Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Questions

Got a bunch of Neil Simon movies to host tonight on TCM starting at 8 in the East and 5 in the West… including one of my favorites, BILOXI BLUES. So join me on the TV. Turning to the print mediim, here are this week’s Friday Questions.

From Johann:

I was watching a Cheers rerun and noticed it was directed by John Ratzenberger. I recall seeing an episode of Frasier directed by Kelsey Grammer. One episode of Seinfeld was directed by Jason Alexander.

What's involved in an actor directing an episode of his own show? Is it a professional courtesy, or something more? Do some actors request a chance to direct, and get turned down?

It all depends on the actor. Some, like Alan Alda and Kelsey Grammer really take it seriously. Same with Adam Arkin, who has become quite a sensational director.  Jason Alexander directs a lot of theater. 

On the other hand, yes, there are times when actors are directing but are essentially carried by the crew. For the most part they are good with directing actors but inexperienced with the technical aspect of the job. And especially in multi-cam where you have four cameras moving simultaneously, there is a steep learning curve. But a good camera coordinator can generally just do the camera blocking for the actor-director.

Sometimes actors are allowed to direct as a courtesy; other times actors get it in their contract. Harry Morgan had it in is deal at MASH to direct one episode a year. He did one of ours. The problem was we made Harry light in the show so he had less acting to concentrate on, but we missed his presence in front of the camera.

I’m sure there are cases of actors asking to direct episodes of their series and being turned down, but those are usually private conversations.

George Wendt directed an episode of CHEERS that David Isaacs and I wrote and did a great job.

Brian Phillips is next.

You've recounted the "Hot Rod Lincoln" story as an example of campaigning for a joke that you thought was funny and fell flat.

Do you recall some instances where you fought especially hard, whether it was with David Isaacs, an actor or executive and it paid off?

Yes. Once when I was directing BECKER. In the episode, Becker (Ted Danson) goes on a cruise but doesn’t realize it’s a gay cruise. He’s now back in the diner regaling everybody with what it was like. It was a hysterical scene. If I remember correctly, it was written by Michael Markowitz (who always writes hysterical scenes).

One of the actors didn’t like the scene. Thought it wasn't at all funny.   What he really didn’t like was that Ted had pretty much all the lines and all everybody else did was laugh at the crazy stories Ted's character shared. 

The actor kept putting a bug in Ted’s ear that the scene didn’t work. Eventually he got Ted to question it himself.

I had to take Ted aside and tell him that he had to trust me. I was adamant that the scene would work. To his credit, Ted did the scene as written and it got screams from the studio audience. It’s still one of my favorite scenes ever on BECKER.

Did the other actor ever acknowledge that he was wrong? What do you think?

From willieb:

What I've never been able to understand -- and this may be a Friday question in disguise -- is why sitcoms cannot cope with couples once they are married and have children. Writers are great at the stop-and-start, will-they-or-won't-they romances -- but once they do, sitcom writers are lost. Why? Most of us get married, have kids, and have family lives with tons of funny stories attached. Why do writers lose the funny when couples finally couple?

It’s easier and sexier to explore romantic relationships. This is not just true in sitcoms. There are not a lot of romance novels set in the world of a married couples coping with teething babies. 

That said, there are some terrific sitcoms that do deal with married life. For my money, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND is the gold standard. That show is funnier and more authentic than just about any romantic comedy sitcom out there.

And then there’s the show that I feel is the most underrated on television, THE MIDDLE. They make family comedy work… as does MODERN FAMILY.

And currently, I’m a big fan of INSTANT MOM on Nick @ Nite. Yes, I know I’m somewhat biased, but aside from my daughter writing on it, it really is a well-mounted funny family show. Check it out yourself.   I bet you'll agree.

RyderDA asks:

When writing something, do you ever deliberately write two separate, distinct, independent versions of the same thing for any reason (such as to explore how different story arcs could play out)? Is there utility to a writer in consciously creating two different versions of the exact same thing?

That’s my play, A OR B? I take the same two people and create two different scenarios. In one they’re co-workers and the other they’re lovers. I then do parallel scenes and show the differences and similarities in their relationships based on the circumstances.

And finally, from Ted O'Hara:

Have you ever found that you've boxed yourself in on future stories due to some plot detail in a past show that seem innocuous at the time? And if so, how did you get out of it?

On CHEERS, very early on, maybe even the second episode, we say that Sam has an ex-wife. We even show her (played by Donna McKechnie). It was all for one joke to get out of a scene. Later, we just ignored it.

Long running series will often have continuity problems. The name of Potter’s wife changes, Hawkeye has a sister in one episode; a brother in another. You just try to skip over that stuff real fast. But it was way easier in the days before streaming and the internet.

What’s your Friday Question?


canda said...

Agree that EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND explored the romantic and small moments of married life well, but their portrayal as parents was very thin, particularly in the beginning when the children didn't speak, and were often seen as some tableaux sitting perfectly in the distance.

Shows that incorporate parenting and marital issues seem far tougher to write, and there are good examples of ones who have done it successfully.

VincentS said...

Yes, Ken! The BECKER gay cruise episode is my all-time favorite!

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Continuity errors may be more easily spotted by fans on the Internet with DVDs they can replay, but isn't it also easier for writers to get better continuity because they, too, have computers and Internet connections and have better access to what details they've given in the past?

As for actors directing episodes, I've been particularly impressed with John Slattery's efforts with episodes of MAD MEN. Also, David Boreanaz directed an episode of ANGEL. It seems to me it would be more complex with dramas.


Ane said...

Continuity mistakes such as erasing a sibling or a kid or things like that always bug me a lot more than it probably should. I mean, as a viewer I like to get invested in a character, get to know them, and that includes knowing a bit about their history. Sure, we watch comedy for laughs but also for the tender moments between characters. If I have be watching a character for a while and gotten to like him or her, a sudden change in that character's history (going from being an only child to having siblings, for instance) jerks me out of the shows reality and tells me "this has changed and you shouldn't care, because we all know it isn't real anyway"... Like on the, UK sitcom My Family where a three kid family became a two kid family when an actor wanted to leave, and the older son was rarely mentioned again. Now in that case I guess there were no other options since the actor wanted out. But in other cases it's just a matter of lack of research. Either way it bugs me.

Tom Quigley said...

I remember the big continuity issue that carried over from CHEERS to FRASIER in the episode where Sam Malone visits Seattle, and Frasier introduces him to Martin. During CHEERS, Frasier had at one point indicated that his father was dead and his mother was still living, but of course in FRASIER the opposite was true, so when Sam says to Frasier "I thought you told me your father was dead," Frasier comes back with "We weren't speaking that week," which of course fits right in with Frasier's and Martin's hot-cold relationship.

Calvin said...

Dark days indeed. Skymall parent files for bankruptcy:

ScottyB said...

@Ken Levine wrote: "And then there’s the show that I feel is the most underrated on television, THE MIDDLE."

Agreed. Plus, Eden Sher is a total sweetheart.

I'll add my $.02 for two other married-people-with-kids sitcoms that were underrated little gems as well: 'Still Standing' (with Mark Addy and Jami Gertz) and 'Grounded For Life' (with Donal Logue and Megyn Price).

Rick Wiedmayer said...

How many writers are on a show typically? Does the show runner make that decision and hand out the writing assignments?

ScottyB said...

@canda: I get where you were going with that, but it seems like things like thing parenting and social skills are almost necessary for a decent family sitcom. Because that's what makes funny when it's done very well or very unusually. There almost has to be an element of unbelievability or absurdity as well as conflict to it (i.e. 'Raising Hope', 'Malcolm In The Middle') because otherwise, there's no hope for funny and you're just stuck with 'Family' or 'The Waltons'.

ScottyB said...

That was supposed to be "thin parenting", not "thing parenting".

My kingdom for an edit button.

Anonymous said...

Simpsons is a great example of parenting. I always wanted to attend a taping of the Simpsons, I heard Bart is actually played by a girl!

ScottyB said...

@canda wrote: "Shows that incorporate parenting and marital issues seem far tougher to write, and there are good examples of ones who have done it successfully."

True. We had those back in the '70s and '80s, too. Those were the dreaded "Tonight -- on a very special episode of (insert sitcom name here) ..." ones.

Gawd, did we ever cringe when those popped up.

Justin Russo said...

I'd argue against willieb that one of the original sitcoms dealt with a married couple and family life brilliantly: I LOVE LUCY. Granted it was the framework of Lucy's antics that kept the show laughable but if you watch Lucy and Ricky's interactions, even with the Mertz's, it's quite sweet and the reason the show has endured for 60+ years.

In Season 3, Lucy and Ricky's anniversary, you can see the characters really enthralled with one another and this is after being married for 11 years.

ScottyB said...

@Justin Russo: My impression was that @willieb was referring something else entirely, since 'Lucy' really didn't even deal with family life beyond the fact that Lucy and Ricky happened to be married from the outset. I think @willieb was referring more to things like how 'Mad About You' totally crashed and burned once Paul and Jamie had a kid. Same could probably be said about 'The Drew Carey Show' when that one took a turn.

But even so, 'Lucy' and 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' weren't even much about parenting. Little Ricky and Richie always just struck me as window dressing that showed up every now and then (other than maybe the 'DVDS' woodpecker episode).

For me, the gold standard of iconic early shows that did deal with parenting and still stayed way funny would be 'The Andy Griffith Show'.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

There seems to be an unwritten rule that once a relationship in fiction becomes official, then it's no longer interesting... and I guess that makes sense, considering there's constant tension and conflict going on between two parties who are a will-they-or-won't-they pair that keeps people in a state of intrigue, but once they officially hook up, that tension and conflict is gone, and there's nothing left for the audience to feed off of, then it becomes "boring."

In a sense, I've kind of felt that way about the friendships of Hawkeye with Trapper and B.J.: Trapper, as a character, was just simply too similar to Hawkeye, the two of them were like a couple of frat boys - always getting into trouble, always boozing their brains out, always chasing nurses, always ganging up on Frank - they were like carbon copies of one another, and admittedly, it could get a little old at times. B.J., on the other hand, was a contrast to Hawkeye in that he was a little saner, and a little more serious, but still had a mischevious streak in him as well that he could get behind some of Hawkeye's zany schemes as well, though they didn't always see eye-to-eye, and that seasaw relationship kept things a little more interesting. Especially when Charles came into the picture, because with him proving to be a worthy advesary and not as easy to break as Frank, that gave Hawk and Beej a challenge that they always accepted.

canda said...

The example I should have used of a well-written sitcom that captured parenting and a marital relationship in a believable way, and was funny, was ROSEANNE.

The kids were never props, seen in the distance,nor brought in to punctuate a scene.

Bryan north of Seattle said...

Ken, are you excited as the rest of us for the big Mariners uniform unveil today? Biggest thing to hit Seattle since the Super Bowl!

Covarr said...

Okay, I've got a bit of a long Friday question. I've been catching up on classic sitcoms from the '80s and '90s, and two really caught my attention: THE COSBY SHOW and BOY MEETS WORLD. Specifically, I noticed that they had night-and-day different approaches to how they handled aging children.

THE COSBY SHOW had more of a revolving door approach, adding new characters to fill a void as existing characters aged (most obvious with Raven Symone's character becoming the new Rudy), while BOY MEETS WORLD let its kids age and allowed the stories to mature with them, going as far as episodes about sex and alcohol that never would've fit when they were just 11 years old. A few characters were added over the years, but were always the same age as the cast and to add to the dynamic, rather than to preserve an older dynamic.

So my question is, which approach do you like better? Should a show featuring children evolve with its actors, or should it cycle out the children so that it can maintain the same overall feel throughout its run?

Pat said...

Little Ricky figures much more prominently in season 6 of I LOVE LUCY, after they replaced the toddlers who had been doubling as the character with a boy who was old enough to remember dialogue and actually participate in the show. Before that, Little Ricky usually got trotted through to say goodnight to Aunt Ethel and Uncle Fred because he was on his way to bed. Even then, it seemed like the kid was bawling about half the time.

Because they waited a few years to do it, the jump in the kid's age was less noticeable. Was it FAMILY TIES where they had a baby during February sweeps, then returned the following September and the kid was already six years old?

Scooter Schechtman said...

Selma Bouvier's comment on kids (which certainly applies to TV): "The older they get, the cuter they aint!"

Dave Creek said...

I'm with a previous poster who wondered whether continuity problems could be avoided thanks to computer databases, etc.

Each show has a bible describing all the characters, their individual traits, their relationships, etc. Couldn't that kind of information on siblings, details of parents and childhood, for instance, simply be added to the bible, perhaps in a "more details" addendum in the back of a print version or as a link in an electronic one?

Chugs McGillicutty. said...

There are things that, if I'm into a show, when I see them, jar me back to reality, and make me remember it's just a show, just taking a little away from my enjoyment.

For instance, everyone hates the '555' in phone numbers. I have problems when it comes to scale. Basketball courts are larger in real life than they are in sitcoms. I recently watched a TV show, that had kids in their early teens, playing football. When one of them was frustrated, he thru himself to the ground, and took up almost the entire distance between the 40 and 45 yard lines (that would make him close to 15 feet tall), and it drove me nuts.

I understand that it's cheaper to do it this way than to actually build a full scale set or shoot on location. but it just takes me out of it just a little.

Are there things, that even after all the years you've been in the business, still frustrate it when they do it to one of your scripts, just because it's not how it's done in real life?

Hank Gillette said...

Because they waited a few years to do it, the jump in the kid's age was less noticeable. Was it FAMILY TIES where they had a baby during February sweeps, then returned the following September and the kid was already six years old?

One show that did that was The Ghost Whisperer. The last season started with a five year jump so that Melinda’s child (who hadn’t even been conceived in the previous season) could talk. This made no sense to me, since they had previous ongoing stories about all these dark forces that were threatening Melinda and who apparently then took a five year vacation so that Melinda could raise her child.

Hank Gillette said...

Each show has a bible describing all the characters, their individual traits, their relationships, etc. Couldn't that kind of information on siblings, details of parents and childhood, for instance, simply be added to the bible, perhaps in a "more details" addendum in the back of a print version or as a link in an electronic one?

It could be, but I don’t think most writers/show runners care enough about continuity to bother.

One show that did care was Seinfeld, where small details from one show would later on be referenced or play a major point in a later show.

Comic books used to really struggle with continuity and editors tried to explain goofs in the letter columns in ingenious fashion. Finally, they just said “screw it” and started doing a ‘reboot’ every few years where everything that occurred previously was inoperative.

Hamid said...

I was watching a Cheers rerun and noticed it was directed by John Ratzenberger. I recall seeing an episode of Frasier directed by Kelsey Grammer. One episode of Seinfeld was directed by Jason Alexander.

It all depends on the actor. Some, like Alan Alda and Kelsey Grammer really take it seriously. Same with Adam Arkin, who has become quite a sensational director. Jason Alexander directs a lot of theater.

On the other hand, yes, there are times when actors are directing but are essentially carried by the crew.

Ouch! Am I reading too much into this regarding the conspicuous absence of John Ratzenberger in Ken's reply?!

Anyway, I've previously made my views known. John Ratzenberger is a terrific comedy and voice actor, but given he appeared in a political ad with Pat Boone, who compared gay rights activists to terrorists, I think I'll just enjoy the character of Cliff and try and forget about the person playing him.

For anyone who didn't see it, here's the little political gem he took part in with Boone and those other giant intellects Victoria Jackson and Stephen Baldwin. It also pained me to see Robert Davi in it, as he was such a terrific Bond villain in Licence to Kill.

Note the interesting comments by the presenter of The Young Turks about his encounter with John Ratzenberger at an airport: "He was over the top conservative".

Unknown said...

I seem to recall some continuity problem on "Dallas" about Bobby Ewing being alive then dead then alive again but hey ... what's a good soap without a little stain.

CarolMR said...

I think Niles and Daphne became boring, and sometimes annoying, after they became "official."

Anonymous said...

You just live to stir the pot, don't you, Hamid?

Hamid said...

That's right, Anonymous. I even made John, Pat, Victoria, Stephen and Robert appear in that ad just so I could make that comment.

Len said...

WKRP IN CINCINNATI had a very detailed "bible" on the show's characters, in which every little factoid that was ever mentioned about anyone on the show was carefully recorded. It wasn't a staff decision for them to do that, though. Just one anal-retentive writer who hated the details changing from episode to episode.

Michael said...

Ken did not work full-time on CHEERS in the later seasons, so I just assumed he wasn't around when John Ratzenberger directed so couldn't comment on him, unlike George Wendt who directed an episode Ken co-wrote.

I know Nicholas Colasanto directed a lot of TV dramas before being cast as Coach on CHEERS. I wonder if he would have gotten chance to direct on CHEERS, even though I assume very different type of directing required, if he hadn't gotten sick and passed away.

Mike said...

Gabriel Macht is directing the next episode of Suits.

What surprises e is how many of the Star Trek movies are directed by cast members.

Tim McD said...

I belonged to a Boston Red Sox email list for many years and during the magical 2004 season, one of the members of the group would confess that when the games got too intense, she would switch over and watch reruns of "Becker". And apparently it became a meme, so much so, that as the season came down to it's heartstopping conclusion, we all implored her to turn off the game, and find a "Becker" rerun, as it seemed to be a good luck talisman. Just a random connection between two of your passions, I guess!

Mike said...

Kids in a show is a big change from what the writers want to write. Any big change can mess up a show, but I think in that case you are moving outside the experience level of the writers as well.

Friends was almost criminal in the way single parenting is depicted as no big deal.

MikeN said...

Ahnuld said he thought it should be 'I will be back', and asked James Cameron 'Why am I talking in Spanish?'

Cap'n Bob said...

Good family sitcoms? Try The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Leave It to Beaver, Father Knows Best, Married With Children, or The Donna Reed Show.

Julie said...

Personally, as long as a TV show is consistent about the major facts, it doesn't bother me if they're inconsistent about the minor ones. It's not going to bother me, for example, if in episode #17 they said Ed's birthday was in July, but in episode #86, they said his birthday was November 4th. I just figure writing staffs have bigger priorities than keeping up with every little detail a series generates about its characters' lives. ("Stop worrying about the jokes. Does anybody remember if we've mentioned Allison's shoe size in an episode before, and did we say she wore a 5 or a 6?") That's for the anal retentive types who write Wikipedia articles to do.

I do know people, though, who seem to retain every little factoid that's mentioned about the folks on their favorite TV series, and are driven to distraction by anything that contradicts what they've said or done before.

Diane D. said...

Man, this is an interesting blog! Regarding the married couples issue, I think Ken and many commenters have proven that there have been many terrific shows about married couples with or without children, BUT THAT WASN'T THE QUESTION. Those shows all started out with couples or families---the question is: in those shows with "will they, won't they" couples (that go on for years), why can't they ever transition successfully to marriage.

Joseph Scarbrough actually does answer it, but what he says essentially is it can't be done, and I would love to have known what Ken Levine would have said. Now we'll never know what he thinks because he and everyone else is going to be sick of this subject (except for me).

I understand what Joseph S. is saying about why it is difficult, but surely there are some writers who could make it work. It makes me glad Shelley Long left Cheers before Sam and Diane were a married couple (assuming even Ken Levine and David Issac couldn't have made it work). It would have been sadder to see that relationship become boring than to see it disappear (sob!).

ScottyB said...

@canda wrote: "The example I should have used of a well-written sitcom that captured parenting and a marital relationship in a believable way, and was funny, was ROSEANNE."

True, and their kids were never props. BUT -- you bring up a very interesting point that is, I think, a common thread in pretty much every true sitcom since 'Lucy'. It's the formula where Mom is intelligent and knows the answers, Dad is a schlub moron (even better -- a fat schlub moron), and the kids are all screwed in the head in some fashion.

And then laughter ensues.

ScottyB said...

@DianeD; You're right. That wasn;t the question. BUT -- I think the implied thing was "got married and then added a child". It's no so much the "getting married" part. Simply moving in together opens up a lot of comedy doors. It's where a sitcom adds pregnancy and a baby being born and all that. Changes the whole total dynamic. Kinda when like Cousin Oliver moved in and 'The Brady Bunch' got into an even bigger death spiral beyond everyone in the cast getting way older and it not being all that amusing anymore.

ScottyB said...

All this talk about character bibles just seems overkill, for the most part. This is how you get crazy-ass people at 'Star Trek' conventions. Jeez, barely enough of us had VCRs in 1978 to even *notice* if there was a small continuity flub.

The only thing that ever matters really comes down to, "Is it really FUNNY?"

Cat said...

I tend to agree with Diane D (indeed, whether will they-won't they couples can transition to a marriage situation was the question). While I think as a married couple, Sam and Diane would have had some very nice moments, you can't sustain a sitcom where their back and forth is the main attraction. Ken himself has said conflict is comedy, and unless you had Sam and Diane still at odds even though they were married it wouldn't have worked (and that's kind of sad, actually). See how boring Jim and Pam from The Office became, married with two kids. It would have been nice to have seen Sam and Diane married, but would have made for dull storylines, and either actor wouldn't have gotten to do much.

Dimension Skipper said...

Article of some potential interest to folks 'round these parts (though not necessarily revelatory in any way)...

Why Do So Many TV Shows Get "Greenlit," But Then Never Appear On TV?
By Charlie Jane Anders at io9

(Note: For those who may not know, io9 focuses on the science fiction & fantasy genres, but the points being made in the article seem to be generally applicable, not genre-specific at all.)

Anonymous said...

Would Chuck Cunningham (Happy Days) be the gold standard of continuity changes or is there a more prominent example?

gottacook said...

Speaking of Star Trek, my favorite continuity error from that series isn't really an error as such, but makes for a funny story: A Romulan ship model was created for the early episode "Balance of Terror" (featuring a large bird decal) and footage of the ship from that episode was reused once in season 2. But the next time the Romulans appeared (in "The Enterprise Incident" in season 3) they used Klingon ships, whose appearance was quite different. Mr. Spock explained this by saying "Intelligence reports Romulans now using Klingon design" - but the rumor that's persisted ever since is that someone either lost or stepped on the original model.

LouOCNY said...

Ken - another joke of yours is now inoperable - RIP Sky Mall

Jabroniville said...

I remember KING OF THE HILL driving me nuts because major plot points would just get dropped or altered later on- like Luann's father is now an ex-con with a bad past, when the early seasons mentioned him repeatedly as running away from his abusive wife. It was major thing for Luann. Probably inevitable on a show with such a long run, but still.

Michelle L. said...

Hey Ken,
I just recently read "Why Are You So Sad" by Jason Porter. One of the characters is obsessed with M*A*S*H, and is a somewhat depressed man because he didn't grow up to be Hawkeye. The fact that I somewhat related to him freaked me out a bit. What would you say to fans that become too obsessed with TV shows?

VP81955 said...

Just watched "Seems Like Old Times" (I adore Goldie Hawn), and it could be the type of Neil Simon vehicle that could be revived because it's still funny -- in fact, should be revived, if only to erase the horrible stereotypes of blacks and Hispanics that marred the original and date it terribly.

BTW, RIP Ernie Banks. There are plenty of sad hearts on the North Side tonight.

Unknown said...

I've asked a couple of times before but my maybe my question got lost in the ether... in one of your posts you mentioned about a pilot that had Tom Cruise apparently signed on that didn't make it and I asked you what that was... I guess I'm asking again. (TIA)

Thomas Mossman said...

Gotta ask, how do you feel about Simon Pegg stepping in as a writer on the next movie? Personally, I'm curious to see how things go, but I'm certainly not willing to portend doom as so many Trekkies seem to be.

Sudheer Yadav said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
James said...

Yeah, I remember the first season about Everybody Loves Raymond when they opening credits said something like "It's not about the kids."

But I also remember "Crunch and Blow" as a great little parenting thing that i kept with me in case the situation ever arose once I had kids.

I often wondered if relationships or children weren't topics many writers had a lot of experience with to draw from. Not meaning to be stereotypical, I just often imagine writer's rooms filled with young writers and lots of late nights and junk food.

On the other hand, if you go into it with the children as an intentional part, say, "Married with Children," then you are just saying right up front that you gotta write well for the children as well.

Chris Lawrence said...

@Mike: "What surprises e is how many of the Star Trek movies are directed by cast members."

Not just movies, but episodes of the later series. I suspect it's because the actors know they're going to be typecast, so they'd better get some experience behind the camera lest they never work again in Hollywood! Jonathan Frakes, Robert Duncan McNeill, and Roxann Dawson in particular have done a lot of directing work.

MikeN said...

Chugs, if it makes you feel any better, there are lots of schools that play on smaller courts.
Where we are the whole court is about equal to a half court, probably 50 feet is the length.

Johnny Walker said...

I think the issue with kids is this: Either they have to be there from the beginning, so you can give them a personality (eg. THE COSBY SHOW, MODERN FAMILY, even THE SIMPSONS) or you're stuck with a baby... You can't give lines to a baby, and how many, "I'm stressed with this baby thing" stories can you do? And where can the characters go when they have a baby to look after?

That said, MODERN FAMILY somehow managed to have a baby character, and still have stories.

Diane D. said...

Well, there is probably no one still reading this thread but I have one more thing to say about it. There are apparently lots of comedy writers (and soon-to-be comedy writers) who read this blog, and if I were one of you, I would make it one of my goals to write the show that finally does successfully take a "will they/won't they" relationship to marriage.

Nothing so intrigues people as watching a relationship develop--the periods of ecstatic happiness followed by inevitable anguish, then repeating the whole process. Having it take place in the context of comedy adds the fun and laughter that we all look for in a TV show.

Surely someone can make that culminate in marriage and not lose the magic and laughter.
I agree with Johnny Walker and ScottyB regarding adding a baby, but I see no reason why the marriage has to result in children. In real life, many people are now choosing not to have children.

Unknown said...

The Golden Girls had the worst continuity of any show.

What happened to Lorraine and Michael's baby?

What happened to Dorothy and Stan's first baby who should have been 38 when the show started?

Just a few examples...

Lis Riba said...

Here's a question for you: Given Hollywood's penchant for remakes, why *haven't* we seen any attempts at rebooting M*A*S*H, given how successful it was?

Is it a case of Hollywood not asking, or is there a rights-holder refusing?