Blog 48 – Previously

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Ideas are funny things.  They inhabit a plane of existence outside the physical universe…the same universe that holds everything else, known or unknown, with the exception of these ideas.  When you think of something, and you picture it in your head, electrical signals are shooting around your body, but where does the idea itself exist?  Where is this image you’ve pictured in some ethereal capacity?  Nowhere, of course, but if that’s the case, how do we have those ideas?  How can something exist and at the same time not exist?

This is not to overmysticize the whole process and try to make it sound like something it’s not.  But the point of this all is WHERE DO WE COME UP WITH THESE GREAT IDEAS FOR FRANKS AND BEANS?  Another level of existence, that’s where.  And you can tell your friends this, because it’s true.  If they call you a liar, punch them right in the throat.

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This brings us to our 46th episode, “Previously”.  The idea for this episode sprung from two places: the unknowable nothingness that I just spoke of, and the desire to do a “backwards” episode, which is not a new concept but is probably attributed to Seinfeld more than anything else, at least as far as television and the like is concerned.  Now, you may be saying to yourself that this episode of Franks and Beans is not in fact filmed in reverse sequence, and you would be right.  Ideas, fleeting as they are, sometimes change in the process, and such is the case with “Previously”, where instead we ended up with lots and lots of fake buildup, only to have no real payout in the end (just like every other episode of Franks and Beans, amIright, fellas?).

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Speaking of change, there’s an interesting easter egg-y moment happening in this episode, as for once we try to be subtle about something.  Larry and I wear the same shirts throughout the episode, swapping them at times for no other reason than to have a background joke tossed in.

The episode took some strange turns but I think it worked to its full effect, poking fun at the really long and expository recaps that some shows put at the beginning of new episodes.  The tension builds and builds and builds (“You, all right? I learned it from watching you!”), and we even manage to keep a fairly consistent continuity throughout the “previously on…” sequence, with the exception of the non sequitur of the two of us laughing for no apparent reason.  Larry’s mysterious letter is the driving force!  What could its contents reveal?

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Somewhere out there in the universe (but in our real universe, not the strange abscess of reality where ideas exist), there’s an extended clip of our penultimate scene, where the apparently non-long-for-this-earth Jeff takes us to the cliffhanger.  This deleted scene lasts about three times as long as the actual episode, and I go on and on about whatever I can think of.  I’m pretty sure we put it on the season two DVD.  Whatever.  Maybe Larry can dredge it up for you one day, blog readers.

Previously screen shot 05

The joke of this episode plays on all of our expectations, or more appropriately, the complete turn we take from everything that had come before.  Instead of answering any of the questions we post, either explicitly or implicitly throughout the episode, we end with us (in new shirts!) eating ravioli and spouting a “that’s what she said” line, which, let’s face it, is always sure to please (that’s what she said).

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Not to let the backwards theme go, our “No!” ending features a backwards scene…of sorts.  It’s a stretch, but…it is what it is.  Such is the life of ideas.

Oh, and I finally (we knew it was coming) messed up with the sequence of these episodes, as I forgot we had a commentary episode lined up for “Why So Misleading?”.  We’re all probably surprised that it took this long for it to happen.  Please watch it, and listen to Larry sound like he’s happy that he’s throwing up.

Blog 42 – 666

666 screen shot

Hey, everyone.  Who here likes the devil?  Now, I don’t mean you LIKE him like him, but just that you see him as more of an abstract concept, or a silly cartoon character, like a skinny guy with a goatee, painted red skin and silly horns, and you think, “hey, I like the Devil.  He’s funny and I bet he’s pretty misunderstood!”  Well, according to beloved author C.S. Lewis, you’re going to Hell.  No two ways about it!  Really, just punch your ticket now, bucco.  You should probably be ashamed of yourself, but since you’re already on a one-way trip to eternal fire and torment, I suppose there’s really no use in it.

While you’re there, taking part in having your teeth smashed in with a lava rock, please ask the Devil (he’ll be the guy in charge) what he thinks about episode 40 of Franks and Beans, the aptly-named “666”.  I’ll bet he just looks at you and spits snakes into your eyes or something, but what if he was like “Franks and Beans?  That’s a great episode!  I love the chaos montage!  They’re performing over in subsection five, right before we force them to eat their own intestines stuffed with razor blades.”  And then you could both laugh and laugh, and maybe Hell would be just a tiny bit more tolerable at that point.  But probably not, because, you know, Hell and all.

666 is a higher-concept episode than usual, with a lot of buildup and an immediate callback that, on a lot of levels, really works for me.  It does take a moderate-sized leap of faith in that we’re apparently professing that just saying the phrase “666” brings forth demonic possession and wild spasms of uncontrollable rage, but once you’re there, everything else falls into place.

If I had to change one thing about this episode, it’d be to add just a little more buildup.  I think that we would have benefited in taking things a bit more slowly; specifically, I wouldn’t jump right into the gravely “666!!” line right away.  Instead, I’d add up the numbers and say something like “and that comes to…six hundred and sixty-six dollars even.  Six…sixty six.”  And then pause for effect, look up to Larry, and THEN launch into the “SIX SIXTY SIX!” tirade.  I think that would have sold the joke better than what actually transpired, but overall I think it worked out fine, and hindsight is a tough sonofagun in any case.

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Here’s an amusing anecdote that should possibly make you sad and a little ashamed to know or even know OF your pals at Franks and Beans: it took both Larry and I several times to figure out how to subtract $6.66 from $10.00.  At first I embarrassed myself by saying $4.44.  In the editing process, Larry’s Mom (“got some mail for you”) pointed out the obvious flaw.  Contrite, we re-filmed the scene and I instead said “$3.44.”  This is ALSO incorrect, but we were lucky enough that you never see me saying it – so I just recorded myself saying the correct numbers (whatever they are) and we slapped it in.  This is what an educational system that doesn’t put enough emphasis on science and math produces, world!  What a damn shame.

666 receiptA few months ago, I went to the store and bough, apparently, three squeeze pops.  The price of three squeeze pops, plus 6% sales tax, some out to exactly $6.66.  This was a fun coincidence, and I took full advantage of it by looking at the cashier and saying “666!” in a gravely voice before gesticulating wildly.  The cashier didn’t enjoy the reference, as she perhaps hadn’t yet watched Franks and Beans, but I’m sure that has been rectified in the time since the encounter, because who ignores a sign like that?

666 Lion-O screen shotOur “NO!” ending features another of Larry’s many costume changes.  Since we’ve slowed down in filming episodes lately, it seems that all of the endings are just Larry in various Halloween costumes, but this one here is memorable for sure, as Larry had some fleeting Internet fame (that is, other fame than what is allotted to us from Franks and Beans, which is considerable) in the same outfit.

Around the time we filmed this episode, Larry and I went to the New York Comic-Con, where Wagon Wheel Comics had a booth for one of the first times ever.  On the Saturday of the show, Larry dressed as Lion-O, and everyone loved him.  LOVED him.  It was something to see.  In face, searching for “Lion-O NYCC” on Google shows that Larry is still well remembered:

Larry as Lion-O Google screen shotHe’s got the first five slots!  Wow.  It was like walking around with a celebrity, and I was just a hapless member of the entourage.

Larry as Lion-O at New York Comic-Con NYCC Hellboy Larry as Lion-O New York Comic Con NYCCLarry even campaigned for America’s Libraries…apparently.  While we were at the show, we actually sold a few Franks and Beans DVDs, which, of course, requires photographic evidence to be believed:

Franks and Beans - New York Comic-Con NYCC

Look at that exchange of money for goods!  After the show, we took the parade to the streets of New York:

Larry as Lion-O New York Comic-Con NYCC TImes SquareNice photobomb, kid.  Later that evening, Larry made the front page of IGN:

IGN ScreenshotAnd a fun time was had by all, until Larry had a terrible reaction to the cat-eye contacts he was wearing.  And by that time, everyone was cranky anyway.

This blog took a strange turn.  Perhaps the Devil made me do it.

Blog 36 – The Last Straw

The Last Straw screen shotWelcome to episode 34 of Franks and Beans, the episodic show about the many different episodes of Franks and Beans.  In tonight’s episode, we have our 34th episode, “The Last Straw”.  Franks and Beans.  Episode!

It seems that in this episode (enough already!), our main purpose, with all its lead up and exposition, is simply this: that scene with Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will be Blood” was really weird, wasn’t it?  Why did he use a milkshake as the example?  A straw that stretches acrooooooss the room?  Man, what the heck.  That was just odd.

And yet for a few months the scene stuck with me and I found myself saying the telltale line, “I – DRINK – YOUR – MILKSHAKE!”, in any number of situations, appropriate and otherwise.  It gained a little bit of traction in the general popular lexicon of the time as well, though its recognizance has since receded a bit in the five years since the film’s release.  But here it is, immortalized for all time in what feels like a very random episode of Franks and Beans.

There’s a lot to like about this episode, starting with the opening dialogue between Larry and myself, which at this point is showing signs of gaining some traction, which is a welcome relief from earlier episodes such as “eBay” and the like.  The plot is simplistic in its approach, with Larry, me, the kitchen table and a milkshake (with two straws) as the principle players and obvious deception as the motivation.  My plan, regardless of the execution, was to play up that obviousness – we all know what will happen once Larry leaves the room – and then throw in something out of nowhere to break the easy-to-follow pathway.  And what better way than to have Larry pick up a randomly-placed crowbar and hit me in the head with it?

For all my rehearsal, I never managed to get Day-Lewis’s milkshake speech right, but I think that the feel is right.  Courtesy of our friends (not actually friends) at IMDB, here’s the text of the milkshake speech:

Drainage! Drainage, Eli, you boy. Drained dry. I’m so sorry. Here, if you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and I have a straw. There it is, that’s a straw, you see? You watching?. And my straw reaches acroooooooss the room, and starts to drink your milkshake… I… drink… your… milkshake!

Here’s a little-known Franks and Beans fun fact: we cut the ending of this episode not only because it shouldn’t be difficult to understand what will happen in the seconds to come (death), but also because Larry pulled up a little short with his swing and actually hit me in the head with the crowbar.  Not terribly hard, but enough to knock my head back and cause one of my eyeballs to pop out.  On the extremely collectible Franks and Beans DVD (a great gift for the holidays) we show this clip, which is actually pretty funny.

The “No!” ending came as the fulfillment of another obsession of mine – sound effects of punching.  It surprises me that well-funded television programs still use stock effects such as these in their productions.  Well, I suppose nothing about network television surprises me anymore, as I am generally horrified by anything that plays from the hours of 7:00-10:00 in the evening on lower channels, but still my point is valid.  But dammit if I don’t enjoy using punching sounds regardless.   I think this episode should prove why.

And in case you were wondering, yes, I do believe that our episodes get better in the not too distant future.


Blog 32 – Rip Off

Originally Posted 5.17.10

Much has been made in my comments on the last few episodes of Franks and Beans on the subject of parody and just where it fits in with the concept of comedy.  While I’ll qualify my claim by saying that when it comes to parody, there can certainly be too much of a good thing, but as a general rule, I’m comfortable with making the assertion that all good comedies have at least an element of parody in them.  Really, I defy anyone to name a good comedy that doesn’t have some parodic content to it.

Let’s take a recent example and look at last year’s comedy smash “The Hangover”.  While certainly laying its own groundwork, where would it be without its nods to “Rain Man” and “Three Men and a Baby?”  Going back 20 years to one of my favorite movies, “UHF” is chock full of parodies, musical and otherwise.  If you really want to go back to the early days of film, all you have to do is look to the Three Stooges – lost among the eye pokes and face slaps is a parody of the social class structure that 1930s and ’40s America was struggling to break free from.  I don’t claim that Franks and Beans holds much of a candle to any of these cinematic gems; I merely want to point out how important a concept such as parody is to comedy in general.  When used properly, it’s a tool that really can’t be matched, because parodies are built on information we’ve already assimilated into our own cultural lexicon.

Self-parody is just another form of this type of comedy, and our wonderfully self-referential 30th episode, “Rip Off”, plays right into this concept.  What separates self-parody from regular forms of parody, though, is devotion.  Self-parody doesn’t come along without a substantial store of very specific material.  While parody lives off of the never ending supply of popular culture, self-parody relies completely on the singular body of work it parodies.  Franks and Beans could have its ever popular “No!” endings from the first episode, and we did, because we’re mocking overplayed cliffhangers and those have been around as long as there have been cliffs to hang from, but for us to use self-parody, we had to have enough material to serve as a solid foundation.  Thirty episodes in, the result is “Rip Off”, an ambitious and context-laden episode that, in many ways, highlights some of our better moments while making fun of everything we do.

“Rip Off” welcomes back old friend of the show “Hardcore” Mark Moncheck, who is getting sincerely less hardcore the longer I know him.  Seriously, the guy’s married, has a steady job, gets regular haircuts…it’s a misnomer, I tell you.  The perfect role for Mark in any episode of Franks and Beans is that of the obsessed fan, because it’s not much of a stretch from who he is in real life.  Sometimes I think that Mark, Larry and I are the only ones who watch Franks and Beans – perhaps I’m not too far from the truth with that thought – but even if that were the case, Mark has the enthusiasm to simulate dozens and dozens of viewers.  Hell, it got him a recurring role on the show, so I guess it’s working out for him, too.

Joe Kromer is new to the show and, at ten years younger than both Larry and myself, newer to life in general.  Another fan of the show who was granted entrance in through our golden gates, Joe has since disappeared from the face of Brownsville, never to be seen again.  Seriously, I have no idea where to find this guy.  For a one-time character, though, he sure picked a memorable episode, and did a decent job with the “next time on Kielbasa and Kraut” line.  It probably took us all of five minutes to come up with that new title.

One of my great joys in working of Franks and Beans is writing lines that other people – of their own free will, mind you! – speak and act out.  Recreating the episode “The Sandwich” scene for scene, as short as it is, was great fun, even more so because we were using different actors.  Mark’s take on the “No!” ending was especially fun, because Mark couldn’t – for the life of him – not burst through the door of the room without looking really excited.  He was just playing it natural, I guess.

The premise for this episode is fairly simple – Larry and I find people stealing our ideas, and we decide to kill them, but then we end up doing the same thing they did in the first place.  Violence, another great comedic element, certainly has its part in Franks and Beans the series, and perhaps never is that more evident than in this episode.  I’m not sure how effective our out-and-out “I’m gonna kill them!” lines were – you’re supposed to show, not tell, after all – but even those served as means to an end.

Speaking of killing, Larry’s poor, wounded Jeep has finally been put out to pasture, though it still has a few more appearances before we give it its proper sendoff.  One of the reasons for its demise, however, might have come from the filming of this episode.  If you look for it, you’ll see it – as Larry is frantically backing up out of his driveway, the car makes a grinding sound, a thin waft of smoke can be seen, and then it kicks into gear.  I’m not saying that the Jeep wasn’t on its last legs as it was, but…oh, how we suffer for our craft.

The house Larry and I eventually burst into, breaking up the beginning of the famous “Mustache” sketch (keep an eye our for fake F&B’s crappy camera in the background…because they’re filming another rip off episode, not just going about their daily lives in a way that just happens to synch up with an episode of Franks and Beans), is actually Larry’s grandmother’s house.  We knew that we couldn’t film their scenes in Larry’s house (“the studio”), and our other options were fairly dim, and I think this new setting worked out really well.  It didn’t look like a house an 80-something-year-old woman lives in, did it?  That’s the magic of Hollywood, baby.

The fight scene that ensues was fun to do – so much fun, in fact, that I apparently had a hard time not smiling the entire time I’m physically assaulting Joe.  You can look at this in two ways: either I am a sadistic bastard who takes joy in causing others physical pain, or I should really be more aware of what I’m doing as I’m acting out a scene.  Pick your favorite!  It’s like a “Choose Your Own Ending” tale where one choice covers up my mental lapses.  The ‘punching’ sound effects make their return in this episode – they’re favorites of mine, and, for better or worse, I use them in a good handful of upcoming episodes.  There’s just something about them.

Tearing up a comic book is something I never thought I’d do – I’m more of the bag and board type – but I have to admit, tearing up the Punisher 2099 issue I bought for, oh, 15 cents or something ridiculous, was lots of fun.  It was like eating the forbidden fruit, only you weren’t REALLY eating it, because it was just for a show.  I hope that Stan Lee doesn’t revoke my Merry Marvel Marching Society card.  Yes, those exist.

The real humor in this episode takes place after the big fight scene, which is unusual for us.  Usually the punch in the face IS the joke, but this time it’s in turning the tables and doing exactly what we got so mad about in the first place.  I think it works, and even the line “I can’t find the Internet!” is pretty amusing.  We’ve set up the possibility for future conflict as Mark, nursing his black eye with a frozen bag of peas (a popular television remedy), expresses his hate for us.  Perhaps we’ll look back in on this theme one day, if only we could find Joe to make it happen.

Big props go out to Larry for all of the design work he did this episode, most notably the Funny or Die website parody “Laf or Perish”, which he created from electrons in the air.  It got me thinking that we should buy the domain name, but that’d be foolish.  Unless it’s be a BRILLIANT MARKETING TOOL!  Hmmm…

How could we top this blow-out-the-walls episode?  Why, it’s simple – with nudity.  Really, it had to happen.  Ever since iChat and its level of success (it continues to be the one episode everyone remembers), it was only a matter of time before we brought the big square censor bar back, and its effect is obvious.  Seriously, you didn’t think we’d do it eventually?  Well, here it is.

Blog 20 – How To

Originally Published 9.15.08

If you’re like me, there’s nothing quite like a well placed unexpected f-bomb to make you laugh.  That being said, being me’s not all it’s cracked up to be, so take that for what it’s worth.  Get out of my head!

This blog marks the release of the presidential eighteenth episode of Franks and Beans, “How To”.  For those of you who are math wizards, you’ll notice that eighteen is divisible by six, which means that you are in store for another of Jeff and Larry’s “episodes that no one watches because they feel burned by the ‘Commentary’” episodes.  It’s okay – Larry and I don’t take it personally.  Honestly, though, if you’ve abstained from watching “How To”, you’re missing out on some of our best stuff.  And like we’ve always said, Franks and Beans is firmly against abstinence of any kind.

This episode wrapped up a long shooting week for Larry and me, but it had been planned for quite a while.  I tend to imagine the episodes in no particular order, and though it’s true that Franks and Beans doesn’t employ any hard and fast continuity, sometimes an episode is too thematically similar to the previous one to air it right away, or sometimes we run into minor issues like wanting to introduce “Hardcore Mark” in one particular episode over all others.  This episode remained entrenched in this spot due more to math than anything else, but you get the point – we film neither scenes nor episodes in order, at least not always.

One thing that I wanted to avoid, and try to avoid in a more overall sense, is too much of an overlap with previous episodes where we speak directly to the camera.  Beyond the familiar opening of “Hi, I’m…”, I wanted to make this style of episode distinct from “Commentary” and “Mailbag/Bloopers”.  With this in mind, the early line about receiving questions from fans was something I wasn’t entirely sure about leaving in, as it is rather reminiscent of the scene in “Mailbag” where we get a letter from the mythical Josh in Ft. Wayne, Indiana (as good a place as any to get mail from).  The two episodes do begin rather similarly, mostly by design, and I didn’t want people to think that we were just repeating ourselves…though we probably do plenty of that as well.  Still, the decision was made to leave the line in, because frankly I couldn’t think of a substitute that was better.  Sometimes simple works.

The premise of this episode is fairly straightforward – we start out with me making apparently outrageous claims that Franks and Beans is a collaborative effort, and Larry (not too tactfully) tries to keep his indignation to himself.  I really don’t want anyone to look to far into any of this.  While many projects that whisk members off to superstardom may end in bitter feuds and acid-laced barbs about the creative participation of others involved, Franks and Beans is still a friendly venture between all who take part in it.  Well, maybe that’s not always the case.  Larry’s parents sometimes get annoyed when we film and they want to sit down to dinner.  But other than that, this episode is very much a farcical look at such rivalries.

I’d like to point out that while I do think that swearing can be funny in specific contexts, it usually has the propensity to lose some of the humor by taking on a life of its own.  I think that sometimes movies or comedians (or whatever) who are known to use strings of expletives can sometimes get caught up in that to the point where it all becomes about shock value and one-upmanship rather than the joke.  And swearing without humor is just that – swearing.  But swearing with humor?  That’s just effing funny.

Something you may be interested to know about: okay, so that paper I’m seen writing on during this episode?  We did a few takes, and I’m actually writing what I’m saying, so I would just trace the words for subsequent takes.  At the end of the day I took the piece of paper, folded it up, stuck it in my pocket, and completely forgot about it.  I have no idea where it is.  I’m hoping that this doesn’t happen, but there’s a chance that my parents will one day soon find the sheet of paper, open it up and find nothing but my profanity scribbled over and over again, one on top of the other, bold and for all to see.  If this becomes reality, I wonder what the chances are that I’ll be able to explain that it’s not mine to any level of believability?

Before filming this episode, I explained the main ideas to Larry and told him that, at some point, he would grab me by the throat in a fit of anger.  I told him to make it look real and to not be afraid to actually choke me, and Larry didn’t disappoint.  This was pretty fun the first time we filmed it, but the luster wore off quickly, even though Larry was being rather gentle when squeezing the life out of me.  As we fall back, we’re landing on the soft support of every cushion on Larry’s basement furniture, as neither of us really wanted to get hurt during this episode.  As it was, there were some near misses with desk corners and other protruding objects.

There are a few sound effects to take note of here, the first of which is directly at the end of our main feature.  Larry winds up to punch me and seems to connect, but what actually happens is more blind luck than anything else.  Though we tend to forgo the choreography in this and any episode, our struggle was about as real-looking as, honestly, it’s going to get, especially with the smack to the face.  Larry actually took that very realistic sounding punch noise from another point in the fight an overlaid it quite masterfully.

I truly do wonder what other people think of this episode and those others like it.  While I thoroughly enjoy the regular Franks and Beans fare, these little side projects are things I take great pride in as well.  I realize that “Commentary” might not have been everyone’s most revered show (to me, that in itself is funny), but I do hope that people will give this and “Mailbag” a genuine try before rejecting it out of hand.  I said this before, but I truly do think that these are some of our best.

Speaking of our best, how about the “No!” ending for this week’s episode?  As with many visionary ideas of mine, this one came to me while I was in the shower.  It’s as if I was asking just how we could spice up our cliffhanger endings, and lo, someone from on high answered, “put Jeff in it!”  Well, okay, I don’t want to be in all of these, or, really, many at all (that’s not the point of them), but this was one that I couldn’t pass up.  Even though you can’t see it, I’m actually sitting on a toilet in Larry’s house, and that is pretty funny on its own merits.  Larry again surprised me by digitally adding in the ‘call waiting’ sound that I react to, and it is Larry’s Dukes of Hazzard hat that actually looks pretty good on me here in this scene.  The split screen, Larry tells me, was a rather difficult effect to render here, but it does look rather effortless as a finished product.

Blog 09 – Rushed Commentary on “You’ll Never See it Coming”

Originally posted 9.21.08

As I sit here and write this production blog, I realize that if someone would take the time and read all of these things back to back (I struggle to believe that anyone might give it a try, but hey, knock yourself out), it would take that person longer than if he or she decided to watch every episode of Franks and Beans in existence.   This thinking is probably the reason for the very creation of episode 8.1, “Commentary on You’ll Never See It Coming”.

Picture this scene: Tropical Storm/Hurricane Hanna is quickly barreling down on Wilmington, North Carolina, and the townspeople are worried enough that the classes I was scheduled to teach that day are canceled.  Seeing this as an opportunity to catch up on some other things, I take my car in to have two of the tires replaced – as much out of a good car care mentality as it is the desire to be able to outdrive a hurricane if necessary.  As I live probably one even mile from the shop, I drop the car off and walk home, and a couple hours later I leave to retrace my steps and pick up my newly treaded automobile.  On the way there, while facing gusting winds and stinging rain, my thoughts turn – as always – to Franks and Beans.

A few days earlier I had written a blog for the episode “Milkshake”, in which I talked about putting together a theoretical DVD release for the show.  I’m a bit picky when it comes to movies and shows being released on DVD – I’ll purposely put off buying a movie if I think there will be a special edition release a few months down the road, because even if I don’t watch many of the special features (depending on what it is), I at least want them to BE there.  I hate it when TV shows are released and there are just the episodes.  Where’re the commentaries?  The ‘behind-the-scenes’ featurettes?  The making of an episode?  The awkward and often not funny blooper reel?  I’m not asking for much – just an immersion into a fictional world that I’m probably not all that excited about in the first place.

I decided right there, as I crossed through the parking lot of some hobo cuisine restaurant, that if Franks and Beans ever would create a DVD for sale, I’d make sure that it was stocked with all of the extra features that could fit on the disc.  That’d start with commentaries on all of the episodes – but then I started thinking – what the hell would we talk about that would impart any kind of insight?  “Message Board” might be pushing seven minutes, sure, and a few others are around three minutes in length, but what about the rest of them?  What about “You’ll Never See It Coming”, which clocks in at a miniscule 30 seconds?  We’d have enough time, I thought, to introduce ourselves (for Larry and I would always offer joint commentary), cite the episode title, and then we’d be out of time.  There’d be no time to talk about anything!  It’d be the most worthless commentary ever!

And thus, the episode you see before you was born.

Although the above was enough justification to create our commentary, our newest addendum was a child of expediency.  As with the episode “iChat”, Larry and I were faced with living hundreds of miles apart and running on our stock of reserve episodes from my end-of-the-summer trip home.  As any long hiatus can never be good for viewership, we were once again forced to improvise and rely on technology to help us bridge the physical gap.  We knew that we didn’t want to rehash the past with another iChat-themed episode (not yet, anyway…okay, don’t hold me to this), so the commentary idea made sense.

To actually make the episode, Larry and I discussed the logistics of it together through the aforementioned video chat.  The most difficult thing was allowing for the inevitable transmission delay, but we also had to figure out how to keep the other from showing up on our own audio source – if you could hear Larry in the background of my recording and me in the background of Larry’s recording, it would be a disaster to try and clean up in post.  As it was, creating two audio tracks and lining them up during the editing process probably worked out better than either of us could have imagined.

I recorded my lines on the “Garage Band” program that came with my MacBook – it’s one of those programs that looks so cool but you can never figure out what to do with it – and Larry went with the old reliable “Sound Recorder” program on his PC.  Aside from the fact that Larry seems to be eating his microphone at one point, the audio turned out clear enough for us to use.  Success!

The reason why I think “Commentary of You’ll Never See It Coming” works so well, if you’ll agree that it works at all, is that we get not one but two opportunities to run out of time.  I begin to talk about wearing one of Larry’s spare shirts and then, all of a sudden, we’re out of time.  Being able to try – and fail – to regroup shortly after helps to accentuate the chaos that we tried to portray: “Oh no!  We didn’t accomplish ANYTHING!”  Larry’s “Aw, man!” really puts the finishing touches on what I think was an irreverent but fun episode.  A nice change of pace!

As you may have noticed, there is no original “No!” ending on this episode, and that is by design.  The way I look at it, it’s obvious that we put this together as a joke, but I’m still trying to get across the idea that if we would actually make ‘real’ commentaries for this show, this is what would happen.  Whether that works or not in the big scheme of things, I don’t know…but I have my hopes.