Saturday, August 1, 2009

Advertising in Sitcoms

Originally Posted 5-17-08

It seems that summer doesn’t exist in the Friends universe. I understand that there is kind of a difficulty to following six peoples’ lives in a format that only allows you to do so eight months of the year. Do you address it and have one of your characters say something like “I’m going to Bolivia for a few months,” or do you just hope no one notices that none of your New Yorker characters complains about 90 degree days with 85% humidity?

At one point, Rachel reminisces about spending Fourth of July on her father’s boat when she was growing up. At the time, I thought she was sharing this to illustrate how sad it is that her parents’ marriage has deteriorated, and she’d never be able to experience that again. Now, I realize, that she’d never be able to experience that again because she lives in a world where time enters a vortex a week or so before Memorial Day, and you come out of it after Labor Day. You don’t know what happened in that time, except when you come to, you realize your hair is dyed a different color.

Or your hair is looking some sort of other ridiculous.

However, no time elapses. Monica is still trying to get over her breakup with Richard, which supposedly ended four months earlier. Is she pathetic for harping on a three-month long relationship/six-episode character arc? No, she fell into the vortex. Look at her hair.

I’m not even going to try track Chandler’s hair, which appears to change every other scene.

I’ve experienced a first, since starting this project: an episode that I didn’t recall, even in the slightest. All of the other episodes, I could, at some point, say, “Oh, yeah. I remember this.” The One With the Flashback had none of this, and it’s actually a good episode to see for the first time while doing this. While I try to stay away from concentrating too much on plots here, it’s kind of unavoidable. So, everyone’s sitting around Central Perk, and Janice asks if anyone in the group has ever almost slept with anyone else in the group.

Flashback to three years ago, which was one year before the pilot. Well, the answer was yes. Ridiculously enough, in the space of a couple of days, almost everyone almost did almost everyone. Joey & Monica, Chandler & Monica, Chandler & Rachel, Ross & Phoebe. It’s a little silly and unlikely. If these people were constantly on the edge of sex, there would have been more than the Ross & Rachel coupling at this point. I'm thinking there would have been orgies on a somewhat regular basis.

However, we did learn some interesting Friends prehistory.

This guy was almost Chandler’s roommate. If he had moved in, the show probably wouldn’t have made it to the third season. In this episode, Chandler preferred him to Joey.

It might have been because Joey was wearing a leather vest. I mean, if I were interviewing a prospective roommate, and he showed up wearing a leather vest, I’d make up some bullshit about daily 5am yodeling practices and a having complete disregard for private space.

However, if you notice, there’s no microwave, which means the microwave is Joey’s after all. From Chandler's point of view, in Mr. Leather Vest, Chandler saw an opportunity to get a microwave without actually having to purchase one.

We also learn that before Central Perk was a trendy little coffeehouse, it was a bar. At around this time, we learn that the bar is going to be turning into a coffeehouse. Somehow the bar closes, it’s redone into a coffeehouse, it reopens and establishes itself as a business with a strong customer base ALL within a year.

Not only that, while we never meet the bar owners, they seem to be very comfortable with leaving Phoebe the keys to the place after closing time, and her friends are free to trickle in and help themselves to whatever they want. Bars close at 4am in New York. What time is it here? The customers are out, the staff has cleaned up and left. It’s like after five. Why are they still up?

In 1993, Monica had a different phone than she did during Season One. Which, if you remember, changes in season two.

However, in season three, she appears to have gone back to the phone she had two years earlier. I thought she had given that to Ross.

Here’s Ursula passing a poster for Space Jam in a subway station. I think it’s a poster for Space Jam. That’s definitely Bugs Bunny. It says “Get ready to jam.” It came out in November ’96, a month after this aired. Oddly enough, this episode was titled The One With the Jam, only by ‘jam’, it’s implied they mean the stuff you put on toast. They apparently also meant subliminal advertising jam, as well.

I don’t understand brand names in the backgrounds of scenes.

For example, you may see this picture and see Janice, Chandler’s on-again-off-again girlfriend. However, I see Devil Dogs, made by Drake’s Cakes. You can’t get Devil Dogs, Ring Dings, Ding Dongs, or Yodels here. In New York, I was never more than a half-mile from any of these absolutely delicious snack cake of the Gods. Why must you anger me, cinematographers and set designers of Friends? Why?

Directly across from Janice, behind Chandler is a myriad of stuff.

Some logos are partially blocked out, but some aren’t. Alphabits, Banana Nut Crunch, and Success Rice are clearly displayed. For some reason, the logo for Grape Nuts whited out in spots. Why? That is very clearly Grape Nuts. Whether you intend on indirectly advertising Grape Nuts or not, I’m thinking about Grape Nuts. In fact, Grape Nuts are more prominent, since they’re one of the ones whose logo is obscured. (Uncle Bens, being the other.) If you couldn’t get “the rights” to Grape Nuts, then why not put another cereal in there? Wouldn’t be less work to put a pre-existing box there instead of a box you have to fix up yourself?

I’ve noticed this for years. Boxes in the background with obscured logos. I just assumed that they couldn’t have the brand name show. However, in this show, we see brand names that aren’t obscured next to brand names that are.

And what the hell kind of supermarket is this? Jellies are next to their scant cereal selection, which is right above rice, which is directly across from Devil Dogs? I imagine, further down the aisle, you can get 'Wind_x' and maybe possibly bananas.

Whatever the rule for background advertising is, Long Island company 1-800-FLOWERS is free to do whatever the hell they want. It’s not like that sign there is necessary to establish that that was a florist. That’s made pretty clear by the table of flowers for sale, and the fact that David Arquette purchases flowers from the table.

Speaking of indirect advertising, very clever, Friends, for having David Arquette guest star. What a passive-aggressive way of reminding the public that Arquette’s and Courtney Cox’s Scream is coming out this December. Or maybe it’s because Cox and Arquette started dating, and she wanted to get her boyfriend on the show.

By the way, the web address for 1-800-FLOWERS is I’m not saying that to pimp out them out. I just find it funny that their address is also their phone number with .com slapped on at the end. Of course, it’s not that funny, since the name of the company is also their phone number. What else would it be? doesn’t have quite the same ring. The domain name is still available, so if you think you’d want it, you better act fast.

Gunter’s crush on Rachel is officially and formally introduced as a minor plot point.

As is his ability to give me the willies.

Ross lets Rachel know about his Princess Leia fantasy. Leia’s gold bikini is an across the boards favorite. Kind of sick, if you think about it.

Think about it. Here we have a princess and a pretty big wheel in the rebel alliance. Things are going well for her. Apart from Alderaan getting obliterated, things are looking up. The Death Star was destroyed, there’s a few new talented pilots to join the rebel ranks, one of which is a handsome smuggler that she’s falling for despite herself. Well, handsome smuggler gets captured and frozen in carbonite. Carbonite! Other pilot gets his hand chopped off, and she gets held prisoner by a vile overgrown slug. He keeps her as a slave, chained to him at all times while wearing a skimpy bikini. Who knows what awful, unspeakable acts her captor forces her to do? I know I don’t want to picture it. It’s difficult enough when he sticks his tongue out towards her. Anybody other than Princess Leia probably wouldn’t bounce back from that very easily.

So your sexual fantasy is to degrade a once powerful princess, permanently psychologically damaging her? Is it also your sexual fantasy to be in a scenario where you are the vile overgrown slug? I’m not one to judge, but that’s a pretty sick fantasy.

Monica is sad because Richard’s VHS Civil War set just arrived. What’s upsetting is that he’s going to have to buy that again in DVD form in a few years.

My favorite picture of “look how far we’ve come” yet.

This was back in the day when Vanna had to turn the letters herself. Since then, Wheel of Fortune has gone to a touch screen system. The tile turns blue, and Vanna is able to walk over to it, touch it, and the letter appears. Of course, if the screen is able to turn blue, then why do we need Vanna? We could just cut out the middlewoman and have the letters just appear.

The answer is simple. If Vanna White loses her job to a technological advance, then she’d end up becoming a luddite, and no one really wants that.

Apparently, at some point, Matt LeBlanc hurt his shoulder while taping, so Joey’s arm was in a sling as a result of him jumping on his bed. They must have really tall ceilings. I can’t jump on my bed.

1 comment:

Shar said...

In a much later episode, when Rachel is pregnant, she does mention that it is 100 degrees they do mention it sometimes, they just don't normally feel that it's necessary, I guess ;)