Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Best of Levine & Isaacs

The topic of TV binge watching came up recently at lunch. My friend said, “You’ve written enough shows that you could probably fill an entire weekend.” I said, “Yeah, but I wouldn’t want to. Some things we wrote I wish we could have back. The fact that they’re still in syndication would bother me terribly if I wasn’t still getting residuals from them. So I can live with it. But he asked, “Could you assemble one full season that you’d be willing to binge on?” Figuring one season to be twenty-two episodes, I thought and said, “Sure.”

I’m still not going to do it, but in case any of you wish to binge on the Best of Levine & Isaacs, here are the episodes I would pick. Let me rephrase that – here are the episodes that are available to stream or rent I would pick. Some of our very best work is from series we created that are no longer in release.

So if you’re really sick one weekend, or starved for entertainment, or just want to punish yourself for some unspeakable thing you've done, here are my Top Twenty-Two:

Out of Sight/Out of Mind
Point of View
Merchant of Korea
Goodbye Radar part 1 and 2

Any Friend of Diane’s
Boys in the Bar
To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before
The Big Kiss Off
Jumping Jerks
Death Takes a Holiday on Ice
Bar Wars V… the Final Judgement
Heeeer’s Cliffy
Rat Girl

The Show Where Lilith Comes Back
Adventures in Paradise part 1 and 2
Room Service
Miss Right Now

Dancin’ Homer
Saturdays of Thunder

Noses Off

Let me know if you actually get through the entire twenty-two. Enjoy!


Hamid said...

Lots of classics there.

Love Dancin' Homer!

"Lively up yourself, Dancin' Homer!"


CCroom said...

Great selection of episodes. It would be interesting if you could elaborate on why you chose these.

slgc said...

The Coach's Daughter needs to be on the list. I choke up every time I watch it.

benson said...

“Mischa the dog lies dead in the bog. The children cry over the carcass. The mist chokes my heart, covers the mourners. At least this year we eat.”

"It's ironic isn't it? No sooner do I get the closet of my dreams than my husband comes out of it."


Carol said...

I know I've told this story before but I'll say it again. 'Goodbye Radar' was the first MASH episode I watched. It's the one that got me into the show. I was around 12, I guess, and it nearly killed me, I was crying so hard. Hours later, when I was trying to tell my mother about the episode (My parents always watched the show, but were out that night) I got up to the part where I was trying to explain how Hawkeye picked up the teddy bear and said 'goodbye, Radar' I burst into tears again and couldn't get through the sentence.

I still can't think of it without getting a bit teary-eyed.

So, thanks for the childhood trauma, Ken. :)

Johnny Walker said...

"Some of our very best work is from series we created that are no longer in release."

Now I'd like to know what THESE are! :)

For anyone interested in Ken and David's progress through Hollywood through M*A*S*H and Cheers, I have to recommend Stu Shostack's show. You can buy episodes on his website (only $0.99) and you really learn a lot about the behind the scenes of both experiences.

Highly recommended listening for those of us who enjoy Ken's Hollywood posts.


Plus Shostack has some other great interviews with other TV figures, too.

Johnny Walker said...

@slgc "Coach's Daughter" was, of course, written by the talented Ken Estin, not Levine and Isaacs.

Rinaldo said...

"Point of View" would be one of the titles I would immediately say, no need to pause for thought, if asked for Top Half-Hours of TV Ever Made. Brilliant and intensely moving (and not lacking in humor either).

Rob said...

Perhaps this could be a Friday Question....or even two questions.

The first episode of Cheers you list, Any Friend of Diane's, featured Julia Duffy as Diane's friend. If I am recalling my Cheers trivia correctly, she was one of the contenders for the role of Diane.

So, were you assigned the job of specifically writing an episode for her because she auditioned for Diane (and impressed)? Or did you just write the episode and then cast her because you realized from the audition she was right for the role (a very similar character to Diane)?

Next question, when I was looking up the episode on IMDB, there's a note that the last 8 minutes of the show had to be completely rewritten and re-shot after another episode was shot.

Is that true? What was wrong with the original ending? Did you and David also write the re-write? Would that episode have made your list of Top 22 if you hadn't had to re-write it?

Stoney said...

I had wanted to pose a question about writing an episode with a certain guest actor in mind for a particular part and "M*A*S*H: Out Of Sight/Out Of Mind" is a prime example. Hawkeye meets Tom Straw, a post-op patient who, like Hawkeye, has been blinded. Was that part specifically written with actor Tom Sullivan in mind and if he were not available would the character have been taken out or left in with a sighted actor cast? Have you written other guest characters with specific actors in mind?

Mary Stella said...

Great list and much appreciated since I'm awful at remembering episode names. This will help with Google.

Friday Question: Have you ever had an actor that was in the running for a role but not cast confront you about not giving them the part?

Jean said...

I would love to know the 22 best episodes of what's not available. I'd love a "questing" list....

Phillip B said...

Adding my list to the chorus asking for the list of the best "unavailable" Levine & Issacs.

The internet has a way of coughing up pieces of popular culture which were otherwise thought to be lost....

BTW, I'd pay to have today's 22 scripts -- along with your commentary -- in book form.

chuckcd said...

Printed this out, and will assemble these episodes for viewing!

Cat said...

When do we get our History of Cheers book, by Ken Levine?

Hamid said...

Ken, have you and David considered using Kickstarter to raise funds for a DVD release of Big Wave Dave's? I know you object to Kickstarter being used by people already in the industry but this would be different. There are fans who'd like to see the show again and it sucks that whatever company owns the rights won't release it. I'd be willing to donate and I'm sure other fans would too. The best method would be the Manufactured on Demand business model which is being used by a lot of companies. Please look into this, as I'd definitely buy the whole season.

chuckcd said...

"I have lost over 30 pounds."

"Misplacing your dumbbells doesn't count as losing weight."

By Ken Levine said...

If more people would buy the books I have written I would gladly write more books.

Amy K. Bredemeyer said...

I love Frasier's "Room Service," so glad to see it made the list of your picks as well!

Paul Duca said...

Which episode of WINGS is "Noses Off"--it doesn't sound like the one where Frasier and Lilith visit Nantucket, and that's the only one I know you did.

That sounds more like the FRASIER where Roz met the parents of her baby's father.

Roger Owen Green said...

I've long thought MASH should have ended with Goodbye Radar.

Angry TechGamer said...

Any particular reason why Cheers is so heavily represtented?

Johnny Walker said...

I hope you're just being coy, Ken. Listening to Stu's Show for the first time, I was delighted to hear you mention a sequel to "The Me Generation" that will focus on your Hollywood career.

I know you probably don't want to make any promises in public, but I sure hope it's still on the cards!

I've never heard you talk about your time on The Tony Randall Show, for example. And even two hours with Stu felt like it only scratched the surface of your time on M*A*S*H (clearly so much to talk about there). I've yet to listen to the Cheers two-parter, but it'll be the same with that, too.

And of course, it'd also be interesting to hear about the failed pilots, and just generally get a real taste of what "life in the trenches" is actually like.

Fingers crossed!

slgc said...

Thanks for the clarification!

jeffbadge said...

> Some of our very best work is from series we created that are no longer in release.

Perhaps a simple question but, why don't series like this get released? I'm a big fan of a couple cop shows from 20 years ago, but can't find them even on DVD. I assume it's just a money thing, that whomever the content owner is just doesn't think they'll recoup the investment of ... I don't know, streaming them on Amazon?

Charles H. Bryan said...

Ken, I hope you know that we might also pay more for your books (especially the eBook variety). Your prices have been more than reasonable.

More money for you, more money for Jeff Bezos. We get more Ken Levine, Jeff gets more drones, I suppose.

andreacensabella said...

Hi Ken ¡¡¡ I´m Alicia from Buenos Aires, Argentina... I send a lot of kisses and hugs to you and to the whole family, I keep nice memories and better moments with you all, love to Matt and Im sure he doen´t know he ment a lot for me and for Norberto, we always love you¡¡¡

Johnny Walker said...

@PaulDuca You might be interested to know that "Noses Off" is the episode that featured a little known actress named Lana Clarkson. Despite being in many hit TV shows and movies, she never broke out into a star, and is now best known for being Phil Spector's murder victim.

I'm guessing Ken doesn't have any notable memories of her, though, as I don't believe he's ever mentioned this connection before?