Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Update to Previous Post

A commentor on this post below noted--quite astutely I might add--that whether or not the The Bill Engvall Show was inspired by Sally Forth, the "pet/vacation" plot is quite honestly not the most original in the world.

In fact, I remember back in the 70's when sitcoms utiized what seemed like only a handful of possible plotlines, including:

* Long-quarreling characters get stuck in elevator/basement/shipping container and must work out their differences, only to come to both a mutual understanding and the same mutual dislike for one other.

* Neighbor's or boss's dog left in main character's care accidentally jumps off balcony and gets lost or killed, resulting in main character having to find a suitable replacement in time.

* Main character has to be in two places at once, usually at a big office meeting and a child's school recital.

* A conversation is overheard out of context and shenaningans result (otherwise known as the Three's Company device).

* Main character tries hard to impress the in-laws with disasterous results, only for their son or daughter to make a long-overdue impassioned plea about the worthiness of their spouse to their parents.

* The Harlem Globetrotters, Joe Namath or Sammy Davis Jr. appear.

Am I missing any?


Jodi said...

Well, it's not just in-laws that you have to worry about. Remember when Chrissy was all freaked out because her mother paid her a surprise visit? Oh the high jinks that ensued while they tried to hide Jack.

Woodrowfan said...

How about "Big Date goes wrong" as main character has date with person of his dreams only to find everything go wrongs. Makes plea at end for understanding that wins over date's heart and main character is given a second chance.

Erin said...

Remember the episode of "Facts of Life" where Blair got stuck in the elevator with a Holocaust survivor?

Dear God, that was the most special Very Special Episode ever.

Dimestore Lipstick said...

Well, here's one we all remember--
Special guest lands on the Island, castaways get their hopes up, Little Buddy does something stupid, and rescue fails to occur.

And since I grew up with Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, I can recall these:

Historical figure is transported to the present day by the magical main character--hijinks ensue, and frequently ad campaigns get launched.

Vindictive magical double of magical main character makes a play for the significant other of magical main character, causing much confusion and ensuing hijinks.

Nasty magical relative of magical main character turns significant other of magical main character into a donkey, toad, goat, pig, etc.

Nasty magical relative of magical main character turns nosy neighbor, boss, psychiatrist (or other character important to magical main character's significant other) into a donkey, toad, goat, pig, etc.

David said...

woodrowfan has hit a biggie. This plot also has a corollary in which prominent single character is set up on a blind date by prominent married character (one or the other being a main character). Said date is single character's ex, a drunk, a lech, or otherwise disgusting/embarrassing. Hilarity ensues.

And, of course, there's the story arc that signaled desperation on the part of the writers, jumping the shark before Fonzie ever strapped on a pair of water skis: all characters under the age of 20 (i.e. actors under 30) form a band and are a big hit. Unless, that was the show's whole premise to begin with.

Brian said...

Ooo, don't forget the magic old/ethnic/disabled/possibly any combination of the latter person shows up and teaches everyone a valuable lesson about why you shouldn't write off old/ethnic/disabled/all of the above people. Occasionally this turns into a recurring character, e.g. Jerri on "The Facts of Life." Jesus Christ, was that show ever Special.

yellojkt said...

Don't forget the mix-up with the medical records where one character thinks the other is dying and goes out of the way to be nice to them.

beezie said...

I for one am tired of the sitcom cliche of a (big, dumb) husband doing something stupid and/or selfish, then lying to his (impossibly hot) wife, only to get busted in the end. Gee, I've never seen that before...

D.B. Echo said...

#1 was used quite effectively in an episode of Babylon 5.

You missed these:
- Characters are on a plane, pilot and copilot are incapacitated, characters must land plane. (Most effectively deconstructed and used in an episode of Cheers.)

- Characters find themselves in an unfamiliar setting among strangers and teach the strangers something about themselves. (The cast of Happy Days inexplicably goes to a dude ranch and holds a Wild West show for the locals; I believe this episode or pair of episodes also originated the term "Jump the Shark".)

Bruce said...

How could you forget "identical twin cousin shows up, hijinks ensue"?

thryn said...

They're cataloged at