Friday Questions on Monday

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  • Friday Questions on Monday

    Making up for no Friday Questions on Friday, here they are on Monday.
    McTom starts us off:

    A college professor of mine (who was a first-year associate prof way back then, and is now a frequently-quoted expert on pop culture in the news) talked about character naming, and used the examples of Sam Malone "M-Alone because he's a lone wolf type", Diane Chambers "her emotions are chambered", and Norm because - "norm". Reading too much into it, or are characters sometimes actually subtly named for personality traits?

    Happy to say in the case of CHEERS that NONE of that is true. No subtext, symbolism, or hidden meanings were involved in the naming of those characters. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

    I'm always amused at how "experts- can read meaning into things that don't exist. Of course, if dealing with contemporary work they could always ASK the creator.
    jcs asks:

    Have you ever considered becoming more political in your work (TV or theatre) and going more in the direction of THE THICK OF IT or VEEP?

    David Isaacs and I have done a number of political projects. A pilot about the White House press corps that we did for ABC and later for HBO, and a pilot about a mayor we sold to FX. At the time, both stalled because of fear of political shows.

    How do you write something funny and satirical today that even comes close to the insanity of the current political scene?

    But as you saw last week, I do write political plays, and I've written numerous articles for the Huffington Post.
    From cd1515

    Do those network promos for comedies really do any good?

    If there are three funny lines in the promo I usually think "those might be the only three funny lines in the show and now I've already seen them so why would I watch?-

    But if the three lines they show in the promo AREN'T funny then I think "wow if that's the best stuff they have, why would I watch?-

    When you were on network shows, what did you want a promo to accomplish and how much say did you have about what went in them?

    Network promos used to be way more important when people watched the networks.

    At one time they were crucial and producers fought tooth and nail to get as many promos as possible in the best slots as possible.

    As for the content, that's always been a big struggle because producers don't select the clips - the promo department does. And either they give away big reveals or choose the wrong jokes or jokes that make no sense out of context. They were uncanny at that.

    I just want viewers to (a) remember the show, and (b) be intrigued enough to watch it.

    Bob Gassel has this week's (or is it last week's) final question:

    The only real continuing storyline MASH ever did was Margaret's engagement and marriage, why didn't they do more and would you have liked to?

    We were locked into a time and place, which really tied our hands. The show lasted over four times as long as the actual war. On other shows characters can move, get in and out of relationships, have kids, change their circumstances, etc. We couldn't do any of that. So it made it very hard to do long term story arcs when no one was allowed to evolve.

    On the other hand, the advantage we had was all the research and all the interviews with people who served in Korea during that time. Most of our stories came from real-life events, and many were very unique to our series.

    And we felt the trade-off was worth it. We told stories no other show could tell.

    Friday Questions return to Friday this Friday. What's yours?

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