Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Robson Arms III: What I like about Episode 2... or Now let us Praise Gary Harvey
So. Tonight's my episode.
Make no mistake. I love the DRAHMAH. But I was raised in sketch comedy. And bringing a tear to somebody eye is great... but if it's by making them laugh... even better.
Drama is analog and comedy is binary. They laugh... or they don't. You can't kid yourself. Genuine involuntary laughter... you can literally take score. And that's why I can say: if you don't actually laugh tonight watching "Geeks In Love"... I have failed you faithful viewer... and if I haven't broken your heart little a bit while I did it, I have failed myself.
Because I can't blame anybody else for anything that's less than awesome about tonight's episode. Which is a long way to introduce--
The things I love about tonight's Episode:
1. The Troubadours.
If you go to the Robson Arms' website and hit the goodies, you can hear it. It's one of those things that, as a writer, leaves you humbled and amazed. The whole episode captured in a 30 second ditty. The lyrics, the music, the performance bring a tear-ball to my eye and soften my crusty and cynical old heart and make me all post-xmas Grinch. Gosh.
Actors... you know what I mean? Oh, they're characters all right. And Haig Sutherland, who plays arguably the most unassuming of the Robson Arms tenants, Fred Fochs, is one of the largest characters on the set. Check out him messing with me during "The Question" on the RA site and you'll get a small taste.
Anyway... again, all eyes will be on Will Sasso's Bark. And with good reason, Bark is huge, and so is Will. Bark gets all the good lines, and so he should. But who is the heart of the episode? Who is the engine that keeps this story moving? Who do we see at his glorious best and heart-breaking worst? It's Haig's Fred. So in love and gloating, so insecure and jealous, so out of control and maniacal, so vulnerable and alone.
3. The Harv.
Okay. Most of you have never heard of Gary Harvey, and why should you? How many great television television directors are household names? But if you spend anytime working in film and television in Canada-- or spend any time WATCHING Canadian television I can almost guarantee you've seen his work. He's prolific.
In addition to his directing duties Gary is one of the executive producers of the show (along with Susin Nielsen and Brian Hamilton of whom we will hear more in future posts). They are an awesome triumvirate. But more than anyone Gary is the guy who is responsible for the tone on set. I've heard nightmare stories from friends and co-workers who have had to endure unbelievably tense and miserable months on sets run by people with the emotional sophistication of a two year old. Screamers. Tantrums. Shutdowns. Madness. Anyone who has had the opportunity to work with Gary doesn't know any of that. Cast, crew-- even critics, all remark on the feeling of the set. It isn't quiet like a library: there are plenty of disagreements and differing of opinions as there are bound to be whenever independent, talented and creative people with a job to do get together. But it's handled with perspective, respect and humour. And I blame Gary for that.
And if that wasn't enough-- he's also a hotshot director! Watch the episode tonight. And you'll barely see his work, but you're sure gonna feel it. Gary isn't a director that builds his scenes around a shot. He builds his shots around the scene. He teases out amazing performances out the actors, and pushing them further sometimes... sometimes reining them in. And comedy is a killer. It's all about rhythm and pace. Watch how he builds each scene, each moment! See how with the help of Franco our editor, the moments and scenes work with one another and take us deeper into the story.
Lucky, lucky me.