers could get her to promote The Dark Knight in her spare time.