Sounds maketh the gag

I took a few genuine creative risks while filming The Big Bang this year, and of course I didn’t expect them all to pay off. One item in particular worried us all in pre-production, still worried us in studio, and didn’t feel like it quite worked in the edit:

Michael sits foreground, showing how to make a retracting roll barrier mechanism that you could stretch across your bedroom door to keep your brother out. Upstage, Kate sporadically enters shot fighting a huge conflagration, wrestling a dragon, chainsawing something else, and generally upstaging Michael outrageously. Michael, of course, acts completely oblivious to this throughout.

Now, on paper, it’s a classic and wonderful gag. On paper, it’s both simple and outrageously funny. On paper, it can’t fail. In practice it’s tremendously hard to pull off with any degree of panache, and looking at it in the edit we screwed up the timings, and indeed the order of the upstaging. It was moderately amusing, but not the festival of side-splitting hilarity for which we’d hoped. Heigh-ho, some you win, some you lose.

Yesterday, we put the sound back on. Nick the dubbing mixer, it turns out, is a fan of Mel Brooks, the Zucker Brothers (especially Police Squad), Kentucky Fried Movie, et al. He’s done a stupendous job of papering over the seams, and the whole item is now outrageously funny. Genuinely outstanding job, though the chainsawing sounded rather disturbingly like… er… a pig being attacked with a chainsaw, so we toned that down a bit.

It’s still not the funniest item in the series – that’s either Kate losing her rag in Flicky Thing or Michael camping it up in Hair Rope – but it’s certainly worthy of a place in the series.

Top nonsense. Oh, I do like kids’ TV.

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