Herbie J Pilato: If only they went steady with the camera – but stopped talking to it!

by Herbie J Pilato

Although I am classic TV-oriented, and relatively “old-school” in my mind set of how I believe television shows should be presented and produced, I still have my favorites in the new, contemporary programming of today.

Namely, Modern Family and The Middle, both of which ABC (my favorite network in history) just so happens to broadcast on Wednesday nights.

Although both series are top-notch on all levels (writing, directing, acting, etc.), of course I do have my issues with them.


First up – Modern Family:

Just who exactly are all those people in that family talking to when they look into the camera?  For what documentary are these characters giving interviews?  How long is this “documentary” supposed to go on – and when will it be broadcast?

None of it seems to make any sense (thank you, very much, The Office).

And because of this documentary-style presentation, of course, there has to be the manic, one-camera “shaky-effect.”  God forbid, any new half-hour show (or hour series, for that matter) actually allows the camera to stay on its actors for any lengthy period of time, before it jags to the left and right; and gears up and down.

It’s okay, Mr. Director and Mr. Cameraman – we won’t turn the channel if your show is down well.  Honest.  You don’t have to keep mangling the camera angles just to keep us interested.


Second up – The Middle:

Just exactly who the heck is Patricia Heaton’s Frankie Heck talking to during her narrative throughout the show?  Is she a writer like Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City?  Did I miss something from the pilot, where all of that was explained?  At least the narrative effect (from the kids POV) is logical on How I Met Your Mother (which is NOT one of my favorite shows; and is most likely one of the most over-rated, creatively and Nielson-rise, shows on the air).

So, here’s the deal:  we all want to be innovative in all our creations.

But for the Love of Heaven, please make things logical.  Please give a reason why certain things transpire; why particular choices are made, from a production, presentation or character and story development standpoint.

Although they’re funny, the characters on The Middle are not characters, but rather caricatures.  They is no true interaction between them.  It’s as if they’re all doing stand-up material, walking in and out of their scenes, one at a time.

However, at the end of each Middle episode, Frankie’s entire brood finally seems relatable.  They stop acting like caricatures, and behave more like actual people, as they assess their activity from the previous moments of that particular segment.  And it’s wonderful.

But it’s like there is two different set of people:  the caricatures for the majority of the episode’s length – and then the characters finally show up at the end – and interact and talk like believable individuals.

If only they did the latter throughout the entire 30 minutes!

And if only their Wednesday co-harts on Modern Family went steady with the camera – and stopped talking to it.

In both cases, I’d be in Heaven, instead of praying to it for things to change.

Author: Herbie J Pilato

Writer, Author, Producer, Actor, Singer/Songwriter, Lover of Life