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A Tale of Two Sitcoms: Part 1
During my recent visit to Los Angeles, I had the opportunity to visit the Twentieth Century Fox lot and attend the taping of two Imagine Television productions, Quintuplets and Arrested Development. This is the first of a two-part report.
The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of The O.P.
Upon entering the Twentieth Century Fox lot, there’s a huge banner above the main entrance’s security that proclaims, “Arrested Development: Winner of 5 Emmys including Best Comedy.” And by huge, I mean huge: the banner is visible from clear across to the other side of the studio. Either somebody at the studio is very proud of the show, or the A.D. writers pulled off an elaborate prank. In my mind, it’s 55-55 either way.
First up was a taping of Quintuplets. I’m not going to insult anyone’s intelligence (at least not openly), so I’ll be frank. This show is no Andy Richter Controls The Universe. But it was never intended to be. So, that being said, if you’re looking for a Married with Children-style family sitcom, then Quintuplets may just be the show for you. Bob (Andy Richter) and Carol (Rebecca Creskoff) are the flustered parents trying to cope with quintuplets, each one a distinct individual with their own quirks: Pearce, the space cadet (Johnny K. Lewis); Penny, the caustic intellectual (April Matson); Parker, the dumb jock (Jake McDormal); Paige, the vapid, pretty one (Sarah Wright); and Patton, the short horny boy (Ryan Pinkston).
That day’s episode involved the three boys struggling to visit a Girls With Low Self-Esteem-style party, while the mother copes with the girls’ complete honesty, and the father gives increasingly desperate excuses in order to escape and watch a basketball game.
The studio audience was clearly familiar with the show, calling out the names of several of the young stars, and Andy Richter too. The young, mostly teen-aged crowd reacted with genuine amusement (though I’m not necessarily adept at spotting artificial amusement), so clearly the show is hitting its target audience.
Shot on a traditional soundstage, Quints follows a typical sitcom taping schedule: table read on Monday, rehersals during the week, and a taping on Friday. During each scene, multiple cameras covered the necessary angles, so scenes would be reshot only when an actor didn’t quite nail a line, a camera missed an angle, or if one of several writers on hand changed the lines. In addition to A.D. and 24, Imagine Television also produces Quints, so Imagine president David Nevins was on set to monitor the production.
While the show isn’t going to win any Grammy awards, in part because it’s neither a musical group nor an album, Quintuplets is a genial, well-intentioned sitcom and good harmless fun. Quintuplets can be seen Wednesday night on FOX at 8:30 eastern/pacific, and upcoming guest stars include Tara Reid and Jason Priestly.