Friday, March 14, 2014

"Ask Me Anything!"

I do not get a lot of questions on this blog.  I am not exactly sure why.  But when I do get one, I energetically leap to the challenge and try eagerly to accommodate.  As I am happily doing today.

After binge-watching the entirety of Major Dad on Hulu – apparently the reader has a surfeit of time on their hands – as do I, though I apply it to other enthusiasms, afternoon napping topping the list – a commenter named “senica” wanted to know “why the show {Major Dad} ended so abruptly?” 

I shall address “senica’s” query momentarily.  But first, this anecdote:

Years after I wrote for Taxi (nine episodes, in toto), I got a call from a man who was writing a book about the show, wondering if he could ask me with a few questions.  I said “Fire away!”  (Writer’s Note:  It is unlikely I actually said “Fire away!”, but I most certainly would have, had it occurred to me at the time.) 

The man seemed genuinely excited to speak to me.  (I would add “And who wouldn’t be?”, if it were possible to get an ironic wink down on paper.)  And I, I have to admit, was flattered by the attention.  The majority of my calls these days involve solicitations from companies selling attachable doors for the sides of bathtubs, so that old people will not fall down when they are trying to climb out.

Reading from what sounded like a prepared list, the inquisitor-stranger proceeded to dive in with his first question.

“You wrote the ‘Goldfish Episode’, right?”

“I write all the ‘Goldfish’ episodes”, I replied, having by then also written a “Goldfish Episode” for The Cosby Show.  (So when I say “all the ‘Goldfish’ episodes”, I mean two.)

“Okay," he went on, "so Tony went out of town for a fight, and he left his pet goldfish with Bobby.”

“And then Bobby inadvertently let it die.  Correct.”

“Where did Tony go?”

“What was that?”

“Tony went out of town for a fight.  Where did he go?”


(Delineating a stymied pause.)
“I don’t remember.”

“You don’t know where Tony went out of town to fight?”

“It was a long time ago.”

(Writer’s Note:  This is not an “I forgot because I’m old” issue.  This is more a matter of “Who gives a f…?”  When somebody asks me “What did you write today?” and I cannot immediately recall what it was, that’s an “old” thing.  I am distinctly aware of the difference.)

“Okay, let me ask you this then.  Who was Tony’s opponent in the out-of- town fight?”


(Delineating a second stymied pause.)

“I’m sorry, I don’t know.”

“Who was Tony fighting out of town?”

“I understand the question.  I just do not recall the answer.  Does it really matter who Tony was fighting out of town?”

“I am trying to write a comprehensive biography of Taxi.  I need to know everything.  Okay, I know you’ll know this one.  What was the name of Tony’s goldfish?”

“I have absolutely no idea.”


(Delineating a stymied pause, this time on the part of the inquisitor.)

“Did you really write the ‘Goldfish Episode’?”

“Yes I did.”

And yet you seem to remember nothing about it.”

“I remember it was good.”

And that, minus the excruciating “trail off”, was that. 

Okay, so that “question-and-answer” encounter could easily have gone better.  But now, here’s “senica”, and a chance to try again.  So here we go.

Why did Major Dad finish the way it did?

Major Dad departed the airwaves after its fourth season and ninety-six episodes.  Your humble chronicler departed Major Dad after its first season and twenty-six episodes.  As a result, albeit for a different reason – and, though you may not agree, I believe that’s important – my response to “senica’s” question is the deflatingly familiar,

“I don’t know.”

Dear readers, I beg of you.  Do not let these disappointments dissuade you from coming forward with questions of your own.  I enjoy the interactivity.  Though I have let down others in the past, that does not mean I will let you down as well.  Although I am not saying it is not possible. 

Rethinking this post, perhaps I should have focused on the times when I did know the answers, though that may have tested my memory, as there were not many of them.  You would think they’d have stood out because of their rarity.

I say, “Life is short.”  If you have a question, do not hold back because I invariably draw a blank.

Take a chance.

Ask me anything!
On our next occasion, I shall address “senica’s” question indirectly, revealing what I know about Major Dad’s, to my and my accountant’s way of thinking, premature cancellation.  It’s an agonizing story.  And those ones, I inevitable remember.


GC said...

Hi Mr Earlo,

I'd be glad to ask one question: After how many scripts have you mastered your craft?

Bonne journée

pumpkinhead said...

Okay, I'll try these two questions again. 1) On Taxi, you wrote the only two "John" episodes I can think of in the history of the show (quite good ones, in fact). Why is that, do you think? 2) Also Taxi: You wrote the second Angela Matusa episode, after the actress and the character dropped an enormous amount of weight in a seemingly short time. What can you tell us about the genesis of that sequel?

JED said...

And I'll try this question again. Last year, you lamented the need to tune in regularly to watch the entire Broadchurch series. After the end of the series, I asked what you thought of it but I don't think you answered. I would like to hear what a professional writer and show runner thinks of that type of show. Did you end up watching the whole series? What did you think about the production of that type of series? Do you like the kinds of misdirection that seem to be important to keep people tuning in? Since you spent time in England, do you find the accents understandable? The accents are what I have the most trouble with on British crime shows when the actors are doing tough characters. Comedies and documentaries seem understandable to me.

Sorry for so many questions but they are all centered on the simple, "Did you enjoy it?" question.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Pomerantz, since you offered, how you answer this question:

What's it really like to be a TV writer in Hollywood?