Maddening inconsistencies/discontinuities in old TV shows: forgot how to watch with "old eyes"?

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by ParloFax, Jun 25, 2019.

  1. ParloFax

    ParloFax Forum Resident Thread Starter

    So some of us used to watch these old shows religiously in the 60s... Did the average viewer then not see the lack of continuity in sets (for instance) like in the Stevens household in Bewitched, even between one episode and the next? The fact that these issues seem so glaring today comes from our modern culture of watching home tape/DVD collections?

    Talking about Bewitched, the Tabitha character seemed to have been a major problem with the scripts. Like they never really knew what to do to keep the adult/sexy angle of the Stevens couple, their inclination to party, etc., and the fact that at some point they had actually became parents... Entire episodes go by without even one mention of Tabitha's name by either Samantha or Darrin, or even alluding to the fact that the baby "lives" quietly upstairs and just might be in need somehow of being looked after from time to time!...

    Other old sitcoms were like that too?
  2. numer9

    numer9 Beatles Apologist

    Philly Burbs

    Perhaps they redecorated between episodes.
    razerx likes this.
  3. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Senior Member

    Just repeat to yourself "It's just a show, I should really just relax".
  4. ParloFax

    ParloFax Forum Resident Thread Starter

    In the case of this show it was more radical than that... then the sets sometimes would revert back... Or the street view (painted sets) would be like they kept moving all the time and didn't have a fixed address...
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
    audiomixer likes this.
  5. ParloFax

    ParloFax Forum Resident Thread Starter

    No, no big deal, I'm just wondering about how we used to watch this stuff... Like also, did the public minded or noticed that such and such actor would play a role during one season, and the next season, or even within the same one, would turn up in another role, like at the theater or the opera...
    scobb likes this.
  6. Spaghettiows

    Spaghettiows Forum Resident

    Silver Creek, NY
    If you are willing to suspend your disbelief regarding the existence a nearly all-powerful witch whose family will turn her husband into a chimpanzee for a lark, then you might want to do the same regarding the changing layout of their home or lack of attention, sometimes, to their children.
    Jack Lord, showtaper, MikeT and 18 others like this.
  7. Lightworker

    Lightworker Forum Resident

    Baltimore, MD
    Sounds like Kim Fowley's actual childhood. Look how he turned out...LOL.
  8. ParloFax

    ParloFax Forum Resident Thread Starter

    It still has to have some internal logic for the series to work. Can't be all anarchic because the sitcom premise is about witchcraft. There are certain "conventions", like Darrin will be offended when Sam breaks her word of not using magic to clean up the house, etc...
    Spencer R, supermd and Dudley Morris like this.
  9. Otlset

    Otlset free-range audiophile

    Temecula, CA
    Your disbelief just needs more suspension. Here, this should help...

  10. seed_drill

    seed_drill Forum Resident

    Tryon, NC, USA
    Interestingly, I think The Flinstones actually did change the dynamic of the show when Pebbles and Bam-Bam came around.
  11. clayton

    clayton Forum Resident

    minneapolis mn
    I remember watching Bewitched which is suppose to take place in Connecticut and wondering where the palm trees came from.:D
  12. willwin

    willwin Forum Resident

    The twin beds in Dick Van Dyke always amused me. I mean, his wife is a young Mary Tyler Moore and he's sleeping five feet away from her :)
    notesfrom, Jimmy B., eric777 and 7 others like this.
  13. ParloFax

    ParloFax Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Bewitched's double bed must be the first on American TV, right? My wife noticed a funny, likely censorship compromise: Darrin's pajama top is always kept buttoned up to the chin!
  14. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Senior Member

    That would be so uncomfortable to sleep with it buttoned up like that!

    The first couple to share a bed on TV were Mary Kay and Johnny:

    7 TV Couples Who Bucked Tradition
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  15. willwin

    willwin Forum Resident

    Dick Van Dyke started several years earlier than Bewitched, so I guess the rules were tighter...maybe it was a double bed the last season, I don't remember
    Matthew Tate and ParloFax like this.
  16. Ron Stone

    Ron Stone Offending Member

    Deep Maryland
    Infants were amazingly compliant on those old TV shows! Then they'd do a cutaway of an actual baby, usually with a jarring discontinuity in lighting and resolution, and then cut back to the group shot with a swaddled dummy.
  17. willwin

    willwin Forum Resident

    Wow, then why couldn't Rob and Laura sleep together? It doesn't seem fair :)
  18. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    There was an innocence back then that the public doesn't have, anymore. Stories like "I was the whistler in Benny & The Jets!" were usually believed immediately. What was presented on the screen had an authoritative air. Since very few had a platform to be heard, what was shown was pretty much accepted.

    Now, we live in an age of information but also disinformation where a lot of skepticism, cynicism, and suspicions run amok. Loads of people always believe there's an angle, some kind of way where we're being fooled or lied to, etc. Consequently, casual viewers have become more analytical than they realize when compared to their counterparts from half a century ago.

    Not much fiction will stand up when viewed through that lens.
  19. JozefK

    JozefK Forum Resident

    There is an entire episode of McHale's Navy concerning Christy's wife getting their new baby to say "Daddy" over the phone/radio

    Despite this being the whole point of the show, the director could not get the baby to comply. Instead the producers were forced to dub the line over film of a clearly nonspeaking infant.
    willwin likes this.
  20. willwin

    willwin Forum Resident

    And what the heck was Ward Cleaver's job?
    Jimmy B., eric777 and Matthew Tate like this.
  21. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Senior Member

  22. dkmonroe

    dkmonroe A completely self-taught idiot

    I just don't think continuity was an overriding concern for either people who made television shows back then, or the audience. TV was the inferior step-cousin of the cinema and theater and no one watched it to be impressed by its quality. Minor characters could be trotted out when it was advantageous and ignored when it wasn't. I don't even think "suspension of disbelief" is a phenomenon necessary to appreciate Bewitched or Mr. Ed or Gilligan's Island, one just knew that this stuff was supposed to be goofy and preposterous and fun. Plus I'm pretty sure that TV episodes were pretty much seat of the pants, let's-fill-up-30-minutes-this-week stuff. Not crafted with continuity and a story arc, just crafted with sufficient gags for the week. The only series I ever watched in which I was even aware of continuity was Star Trek, and even that show had continuity holes a parsec wide even though I tried not to admit it.
    eddiel, notesfrom, razerx and 6 others like this.
  23. SomeCallMeTim

    SomeCallMeTim Forum Resident

    Rockville, CT
    Binge watching was not yet a "thing" when Bewitched first ran. Even in syndication, you usually had to wait a full day between episodes. I found the different Darrins and Mrs. Kravitzes far more jarring than the periodic shifts in decor. Continuity flaws I did notice as a pre-binge TV viewer, though:

    1. Physically impossible sets! They show you the establishing shot of a house or apartment building, then the placement of windows, doors and rooms inside couldn't possibly match. The pillared mansion (with palm trees in Wisconsin) on "Happy Days" somehow had just two small rooms from end to end, with no bathroom.

    2. Instant, free childcare. Starting with poor, elderly Mrs. Trumbull, who opened her door to the Ricardos' neglected child with no notice, day or night, every sitcom was populated with friends, relatives and neighbors who instantly dropped everything to free up the adults and hasten the plot along.

    3. Changes of venue. Another one that started with Lucy and the gang, when they left New York for the Connecticut suburbs, and conveniently it turned out that Fred, that crazy Vaudevillian, was raised on a chicken farm and could help the Ricardos in this endeavor. [Just try raising chickens in Martha Stewart's Westport and see what happens today.] The same thing happened on My Three Sons [how the hell many people lived in that house by the end of the series??? See #1 above] and Laverne & Shirley, when the main characters and everyone they ever knew up and moved to sunny California.
    Jack Lord, Dugan, Jimmy B. and 10 others like this.
  24. willwin

    willwin Forum Resident

    Matthew Tate likes this.
  25. Chazro

    Chazro Forum Resident

    West Palm Bch, Fl.
    I thought the 1st double-bed was on I Love Lucy!
    Jimmy B., Pussycat and willwin like this.

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