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Twin Peaks Really Is Coming Back

As a life long Twin Peaks fan, I am more accustomed to waiting and hoping than I am to receiving. I mean think of it. I have loved Twin Peaks since 1990. That means that since the show went off the air in June 1991, I have had only 3 releases spread over 26 years.

  1. Fire Walk With Me in 1992.
  2. The Twin Peaks Music Archives in 2011. (Only had to wait 20 years for those bad boys.)
  3. The Deleted Scenes in 2014.

That is about it. Now, you are telling me that in a few short weeks I am going to see NEW TWIN PEAKS. I don’t know how to process that. Big Ed and I are used to being in the doghouse. We are not accustomed to living it up in a Great Northern suite.

I was one of those that never believed that Lynch/Frost would ever return to Twin Peaks. I have never been happier to be wrong. I think to us long term-ers this release has to be viewed through the prism of Star Wars. We all expected so much from Episode 1. We were given Jar Jar Binks. Then when Episode 7 came out and they gave us pure nostalgia; everyone rejoiced. I don’t think either of those options are viable to Lynch. He is incapable of giving us Jar Jar and he has never made any art that is pure nostalgia. So then what will we get? We will get David Lynch.

I have no expectations about new Twin Peaks on Showtime May 21st. What I do know is that I have loved every Lynch movie. (I don’t count Dune and Inland Empire, so I can say that sentence.) Lynch challenges a viewer. I love that. That is what drew me in back in the summer of 1990 when I watched the pilot episode with my girlfriend and her mom on their sunken couch. It played on one of those old television sets that was an actual piece of furniture. The couch I sat upon was referred to as a “davenport” and it rested on shag carpeting. Everything was old in that room but Twin Peaks. It seemed so fresh it practically warped the wood panelling that encased the screen. It inspired me as a college student. It spoke to me in a way that I can’t explain to my children 27 years later. “Dad, why do you like this old show?”

Only a few months later I had the Rolling Stone cover hanging in my room. There has never been a day since, that some piece of Twin Peaks art hasn’t hung on my wall. There isn’t a week that has gone by when I didn’t listen to Angelo’s music. I have travelled the world visiting filming locations and debuting movies I made about the show. I have done hours of podcasting on the series and have promoted a magazine that I co-created. There isn’t a day that I don’t text, tweet or Facebook another Twin Peaks fan. Sometimes I wonder if I am Leland and the series is Bob. Does it inhabit me or do I inhabit it?

So, I will spend these last few days of living in a time when Twin Peaks was only 29 episodes and a movie. Soon it will be more and so much more. Somehow, I have gone from that old rec-room to being in the position to cover the new series in a magazine, The Blue Rose. Somehow I have gone from a reader of Wrapped in Plastic, to working side by side with John Thorne. Somehow I have gone from looking at Sherilyn Fenn on my wall, to talking to her on the phone. You know, I know Charlotte Stewart. We talk. We email. How did this happen? Trust me, I have never taken the show or my good fortune for granted. I just love the series and all the people I have met.

So strap in folks. We have no idea what will come, but we know it will be wonderful and strange. And what is even more exciting is soon, we will have new phrases like that to use to end blogs and articles. Aren’t we all sick of trying to work them into our stuff?

I’m ready to sit down on a couch from any era. I am ready for new Twin Peaks, new phrases, new obsessions and new art for my wall.

SCOTT RYAN IS THE AUTHOR OF THIRTYSOMETHING AT THIRTY:AN ORAL HISTORY and THE MANAGING EDITOR OF THE BLUE ROSE MAGAZINE. FOR MORE INFORMATION from Scott Ryan Productions CLICK HERE.

Order the only magazine dedicated to Twin Peaks. Click here.

Sherilyn Fenn Interview

Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks, Boxing Helena, Shameless) talks with Scott Ryan (Blue Rose Magazine, Red Room Podcast) about her career in this podcast interview from 2016. She talks about working with both Lynch directors, working on Twin Peaks and promotes her children’s book.

Subscribe to The Blue Rose for a free Showtime Promo Card. Read More.

SCOTT RYAN IS THE AUTHOR OF THIRTYSOMETHING AT THIRTY:AN ORAL HISTORY and THE MANAGING EDITOR OF THE BLUE ROSE MAGAZINE. FOR MORE INFORMATION from Scott Ryan Productions CLICK HERE.

Podcast: Big Little Lies with Brad Dukes

Big Little Lies is a new limited series by David E Kelley. It played on HBO and is based on a successful novel. Author Brad Dukes joins Scott Ryan to discuss this series. Before that discussion Brad announces his new book for the first time ever. They also talk about the soon to play Showtime series, Twin Peaks. So if you have not watched Big Little Lies yet, you can listen to the front part of the podcast and not have the series spoiled.

If you are a Big Little Lies fan, keep on listening as they discuss the show starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern and Shailene Woodley. The series about parenting, female relationships and murder, of course.

Twin Peaks fans will want to subscribe to The Blue Rose. Issue 2 will be released on June 24th, 2017.

Listen to the podcast here:

or Download the podcast at iTunes.

Subscribe to the Twin Peaks Magazine, The Blue Rose.

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Read the latest Blog from Scott Ryan

Ken Olin Interview: thirtysomething, This Is Us

Ever since we started the thirtysomething podcast, one guest has been requested the most, Ken Olin – Michael Steadman. Your wish is granted. Join Carolyn and Scott for a 90 minute interview with Ken Olin. We talk about the thirtieth year of thirtysomething as well as his directing on the new #1 hit show, This Is Us.

We ask him about a few episodes of thirtysomething and his thoughts on a reunion show. Ken also talks about what it was like to read my upcoming book, thirtysomething at thirty. We asked him different questions than I asked him for the book, so there is little cross over. If you want to hear Ken talk about working with Mel Harris, how he developed his character and the intense scenes in “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”, you will want to order thirtysomething at thirty.

Enjoy this laugh-filled conversation with the one and only, Ken Olin.

Listen to the podcast here:

Download the  Interview here.

Order the Hard back or Paper back at scottryanproductions.com.

Click here for KINDLE eBook version.

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Top 10 Fan-picked thirtysomething Episodes

As we celebrate the thirtieth birthday of thirtysomething, I have been trying to think of fun ways to discuss the show. Of course, one way is my new book thirtysomething at thirty: an oral history which will be released on June 7th. You can pre-order it from this website. The book lets the actors, directors and writers talk about the episodes. But what about the fans? I thought it was time for you to have your say. I put out the word for fans to send me their top 5 episodes. I gave each vote a weighted number, 10 points for #1 and 2 points for #5. The votes have been tallied. Here are the top 10 episodes voted on by you, the fans, and this time there is no electoral college to mess things up.
Let the countdown begin:
10. Happy New YearWritten by Richard Kramer Season 4 Episode 72
Michael and Hope have a New Year’s Eve party and all but one of the group attends. This episode, according to writer Richard Kramer, is his tribute to the James Joyce novel, The Dead. Richard told me about the challenge and the gift of writing an entire story that had to stay in one set, the Steadman household. I am not surprised this is a fan favorite because this episode shows all of our friends together. It feels like family. The problem is, death is hanging over everyone. Nancy is not in this episode, but her cancer lingers over every smile that Elliot (Tim Busfield at his very best) shows. He tries just a little too hard and we can feel his sadness. I loved getting to talk to Richard about this episode because I totally disagree with him about what this episode means, but I guess he gets to win because he wrote it.
9. Fighting the ColdWritten by Joseph Dougherty Season 4 Episode 77
Another gathering at Hope and Michael’s house where death is an uninvited guest. Viewers were put through an emotional roller coaster the week before this episode aired. Now the show comes to a cold, cold place where everyone has to deal with the loss of Gary. This is another episode that takes place in one set; we have everything we need here. Joe Dougherty says this is the best directing he has ever done. It is some of the best directing that anyone has ever done. The way this episode handles flashbacks is spot on. The set looks cold and we feel the pain that Susannah is going through. Patricia Kalember gives a great performance in this one.
8. StrangersWritten by Richard Kramer Season 3 Episode 44
Last week I wrote an entire blog about this episode. You can read a detailed explanation of this episode here. This episode mattered to people because it displayed homosexuality just like it showed everything else on thirtysomething – just how it is in real life. Television and America needed to be told to start facing AIDS and homosexuality back in 1989. I am hopeful it doesn’t need to be told those things today, but it probably does. Love is love is love is love. As I mentioned in the blog, it is the Melissa story that is truly moving in this fan favorite.
 7. Tie: Michael Writes A Story Written by Joseph Dougherty Season 2 Episode 34
 
Michael Writes a Story is very pivotable in the journey of Michael’s life. He is out of work and decides to take a stab at writing. It doesn’t play out as he hoped. In the meantime, Miles Drentell is offering Michael an offer he can’t refuse, a job. The juxtaposition of art and commerce collide to tell a story that, for me, is the most personal. After seeing how high this ranked, I must not be alone. This is a fun episode to watch the first time, but the second and third time, you start to see how much this decision changed the Steadman family.
Closing The Circle – Written by Richard Kramer Season 4 Episode 80
In Closing the Circle, Michael’s life is changed because of forces outside of himself. Everyone else has moved on from Gary’s death. This episode brings to a close the story of Gary/Susannah/Michael. An unlikely threesome of people who were all headstrong. I am never a fan of ghosts on television. When people ask me why, I always say because thirtysomething did it right, so no one else should even try. When I interviewed Richard Kramer, who also directed this episode, he said the above shot was his favorite. It shows how alone Michael feels at this moment. The end of this episode breaks my heart every time. I have told Richard that no man has made me cry as much as he has.
6. Tie: Ellyn’s Wedding – Written by Jill Gordon Season 4 Episode 79
Just when the show was at its darkest point, they give us the highest peak of happiness in the series. Ellyn and Billy get married. This episode is structured as a fun flashback that tricks us and plays with our expectations. But it is the end musical montage that sticks with me. Director Scott Winant designed the ultimate wedding montage set to the Ray Charles classic, “Come Rain or Come Shine.” I don’t see how anyone can watch Polly Draper’s acting and not cry at the end of this episode. After having so many sad cries, we needed a happy cry so badly at this point in the series.
We Gather Together – Written by Susan Miller and Richard Kramer and Edward Zwick Season 1 Episode 6
 
My guess is fans of the series watch this episode every Thanksgiving, hence it ranked high on the list. The gang gets together for Thanksgiving while Hope stays upstairs and looks at pictures. One thing that ties all of these top episodes together seems to be the feeling of friendship. This is the first episode in the series that really showed us that they are actually a family, not just friends. That theme grew deeper and deeper as the series continued. What could be more familiar than gathering together at Thanksgiving with our loved ones?
5. The Go Between – Written by Joseph Dougherty Season 3 Episode 61
The two part story about the take over of DAA begins here. This episode probably has the most plot of any in the series. We have watched Michael and Elliot grow in the business world since the pilot. This episode brings all those moments to a head. The cliff hanger ending of Michael firing Elliot is shocking as he sits next to Miles, the heir apparent. When I was doing research for the book, I found out they were supposed to win and Miles was supposed to leave the show. At the last minute, Marshall said, “Are we crazy? Why would we lose Miles?” Good choice.
4. Arizona – Written by Susan Shilliday Season 3 Episode 59
Not that anyone asked, but this is my all time favorite episode of thirtysomething. Michael and Hope visit Hope’s parents to celebrate her parent’s anniversary. This put our favorite couple trapped in a house where they can’t escape each other. This is where we see the cracks in their marriage, magnified by the watchful eye of Hope’s mother, the wonderful Shirley Knight. This was the last episode written by Susan Shilliday and the last episode that Edward Zwick directed for the series. I guess when you hit perfection you get out. I like to say this episode is an hour of what marriage is really all about. If you have forgotten this episode, go watch it again and thank me later. The fact it ranked #4 I guess means, you haven’t forgotten it.
3. Therapy – Written by Susan Shilliday Season 1 Episode 11
I feel like I could spend the entire paragraph just writing about how this is only the 11th script for this series. This episode is so good it should be much later in the series. One of my greatest honors in writing the book was the fact that I got to interview Susan Shilliday. Her scripts are so personal and well written. This episode finds Nancy and Elliot working on their marriage in therapy. The arguments between the characters are so real that viewers forgot that they were watching television. You know how I said I can’t stand ghosts on TV, well that goes double for shows that use a therapy session. If you can’t do it as well as this episode does, then don’t even bother. Also, the “B” story, Ellyn’s tattoo, is the best use of a “B” story. If anyone ever asks me to teach a class on television, I will use this as an example of a perfect script.
2. I’ll Be Home For Christmas Written by Richard Kramer Season 1 Episode 9
I consider this the first great episode of thirtysomething. It isn’t that the first 8 aren’t good, they just aren’t to the level that the show develops to. In this episode we really see who Michael is, we see how important family is and we learn about Melissa and Michael. I watch this episode every Christmas and cry. I always think that when Melissa steps out of the shadows, I won’t cry. Not this time. I can hold it in . . . but nope, I cry. This is my favorite Richard Kramer script. It came in second place with a bullet. No doubts, no ties. This is obviously an episode that the fans cry at too. It’s Hanna-claus. Happy Pagan Ritual.

AND THE #1 FAN EPISODE IS . . .

1. Second Look Written by Ann Lewis Hamilton Season 4 Episode 76
There are some twists that we just don’t see coming. There are moments of television that will live in us till we die. Second Look is one of those episodes. This episode came in first place by a ton. It crushed everything else. With a script that handles death so simply, direction by Ken Olin that doesn’t give the viewer a moment to prepare and acting from Patty Wettig and Timothy Busfield that is just heart breaking, I am not surprised this is the number 1 pick. Cancer, death, friendship, loss and love. This episode has it all. Here is an excerpt from thirtysomething at thirty from writer Ann Hamilton about how she was chosen to write this script.
Ann Lewis Hamilton: Ed and Marshall were very democratic in how they would hand out big scripts. It was kind of the luck of the draw that I got to kill Gary. My dad had died ten years earlier and I never liked on television when death is too Bergman. I wanted to write about the simplicity of it. I wanted people to say, “Gary’s dead. Gary’s been killed.” When my father died very suddenly of a heart attack, there was not a lot to say except, “My father died.” It was the simplicity of the lines that I really like. -Except from thirtysomething at thirty
 Great list of episodes. Thanks for voting everyone. There is one thing I want to point out. Every list submitted by a fan had 1 episode on it that no one else voted for. Think about that. Everyone has that one episode that only they love. I think that speaks volumes about the series. So while episodes like Nancy’s Mom or Undone or Her Cup Runneth over might not have made the top 10 list, they received votes by fans who love the series. Next week’s #thirtysomethingthursday is going to be huge. Tune in and see what I have in store for you. Be sure to pre-order the book, thirtysomething at thirty, at this site to get the free postcard of the front cover and for me to sign it.
SCOTT RYAN IS THE AUTHOR OF THIRTYSOMETHING AT THIRTY:AN ORAL HISTORY and THE MANAGING EDITOR OF THE BLUE ROSE MAGAZINE. FOR MORE INFORMATION from Scott Ryan Productions CLICK HERE.

Order the Paper back, signed, at scottryanproductions.com for cheaper than you can order it anywhere.

Click here for KINDLE eBook version.

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Top 15 Characters created by David E Kelley

For years I have had a deep love for David E Kelley. He has long been my favorite television writer ever since the days of LA Law. I decided to rank the top 10 characters he ever created. There are so many great ones I had to go to 15. I decided that the shows I would pick from had to be created by him as well. Therefore, there are no LA Law people or Doogie Howser.

15. Shirley Schmidt from Boston Legal. Usually when a woman is brought on a show to “Straighten Up” the office, the female character is a full on Bitch. The amazing thing about Shirley is that she takes control and is a fun character. She keeps her femininity during stories with Tom Selleck and later John Larroquette as well as she keeps her strength in running the office. I wish more shows would develop women with two sides of their character.

14. Dr Sung Park from Monday Morning’s. We only got to spend one season with this character, TNT cancelled this show. I believe he would have risen to great heights. He started off as a bad accent and a bad old time joke, but he was already becoming real. This is a David E Kelley staple. He gets you with your own limitations then knocks them down one by one. “NOT DO DEAD”

13. Scott Guber from Boston Public. This show never rose to the level of the concept of a series set in an urban public school. That idea should have been where Kelley shined the brightest, but they focused less on issues and more on teen drama. The star that did shine was Vice Principal Scott Guber. I mean come on a principal named Guber. He balanced his character with a mix of complete discipline and a dash of every man who has ever had a small job. This is a series that should have been released on DVD. I have not seen it since it was on, but I never forgot Anthony Heald’s performance.

12. Hands / Jerry Espenson from Boston Legal. Let this be a lesson to any TV guest star. “Hands” came on with a two part episode arc and stayed on the show until its end. This character goes through so much. He is a man who doesn’t let his Aspergers syndrome hold him down a bit. While at first he is played for comedy, he grows to teach us how to treat others. He is almost the “Spock/Data” character that teaches us and directly, Alan Shore, what it means to be human.

11. Richard Fish from Ally McBeal. Part of picking this character is knowing how much Fish would have loved the Trump era. The only thing that mattered to Fish was money. He would have loved the Republican doctrine of the rich are all that matter. Some of his arguments in court about women, love and money are the kind of speeches you could listen to forever or as he called them Fishisms. He also had a soft spot for strong women. I sure wish that I knew his “knee pit” move that drove the women crazy.

10. Jill Brock from Picket Fences. Mom’s are really difficult characters to make interesting. Making Jill the town doctor helped round out her character. Sometimes she was the voice of reason with science. Sometimes she was a panicking mother who reacted with only her heart as her guide. You know, just like you and I do. No one is perfect in real life. Jill was often on the wrong side of topics. She was against busing, she was for a dentist keeping his AIDS a secret from his patient. There is no way that at one point you weren’t totally mad at Jill and then another, totally on her side. This was an Emmy magnet of a role for Kathy Baker who I believe won the Emmy 3 out of 4 years.

9. Eugene Young from The Practice. The Practice has the least zany characters of all David’s shows. That is probably why it was the most successful show he ever created. Eugene is a very serious character. He carries the weight of the legal world upon his shoulders. He takes his clients and their rights very seriously. When Eugene has to deal with Ally in a cross over episode or Alan Shore in the final season, you can see the battling of the inner world of David E Kelley. When Eugene gets angry, he gets silent and you sit there and watch the inner workings of a great actor. I miss him.

8. Ling Woo from Ally McBeal. Ling joins Ally in the second season and the show is never the same. Her growl, her meanness and her coldness was the perfect antidote to all of the emotion that Ally McBeal felt. The episode where Ling befriends a child with cancer shows you that she also has a heart. When a character like Ling cries, it is hard to keep it together. Her relationship with Fish was when her character worked the best, once they split up she didn’t quite have the same flair, but her sexuality was a great addition to the show. It was fun to see a woman who was so great at sex that she refused to do it because it allowed men to be ruled by their “dumb stick.”

7. Dr. Jeffrey Geiger from Chicago Hope. If he had stayed on the show for more than 29 episodes, this character would be my #1 pick. I loved Dr. Geiger so much that to this day I have refused to ever watch an episode of ER. Geiger was brilliant, troubled and arrogant. The creators of House MD should have paid Mandy Patinkin royalties because they basically stole his character. The second episode of Chicago Hope gives you background into why he was the way he was. I won’t spoil it here. Some people didn’t like how he sang in many episodes, I loved it. I wish that Chicago Hope would have continued to be as great as it was that first season, but it never did. However, I would put those first 22 episodes up along side any first season of a show and all of it is thanks to the character of Dr Geiger.

6. Denny Crane from Boston Legal. Introduced on the last season of The Practice, Denny Crane arrived as a once great lawyer who is slowly losing his mind to Alzheimer’s. The only thing he can remember is his name, so he says it all the time. What the character actually became was the Archie Bunker of the Bush years. His opinions on the Iraq war and 9-11 was basically Carl Rove talking points, so they were naturally hilarious. He is paired with his liberal best friend Alan Shore. This show now plays like a logical comedy but in 2004, no one was making these jokes or confronting Bush on television. It is amazing that just a decade or so ago we were unable to voice a dissenting opinion on our government. Just in case you forget what life was like in the early 2000s, Denny will be there forever to remind you.

5. Ally McBeal from Ally McBeal. Ally was totally misrepresented by the media. She was not ever supposed to be a character that women aspired to be. She was not Mary Tyler Moore. She was much more a Don Draper. A business woman that allowed her “female” sides to run amuck. She was flawed, silly, lonely, sad, smart, capable and happened to be a woman. When a few years ago I read Anna Gunn’s essay about how people hate her character on Breaking Bad, I thought about Ally. Calista could have written a similar article. Feminists were livid that Ally wanted to find love and did anything she could do to find it. I thought that was what we all wanted? David E Kelley creates his female characters and his male characters the same: massively imperfect. Ally wasn’t a perfect woman, that is what made her perfect.

4. Douglas Wambaugh from Picket Fences. I had never seen a character like Wambaugh when this show debuted in the beginning of the Clinton era. He was a full out character. He says crazy things, makes himself the butt of every joke and is always silly. The other side was that he won his cases in court. After the verdict, everyone treated him like he was the butt of every joke and it hurt him. Most times the “silly” character doesn’t realize how he is thought of by the rest of the cast of the show. The genius of this character was that every comment hurt him, mostly because he deserved it.

You watch him do anything to get off a client who is guilty and then you watch him suffer with those results. One of the most painful moments in this series is when Judge Bone tells Wambaugh that if he wanted to hurt him, he would simply hold a mirror up to him. Nothing makes us quake more as humans than having to look at our true selves. The key to a classic Kelley character is that they make you laugh and then make you feel bad for laughing at them.

3. John “the Biscuit” Cage from Ally McBeal. The real reason you should watch Ally is for this character. The Biscuit dancing to Barry White is a TV memory that will last you a life time. And that is just in season 2. This character has more quirks than all the rest of these characters combined. He hears bells, pours water, has a pet frog, can make nose noises and always demands a fresh toilet bowl. This is a character that makes you laugh so hard and breaks your heart at the same time. His closing arguments which are usually pulled from his childhood are always amazing. Peter MacNicol finally won an Emmy for this character in the fourth season. He was competing with Robert Downey, Jr from the same series. I never thought he would win, when he did, it was one of my all time favorite award show moments.

2. Alan Shore from Boston Legal. I really can’t imagine a more complex character than Alan. It had to be an actor’s dream to get this role. He is comedy. He can have word salad, flirt in the most inappropriate way or do the tango with Denny Crane. He is drama. He can fight the banking industry over credit cards, take on the Army for not supplying our soldiers with body armor or take on the television industry for canceling Boston Legal. Alan is a slime and a saint all in the same breathe. The amazing part is that you believe both sides always. In a time when same sex marriage was seen as something awful, Alan and Denny created a sexless marriage (is there any other kind? Boo-ya!) that I think paved the way for America’s acceptance. I would go so far as to say the love between Alan and Denny might have been the most pure love ever shown on television.

1. Judge Henry Bone from Picket Fences. My guess is you have not heard of this character and that is because it is pretty hard to watch Picket Fences in this streaming world. The complete series has not been released on DVD and it is not on Netflix. Judge Bone is faced every week with a serious case that the town (re: America) is talking about. Could be AIDS, guns in the class room, spousal abuse and he makes his decisions so perfectly. Picket Fences is morality play every week. Judge Bones weighs those morals and decides in the way we wish our leaders would. Sometimes he lectures us and sometimes he inspires us, but he never falls victim to the winds of popularity. We know very little about his personal life but the nuggets that fall out are so jarring to us they bring us to tears. From a man who has given us so many amazing characters, David E Kelley’s greatest achievement is Judge Bone. Now….GET OUT.

SCOTT RYAN IS THE AUTHOR OF THIRTYSOMETHING AT THIRTY:AN ORAL HISTORY and THE MANAGING EDITOR OF THE BLUE ROSE MAGAZINE. FOR MORE INFORMATION from Scott Ryan Productions CLICK HERE.

Order the Paper back, signed, at scottryanproductions.com for cheaper than you can order it anywhere.

Spotlight on “Strangers”

“Strangers,” the 44th episode of thirtysomething, aired back in 1989, or was that 1889? The world went crazy for a moment because two men had the nerve to sit side by side, shirtless in bed and have a conversation. Last week the Entertainment Weekly did a 5 minute oral history about the episode (Will it be ungracious of me if I scoff? I wrote a 370 page oral history about thirtysomething. 5 minutes??!!) Advertisers pulled out of the episode, ABC threatened the producers and the Christian right protested. The episode played and the world went on. But what were the true lasting effects of this episode? If you watch “Strangers” in 2017 it is pretty tame. No one would bat an eye. I don’t think even VP Pence would try to pray the gay out of it.

So how controversial is this episode, written by Richard Kramer and directed by Peter O’Fallon? Not at all. Two men meet, have an affair and then are too afraid to call each other the morning after. So, is that why it is called “Strangers?” No. The stranger in this episode is someone who is very familiar to thirtysomething viewers. The stranger is Melissa Steadman, the wonderful Melanie Mayron. Melanie won the best supporting actress Emmy the previous season for another episode written by Richard Kramer, “Be A Good Girl.” Richard claimed Melanie was his muse on thirtysomething. He wrote some of her greatest scenes in the series. With all due respect to Melanie’s performance in “Second Look,” which is the single most heartbreaking moment in a heartbreaking episode, I submit “Strangers” is Melanie’s best work in the series. Work that is not given a mention today whenever television historians talk about the episode.

Melissa is dating Lee Owens (Corey Parker.) Lee is younger than Melissa and she is embarrassed by that. She doesn’t want her friends to meet him, she doesn’t want to be judged. So she does what we all do when we are scared, she tries to ruin everything. The end of the episode has a fantasy sequence where Melanie plays 3 different roles. She boxes herself as she watches from the crowd. The reason “Strangers” resonates with thirtysomething fans thirty years later, isn’t because two men sat in bed next to each other. It is because Richard Kramer looked into our deepest hidden fears where we all know that the only obstacle in our way is ourselves. That human moment of facing who the stranger is, ourselves.

Here is an excerpt from thirtysomething at thirty: an oral history where Richard talks about the episode.

Richard Kramer: I feel incredibly grateful to have been given the opportunity to write that episode. I was supported by Ed and Marshall at a period when not everybody would have been supported. One of the principles of the show was that we couldn’t do an “important” episode. I wasn’t trying to write the gay scene. It was very much about something else. It was about the burden of self consciousness and absorbing what other people think of you. Melissa was letting that be an obstacle in her life.

Melanie Mayron: The theme of the episode was how we sabotage relationships. Russell sabotaged his and Melissa sabotaged hers. We get something good and then we stand in the way of it. 

 - from thirtysomething at thirty - Bear Manor Media and Scott Ryan Productions

The reason this episodes sticks with me all these years later is a small scene between Melissa and Lee. Melissa is fretting over her friends meeting Lee. Corey Parker does some of his best acting when he responds with, “No one is watching, No one cares.” I wish I would have taken these words to heart sooner in life, I bet we all do. These little gems are peppered through all of Richard Kramer’s scripts, as well as all episodes of thirtysomething.

Even though I have talked to Richard many times, he was a huge help on the book and always made himself available to assist, I have never asked him this question. Did he listen to Billy Joel’s The Stranger when he wrote this episode and picked the title? Billy Joel sings in his 1977 song, “Well we all have a face that we hide away forever and we take it out and show ourselves when everyone is gone.” They could have used that song and it would have fit, but it probably would have been a little too Mad Men end credits-like. thirtysomething was a great show because it never hit the nail right on the head, it just set up the nail and laid the hammer on the table and let you finish the work yourself.

Read the top 10 episodes picked by fans. Click here.

SCOTT RYAN IS THE AUTHOR OF THIRTYSOMETHING AT THIRTY:AN ORAL HISTORY and THE MANAGING EDITOR OF THE BLUE ROSE MAGAZINE. FOR MORE INFORMATION from Scott Ryan Productions CLICK HERE.

Order the Paper back, signed, at scottryanproductions.com for cheaper than you can order it anywhere.

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Top Twin Peaks Quotes

I have seen Twin Peaks so many times that almost every line of dialogue in the show is as familiar to me as the chorus to Piano Man. I also find myself saying these things in real life to other people. They always ignore me because I say it like they should understand the context. If you are in the middle of a story and say, “We are not in Kansas, anymore.” Everyone understands what your metaphor is. But if you say, you remind me of a Mexican chiwawa, they think you are crazy. Here is a list of my top sayings I use in real life.

  • “Don’t take any Oink, Oink off that pretty little pig.” Bobby has some good ones throughout the show, but I strongly suggest you start using this one in real life, especially if you have children. Whenever my wife goes off to ask the children why they left the refrigerator wide open all day, I like to say, “don’t take any Oink, Oink off those pretty little pigs.” It is safe cause you are saying they are pretty, but also that that are pigs.

  • “I mean it like it is, like it sounds.”  The one armed man scenes are always creepy. I say this when no one understands me and I don’t get why. I might say, “Hey, I really don’t like Chipotle. I don’t see paying that much for a taco.” They respond, “why?” I would say, “I mean it like it is, like it sounds.” I like this one because most people don’t listen to what people actually say. They just assume what you are going to say. If they are not a Twin Peaks fan, they always just ignore my comment and move one. I also like to say, “Eager for fun, he wear a smile, everybody run.” But again, this is a list where I take them out of context and use them as Shakespeare sayings not just creepy lines.

  • “Like a turkey in the corn.” This is a fun one to comment when someone tells you a story about an idiot. So use it the next time your co-worker is making fun of that person on your team that never does any work and messes up everything. “Man, did you see how Mike totally turned in that report without adding the graphs for the Mid-West division? He totally screwed that up.” Respond with, “Like a turkey in the corn.” If you are feeling brave, add a Gobble, Gobble.

  • “He’s the Bartender, isn’t he?” I say this with the French accent and all. “ees da baatender, isn’t eee.” This one again is so random I feel bad for my family. This is my response when I don’t just want to say yes. Example: Do you want Pizza for dinner? I say, ” He’s the bartender, isn’t he?” I enjoy saying it with the Renault brother accent. I love how each brother has a completely different accent. Maybe they have 3 different Mothers?

  • “Jacques, you crazy fucking Canadian.” Ok, this is a stretch, but I say this whenever anyone mentions that anyone is Canadian. “Mike Myers is Canadian.”  I respond, “Jacques you crazy fucking Canadian.” That is when people usually walk away.

  • “Candy’s Dandy.” We complete a Renault brother trifecta with this Halloween favorite of mine. Again you have to say it with the third Renault accent. This is something I like to say to the trick or treaters who come to the house. Trick or Treat? Treat, of course, because “candy’s dandy.”

  • “This is where we live, Shelly.”  This is my all time favorite line of dialogue. I love to say this as I pull into the garage after a long road trip. I think in many ways Lynch has an amazing ability to whittle down what life is really about. I think this line is maybe the most Zen line in the entire series/movie. What more can be said about life than: “This is where we live, Shelly.” My goal for my entire life is to get to say this to someone named Shelly.  Should I set my bar higher?  I think not.

  • “I have been there before, and I’ll be there again.  But I am in that doghouse again.” Big Ed is a wealth of great lines. This one is saved for dealing with the women in my family. Believe me, I have been there before, and I will be there again. I have been known to say this one as I hang up the phone.

So those are some of my favorite things to say from the show. Remember these were all ones I use out of context, so no “Wrapped in Plastic” or “Damn Fine Coffee” on this list.

If you are a Twin Peaks fan, make sure you subscribe to The Blue Rose Magazine. A fanzine all about Twin Peaks from John Thorne and Scott Ryan. Subscribe now.

 

SCOTT RYAN IS THE AUTHOR OF THIRTYSOMETHING AT THIRTY:AN ORAL HISTORY and THE MANAGING EDITOR OF THE BLUE ROSE MAGAZINE. FOR MORE INFORMATION CLICK HERE.

thirtysomething Turns Thirty

While television fans can look forward to the return of Twin Peaks and Curb Your Enthusiasm in 2017, they can also look back at one of the pop culture icons from 1987. thirtysomething, a show about 7 friends in their thirties, turns thirty on September 29th, 2017.

When we were introduced to Michael and Hope they had just had their first child and were deeply in love. Conversely, we also meet Elliot and Nancy who are ten years into a marriage and falling out of love. Over the next four years these characters, along with Melissa, Ellyn and Gary, go through so many changes that a network executive would panic today. These 7 characters became so real to us that fans had trouble separating the actor from the character.

Fans related so closely with each story that they connected it directly to their own lives. The show became a poster child for the baby boomer generation. Cancer, business failings, death, parenting and being single were just a few of the topics covered. The writers took all the normal plots from night time television and threw them aside. The main story in the pilot is about finding a baby sitter . . . and that is it. The series moved slowly and with purpose. The characters’ lives as well as their homes were messy. Anyone who has raised a toddler knows that the floor of your house is always covered with toys and laundry. The creators, Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, brought this reality to television for the first time. For years, I kept going  back to the series because I missed these characters and always wondered, why couldn’t another show do “real life” this well?

Parenthood tried, Brothers & Sisters tried, This is Us is trying right now on NBC. While those shows were good and This is Us even has Ken Olin, Michael Steadman, as the executive producer, none match the simplicity of thirtysomething.

On June 7th my book, thirtysomething at thirty, will finally be published. I was able to interview the entire main cast, Michael, Hope, Elliott, Nancy, Gary, Melissa and Ellyn. I spoke with every writer who wrote more than 2 episodes of the series. I spoke with the creators Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick. I then assembled all those interviews into a round table reunion of the people who crafted thirtysomething.

There are over 150 photos in the book, the final script that was never filmed and essays from Peter Horton (Gary), Ann Lewis Hamilton (wrote “Second Look”), Joseph Dougherty (wrote all the great Miles episodes) and even an essay by the Mad Magazine editor, Nick Meglin, who paid the thirtysomething set a visit.

There is a special section all about the directing of the series where all the directors talk about the rules of directing on the series and what they learned from Marshall and Ed about staging a scene. Most of the cast would eventually direct an episode of the series. They tell tales of what it was like to watch dailies with the rest of the cast at lunch every day.

thirtysomething may not be streaming anywhere (really, Netflix?) but it is engrained in the memory of the fans that adored it. 2017 serves as the year that the show finally reached its own age. thirtysomething at thirty set out to tell the story of the series and honor the amazing work that these artists did over a 4 year period that we are still talking about thirty years later.

 

SCOTT RYAN IS THE AUTHOR OF THIRTYSOMETHING AT THIRTY:AN ORAL HISTORY and THE MANAGING EDITOR OF THE BLUE ROSE MAGAZINE. FOR MORE INFORMATION CLICK HERE.

Debunking The Moonlighting Curse

If you have ever read an article about Bones, Castle, Friends or How I Met Your Mother, chances are you have heard of something called the Moonlighting curse. At least once a year I read a blurb in the Entertainment Weekly that quotes some producer saying he doesn’t want to get his “Dave” and “Maddie” together because he doesn’t want to be Moonlighting.

Network executives fear that what happened once Dave and Maddie finally made the leap in March 1987, in an episode called “I am Curious….Maddie,” will happen to their series. That episode, by the way, was its highest rated episode. I remember being thrilled with this 4 part story arc that ended with what we had been waiting for 2 years. “Be My Baby” played and so did our favorite characters.

After that episode, Moonlighting never drew that kind of audience again and two years later the show went off in a ratings whimper. So doesn’t that mean that the executives were correct? Getting your two main characters together is the kiss of death ratings wise and creatively? Of course that isn’t what it means; otherwise, I wouldn’t have anything to write about.

Before I get into defending the decision, let’s just take a look at how much television has changed since 1987. Moonlighting only waited 2 years or 38 episodes until the great Glenn Gordon Caron, executive producer, decided to get the couple together. Heck, I bet Bones and Booth didn’t even hug in the first 38 episodes of Bones. Now, writers put it off and off and off until the realtionship is totally fake and we, the viewers, are over caring about the couples. I just love the naivety of the time that they thought, “Hmm, its been 38 Episodes we better get them together.” I think one of the reasons I love Battlestar Galactica and The Wire, is they move the characters and the story. A true writer isn’t intimidated by the characters changing and growing; they are inspired by it. Executives and business men want stability and no changes; writers and artists want risks and growth.

The part of the story that is left out of every article written about the so-called Moonlighting curse is that Cybill Sheperd was bed ridden during her pregnancy with twins. Bruce Willis went off to make Die Hard and injured his leg in a skiing accident. In fact, when they filmed their famous sex scene, Cybill was pregnant so they filmed the scene standing up. The set designer built a sheet on the wall to make it appear as though they were laying in bed. After filming this episode, they had to let Cybill leave the series for a bit. Even the great writers of the world could not continue that show without either actor available to film. So, the front half of Season 4 is full of episodes that Bruce and Cybill are not in together. They filmed all of Cybill’s scenes during the summer hiatus before she was bed ridden and then worked those scenes in.

Separating the stars from each other never creates appointment television. This idea didn’t work in Three’s Company when they had Suzanne Summers phone in her scenes to Jack and Janet and it didn’t work in Moonlighting. We don’t want to watch our characters call each other. This meant that in March, they had sex and the audience had to wait till the next February until the characters were together again. Today, waiting that long isn’t without precedence. So, the writers made a huge mistake. They tried to do the show with David not having a partner. I believe if they would have brought in someone to take Cybill’s place for a half season story arc, Moonlighting would have been fine. Even more so, whether Dave and Maddie did it or not, the show would not have kept the ratings high missing half of the duo. So, the true curse has nothing to do with the characters getting together and everything to do with making creative choices and using your cast well.

I believe that once Cybill returned from maternity leave and Bruce returned from Yippee Ki-Aying, the show went back to what it was. I would match Season 4 and 5 episodes: Track Of My Tears, Maddie Hayes Got Married, A Womb With A View, Shirts & Skins and Lunar Eclipse with any of the episodes of its apex. The show didn’t know how to react to not having its stars. You can’t blame the writers for that. ABC should have closed down production until they could both be back.I know that idea is funnier than a David Addison one liner because no network cares if quality stays up, just money. And in defense of season 4, I think “Cool Hand Dave Part 2,” is one of the most creative hours of television ever. Had they filled those first 9 episodes of Season 4 with creativity like that, Moonlighting would have kept the ratings. Part of it is adapting and part of it is network pressure. It would be interesting to know what really went on behind closed doors. I would love for this to be my next book.
Let’s take a look at what happens when you don’t consummate your characters when the time is correct. I would bet that everyone who loves Friends, remembers when Phoebe says, that Ross is Rachel’s Lobster in the season 2 episode The One With The Prom Video. But who really remembers how they got together in the final episode? I mean they already had a kid and now we are supposed to care? It just isn’t true to the characters. By the end of Friends, Ross had become such a shell of what his character started out as that you couldn’t possibly think he should have ended up with Rachel. I actually bought Rachel and Joey more.

That is something I never would have thought after watching that Season 2 episode where Jennifer Aniston crosses the room to kiss David Schwimmer. The audience screamed and everyone at home swelled. By Season 10, you were more interested in other characters. In fact, I would say Monica and Chandler are the true couple to care about in Friends and they broke all the rules of what producers are doing. They got together behind our backs and the show only improved after they coupled it up. We watched them date, marry and have kids just like we do with our real friends. The idea that a character like David Addison would pursue someone for years and years and never succeed takes away his cool factor and turns him into . . . well someone like Ross.

So, the next time you read an article that tells you that the producers are trying to avoid the Moonlighting Curse, remember that means they are trying to stop their lead actress from getting pregnant, their lead actor from landing the best action movie role ever, and their writers from using life circumstances to enhance their show. Two characters should get together when the story dictates, not when ratings do and that is exactly what Glenn Gordon Caron did.

Listen to Scott Interview Glenn Gordon Caron.

SCOTT RYAN IS THE AUTHOR OF THIRTYSOMETHING AT THIRTY:AN ORAL HISTORY, THE MANAGING EDITOR OF THE BLUE ROSE MAGAZINE. FOR MORE INFORMATION CLICK HERE.