Friday, December 30, 2016

Friday Questions

Last Friday Questions of the year.

David leads off:

The Simpsons has just hit 600 episodes, has been renewed through season 30, and the 13 day fxx marathon is ongoing. So what is your current opinion of The Simpsons? It's endurance? The popular opinion of its drop in quality? The movie? And any other thoughts you may have on the unstoppable juggernaut you once worked on? Given the opportunity would you ever go back and write another episode?

I’ll be honest, I rarely watch it these days. It’s not on a season pass and Sunday nights I’m usually away from the TV so months can go by between catching new episodes. When I do watch I still enjoy it. The show is certainly not as “fresh” as it was 550 episodes ago, but the writers are all very funny (I still know a few) and I get the sense that they’re still trying, unlike FAMILY GUY, which to me is just on fumes.

Under the right circumstances, sure, I’d be happy to write another SIMPSONS episode. But I’m very proud that the episodes David Isaacs and I did were from the early Sam Simon days when the show was new and firing on all cylinders.

cd1515 is next.

Just saw a few minutes of Joel McHale's new sitcom, which has him in an office with a bunch of millennials and there's a TON of facebook/instagram humor (or attempts at humor).

Just as Murphy Brown got dated with the Dan Quayle references, are shows like this dumb to go down that road, or smart to tailor it to today's young viewers? (if there are any)

Networks are flailing, desperately trying to attract Millennials. At this point they don’t give a shit whether the show has a shelf-life of eleven minutes if it’ll draw the right demographic for its first run.

But they sign a Faustian contract, because yes, all of those topical pop culture references date the show instantly, and its chances for a long run syndication deal are slim to none.

From ChipO:

Inspired by the brilliance of Bill King, thank you for bringing him to our attention:

At the end of the day, when all is said and done, and all the facts are in ... are you noticing a plethora of clichés in lieu of valid commentary?

The way you phrased your question made me laugh. Yes, clichés substitute for insight, but that’s the way it’s always been. There are just more games and more mediocre talent. And that extends to the play-by-play ranks as well. Watching all the bowl games over the last week it’s shocking how plastic and interchangeable these play-by-play guys are, and how inarticulate most of these “analysts” are. At least the clichés we can understand.

Barry Traylor asks:

I have noticed that during football season the shows that have the misfortune of being on Sunday evening have their shows pushed back much later. What does that do to the ratings of those shows?

In many cases, it elevates their ratings. Football is a great lead-in, especially following an exciting finish, and the primetime lineup benefits.

The only time it doesn’t is when a game goes so long that a show is pre-empted. This happened to us with BECKER. It was the 100th episode, a special occasion, David Isaacs and I wrote it and I directed it, and the show put on a big celebratory party. A room was reserved at a nice hotel, monitors were set up, champagne flowed, the whole staff was there – and the show was pre-empted at the last moment. We ended up having to watch a tape of it. And then it quietly aired the next week with zero fanfare or promotion. But that was pretty much how CBS treated BECKER its entire run.

What’s your 2017 Friday Question?


Covarr said...

Not a Friday question so much as a Friday thank you:

I recently heard back from my local community theater after presenting them a script my fiancee and I wrote, and they're going to be producing it! Thing is, so much of what went into making it good enough to be worth producing was, I feel, lessons learned from your blog. Ideas like that every character should want something are things I got reading you.

So thank you for this blog. It's been a fun and insightful few years reading it, and I eagerly await more.

VP81955 said...

Glad you said "The Simpsons" still was a serviceable series. We've become so familiar with its universe that it's nearly impossible to pull off surprises involving the characters (even the ones who now rarely appear). Considering that Everest of a hurdle, I think the writers do a reasonable job. It's not their fault the series never again will possess the freshness of the early '90s.

And as talented as Joel McHale is, "The Great Indoors" is boxed in by ita topical references and isn't assured of a second season -- whereas the series that follows, "Mom," deals with more universal themes and almost certainly will go into syndication (although I'm unsure how it will fare there, despite its good acting and writing).

CRL said...

I long ago reached the point where there are more episodes of the Simpsons that I haven't seen than episodes I have.

Anthony said...

Happy 2017, Ken! I've always wondered what sort of obligations, or deals, need to be made for crossover episodes. For example, whenever a Cheers character appeared on Frasier, did the show need to get the Charles brothers' approval? Or someone else's? Just curious how all that red tape works.

Johnny Walker said...

I've been waiting for Woody Allen's TV show to drop... only to discover that it already did in September and was roundly panned. Huh! Did you watch it? Do you have any thoughts?

Peter said...

Simpsons better than Family Guy??????

Hmm... Now that's a joke Simpsons can use, instead of the drivel they dish out.

Mitchell Hundred said...

Why are comedies typically half an hour long while dramas are typically an hour long (give or take)?

DwWashburn said...

I gave up on the Simpsons around season 9. They had an episode where a man who had worked himself up from nothing was able to work at the plant and couldn't believe that a buffoon like Homer Simpson could be successful. He eventually was killed and at his funeral the whole town laughed at him. This sickened me to no end.

I have tried one or two episodes each season but have noticed that the characters have become one dimensional caricatures (if possible with animated characters) of their former selves. Homer is stupid and a glutton, Lisa is a know it all, etc. They also are trying to out gross Family Guy. In short, they ain't what they used to be.

Charles H. Bryan said...

I've watched a few episodes of THE GREAT INDOORS. Topical it is the least of its problems. I don't know how you can have Joel McHale and Stephen Fry and not have a funny show, but there it is.

MikeN said...

DwWashburn, I thought that was a hilarious episode of The Simpsons. And they weren't laughing at Grimes, but at Homer, continuing the state of affairs that made him so upset.

MikeN said...

All Simpsons episodes are available on Comcast On Demand for free.

Barry Traylor said...

I like Joe McHale so I really wanted to give THE GREAT INDOORS a chance but it got stale for me by the third episode and I have not returned.

Harold Peteresen said...

Friday question -- TCM recently showed an hour long tribute to Robert Osborne. In it they showed a "blooper" reel where he flubs introductions to movies. Did you experience any flubs when you hosted TCM? Any you'd like to share?

Brian said...

Too bad about the 100th Becker episode. That was (still is) a good show, especially the Nancy Travis years.

Dr. Johnny Fever said...

I've been binge watching Cheers from the beginning and become obsessed with the sets.

My question is about the Season 11 set... what was the real world reason for the set remodelling (I'm assuming it wasn't completely new)? And why did they bother with a fictional world reason (the fire), when I'm sure the changes wouldn't have been noticeable during the original airing when a whole summer went by between episodes? And if you're feeling generous... how did they create the "burnt" set?

Anonymous said...

For next Friday questions: do you think you it would ever be possible to some kind of cheers reunion/revival show? Nothing crazy, maybe even something that is 5 minutes long like they did with Will & Grace recently, just so we can see how the cast would be now? Of course my dream would be for you to show Sam and Diane together as an old couple like in the s5 finale (since they are actually old now) to show that they eventually found their way back to each other but I know that would never happen haha