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Published September 22, 2008

As I sit here and write this production blog, I realize that if someone would take the time and read all of these things back to back (I struggle to believe that anyone might give it a try, but hey, knock yourself out), it would take that person longer than if he or she decided to watch every episode of Franks and Beans in existence.   This thinking is probably the reason for the very creation of episode 8.1, “Commentary on You’ll Never See It Coming”.

Picture this scene: Tropical Storm/Hurricane Hanna is quickly barreling down on Wilmington, North Carolina, and the townspeople are worried enough that the classes I was scheduled to teach that day are canceled.  Seeing this as an opportunity to catch up on some other things, I take my car in to have two of the tires replaced – as much out of a good car care mentality as it is the desire to be able to outdrive a hurricane if necessary.  As I live probably one even mile from the shop, I drop the car off and walk home, and a couple hours later I leave to retrace my steps and pick up my newly treaded automobile.  On the way there, while facing gusting winds and stinging rain, my thoughts turn – as always – to Franks and Beans.

A few days earlier I had written a blog for the episode “Milkshake”, in which I talked about putting together a theoretical DVD release for the show.  I’m a bit picky when it comes to movies and shows being released on DVD – I’ll purposely put off buying a movie if I think there will be a special edition release a few months down the road, because even if I don’t watch many of the special features (depending on what it is), I at least want them to BE there.  I hate it when TV shows are released and there are just the episodes.  Where’re the commentaries?  The ‘behind-the-scenes’ featurettes?  The making of an episode?  The awkward and often not funny blooper reel?  I’m not asking for much – just an immersion into a fictional world that I’m probably not all that excited about in the first place.

I decided right there, as I crossed through the parking lot of some hobo cuisine restaurant, that if Franks and Beans ever would create a DVD for sale, I’d make sure that it was stocked with all of the extra features that could fit on the disc.  That’d start with commentaries on all of the episodes – but then I started thinking – what the hell would we talk about that would impart any kind of insight?  “Message Board” might be pushing seven minutes, sure, and a few others are around three minutes in length, but what about the rest of them?  What about “You’ll Never See It Coming”, which clocks in at a miniscule 30 seconds?  We’d have enough time, I thought, to introduce ourselves (for Larry and I would always offer joint commentary), cite the episode title, and then we’d be out of time.  There’d be no time to talk about anything!  It’d be the most worthless commentary ever!

And thus, the episode you see before you was born.

Although the above was enough justification to create our commentary, our newest addendum was a child of expediency.  As with the episode “iChat”, Larry and I were faced with living hundreds of miles apart and running on our stock of reserve episodes from my end-of-the-summer trip home.  As any long hiatus can never be good for viewership, we were once again forced to improvise and rely on technology to help us bridge the physical gap.  We knew that we didn’t want to rehash the past with another iChat-themed episode (not yet, anyway…okay, don’t hold me to this), so the commentary idea made sense.

To actually make the episode, Larry and I discussed the logistics of it together through the aforementioned video chat.  The most difficult thing was allowing for the inevitable transmission delay, but we also had to figure out how to keep the other from showing up on our own audio source – if you could hear Larry in the background of my recording and me in the background of Larry’s recording, it would be a disaster to try and clean up in post.  As it was, creating two audio tracks and lining them up during the editing process probably worked out better than either of us could have imagined.

I recorded my lines on the “Garage Band” program that came with my Macbook – it’s one of those programs that looks so cool but you can never figure out what to do with it – and Larry went with the old reliable “Sound Recorder” program on his PC.  Aside from the fact that Larry seems to be eating his microphone at one point, the audio turned out clear enough for us to use.  Success!

The reason why I think “Commentary of You’ll Never See It Coming” works so well, if you’ll agree that it works at all, is that we get not one but two opportunities to run out of time.  I begin to talk about wearing one of Larry’s spare shirts and then, all of a sudden, we’re out of time.  Being able to try – and fail – to regroup shortly after helps to accentuate the chaos that we tried to portray: “Oh no!  We didn’t accomplish ANYTHING!”  Larry’s “Aw, man!” really puts the finishing touches on what I think was an irreverent but fun episode.  A nice change of pace!

As you may have noticed, there is no original “No!” ending on this episode, and that is by design.  The way I look at it, it’s obvious that we put this together as a joke, but I’m still trying to get across the idea that if we would actually make ‘real’ commentaries for this show, this is what would happen.  Whether that works or not in the big scheme of things, I don’t know…but I have my hopes.

That wraps us up for this week, and takes us to the end of our stash of new Franks and Beans episodes.  When can you get your next fix?  Oh, it’ll happen, but I honestly don’t have a date to pass along.  In the meantime, I’m going to try and write production blogs for each of the remaining three episodes, culminating with our first, “High School”, and there’ll be a special one thrown in there where we introduce Larry’s own creation – Franks and Beans action figures!  Seriously, they’re great.  Keep checking back for updates, and thanks for watching!  Everyone involved with this (basically Larry and me) really appreciates it.

Take care!

                       
- Jeff M.

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