Friday, November 26, 2021

Black Friday Questions

Take a break from Black Friday to peruse some leftover FQ’s.

jcs starts us off:

Traditional multi-cam sitcoms play an important role on Netflix. Otherwise the streaming service would not pay the huge licencing fees associated with shows like SEINFELD or FRIENDS. How come Netflix hasn't tried too hard to come up with their own multi-cam sitcoms? They certainly would have the budget to greenlight handful of shows each year.

Uh… Netflix does have multi-camera shows.  The one my daughter and her husband work on — THE UPSHAWS — got picked up for a second season.  In the past they’ve had the FULL HOUSE reboot, some horrible Nascar show with Kevin James, and a series called THE RANCH.  And there may be more.  

Check out THE UPSHAWS if you haven’t.  It’s actually very funny.

From Ere I Saw Elba:

I listened to a recent podcast with showrunner Dave Hackel, and you got into a conversation about casting. Specifically, Ted Danson was pointed out as someone that no one, including himself, thought was right at first for BECKER. The question is, how often do you think unlikely casting choices go right? And is there ever a case where someone is just perfect from the start?

There are times when someone is perfect from the start and believe me, you know it instantly.  Unfortunately, those are rare occasions.  In most cases you have to ponder, maybe make adjustments, call the actor back, etc. before deciding.  And even then you hold your breath.

Casting against type has always intrigued me.  Actors tend to have more range than they’re given credit for.  They get pigeonholed in one genre, which is not fair to them.

We used David Morse and Kurtwood Smith in a comedy.  Both were terrific.  Both were not easy sells.   

I remember the network casting session with Morse.  He did great, but CBS president, Jeff Sagansky had reservations.  Morse was known for drama.  Tim Flack, the VP of Comedy Development at the time (God bless him), stood up and said, “I don’t know what the problem is.  We all laughed, didn’t we?”   David Morse was approved.

Obviously, you don’t want to go so against type that you have David Spade play LeBron James, but taking a chance on an actor playing a role you’ve never seen them in often pays off.

My favorite example:  Margo Martindale as a villain on JUSTIFIED, season two.  One of the great villains EVER.  

Jessica Miller asks:

I just saw the "bathtub" episode of MASH, which is credited to you & David plus Johnny Bonaduce. Was he related to the kid from the Partridge Family?

Yes.  Danny’s brother I believe.

And finally, from DyHrdMET:

Could you and your writing partner write sketch comedy week in and week out (forget about being consistently funny), given your skills and talents? Or is it not necessarily the same skill set as writing a short play, a movie, or regular 22 minute sitcoms?

We have written sketches.  We contributed sketches for THE TRACEY ULLMAN SHOW.   It’s a different genre but with the same rules — beginning, middle, and end.  We loved writing sketches.  Like eating bite-sized Snickers instead of one big candy bar.

What’s your Friday Question?   Buy me something nice today.


Andrew said...

"We need an actor who is believable as an ice cold villain who shoots children dead..."

"Hmmm... How about Henry Fonda?"

"We need an actor who can play a dark, warped man whose neurotic obsession with a woman turns him into a murder accomplice..."

"Hmmm... How about Jimmy Stewart?"

Lemuel said...

@Andrew: "You said my name."

ventucky said...

I can not think of anything I have seen Morgo Martindale in, and she is in a ton of shows and movies the past 15 years, where she does not play a villain of some sort.

Dana King said...

The Beloved Spouse and I are working our way through all the CHEERS episodes. (Wrapping up Season 6 now.) We recently saw the episode where Woody got into a crowd scene for SPENCER FOR HIRE, and Robert urich made an appearance. Was it tricky to get Urich, as SPENCER ran on a different network?

Dana King said...

The beloved Spouse and I are routinely impressed with what good physical comedians pretty much everyone on CHEERS was. Ted Danson, Woody Harrelson, and Kirstie Alley stand out, though even George Wendt moved better than might be expected. Was physical comedy part of the audition process?

Michael said...

Friday questions: Recently saw an old PETTICOAT JUNCTION episode where it was obvious they were using a stand-in in some scenes for the brunette daughter where spent entire scene without speaking and with back to camera or with hands covering side of face as walked past camera. Googling confirmed this was done in a few episodes. Couple questions: 1) Have you ever had to resort to this on any of your shows. 2) Growing up in the sixties, did you ever watch the show just for the daughters and, if so, did you prefer the blonde, brunette, or red head?

Spike de Beauvoir said...

Margo Martindale was in 2 episodes of Mike & Molly playing Peggy's estranged sister. She tries to charm Mike but her stories about the family mistreating Peggy get to him, and he realizes why his mom is so bitter and negative. So yes, Margo is mean at heart and makes Peggy a more sympathetic and dimensional character. The show is farcical with broad comedy but there is also a lot of realism. The producers really seem to mine the characters for stories instead of just superficial comedy. And Rondi Reed as Peggy should have won an Emmy, she's the greatest battle axe MIL and goes to some dark places but somehow is still lovable.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Jimmy Stewart played a murderer in one of his earliest films, AFTER THE THIN MAN (1936), so he always had it in him.

Should I have said "spoiler alert" after 85 years? There's bound to be someone who's just getting ready to watch it.


Andrew said...

Indeed. ;-)

Andrew said...


DBenson said...

A frequent career arc for a male star is young leading man, mature leading man, implausible mature leading man, and finally villain, telling interviewers he's turning down dull leading man parts because the villains are more exciting.

It's a near-law that big action flicks include elder leading men as villains and mentors in support of newcomers, hot but not so hot they'll turn down multi-picture commitments.

Lemuel said...

One of those Petticoat Junction girls appeared in The Big Doll
House (or was it The Big Bird Cage? The lore is obscure).

maxdebryn said...

My favourite multi-cam sitcom, indeed the only newer sitcom that I watch, is YOUNG SHELDON, which I find very sweet, and funny.The cast works so well together that it could go on a few more years, at least until the youngest actors start to get older.

Anonymous said...

The Ranch was ok until they had to figure out how to write out the brother. I stopped watching then.
If you were making a series about a meth dealing HS teacher, you should look for a lead actor known for comedies.

KEN - it is not opening up the box to input my name. John (formerly) in NE Ohio.

Darwin's Ghost said...

Did you ever meet Sondheim?

Ere I Saw Elba said...

Thanks for taking my question. It seems that sometimes characters on shows are basically extensions of the actors themselves (MASH comes to mind) and in other cases they're obviously fictional or even opposite of who they are personally. It is fascinating to see how both styles work out.

Mark said...

Petticoat Junction also used a stand-in when their lead actress was dying of cancer and couldn’t appear onscreen. The character was shot from behind or in long shots for the entire episode, with the actress’ voice dubbed in later. VERY strange.

Oh, and the original brunette daughter was a drop-dead beauty and had a fantastic voice to boot.

ScarletNumber said...

> Johnny Bonaduce...Danny’s brother I believe

Forgive me if this is common knowledge, but their father Joseph was a long-time sitcom writer.

Jay Moriarty said...

Celia and Anthony Bonaduce, Danny's siblings, are/were also talented sitcom writers.

mike schlesinger said...

Need to put in a word for Chuck Lorre's DISJOINTED, Netflix' first original multi-cam and an absolutely hysterical show that didn't deserve to get broomed after only one season.

Max: YOUNG SHELDON is not multi-cam.

Roger Owen Green said...

Petticoat Junction (1963-1970)
Billie Jo (blonde): Jeannine Riley, Gunilla Hutton (1965), Meredith MacRae (1966)
Bobbie Jo (brunette): Pat Woodell, Lori Saunders (1965)
Betty Jo (redhead): Linda Kaye, Paul Henning's daughter

maxdebryn said...

@ mike schlesinger - my bad. I stand corrected.

CheersFanFromBoston said...

You and David Isaacs are listed as co-producer for Cheers in season one and then while you wrote more episodes, it looks like you weren't on staff any longer. What happened? Why did you leave the staff?

Bob Uecker Is a National Treasure said...

Re: Netflix. My kids love watching Family Reunion, which would not have been out of place in ABC's TGIF lineup in the mid-90s.

Dave said...

Holy Cow! I just realized Robocop's crazy terrorist guy is Red Forman! How have I not known this?

Kendall Rivers said...

Friday Question: Seems like the art of the opening credits\theme song is truly lost. I get that networks like the two second title card thing because it allows more commercials, but don't they realize that part of what can make a show super successful and overall memorable far after its off the air is a catchy and iconic opening credits? Look at Sanford and Son for example: there's not a person in the world who wouldn't instantly recognize that tune by Quincy Jones if they heard it even if they had never actually seen the show.

JS said...

My Friday Question - I've seen some posts about the Coach attempted revival. My Question - if you aren't going to re-cast the entire show, and try to go back to the original cast, how many main actors/actresses can you lose? Coach was trying to go forward without Jerry Van Dyke and Shelly Fabares. I think Roseanne/The Connors worked because everyone came back. How do you re-vamp Raymond without Peter Boyle and Doris Roberts?