Saturday, August 1, 2009

Some Questions Answered

Originally Posted 8-28-08

As we head into the homestretch of Season Five, Phoebe's relationship with her boyfriend, Gary, is getting pretty serious. Of course it is. He's been in four episodes spanning 2 1/2 months. Just a month earlier, he wasn't at Rachel's surprise party, nor was there any mention of him. I don't know, it just seems like if things are getting serious, he would be at the party.

However, they still seem to be getting serious enough to talk about moving in. I think it's not a good idea. Not to gloat, but I turn out to be right.

After spending the night at Gary's, Phoebe wakes up to the sound of a bird singing. Gary shoots it. Phoebe thinks this is a good reason to dump him. I agree. I imagine soon after this, he has to resign from the force, as I'm pretty sure the NYPD doesn't allow its officers to shoot their guns around willy-nilly. At the very least, I'm sure it's frowned upon. There would be constant gunfire which I can't help but worry that that could lead to bigger problems.

Nor do they recommend closing your eyes while shooting a gun. It's only a matter of time before he shoots somebody. Accidentally, one would hope.

(This is hardly a flattering picture of Michael Rappaport, by the way,)

Phoebe consoles herself by reading what appears to be a fake magazine. I can't seem to find any Today's Collectibles, nor can I imagine Phoebe reading it, unless it happened to be sitting at the table when she sat down. If that were the case, she probably would have put it down by now.

With Monica out of town, Rachel is enjoying the apartment to herself. She had the apartment to herself when Monica went away for a "conference," a few months earlier, but Phoebe puts it in her head this time that Rachel can enjoy the empty place by walking around naked. For someone who is initially self-conscious about being naked in the apartment, she doesn't seem to think twice about dancing naked in front of the gigantic uncovered window. Put it together Rachel, you were able to see Ugly Naked Guy, and one-way mirrors aren't involved.

Ross, of course, sees this. I didn't take the shot to show that Ross saw it. Of course he saw it, how else would the plot go further?

I wanted to note the phrenology bust on his desk. That's pretty cool. I want one.

An episode or two earlier, Rachel gets a hairless cat, which I didn't get a shot of for whatever reason. Now, this isn't the first time the gang had exposure to a cat. A few years ago, Phoebe kept a cat because she thought that it was a reincarnation of her grandmother—paternal, I'm guessing.

No one seemed allergic.

Monica, however, is allergic to the hypo-allergenic cat. I don't know if this was a throwaway joke that they were going for, because she only sneezed once throughout the entire episode. I mean it could have been mildly amusing for them to develop a joke that Monica was allergic to a cat that it was impossible to be allergic to. That could have worked. Instead, it just turned into a "oh, this might develop into something," and then it ends up not, but most people watching had probably forgotten about it already by the time the episode ended.

Here's an establishing shot outside Central Perk. A little clue to the audience that the next scene is going to take place in Central Perk. It's a busy Manhattan sidewalk, bustling with activity. I'm not sure why, but my attention went right to the mailman. I think it added an unnecessary realness to the shot. You have the couple talking (actually, their body language is confusing. They seem to be just platonic friends, but they seem to be standing too close for that), the guy passing behind the gal—they seem like they're not together, not even a platonically—the mother with the baby, and then you have the mailman. Yes, yes, yes. You add the mailman, and it becomes very Penny Lane, but it kind of seems like getting someone to show up in a mailman's uniform seems a bit much for a two-second shot. Why not get the extra to show up in whatever he wore that day?

Maybe he's actually a mailman, and he did show in what he wore that day.

I realize I invested too much thought into this, but later in the same episode (taking place on another day), it pays off.

Look at that! Everyone in the same outfits, in the same positions, or moving in the same direction. It's almost as if it's the same exact shot being recycled, except that the mother and her infant are not there. Now, had that extra not been wearing the mailman uniform, I wouldn't have noticed that. I wouldn't have taken the first shot and spent a few seconds checking it out before continuing the show only to find that the same extras in the same outfits were being used.

Funny how their need to create a realistic "slice of life" scene only ended up illustrating just how unrealistic the scene is.

Now, I understand that little clips like these are probably all filmed at once. You can probably spend a few hours in one day to get enough of these shots to last you at least a season. You could very easily recycle the same shots throughout the season, and no one would notice, as long as the shots themselves are inconspicuous. For all I know, they've been doing this the whole time. I just happened to catch the mailman, and the same mailman again.

Speaking of extras, check out the conehead in the background.

Also in Vegas, Thomas Lennon is playing a casino dealer who turns out to be Joey's identical hand twin. This is a post-The State and Viva Variety Lennon, but pre-Reno 911.

The special features for this season take a bit of a turn. There used to be some sort of trivia game and some lame thing sort of hosted by Gunther where you can access a bunch of clips organized by character. Thankfully, they've gotten rid of that. But don't cry for Gunther, now he hosts "Gunther Spills the Beans," a teaser to next season. It's weird, because Gunther is talking about things that are about to happen in Season Six, as if the feature was filmed at some point in the summer of 1999. Of course, this was before DVDs were as widely accessible to the mass market, so complete seasons of a series were not available the September before the next season, as they are now. This feature was filmed a few years later, so it's funny to see him carrying on as if no one knows what's going to happen.

What I found interesting was the behind the scenes feature. It showed everything that went into filming the Season Six premiere. If only because it seemed to answer all of the questions I've been asking throughout the season.

Do they film the season opener right after the season finale and then take a break to minimize any discontinuity with hairstyles and tans, or do they film it after the summer and not tell people not to make any changes?
It's done after the summer. Yep.

Is there a laugh track or is there really a studio audience?
Studio audience.

So all of the screaming is real?
Unfortunately. In fact, there was one part where they showed someone in post-production removing the laugh from one joke and replacing it with a shorter one because it ran too long and over the next line. Which leads me to believe that they would have to do the same for the screaming.

Wow, exactly how irritating are these people?
Pretty irritating. In fact the whole filming process seems pretty hellish to have to witness, and would probably attract a who's who among irritating humans. It takes about 5 hours for one episode. They keep the audience amused during rewrites, scene changes, etc. with wacky games and the like. One clip showed the audience dancing along to YMCA. Seriously, YMCA!

They later showed audience members talking about the show and these are not people I'd want to spend time with anytime soon. They're the kinds of people who break into a rendition of I'll Be There For You. They're the type of people that would start screaming when two fictional characters start kissing.

Interestingly enough, some of the crew members broke out into I'll Be There For You at one point in the feature. I would think that they would be absolutely sick of that song. I know I can't stand it anymore.

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