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September 02, 2008
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If you’ve been watching Franks and Beans for a while, you might pick up on the fact that there are certain themes present in pretty much every episode.  Our sweet sixteenth episode, “Milkshake”, brings two of those into the forefront: music and violence.  Reading this, you might ask yourself, “But Franks and Beans, isn’t music and violence a reflection of the popular culture that is so pervasive in our society?”  To which we so present-mindedly reply, why yes, Franks and Beans is a terrific social commentary, thank you for noticing!  You might look at this and comment further, “That’s not really what I was getting at…”, but by that time, both Larry and I will have moved on to something much more pressing.  But thanks for your concern!

As a matter of fact, our newest episode does tend to follow along the lines of earlier ones – “Perfect” springs to mind.  What we’re trying to do, consciously or not, is give this show a certain feel to it that viewers can relate with.  We want you, our audience, to see something completely unrelated in your day-to-day lives and say “hey, that reminds me of Franks and Beans.”  Well, that and we do tend to have a list of things that we find funny, and we do go back to that particular well every once in a while.  If nothing else, we try to put new twists on familiar themes.  Does it work all the time?  I guess you’ll have to tell us.

The premise of this episode is fairly simple, and it came about because I had recently bought a new iPod.  The iPod in this episode is Larry’s, because he already happened to have “Milkshake Song” loaded up and ready to go, but the idea is mine.  MINE!!  Very simply, I think the song in question is funny, though unintentionally so.  Just the thought of someone’s milkshake bringing boys to their yard is amusing, and seeing it featured in the movie “Dodgeball” (one of the few Ben Stiller movies I enjoy) makes me think that others get this not-so-subtle humor, too.  Adding this to the fact that I apparently like to sing with zeal on camera, the kick to this episode was born.  All it was missing was an appearance by another Franks and Beans favorite – the threat of murder – and we were all set.

The scene takes place outside not because we were looking for a change of scenery, per se, but more because we’re dealing with very shiny cutlery items – items which would probably not do so well if they were dropped inside as they are at the end of this little skit.  It probably worked out for the best, though – even thought the table in the middle of the yard looks kind of out of place, there’s room for Larry to maneuver and find cover in the shape of a well-placed tree.

The real story behind this episode comes from the choice of music.  By this I don’t mean the choice to sing the song about a milkshake (or is the milkshake a metaphor?), because I don’t know if the episode works (if indeed it does) with anything else.  No, I’m talking about the decision to play the music over top of my singing – this really gave Larry and me as well as a few confidants fits.  The original plan was to have no music whatsoever – just as you’d hear it if indeed you were there while we were filming.  It seemed more natural, more realistic, but with Franks and Beans, that doesn’t necessarily mean it would be better.

Larry took the time to edit this episode both with and without the music overlay, and we both fretted about which version was better.  The version with the music syncs up so nicely with what I’m singing that it would have been a shame to toss it out, and I’m still impressed at how this particular duet looks as a finished product.  This is completely due to the fact that I have the song piped through my earphones, but I like to take credit for a job well done nonetheless.  I mean, it’s not like I know the song word for word by listening to it over and over incessantly until it bore its way into my head…that would be silly.  But no, if my words didn’t match what was in the song, this wouldn’t have mattered at all.  But since they did, and because I feel like I have a security blanket being draped over me when I’m accompanied by outside music, I soon changed my mind and Larry, I think, went along with my suggestion because he honestly couldn’t decide.

We did let our longtime fan and occasional extra “Hardcore Mark” get a sneak peek at this episode to consider another outside opinion in the debate, and he made an interesting suggestion – he proposed that we play the music only when you see me: that is, when we had solo shots of Larry (knife gleaming with the beautiful special effect-ing of Larry), all you’d hear would be my singing.  When I was in the shot as well, the music would be playing, denoting some sort of audience awareness.  This suggestion was not only interesting, it suggested a higher form of thinking, a level of consciousness for the episode that had never been reached before – a kind of prescience that would bring our program to new heights of understanding.  But since we don’t take ideas from fans, we immediately dropped the idea and just slapped the music over top of all of it.  Take that, viewer suggestions!

What this debate now offers us is a chance to build the extra features on our fictional Franks and Beans mega-sensational DVD release.  I often think about what it’d be like to work on something of the sort, because that would mean that Franks and Beans would be at least somewhat successful and profitable to the extent that it need be.  Episode sixteen would allow us a great special feature – the “naked” version of the episode would be right in there with the musical one.  You could put the single-disc release in your player and rejoice because of all of the extra content you’d be getting for your hard-earned dollar.  We’d probably also throw in a bunch of commentaries (REAL commentaries) and some kind of behind-the-scenes featurette (ooh!  And animated menus!) as well, and all would be right with the world.

Oh, one can dream.

Our “next time” ending with this episode makes for an interesting tale just because of how seamless the editing job was.  While Larry has the size and weight advantage over me, I come back with two of my own – I am light on my feet (thus being able to strike quickly, without notice) and I have a lower voice range.  Because of this trait, I thought it’d be funny to have Larry burst in the doorway as he always does, but instead of his voice, we’d have mine superimposed.  I had a Godzilla-style voice over running through my head, where things wouldn’t quite match up, but in seeing the final product for the first time I was astounded by Larry’s new, deeper, operatic stylings.  It didn’t connect that this was actually my voice being overlaid!  Larry, I think you’ll agree, did a wonderful job synching things up – it was almost too good, in fact, that if people don’t watch closely they might not realize what is actually happening.  What I want to do with this show is make something that I find funny, so I suppose that as long as I get the joke it’s fine, but…still, it’s worth pointing out, I hope.

 

Well, that’s it for this week.  I really think that the next two episodes (we have two left on our five week run) are some of our best yet, so get ready for them.  Episode 17 features death threats and music, what a concept!  Next up – “Stalker”!

See you then!


- Jeff M.

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