Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Questions

Getting you ready for the long Memorial Day Weekend with Friday Questions. What’s yours?

kelly childress starts us off:

Thanks to you I found Fresh Off the Boat, the only funny new show on the air. And now I've looked up YOUR FAMILY OR MINE. It's one of those shows where I like the actors involved but don't like the characters. It also feels "forced". I hate that in comedies. That was never felt in Cheers or Frasier, where the actors had to deliver the punch line in such a noticeable way. Is this the director's fault? Are they being told to act like this?

A couple of reasons for this: One – the actors don’t trust the material. So they push and try to wring laughs out of tepid lines. I can spot actors working too hard almost immediately.

The second reason is merely stylistic choice. There are some shows that prefer heightened, more in-your-face performances. It’s not my personal taste but hey, it works for some shows.

Stormy asks:

What do you do with all the screeners you receive year after year? Is there some village in Africa or Central America that gets all the losers, like they do with the t-shirts and caps of the losing Super Bowl team?

No. You’re not allowed to pass them on. I take a scissors, cut them up, and recycle them.

I will admit that there have been a couple of occasions where I was curious to see a show so I kept the screener but didn’t get to it until months after the Emmys were awarded and I really liked the show and thought, “Shit. I would have voted for this.”  Oops.

Mike opens up old wounds.

Reading Wikipedia, I see AfterMASH came in 10th in the ratings its first season on the air, when it aired in MASH's timeslot of Mondays at 9. For the second season, CBS moved it to Tuesdays at 8 to take on The A-Team (which had essentially killed off Happy Days the season before), the show got killed in the ratings, and was canceled in December. Given the show's success the first season, do you think it deserved more of a chance?

No. It should have been canceled after the first season. The ratings from week to week just kept falling (free falling actually). We were making midcourse corrections constantly in a desperate attempt to stop the bleeding.  I was shocked when it was picked up for year two.  CBS comedy development that year must've really been God awful. 

We returned the second season with more new cast changes, new opening titles, new time slot, new theme song, and even a new color scheme. But America had voted.

And finally, from CL:

With your background in both TV and sports, it seems like you'd be a natural to write/direct an episode of ESPN's 30 for 30 series. If they came calling (and they should!) what sports-related story would you like to tell?

They may have done this.  I don't know.  If they did, I didn't see it.   But I would do a profile on what a scumbag owner Robert Irsay was for not only relocating the beloved Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis but for the cowardly way he did it. He just packed up the offices and moved unannounced in the middle of the night.
The Colts enjoyed a fiercely loyal and supportive fan base (see the movie DINER) and deserved way better.

To this day I root against the Colts every game. And hey, I wasn’t even a Colts fan growing up. I was a Rams fan. But Baltimore got a raw deal.


Anonymous said...

There's a 30 for 30 about the Colts (now Ravens) marching band and how they stayed together for the years between the teams that focuses a good deal of the move. It was one of the first and called The Band That Wouldn't Die. Definitely worth a watch, it may be one of the 30 for 30's on Netflix.

T. Thompson said...

FWIW, I remember watching AfterMASH when it premiered. I really wanted to enjoy it; but I think its fatal (and, under the circumstances, inevitable) flaw was that it was a constant reminder that M*A*S*H (my all-time favorite sitcom, and the subject of every conversation with my friends on Tuesday mornings) was over. For me, anyway, it was the new puppy that your parents bought for you a couple weeks after your beloved old pooch passes away. It's adorable in its own right, but just too soon. Every time you look in its eyes, all you can see is "Hawkeye is gone..." Not the puppy's fault.

This hit home for me a couple of months ago when I searched out AfterMASH episodes on YouTube. I wanted to see if it was really as bad as everyone remembers it being. And Ken, I'm certainly not going to contradict your post-mortem about the show's problems, but (for me anyway), watching it 32 years later I was amazed at how adorable that puppy really had been. It worked in 2015 in a way that it didn't in 1983 because now the memories it brings up are happily nostalgic, and not "too soon". Makes me wish we hadn't insisted the puppy went back to the pet shop, because now I kind of wish I had gotten to see it grow up...

My 2 cents...

Jim Grey said...

The Colts paid for Irsay's sin by sucking hard for the next 20 years or so.

For a couple seasons in the early 90s I pulled weekend shifts at an AM station in Terre Haute and babysat the Colts games. What a dreadful gig. There was no automation on the network, so I had to listen carefully to the games for the verbal cues to fire off local spots.

Listening to the Colts lose, and lose badly, week after week soured me on them. When they went to the Super Bowl, I'd moved to Indianapolis by then, and couldn't even muster enough hometown pride to watch the game. I was the best rested guy at work the next morning, both times.

sanford said...

Yes the Band that Wouldn't Die is on Netflixx as I believe all the 30-30's are on netflix. The Band that Would't die is also on Amazon.

James Van Hise said...

Way back when, when AfterMASH was on, I kept thinking, "Why isn't Larry Linville on this?" There was even a character who seemed like a place holder for Frank Burns. Since Larry Linville's career after the 1970s wasn't very successful (in his later years he was doing dinner theater in Canada) I would have thought he'd have jumped at the chance to be on a TV show again.

Curt Alliaume said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Curt Alliaume said...

Fascinating article about former Colts owner Robert Irsay here:

If it's any consolation to the people of Baltimore, the Ravens have won two Super Bowls since they moved into town, while the Colts have only won one. (Which is probably scant consolation to the people of Cleveland.)

Unknown said...

Here's a Friday question for you: Upfronts are over, and NBC has only 1 hour of comedy scheduled for the fall. Most of the new shows announced are hour long dramas. What needs to happen to "save" network comedies? Can network comedies be saved? Clearly, there are successful comedies out there both in terms of ratings and quality, so why aren't networks building on that rather than giving us yet another crime procedural or superhero revamp? Or should I just get used to switching to HBO, TV Land, FX, etc. for new comedy?

Mike Schryver said...

I read a book of TV reviews called "Harry and Wally" that described one of the problems with AFTERMASH well, I think. Partway into the first episode, Klinger launches into a big speech on veterans' rights. We would have put up with this in MASH, but this show hadn't yet earned the right to take us out of the comedy in that way.

thirteen said...

My wife is from Baltimore. To this day, there are people in Baltimore who will not, under any corcumstances, use the Mayflower moving company. They're the people who moved the Colts out of town. Their trucks were all over the TV news, with the big MAYFLOWER on the sides.

I'm from New York, and we still haven't forgiven that son of a bitch Walter O'Malley for moving the Dodgers out of town, and that was almost 60 years ago.

Mike Schryver said...

I just went to YouTube to watch that scene in the first episode - it isn't as devoid of comedy as described in that book, so the point those reviewers made might not have been valid.

Jake said...

CBS's comedy lineup, fall 1984:

The Jeffersons (11th season)
Alice (9th season)
Kate & Allie (2nd season)
Newhart (3rd season)
AfterMASH (2nd season)
E/R (1 season)
Charles in Charge (1 season on network)
Dreams (5 weeks)

Kate & Allie and Newhart were the only ones to survive the season, and the only other sitcom CBS aired that season was The Lucie Arnaz Show.

John Jackson Miller said...

Ken, it's the 25th anniversary this month of one of my favorite short-run series, The Marshall Chronicles, which you both wrote an episode for and guest-starred in. (I appreciated the post you did on that some time back.) I remember being tickled when Richard Rosenstock brought in Meredith Scott Lynn's Leslie character for an episode of the FOX series he did next, Flying Blind; it was like getting another episode of the original show.

Which leads to a Friday question: I know writers will use ideas they had originally planned or pitched for canceled series. (It was never hard to imagine Donald Belisario's Battlestar Galactica episodes were sci-fi twists on things he planned for Black Sheep Squadron.) Are there episodes you wrote of later series that you remember as being "rescued" from other series that didn't last?

Mike Barer said...

The Colts leaving Baltimore took place after an unpresidented ownership swap, the ownership of the Rams took over the Colts and the ownership of the Colts took over the Rams, both decided to move the teams to the Midwest. So, in a backwards way, Irsay caused the Rams to leave LA.
In that same decade Major League pitchers Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson were involved in a different type of swap.

Glenn E said...

Speaking of sports owners, the Miami Marlins latest manager succession plan will be announced at 4PM press conference today.

Friday-Sunday: Current Miami manager will “shadow” Buck Showalter in the Orioles dugout all weekend to learn the ropes.

Monday 5/25: Billy the Marlin will manage. Note to Umps – beware the nose.

Tuesday 5/26: Erik Spoelstra will manage.

Wednesday 5/27: Nine “Lucky Fan Section” winners will manage for each inning. Winners must bring own Sunflower seeds.

Mike Barer said...

Mascot managing team would ensure media attention and a high draft choice for next season.

Terrence Moss said...

CBS also killed the decade-old "Jeffersons" by moving it opposite "The A-Team" in early 1985.

Mike said...

The Jeffersons was already dead before CBS moved it. The ratings had already dropped quite a bit in its traditional Sunday night slot. More importantly, it was creatively spent.

Tammy said...

Hope it's ok to use the comments section like this, but I figured this would be the place to ask: can anyone recommend a good sitcom? Examples for ones I like are Modern Family, Episodes and the IT Crowd (ones I did not like: HIMYM, Big Bang Theory, Community, The Office). Thanks! :)

Rick said...

Okay, this has nothing to do with any of the questions Ken answered, but I read in the paper today that the third highest rated program aired last Sunday night was that hour of two colorized I LOVE LUCY episodes on CBS. They came in right behind 60 MINUTES and the BILLBOARD MUSIC AWARDS. Does anybody besides me find it weird that two sixty-year-old sitcom episodes could still do so well in primetime? I mean, even with the novelty of colorization. Maybe CBS should just colorize the entire series and drop it back into its old Monday night time slot.

Mike Schryver said...

Possible Friday question for Ken - we've just gotten NBCU's CoziTV here and in stumbling upon some HERE'S LUCY episodes, I see they've removed all the credits except those that appear in the opening titles. No written by/directed by credits, nor any at the end of the show. Can they do that? They can, evidently. What's the deal here? I think HERE'S LUCY is owned by Lucy's heirs - is that a factor? Is this going to spread to other channels?

Nelson said...

...the third highest rated program aired last Sunday night was that hour of two colorized I LOVE LUCY episodes on CBS....Does anybody besides me find it weird that two sixty-year-old sitcom episodes could still do so well in primetime?

That damn show is never gonna die. Two thousand years from now, when they're sifting through the remains of our civilization, somewhere, on whatever video device they use, Lucy and Ethel will still be trying to wrap chocolates.

Diane D. said...

Since no one else answered you, I'll just say I don't know of any. Go to Netflix and watch the first 5 years of CHEERS and then FRASIER. Then buy the DVDs of all 6 seasons of NORTHERN EXPOSURE for one of the best shows of all time.

Bob Summers said...


What are your thoughts about folks being allowed to watch out-of-market signals on satellite? Back in the day, the NAB had a freakout over it. Now, the networks have their own deals with on demand.

Liggie said...

A few playoffs ago, the Colts played the Ravens in Baltimore, and the Ravens fans let the Colts have it. Peyton Manning's response? "Get over it."

As a Seattleites who's had to suffer the Sonics leaving and watching the Thunder's success ... you never get over it.

Tammy said...

Thanks Diane D! I'm familiar with Cheers and Frasier ;) And I agree about Northern Exposure, really enjoyed it at the time. Btw, nowdays when I watch the Americans and Joshua Brand's name comes up, my mind immediately goes "& John Falsey"- so weird seeing that name on its own.

Brian said...

Ken, a Friday Question: Any thoughts on the Full House revival (minus the Olsen twins)?

Mike Doran said...

Funny thing about Pro Football history:

When the NFL absorbed the competing AAFC in the early '50s, one of the teams they kept was the Cleveland Browns.
Bui Cleveland already had a team - the Rams.
So the NFL allowed the Rams to move to Los Angeles, where they replaced the AAFC Los Angeles Dons.
So you see, Ken, the Rams were already a second-hand team when you grew up with them.
Also, just wondering:
Do you boycott the film and TV music of Dominic Frontiere (Outer Limits, Twelve O'clock High, The Invaders, et al.) because Carroll Rosenbloom's goofy widow married him when she moved to LA?

Douglas Trapasso said...

Possible Friday Q:

Since the launch of the Simpsons, and King of the Hill and (sigh . . . ) Seth McFarlane's shows, animation has become a more common presence in the past two decades on TV. But most of the successful shows have been of the family/sitcom genre. Can you picture a drama with deeper themes e.g. Mad Men, The Wire, succeeding as an animated show?

Diane D. said...

I don't know if you visit this blog often, but I'm really surprised that no one else answered you. There are a lot of commenters who do watch and like current comedies. I just always prefer re-watching my old favorites instead of trying to get started with new ones. I do watch (and really like) MODERN FAMILY, which many of the other commenters like as well, but you are already watching that.
If you have the patience to go back through several months of these blog posts, you will get your answer in many of the discussions.
Your question was asked the day after the blog post, and I think many of the commenters don't come back after the first day (that may be why no one answered you). Good luck!

Tammy said...

Diane - thanks again and no worries :) Well, I know Ken has recommended Fresh Off The Boat, I think I'll try that.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Tammy: SILICON VALLEY has a lot of inside humour but is very clever. I really like MOM. I also loved the Amazon Prime show TRANSPARENT. Jeffrey Tambor is brilliant in it, though it's not entirely a comedy.


Anonymous said...

I think that was one of the first episodes of 30/30