The original concept of the series was that each episode took place in real time. A timer on the corner of the screen counted down from 22 minutes, pausing in the middle for one commercial break. The timer was discontinued after a few episodes. For the second season, the conceit was abandoned altogether in favor of a more conventional time structure, perhaps due to a combination of network pressure and the difficulties in planning and filming the action so that it appears to unfold in real time. See more »
I recorded the premiere of "Watching Ellie" last night to view after watching my other standard Tuesday night shows. I'm so glad I did, because this show is totally worth watching.
The show's use of real time action is not a not a new concept to television (as seen on HBO and Showtime), but it is rather new to advertiser supported networks like NBC. The concept of using real time action is a breath of fresh air in the land of the half hour sitcom, with their story lines frequently interupted by commercials. The actual length of a 'half-hour' sitcom is twenty-two minutes. "Watching Ellie" broke this into two halves, with only on stop for commercials in the middle. I noticed, thankfully, that there was no laugh track used (an overused concept).
The ability of the actors to accurately portray what is really going on in a twenty-two minute span obviously gives it a sense of real time passing, rather than a beginning-middle-end storyline where everything falls into place perfectly. Now, don't get me wrong, I love my sitcoms. I am frequently glued to my TV in the evenings. But it is nice to see something new every once in a while.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays Ellie, a single lounge singer who happens to be sleeping with the married guitarist of her backup band. So far, the show seem to be about watching her everyday life as a lounge singer.
Watching this show reminded me of an episode of "Mad About You" that broached this same concept. The story was about Jamie and Paul as they were trying to put their little Mabel to sleep with out hovering over her. The whole episode was shot in one take, with no commercial interuptions.
I really hope this show makes it. I am looking forward to future episodes.
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