Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Questions

Getting you ready for the long Memorial Day Weekend, here are some Friday Questions. Two things – one important and one inconsequential. Drive carefully this weekend and leave your questions in the comments section. Guess which is the important one.

71dude is first up.

Were you and David invited to work on the "MASH" finale?

No. But at the time we were co-producing CHEERS and they had a very large staff at MASH.  We didn't feel slighted in the least.   Had we been asked we wouldn't have been able to do it. 

The way that final MASH script was written was fascinating. It got broken down into half-hour portions and divided up among the writers or teams of writers. Those writers would then co-write their section with Alan Alda. And trust me, that final episode was long enough without adding another half hour for me and David.

Jim S. asks:

Have you ever called a game that went down in the history books? What's it like to call a game that has the potential to make history. Are you more nervous, do you get charged up more? (I guess that's like 18 questions, but you get my point?)

I’ve called two no-hitters, the last game at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, the first game at Jacobs Field in Cleveland, the Padres winning a division championship, a triple-play, a balk-off win, and was there the day Glenn Davis made three errors on the same play. Talk about a “bobble” head.

I’m both charged and nervous. The beauty of baseball is that those big moments are deliciously suspenseful (except the Glenn Davis one) so I always feel my job is to just describe what’s happening and let the drama take care of itself. I try not to get too excited or hype the situation too much.

When I called the first game at Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field) I was alone on the radio for the Mariners describing the scene – all the pregame pomp and circumstance, President Clinton throwing out the first pitch, the stadium decorations, presentations, etc. Little did I know, CBS radio picked up our feed and I was actually broadcasting worldwide on the CBS radio network and the Armed Forces Radio Service. Thank God I didn’t know. I probably would have been so petrified I’d sound like Porky Pig.

From Jim S. to James P.:

In re-watching Cheers, I noticed that Diane was mentioned infrequently after she left. However, in the 10th and 11th seasons, she came up pretty frequently, the point where in the last season, she was being mentioned every few episodes.

My theory is that you guys wanted to minimize references to the character after she left to let viewers get accustomed to Rebecca on her own terms. But when you were planning the finale, you realized Diane returning would make for a great end and wanted to foreshadow that. Any thoughts?

What we found was that when Diane was mentioned it always got a laugh. So it became a running joke. She jilted Frasier at the altar and he couldn’t let it go.

That said, we only did it sparingly, not wanting to beat the joke into the ground.  And they were not in preparation for the finale.  At the time, we didn't know when the finale would be, whether Diane would be involved, or if Shelley was even interested and available. 

But that’s when you know a show has really arrived – when you can get character laughs from characters who are no longer even there.

From DouglasG:

Any recollections of the actress Rachel Roberts? She met such a tragic end, but was a gifted comedic (Foul Play)and dramatic actress (Picnic at Hanging Rock.

Rachel Roberts played the nanny on THE TONY RANDALL SHOW. She was a wonderful British actress. At one time she was married to Rex Harrison.

She had a lovely subtle way of giving us notes. I remember one time she questioned some activity David and I gave her to do. She approached us and in the sweetest voice possible said, “So what is my motivation here, darling? I’m an out-patient?”

I still miss her.

From Paul:

You have such an interesting background. From DJ, to Hollywood big-wig (IMO), to MLB broadcaster. Quick question, did you pick the Mariners or did the M's pick you? How did that process work?

I was broadcasting for the Baltimore Orioles in 1991. We were finishing a road trip in Kansas City and heading home to host a series with Seattle.

The Mariners got into town early and their great announcer, Dave Niehaus, had a transistor radio and was listening to my broadcast from KC while in the bus heading to the hotel. Very fortunately for me, he really liked what he heard.

When there was an opening that Fall he remembered, called me, and invited me to apply. I did immediately. So in a sense they came to me and I came to them.  Thank goodness they did.  Far and away my favorite team to broadcast was (and is) the Seattle Mariners.  

And finally, from Becca”

Is In 'n' Out Burger really as good as people say?

I think so. But Five Guys is really giving them a run for their money in my book.  What do you guys think?

Happy Memorial Day Weekend everybody!  I'm suddenly hungry. 


Johnny Walker said...

Oh, man... I miss In N Out burgers, but now I have to try Five Guys on my next LA visit!

PatGLex said...

I've never had access to In n Out, but everyone in our family thinks that the Five Guys burgers are just like my mom makes. [in other words: homemade] The fries, too. But I will admit to a fondness for their split and grilled hot dogs. And for those not in the know: that's all Five Guys does. Burgers. Hot dogs. Fries. Soft drinks. NO milkshakes, no guacamole, no sweet potato fries. If you have a chance, go.

And for the rest: I can't wait until you're broadcasting somewhere the Mariners are playing....and I am visiting. [Or until the Mariners make it back to Cincinnati, the closest MLB team to me.]

dgwphotography said...

Here in CT, Jake's WayBack Burgers are even better than Five Guys

Breadbaker said...

PatGLex, invest in's radio package. It's dirt cheap for the year and you can listen to Ken as often as the M's let him broadcast. Which isn't often enough, but the groundswell of support for him grows.

benson said...

Like some of the folks above, don't have an In 'n Out, but Five Guys is a cardiologists dream. We're getting one here soon and yacht sales already are up. One thing I did learn, if eating alone, order the jr. burger, as the full size and an order of fries will cause you to explode.

Ken, FYI: I posted another Mary episode (the one with Patrick McNee) and an R&R anniversary video from 1988. More than a few of your friends and legends on it, including GBR guy and RDS and RWM.

Paul B said...

Five Guys IN
In 'n Out OUT

Sandor said...

I think the burgers are excellent (for a chain)at both places but I liked them a bit better at five guys. On the other hand, the animal fries at In N Out Burger are fantastic. What I did not like was the fact that they have secret not listed items (like Animal Burgers)that I only learned about when I was about to leave the West coast... :-(
But actually I am posting because I have a Friday question. I have to add that I am German, so if you American readers can be answer this here in the comments already that's fine, too. :-)

I noticed that there are designated spots (fade to black) in most (all?) US serials for commercial breaks when they are produced. In German television, in contrast, the commercial breaks are "fired" by the TV stations more or less at will. There is a maximum defined by law (12 min per hour with at least 20 min of program in between) but they can decide when they start to air them and they often monitor competing stations (usually the ones with better ratings, at least that is what I heard) and try to maximize the viewership of the adds. As the US shows often have a small jingle before and after the designated add spots (like two and a half men singing "Meen") it is kind of odd to watch them on German TV as you hear the jingle twice with just a small cut to black in between. Since there are fewer but longer breaks here, they never air the commercials in those spots which are really close to beginning and end of the show. Which leads to my questions:

1) Why and since when do they place the adds so close to the beginning and end of the show? I can understand the reasoning to place the adds right after the start, but who would "stay with them" the whole last break up just to watch the one minute (often mediocre) dialogue that follows it?

2) From a writer's perspective: How important is that structure to you? Do you think about it a lot, do you try to add a good joke to the part after the break or do you not care at all? Or do you try to hide the mediocre stuff there, haha.

3) From a network perspective: Why commiting to air the breaks at exactly the same time in each show?

Lee Franke said...

I live in North Texas and we just got In-N-Out burgers here.

After the immediately rush died down, I decided to give them a try with my oldest daughter.

Very disappointed.

Shortly thereafter we went on vacation to San Francisco and wanted to try them on their home turf.

Still disappointed.

The burgers are bland and the fries are even worse.

I've gotten a better burger from a gas station.

404 said...

We don't have In-N-Out where I live, but we do have Five Guys. I think it's just "meh." I prefer Sonic.

J. Allison said...

I've lived in SoCal my whole life and have thus grown up with In n Out. Five Guys came here recently and I've tried them twice. The big difference to me is that at In n Out the service is invariably excellent. At Five Guys the service has been somewhere between indifferent and rude.

In n Out is a great company that treats their people well. So they'll continue to get my patronage.

Anonymous said...

Steak n Shake. Yum.

Pam P

Tom Quigley said...

Speaking of using Diane for a laugh long after she's left the show, one of my favorite episodes from the last season was the one in which Carla went to work as a waitress at a place called Mr. Pub's while Cheers was being rebuilt following the fire, and started making so much money that when Sam vists Mr. Pub's and asks her to come back to work at Cheers, she told him she couldn't turn down what she was being paid there. Realizing that he won't be able to pesuade her to return, Sam leaves, accepting the fact that Carla will no longer be working at Cheers.

Things suddenly turn around when Carla is assigned a new waitress to train -- a Diane Chambers clone, same looks, same speech, same personality. Thinking her worst nightmare is about to repeat itself, Carla hurries back to Cheers, puts on her apron and starts working. When Sam asks her what made her change her mind, she replies "All I'm gonna say is if you want to hang on to your sanity, don't EVER go in that place!"

I thought it was a great way to use the relationship between Carla and Diane as the payoff to the story, even long after Diane had gone.

Al said...

I lived in Souther California for years (and am now in Northern California, so I have access to In n Out and Five Guys both) I quite enjoy In n Out, but I am a huge fan of Five Guys and I think they have superior burgers (I like In n Out's Fries more though)

I have to say though, they are both a distant second and third to Fatburger. Of course it's been years since I went to Fatburger until recently when I stopped by the one in Las Vegas, and it wasn't of the quality I remember.

I will also say, that while the Chili Dogs are legendary, Pink's on LaBrea and Melrose has a truly spectacular burger.

Bob Johnson said...

I have lived in Chicago for about 12 years now, and there's a Five Guys about half-a-mile from my house. I have been there twice. The burgers are fine, the fries are really good, but as good as In-N-Out? C'mon, people; get a grip. As a native Californian, every time I travel west, the FIRST place I go after claiming my luggage is the In-N-Out by LAX. The key is to order correctly: a cheeseburger (no need to hasten one's demise with a Double-Double) with grilled onions. It is burger perfection. My daughter used to work at an In-N-Out, so I'm familiar with all of the off-the-menu-board variations, but the simple cheeseburger with grilled onions is truly all one needs to live a fulfilled life. Ken — love the blog; brings back lots of SoCal and good-TV memories. Thanks for writing it.

roger said...

In-n-Out's burgers are good (I get a 3x3 or 4x4...oh yes!), but their fries are too much like PikNik canned potato sticks. On the other hand, Five Guys peanut-oil fries are good and they give you a lot of them, but their burgers are meh. So a marriage of an In-n-Out burger and Five Guys fries would be perfect.

5w30 said...

California, Nevada: In-N-Out.
Northeast, Mid-Atlantic: Five Guys.
Anywhere else - a toss-up, though like Whataburger in the Southwest, and Culver's in the Midwest. Plus in Illinois and Indiana - Steak N Shake.

tb said...

Thanks, Al, now I gotta try a Pinks burger! Never considered that!

Caitlin B said...

I saw this on Reddit, today, and even though I don't understand why it was made (and don't know if you're a Doctor Who fan), though I'd share it with you:

Larry said...

I gotta go with In-N-Out over Five Guys. What I've always wondered, on the other end of the burger spectrum, is why are there no White Castles on the West Coast?

Jeffrey Mark said...

Next time any of y'all good burger fun folk make it up here to Oakland, California (the Brooklyn of San Francisco)I gotta great burger place you MUST not miss when your stomach is growling at high noon. BARNEYS is hands-down the best burger joint in Oakland. Not a fast food place - a sit down (yes we have "sit-downs" here in Oakland when we want a good burger)with the best - the best milk shakes on the planet. The burgers at BARNEYS melt in your mouth...the onions cooked to glazed perfection, the buns are to die-for (many have) and the garnish ain't have bad, either. Sure, they serve up 15 different burger combos, but you can get it as basic as can be - and it's oh, so damn perfect. Seriously. BARNEYS in Oakland. Oakland. Yes. It's a happening town...the Brooklyn of the West Coast.

ps: best "steak fries" you'll ever eat, anywhere, anytime for now and forever.

Michael Hagerty said...

I'm always amazed when I see the In-N-Out vs. Five Guys debate.

A Double-Double, fries and a drink at In-N-Out is what...$6.25? That's the double cheeseburger ALONE at Five Guys.

Small fries? $2.99. Yeah, there are a lot of them...they even throw extras in the bag. But still. Now you're at $9.25 without the drink. I'll skip ahead...with tax, you're bumping up against $12.00 for Five Guys. $6.25 at In-N-Out.

Do I think Five Guys burgers are better? Yeah. $5.75 per lunch better? No.

A good mid-step: Habit Burger Grill. A Santa Barbara mainstay since 1969, now expanding throughout Southern California and Phoenix.

Satch said...

No In-&-Outs in the PNW, but 5 Guys is here, and is ok. I much prefer FAT BURGER to the 5 Guys. But DICK'S is the fave around town, a locally owned, small chain that began in the 50s & is still going strong.

Ken, why were you looking to leave Baltimore? Why didn't you stay with the M's? Your first stint was comparatively brief, as I recall. No's good to have you back where you belong.

Greg said...

That Tribe/Mariners game to open Jacobs Field was an incredible game. I'm a Tribe fan so I didn't hear your call...but what a game.

iain said...

I have my Jacobs Field "Game One" (April 04, 1994) Ticket on my desk, beautifully preserved in its original souvenir holder! $12 to sit in Row T, Section 553, where it's so high up, the seagulls get dizzy form lack of oxygen.

Ken, 5 Guys is great, but if you're ever back in Cleveland, a "Bearden Burger" is mandatory.

Frank Strovel III said...

I say Five Guys.

And I was also at that final game (whole series, actually) at Memorial Stadium vs. the Tigers. Hard to believe OPACY is twenty years old!

Dana Gabbard said...

Larry asked "... why are there no White Castles on the West Coast?"

They briefly had a few locations in the L.A. area back in the 80s. Guess the response to this day discourages them from trying again.

Latest chain to emerge is The Counter. And of course king of burgers in L.A. is Cassel's (on 6th Street near Vermont--open M-Sat. until 4 p.m.).

Patrick said...

I tout Five Guys at EVERY opportunity. Waiting 30 minutes for a "fast food" hamburger?! Never again! If my wife wants to go wait in line until In N Out deigns to serve her, fine! I'll take her to Five Guys, we'll get a burger that's just as good, if not better, and we'll have it within 10 minutes.

Bob and Rob Professional American Writers said...

As a So Cal native, I can tell you that "In 'n Out" is more than just the food. It's a sense memory thing. The smell of the place after a day at the beach, with sand still in your trunks. A shake, Cheeseburger and Fries (spilling out of a box) just screams July on PCH.

I'm sure there are similar visceral reactions to places like White Castle for the east coaters and Five Guys for the Mid Atlantic crowd. But, I like a little sand in my fries;) Cheers, Bob

Johnny Walker said...

Historians will trace this blog post back to the origin of the Hundred Year Burger War.

YEKIMI said...

Five Guys is the best. Jake's Wayback Burgers is just a ripoff of them. I love Five Guys, but my arteries complain if I eat their too often. Last time, when I was done and hopped off their sky high stools, I distinctly heard the floor crack....or maybe it was my knees.

xjill said...

In and Out is like McDonalds' french fries, when you have a craving ONLY In and Out will do. Five Guys is good (I actually used to live in Arlington about 1 block from the original location many many years ago) but I have yet to get a craving for it like I do for my Double Double.

D. McEwan said...

Rachel Roberts was magnificent. Her karate duel with Burgess Meredith in Foul Play was hilarious. I was lucky enough to attend the Foul Play wrap party, but sadly, she was not there, having returned to England when her role wrapped. I had to make do with chatting with Dudley Moore and Billy Barty.

Paul Duca said...

Doug...she was one tough old mama.

Dene said...

Ken - an observation rather than a question, I wondered if you agree.

I think it's pretty much felt by most that the 1998 "Seinfeld" finale was a disappointment.

My theory as to why is: an awful lot happens in most sitcoms over their lifespan, but on an episode-by-episode basis it's easy enough to swallow. However, the final Seinfeld brought out a parade of old characters and reminded us of incidents galore from the past. This was just way too much for a single 1-hour show and it felt a bit silly.

[Clips shows are in this same vein, I guess].

M*A*S*H or Cheers didn't go down this route with their much-anticipated last episodes and were the better for it.

Any thoughts on this viewpoint?


ChicagoJohn said...

Friday question:
I'm a huge fan of FRASIER. My favorite moment might be contained at the end of the episode of "The Maris Counselor," where the 3 men shout out their pleas for Seattle women to 'come get them' from the balcony.
For me, it put into sharp focus how FRASIER was often a show about men who were genuinely lonely, and seeking a soul mate.
Was this a consideration on the onset of the series, to create a show about a different side of being a bachelor? Or am I reading too much into one episode?

cshel said...

I will never understand why people like In-n-Out burgers or their nasty french fries!?!

jbryant said...

I'm another who's never really gotten the love for In-n-Out. Not bad, but not earth-shaking. Now that I'm back in the Midwest, I've had Five Guys, which I also found to be just okay. I prefer G. D. Ritzy's. Steak and Shake and Culver's are decent, but I don't go there much. I just found out this week that a Jake's WayBack opened, so I'll probably check it out. The best burger is always hot off the grill at a holiday backyard barbecue. Thankfully, someone or other in my family grills out a couple of times a month in the summer.

KoHoSo said...

For a "regular" type hamburger/cheeseburger from any chain in the LA area, The Habit beats both In-N-Out and Five Guys easily. I have had In-N-Out lots of times since first coming to SoCal in 1983 and have never understood the fascination with it other than the old-style bumper stickers that could be cut out on the two corners to make them say "In-N-Out Urge". As for Five Guys, I didn't find the flavor to be anything special especially for the price.

Back to my use of "regular" above...for those that like something extra on their burgers -- so extra that it will spill over the bun and onto anything within a two-foot radius, there's always the chili burgers at Original Tommy's!

D. McEwan said...

The chili burgers at the original Tommy's are fabulously memorable, and the chiliburgers at Carney's are not to be beat either.

Dave Arnott said...

So, Ken, I got curious, and tried to look up the Glenn Davis 3 errors in one play thing... but I couldn't find anything about it.

I did find this:
Apr 18, 1991 - Orioles 1B Glenn Davis commits 4 errors in an 11-inning 4-3 loss to the Brewers to tie the AL single game mark originally set in 1939 by Jim Wasdell of the Senators.

But nothing about the 3-in-1. Do you remember what happened?

I was amused, though, to read these other dubious honors of his:
Apr 9, 1990 - On Opening Day‚ Houston's Glenn Davis ties a ML record when he is hit by pitches 3 times in an 8-4‚ 11-inning loss to the Reds.
Aug 1, 1993 - During the Orioles' 2-1 loss to the Red Sox‚ Baltimore's Glenn Davis is knocked unconscious by a foul ball lined off the bat of Jeffrey Hammonds into the Orioles' dugout. Davis‚ who is recovering from a broken jaw‚ did not sustain any further damage.

And then, when checking his Wiki page, it says this in regard to his personal life:
Davis is married to the former Teresa Beesley from Columbus, Georgia

The FORMER? Huh?

In-n-Out is good, great value, thin Los Angeles patties.

I prefer thicker patties, so I like Five Guys better, though def more expensive.

The Habit is also good, great value, but sometimes tastes too healthy for me :)

Fatburger is still good.

And Tommy's is both horrible and wonderful - "Tommy's is genius" my friend, Greg, once said around 2 in the morning at the Beverly/Rampart location. True dat.

Rich D said...

Friday Question - So the recent mention of WINGS here inspired me to revisit the series on Netflix. While making my way through the first seasons I again noticed the older red-haired woman who worked at Roy's counter, which got me to wonder about the background performers who are the extra-equivalent of series regulars on various shows. I would assume that these are pretty sweet gigs. When they are first cast is it with the intention that they will be recurring? Are they hired episode-by-episode or offered a season long contract? While I'm assuming that they aren't there for table reads, how much different is their schedule from the speaking cast?

Mark said...

Five Guys is very good (and equal to In n Out IMHO), but my favorite chain burger is now Smashburger (although Five Guys has better fries)

chuckcd said...

I think Five Guys blows In and Out away. I never understood the fuss about those thin tasteless patties that In and Out uses.

chuckcd said...

If you want value and good tasting burgers, just go to Carl's Jr.
The Super Star beats Five Guys and In and Out!
Not to mention I like their commercials...

Carrie said...

Friday Question, and I apologize if this has been addressed before -- I've caught up on Frasier mostly in reruns, and always wonder what the deal with the end tags is. It seems like there's dialogue under there, but it's always covered with music, and the video is often sped up. Did these play uninterrupted in the original runs? Or did you write physical comedy based tags knowing the dialogue wouldn't be heard?

D. McEwan said...

Carrie, those Frasier closing credit tags were ALWAYSplayed under the theme song, and were always just physical comedy. There was NEVER any dialogue heard.