The Insane Death of ‘Til Death, Continued


 

Remember Todd VDW’s famous piece on the lunatic, surreal final season of ‘Til Death, where new showrunner Don Reo decided that since the show was almost totally unwatched, he should just deconstruct the show and the entire sitcom genre? Well, it turns out Don Reo himself responded in comments a few months ago, but his comment wasn’t noticed until recently. (There’s no direct link to comments on the AV Club’s site, but the comment is on page 2, time-stamped July 4, 2010.) Reo, whose résumé includes a lot of shows that have seemingly nothing in common with each other — he’s creator of Blossom, Wizards & Warriors, My Wife & Kids and The John Larroquette Show and showrunner of Action and Everybody Loves Chris among others — offers some more insights about what he was trying to do that year and mentions some story ideas he had that never made it onto the show, either because the network said no or because the show was canceled. Some excerpts:

A lot of what you saw was in our minds from the get go. Why not have a little fun since there was no way to damage the shows ratings? There were no ratings. Nobody was watching this thing.

We wrote an episode earlier that had Doug meeting Timm Sharp in the waiting room. Timm plays a failed actor who smokes a lot of dope and has never recovered from what he calls “The whole Til Death debacle.” He is now seeing Mayim because he has come to believe he is trapped in an episode of “Freaks and Geeks.” I think that one made it to a table read and died there.

We also wanted to do an episode where the wonderful Martin Mull dies during an auto-erotic asphyxiation session. We planned to do the funeral, the whole bit and then bring him back the following week and not mention the fact that he was dead. Never. Would’ve been delightful.

We did get to do some pretty cool things though. We had the legendary Ron Zimmerman in a gunfight with a midget. We had Martin in a French sailor suit being tortured by Kathleen to get him to admit that Brad had a small penis. How often do you get a chance to do such a thing?

The “Til Death”music in year four is bad on purpose. We spent a lot of time screwing up the cues to make sure they contained mistakes. It amused every musician who watched it. Chuck E Weiss is the only musician who watched it.

Strange, strange stuff, and while it’s not unheard of for a show to go completely insane when nobody’s watching (this used to happen on the WB network sitcoms in the ’90s, like Unhappily Ever After, a show whose writers were much better than the show itself and therefore decided to make the whole show about their contempt for themselves, the network and the audience), but it may not happen again for a while, unless networks start putting comedies on Friday night again and then not paying attention to them. Reo himself is currently consulting on Two and a Half Men, but given the nature of the writing credits on that show I have no idea what his contribution is.


 
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The Insane Death of ‘Til Death, Continued

  1. If Don Reo wrote an episode of Community, would my TV explode?

  2. How much of this do you think has to do with the loss of a network? With the WB and UPN, there were two lowly-rated networks that had to fill their time with something. Now there's just the one…

    Which really just reminds me how awful the WB/UPN -> CW transition worked out. I used to watch all sorts of stuff on the WB, but now nothing on the CW. Maybe I aged out of the demographic, but I think they lost a lot of the verisimilitude that the WB had in its prime, replaced with a lot of soap opera plots…

    • Of course, the verisimilitude does not extend to the WB comedies you are talking about…

  3. The first character of the title of the show is not an opening single quotation mark.