Friday, April 22, 2022

Friday Questions

Happy Friday Question Day.

Bronson Turnquist is in the lead off spot.

Your selected career is one with absolutely no financial security.  You could always be fired for any reason or no reason at all.  You mentioned the movie "The Big Picture" as a good example of Hollywood.  How important is financial discipline when you get that first well paying, steady job?

Crucial!  I didn’t quit my day job until we had gotten our second script assignment.  

I was very fortunate in my writing career.  I was on hit shows that provided a modicum of security plus was able to cultivate a feature career and co-create a few series of my own.  

And yet, I always feared the bus that takes you out of show business would pull up at my house any day and the driver would say, “Get in!”  

When you’re lucky enough to be making good money you can’t assume it’s going to last forever.  Lots of once highly successful writers got in big trouble believing that.  

Money management in an unstable career like television writing is imperative.   Not getting divorced six times and having eight kids is also a good plan.  

Joe asks:

Trapper left MASH off-camera because when Season 3 ended, the producers expected Wayne Rogers to be back. Was the same true of Larry Linville? His contract was up, and the character was not the same once Hot Lips got engaged. Were the power that be expecting him back, or was Frank Burns not deemed worthy of an on-camera exit?

We wanted to bring Larry back for the first episode of season six to arrange Frank Burns’ departure and were even willing to pay him a lot of money.   But Larry was going through a very bitter divorce and didn’t want his ex-wife to get half so he passed.   True story.

Dharma wonders:

What are your reasons for choosing not to answer certain Friday Questions that get asked? Lack of knowledge on the topic, taking offense at the question, a combination, or just plain ol’ lack of time and space?

All of the above but mostly lack of knowledge.  However, if I don’t know the answer but do know someone who does I will often reach out and see if they might provide the answer for me.   I've had some great guest bloggers like Aaron Sorkin.

Occasionally I’ll find a question a little personal, but rarely do I find one that’s offensive.  Those I just delete at the moderation stage.  

But I do try to answer as many as I can.  I apologize if yours slips between the cracks.  

And finally, from Kevin from VA:

A Friday Question that ties into your Friday question of your six favorite shows.

What are your six favorite episodes of all time, Comedy or Drama?

Okay, this is one of the hardest FQ's I've had to answer.  The minute this is posted I'm going to think of twenty more.  But here's my first stab at it: 

Honeymooners — $99,000 Answer
Breaking Bad — the killing Gus episode
Mary Tyler Moore Show — Chuckles Bites the Dust
Sopranos — Tony taking Meadow to look at a college
The Fugitive — finale
MASH - More I see You

What’s your Friday Question?  I’ll try my best to answer it. 


Michael said...

The Larry Linville story reminds me of BANACEK. George Peppard ended the show after 3 seasons to avoid his wife getting more money in divorce.

Anonymous said...

most terrifying episodes of all time:
Incredible Dr. Markesan - Thriller
Pigeons From Hell -Thriller
The Magic Shop -Hitchcock
The Jar -Hitchcock
The Hitch Hiker -Twilight Zone
A Stop At Willoughby -Twilight Zone
Demon with Glass Hand -Outer Limits

ventucky said...

There are probably only 4 episodes of the Sopranos where someone who has never watched it could be satisfied by one episode. The pilot, obviously. The Taking Meadow to College episode. The Pine Barrens, Chris and Paulie lost in the snow. and Mr. Rugerrgio's Neighborhood, where the feds attempt to bug the Soprano house. All stand alone without much story continuity needed. By the way, Michael Imperioli who plays Chris, has made it clear that Mr. R's neighborhood is his least favorite episode because of its structure. it is probably my favorite for the same reasons he hated it.

Griff said...

Hm. Six favorite episodes of all time. Very subjective, off the top of my head and as of this minute -- if I made a list like this tomorrow, it might be very different. However, I'll try to name six comedies and six dramas...


"The Phil Silvers Show" -- "The Court Martial"
"The Honeymooners" -- "The $99,000 Answer"
"The Dick Van Dyke Show" -- "Coast-to-Coast Loudmouth"
"The Mary Tyler Moore Show" -- "Chuckles Bites the Dust"
"WKRP in Cincinnati" -- "Turkeys Away"
"Newhart" -- "The Last Newhart"


"Kraft Television Theatre" -- "Patterns"
"Playhouse 90" -- "The Comedian"
"The Twilight Zone" -- "Walking Distance"
"Kraft Suspense Theatre" -- "Nightmare in Chicago"
"Law & Order" -- "Amends"
"The Sopranos" -- "Pine Barrens"

ScarletNumber said...

That particular Sopranos episode is called "College".

Anyway, my question for you is: Do you still watch The Simpsons? If so, how do you feel when characterization that you have built up over the years is destroyed by a single writer? In the episode that aired on March 6 (Boyz N the Highlands), Martin's backstory completely changed and it wasn't the Martin any fan of the show would recognize.

Mibbitmaker said...

Trying the 6 favorite episodes, though including all formats. Plus, I for sure have more than 6 overall.

1. BOB NEWHART SHOW - Over the River and Through the Woods
3. MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 - Manos: The Hands of Fate
4. TWILIGHT ZONE - Living Doll
5. CHEERS - I'll Be Seeing You (pts. 1&2)
6. COMMUNITY - Remedial Chaos Theory

M*A*S*H would be any/all of the Colonel Flagg ones.

Kendall Rivers said...

FQ: Regarding the character of Frank Burns. How did you go about writing for such a let's face it pretty one dimensional character while making him still interesting and funny enough to still get laughs despite being so unlikable?

Jeff Boice said...

Here's my six:

Dick Van Dyke Show: It wouldn't hurt them to give us a raise
MASH: Payday
The Avengers: the House that Jack built
Barney Miller: Hash
Car 54: Put it in the bank
Bewitched: A is for Aardvark

Lance said...

Another candidate: Sammy Davis, Jr. on All in the Family

Sean R. (Giants Fan) said...

My FQ is a baseball question.
Given your history calling MLB games, do you ever critique baseball announcers while watching/listening to games? For some reason, I can just picture you watching a game and saying something like, "Why did he/she call it that way?"
Bonus Question: Who among the new breed of MLB announcers do you most enjoy listening to?

N. Zakharenko said...

HELLO LARRY: Rap With Ruthie
DELTA HOUSE: Blotto Who Came To Dinner
THE APPRENTICE: Nobody Out Thinks Donald Trump

(Yes - they are all bona fide real episode titles)

Mike Bloodworth said...

Another reason Ken might not answer a question is redundancy. Many questions have been asked and answered before in various iterations. If his archives were a little easier to navigate I'm sure many would find their questions have already been asked by someone else in the past. Not that he never answers the same question twice, but it's usually only after enough time has passed. And/or if the question is worded differently enough that it could be considered new.

I have no first-hand knowledge of this. It's speculation based on my observations over the years.


zapatty said...

Many have been made redundant, MB.

CarolMR said...

I've seen "The $99,000 Answer" over a hundred times and I still laugh whenever I see it. Great episode.

Michael said...

Choosing best episodes is a bit like saying, "Ken, please choose between Annie and Matt."

A word for The Dick Van Dyke episode, "That's My Boy?" although a tough one to pass over (or pesach) is "Happy Spangler" for the immortal professorial lecture on comedy.

On "Law & Order," "Aftershock," the most unusual episode--Briscoe, Curtis, McCoy, and Kincaid react to an execution. What a lot of people miss is when McCoy at the bar talks about his father being abusive and refers to Adam in terms that made me realize, Adam is his substitute father, and that's one reason McCoy has to sass him.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

As a long-time freelance writer, I'll add to Ken's advice: if you're freelance, don't be too dependent on any one source of work. If anything goes wrong with that one source it's an existential threat.

If you get a job that pays substantially more than you've been making, first month set aside enough to pay taxes, second month pay off any debt you have. *After* you've done those two things, you may buy yourself a present.


Mitch said...

One of my top 6 episodes is the Gilligan's Island episode where they were about to be rescued, but Gilligan screwed it up. But at the end, they still loved him.


D. McEwan said...

I would certainly have included "The Court Marshall" episode of Sergeant Bilko.

"Anonymous said...
most terrifying episodes of all time:
Incredible Dr. Markesan - Thriller
Pigeons From Hell -Thriller
The Magic Shop -Hitchcock
The Jar -Hitchcock
The Hitch Hiker -Twilight Zone
A Stop At Willoughby -Twilight Zone
Demon with Glass Hand -Outer Limits"

Those are all EXCELLENT choices, Anonymous. I would point out that "The Jar," which was based on a story by Ray Bradbury, has been done on two other TV series as well. Twilight Zone did it and the more recent Ray Bradbury Theater also did "The Jar."

I just watched "The Magic Shop" again earlier this month, and the pulled the HG Wells short story it is based on off my bookshelves and reread it. I remember seeing it the first time it aired, when I was 13, and it scaring the crap out of me, though seen now, I no longer found it scary. Interestingly, only the first half of the episode is Wells's story. (And, of course, Wells set it in London.) The second half of the TV version was completely original to Hitchcock's show.

"The Incredible Doktor Markesan" [sic] is special to me. The actress who played Dick York's wife in that episode, who gets zombiefied, was Carolyn Kearney. Carolyn had two great near-misses in her career. She was to be Lila Crane in Psycho until Hitch decided to get out of his contract with Vera Miles by sticking her in that role, which he considered punishment, as it was such a lesser role than Janet Leigh's. Carolyn also was the second choice for Annie Hayworth, the character played by Suzanne Pleshette in The Birds. Hitch tried to make it up to Carolyn by using her a couple times on his TV show.

Anyway, I knew Carolyn, and her son is still one of my closest friends. Carolyn became an alcoholic and then beat her addiction, left acting, and devoted the rest of her life to helping people conquer addictions. She was one of the kindest, warmest people I have ever known, and I loved her wholeheartedly. I went to her private memorial service.

At the time when I first met her, I had been living for two years with an alcoholic friend who lived on my sofa as it was there or the street, and who had just finished up drinking himself to death at age 38. I told her about how I'd kept this friend from being homeless and had seen to it he had food and ate, called ambulances when I'd find him comatose, and basically took care of him until his liver finished dying and took him with it. She put her arm around me and said, "Whatever else you do in life, you've already earned your place in Heaven."

And as for "Demon With a Glass Hand," is it possible to enter The Bradbury Building without expecting to see Robert Culp and his finger-deficient glass hand, despite all the many, many other movies and TV shows shot there?

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

Favorite "Frasier" episode: "Moon Dance." Beautifully directed by Kelsey Grammer; outstandingly performed by Jane Leeves and David Hyde Pierce. The pinnacle of the series.

Friday question: "Frasier" had so many story arcs involving guest actors--Mercedes Ruehl, Marsha Mason, Saul Rubinek, Jean Smart, Patricia Clarkson, to name a few. Did the arcs conclude because the actors were no longer available (or less available), or because the storyline had run its course?

Joe said...

Thanks for answering on Larry Linville -- and a very interesting answer it was.

Charles H Bryan said...

Six favorite episodes is indeed a tough call, but the ones that jump immediately to mind:

House, M.D. - season one's "Three Stories"
Homicide: Life on the Streets - season one's "Three Men and Adena", an incredible interrogation episode
Star Trek's "City on the Edge of Forever"
Mary Tyler Moore "Chuckles Bites the Dust"
Frasier "The Matchmaker"
Curb Your Enthusiasm's season 3 finale with the opening of the restaurant

And I'm sure I'd rewrite my list an hour from now

Steve Lanzi f/k/a qdpsteve said...

Sorry I don't have a list, but I do have my all-time most memorable sitcom episode...

Everyone always lists the Chuckles episode as their all-time favorite Mary Tyler Moore Show entry, and I need to catch up to it again. But after all these decades, the episode that sticks with me personally, and that I still can chuckle about, is the one on Ted Baxter's Famous Broadcasters School. In particular I remember:

- Ted's school song. "We have no gym and we have no pool, but we have heart at Ted Baxter's Famous Broadcasters School..."

- When the group finally has their grand opening, a grand total of *one* prospective client shows up.

- When they confront the one prospective client, claiming they can't run the whole thing for just one person, he gives his speech about his brother, who I believe was named Richard. "Look, you don't understand. When I and my brother, Richard were growing up, my parents said, 'we can only afford new clothes for one of you, so we're gonna buy them for Richard.' And when we graduated high school, my parents said, 'we can only afford to send one of you to college, so we're going to send Richard.' So if you don't accept me into your school, I'm gonna sue and you can speak with my attorney... Richard."

- Ted gives his opening speech, asks if there's questions, and when the client raises his hand, says "I think I see a hand up over there..."

- Finally, when the client asks how his work will be evaluated by the school, Murray (Gavin MacLeod) responds, "we'll be grading on a curve."

Mike Doran said...

OK, my very own Top Six (you'll likely spot a pattern):

COLUMBO: "Suitable For Framing" with Ross Martin.
MURDER, SHE WROTE: "Trial By Error", the jury show.
WKRP IN CINCINNATI: "Up And Down The Dial", the grand finale of 1982.
PERRY MASON: "The Case Of The Glamorous Ghost" - best ending ever.
THE EDGE OF NIGHT: "The Day Before The Election", the first two weeks of November 1983.
(OK, it's two weeks worth of half-hours - approximately equivalent to two made-for-tv movies, but it's a great story, very much worth your time (especially these days).)
And as long as I'm making exceptions:
"The House On Greenapple Road", the sort-of pilot for DAN AUGUST.
Burt Reynolds isn't in it, but it might be the best-written TV whodunit ever.

Anonymous said...

@ D. McEwan
The Magic Shop may not be quite as scary almost 60 years later but you have to admit when John Megna and Leslie Nielsen get into the magic shop and David Opatashu appears that is still one of the scariest scenes ever on television.

Peter said...

Star Trek TNG: "Chain of Command"
Star Trek TOS: "City on the Edge of Forever" (Harlan Ellison!)
Schitt's Creek: "Life Is a Cabaret"
All in the Family: "Archie in the Cellar"
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: "Kimmy Goes to School"
M*A*S*H: "Fallen Idol"

Anonymous said...

Best episode of Bonanza ever - Look to the Stars.
With a bit of true life thrown in. Holds up even today.
The explanatory episode of Have Gun Will Travel is also superb - Smoke

71dude said...

MASH - Movie Tonight
Cheers - Coach's Daughter
WKRP - Real Families
Friday Night Lights - The Son
All in the Family - Mike Meets Archie
MTM - The Dinner Party (Veal Prince Orloff)

Cowboy Surfer said...

Well played Mitch...

Add THREE'S COMPANY, that one where there was a misunderstanding between Jack, Janet and Chrissy, that caused Mr. Roper to get in trouble with Mrs. Roper...Stanley!!

I liked WINGS when they flew Carlton to see his brother...Maybe it was Las Cruces

James Van Hise said...

I'm surprised you mentioned the finale of The Fugitive, which I thought was a big letdown. The worst part is that Richard Kimble is chasing the one-armed man who then proceeds to climb a tower to nowhere. Exactly what did he think that would accomplish? It was then obvious what would happen when he reached the top. Ho hum. It just came across to me like it was rushed to meet a conclusion.

YEKIMI said...

I am assuming that somewhere along the line you may have been asked to do a non-comedy script. If so, which drama/crime show show would you have written for if you think you could do the script justice knowing you could have tossed in a few funny lines here and ther I know a few years ago there was an exchange of script writers for Two & a Half Men and some crime show [can't remember which one it was].

Mickey's Mouse said...

Now that the fascist governor of Florida, Ron DeSuckthis, has revoked Disney's special status, Disney should respond by leaving Florida altogether. Hit em where it hurts. Disney exiting Florida will deal a massive blow to the economy. As a champion of free enterprise, DeSuckthis shouldn't have a problem with a corporation moving its operations wherever it wants.

DyHrdMET said...

Looking at how the characters left M*A*S*H, is it harder to write out a character whose exit is planned (and thus can be included in the story arc, such as Dianne on CHEERS), or one whose exit happens over the summer hiatus and needs to be written into the show very quickly?

Douglas Trapasso said...

Possible Friday Q:

Any comments on the recent Netflix falloff? One time blip or a danger sign for all of Streaming, Inc? Is there a window now for Old School media to stage a comeback?

Gary said...

The criticism of the series finale of THE FUGITIVE has been rampant on the internet for quite some time now. And yes, with 45 years hindsight most anything can be picked apart. All I can say is, I still vividly remember watching that night, and how thrilling it was to see Richard Kimble catch the one-armed man and finally clear his name. Bringing a series to a conclusion like that was unprecedented at the time, and it drew an unbelievable 72% of the viewing audience. Definitely one of the all-time historic moments of episodic television.

Brian Phillips said...

FRIDAY QUESTION: Do you prefer writing a script that is straight humor or one that is humorous but has dramatic moments?

Spike de Beauvoir said...

Dick Van Dyke Show - My Two Showoffs and Me

Mary Tyler Moore Show - Support Your Local Mother

Seinfeld - The Comeback

I Love Lucy - Lucy Gets a Paris Gown

Mom - Wind Chimes and a Bottomless Pit of Sadness

The Nanny - Yetta's Letters

msdemos said...


What are your six favorite episodes of all time, Comedy or Drama?

MASH - More I see You

Ah, YES.......the INTOXICATING Blythe Danner !! Remember falling QUITE hard the first time I saw her in this.....and the first time I EVER laid eyes on her!

LOVED that 'scratchy' voice, her beautiful blonde hair, and those AMAZING blue eyes......No wonder THIS woman was one of the few (the only??) that HAWKEYE was willing to make "his only" !!

An AMAZING example of the exemplary writing and acting that made M*A*S*H SO unforgettable (among MANY!) !!


YEKIMI said...

I am assuming that somewhere along the line you may have been asked to do a non-comedy script. If so, which drama/crime show show would you have written for if you think you could do the script justice knowing you could have tossed in a few funny lines here and ther I know a few years ago there was an exchange of script writers for Two & a Half Men and some crime show [can't remember which one it was].

D. McEwan said...

"Anonymous said...
@ D. McEwan
The Magic Shop may not be quite as scary almost 60 years later but you have to admit when John Megna and Leslie Nielsen get into the magic shop and David Opatashu appears that is still one of the scariest scenes ever on television."

No I do not have to admit that. It scared me when I was 13; didn't impress me when I saw it last month. Frankly, the scariest thing I ever saw on TV was the announcement that Trump was being awarded the presidency. (He lost the election, so he was "awarded" the presidency by the Electoral college, ignoring "The Will of the People.")

An episode that I, at 13, found VERY scary was an hour-long Twilight Zone titled "The Thirty-Fathom Grave."

"James Van Hise said...
I'm surprised you mentioned the finale of The Fugitive, which I thought was a big letdown. The worst part is that Richard Kimble is chasing the one-armed man who then proceeds to climb a tower to nowhere"

Well, that "Tower to Nowhere" was a ride at the late, beloved Pacific Ocean Park, on the Santa Monica - Venice Beach border. (Literally, the north half of the park was in Santa Monica and the southern half was in Venice Beach, which made dismantling it after it closed a NIGHTMARE, as each city had different regulations and environmental requirements. It just sat and rotted and burned for years as a result.)

Those of us who grew up in Los Angeles in those years have special memories of that park, and it being immortalized in The Fugitive's finale as the place where Kimble finally caught up to the one-armed man made us love that finale. You wouldn't believe the crap I've sat through for a glimpse of P.O.P. There's an episode of Route 66 shot there, an episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., a wretched Nancy Sinatra special called "Movin' With Nancy" that TCM recently aired, several movies. Anything that preserves glimpses of POP, of which no real trace remains (There are condos and beach now where it was) is special to we who loved the place.

D. McEwan said...

"Mickey's Mouse said...
Now that the fascist governor of Florida, Ron DeSuckthis, has revoked Disney's special status, Disney should respond by leaving Florida altogether"

While I agree with you, Mr. Mouse, about what Florida has done to punish Disney for not being homophobic bigots, your suggestion is insane. Do you really think that Disney will - CAN - just walk away and leave their half-dozen amusement parks, built at the cost of untold billions, to rot, like POP did? Not gonna happen.(I prefer the nickname for him of "Ron DeSatan.")

And not needed to happen. Disney’s property has been covered by the Reedy Creek Improvement District since 1967, giving it self-governance over land use and environmental issues and allowing it to float tax-free municipal bonds. Disney finances the services the district provides, which would normally be paid for by local municipalities. Disney effectively charges itself property taxes to finance these services.

For law enforcement, Disney pays the Orange County Sheriff's Office. With the district dismantled, those responsibilities will fall to local municipalities and taxpayers. So will the district's debt-load. The district's long-term bonded debt totaled more than $977 million as of September, according to Reedy Creek's annual financial report. State Sen. Stewart tweeted that removing the district "could transfer $2 Billion debt from Disney to taxpayers" and could have "an enormous impact on Orange & Osceola residents."

DeSatan is up for re-election this year. Voters now burdened with Disney's debt, will be FURIOUS with him. And neither DeSatan nor anyone in the Florida legislature who voted to strip Disney will ever again get one red cent from Disney's incredibly deep pockets, while Disney will pour fortunes into the coffers of their opponents. The morons just shot themselves in their collective feet. All in the service of homophobic bigotry.

Mickey's Mouse said...

D. McEwan, I defer to your greater knowledge of the details and I hope you're right in your prediction that DeSuckthis and his cronies will get kicked out.

Cap'n Bob said...

The term is Court Martial.

Mike Bloodworth said...

It was the original C.S.I.


Jeff said...

FMQ: Ken, were you an Andy Rooney fan? Did you ever meet him?

JS said...

My Friday Question - Why don't networks/streaming give shows a decent ending. I mean, "Leave it to Beaver" had a good ending (I think it might have been the first). I get discouraged from watching new shows because I think, they are going to drop it without a decent ending and all the time I watched it will be useless.

Russ DiBello said...

The most underrated sitcom of all time lasted two seasons: "Car 54, Where Are You?"

What's not to love about a show that was made in the Bronx, about the Bronx, featuring unvarnished ethnic characters, and which frequently and unflinchingly showed viewers in Kansas real, genyoowine Jews... in the early 1960s!

Case in point: Yiddish Theater legend Molly Picon as the irrepressible "Mrs. Bronson" in "I Won't Go" in 1961; and then in '62 "Occupancy, August 1st"; and finally in '63 "Joan Crawford Didn't Say No".

You can fill out the rest of my list with every episode of this show, plus every episode of the "Stephanie and Michael" episodes of "Newhart"*.

(* = So much love is given to "The Bob Newhart Show" from the '70s, which may have been a funny sitcom, but come ON, man: "Hi. I'm Larry. This is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl." MY GOD... top THAT!)

Philip Guest said...

FRIDAY QUESTION: Here in the UK, the BBC showed MASH without the laughter track - except for one week, when it was left in by mistake.

What was your view on this, Ken? Would you have preferred it left off in the US as well?

Apologies if you've answered this question before!

HicksPub said...

M*A*S*H question: There are discrepancies in the titles of two scripts - is it "Preventive Medicine" or "Preventative Medicine"? And is it "Patent 4077" or "Patient 4077"?

RichRocker said...

I have always found Larry Linville's departure from M*A*S*H one of the best of the series. As he stands alone watching Margaret's chopper fly away, you can just tell (rightly or wrongly) that he is watching the love of his life go out of his life - that he is suffering a private anguish that nobody else notices (arguably Frank Burns's most human moment in the series). He knows he no longer has a purpose or motivation, and life is going to be all downhill from here. Simply saying "Goodbye, Margaret." says it all for both the character and the actor. Goodbye to the character and goodbye to the series.

Spike de Beauvoir said...

@Russ diBello: I agree with your praise of Car 54, Where Are You? Created by an early TV pioneer, Nat Hiken. It's a treat to watch, every episode is fresh and charming. And I love the Molly Picon episodes, she's a legend and yet so natural with wonderful comic timing.

slgc said...

FQ - This has been an exciting season of Jeopardy, with an unusual number of high win streaks.

Why do you think that so many contestants have won so many consecutive games? Have they deciphered the code to winning?