Jackie Mason | October 10, 2003
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Scott Hardie | October 15, 2003
From today's StudioBriefing: NBC is reportedly considering uncoupling itself from Coupling, the sexy comedy that it hoped would become the big Thursday-night hit that Seinfeld and Friends were. Last Thursday, viewers tuned out of the new sitcom in droves, despite the fact that it aired on network's "Must-See TV" night. Among all shows, Coupling ranked 37th for the week. On Tuesday, the network said that it will replace Coupling this Thursday with an episode of its new sitcom Whoopi (which tied for 66th place last week). Although it did not announce a cancellation of Coupling, the network said that it would not return before the end of the November sweeps. Today's (Wednesday) New York Times described the network's action as "a vote of no-confidence" in the series.

I'm no fan of this particular show, but isn't it annoying when networks cancel a show if it doesn't have great ratings within a couple of weeks? I mean, 37th place is not bad. UPN and WB would kill for 37th place. Only one of the six networks can win any given time slot (unless a cable show wins), so that leaves five shows that won't win the time slot. Accept it, network execs. I've been hearing about "Coupling" for over a year, ever since NBC first bought the rights to it. (It was a British sitcom first. We didn't even rewrite it: We kept the exact same script, changed a few British slang terms to American slang terms, and filmed it with American actors.) How NBC can spend millions of dollars and more than a year developing a show widely expected to be its next big hit, then yank it from the schedule after three weeks, is a mystery to me.

K. R. | October 19, 2003
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Jackie Mason | October 19, 2003
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Mike Eberhart | October 20, 2003
Honestly, I never even watched it. Just seeing the previews was enough for me not to tune in. Besides, Survivor was on, and I'm addicted to that show...

Scott Hardie | October 20, 2003
I didn't know you were a fan, Mike. I discuss "Survivor" on another site every week because I didn't think anybody here actually liked it. Maybe I'll change that this Thursday...

Mike Eberhart | October 20, 2003
Sounds good to me. I watch it every week. I'd be willing to discuss the show here.

Erik Bates | October 21, 2003
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Scott Hardie | October 21, 2003
Oh yeah. God damn it! You've told me that twice now Erik and I keep forgetting. Sorry. :)

Kris Weberg | October 28, 2003
Getting back to Jackie's point, doesn't it seem that there are still two distinct "schools" of British comedy? One being the Benny Hill, anything-for-a-laugh, utterly slapstick and crude stuff; the other being the ultra-dry, in some modes almost surreal, though often still very sexual "witty" comedy? Granted, I'm sure I will be QWERTY-lashed for this oversimplification, but it's definitely something I've noticed when comparing Britcoms to one another, as well as British comedians. Yet when it comes to American television, the natureof much of the humor remains the same -- overt sarcasm and/or slapstick -- with only degree and the level of subject matter really changing. There seems to be a basic "delivery" of gags on American sitcoms, even vaunted "mold-breakers" like Seinfeld, one that at some root conceptual level doesn't vary greatly. This isn't to say I don't find a lot of American sitcms funny -- I do, or did in the days of a functioning television antenna, but it strikes me as odd that a certain style or genre of humor so predominates here. Of course, I may be horribly, deeply wrong about this, and even if I'm not, I am nattering on about humor in that overanalytical manner that is its antithesis. Best quit while I'm ahead.

Anna Gregoline | October 28, 2003
I always thought Seinfeld worked because the dialogue and pacing was like a play, not a sitcom.

Scott Hardie | October 28, 2003
Kris, I was wondering the same thing: Did "Coupling" fail because British scripts, even if read by American actors, wouldn't succeed for American audiences? So much of British humor is based on wordplay and mispronunciation and double-entendres, and while we "get it," that sort of thing isn't very funny to us. Then again, I've seen all of 30 seconds of "Coupling," so maybe that kind of humor was deemphasized in the American version. It's all in the delivery.

Incidentally, NBC is learning a lesson from "Coupling." Their new adaptation of "The Office" will have scripts written for American audiences.


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