Tuesday, September 24, 2019

"Plus Ca Change"

I was thinking of writing a post about “If I were working in television today, what kinds of shows I would pitch to the networks?”

Then I realized the futility of expecting to receive “now” ideas from a “back then”-derived brain.

That’s trying to drive a new-model car, using a key.

(It’s all “sensors” now…. is what I am saying.)

Then, as a “back-up” idea, I pondered, with somewhat lowered enthusiasm, the problem of today’s writers, pitching to the networks, wondering if it is easier or harder now than in bygone eras.

My reflexive response is that it’s got to be harder.  (With the implied, “Man, I’m sure glad I don’t have to do that anymore”, making me feel better for being unable to.

Seriously, with the sitcom format failing to excite and no “hot shows” definitively “pointing the way”, looking for some chance of “rising from the sludge”, pitching to networks today – it has to be different. 

Then, I saw that, at least in one way, it isn’t.

They are still scheduling “ands…”

So – Duh! – the “Creatives” are still pitching “ands…”

It’s true.  I just saw a “promo” for one, scheduled on CBS, Mondays at 8:30.

(Side note, adding some “heft” to the proceedings.  When attorneys are searching for cases to argue that have the best odds of reaching the Supreme Court, they look for “splits” – cases garnering contrary outcomes from lower federal courts, which the Supreme Court must necessarily decide.  Similarly, your best odds of getting a network show picked up is, and always has been, offering an “and…”

What’s an “and…”?

(Which, by the way, does not necessarily have “and” in its title.)

It’s a show about “diametrical opposites.”

Bridget Loves Bernie (offering the relationship between a Jew and a Catholic.)

Dharma and Gregg (offering the relationship between a hippie and striver)

Mork and Mindy (offering a relationship between an Earthling and an alien)

Laverne and Shirley (offering a relationship between a… no, they’re the same.)

And now, showing that, though pitching to networks may have changed, this hasn’t


Bob Hearts Abishola

(With an emogi heart in the title instead of the word)

The sitcom that screams “and…”

As in,

“Offering the relationship between a typical American and a woman from Africa.”

Demonstrating that amazingly, after all this time,

They are still doing the “and...”

At least when Chuck Lorre is involved.

Chuck (Two and a Half Men, The Big Band Theory, Young Sheldon, Mom) Lorre is currently the most successful sitcom impresario in network television.  Here, imaginably, though not outrageously, is how Bob Hearts Abishola got on the air.

“Chuck Lorre’s on the phone.”


“Hey, it’s Chuck Lorre.”

“You got Mondays, at 8:30.”

Some “pitches” go easier than others.

And so here we go again, with a show involving an “unlikely relationship”, headed for definite hijinks, because, as the Wikipedia “Premise Summary” explains,

“… they could not be more different.”

Did somebody just yawn?

Oh, wait.  It was me.

Being a fair man hungry for comedy, I am going to give Bob Hearts Abishola a chance.  Chuck Lorre, is known for peppering his scripts with, especially early in the series, really good jokes, so there is good reason to “sample.”

Mostly, however, I’ll be watching for curiosity reasons, wondering,

“Can an ‘and…’ sitcom still score deep in the twenty first century?

If it can’t, then it’s back to the original question:

“What do you pitch to the networks today?”

Man, I’m sure glad I don’t have to do that anymore.

(Said with 89% relief, and just 11% regret.)


Wendy M. Grossman said...

Lorre really is happy in odd couple territory - THE KOMINSKY METHOD, too, although it was less traditional sitcom.

btw, the word is "emoji".


Lord Lillis said...

It all depends on the writing. Yes, there have been "and"s since before the days of "I Love Lucy". But, then again, three-camera comedies were passé and family comedies were super passé in 1984.

(You know where I'm going with this so I'll stop here)

And as for you not being able to do it anymore I beg to differ. I've been catching up on a recently canceled FOX sitcom called "The Cool Kids": great actors, good productions, lousy writing. They should've hired you - your blog posts make for better, funnier and more "real" stories than the nonsense they put together there.