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Saturday, March 27, 2004

Irony, table for two. 

On EW, a few TV show writers discuss the potential impending doom of sitcoms as Friends and Frasier (thank god on both counts), as well as an uncertain future for Everybody Loves Raymond.

This question and its answers, and most importantly who they come from, are quite instructive:

Is the theory true that viewers want something new, or does mediocrity succeed for a reason?

Cindy Chupack (Sex and the City): Nobody sets out to make a mediocre show. You're trying to make the best of what the show is.

(Fitting. Sex and the City was never, ever a brilliant show, but with what it had it could reach a certain kind of genius.)

Phil Rosenthal (Everybody Loves Raymond): But mediocrity is insidious. It gets in even if you think you're doing something good, and you can lose your focus and suddenly you're on one of those shows that you didn't want to be on.

(A little bit of admittance that the show you work on is maybe kinda sorta a piece of shit?)

Chuck Lorre (Dharma & Greg, Two and a Half Men): It's the nature of turning out that many shows in a short amount of time. You're constantly battling against the burnout.

(Not battling hard enough, apparently. If there's a half dozen writers on your show, and they're good, intelligent professionals, or just people who like to have fun, there's really no excuse for show-wide burnout. I can name a few shows right now that haven't lost a single bit of their sparkle.)

Diane English (Murphy Brown): But there are executives who do value mediocrity because it feels safe, middle-of-the-road... They value that sort of broad sweep of ''We're not going to offend too much.'' They eliminate the highs, the lows. The risk takers suffer and have to fight to keep their unique voice. I found it very interesting that [''Significant Others'']...premiered on Bravo rather than on NBC. It's almost like the network was testing it on the smaller venue... because it's different.

(And the writer of one of contemporary TV's most intelligent sitcoms (sounds almost like an oxymoron) just flat-out comes clean about it. The networks are staffed by cowards.)

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