Friday, January 28, 2022

Friday Questions

Last Friday Questions of the month.  Take advantage.

Charles H. Bryan gets us started.

Odd question that occurred to me: every Cheers main cast member recorded the "Cheers is filmed before a live studio audience" voiceover that began each episode. Was there any rhyme or reason for why a particular recording was used for a particular episode ("This ep is light on Cliff scenes, let's use John's voiceover")?

To my knowledge they just rotated them. To be honest, I don’t think much consideration went into which disclaimer track they used.  Whoever was in charge of post production probably made that call.

We started using them about halfway through the first season when people accused us of laying it on thick vis a vis the laugh machine when in fact the laughs were real from our studio audience.  

From WB Jax:

Were the "Frasier" producers particularly wary of too many former "Cheers" characters popping up for "reunions" with Frasier in Seattle (or Boston)?

Absolutely.   It was important that FRASIER stood on its own.   If a former CHEERS cast member showed up it was usually once a season and seen as an event.   

David Isaacs and I wrote four of the Lilith episodes along with the Sam Malone episode.  As I recall, most were shown during sweeps.  

Kendall Rivers queries:

How did you and the other MASH writers go about writing Father Mulcahy? I have to say he seemed very authentic and respectful to the cloth but still quirky and funny which is hard to balance with any religious figure on a television series\movie.

It was important to make him a real person.  Yes, he was a chaplain but he was one of the gang.  He played poker, he let out his aggression with a punching bag, he was not above enjoying a dirty joke.   He knew the shenanigans that were going on in the camp but was not judgmental.   That helped us a lot.   

And not enough can be said about the way Bill Christopher played him.  Whatever we gave him he delivered big time.  

And finally, from Mike Bloodworth:

What is the first script you wrote?. (Either practice or real) And do you still have it filed away somewhere?

It was both practice and real.  The first script was a pilot about two unlikely dorm roommates, which at the time was the sum total of our life experiences.  

We had no idea what we were doing.  We didn’t even know to outline.  And with the special effects we required it would have cost WEST SIDE STORY money to produce… in 1973.   

In short, the script was a mess.  But there were some funny things in it and we enjoyed both the process and working with each other.  From there we sought advice and learned how to go about breaking in for real.  

Somewhere I must have a copy of that pilot.   We originally wrote it longhand and might still have the original notebook.  If the Smithsonian asks I’ll try to find it.  So far, no calls.

What’s your Friday Question? 


Lemuel said...

"Closed captioning for MOM provided by..." That little announcement
serves as an "intermission" to separate the first flood of commercials from the second wave. That's a lot of ad time for a syndicated 20 minute sitcom (it was always Allison's or Anna's voices used for this spot).

Call Me Mike said...

MILD SPOILERS... THE BOOK OF BOBA FETT recently ran an episode that demonstrates how not to utilize a guest star from a parent series in your spinoff. Well, let's put it this way: it would be like Sam Malone tooling around Seattle without ever seeing Frasier for an episode. Kinda weird.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

GREEN ACRES is an interesting case, because the first season very frequently had characters from PETTICOAT JUNCTION crossing over, particularly in the earlier episodes when Oliver and Lisa were settling into Hooterville, while the other residents such as the Bradleys at the Shady Rest Hotel, and others were helping them to feel right at home (even though Lisa continued to look for any reason for her and Oliver to move back to New York). After that, it seemed like the PETTICOAT JUNCTION characters had all but disappeared from the GREEN ACRES landscape, with an occasional exception every once in a while (a la Eb falling in love with Betty Jo, or Uncle Joe still trying to court Oliver's mother). It got to a point where Drucker's Store was the only evidence that these two shows even shared the same universe.

maxdebryn said...

@Call Me Mike - Din Djarin is also in the last episode of THE BOOK OF BOBA FETT, which I expect will be a cliffhanger resolved in the season three premiere of THE MANDALORIAN.

Mike Chimeri said...

Ah, yes, the Sam Malone episode. "WELL, BLOW ME DOWN!"

kitano0 said...


At this point, I'm just going to wait and watch the 5 and 6 at the same time, and get it over with. BOBF was just a disaster IMHO. Ming-Na Wen deserves better.

maxdebryn said...

@kitano0 -

I agree that TBOBF is pretty dull. Temuera Morrison is a tremendous actor, but in this he seems bored. Ming-Na Wen seems like she's having fun, if nothing else. She turns up on YOUNG SHELDON next month.

Michael said...

In the movie and the pilot, two other actors preceded William Christopher as Father Mulcahy, and I cannot imagine either of them, as good as they were, giving so much texture to that role. Then again, I have occasionally asked myself whether anyone else could play any of the roles, and I can't see it.

The Lilith episodes were so brilliant. That's all that need be said.

Call Me Mike said...


I'll never dislike seeing Din turn up, but as Ken pointed out, a spinoff needs to stand on its own. All that episode did was remind me what a better show The Mandalorian is.

Mike Bloodworth said...

As always Ken, thank you for answering my F.Q.
See what kind of mileage you get from me? Only one or two questions and I got multiple answers. (Wink wink)

I don't think that any of the "Three's Company" cast was ever on "The Ropers." But I could be wrong.


Greg Ehrbar said...

"It was important to make him a real person. Yes, he was a chaplain but he was one of the gang. He played poker, he let out his aggression with a punching bag, he was not above enjoying a dirty joke. He knew the shenanigans that were going on in the camp but was not judgmental. That helped us a lot." - Ken

Father Mulcahy was superbly written and played, but you don't need me to tell you that.

But while we're on the subject, Sister Bertrille played poker, too. Sister Jacqueline was an ace at playing pool and betting on the horses (a carryover from Marge Redmond's role in the movie "The Trouble with Angels").

In the sitcom-staple "inheriting a boxing champ" episode, Sister Bertrille didn't box, but she did train and manage a pugilist.

Wealthy "playboy" Carlos Ramirez engaged in "shenanigans" throughout the series (with Farrah Fawcett in two episodes), but these were consistently interrupted by Sister Bertille -- in the words of Carol Channing, "Well, that's the comedy." Some of the other nuns expressed discomfort about his reputation and Sister Bertrille made wisecracks, but she hoped he would come around on his own while she talked him into weekly benevolence that pushed his better nature against his futile protests.

Before she joined the convent, Sister Bertille was arrested and jailed for a protest rally one year before joining the convent. As far as the jokes, this was a 7:30 family series about nuns and orphans on ABC in the sixties, so the dirtiest she ever got was when she fixed the station wagon.

JS said...

My Friday Question - what dramatic moment sticks with you. Mine - Friday Night Lights -Tami tried to talk Coach into buying an upgraded house. He had to say he'd love to buy it for her, but it was a stretch financially and he could never sleep at night worrying about that mortgage. He wanted to give it to her so bad, it was just sad.

71dude said...

My favorite Father Mulcahy scene is him disarming a distressed AWOL soldier in the mess tent:

Chuck said...

"Jocularity. Jocularity!"

Dave said...

Further to you and David writing four of the Lillith episodes, did you both enjoy writing for her character? She seems a fantastic actor and the stories I saw with her in them seemed even better than normal (which is a high standard) especially the Room Service one.

Powerhouse Salter said...

Julianna Marguilies in THE GOOD WIFE and Julia Marie-Dreyfus in VEEP both wore wigs to jibe with their TV character personas and not mess with their own naturally curly heads of hair. Is there anything in a typical sitcom contract about whether an actress can change the hairdo she wears while in character? I'm thinking of the totally inaccurate (for the years and situation in which the show was set) Farrah Fawcett style hairdo that Loretta Swit sported during latter seasons of MASH.

Gary said...

I'm watching all of FRASIER again and I'm in awe of how truly funny and smartly written it is. I doubt we'll ever see anything that good on network TV again.

Just finished the episode where Sam Malone visits, and after Sam assures Frasier that Woody and Kelly's new baby is smart, Frasier remarks "Genetics takes a holiday!"

Easily one of the best sitcom lines ever written.

john v said...

Friday Question: Rewatching Cheers, love Loretta Tortelli ("Hi gang at Cheers!") What was the actress like who played her? I think she crushed every scene she was in.

Frasier spinoff, whatever, they should have done the Loretta Tortelli Variety Hour! ;)

maxdebryn said...

Best sitcom lines ever written, Volume III: "don't mention the war !!"

Janet said...

Hi Ken,

You mentioned sweeps in your answer about FRASIER.

My question is: Are sweeps still a "thing," and how have they changed over the years?

Thank you!

scottmc said...

I saw the new Woody Allen film ,Rifkin’s Festival, today. There were more people in the audience than there were when I saw West Side Story. The movie itself was uninspired, and ultimately pointless, but you could sense the deep longing in people to want to laugh. The laughs were few and far between, I figured that I paid about $5.50 per laugh. I was thinking while watching the movie, and since the movie wasn’t generating many laughs I had a lot of time to think, that a laugh out loud comedy could make a fortune now. But with comedy operating currently under such limitations I worry that such a movie can’t be made.

Ere I Saw Elba said...

Every FRASIER episode with Lilith was superb. I think she was pretty much the only connection the show really needed to the CHEERS universe. I mean, Niles and Martin didn't even exist before.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

Father Mulcahy could be a pretty complex character, so much so that we have a number of episodes where he feels pretty useless in camp, that nobody has any need for him, and that he serves no purpose posted in a hospital where the men have the comfort they need . . . but then, there were certain other episodes where apparently he felt important enough that he deserved a promotion.

tavm said...

Mike Bloodworth, I believe Jack, Chrissy, Janet, and Larry were in one ep celebrating something with Stanley and Helen.

john v, I'm not Ken but I'm guessing she (Jean Kasem) got along fine with the cast since it seemed at the time she and Casey were a happily married couple who had one offspring, Liberty. Unfortunately, reports of her behavior between her hubby's kids from a previous marriage and her concerning his health in his final days make her seem not-so-nice nowadays. What a tragedy!

Kyle Burress said...

I just finished watching CNN's The Movies on HBO Max in which you are shown a number of times talking about different films of the different eras. I've also seen you on their decades series. I'm curious about how that comes about. Do they contact you and ask you speak about specific movies, or is generalized and you just end up talking about whatever they happen to ask? Are you there at the same time as other people doing the same, or is it strictly one on one?

BGVA said...

More of an observation than a question, but a few years ago MeTV aired Cheers every night, and one random thing I noticed was that whichever actor or actress did the "Cheers is filmed live..." blurb did so in character. So for example, Cliff opened with "Here's something you don't know...Cheers is filmed..." It caught me off guard at first, but it didn't seem to last beyond the first season.

Bob B. said...

FQ-A couple of weeks ago my wife wanted to watch a theatrical film on HBO but it started about 5 minutes past the hour so she watched the last five minutes of an HBO series, Succession. In that approximate five minutes I head the F word 35 times.

I find vulgarity irritating because in my opinion it represents a lack of education and in writing it represents laziness. It seems (at least from the previews) that an HBO show must contain excessive vulgar language and/or blood and violence and/or nudity. I can't stand it but apparently critics do because the only shows they brag about or give awards to are shows with these hooks. And I find it interesting that when shows like "Sex and the City" and "The Sopranos" are cleaned up for strip syndication they fail miserably.

Since you're in "the business" what is your opinion of this current trend?

msdemos said...


Friday Questions

Have you ever been asked for your autograph, and have you ever asked anyone for their autograph?

Also, whom might you consider to be the most famous person that you've ever worked with (radio world, sports world, theater, or "Hollywood", etc.) and the most famous person that you've met outside of the 'workplace'?


Jim, Cheers Fan said...

Every FRASIER episode with Lilith was superb. I think she was pretty much the only connection the show really needed to the CHEERS universe. I mean, Niles and Martin didn't even exist before.
didn't they address that in the episode when Sam came to Seattle. Martin said something like "I bet he didn't talk about me much", and Sam said, "He actually said you were dead", cut to Frasier "We were in a bad place at the time", or something.

I think I've mentioned this before but I'll offer it up for Official Friday Question placement: Was the whole "Daphne's a psychic" thing just a set up for the first Lilith appearance where Daphne has an unexplained headache when Lilith comes to the apartment, and walks away from meeting Lillth and says under her breath, "I shook that woman's hand and lost all feeling in my right arm!"

(if so, well done, IMHO)

Jim, Cheers Fan said...

found the Daphne meets Lilith moment on YouTube

James McGrail said...

Friday question.
A few years ago I caught and an episode of Hogan's Heroes on METV. What caught my ear is it didn't have a laugh track. The episodes I watched as a kid had a loud one. It makes me wonder how other 60s sitcoms would work, or not work, without the laugh track. Thoughts?

Charles H Bryan said...

Thanks, Ken! It's always a treat to make the FQ line-up.

TimWarp said...

@Greg Ehrbar "Sister Jacqueline was an ace at playing pool and betting on the horses (a carryover from Marge Redmond's role in the movie "The Trouble with Angels")"
"The Trouble with Angels" was based on Jane Trahey's memoir "Life With Mother Superior". Marge Redmond's character was based on a real nun who taught math class using horse racing and betting.

DyHrdMET said...

As far as the Cheers stars appearing on Frasier, they all felt like sweeps stunts in a way (not to say they weren't funny) except for Lilith because she had a different connection to Frasier than the others. And those were great to have in your back pocket to use when it felt right, just like the ones with his agent. And the Diane appearance was a brilliantly set up payoff (I think that was your episode).

DyHrdMET said...

For your original pilot, could you take it and rework it into a short stage production? It would be kind of cool (for you, I guess) to see your earliest work finally see the light of day using one of your newer mediums for a different twist.