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Monday, March 13

March 13, 2017

Poetry Workshop: Today: Hulick and Bocek. I gave out Round 4 packets. For Wednesday: comments and annotations for the first four (Bocek/Erb-White/Kennedy/Bowser).

Fiction Workshop: Today we workshopped Ian and Greer. A minor change for this week: Ash will be workshopped on Wednesday, and Layla’s piece will be handed out on Wednesday to be workshopped on Friday (along with Faith). Confused? See me.


  • Stay aware of your due dates! All due dates are either a Monday or a Friday.
  • If you are absent, hand in your annotations to the RED FOLDER in the absence bin on my office bookshelf.
  • Pieces are due by 8 am; comments are due by 8:45 am.
  • Annotations are your responsibility – one of the reasons we have a blog is so that you can do annotations no matter what. If you can’t pick up the printed copy from the bin in time for class, print them off yourself OR do them digitally. Or, of course, pick them up as soon as you get here in the morning and get them done in what time you have. There is no flexibility on this point.

Family Values: Today we discussed your impression of the first episode of Ozzie and Harriet. Some takeaways:

  • The humor and tone are much more gentle than in any previous show we’ve seen. This perhaps has something to do with the fact that the Nelsons were a real-life family. (Even the set was designed to match their home, which was used for exterior shots. It wasn’t a reality show, but there were certainly elements of them here.)
  • In a related note, conflict is largely circumvented. Even situations that, in other shows, could provide an episode-long conflict, largely resolve themselves (like Ozzie and Thorny’s “bragging session” about their kids. Ozzie is just too nice a guy to stay mad, or make people mad at him, for long.
  • The most obvious point is that this is a show about kids, and kids’ problems as much — or more — than adults and their issues. It’s especially focused on Ricky, whom we saw later today. The “cute kid” of sitcom lore essentially begins here.
  • Ozzie and Harriet was a successful radio show (with actors playing their kids at first), which was adapted for TV. They filmed a pilot, at Ozzie’s expense, which he was able to give a theatrical release, paving the way for the TV series.
  • In fact, Ozzie and Harriet is the longest-running live action episodic TV show in history. (It was recently tied by It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which — if the most recent contract is completed — would tie it with 14 consecutive seasons. Nobody will ever beat the combined radio/TV run, though.)
  • We didn’t talk much about the Hotpoint appliance ads, but that will figure into our discussions later this week.

Then we watched this episode from April 10, 1957: “Ricky the Drummer,” in which Ricky gets to play drums and sing a Fats Domino song — “I’m Walkin’,” which just happened to be Ricky’s first single!

In fact, the whole Nelson family got in on the act in this episode, which addressed Ozzie’s (real life) past as a bandleader. (We still don’t find out what he does around the house all day, though.)

Ricky Nelson, who was then 16 and on the brink of stardom as a singer, would go on to close out many episodes with a performance. Like this one, from the December 1957 episode “The Christmas Tree Lot”:

There, Ricky sings the heavily Elvis-derived “Oh Baby I’m Sorry.”

And then we pointed out that Ricky Nelson’s own sons, Matthew and Gunnar, kept the family entertainment tradition alive and became Nelson, which enjoyed a hit at the tail end of hair metal’s heyday, in 1990:

Your notebooks responses were to compare today’s episode with a sitcom episode which features a musician — as either a cast member (e.g., Uncle Jesse on Full House, or Miley Cyrus as Hannah Montana), or doing a guest spot (as themselves, or as a fictional musician). We’ll get to those responses Wednesday.

I also gave you a handout, “From Ozzie to Ozzy,” comparing Ozzie and Harriet to The Osbournes. Your long-term assignment is a short (one- to two-page) response paper addressing the premise of this essay: have sitcoms really not evolved much, if at all, in their depiction of the family? Discussion of this point is a key element in this class, and we’ll keep coming back to it, but I want to get it started now.

These papers should be typewritten, and will be due a week from today (Monday, March 20). Please see me if you didn’t get the handout: I expect you to reference it in your response.


Comedy: The Band Wagon, part I. Featuring S.D. (Special Delivery ) Kluger, the mailman from Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

Image result for fred astaire santa claus

Otherwise known as Fred Astaire.

Your notes should address:

  • Types of comedy you see.
  • The effect, if any, of color.
  • How the music — and this is a musical — relates to the comedy.

Middle School Lit Arts: 

Survey: Screenwriting: Today I handed back your silent screenplays (Assignment 5). If you have any questions about these, please let me know! I’d be happy to have a conversation with you. For those of you with a “re-do” marking, you have a week to rewrite. If I don’t get anything from you by next Monday, I’ll put in the score you would have received for the original.

In class we wrote a little scene with dialogue. Here it is, if you want to see it again (I wouldn’t): Screenwriting 3.13.17 – Class Written Dialogue Scene

Assignment #6 was handed out, and is due next Monday. If you have any questions as you write, let me know! Email or in person. Screenwriting 3.13.17 – Assignment 6, Scene with Dialogue.

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