Gilmore Girls Revisited Vol. 3: Kelly Bishop and the Hour-Long Format
Today, GilmoreNews.com’s discussion is about the special chemistry between Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel in the episode “Kill Me Now” (1.3), based on something Kelly Bishop says in The Gilmore Girls Companion.
One of the reasons I look forward to Arieanna’s discussions over at GilmoreNews.com is because it gives me the opportunity to dip back into my interviews with the cast and crew and share some snippets that didn’t make it into the book.
While I’d prefer not to discuss the whole “chemistry” thing for reasons that will be obvious to those who’ve read the book (Kelly Bishop’s explanation for some of these touching scenes surprised me, and probably will surprise many others), I thought I would instead share the great actress’ words about the work involved behind the scenes on Gilmore:
“Maybe it’s being a little bit older, but I was amazed how the younger [actors] would still meet somebody for drinks or go to somebody’s party afterward. I don’t know how they do that! But I probably did it when I was that age, too.
So yeah, there were very long days; I think there always are in hour-long shows. The best working situation time-wise is probably sitcom, because you really work a 10-to-4 day during the rehearsal days, and then, of course, the shooting day you’re in early and you do two shows. You do one dress tape or dress film, and then you do another one – I guess they’re both with audiences. I find that I take to it pretty well from my theatrical training.
“Also, from the comedy angle, it’s really fun to work with an audience, to milk the laugh and to know when to come in with the next line. That part I always enjoyed. But in sitcom, you’ve done the dress tape and then you have a dinner break, which I always consider a joke because who can eat at that point?
“But that hour you supposedly are having this lovely meal, they’ve been rewriting, and then they come back to you a half hour before you’re to go on, and they have new lines and changes, and I found that so stressful. I could do it, but that part of it I find hard. They kind of change the setup with that. In the old days they would do that, then they would send the audience home and you would work into the night cleaning it up and getting the right angles.
“Now I’ve noticed in recent years – it’s been a while since I’ve done a sitcom – but they’ll get the scene right, even in front of the audience, before they move to the next scene. That’s kind of hard on the audience because the first time there’s a burst of laughter, and the second time they still laugh, and the third time they’re starting to force the laugh, and the fourth time they don’t think it’s funny at all, but they’re making these really strange noises that sound like laughs but aren’t. That’s why I really like the hour-long show.
“This is one of the hopes that I had in getting a series. I wanted to do an hour-long show because you have that single camera and you have that intimacy of just working on it until you get it right. You don’t have an audience that you have to keep entertained while you’re doing your work. It was a great experience, I have to say I just loved it. I’d love to do something like that again. I don’t know if I would ever be able to find that kind of writing, but I’d love to do another series for that very reason.
“Part of me would like to do a sitcom. There aren’t that many around anymore. Now, of course, they have a lot of half-hour comedic shows that don’t have an audience, which I think is a more honest show. With a live audience you’ve got too much overt slapstick and broad humor in order to get the laughs.”