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Old 06-09-2016, 01:12 AM   #1
LittleRickyII
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Default The Cunningham's House Evolution

During the second season, there was an episode shot in multi-camera technique in front of a studio audience that was used as a test for filming before an audience. The set of the Cunningham house used in that episode looked very much like the original set used for the single camera episodes sans studio audience. But when the show's production went full time to being shot in front of a studio audience, starting in Season 3, the set was changed radically: the front door went from being on the left side of the fireplace to the right side; the fireplace when from being on the right of the staircase to the left side; the dining room vanished; the kitchen went from being separated from the living room to being right next to the living room, and totally open with no wall in between; and the front door went from having the doorknob on the left side of the door to the doorknob being on the right side of the door. In short, it did not look like the same house. Why did they do this? Why didn't they use the same set that was used in the S2 episode shot in front of an audience? That set looked like the original one, and it still looked like a real house. The set from S3-S10 just looked like a fake stage set; it was not realistic looking at all.
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Old 06-09-2016, 02:47 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleRickyII
During the second season, there was an episode shot in multi-camera technique in front of a studio audience that was used as a test for filming before an audience. The set of the Cunningham house used in that episode looked very much like the original set used for the single camera episodes sans studio audience. But when the show's production went full time to being shot in front of a studio audience, starting in Season 3, the set was changed radically: the front door went from being on the left side of the fireplace to the right side; the fireplace when from being on the right of the staircase to the left side; the dining room vanished; the kitchen went from being separated from the living room to being right next to the living room, and totally open with no wall in between; and the front door went from having the doorknob on the left side of the door to the doorknob being on the right side of the door. In short, it did not look like the same house. Why did they do this? Why didn't they use the same set that was used in the S2 episode shot in front of an audience? That set looked like the original one, and it still looked like a real house. The set from S3-S10 just looked like a fake stage set; it was not realistic looking at all.


Good question!

My guess is that, with studio audience bleachers, that meant that, instead of being able to shoot episodes with a few permanent sets and many different shots of various locales within the Paramount lot, they had to restrict the shooting space to two or three permanent sets (Cunningham House and Arnold's) and another set that could be dressed up as other locales at a moment's notice- and STILL have the studio audience be able to watch all the above without having to leave their seats! Therefore, this likely meant that they had to pare down the permanent sets a GREAT deal in terms of space so the Cunningham House and Arnold's wound up FAR smaller than they'd been originally shown in Seasons One and Two.

IMO, the whole studio audience deal ruined the show for a great many reasons (not the least of which having the performers suddenly have to SHOUT all their lines instead of converse) but if that's what they wanted, I guess they felt sacrificing the Cunningham House Set size was worth it.
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Old 06-09-2016, 09:42 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PracTz
Good question!

My guess is that, with studio audience bleachers, that meant that, instead of being able to shoot episodes with a few permanent sets and many different shots of various locales within the Paramount lot, they had to restrict the shooting space to two or three permanent sets (Cunningham House and Arnold's) and another set that could be dressed up as other locales at a moment's notice- and STILL have the studio audience be able to watch all the above without having to leave their seats! Therefore, this likely meant that they had to pare down the permanent sets a GREAT deal in terms of space so the Cunningham House and Arnold's wound up FAR smaller than they'd been originally shown in Seasons One and Two.

IMO, the whole studio audience deal ruined the show for a great many reasons (not the least of which having the performers suddenly have to SHOUT all their lines instead of converse) but if that's what they wanted, I guess they felt sacrificing the Cunningham House Set size was worth it.

Thanks for your reply. What you're suggesting makes sense. It's a shame, though, that they ended up with this totally fake-looking house. Many years ago, I was in the studio audience for an episode of Empty Nest. The regular set took up all the space in front of the bleachers. But there was a scene that took place in another locale. They shot it on an adjoining stage that was within earshot, but not visible from the bleachers. But there were monitors above that still allowed us to see everything that was going on on the other stage. That worked pretty well. It's too bad they didn't do something similar on Happy Days for those instances, and keep the realistic house.

I TOTALLY agree with you that having the studio audience ruined Happy Days. I was a kid when the show originally aired, and I never missed an episode. But kids were the target audience. As an adult, I find the show from S3 onward pretty unbearable. But I love the first two seasons. I was anxiously awaiting for MeTV to start running these S1 and S2 episodes, which they have been doing for a little over a month. And I've been watching every night. But when they get to S3 in a few weeks, I will be tuning out once again.

Yes, screaming the dialogue is very annoying and destroys any sense of reality in the characters. But besides that, hearing all those giddy teenage girls scream whenever Henry Winkler or Scott Baio appear on the stage is too much for me. The actors, the audience, everything about the show is just loud. And the constant use of catch phrases -- Bucko!, Sit on it! -- and making Fonzie the focus and turning him into Superman, all just added to the fakeness of the show. They were clearly trying to make it appeal to kids, but I'm not a kid anymore. The first two seasons, the show was real and it was warm, and it felt like you were really being transported back to the '50s. But all those elements that gave the show its early charm were destroyed. Thanks a lot for that, Fred Silverman!
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Old 06-09-2016, 09:59 PM   #4
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I always found that kind of odd. You know there is a huge blooper that I felt was odd the times I saw it but not anymore. It's the episode when they flashed back to when Richie met Fonzie. Shouldn't the house have been like the one in season 1and 2? It's not. After all, when HD started, the house was the old house and Richie had already met Fonzie.

I liked HD with the audience until they graduated from High School. It wasn't as good afterwords. But I do like the first two seasons of the show. No audience but it had that, quaintness, I guess, you can say about it.
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Old 06-09-2016, 10:15 PM   #5
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I was just thinking that with the elimination of the Cunningham dining room, there would be little possibility of a Thanksgiving episode anymore -- at least not one taking place at their house. That's just one example of how things must have become quite restrictive for the writers in some ways.
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Old 06-10-2016, 11:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mets82
I always found that kind of odd. You know there is a huge blooper that I felt was odd the times I saw it but not anymore. It's the episode when they flashed back to when Richie met Fonzie. Shouldn't the house have been like the one in season 1and 2? It's not. After all, when HD started, the house was the old house and Richie had already met Fonzie.

There was no "old" house. It's supposed to be the same house, even though it got radically reconfigured when they went before the live audience.
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Old 06-10-2016, 11:16 PM   #7
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I just noticed that in the S2 live audience "pilot" episode, that set also eliminated the dining room, just like the S3-S10 set. And there's a dinner scene in the episode where the dining room table is in the living room, just like the later set. The link below is the episode. And at 9:19, when Richie opens the door and walks into the kitchen you can see the living room directly behind him. There is no dining room!

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x47c0l3

But other than the dining room elimination, this set looks almost like the original single camera set. So that takes me back again to my original question: Why didn't they stick with this set, rather than switching around the front door and fireplace, and taking away the intimacy and realness of the other set?

Last edited by LittleRickyII : 06-10-2016 at 11:51 PM.
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Old 06-28-2016, 07:38 PM   #8
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Which season 2 episode was that?
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Old 06-28-2016, 11:01 PM   #9
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"Fonzie's Getting Married"
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Old 06-29-2016, 07:19 PM   #10
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I'll have to check that one out now- see how different it looks.
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