brainstorming assignment brainstorming assignment 1. what is a sitcom?

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Brainstorming Brainstorming Assignment Assignment 1. What is a 1. What is a sitcom? sitcom?

Author: juliet-harrell

Post on 20-Jan-2016




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  • Brainstorming Assignment1. What is a sitcom?

  • 2) List 5 Sitcoms that you are familiar with:

  • 3) Briefly describe an episode of one of your favorite sitcoms. What made this particular show funny?Night Court - This particular show took place at night in a New York court house. The characters included a judge, lawyers, bailiffs, a clerk, criminals, and various other court characters. One particular episode involved two siblings legal fight over the cremated remains their father, Herb. The ashes were kept in an urn in the judges chambers. One of the lawyers enters the judges chamber and begins to make herb tea. After he sips the tea and comments on how good the herb tea is the caretaker exclaims thats not herb tea, thats Herb!

  • 4) List and describe the characters of the Sitcom you chose to write about.

  • Situation Comedy Unit

  • What is a sitcom? A situation comedy, usually referred to as a sitcom, is a genre of comedy programs which originated in radio. Today, sitcoms are found almost exclusively on television, as one of its dominant narrative forms. Sitcoms usually consist of recurring characters in a common environment such as a home or workplace.

  • A. Sitcoms:Many sitcoms follow similar story lines. Many of these story lines are used over and over again different show different characters different setting SAME PLOT, SAME PREMISE!

  • I. - Traditional sitcoms:

    - featured individual episodes that were largely self-contained - regular characters that remained largely static - had events in each episode that resolved themselves by the end of the episode - would rarely mention events from previous episodes in subsequent episodes - Showed characters like school friends or beloved relatives. Often these characters would only be seen once in the series, and were rarely mentioned in subsequent episodes

  • Example:This TRADITIONAL sitcom formula has been parodied many times by The Simpsons. Mr. Burns, despite repeated close interaction with his employee Homer Simpson, never recalls those incidents and does not remember who Homer is in subsequent episodes.

  • II. - Modern SitcomMore recently, sitcoms have introduced some ongoing story lines. EXAMPLE:Friends, a popular US sitcom of the 1990s-2000s, had an overall story arc similar to that of soap operas. In addition to using traditional sitcom stories, which were introduced and resolved in the same episode, the show always had two or three ongoing stories taking place at any given point in the show's run. Friends also used other soap opera elements such as regularly resorting to an end-of-season cliffhanger and gradually developing the relationships of the characters over the course of the series.

  • III. - Sitcoms making Social CommentaryOther sitcoms have veered into social commentary. Examples of these are sitcoms created by Norman Lear (including All in the Family and Maude) in the U.S.

  • IV - The Baby!A common aspect of family sitcoms is that, at some point in their run, they introduce a baby to the family. The addition of a new baby to a sitcom family provides new story situations for the series as the family must adjust to a new member.

  • The baby itself, however, provides only a limited range of stories, due to its limited mobility, mental development, and vocabulary. In addition, there are practical problems with working with a baby on-set. Thus, most sitcom kids are aged to four or five within two years of their birth

    Examples:Andrew Keaton on Family Ties Chrissy Seaver on Growing PainsOccasionally a sitcom would retain the same child without such age jumps such as: Erin Murphy as Tabitha Stevens on BewitchedThe Olsen twins as Michelle Tanner on Full House.

  • B. Premises

    Sitcoms are based on premises!

  • 1. "Fish out of water"

    Many sitcoms, despite a variety of settings, are based on the premise of a characters being out of his or her element, i.e., a "fish out of water".

  • Examples:Gilligan's Island - castaways on a desert isle. Having left civilization behind, these latter-day Robinson Crusoes must fend for themselves while seeking a means to effect their rescue.

  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air also used a fish-out-of-water setup, but "with a hipper twist. The show features streetwise Will Smith landing at his aunt and uncle's mansion in Bel-Air. Instead of Will being uncomfortable and confused about the element of "preppiness" he is unfamiliar with, his homeboy nature allows him to continue the way he is without shame, as he considers the fancy people, including his cousin Carlton, people to insult and look down on, which in turn makes up a large part of the show's humor.

  • The Beverly Hillbillies: Upon discovering oil on his land in Bug Tussle, Jed Clampett and his kin move from the hills of Tennessee to Beverly Hills, California, where they must cope with a way of life theyve never known and are ill equipped to handle.

  • 2. Foils

    Other sitcoms are based on foils. In fiction, a foil is a minor character whose traits are the opposite to those of the main character.

  • Examples:I Love Lucy and Dharma and Greg: A straightforward, down-to-earth, rational husband marries a flighty, zany, emotional woman given to hatching complex absurd schemes that invariably cause problems for her impatient but long suffering husband.

  • 3. The family sitcom

    - Having existed from the invention of the sitcom and having prominence in the 1980s, this premise involves the lives and situations of a family, usually almost entirely taking place inside their house or residence. The standard formula for an episode of a family sitcom is; - A member of said family (usually a child) creates conflict or otherwise gets himself into trouble, usually followed by some kind of misunderstanding or coverup, the culprit is exposed or caught and confronted. This almost always results in a lesson being learned.

  • Examples:"The Brady Bunch"Leave it to Beaver"The Cosby Show"Full House"Family Ties"Growing Pains "Home Improvement is interesting because its lead character Tim "The Toolman" Taylor, who is the father in the series, is almost always the one learning the lesson, as opposed to one of the children.

  • 4. Youthful protagonist's point of view.

    A fourth premise for sitcoms is that of telling the story from the youthful protagonists point of view (i. e., the use of an unreliable narrator). In these shows, the main characters are teens or pre-teens whose view of the world is often exasperating and endearing simultaneously. Trying to understand their world through inexperienced and nave eyes, these characters often misunderstand the implications of incidents and actions. Often, they make a bad situation worse before their parents or another wise, understanding, and loving adult bails them out of their trouble. As a result, they become somewhat older and wiser.

  • Examples:Malcolm In The Middle, "Blossom, Leave It To Beaver, and frequently The Brady Bunch.

  • 5. Parody

    Television sitcoms such as Batman and Get Smart are based on parodying other more serious versions of their characters or genres.

  • EXAMPLE: Batman, starring Adam West, poked fun at the campy elements implicit in costumed crime fighters and over-the-top villains whose comic book punches are accompanied by hand-lettered onomatopoeia in dynamic and dazzling fonts.

  • Get Smart made fun of the action-adventure plots of secret agents like James Bond, all the rage at the time.

  • C. Ensemble cast structure:

    Many sitcoms reuse a common mixture of character archetypes to achieve reliable comedic situations from week to week.

  • 1. The naf

    The most common archetype appearing in sitcoms is the naf or fool. Typically, this character accepts events and statements at face value and often misunderstands situations in ways that create conflict in the plot.

  • Characters in sitcom history that fit this description include:Homer Simpson (The Simpsons)Chrissy Snow (Three's Company)"Coach" Ernie Pantusso and Woody Boyd (Cheers)Joey (Friends)Maxwell Smart (Get Smart)Cosmo Kramer (Seinfeld)Kelso (That '70s Show)Arthur Carlson (WKRP in Cincinnati)Michael Scott (The Office) Kenneth Parcell (30 Rock).

  • In some series, the entire cast may take on this trait at one time or another; examples include the Bundy family of Married... with Children, The Griffins et al. of Family Guy, and the Tate/Campbell family of Soap.

  • 2. The social rebel

    Not commonly seen on US television before the appearance of The Bundys from "Married... with Children", this character was fairly common on British comedies from the '60s onward; these characters at times have traits of "The naive fool", and "The antagonist". They have (at least limited) awareness that his or her actions are in some way socially unacceptable, rude or just plain dumb. At times, this character plays pranks, makes inappropriate comments and generally makes life more difficult for the other characters. This character isn't quite an antagonist; however, they are usually accepted (and even loved) by the other characters dispite their flaws. In some cases. they are the ones who end up saving the day with just the right advice or sacrifice.

  • This type was popularized in the US by the series "Seinfeld, in which all of the characters are selfish and rude and don't care about how society views them, yet they are the protagonists of the show. Other examples of this character include Dan Fielding of "Night Court, Michael Scott of The Office", Roseanne Connor of "Roseanne and Peter Griffin of "Family Guy.

  • 3. The sage

    This character usually has either an elevated intellect, advanced age, or "outsider" experience. The sage frequently comments wryly on the situation into which the other characters have placed themselves and often suggests solutions to resolve the major plot conflict.

  • The characters Wilson Wilson from Home Improvement and Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World are examples of the use of a sage.

  • 4. The comic relief

    The comic relief character usually exhibits eccentric personality traits and unusual reactions to commonplace situations and sometimes serves as the protagonist of the situation comedy series. This character's strange attitudes and reactions to events provide opportunities for absurd or unexpected humour.

  • Cosmo Kramer from Seinfeld is a textbook example of a comic relief character, as is Phoebe Buffay of Friends . On The Office , Michael is the main comic relief character.

  • 5. The Wacky NeighborThis character, who will often embody qualities of the Naive Fool or Comic Relief, lives next door, across the hall, or in similar close proximity to the protagonist. This allows them to pop into the plot whenever necessary and inject a slice of levity and/or oddness to the proceedings.

  • Examples include Steve Urkel from Family Matters. The Wacky Neighbor may also be an element of the core cast, such as Cosmo Kramer from Seinfeld, Ned Flanders from The Simpsons, Joey from Friends, and Wilson from Home Improvement, whose wisdom and insight often helped the Taylor family during the course of the series.

  • 6. The Antagonist

    This archetypal character functions as a primary rival, competitor, or enemy of the series' principal character, the protagonist.

  • On the sitcom All in the Family, Michael "Meathead" Stivic served as the primary antagonist to his father-in-law, Archie Bunker. On The Simpsons, Homer Simpson chooses (most of the time) to make an antagonist of his neighbor, Ned Flanders. Jerry Seinfeld's main antagonist on his self-titled sitcom was his postal worker neighbor Newman (Seinfeld).

  • 7. The ladies man The ladies' man and the man eater are aggressively sexual characters whose primary humor derives from their sexual exploits. Depending upon the tenor of the series, and depending on if it's airing earlier or later on the schedule, the character's attitude can range from harmless flirtation to borderline hypersexuality.

  • Larry Dallas (Three's Company)Blanche Devereaux (The Golden Girls)Roz Doyle (Frasier)Will Smith (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)The Todd (Scrubs)Karen Walker (Will and Grace)Joey (Friends)Sam Malone (Cheers)Glenn Quagmire (Family Guy) Barney Stinson ("How I Met Your Mother")Kelso ("That 70s Show")are examples of this character type.

  • 8. The ethnic/regional stereotype

    Some sitcoms feature characters from other countries or specific parts of the United States whose accents, speech patterns, mannerisms, and attitudes provide opportunities for conflict or comic relief.

  • Examples included: Latka Gravas (Taxi)Balki Bartokomous (Perfect Strangers)Carla Tortelli (Cheers)Thurston Howell III and Lovey Howell (Gilligan's Island)Apu (The Simpsons)Fez (That '70s Show)Otto and Gretchen Mannkusser (Malcolm in the Middle)Joy Darville (My Name Is Earl).

  • D. Other common charactersOther recurring archetypal characters that appear in sitcoms include:1. The meddling or nosy neighbor: The Ropers/Ralph Furley - Three's Company, Gladys Kravitz - Bewitched, Marie Barone- Everybody Loves RaymondThe Ochmoneks - ALF

  • 2. The wacky wife and her straight laced husband - I Love Lucy- Dharma & Greg- American Dad

  • 3. The wisecracking curmudgeon - Archie Bunker from All in the Family - Lou Grant from The Mary Tyler Moore Show- Frank Barone from Everybody Loves Raymond

  • 4. The lovable loser - Cliff Clavin and Norm Peterson - Cheers - George Costanza Seinfeld- Noel Shempsky - Frasier- Gunther - Friends- Spence Olchin - The King of Queens- Toby Flenderson f- The Office- Bill from "King of the Hill"

  • 5. The acerbic servant - Geoffrey - The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air- Florence Johnston - The Jeffersons- Benson - Soap- Rosario Salazar - Will & Grace- Niles - The Nanny- Berta Two and a Half Men

  • 6. The unseen character, often mentioned and sometimes heard, but never seen- Vera - CheersMaris - FrasierLouis - BeckerBob Sacamano and George Steinbrenner - Seinfeld

  • 7. The overprotective father - Paul Hennessy - 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter- Dave Gold from The War at Home- Danny Tanner from Full House- Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

  • 8. The meddling sibling - The Brady Bunch- Cosby Show- Malcolm in the Middle- DJ - Full House

  • 9. The sarcastic hero - Hawkeye Pierce - "M*A*S*H- Chandler Bing - "Friends"

  • 10. The Unnamed Chacter, where we do not know the proper name of a character, usually only a nickname or part of a name - Fez - "That 70's Show- Kramer - "Seinfeld" - The Professor, Gilligan and The Skipper - "Gilligan's Island" - Agent 99 - "Get Smart"

  • 11. The "Straight Man", who is sometimes the spouse of the lead character. Their main purpose is to react to the comic lead's shinanigans Al Borland from "Home ImprovementMarge Simpson from "The Simpsons"

  • E. Plot Formulas

    The plot and situations for many sitcom episodes arise out of a character's lying to or otherwise deceiving the other characters. The most common comedic situations based on deception include:Attempts to hide egregious mistakes or acts of weakness. Attempts to protect friends and family members from bad news. Attempts to "correct" a mistake before others find out about it. Attempts to hide the breaking of pacts. Attempts to maintain an advantage based on deception. Attempts to dupe someone so as to achieve an advantage. Attempts to return stolen property before discovery of the theft. Attempts to replace destroyed property before discovery of destruction. Attempts to ignore certain characters. Attempts to recreate scenarios. Attempts to fix situations that end up making them worse.

  • The majority of sitcom episodes revolve around some form of the lying/deception premises listed above. Lesser-used sitcom plot formulas include:One or more characters going into a foreign environment only to return to "where they belong." Frequently, sitcom writers will use this plot formula to transplant the entire cast to some exotic location. A character choosing to make some fundamental change in their body, habits, job, or other component of their environment, only to return to "what feels normal." Characters entering contests or races. Characters being elevated to positions of responsibility they can't handle. Newcomers or strangers making one-time appearances that change the personal dynamics between the recurring characters. A special holiday episode, such as Christmas or Halloween. A character thinking another character is going to die and does anything to please him/her, while the other character takes advantage. Male and female characters exchanging their archetypal "men" and "women" roles to demonstrate the other gender "has it easier", only to find out they were more comfortable with their own.

  • F. The "Very Special Episode"

    One type of plot of particular note is the "very special episode". This episode of a comedy series goes outside of their standard comedy format and involves a controversial issue or either a birth, a death or an otherwise traumatic experience for one of the major characters. Examples include any episode of "Family Ties" involving the alchoholic Uncle Ned (played by Tom Hanks) and the episode of "Happy Days" where Richie almost dies after crashing Fonzie's bike. This is many times a sign of the series "Jumping the Shark (", i.e., an illogical plot twist usually symptomatic of a decline in the show's quality).

  • G. Life cycle

    Landmarks in the life cycle of a typical sitcom include:Development Pilot episode Popularity or semi-popularity "Jumping the shark", i.e., an illogical plot twist usually symptomatic of a decline in the show's quality Cancellation Reruns in syndication Reunion Show DVD Box-set Release