Herbie J Pilato: The “Doors” on TV – and the importance of creative consistency

BEWITCHED front-door1by Herbie J Pilato

No, I’m not talking about Jim Morrison and his legendary rock band.

But what I am addressing are the physical front door props, on the exterior and interior, of certain television shows, and how their consistency or inconsistency is pertinent, representative and conducive to the true success of any given series – and the creative process in general.

For example, Bewitched.  And I know what you’re thinking:  “Really?  Did he reference Bewitched…AGAIN?”

It’s true:  I have.  But with good reason.

The front door on Bewitched always remained the same.  The semi-oval glass design at the top of a nice welcoming front door to the home of Samantha and Darrin Stephens (who lived on Morning Glory Circle somewhere in Connecticut).

That door never changed, at least from the outside.  And from the interior, it was painted white (from some kind of dark brown or so) in the sixth and seventh season.

But having that door ultimately never change in style what such a wonderful representation of the consistency of that series.

The actual interior sets of the show were destroyed in a horrific fire that transpired after the sixth season, but once the sets were rebuilt, everything else on the set was updated with somewhat new styles.  But the design of that front door stayed the same; again, changing only the color of its paint.

And this was consistent with the creative presentation of the scripts and stories on Bewitched.  Whatever transpired within the magical realm of that show’s premise, made sense.  There was a logic to the illogic of it all, and the showrunners of its day (led by the genius of William Asher, then married to Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery) really road the series to keep things consistent.

On the other hand, in more recent years, a sitcom like The King of Queens, which also just happens to be one of my personal favorite sitcoms of all time, did not exactly remain consistently representative when it came to the front doors on its main set (that housed the characters of Doug and Carrie Heffernan, as brilliantly played by Kevin James and Leah Remini).

Ironically, Doug and Carrie’s front door was the same style of Samantha and Darrin’s front door on Bewitched, but only from the inside.

Whenever The King of Queens would display the exterior opening shots to Doug and Carrie’s house, the door was different from the interior design that was used on the show.

And in many ways, this represented the inconsistency that took place on this series over the years.   The characters of Doug and Carrie were more affectionate with other, and more realistically portrayed in the early seasons of this long-running sitcom; and later, the characters simply became caricatures (as did most of the others on the show, as well).

It just wasn’t the same.  Somehow, the showrunners on the series decided it was more fun just to make jokes, and have Doug and Carrie do and say things just to be and sound funny, instead of remaining consistent with their original and (quite likable) performances in the roles.

All that said, and as strange as it may be, there is one other TV show that has the “Samantha door” that was first displayed on Bewitched; and that show is Who’s the Boss? – the Tony Danza sitcom that ran on ABC in the 80s and early 90s.

Not only did Tony’s on-screen house feature a Samantha door, but other Bewitched-connections to the Boss are as follows:

Judith Light’s character, Angela, worked in advertising, just like Darrin (as played by Dick York and Dick Sargent) on Bewitched.

Angela referred to her feisty, red-haired mother, as played by Katherine Helmond, as “Mother!” in much the same way that Samantha referred to her feisty, red-haired mother Endora (Agnes Moorehead) on Bewitched.

And Tony’s on-screen daughter, played by Alisa Milano, was named Samantha!

Point being:  Bewitched and Who’s the Boss, while ironically similar in very small, yet significant ways, were also consistently written and likable series – with the same front door.

Certainly, these shows – like ALL television programs that are on the air for any lengthy amount of time – still had their inconsistencies over the years.  But the truly successful shows keep their inconsistencies to a minimum.

The King of Queens, although I adore the show to this day, was generally and somewhat consistently inconsistent in quality over the years, and was at times presented somewhat lazily; a happenstance that was so perfectly, if unfortunately, represented by not having the same door design featured on both the interior (Samantha-designed) and exterior (non-Samantha-door-design) shots on the show.

Whew!

So, anyway – what does all this really mean in the realm of writing for television and beyond?

There ain’t nothing wrong with being consistent – in every little way (right down to door designs!) with every endeavor, creative (TV writing) wise, or not.

It keeps everything comprehensible – for everybody.


Herbie J Pilato is a Contributing Editor to TVWriter™. You can learn more about him HERE.

 

About Herbie J Pilato

Writer, Author, Producer, Actor, Singer/Songwriter, Lover of Life

4 thoughts on “Herbie J Pilato: The “Doors” on TV – and the importance of creative consistency

  1. RobRay says:

    Loved your thoughts about TV Doors. However, even Bewitched got it wrong in one episode, entitled “HoHo the Clown” (from Season Three, I think). For some strange reason, in only a couple of scenes and not the whole episode, the set decorators had the wrong front door on the Bewitched set. We see this wrong door from both the stagebound porch and the foyer. Maybe Endora was up to her old tricks. Or knowing her fascination with doorknobs, perhaps it was Aunt Clara’s goof! See link here:

    http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.1164.com/bewitched/bloopers/season-3/092-wrong-front-door.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.1164.com/bewitched/bloopers/season-3/index.html&h=175&w=250&tbnid=e4QtKuzcyeVylM:&zoom=1&docid=SDi_0rlEPqBxDM&
    ei=XXNGVKG7EYPksATH1ILQCg&tbm=isch

    • Rob…Thank you for your kind appreciation of the article – and for your subsequent and genius observation. You, of course, are completely correct. I twitch my nose off to you!

  2. Rreed423 says:

    I think the exterior of the house in “King of Queens” is a real house. I never noticed that they didn’t bother to make the interior door match it. After a few seasons I began to really dislike Carrie (sp?) so I quit watching. Bewitched was clearly a set in and out, and probably the same studio was used for other things, so I wonder who is in charge of making sure the same set pieces are brought back each time they need them?
    Are we going to hear Herbie’s take on the idea of a “Bewitched” remake? (Let me get my earplugs in, I’m sure I will be able to hear you shouting from here.)

    • RReed – In the days of the Bewitched, networks and their partnering studios would utilize and build exterior and interior sets, as was the case with shows like Bewitched, as well as the entire line of Screen Gems programming on at the time (and shortly before): Hazel, I Dream of Jeannie, The Partridge Family, etc. However, there were also ADDITIONAL exterior facades that were utilized from a real, live neighborhood of all of these “homes,” one of which is still used today for The Middle; as well as the exterior apartment/street and “famous fountain” scenes from Friends.

      Meanwhile, I completely agree with you about Carrie on King of Queens. The entire show became too mean-spirited in the later years, and any true affection between Doug and Carrie was lost…and that is most unfortunate, because such interaction was the saving grace and charm of the show.

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