Los Angeles -- A long time ago not that long but long enough to have easily fit into a 33" pair of slacks I went as a guest to the taping of HEAD OF THE CLASS at Warner's in Burbank. I was the guest of one of the regulars who happened to be related to me. Nepotism in the bleachers. The experience left me with new respect for the process of creating a 30 minute situation comedy. It took 6 hours to complete the 30 minutes with pickups and retakes. All in all it was enlightening to say the least.
Now the process I experienced was the same process used in the now classic and probably the best 30 minutes TV ever produced and I am not talking about the Twilight Zone which in its class is in my opinion the best sci-fi. No this is the template by which every situation comedy is made.
I LOVE LUCY wrote the book on television production with much of the credit belatedly attributed to the late Desi Arnaz. Between he and his then wife Lucille Ball they created the process by which one can experience laughter, joy, sorrow, pain and laughter all in a 30 minute situation that feels as though it is a lifetime.
Some of the techniques pioneered include the three camera set up. Using film in order to keep the images fresh and clean especially for syndication purposes. Shooting the show with a live audience. Having a barker warm the audience prior to taping and having the stars parade in front of the audience.
Grace Cunningham put this short documentary on Lucille Ball that predominantly spotlighted the landmark I LOVE LUCY television show and the impact it had on creating the situation comedy format that remains to this day.
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