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September 08, 2008
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There aren’t very many episodes of Franks and Beans that have anything that resembles a plot.  I realize this, and I make no apology for it.  Okay, maybe a small apology, but I show no remorse in any case.  We started out so well, too – “High School” opened the series with hopes of coherent plot points to come, and “Message Board”, the seven-minute Hindenburg of a joke, gave us another glimpse, but in all likelihood, if you’d close your eyes and pick an episode to watch at random (this is fun to do at parties), you’d end up watching something that contained one joke and the buildup to it (see: “The Change”, “You’ll Never See It Coming”, “Milkshake”, etc.).  Our monumental seventeenth episode, “Stalker”, breaks the trend and has something loosely resembling a plot.  How long until we can say this again?  Don’t hold your breath.

We start off this episode with a few jokes that are held a little close to the vest, so to speak.  If you’ve ever wondered if our characters on this show were just roles that we play, your question was answered the minute you played “Stalker” and saw Larry sitting down to get his blogging fix.  You see, Larry hates blogging, just as he hates blogs in general.  There is a long, sordid story behind this that we will not get into here, but trust me, it’s true.  Larry won’t even write the Franks and Beans blog, and he’s ON the damn show!  So hey, there you go – inside information on a joke that probably only Larry and I find funny.

We also manage to squeeze a nod in to one of our previous episodes, the aforementioned “Message Board”.  In it, Larry comments that I have been spending too much time at his house, a point soon exemplified when I receive my own mail courtesy of the character known as “Larry’s Mom”.  So my head twist in this current episode when Larry gets a mail call of his own is not, in fact, a nervous twitch or the onset of some terrible disease, but my own silent recognition that, somewhere out there, I have been in this situation before.

We shot the “Larry opens his letter and accuses Jeff” scene a few different times, and to be honest, I thought that one of the later takes might have been a better choice to make the final cut (as we tend to step on each other’s lines a bit in this take).  But Larry is a strict and belligerent editor so I bow to his will.  One benefit of keeping this particular try is that I get to utter one of my best lines in the series: “Pffft.”  And to think – this was IMPROVISATIONAL!  My abilities know no limits!!

The effect of the flour (not actually anthrax) puffing outwardly from the curiously already-opened envelope is a real treat, in that Larry added the entire thing in post.  The real test of an effect is how much it stands out once you see the end product, and I can honestly say that I didn’t realize that it was a special effect until Larry pointed it out to me.  I just thought we got really lucky with the way the room was lit or something ridiculous like that, but to know that it was all added in later was, I thought, very impressive.

We find ourselves joined in this episode not only by another cameo from the character known as “Larry’s Mom”, but also from our mysterious stalker.  Just who is behind the mask I will not say, other than by saying that it is our old friend and now regular extra “Hardcore Mark”.  A different character of course, but that is the nature of extras, and I should know, because I am totally on “One Tree Hill” this season as just that (an extra, not a stalker.  Though if they wanted me to play that, I probably would if I had my motivation set early on in the shooting).  It seems that Larry had this entire outfit just lying around the house, so we decided to put it to good use, and Mark does not disappoint in his two actions: standing very still and dancing like a fool.

So now we are back to our popular themes of violence and music.  I honestly did not plan to have so many episodes with either or both in a row, but it seems that we have to live with what we’re given, and you, loyal viewer/blog reader are no different.  Embrace this repetition of themes!  Learn to love the calming familiarity!  And stop walking around like you’re so much better than everyone else!  Man!

But the fact remains, there is a discernable pattern here, and I hope that it isn’t a distraction.  If it is…well, I really do apologize.  I do strive to make this show, as cut-rate and unprofessional as it is, funny to at least a select few.  That’s always been the goal, to make something that we can laugh at, and I hope that we’re doing an okay job.

Our “No!” ending this time around harkens back to a time when our endings were very simple and just featured Larry opening a door and uttering a one-word line.  The plan was to make Larry pop up from below the frame, like he was, say, riding an elevator to some fictional second floor.  You know, like how people walk behind couches like there’s some magical invisible escalator back there?  “Oh ho!  Next floor, laundry!”  As it is, it kind of looks like Larry is standing up from just below the camera lens, which is when I realized: pretending to be on an elevator for laughs is HARD!  But hopefully everyone got the inference, anyway.  If not, well, there’s always next week.  There’s ALWAYS next week…that’s something I try to think about often when it comes to this show.

Hmm, is that it?  Yes, I suppose it is.  If I missed something, feel free to let me know, because, heck, it’s always great to hear from people who have watched the show.  If you have an opinion, both Larry and I would love to hear it!

Larry and I have just finished putting together another episode, so I’m particularly excited about our little project right now.  Today’s work will air in two weeks, but in the meantime, we have next week’s episode to look forward to, and I absolutely mean it when I say that I’m looking forward to it.  Not only will I be through with another week of school, but there will be yet another episode of Franks and Beans online – and not just any episode, but one that I feel might be our best ever.  We’ve done five “regular” episodes, and now it’s time for “How To” (if you understand our scheduling of episodes, you know what I mean by this)!  I really do think that it’s one of the funniest pieces we’ve made, so I hope you share just a little bit in my anticipation.  Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next week!


- Jeff M.

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