Friday, July 16, 2021

Friday Questions

Mid-summer FQ’s coming attacha.

71dude is up first.

What are familiar, long-running shows that you've never seen (disinterest, don't like the star, never got around to it, etc.)?

Never seen an episode of NCIS.  (How can there be so many murders in the Navy?)  I tend not to watch franchise spin-off shows.  All the CHICAGO shows — CHICAGO FIRE, CHICAGO CROSSING GUARDS, etc.

Never watched WALKING DEAD.  I just don’t like zombie shows.  And with the exception of one episode (that confused the crap out of me), I never watched GAME OF THRONES.  Fantasy shows are not my thing.

Brian  asks:

Were there any sets that were logistically challenging? I'm not speaking about difficult actor, just sets.

You’ll notice in living room sets the couch is always in the middle facing out.  Especially in multi-camera shows shot in front of an audience.  There’s a reason for that.

I directed a show on Fox called ASK HARRIET early in my directing career (when I took anything I could get).  They wanted to be “different” so instead of the couch being horizontal it was vertical.  Only one problem:  You couldn’t shoot it.  

A couch that faces out allows cameramen to get on either side and shoot the actors talking.  But if the couch is vertical you can’t shoot the actor on the downstage side unless you brought a camera up into the set.  And of course the camera shooting the upstage actor would see the other camera.  

What an ill-conceived set.  Needless to say, I never had an actor sit on the couch.  It was just this useless piece of furniture that took up half the set.  

I’ve had other unwieldy sets where it was hard to get one angle or another, but nothing like that.  

From Kevin from VA, who has a question after reading my rant on Mike Myers.

Some of the blowback to your post today on your dislike of Mike Myers has me curious. Have negative comments by your readers ever caused you to regret or reevaluate a post of yours? Just how much do the comments "stay with you", the good and the bad? Are there any posts that in hindsight you now wish you'd never published due to your reader's comments?

Yes, there are times when readers will offer a perspective I hadn’t considered and I will thus alter my position.   Occasionally, I’ll either add on to the original post or change the original post.  

As for regrets, over the last sixteen years I think I have deleted one or two posts, but I can’t recall the specifics.   And those were cases where I felt I inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings.  I try not to do that.  

And finally, from John G:

Would you prefer the challenges of writing the early seasons of a show or the later seasons?

I’d much rather write a show in the early stage of its run.  There’s still a sense of discovery, not to mention you have more available stories.  When you get into the later years the characters can’t surprise you anymore.  You pretty much know how they’re going to react in any given situation.  

The one exception for me was CHEERS.  I co-wrote 40 episodes and never got tired of writing that show or those characters.  

What’s your Friday Question? 

27 comments :

Mark said...

When I watch shows from the 80s or 90s I will often look up the imdb page for an actor who has two or three lines just to see what kind of career they had. Most of the time their listing is six or seven projects. Occasionally they have over a hundred. Saw one the other day that had over two hundred.

My question is: Have you ever been on set and seen an actor who has a line or two and been struck by them in some way and said to yourself "they're going to make it and do great things?" If so, what kinds of things did you see in them?

thevidiot said...

I edited a Sitcom where the kitchen was deep up in the set. One director covered a scene at the fridge with nearly matching flat front shots. The scene was rewritten & another director shot it with permission if the first. He started the action at the fridge & pulled the actors down to the sofa where it could be covered. Night & Day!

mike schlesinger said...

NCIS, like most procedurals, is not about the murder of the week. It's about the easy camaraderie among the regulars. Actors who work well together and are inherently likable are the key to the success of that show and many others, such as BLUE BLOODS and 9-1-1. They're like the comfy robe and slippers of television.

Brian said...

I'm with you on Walking Dead - just not my thing. A friend told me "there is character development", but I still haven't watched an entire episode. I did watch Game of Thrones, but I didn't think it was as great as some thought.

Lemuel said...

Agree about the "dead body shows".
https://www.avclub.com/on-second-thought-law-order-decides-that-defense-att-1847303051

Jim said...

I was told that about age 3 I started complaining about the arrangement of TV people at a dining room or kitchen table. “They are all on one side. That’s not right.” It really bothered me.

I still notice and it still bugs me every time. At least one of your readers thus understands that silly and ill-advised vertical sofa alignment.

Jim said...

Speaking of reviewing an actor’s IMDB page while watching them perform on a vintage show, which I often do, one night I grabbed my wife’s nearby phone while watching an episode of ‘Monk’ to look up a guest star with a fantastic snarky, sarcastic air that was called for in that role. I didn’t know of her and was intrigued.

That actor texted my wife’s phone WHILE I WAS READING HER IMDB PAGE to accept an offer in an upcoming low budget film. My wife was then the producer’s assistant but we had not discussed anything about that job, the film nor her new role in it. That stunning and bizarre coincidence shook me for a good long while.

Mike Bloodworth said...

I have never watched "Blue Bloods." I have also never seen any of the "NCISes." I haven't watched ABC's "A Million Little Things" which appears to be their answer to "This is Us" on NBC. (Which I've only watched enough to know I didn't like it.) I don't watch "Survivor," "Big Brother," "American Ninja Warrior," etc. But that's mostly on principle. The so called "reality" genre killed my extra career.
Of older shows, I never watched "Downton Abbey" despite its alleged popularity. And during its entire nine year run I never watched "Coach." It was one of those shows if you caught it while flipping through the channels you'd say, "Is that show still on?"
Finally, I'm proud to say that I have NEVER watched "Jerry Springer." That is never more than a couple of minutes at one time.
If I had cable or streaming I'm sure there are plenty of shows I wouldn't watch there either.

M.B.

Mike said...

Given the problems of angles especially in vertical placement, do you ever use Stedicams?

Charles Bryan said...

The observation about the sofas made me think of TWO AND A HALF MEN. The living room sofa was vertical, but there was a TV room sofa that faced downstage. I think that the living room set must have been constructed to let a camera set up downstage of the fireplace, and I'm a little sad that I recall their sets in such deatail. My poor brain.

71dude said...

I've also never seen NCIS and can't name anybody on it besides Mark Harmon and that bloated creep from Bull, which I've also never seen. Never seen any CSI, FBI, Grey's Anatomy, Blue Bloods, Criminal Minds, Desperate Housewives, Gilmore Girls, Buffy, Mom, The Office, 30 Rock, Parks & Rec or Seal Team. I don't have cable so that takes care of The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, Shameless and Breaking Bad. I haven't watched Walking Dead since 2013. I was into the Chicagos for a while, but they're terrible except for a few token good actors.

Liggie said...

I remember Monica and Rachel's apartment had a couch perpendicular to the audience and a love seat facing the audience. A lot of scenes took place with characters on both and the director utilizing jump cuts throughout the dialogue. See the final episode in season 1, where Rachel finds out Ross is in love with her.

Anthony Adams said...

I know what you mean about NCIS. it's why I quit watching CSI. I looked it up Las Vegas had fewer murders in a decade than the show had in a year. I guess what the guy was saying about caring about the characters and their environment is important. Barney Miller was the last bunch of cops I cared about. At least was Hill Street Blues the crimes were interesting and we weren't asked to believe that the place was real.

mike schlesinger said...

Anybody else want to share a laundry list of shows they've never watched? Sheesh!

Tim Cabeen said...

Ken,

I was curious how closely a show's producers keep track of character traits or personal history, for the sake of continuity? For example, in the early seasons of Seinfeld, it's mentioned that George has a brother. Then later it's said that George is an only child. It was probably a much different process before the internet existed, since nowadays anything that goes against a show's continuity blows up the internet.

Thanks,
Tim

Jim, Cheers Fan said...

as an older Gen-X, college-euducated white liberal spawned from a leafy suburb, I think I might as well have been designed in a lab to be the target audience for West Wing. I've never seen it and don't feel the urge to fill that gap.

Edward said...

These days, it's easy to never watch or hear of a show. But looking back to the old days pre-cable TV when viewers had 4-7 channels (we had 7 in the NYC area), there are shows I had no interest in watching and have never watched. Knots Landing, Falcon Crest, Dynasty, Fall Guy, TJ Hooker, Remington Steel, A-Team, etc. Almost all of the 60 minute shows during the late 1970's and 1980's I had zero interest in watching as sports was more interesting to me as a teenager.

Buttermilk Sky said...

To be fair, NCIS also deals with murders in the Marine Corps and the occasional generic terrorist event. I used to watch NCIS: NO just to see how many ways they could let the audience know it was set in New Orleans (references to jambalaya, the bayous, Katrina, music). I love that one-size-fits-all Hollywood Southern accent, STEEL MAGNOLIAS being the most egregious example.

The one I always avoid is CRIMINAL MINDS. If I wanted to see women tortured -- no, I can't imagine wanting to see women tortured.



Bill Kelliher said...

Ken, what are your thoughts on the Frasier reboot now that it's official? Will you be working on the new show?

Kyle Burress said...

Was there ever any attempt to get Kirstie Alley to guest star on Frasier? She was the only main cast member not to make an appearance except for Nick Colasanto who had passed away.

It was great to see Paul and Phil in Cheerful Goodbyes, and even a nod to Al, but was there any consideration into having Alan, Tim, Steve or Pete in that episode, as they had appeared in numerous Cheers episodes as well?

Necco said...

Apparently, none of the other "Frasier" actors have been attached to the reboot. The whole concept sounds awful. Just leave it alone. The original ended well. This comes across as a Grammer ego trip. I prefer the route taken by the "Friends" and "Fresh Prince" reunions. Let's just sing a round of "Let it go."

Rob Greenberg said...

I’ve been revisiting ’Modern Family,’ which I initially stopped watching in season 8 after what I felt was a long-time drop in quality. In hindsight, I am seeing seasons 5, 6 and 7 all had midseason slumps: long strings of weaker episodes in a row. But they always rebounded nicely, and rallied into the next season as strong as ever. Eight is just the first season that never happened.

What would you attribute a mid-season slump to? A busy production schedule catching up to itself? Clearly there is more lead time to hone early season scripts.

Scott Lodge said...

Cheers is inarguably one of history’s greatest sitcoms - arguably its single greatest.

What do you think it was about that show and those characters that made it impossible for you to become tired of writing for them?

MikeN said...

You don't watch franchise spinoff shows? Oh, that's rich, considering how you worked on AfterMash.

The Walking Dead is not a zombie show. I avoided it for a long time thinking the same thing. It's actually pretty good. Someone compared it to the old Incredible Hulk shows, a lot of story with once or twice appearance of the hulk.
I've kind of lost interest in the show now though, but found it riveting for many seasons.
The first season or two did seem to focus on how gory can we make the zombies, but the real villain is people.

Bill Kelliher said...

Necco, according to Kelsey Grammar they have approached all of the previous cast members about being in the show with the obvious exception of John Mahoney. Which doesn't really make sense if he's moved to Chicago or San Francisco.

Grammer has also said that the show wouldn't be set in Seattle and that Frasier is now incredibly wealthy. I'm not sure if that'll work as a source of comedy.

bmfc1 said...

Every show or movie that has a current SNL cast member has a credit for Lorne Michaels. The latest example is "Schmigadoon" on Apple+ where the first thing you see before the title is "Lorne Michaels Presents". I'm guessing that he has next to nothing to do with these movies or shows but gets the credit for allowing the cast member to moonlight from SNL. What do you think?

HagFan said...

I worked with Mike Myers a bit. Not someone I would want to know outside work. Comes off as a typical polite Canadian on talk shows, but I found him extremely difficult and was not a big fan of his work either.


JB