Q. Watching Sean Hayes’ new show, I am shocked that there is a laugh track. It indicates the producers have no faith in the actors or writers or that I’m not bright enough to know what’s funny.
Hayes’ show, Sean Saves the World, is done before a studio audience, which is where its laughter comes from. So is the most popular comedy on television, The Big Bang Theory.
The first TV comedy to use prerecorded yuks is believed to be The Hank McCune Show in 1950. A review in Variety at the time called those recorded laughs “an innovation. … Whether this induces a jovial mood in home viewers is still to be determined.”
Sixty-three years later, some producers think audience laughter adds to viewers’ enjoyment and will even enhance a studio audience’s reaction to suggest more hilarity, but others stay away from it. The folks making M*A*S*H, for example, resented the laugh track imposed on their show, and on DVD sets gave viewers the choice of watching without it.
Q. Did PBS cancel Call the Midwife?
The period drama, which stars Jessica Raine, will be back for its third season in spring 2014. In addition, there’s a Call the Midwife holiday special set for telecast on Dec. 29. PBS says of the special: “In 1958 East End London, the holidays are not just about the opening of presents, but also about the closing of deep wounds. Although the weather is unseasonably mild … the lives of the midwives are anything but calm.”
Q. Is it true this is the last year for Castle? We really enjoy the series and hope it continues.
An ABC rep said we will know if it’s getting another season when the network announces its schedule in May. The show is ABC’s most-watched drama, and does pretty well with viewers 18 to 49 years old, the audience prized by advertisers.
Not everything is rosy, though. Deadline.com reported in July that Nathan Fillion, who plays Richard Castle, was at odds with the show’s studio because he wants a shorter work week.
Q. Will Southland be back on TNT?
The police drama has ended after five seasons.
Send questions to TV Mailbag, Akron Beacon Journal, 44 E. Exchange St., Akron, OH 44309 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Replies cannot be guaranteed.