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Monday, April 3

April 3, 2017

Poetry Workshop: Today: Hulick, Ohlund, Cianfarano.

Speed round piece due on the blog by 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Fiction Workshop: Today we workshopped Joanie and Greer. Cassidy is for Wednesday; Henry and Spencer are for Friday.

Stay aware of your due dates! Also note that this is not a flash fiction round… if you have full-length stories, please feel free to bring them to workshop. I’d actually like to see more things come in that are a little fuller in scope. 🙂

Family Values: Today we finished the Dick Van Dyke episode from Friday. Super-fast takeaways:

  1. This show was an outlier during the Sixties — it is a throwback to the New York (even though the Petries lived in the suburbs of New Rochelle, Rob works in Manhattan) comedies of the Fifties.
  2. It is physical humor-based (both stars were brilliant physical comedians) and much more about adults than the kid (Richie, who’s in the mildly bratty mode of Rusty from Make Room for Daddy).
  3. Both stars also became HUGE stars in their own right. Van Dyke was a Broadway actor who made the transition to TV; a fun fact is that other actors who were considered for this role were the show’s creator, Carl Reiner (it was based on his experiences working on Sid Caesar’s variety show Your Show of Shows) and Johnny Carson. Mary Tyler Moore was a dancer and movie actress who would later go on to a groundbreaking starring role in The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the Seventies.
  4. The fact that both leads were young, good-looking, and had a superficial resemblance to the Kennedys didn’t hurt. Neither did the fact that this was not a show about a relationship dominated by one partner. Both Petries are lovably goofy; Rob’s famous “tripping over the ottoman” sequence really sums up not just his character, but both leads.
  5. And, as pointed out, this is partially a workplace comedy. For one of the first times, we actually see a good bit of a character (Rob) at work…even though it often doesn’t seem like work.

We next watched an episode from The Beverly Hillbillies, the most popular sitcom of the Sixties: Season Two, Episode 13 (air date Dec. 18, 1963): “The Clampetts Get Culture”:


    1. This was both a rural comedy AND a gimmick comedy.The gimmick is best expressed in the theme song, “The Ballad of Jed Clampett,” written by Flatt & Scruggs and sung by Jerry Scoggins. The song, like many Sixties themes, introduces the gimmick of the show, gives us the necessary backstory, and does so with the catchiness of an advertising jingle.
    Something I hadn’t realized was that seasons 1 and 2 of the show are now in the public domain — but the theme song is not, which is why it was edited out of the episode we watched today!
    2. This show, like two of the Andy Griffith episodes we watched, has the “country folk” on top at the end, over the “city slickers.” (Although we should point out that Andy does this with Br’er Rabbit cunning, while the Clampetts are just too dumb to know any better.)
    3. Why were there so many popular rural comedies during this decade? The simple answer is almost always the financial answer: because TV had gone from the cities to the suburbs to rural America at last, and this shift was reflected in the programming.
    Think of it like this: by 1960, there were more than 50 million televisions in America. That means nine out of 10 households had a TV. But the end of the decade, we’re talking about something like 96 or 97 percent of households with TV — in other words, pretty much everyone in America.
    4. The guy who thought up The Beverly Hillbillies also came up with the two other big rural hits of the Sixties, Petticoat Junction (which we won’t watch), and Green Acres (which we watched part of the first episode of; finish it up on your own):
      I’m not sure if it’s entirely clear from this episode just how weird this show was, but don’t take my word for it:

read this nice AV Club piece

    . (There could be some extra credit attached to it someday!)

BatCat: Despite some minor frustrations, don’t worry – we are still in a really good place! Remember, if you find yourself with nothing specific to do on one of these down days, try to find some way to contribute – work on a blank book, take a project upon yourself, write some haiku lines, etc.

Comedy: Work day (on your punchline sketches). They’re due Wednesday, and we’ll run them Thursday.

Middle School LA: 

Survey: Screenwriting: Today, I photocopied your homework (Story Dev Proj Part 1 – 20 stories) and you also handed in your notes for Harold and Maude (if you didn’t give these to me today, tomorrow would be good!).

In class, we kind of talked about Harold and Maude – basically, take some cues from this film as far as twists/development is concerned. Most of your story ideas based on the original premise were murder-oriented – clearly, this film went in a very different direction. As you develop your stories for this project, push against the obvious – twist the story, find new directions to pursue and don’t give in to what’s “easy.”

On that note, the next assignment was handed out, which is this: Screenwriting 4.3.17 – Story Dev. Part 2. This is due Friday – I will be meeting with you on Wednesday to discuss.

For Wednesday, please read Chapter 2 of Save the Cat. There will be a quiz, and it’s important in the context of your next assignment.

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