Wednesday, June 17, 2009

In which we Parse the Show, Part Deux

But wait! There's more!

0:10 Here's Bob with a handful of Real Mail. Keith would hand me the week's mail when I checked in with him; we usually received between five and ten pieces of mail per week. I'd scan the letters and pick out the sections of each letter that we'd respond to on air; I'm pretty sure we acknowledged each piece of mail received each week, even if we didn't read the letter. Sometimes Barb would read the actual piece of mail with the on-air section hi-lit; usually we'd rewrite it with a Sharpie so that she could read it quickly. I'd bullet the response and she'd adlib around it. We'd stick the letters onto the set, so that everybody would see the letters every week.

0:42 I'm sure glad we didn't hear half of what Dougie was putting out for the soundscape, because I have no idea what he's doing with the FX.

0:56 This was a live show, so we didn't do the loop repeat gag. We must conclude that Mr. Mike created the loop for his buds at Morehead. We knew Morehead was a bastion of Milliedom, so this is not surprising. Recently, we learned that Asbury College was, too. Sakes! Who'da thunk?

1:38 This letter was not a setup; that was a real letter from a real fan. We used it as a Clever Device to integrate the plot into the show. If you listen carefully, you can hear the plot wheels creaking in the background.

2:14 The week's obligatory Punky Brewster running gag. Barb and I found this show vastly amusing for all the wrong reasons, including finding the words "punky" and "brewster" highly risible.

2:50 This is the week's single fake letter, which not only sets up the fake mailing address but is Secret Clue No. 2 to dating the broadcast.

3:07 This week's fake mailing address. The post office box is WLEX's main post office box. We put the joke header on in the first few weeks out of amusement at the conniptions it would give whoever sorted the mail. Imagine our surprise when people actually started sending letters to the fake address. Keith told me that it actually worked in our favor, because we got our own little mail cubby out of it. We'd occasionally use a cancelled envelope as the background to a bump shot, just to acknowledge that real people sent mail to the silly addresses and the Postal Service processed it through. I guess if they accept letters to Santa Claus, North Pole they'll accept anything. Of course, this was back in the day when mail was handled for the most part by humans. Our youngest son does not understand why you would write something on a piece of paper and send it when you can just email somebody.

3:08 Dougie has now shifted to his planned soundtrack, so we're back on the script -- the BG music is ripped from the movie.

3:09 Can't even read my own script, and give the wrong ZIP code. That's why we needed trained actors!

3:23 Get us out of this scene, Keith! We got nothing left!

3:51 Position 4 -- in the reception area -- note the on-air feed to the big honkin' console teevee. This was one of the early meta "watch ourselves watching ourselves" gags; but it's real function was to cue Bob; we didn't have enough cable to extend the headsets out for the two or three crew guys needed for the shot. So Little Jeff had the live headset, because as the cameraman he needed to hear the director. When Bob saw himself come up on the teevee, that was his cue to head for the conference room.

4:12 And here we are in the conference room. Shot just the way they left it at COB Friday. Usually we used the conference room for Barb's makeup and dressing room. Later on we discovered that the offices weren't usually locked at night, and we'd shoot "JD" in the real JD's office. Yes, folks, now it can be told -- we shot JD, not Kristin.

5:11 And speaking of the real JD, he had just given us a list of movies that they were looking at for "season 2" of MT. That was the first hint that we had that WLEX was committing to extending the show. So we selected and programmed the second wave of 26 movies that followed the "first season"; season 2 started with the Bela Lugosi Dracula.

5:27 Position 5. This sequence was written for Officer Elmer, but he decided that night that he didn't want to do it. This was an unpleasant surprise; we'd told him about it when we dropped the scripts off Thursday night, and gave him his pages, and he was up for it. Go figure. We needed to recruit somebody to stand in, in a hurry, so Terry did it. But Millie's posturing about a security breach makes no sense as played to Terry; Millie's on-air relationship with the production guys was amped-up Talent 'tude (go back to her manhandling Richie and Jeff in position 1). Well, we figured that anybody who stuck through the broadcast this long wasn't interested in strict internal logic n consistency.

6:09 Oh, look! More dead video air! That's because there was only one minicam, and it was set up at the film chain; Barb had to run over to it. We actually tried to get a pedestal camera out into the corridor for a cover shot; couldn't get it out the door.

6:25 The lens flare kills the payoff. The bookplate reads "Property of WKYT-TV". Guess we should have rehearsed that one.

6:54 Our first experiment in slipped synch. Doug had discovered that he could take an audio feed, loop it back through the audio rack, and throw the audio out of sync with the video. There was a noticeable degrade of the sound quality, but hey it was MT. We thought it might be interesting to have Millie's audio dubbed after going through the whole silent movie shtick; and we figured that people watching were half-asleep and if they noticed would think that their exhaustion was causing their eyes to play tricks on them. We played much more extensively with the slipped synch in later shows.

7:28 It's "je ne sais quoi", folks.

7:53 The Devil's Hand -- A Swedish anthology movie featuring Lon Chaney, Jr. as the devil, recovered from having his hand nailed to the set. He stays seated at a desk, wearing what looks like one of his personal shirts through his scenes, which were the wraparounds for the anthology stories. At the end of the movie he blows up the world.

8:06 The third Secret Clue to the air date. The show aired either the week before the Super Bowl, or the week of. We guys were vastly amused by Da Bears, not because we were football fans but because it was Ditka and Da Bears; we shared a brotherhood of punkdom. The out music is Da Bears doing the Super Bowl Shuffle.

8:32 Barb is adlibbing her way out.

So there you have it. We were pretty happy with it; this was, truth to tell, how the First Show would have played if we had had the chops to pull it off. We had the celebratory pizza afterwards, and everybody was feeling very good about this. We left the station sure in the certain knowledge that the cards n letters would pour in, congratulating us on our artistic accomplishment.

No comments:

Post a Comment