Aging of characters...

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by bmasters9, Nov 14, 2017.

  1. bmasters9

    bmasters9 Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Fountain Inn, SC
    Something I'd like to know about the aging of characters on a television series: do you follow along to the "bible" of that series and use the ages as the bible puts them, or do you use another way?

    What I do is simply this: the character's age is the same as the portrayer of that character, and as the portrayer passes his/her birthday and becomes one year older, so does the character, as long as that portrayer remains on the show.

    Here are a couple of examples, from Dynasty (the 1981-89 O-R ABC series):

    Pamela Sue Martin (born Jan. 5, 1953 in Hartford, CT): as Dynasty started Jan. 12, 1981, PSM had just become 28, and as such, by my algorithm, Fallon started at 28. Through each of her four seasons on the show (1981-84), she aged to 29 (1981-82), 30 (1982-83), and 31 (1983-84, her final year).

    The same algorithm is what I use for John Forsythe as Blake Carrington; John was born Jan. 29, 1918 in Penns Grove, NJ, and as Dynasty started, he was 62 (and Blake was subsequently the same age). In all first-season episodes forward of Jan. 29, he became 63. John/Blake then became 64 in the second year, 65 in the third, and so on and so forth, until both became 71 when the Dynasty series ended in 1989. In The Reunion of 1991, however, John/Blake became 73.

    Do you think that my method of character aging is a good one, or do you have/use another way?
  2. Squealy

    Squealy Forum Hall Of Fame

    It's not necessarily the case that the same amount of time passes in the world of a TV series that passes in real life as the show is airing. Especially these days, lots of shows pick up after a break right where they left off. To take a well known example, the action of the entire Breaking Bad series took place over two years, though the show ran for six seasons. The original Twin Peaks series aired across 14 months, but only about a month passed in the timeline of the show.

    Though sometimes the writers forget this. On Orange is the New Black, they keep putting current pop culture references into the dialogue, even though only about a year is supposed to have gone by since the series began.
    Vidiot likes this.
  3. bmasters9

    bmasters9 Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Fountain Inn, SC
    You know, that's a good point! I don't know how exactly to explain why, but it's a good point.
  4. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    When you have a show fueled by flashbacks, you tempt fate. Imagine if Milo Ventimiglia actually got run over by a truck or something...before he'd filmed his final "big death" scenes we're all expecting to happen on This Is Us. I mean, he's not gonna get any older as the character in the series anyway, but what if the actual demise of the actor was big, and newsworthy, and perhaps controversial in some bizarre way? So, the network feels it has to address it, but they can't show the footage, because it's too soon!

    Worse, what if the showrunners had the character's continuity locked into the very same fate happening to him on the show! :yikes: The sensitive fans would insist the show drop the storyline in sympathy with the guy's family.

    BUT! - and then, what if something awful happened to one or more of the other leading actors, altering their appearance to the point where it would be too obvious during flashback scenes, should they have to re-shoot half a season! :yikes: :yikes:

    OH! - and, but wait!- What if the character on the show became sooooo popular that the network decided he[I}can't[/I] die right now, because they want another season out of him...

    OR!!! - um, they had a sponsor who reeealllllyy needed him to stay on, because of some big cross-promotion thingie with, I dunno- The Voice?! -in which they couldn't bail out of it now because the other show had already promoted the heck out of it on their end...and the network stands to lose tens of millions, if they have to default that contest or promotion!!! The promotion is lawyered-up to the point where JILLION$! of dollars are on the line, and it's all because , maybe, the movie-star-cute kid had an accident involving his face and a steam iron!

    Catastrophe! What if, in settling all the potential lawsuits, new casting deals and agreements with showrunners have to be in place...and, :yikes: :yikes: :yikes: the only way the network can get out of it is...if Amy Pohler HAS to return to Saturday Night Live!! But the only problem with that is, Keenan Thompson has already shot his bumper segment wrapping around the upcoming, SNL Salutes Amy Pohler Because She's Not On The Show Anymore, already scheduled to run after the Super Bowl 2018! And Keenan's out of the country, captured by the Taliban! So...what does this mean for Kate McKinnon, who can't sub for Amy Pohler, because they've already shot a movie together, where they play the same person...but the movie plot has Keenan Thompson revealing they can't be the same person...and he's been captured by the Taliban! :yikes: :yikes: :yikes: :yikes:

    I guess, what I'm trying to say is, TV shows do what they can, but every now and again, Luke Skywalker just walks into a Beemers on the way to the set, and ya have to sub-in with Ted McGinley. :shrug:
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  5. Higlander

    Higlander Well-Known Member

    Florida, Central
    Not sure something that I let worry me.:D
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  6. The Slug Man

    The Slug Man Forum Resident

    North Carolina
    Can't believe I remember this, but in a 1987 Eight Is Enough reunion movie, they were celebrating the 50th birthday of Tom (the dad, played by Dick Van Patton). Van Patton would've been 58 in real life at the time. Not only that, but the show started in 1977 and the oldest son, David, was like 22. So I guess Tom had him when he was 18.
  7. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    I have brought up age logistics problems with producers when we've worked on shows in post, and usually they tell me to shut up and then say, "Marc, if our audience is worrying about something as trivial as that, we've already lost them." So they basically don't think it's important as long as it fits "story logic" (the twisted pretzel that carries the series from episode to episode).

    There have been some major films and shows where the actors were much older or younger than they were playing. One was The Graduate, where Dustin Hoffman was 30 but playing 22, and his character had an affair with his fiancee's mother, played by Anne Bancroft, who was only 6 years older than him at the time. I think she was basically 36 years old but playing 45 or so. It can work.

    I've been annoyed for years by TV shows that have "teenagers" played by actors who are like 27 or 28, because it never seems real to me. One problem with that is when the show goes on for a few years and the actors hit their 30s and start losing their hair and getting crow's feet, they really, really show their age. We can do a lot in post-production to make actors look a little younger, but their are limits.

    Speaking of which: in the 2013 HBO movie Behind the Candelabra (on the life of Liberace), they had a helluva time trying to make 43-year-old Matt Damon look like Liberace's 20-year-old lover. A lot of digital "vanity fixes" had to be done in order to make Damon look a lot younger and slimmer, and those added about a million bucks to the budget. If they had been able to make the film 10 years earlier -- as director Steven Soderbergh originally had planned -- it would've been much easier to do.
  8. James Slattery

    James Slattery Forum Resident

    Long Island
    Worse than that was the fact that they had already celebrated Tom's 50th birthday during an episode of the series. So much for continuity.
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  9. JozefK

    JozefK Forum Resident

    IMHO it didn't work. Bancroft still seems too young (the original choice was 45 year old Doris Day). And the character of Benjamin is supposed to be a 22 year old WASP, so Nichols cast... Dustin Hoffman. Who beat out Peter Kastner and 32 year old Charles Grodin. (As you can tell I'm not the world's biggest fan of The Graduate).

    c. 1991:

    DAVID LETTERMAN: (to Luke Perry, star of 90210): "So how old are you now -- 52, 53?"

    The character of Elly May on The Beverly Hillbillies was supposed to be 18-9. Donna Douglas started playing her when she was 29. She was pushing 40 and still playing 19 when the show ended.

    And remember, actors over 18 are often cast as HS students to get around the work-hours limits for kids.
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  10. milankey

    milankey Forum Resident

    Kent, Ohio, USA
    I always thought the high school kids in Welcome Back Kotter looked around 27 or 28.

    How old is Bart Simpson by now? About 35?
  11. audiomixer

    audiomixer As Bald As The Beatles

    ...or could give a fork about!
  12. Culpa

    Culpa Forum Resident

    Philadelphia, PA
    That brings to mind 15-year-old Melody Patterson lying about her age to get cast as Wrangler Jane on F Troop, and makin' out with Ken Berry!
  13. evillouie

    evillouie Forum Resident

    One that always gets me is M*A*S*H. Radar, played by Gary Burghoff , was supposed to be about 18-19, but Burghoff looked like he was about 45 when he left the show.
    In fact the whole cast of the show was pretty old for their characters. Harry Morgan was probably in his 50's-60's on the show, but most of the other cast members were probably 10 years younger, give or take. In fact, Alan Alda and Jamie Farr were old enough that they actually served during the REAL Korean war!
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  14. kouzie

    kouzie Forum Resident

    Batavia, IL
    If this kind of a thing is a concern, Saul Goodman will make your head explode.
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  15. Solitaire1

    Solitaire1 Carpenters Fan

    JozefK wrote the following as part of a post:

    Burt Ward (Robin from the 1960s Batman TV show) was in the running for Benjamin too.
  16. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    Max "Jethro" Baer Jr. was interviewed by Howard Stern some years ago and revealed that he was always 5 years younger than Donna Douglas but they were both supposed to be about 18 when the show started, and that Donna was pushing 40 by the time the show ended in 1971. Baer also revealed he only got about $750 a week for the role and no residuals for syndication, and he was bitter that they all kind of got screwed over on that.

    Whenever there are children in TV roles, I always kind of wince when the actors are a lot older than the age of the character they're playing. I get that it's tough to have real kids on the set, because there are a lot of legal conditions on schooling and work hours, vs. just hiring an 18-year-old who sorta looks young and then you can work them to death all day long as a legal adult and not pay any fines. It's particularly sad when the show has been on a few years and it's very obvious the kids are well into their 20s yet the storyline hasn't changed much. I was very impressed that with Harry Potter, they actually cast actors who were pretty close to their characters' ages and just shot 8 films back-to-back so that the characters and actors aged gracefully.

    Oh, the flashback scenes make me laugh out loud. There's no amount of digital work they can do to make balding 55-year-old Bob Odenkirk look like he's 30. But ya know, it's such a well-acted show, I just kind of throw my hands up and say, "eh, I'm gonna let that slide." Bob has commented (humorously) that he's not sure if Saul Goodman is bald and wears a toupee, or if he just has lousy hair. The rug has looked particularly ragged this past season. :sigh:
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  17. James Slattery

    James Slattery Forum Resident

    Long Island
    Robert Redford was also considered for the part. When they asked him about getting turned down by a woman, he didn't understand what that meant, since obviously it never happened to him in his life!
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  18. Nah, they weren't that old - both spent time in Korea while in the Army, but several years after the war had ended.

    Anyway, MASH is a good illustration of the problem with the OP's line of thinking - it was on the air for 11 years, whereas the Korean War only lasted for three.
    ohnothimagen and bmasters9 like this.
  19. bmasters9

    bmasters9 Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Fountain Inn, SC
    Another good point-- perhaps the way I saw this was just me.
  20. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen I don't suffer fools or trolls gladly...

    True, but boy did Hawkeye go grey fast in those three years!:laugh:

    Speaking of M*A*S*H, as a big fan of the show I am considering a bit of an early Christmas present for the other M*A*S*H fans here and starting up a "M*A*S*H Season-by-season" thread. Could be an interesting discussion!:D

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