Friday, June 25, 2010

THE LIBRARY CARD- December 1968 (The Courtship of Eddie’s Father)

This outing has also been posted on my website at www.senensky.com

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That was an example of the usual teaser opening. Unlike the teaser for GUESS WHO’S COMING TO LUNCH, this was not a part of the script I filmed. It was a dialogue written later and added to one of the shots Jimmy had filmed on location. But it did have a relevance to the script that followed; it established the theme of “responsibility”.

Two weeks after I completed photography on my first EDDIE’S FATHER, I started filming my second one, THE LIBRARY CARD. This script placed a noticeably stronger emphasis on little Eddie; it was his story. And the theme of looking for a wife for his father definitely was relegated not merely to the back seat -- it was placed in the rumble seat. (For those of you too young to know what a rumble seat was, I don’t have time to explain.)

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I am having a slight problem. There were almost no problems in the production of this episode. In fact there was only one, and it was minimal. This was the last show to be completed before the Christmas break; in fact the last day of filming was scheduled for December 24th, Christmas Eve. The slight problem -- both Brandon and I were ill with seasonal flu. I remember thinking how fortunate that we were filming in the Corbett apartment set; there were several beds, and I took to one of them many times while the crew was lighting for the next setup. If I sounded ill when I called “action” -- no problem. That bit was always cut from the film. The real trouper was Brandon. If I hadn’t mentioned this, I doubt if, when watching his performance, you would have realized he too was ill.

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One spring when talking to writer-producer Tony Spinner, I asked him what he was up to. He told me of a project he had in development for a potential series for the upcoming season. When I commented that it seemed like a rerun of something already on the air, Tony smiled and said, “But that’s the secret -- do the same thing, just a little differently.” One of the staples of network television was the single father format. THE COURTSHIP OF EDDIE’S FATHER was its latest arrival. Preceding it had been BACHELOR FATHER John Forsythe, Fred MacMurray and his three sons and several others. I think the charm of this series was the ways JImmy Komack was finding to do it differently.

I really appreciated having scenes like the following one with little dialogue, no major activity, just relationship emotion and Nilsson’s song in the background.

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Even a sitcom like this one that was aiming for more had to have some plot complications. And let me interject that I still marvel at the professionalism of the young people I worked with all those years ago.

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I didn’t have to leave the studio for location filming very often on this series. This episode was my first time.

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The police department location chosen was one of the very few booboos evident in this series. Tom Corbett’s apartment would NOT have been in Culver City. I think it would have been one of the high rises in Century City. But the Culver City police department was the closest police department to the MGM studio -- which was located in Culver City. Budget dictated our choice.

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Shades of Judge Hardy and his son, Andy. This was my first encounter in this series with such a scene -- but not my last.

But we can’t leave Eddie, still missing his lost book.

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I’m not completely sure, but I think this was the final episode of the original order from the network. That was the added reason for needing to complete photography on THE LIBRARY CARD on December 24. Jimmy now had the coming months to complete postproduction on this first batch. That really was an unusual situation in developing a new series for television -- to have that kind of time to let the show evolve. When the schedule for the next season was announced, THE COURTSHIP OF EDDIE’S FATHER had made the cut at ABC. Production would resume in July for additional episodes, and I would be on board.

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