Friday, June 03, 2022

Friday Questions

June already where you are?  It is here.   Let’s kick off the month with Friday Questions.

Jahn Ghalt is first.

If, Ken, you had tapes of old story conferences - what interesting items would you expect to find - perhaps some triggers for VOL 2 of your memoir?

It would really be to hear great minds at work at their peak.  On our various tapes were Danny Arnold, Tom Patchett, Jay Tarses, Gary David Goldberg, Hugh Wilson, Gene Reynolds, Allan Katz, Don Reo.   Even though you may not know some or any of the names, trust me, each one was comedy royalty.  

In addition to being funny as hell, you’d learn how stories were constructed.  It would be a chance to be a fly on the wall.  

I don’t know if my cassettes even exist.  Maybe someday I’ll stumble upon them.  What a treasure if I do.  Stay tuned.  

Douglas Trapasso asks:

If you could go back in time, would you have OKed the post-game show for the Cheers finale?

Well, I wouldn’t waste time travel on that, but yes, I’ve talked about this before.  The cast was a collective emotional wreck and to go on live national television in that state was just asking for disaster.  And it was.  My God.  

But it was a perfect storm.  Someone should have foreseen that the actors would not be in any shape to go on a live broadcast.  If, for no other reason, all the alcohol consumed between 5 pm and 11:30 pm.   

Also, Jay Leno was new to hosting THE TONIGHT SHOW and lost control of it quickly.  I’ve always maintained if Letterman were running that show things would have been way different.  He would have corralled them in or insisted they be removed.  

FQer queries:

Can you talk about writing for Klinger on "M*A*S*H" and the changes in that character? I find him the most interesting character in the series, and Farr an actor who can do anything.

We certainly had the perfect actor for the role.  And Jamie was a joy to write for.

The danger of that character was becoming one note.  How many dresses can you put him in?  

The two things we held to with his character was that he always played totally straight and that push-came-to-shove he was dedicated to the mission of saving and preserving life.  He never put his goal of getting out of the army over his responsibility to the cause.  All of the medical personnel knew they could depend on him, and that was important.  

After we ran out of dresses we decided to have Klinger try different crazy schemes like posing as an aluminum siding salesman (which my father did for a brief time in his youth) or threatening to set himself on fire.  

And after a few years that started growing old.  We left when Radar did so I can’t speak for the last few seasons when he was promoted to company clerk.  Falling in love with a Korean woman was a terrific arc the writers came up with for him in those later years.  

And finally, from chuckcd:

Is it cheaper to produce a show for a streaming service than it is for a network or cable channel?

The streamers and cable might get a little break from the WGA and DGA in terms of minimums.  But by and large the cost of production has more to do with above-the-line salaries and where you produce the show.  

What’s your Friday Question? 


Dave H said...

Once they made him the company Clerk and took the dresses away I could not stand the character. And then Jamie started to overact it seems and Klinger was yelling a lot and using over the top facial expressions. I would have had him finally get out of the army. They had him trying to get out for years and then it was just dropped. They didn't even have a episode where he decides to stop trying.

Wm. Adams said...

A friend recently posted a picture from the Toledo Mudhens game he was attending. It occurred to me that there should be a statue of Klinger somewhere in that ballpark.

Oliver Cochrane said...

One of my favorite Klinger episodes was "The Red/White Blues" where the unit starts taking the malaria suppressent medicine Primaquine. In the 50s, Primaquine was known to sometimes have side effects in African Americans--but it wasn't known that it also could cause those side effects in folks of Mediterranean heritage too. So when in the episode, Klinger suffers those side effects, at first no one believes him and think he's just lazy and goofing off, until the doctors figure out the Primaquine must be invovled and take him off the medicine. (And afternote to the episode explains that it was later discovered that Primaquine could affect those of Mediterranean background.)

I love this episode for a few reasons. First, because it's cool that it's built around an actual bit of medical/pharmaceutical history.

Second, because Klinger gets a heartfelt moment where he says although he's pulled a lot of stunts, he never pulled one on the job and never on Col Potter--a nice bit of characterization that shows how proud he is, as you say, of being responsible and dependable.

And last, because my father was a physician, and I fondly remember him watching this episode yelling at the screen "He's having a reaction to the Primaquine!!!"

Powerhouse Salter said...

Who auditions and chooses the voice actors when an American sitcom gets dubbed into another language for a non-English viewing audience? Do the original actors have any say in the choice?

Lemuel said...

I'm surprised Klinger's hang-gliding adventure didn't feature more heavily in
the series. "Potter must crack down on recreational flying in the camp..."

Joseph Scarbrough said...

Falling in love with a Korean woman wasn't even an arc - they literally met in the penultimate episode, and they fell in love in the finale: there was no build-up to it or anything.

I have also heard rumors that one of the reasons that Klinger stopped with his Section-8 routines - particularly wearing dresses - was because in real life, Jamie Farr's children were being bullied by their peers who were saying nasty things about their dad being a transvestite and what have you, and that by stopping wearing dresses, he was sparing the any further torment. I forget where I read this, and I haven't found any other sources to confirm this, so I have no way of knowing if this is even true or not, but it is a noble thing for a father to do for his kids otherwise.

Out of all of Klinger's non-dress-wearing Section-8 schemes, my favorite was his invisible camel, Habibi - especially the scenes of him going through the chow line with two tray and offering up commentary ("Stop curling your lip, you'll get your potatoes!" "Hold the meat loaf, a camel is not a carnivore!"), and later when a drunken Potter gives the camel a discharge much to Klinger's chagrin. I understand years later, Jamie and his wife wrote a children's book about Habibi, his camel wife Habiba, and their offspring Hababy, being the direct descendants of the camels who transported the Wise Men to see Baby Jesus in Bethlehem.

Michael said...

Lemuel, the hang-gliding incident was in the episode where Henry is being court-martialed, and the "big red bird with fuzzy pink feet" line still kills me.

I think having Klinger become clerk was genius because he was such a scam artist--as Radar was, in a different way. The episode where he and BJ go on a bender is one of the better later ones, I think, combining comedy and tragedy, which MASH did so well.

Back to 1993 said...

The full post-finale Tonight Show with the Cheers cast is on YouTube! I've searched for it before with no luck. It's got all the adverts too, including one for that must see summer blockbuster Sliver. LOL

Buttermilk Sky said...

The name Max Klinger suggests that the character -- a one-off, if I'm correct -- was not originally meant to be Lebanese. Jamie Farr (who appears in THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE as Jameel Farah) must have contributed a lot to Klinger's development when he became a regular.

Question: I was watching a new LAW AND ORDER and noticed a credit "Developed by Rick Eid." What does a developer do? It appears to be the same police procedural/courtroom formula that Dick Wolf introduced twenty-some years ago.

Steve Gravelle said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DBenson said...

A clever idea in the waning days of AFTERMASH: Klinger, threatened with jail for punching out a guy scamming veterans, pretends to be crazy to stay IN the army hospital.

James McGrail said...

Submission for a Friday Question:
I have spoken to people who have referred to Cheers and Frasier as "intellectual" comedies that are targeted toward a similar audience.
How true would you say this statement is?

Brian said...

I enjoyed the podcast with Jamie Farr as a guest. What a sharp mind. And he was super gracious toward the other actors and the writers. I think it was good change when he gave up wearing dresses and became the clerk. It had run its course.

VincentS said...

Agree 100% with your Letterman comment, Ken.

ScarletNumber said...

Can you clarify your answer about the Cheers finale? You say you would have ok'ed the post-game show afterwards, but from context it sounds like you didn't think it went well. Did you confused the "OK" in the question with "KO" meaning to knock out, i.e. to get rid of?

@Buttermilk Sky

Jamie Farr was from Toledo, Ohio, which explains his love of Tony Packo's and the Toledo Mud Hens. Of course, a TMH baseball cap from that era looks just like one worn by the Ted Williams, Billy Martin, and Bobby Valentine-era Texas Rangers, so some fans may have missed it.

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

In the case of "Cheers," I think that was true in the Shelley Long years, less so during Kirstie Alley's time.

powers said...

Huge M*A*S*H fan here. I remember the episode where Klinger attempts to hang glide out of the 4077. The visual effects for it are awful. They should have simply had a stunt performer do it in order to make it look realistic.

Klinger had some wonderful heartfelt moments with Margaret, when their jeep broke down and the two were on her birthday. Another one was one of their Christmas episodes that had a poignant scene between Max and Charles.

JessyS said...

I remember the night of the Cheers finale. Yes they did have the post game show which featured the drunken cast members. I think if Ken Levine had any say, he would have cancelled the "post game show" due to the actors being drunk.

We need to remember that NBC treated the finale like a sporting event such as the Super Bowl or NBA Finals which were both broadcast on NBC that year. Therefore, there was no way Ken was going to get NBC to pull the plug on their "post game show." They also did a "pregame show" with Bob Costas as the host. Here it the link to that "pregame show."

The cost for a 30 second commercial during the finale was $650,000.

Only the Super Bowl cost more at $850,000 per 30 seconds that year.

ScarletNumber said...

Why did you approve Brad's comment? It seems to be disruptive with no redeeming value.

Eamon Andrews said...

Brad also posts as DEB, MARKUS, FUNGUS and DINGUS. All of their posts are disruptive.

Steve Gravelle said...

Srsly, admin? Don't take it personally, lots of people can't write dialogue.