Blog 06 – Commentary

Originally posted 7.19.08

Episode six, “Commentary”, is the start of a theme in Franks and Beans that I love but perhaps no one else does.  This is evident by the fact that “Commentary” and similar episodes (such as “Mailbag/Bloopers”) are viewed only half as much as episodes uploaded in a similar timeframe.  Does this mean that we’ll stop making episodes like these?  NEVER!  Does this mean you’ll have to deal with it again and again?  We’ll, kind of, but not as much as you, our faithful viewing audience, apparently fears.  Let me explain.

Franks and Beans follows a very loose set of rules.  The show is loyal to the joke above all else, but beyond that there are only a few simple themes that we try to keep in place.  The show has continuity – not a very strong sense of it, but it is there.  It deals with Larry and me in a very “third person” kind of way, in that we both inhabit our own “universe” when the camera is rolling, where characters can return and leave between episodes and there is some notion of the passing of time.

When we break the “fourth wall,” then, is in episodes where we talk directly to the camera, such as in “Commentary”.  Because I don’t want this style of episode leaking over into the “real” Franks and Beans universe, and because I don’t want to bore everyone with every single episode, I made the unbreakable rule that Larry and I must create five “regular” episodes for every one that plays out like episode six.

This has become more difficult to keep with than I had anticipated, but we’re sticking to it because of our strong moral upbringings.

The idea behind this episode came from the many DVDs I’ve bought.  I admit that I’m something of a sucker for bonus features on movies and TV shows; I’ll watch featurettes and listen to episode commentaries even if they are boring or have nothing to say.  Maybe I’m trying to get my money’s worth, I don’t know.  One thing that always catches me by surprise, though, is when actors providing commentary are so obviously completely different than the characters they portray.  This should seem apparent because this is what actors do…they create an illusion and memorize scripts they had no hand in writing.  Of course Nathan Fillion will be different than Mal Reynolds.  Of course the cast of Entourage won’t be as cool as they are when the cameras are rolling.  But I still get caught off guard when something like this happens.

Larry and I tried to create something like this in “Commentary,” and because we didn’t do any actual speaking (other than a quick introduction and conclusion), and because you had to actually see us during the entire episode, we had to get that across in the way we looked.  All Larry had to do to change his entire appearance was pull his hair back in a ponytail – which worked better than I could have ever imagined.  When one sees Larry with a ponytail, the obvious question of why he doesn’t do that all the time is raised, because he instantly becomes more intimidating.  Larry’s answers to this have all been shallow and unsatisfactory, so we may never know for real.  My own looks were altered with two methods: the first was a turtleneck sweater, the second was a beard.  The turtleneck, I think, makes me look oddly intellectual, but the beard just looks awesome.  I had been growing it for episode seven, “Mustache”, but it served a great purpose here.

The difficulty in editing this episode is in the double shot we employ for most of the running time.  Because of Funny of Die’s size restrictions on files, Larry had to cut down on the picture quality more than he would have for other episodes, as playing the “High School” episode on top of the screen took up more space than either of us had anticipated.  There’s not much we can do to prevent this, except maybe lobby FoD for more space, but that might be like looking a gift horse in the mouth (or, perhaps, beating a dead horse, to use another horse metaphor.  Man, I love horse metaphors).  Still, Larry did a great job with the overlap.

The sheer length of this episode is probably to its detriment, but commenting on any episode other than the first just didn’t make a lot of sense to us.  This is not saying that four and a half minutes is a long time, but when the two of us say absolutely nothing for three and a half of those, it does tend to run on.  Even so, I really do hope that people got the joke – the episode is titled “Commentary”, the whole point of the episode is for us to comment, we SAY that we’re going to discuss it, but in the end we don’t say a thing (yeah…I bet that wasn’t lost on anyone).  Not one word while the episode is playing.  There’s something – at least to me – inherently funny about that, and if you look up the definition of irony in the dictionary, well, we followed it pretty closely (as opposed to that Alanis Morissette song…which doesn’t).

So, like it or hate it, this episode remains a part of Franks and Beans.  I, for one, like it, and that’s why we’ve got episode twelve, “Mailbag/Bloopers” and why episode eighteen will again follow in this direction.  It’s already written, as a matter of fact!  Be afraid.

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