I’ve always had eye issues. I was born with cataracts, my mother having contracted German measles while she was pregnant with me.
(When she was a little kid, Rachel would confuse measles with another malady and would announce, “My Stepdad has bad eyes, because his mother had rabies.”)
As a result of this childbirth affliction, there has always been this sensitivity in the visual arena.
I’m, I don’t know, kind of young (and innocent), and RCA, which made televisions back then, was introducing an exciting, new broadcasting innovation:
To promote their new product, RCA injected some color TV programming into NBC's schedule, NBC being the network RCA owned. You could tell which programs they were because, immediately before that show came on, a very deep voice would announce:
“The following program is being broadcast in compatible RCA color.”
What did that mean? It was very simple. If you had a color TV, you could see “the following program” in color. But if you had a black-and-white TV, you would see the show in black and white. That’s all it meant.
Since, at the time, our family owned the earlier kind of TV, we continued watching everything in glorious black-and-white. (Years later, when every TV was a color TV, I started to miss the earlier format. “The whole world is in color,” I lamented. “It would be a refreshing change of pace if something was still in black-and-white.” Oh, the ingratitude.)
I’m watching this, announced as “being broadcast in compatible RCA color”, TV show with my older brother. Who, at this point, decides to engage in one of the most pleasurable pastimes an older brother can enjoy:
Tormenting his Junior sibling.
In this case, a punishing excursion in ocular “Gaslighting.”
“Look at that!” my brother suddenly exclaims, his voice bursting with excitement.
“Look at what?” I reply.
“Don’t you see it?”
“This isn’t in color.”
“You heard what the guy said. It’s definitely in color.”
“But only if you have a color TV.”
“Are you saying you can’t see it?”
“Oh! Look at that red! Look at that blue!”
“Those trees! The leaves! They’re so green!”
“It’s not funny!”
“Oh, my God! It’s so beautiful!”
“I’m telling Mom!”
“You really can’t seeit?”
“I can’t see anything! I mean, black-and-white. But not color!”
“That’s really too bad.” (A LONG PAUSE) Do you think it’s your eyes?”
The doubt had been planted. Virtually from birth. Could it really be possible? Could my eyes actually be impaired in such a way that I could only see TV in black-and-white, while my brother and everyone else in the world could see it in color?
I didn’t know. I was a kid, not an ophthalmologist. But to allow myself the best possible shot at normalcy, I got up from the television, retreated to the bathroom, and, using soap and very hot water, I put everything I had into washing my glasses.
This memory comes to mind because 3-D movies are currently in vogue. And I have to tell you,
I can barely tell the difference.
Which is odd, because when 3-D first came around back in the fifties, I really, really could.
Tomorrow: 3-D movies. Then and now.
And while we’re on the subject of movies – and while I’m still stealing questions from Ken Levine’s blog – I would like to briefly weigh in a question Ken was asked, concerning why some TV actors make it in movies and some don’t. I believe I know the answer.
If you want to make in movies, you absolutely must have a really large head. It’s a big screen up there. You have to fill it up.
Example in point: Chris Rock. The guy is hilarious. He should be a huge movie star. But he isn’t. Why isn’t he?
He has a small head.
I’ve heard other explanations. But none of them resonate as strongly as “The Large Head Theory.”
I think it’s right.
Since you asked me...
While I was concentrating on my typing, my clipboard slipped off my lap and under my desk, landing behind a foot-supporting apparatus, so I really couldn't see it, even when I looked under there. And I looked a number of times. It was only there on the last look.
Also, someone asked if "pure comedy" is riskier than rat-a-tat joke comedy. Yes. And so, by the way, is physical comedy. Risk avoidance precludes both, to the eternal detriment to the comedy-writing palette. However, in multi-camera comedies, where they have numerous runthroughs before filming, the material is tested in dry-run rehearsals, and if it works, they'll give it a shot.
This is another reason I believe single-camera comedies are rarely as funny as multi-camera comedies. No runthroughs to test the material.