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Monday, June 25, 2012

Krasovic: Baseball writers still don’t love ‘Raymond’

I don’t know, Hano, Schaap, Hirshberg, etc…they all wrote for Robinson’s Baseball Stars of… Oh.

But it wasn’t a gag. This man believed that comedian Ray Romano’s TV character—the guy never seen writing a story or interviewing an athlete or watching a ballgame or getting a disruptive phone call from an editor—is in fact a sports writer of the newspaper species.

For my neighbor to divine that thin truth, which is a truth in the way that “it sometimes snows in Mississippi” is a truth, is proof beyond a doubt that nuclear engineers truly are geniuses.

This whole Raymond-is-a-sports-writer conceit has fascinated me for years. I may not know much about many jobs, but I do know what newspaper sports writers do, having been one for 24 years, most of them as a baseball or football beat reporter for San Diego’s largest newspaper. Raymond, ostensibly employed by Newsday, rumored to be covering the Yankees, is suitably flippant to be a sports hack. His arrested development rings true, too. Not so his life of apparent leisure. Sports writers actually work. Raymond doesn’t work.

There you have it.

My wife, Mrs. West Coast Bias, could confirm this, at least the part about sports writers working, but she’s not commenting owing to subject fatigue. Whenever she dared watch “Raymond” in my presence, I pointed out 394 times that this man couldn’t be a sports writer.

Repoz Posted: June 25, 2012 at 02:32 PM | 292 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. SG Posted: June 25, 2012 at 02:52 PM (#4165801)
Never saw him acting as if he was supposed to be a sports writer.
   2. Guapo Posted: June 25, 2012 at 02:57 PM (#4165805)
Time to call on a family witness: My stepson....

"I don't see how he's a sports writer and he has so much time with his family," says the stepson, as stepdad winces. "It's backward."


BURN!
   3. Gonfalon B. Posted: June 25, 2012 at 03:02 PM (#4165809)
Physical and emotional separation from one's children is painful, of course. But all that sadness becomes worth it, one special day a year, when you get to not vote for Roger Clemens.
   4. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 25, 2012 at 03:03 PM (#4165811)
I always knew Raymond wasn't a realistic sportswriter, because I never saw him act like Oscar Madison.

This is going to be the case for just about any profession portrayed in a sitcom. There have been sitcoms about magazine editors, which is a job I used to have, but they never showed people staring into computer screens all day long, or reading paper manuscripts once in a while to break up the monotony. Then in a moment of real drama, we'd go yell at the art department for giving us space for only 650 words on a feature that had been assigned at 2000. Now those were some highjinks.
   5. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 25, 2012 at 03:04 PM (#4165814)
The only episode I saw of Raymond, he was interviewing Kristi Yamaguchi. So, aside from that, he never worked? That seemed like such an awful show, I am really baffled by its popularity.
   6. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: June 25, 2012 at 03:08 PM (#4165815)
Did we rewind back to Bush II's first term and I just didn't notice? Hasn't this show been off the air for like a decade?
   7. Rennie's Tenet Posted: June 25, 2012 at 03:15 PM (#4165825)
I always thought he was supposed to be more of a columnist than a beat reporter. It always seemed to me that he was too young for that job.

Did we rewind back to Bush II's first term and I just didn't notice? Hasn't this show been off the air for like a decade?


The average cable subscriber could see Raymond at least six times a day, so it's exposure may be bigger now than when it was in first run.

   8. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: June 25, 2012 at 03:16 PM (#4165826)
Did we rewind back to Bush II's first term and I just didn't notice? Hasn't this show been off the air for like a decade?


I thought the headline was a dated pun about some player named Raymond who's underrated by the media. I didn't think there was any way the article was actually about the show. I can't wait for the follow-ups "NBA Players not Hangin' with Mr. Cooper" or "Who's the Boss? Not Tony Micelli, baseball players say."
   9. Gonfalon B. Posted: June 25, 2012 at 03:23 PM (#4165832)
Mike Brady was definitely a serious architect, though, because of that time Jan mixed up his blueprints with a Yogi Bear poster at the amusement park.
   10. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 25, 2012 at 03:30 PM (#4165838)
. I can't wait for the follow-ups "NBA Players not Hangin' with Mr. Cooper" or "Who's the Boss? Not Tony Micelli, baseball players say."


"Minor league ballplayers don't always Blossom into Joey Lawrence-type prospects."
   11. zonk Posted: June 25, 2012 at 03:37 PM (#4165843)
The only episode I saw of Raymond, he was interviewing Kristi Yamaguchi. So, aside from that, he never worked? That seemed like such an awful show, I am really baffled by its popularity.


I think it was significantly overrated, but the supporting cast -- one note ponies though they were -- was good at what they were to supposed to be (namely, be the cranky Ralph Kramden-as-a-senior father, the doofus younger brother with insecurity issues, and the overbearing mother).

I don't think I ever watched a first-run episode, but I'll admit to occasionally not minding it on as background noise in syndication.

My take is that not only is Ray not much of a working sportswriter -- it's also a got a bit of a "Friends"-vibe in that HTF does a guy on a sportswriter's salary support 3(?) kids and a stayhome mom on Long Island?

Other than that, like most sitcoms of its particular type, all the background is really just scenery for the standup comic lead to do his act -- and from that perspective, it's not half-bad.... Seinfeld was better, but then I think Jerry Seinfeld's act is just funnier.
   12. Dan Lee prefers good shortstops to great paintings Posted: June 25, 2012 at 03:45 PM (#4165847)
Raymond, ostensibly employed by Newsday, rumored to be covering the Yankees, is suitably flippant to be a sports hack. His arrested development rings true, too. Not so his life of apparent leisure. Sports writers actually work. Raymond doesn’t work.

There you have it.
Yes, obviously nobody on the set knew what the life of a sportswriter and his family is like. They were clearly unaware of the inaccuracies being portrayed.
   13. bachslunch Posted: June 25, 2012 at 03:53 PM (#4165856)
I do remember a couple other instances on the show that suggested Raymond might be a sportswriter besides the one with the Yamaguchi interview:

--an episode where he's trying to get free time to interview Terry Bradshaw about ghostwriting something for him, but has problems getting the chance to do so from home because of distractions.

--an episode where he's sent to cover the Iditarod and calls home from a snowy Alaska.

--an episode where he's going to cover the Super Bowl but has problems deciding which from a limited number of friends/relatives to pick to go along.

--an episode where he's giving love advice to his nerdy sportswriter friend on how to get women interested in him. They're sitting in what looks like some sort of area set aside for the press to gather that looks like it overlooks a stadium.

But yeah, there wasn't much else in this long-running series that I remember that gave much impression he was a sportswriter.
   14. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 25, 2012 at 04:00 PM (#4165862)

I think it was significantly overrated, but the supporting cast -- one note ponies though they were -- was good at what they were to supposed to be (namely, be the cranky Ralph Kramden-as-a-senior father, the doofus younger brother with insecurity issues, and the overbearing mother).


I guess. It just always seemed so depressing to me, like everyone in this family hated each other. And insular. Every time I saw it one, they were in that damn kitchen. Did they ever leave the house?
   15. zonk Posted: June 25, 2012 at 04:04 PM (#4165864)
I guess. It just always seemed so depressing to me, like everyone in this family hated each other. And insular. Every time I saw it one, they were in that damn kitchen.


Heh... well, that was pretty much Arrested Development's schtick, too -- and I will brook no ill words against it. Of course, Michael Bluth was quite often seen 'working', so maybe that rescued it.
   16. SoSH U at work Posted: June 25, 2012 at 04:07 PM (#4165867)
And insular. Every time I saw it one, they were in that damn kitchen. Did they ever leave the house?


Sometimes they went to Cheers. Wait, that's not right.

I'm pretty sure he was supposed to be a columnist, in part because he wrote about the Yankees and Kristi Yamaguchi and Terry Bradshaw.

But I find it hard to think his life as a sportswriter was the unbelievable aspect someone would focus on. That he was a father of three young kids that were visible only once every six episodes was a bit more noticable.

   17. DA Baracus is a "bloodthirsty fan of Atlanta." Posted: June 25, 2012 at 04:34 PM (#4165884)
What, the nail polish fan post wasn't bad enough, we needed another fan post at a major outlet?
   18. UCCF Posted: June 25, 2012 at 04:36 PM (#4165887)
But yeah, there wasn't much else in this long-running series that I remember that gave much impression he was a sportswriter.

There were some episodes where they shot scenes at "work", which was usually either a stadium or a newsroom of some sort. Also, a couple of episodes where he won or was nominated for awards for sportswriting.

He was a columnist, so YMMV as to how much time he actually needed to spend at the park/office. I would say he was seeing writing about as much as Harry Anderson was seen writing on Dave's World, which is to say, not much. Watching someone write doesn't necessarily make for good TV, I guess unless you're Dick van Dyke.
   19. Kurt Posted: June 25, 2012 at 04:38 PM (#4165889)
That he was a father of three young kids that were visible only once every six episodes was a bit more noticable.

I think the earlier episodes were more focused on the kids, but they were such bad actors, and Boyle/Roberts/Garrett were so good, that the focus of the show understandably shifted quickly.

   20. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: June 25, 2012 at 05:32 PM (#4165935)
This is a lot of verbiage to spill over something like Everyone Loves Raymond.
   21. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: June 25, 2012 at 05:45 PM (#4165942)
The children being either hardly seen or background was one of the aspects I appreciated about the series. I got more worn down by his wife being such a miserable person. I know it's common to have married sitcom couples sort of play each other's foil, but there were so many instances where I thought, "My god, how does this tolerate this angry woman?" At least with King of Queens, you understood the wife's disposition, since Kevin James' character was constantly doing #### that would endanger a lot of a real marriages.
   22. McCoy Posted: June 25, 2012 at 05:47 PM (#4165943)
I thought this was going to be about RDP.
   23. McCoy Posted: June 25, 2012 at 05:49 PM (#4165945)
since Kevin James' character was constantly doing #### that would endanger a lot of a real marriages.

Which is pretty standard sitcom stuff since the days of the Honeymooners. Big doofus of a husband married to a beautiful woman who has to put up with all his stupidity.
   24. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: June 25, 2012 at 05:54 PM (#4165949)
Sounds like my house.
   25. cardsfanboy Posted: June 25, 2012 at 06:00 PM (#4165951)
The children being either hardly seen or background was one of the aspects I appreciated about the series. I got more worn down by his wife being such a miserable person. I know it's common to have married sitcom couples sort of play each other's foil, but there were so many instances where I thought, "My god, how does this tolerate this angry woman?" At least with King of Queens, you understood the wife's disposition, since Kevin James' character was constantly doing #### that would endanger a lot of a real marriages.


That whole era of sitcoms, followed that same script(yes I saw McCoy's point) I like sitcoms, I think they are perfectly cromulent background material, and once in a while actually interesting enough to focus attention on, and at the same time, not so engrossing, that if I have to do something, I feel like I'm missing out on something. But that time frame (where you had King of Queens, Frasier, According to Jim etc) was a poor time for sitcoms. It's like they wanted to combine the crappy human beings from Seinfeld/Frasier and mix it into a sitcom that evokes Roseanne, and it ended up producing bland sitcoms, where you as the viewer couldn't fathom how in the heck was this couple still together, at least Married with Children had the absurdist aspect of the show, that pretty much made it easy for you to suspend your disbelief. Roseanne worked, because all the main characters were ultimately decent people that you somewhat rooted for.
   26. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: June 25, 2012 at 06:22 PM (#4165968)
There have been sitcoms about magazine editors, which is a job I used to have, but they never showed people staring into computer screens all day long, or reading paper manuscripts once in a while to break up the monotony. Then in a moment of real drama, we'd go yell at the art department for giving us space for only 650 words on a feature that had been assigned at 2000. Now those were some highjinks.


Yes, I would love to be able to show up in court or at a deposition, with no preparation work (reading through hundreds if not thousands of pages of documents, legal research, witness interviews etc), just completely wing it- and yet still elicit that Perry Mason type moment every single time...

WRT that Raymond show- the supporting cast- Mother, Father, Younger Brother, were very good- I wouldn't want them to be my family- but entertaining, basically they carried Romano who is an unfunny one trick pony, his wife, played by Heaton- well that was a terrible character, I'm not sure anyone could play her as written, in an entertaining or sympathetic fashion - I assume her character was written to generate sympathy for Ray's character...

Plus Romano is an absolutely awful actor- Seinfeld is a "stiff," but he makes it work- in the show within a show episodes they even made fun of that fact- Romano can't seem to come across as anything other than a whiny moper- ever see Welcome to Mooseport? It's interesting in a slo mo trainwreck kind of way- Gene Hackman is actually pretty decent - but Ray Romano- who "acts" in a fashion that indistinguishable to his ELR character, just sucks the life out of every single scene he's in





   27. Darren Posted: June 25, 2012 at 06:34 PM (#4165974)
He's a columnist. He proposes to Debra right after he finds out he got the job. Sure he spends less time at work than Rob Petry but he does work more than all the cast of Friends combined.
   28. Greg K Posted: June 25, 2012 at 06:36 PM (#4165978)
Which is pretty standard sitcom stuff since the days of the Honeymooners. Big doofus of a husband married to a beautiful woman who has to put up with all his stupidity.

I think this demonstrates the power of sit-coms. Pretty much all my relationships have followed that pattern, (including the abrupt series cancellations!) mostly because I have difficulty imaging any other way to operate. Similarly, all of my friendships are fairly closely modeled on those of "Seinfeld".
   29. McCoy Posted: June 25, 2012 at 06:41 PM (#4165990)
Chef's first season was pretty good. They stuck to restaurant and in-the-kitchen jokes and gags for almost the entire first season. After that they ran out of material and suddenly the show became a "relationship" comedy.
   30. McCoy Posted: June 25, 2012 at 06:42 PM (#4165991)
Party Down is another unheralded little sit-com that stuck pretty closely to the working life of the characters.
   31. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: June 25, 2012 at 06:44 PM (#4165992)
Chef, the British sitcom?

They really work with a low bar over there. You consider the show to be good despite having run out of material after its first season, which consisted of 7 episodes.
   32. The NeverEnding Torii (oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh) Posted: June 25, 2012 at 06:54 PM (#4166001)
Every time I watch 'Seinfeld', I yell at the TV: "Is this guy a working comic or what? Shouldn't he be out on the road somewhere at some point? Where's the episode where he's eating a burrito in a comedy condo with Todd Glass?!?!"
   33. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: June 25, 2012 at 06:54 PM (#4166002)
I used to watch "Raymond" every once in a while and always assumed he was a sports writer. Not that it mattered as I never saw him write anything. Getting back to the cast, I wonder if there is a sabermetric formula that could measure what the co-stars add or subtract to a show?
   34. McCoy Posted: June 25, 2012 at 06:54 PM (#4166003)
You consider the show to be good despite having run out of material after its first season, which consisted of 7 episodes.


I said Chef's first season was pretty good. I did not say the whole show over its entire run was pretty good.
   35. phredbird Posted: June 25, 2012 at 06:55 PM (#4166004)
Then in a moment of real drama, we'd go plead with the art department to come up with a photo or illustration or anything because we only wrote 650 words on a feature that had been assigned at 2000. Now those were some highjinks.


ftfy
   36. McCoy Posted: June 25, 2012 at 06:56 PM (#4166005)
Every time I watch 'Seinfeld', I yell at the TV: "Is this guy a working comic or what?

In the early days they would open with Seinfeld on stage and I believe close with him on stage as well. I can't recall how long they stuck with that setup.

Plus they had several shows where he is going to a show or coming back from a show or is at the place he was going to do the show.
   37. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: June 25, 2012 at 07:07 PM (#4166008)
Plus they had several shows where he is going to a show or coming back from a show or is at the place he was going to do the show.
Or on the Tonight Show or doing a benefit telethon...

I think by midway through the show the deal was supposed to be that he was already pretty successful (bought dad the Cadillac and all).
   38. Shock Posted: June 25, 2012 at 07:08 PM (#4166009)
You may find this hard to believe, but the Yankees' Assistant to the Travelling Secretary did not sleep under his desk as often as you might think.
   39. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: June 25, 2012 at 07:11 PM (#4166014)
In the early days they would open with Seinfeld on stage and I believe close with him on stage as well. I can't recall how long they stuck with that setup.

Plus they had several shows where he is going to a show or coming back from a show or is at the place he was going to do the show.


First four or so seasons before they abandoned it in favor of the cold open. It seemed like they made fewer references to Jerry's stand-up w/r/t him actually working in later seasons, but I thought they skirted it believably by acknowledging that he was a pretty successful stand-up (within the realm of the show) that he was compensated very well when he did perform. You'll recall that episode where he buys his dad the Cadillac with the money he made from a weekend gig. Granted, that was implied to be an anomaly of a pay-off, but the ensuing storyline with Elaine showing gold-digging tendencies toward Jerry hinted that he made good money. I always kind of took that to mean he didn't need to be out there every night, grinding away his act in front of a bunch of drunks.
   40. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: June 25, 2012 at 07:11 PM (#4166015)
Coke to Benji.
   41. TerpNats Posted: June 25, 2012 at 07:14 PM (#4166019)
Raymond spent so much time at home, the only sports work I could have seen him doing for Newsday was being its high school sports editor. However, I doubt most viewers would have been particularly interested in his coverage of a prep football region semifinal between Northport and Massapequa Park.

"Raymond" was a well-done series, but, like "Friends," it simply never appealed to me. "Seinfeld" at least had some bite to it, and as sitcoms go, "Frasier" was charming and erudite. (When "Hot In Cleveland" returns, watch Jane Leeves portray the sexy antithesis of her demure "Frasier" character; like the rest of that show's ensemble, she's terrific.)
   42. JJ1986 Posted: June 25, 2012 at 07:15 PM (#4166020)
There's an episode where Jerry's performing two gigs in different parts of town and seems to need them enough to reschedule one for later after missing it. That might have been early in the show, though.
   43. Shock Posted: June 25, 2012 at 07:23 PM (#4166033)
The show was a guilty pleasure of mine. It seemed like the kind of show I should hate (I loathed "Friends") but for whatever reason every episode made me laugh. The one where his parents crash their car into his house was hysterical.

I know, I suck.
   44. BourbonSamurai Is a Lazy Nogoodnik Posted: June 25, 2012 at 07:28 PM (#4166039)
Eh, Jerry was always traveling and returning after soemthing. I just assumed they didn't show the parts when he was on the road.
   45. Kurt Posted: June 25, 2012 at 07:33 PM (#4166047)
"Raymond" was a well-done series, but, like "Friends," it simply never appealed to me. "Seinfeld" at least had some bite to it

I would say Raymond had some bite to it. The family members were legitimately pretty awful, and they didn't feel the need to tack "but we all still love each other" feel-good crap at the end of each episode.
   46. DA Baracus is a "bloodthirsty fan of Atlanta." Posted: June 25, 2012 at 07:35 PM (#4166050)
I thought they skirted it believably by acknowledging that he was a pretty successful stand-up


I seem to remember them saying he was on Letterman or whatever the NBC late night show at the time was as an indicator of his popularity.
   47. PreservedFish Posted: June 25, 2012 at 07:43 PM (#4166061)
He had a TV pilot and many meetings with the president of NBC. That's a good indication of his stature (at the very least as an up and coming comic) and I believe those are pretty lucrative.
   48. BourbonSamurai Is a Lazy Nogoodnik Posted: June 25, 2012 at 07:55 PM (#4166079)


I seem to remember them saying he was on Letterman or whatever the NBC late night show at the time was as an indicator of his popularity.


they did regular bits about him being ont he tonight show. His parents came and visited him in the dressing room, etc
   49. The NeverEnding Torii (oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh) Posted: June 25, 2012 at 07:58 PM (#4166082)
Sarcasm doesn't read well in text, I suppose. 'Seinfeld' mentioned Jerry being a stand-up when it was relevant to the episode's plot and here and there in throwaway lines. Similarly, there are plenty of 'Raymond' episodes where he wins an award for "Sportswriter of the Year", makes an appearance on a TV show talking about steroids, uses his status as a sportswriter to try to get autographs to impress his friends or family and previous things already mentioned, etc. Their jobs aren't really what the shows are about. It's silly to compare them to something like 'Party Down', which is essentially a workplace comedy.
   50. GregD Posted: June 25, 2012 at 08:14 PM (#4166095)
Police/DA dramas are so effective, in part, because they're one of the few places where work really sits front and center. People like to watch work relationships because they're complex. It's just hard to make work itself actually look interesting unless there's a dead body to chase. I'm not a huge Mad Men fan but I give them big credit for trying to make advertising itself part of the meat of the show.

England has a some politics workplace shows that we don't really have, where the interaction between civil servants and political appointees provides the backdrop of the show.
   51. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 25, 2012 at 08:20 PM (#4166102)
In the very first episode of Seinfeld, they made a real effort to show the life of a working comic: Jerry came home at 2 in the morning and tried to watch the Mets game he had videotaped earlier that night, but Kramer kept telling him what had happened. I think they quickly realized that that much verisimilitude, where a comedian basically didn't interact with people except in the wee hours of the morning, wasn't conducive to a good sitcom.
   52. McCoy Posted: June 25, 2012 at 08:30 PM (#4166122)
Night Court wasn't good?
   53. GregD Posted: June 25, 2012 at 08:31 PM (#4166125)
Raymond never bothered me because it just seemed like a harmless playing out of vaudeville shtick, just classic ethnic humor repackaged into a suburban house for national TV. And they got some vaudeville masters to play the side parts.
   54. McCoy Posted: June 25, 2012 at 08:33 PM (#4166129)
It's silly to compare them to something like 'Party Down', which is essentially a workplace comedy.

I think that was a bit of the point though. That all these people have jobs and yet they never do them. This even goes for workplace comedies. Usually in the beginning there will be some shows about work but then they'll quickly run out of work specific materal and turn themselves into a general sitcom type show. Even a show like Scrubs had more and more non job related stuff creep into their shows as it went along.
   55. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: June 25, 2012 at 08:56 PM (#4166159)
And ESPN paid this ####### to write this.
   56. Sunday silence Posted: June 25, 2012 at 09:02 PM (#4166170)
they just dont make 'em like Fay and the Montefuscos anymore.
   57. zachtoma Posted: June 25, 2012 at 09:03 PM (#4166174)
England has a some politics workplace shows that we don't really have, where the interaction between civil servants and political appointees provides the backdrop of the show.


If you're talking about The Thick of It, that show's creator Armando Iannucci is doing an HBO show now with a similar theme - Veep with Julia-Louis Dreyfus as the vice-presidents. I saw the pilot and it struck me as kind of naive about American politics actually. I'm a big Iannucci fan but his political satire is nowhere near as good as his sketch show - The Armando Iannucci Shows - or his work with Chris Morris (The Day Today).
   58. DA Baracus is a "bloodthirsty fan of Atlanta." Posted: June 25, 2012 at 09:06 PM (#4166179)
Their jobs aren't really what the shows are about.


They aren't, but a good deal of George and Elaine's screen time came while they were working, and while we rarely see Jerry work and of course never see Kramer work. It doesn't detract from the show, but it's a little strange.

Also Jerry was quite the slut. He must have dated 200 women.
   59. GregD Posted: June 25, 2012 at 09:14 PM (#4166185)
If you're talking about The Thick of It, that show's creator Armando Iannucci is doing an HBO show now with a similar theme - Veep with Julia-Louis Dreyfus as the vice-presidents. I saw the pilot and it struck me as kind of naive about American politics actually. I'm a big Iannucci fan but his political satire is nowhere near as good as his sketch show - The Armando Iannucci Shows - or his work with Chris Morris (The Day Today).
Also the older Yes, Minister series and the various Parliament-oriented shows, which are probably all older than I realize. They all have a level of political savvy--even the farcical Yes, Minister--that puts The West Wing to shame. Veep is fine but is a one-joke gag--the VP is a silly office. Good Wife had some good moments but became a law show not a politics show so never had the command of the short Politician's Wife, which is a much more devious look at politics. US political shows tend to get caught on disappointed idealism so to see cynicism as an easy path to success. UK politics shows--huge generalization alert--seem to think disappointed idealism is for schmucks and so to study the outcomes of different types of cynicism. Maybe?
   60. McCoy Posted: June 25, 2012 at 09:15 PM (#4166187)
The Armando Iannucci Shows

If you're going to name your show that you better be pretty darn good.
   61. zonk Posted: June 25, 2012 at 09:17 PM (#4166189)
If you're talking about The Thick of It, that show's creator Armando Iannucci is doing an HBO show now with a similar theme - Veep with Julia-Louis Dreyfus as the vice-presidents. I saw the pilot and it struck me as kind of naive about American politics actually. I'm a big Iannucci fan but his political satire is nowhere near as good as his sketch show - The Armando Iannucci Shows - or his work with Chris Morris (The Day Today).


I watched most of the season - I don't think it's appointment TV, but it's not half-bad... Life is Too Short is better (as is Eastbound and Down and of course, Curb) -- but Veep had its moments.

I wouldn't say it's naive about American politics, they've just made a very conscious decision to stay as apolitical as possible. I think you can safely infer from a few clues here and there that Dreyfus is the #2 in a Democratic administration, but they go out of their way to leave that at least a bit hazy.

Veep's big problem is that none of the characters are particularly likeable - shows like that can succeed (see Development, Arrested) - but Veep just isn't over the top enough about it.

Tony Hale (Buster from Arrested Development) is relatively good, albeit playing Buster with a grown-up job, Matt Walsh has his moments, and Dreyfuss is actually pretty good -- but I think I actively root for bad things to happen to everyone else on the show.

   62. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: June 25, 2012 at 09:18 PM (#4166193)
I always knew there must be people who watched "Everyone Loves Raymond" and "King of Queens," etc. But I always liked to think I didn't actually know any of them. You people have the tastes of plebeians. Coriolanus hates you all.
   63. zonk Posted: June 25, 2012 at 09:25 PM (#4166202)
US political shows tend to get caught on disappointed idealism so to see cynicism as an easy path to success. UK politics shows--huge generalization alert--seem to think disappointed idealism is for schmucks and so to study the outcomes of different types of cynicism. Maybe?


So Lord John Marbury/Roger Rees from West Wing is accurate ;-)

   64. Cabbage Posted: June 25, 2012 at 09:57 PM (#4166224)
I ignored this thread at first because of the headline. I figured some ancient writer got a Repoz link because he said some inane, dated, stuff. Then, after I saw sixty-odd comments, I knew it had gone off as a sitcom thread. Because this is BTF, after all.
   65. McCoy Posted: June 25, 2012 at 10:05 PM (#4166229)
And 64 is right about the time when people join and tell us what they are thinking about when they see threads in the hot topic area.
   66. McCoy Posted: June 25, 2012 at 10:06 PM (#4166230)
It's all coming together!
   67. KT's Pot Arb Posted: June 26, 2012 at 01:12 AM (#4166321)
Raymond obviously isn't a sportswriter because on the show he's likable.
   68. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: June 26, 2012 at 01:29 AM (#4166324)
Raymond obviously isn't a sportswriter because on the show he's likable.


His wife didn't seem to think so a lot of the time.
   69. Tripon Posted: June 26, 2012 at 01:55 AM (#4166330)
Like McCoy said, Party Down is an underated sitcom. For a show about Fantasy Football, the League shows a surprising amount of workplace related drama and humor. Ruxin's in particular is one of the most evil men to grace television and still maintain a 9 to 5 job.
   70. zachtoma Posted: June 26, 2012 at 05:40 AM (#4166342)
I wouldn't say it's naive about American politics, they've just made a very conscious decision to stay as apolitical as possible. I think you can safely infer from a few clues here and there that Dreyfus is the #2 in a Democratic administration, but they go out of their way to leave that at least a bit hazy.


I think what bothered me about it was that they portrayed the VP as something of a glorified secretary - ie her never getting face time with the president, giving speeches about pointless pet causes, and obsessing over the type of silverware used at a gala. That just doesn't get it right. Her character seems almost more like a neglected first lady than a VP. Dick Cheney was vice president, and he obviously flexed a lot of muscle in the office, and Joe Biden, while staying out of the spotlight, has been consequential as well - he's been instrumental in this administration's foreign policy while mostly working behind the scenes. It may not be a glamorous job, but it is a major one, and the show just doesn't seem to realize that. Plus, when the decisions being made at that level of politics are producing dozens of corpses every day, seeing it depicted as trifling and innocuously silly is a little off-putting.
   71. Greg K Posted: June 26, 2012 at 06:09 AM (#4166343)
Plus, when the decisions being made at that level of politics are producing dozens of corpses every day, seeing it depicted as trifling and innocuously silly is a little off-putting.

Obviously a different project (though still Iannucci), but I thought that was the strength of "In the Loop". In that case I think the tension between the death and the bumbling and idiocy was intentional. I haven't seen this new show, from that description perhaps that's not the case in Veep.
   72. Phil Coorey is a T-Shirt Salesman Posted: June 26, 2012 at 06:34 AM (#4166346)
Did anyone see Newsroom? It was no Sports Night or West Wing but is easily better than Studio 60 - but something about it rubbed me the wrong way - oh yeah - that's right - it was basically Studio 60 again - what a pile of self righteous crap it was.


Party Down is another unheralded little sit-com that stuck pretty closely to the working life of the characters.


I love this show so much - I'll often watch the run of 20 episodes over a 2 or 3 night span when I need a reminder of how amazing TV writing can be sometimes, I just love the show and all the characters with all my heart - I think I've seen the Guttenberg episode over 50 times easily.
   73. Zach Posted: June 26, 2012 at 06:37 AM (#4166347)
This is going to be the case for just about any profession portrayed in a sitcom. There have been sitcoms about magazine editors, which is a job I used to have, but they never showed people staring into computer screens all day long, or reading paper manuscripts once in a while to break up the monotony. Then in a moment of real drama, we'd go yell at the art department for giving us space for only 650 words on a feature that had been assigned at 2000. Now those were some highjinks.

Big Bang Theory actually had a montage sequence where the characters are sitting in front of a whiteboard for hours. It was a pretty amusing sequence in a show that often lacks them.

Humorwise, Big Bang Theory is a little broad and obvious. But they do a good job of showing nerds who like being nerdy and don't just pine over the cheerleaders.
   74. zachtoma Posted: June 26, 2012 at 06:38 AM (#4166349)
Obviously a different project (though still Iannucci), but I thought that was the strength of "In the Loop". In that case I think the tension between the death and the bumbling and idiocy was intentional. I haven't seen this new show, from that description perhaps that's not the case in Veep.


I should add the disclaimer that all my impressions are based off of the pilot episode because I didn't watch any more than that.
   75. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: June 26, 2012 at 07:37 AM (#4166360)
a good deal of George and Elaine's screen time came while they were working, and while we rarely see Jerry work and of course never see Kramer work. It doesn't detract from the show, but it's a little strange.
I don't think it's strange at all. The show was conceived as being about a comedian and how he mined his life and his friends' lives for material. Within a few seasons (and remember that the first few "seasons" were short), they realized that the fact that he was a comedian wasn't as important, and that generally they could just mine all that odd little nonsense about life and its little decisins and predicaments directly for the audience, they didn't need to explicitly feed it back through the conceit of Jerry's standup routines, which was either redundant or distracting compared with just making the joke within the context of the original situation.

Elaine and George have the closest thing to "normal" working lives of the major characters, and a lot of the things they wanted to poke fun at or riff on (odd bosses, getting fired/promoted, having sex with the cleaning lady on your desk) could only happen in the workplace, hence we know a lot about what their jobs are.

Minor nitpick: we do see Kramer work, at Brand/Leland ("I'm sorry, there's no way we can keep you on." "I don't even really work here!" "That's what makes this so difficult."), he briefly works at the bagel place before going on strike, and of course there's Kramerica Industries.
   76. Phil Coorey is a T-Shirt Salesman Posted: June 26, 2012 at 07:46 AM (#4166362)
I should add the disclaimer that all my impressions are based off of the pilot episode because I didn't watch any more than that.


It pretty much doesn't change - there is a cool episode with the Orioles though. We watched all of Veep as it felt like after a relief each Monday night after an intense Mad Men episode.
   77. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: June 26, 2012 at 07:55 AM (#4166367)
WKRP. The DJ's actually DJ!
   78. Greg K Posted: June 26, 2012 at 07:59 AM (#4166370)
I can't believe no one's mentioned those titans of the golden age of the sit-com, "Suddenly Susan" or "Caroline in the City". Sure Caroline was at home all the time, but she worked from home!
   79. ThisElevatorIsDrivingMeUpTheWall Posted: June 26, 2012 at 08:00 AM (#4166372)
I read somewhere that cops thought Barney Miller was the most realistic show.
   80. Greg K Posted: June 26, 2012 at 08:01 AM (#4166373)
Actually to jump on the back of Shooty, Newsradio is probably a good example of people occasionally doing their jobs in the sit-com. Plus it has the benefit of being a good show.
   81. ThisElevatorIsDrivingMeUpTheWall Posted: June 26, 2012 at 08:02 AM (#4166375)
The first few years of Cheers were great, but it bothered me how early they closed that bar.
   82. ThisElevatorIsDrivingMeUpTheWall Posted: June 26, 2012 at 08:04 AM (#4166376)
The best thing to do is have the show be about the show, like Jack Benny or Larry Sanders.
   83. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: June 26, 2012 at 08:07 AM (#4166377)
I read somewhere that cops thought Barney Miller was the most realistic show.
Mooshi-mooshi.

Taxi was great, but with some notable exceptions (the cab 801 episode, the time Louie and Alex squared off to see who could book the most in one night) actually driving the cabs wasn't much a part of the show.
   84. McCoy Posted: June 26, 2012 at 08:28 AM (#4166384)
I thought Newsroom was highly entertaining.
   85. bachslunch Posted: June 26, 2012 at 09:04 AM (#4166401)
WRT that Raymond show- the supporting cast- Mother, Father, Younger Brother, were very good- I wouldn't want them to be my family- but entertaining, basically they carried Romano who is an unfunny one trick pony, his wife, played by Heaton- well that was a terrible character, I'm not sure anyone could play her as written, in an entertaining or sympathetic fashion - I assume her character was written to generate sympathy for Ray's character...

I've seen many of these episodes, and the first time through for me, it was "Mother, Father, Younger Brother" that stood out and made the show watchable. Most any time I've seen these episodes subsequently, Heaton's awful character comes forward more and makes the show hard to take.

Also, I've never seen a sitcom not based in a restaurant where the characters ate more. They're always stuffing their faces or throwing food around on that show.

One thing I do remember was that ELR's final episode worked really well, unlike those of many sitcoms. It stuck to a half-hour length, and didn't overreach.

Plus Romano is an absolutely awful actor-

Agreed with that one. Saw "Welcome to Mooseport" and he was awful in it. Haven't seen the show "Men of a Certain Age," so I can't say there. Making him a voice actor at least helps a little ("Ice Age" and sequels).

It always amazed me that Romano won a "Best Actor in a Comedy" Emmy. Roseanne, too, for that matter.
   86. McCoy Posted: June 26, 2012 at 09:38 AM (#4166421)
It always amazed me that Romano won a "Best Actor in a Comedy" Emmy. Roseanne, too, for that matter.

At certain points in time the only people doing sitcoms are standup comedians. It's a low bar.
   87. zonk Posted: June 26, 2012 at 09:46 AM (#4166433)
I read somewhere that cops thought Barney Miller was the most realistic show.


Barney Miller was great. I can't speak for its realism, but I loved that show.
   88. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: June 26, 2012 at 10:08 AM (#4166459)
Haven't seen the show "Men of a Certain Age," so I can't say there. Making him a voice actor at least helps a little ("Ice Age" and sequels).


I haven't seen Men of... either, but having 2 young kids watching cartoons is kind of an omnipresent hazard- it's actually pretty hard to be a "bad" a voice actor- or at least to notice that someone is bad at it, Romano's Mammoth is pretty clearly the weakest character on those shows- even when he's, literally, supposed to be the strongest. I could see his voice/emoting work for some characters, but I think its a bad fit for the Ice Age movies Mammoth character.

... but he's the "star"

ehhh, what do I know, there must be some people out there who love him... or not, It's not like Francesspool who is awful- but who does have people who passionately love him, I think Romano is bad in a "meh" (not relentlessly gut searingly awful like Fracesspool) kind of way, happened to get stupendously lucky with respect to the supporting cast and the writers for "his" show... and the Ice Age movies would have been just as successful with a no-name getting paid scale voicing the Mammoth.
   89. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: June 26, 2012 at 10:13 AM (#4166465)
Elaine and George have the closest thing to "normal" working lives of the major characters, and a lot of the things they wanted to poke fun at or riff on (odd bosses, getting fired/promoted, having sex with the cleaning lady on your desk) could only happen in the workplace, hence we know a lot about what their jobs are.

Minor nitpick: we do see Kramer work


we also see George being forced to go back home and live with his parents because he has no income at one point...

and Kramer was famously based upon a real life person known by Seinfeld and Larry David- whom they noted had managed to get by despite never having an apparent occupation/means of support.
   90. just plain joe Posted: June 26, 2012 at 10:28 AM (#4166491)
I haven't seen Men of... either,


You probably don't want to either; I watched about 30 minutes of the first episode and couldn't stand it any longer. For me the show was unwatchable.

and Kramer was famously based upon a real life person known by Seinfeld and Larry David- whom they noted had managed to get by despite never having an apparent occupation/means of support.


I've known a couple of people who lived without working at real jobs; they mostly supported themselves by selling drugs and sponging off of the girlfriend du jour. Of course the downside to this is that even small town police eventually catch on and one becomes the target of an investigation.
   91. TerpNats Posted: June 26, 2012 at 10:37 AM (#4166496)
Veep is fine but is a one-joke gag -- the VP is a silly office.
Which in itself is nothing new...think of Alexander Throttlebottom in the Gershwins' "Of Thee I Sing."
   92. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: June 26, 2012 at 10:39 AM (#4166499)
Yes, I would love to be able to show up in court or at a deposition, with no preparation work (reading through hundreds if not thousands of pages of documents, legal research, witness interviews etc), just completely wing it- and yet still elicit that Perry Mason type moment every single time...
I don't know how you could think there would be hundreds/thousands of pages of documents/research/interviews available to review, given that the case on which they're appearing in court/deposition was just filed earlier that morning. Correction: the client just retained them that morning; the case was filed by lunch.
   93. Dangerous Dean Posted: June 26, 2012 at 10:43 AM (#4166505)
I agree with Greg. Newsradio was a gem. Loved the personalities and the workplace drama.

I never liked ELR because the wife and mother dynamic was SO TOXIC. Sure, there are lots of real life people like that out there, ut that doesn't mean I want to spend any time with them.
   94. Greg K Posted: June 26, 2012 at 10:44 AM (#4166508)
I haven't seen this "The Newsroom" show, though I do have a major complaint about it as one of my all-time favourite shows is already called "The Newsroom". Confusing!
   95. Greg K Posted: June 26, 2012 at 10:54 AM (#4166517)
Sure, there are lots of real life people like that out there, but that doesn't mean I want to spend any time with them.

That's more or less my attitude when people complain about a sit-com not reflecting the reality of their work lives. I haven't seen any sit-coms about historians, but if one did exist I wouldn't be looking for a true-to-life representation of a historian's work as that would make for a pretty poor sit-com.

I suppose you could probably make a reasonably accurate, entertaining sit-com about Grad School though. In fact it's probably ideally suited to the genre as it has the oodles and oodles of free time sit-coms need. Now that I think about it, wasn't "Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place" about grad students?

On the same score, in defence of Friends (never thought I'd say that!) the show is half-an-hour long, and usually follows the events of a week-long period. And it's specifically stories about a group of friends who don't work together interacting with each other. If I had to write a half-hour screenplay about stuff that had happened with me and my friends in a given week I imagine in most cases very little of it would take place at work.
   96. bachslunch Posted: June 26, 2012 at 10:58 AM (#4166522)
Big Bang Theory actually had a montage sequence where the characters are sitting in front of a whiteboard for hours. It was a pretty amusing sequence in a show that often lacks them. Humorwise, Big Bang Theory is a little broad and obvious. But they do a good job of showing nerds who like being nerdy and don't just pine over the cheerleaders.

While the last year or so of this show has gotten a lot less good (with a few exceptions), I've greatly enjoyed watching this. And unlike Debra Barone, Sheldon Cooper is an "annoying" character who I find wears surprisingly well past an initial episode view -- notably better than Howard Wolowitz when at his most irritating early on in the series, for example.

And agreed that celebrating "being a nerd" is a fine thing about this show, and well done.
   97. Ray (RDP) Posted: June 26, 2012 at 11:00 AM (#4166526)
From the few episodes of Raymond I saw, it was basically: Man gets henpecked by wife for 22 minutes, people think this is funny.

Same with King of Queens.

I mean, some of it's funny, but once you watch three episodes you realize all you're watching is a man get beaten down and yelled at by his wife. And that's all you'll ever watch.

   98. JJ1986 Posted: June 26, 2012 at 11:01 AM (#4166529)
While the last year or so of this show has gotten a lot less good (with a few exceptions), I've greatly enjoyed watching this.


Big Bang Theory has lost everything by separating the girls into a group over and over again and having them barely interact with the main characters. The show worked best when they were able to play off Penny. Now it's nerds being nerds and girls being girls with little interaction.
   99. JJ1986 Posted: June 26, 2012 at 11:02 AM (#4166533)
I think the complaint with Friends is less about the time shown working and more about the fact that they can afford apartments that are incredibly out of their price range considering the jobs they hold.
   100. Ray (RDP) Posted: June 26, 2012 at 11:05 AM (#4166540)
As to shows being unrealistic, all of them are. I like these in particular:

Cheers: people who are supposed to have jobs and wives sit around in a bar for hours on end. A bar that has bright lighting, no music, no cigarette smoke, no crowds, and is in such good condition that it looks like someone's living room. And yet, despite no crowds, it apparently turns a profit.

It reminds me of the TJ Hooker episode where Heather Locklear went undercover as a stripper. The strip club looked like no strip club I have ever seen. It had bright, bright lighting, she was basically on this small catwalk-type of walkway that had railings, she wasn't dressed right, the scene inside the club didn't look right, etc.

Frasier: Niles is married, but hangs around at Frasier's all day. They all have jobs and lives, but are in that cafe nonstop.
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