The Laughs Are Too Far Away

Following up on my post about comedies that have the laughter too distantly miked, ABC’s extremely bland but reasonably-performing new show Surviving Suburbia provides an example of that: even when a line gets an enthusiastic response (deserved or not) from the audience, the laughs are so far away that it sounds like a bad laugh track. It doesn’t help that ABC keeps trying to revive its old style of domestic comedy on film, rather than tape; I don’t know the technical reasons for it, but film has a way of making everything sound more distant than videotape, where both the voices and the laughter can sound more “present.” It’s not going to happen in the HD era, but I still think some sitcoms would be better off taking a cue from the late lamented Lucky Louie and shooting on videotape.

Also, poor Cynthia Stevenson. She’s had a long and successful career, but I don’t think she’s ever been a regular on a show that lasted more than two years. I guess she’s lucky that she hasn’t attained a Paula Marshall type of reputation as a “show killer” (a weird term; most shows are not successful, so if someone is on a lot of unsuccessful shows, that’s not really that unusual; you have to be really good to get enough lead parts to be on a bunch of flops in the first place).

Speaking of sitcoms, the CW is going to drop all half-hour comedies for next season (this is the last season for Everybody Hates Chris), and Mara Brock Akil, the creator of their last multi-camera comedy, The Game (and therefore the last multi-camera comedy with African-American leads), is trying an interesting way of saving her show: she’s pitching the CW on the idea of turning the show into a single-camera hour-long show.

Not that this will likely happen, but if it does, it’ll certainly be something new. There have been hour-long drama spinoffs from half-hour comedies — like that terrible Brady Bunch drama series — but few if any transformations within a series itself from multi-camera comedy to hour-long single-camera drama. Unless you count The Facts of Life Goes To Paris, but that was two hours.

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