The cast of "Parks and Recreation," from left, Paul Schneider, Aziz Ansari , Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza and Chris Pratt as Andy. The comedy is among a number in recent years that have aired without a laugh track.
By Rob Owen / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Post-Gazette TV writer Rob Owen answers reader questions online every Friday in Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv. Here’s a selection of recent queries.
Q: Please ask the local TV news outlets (particularly KDKA) why they play loud, annoying, discordant racket between breaks and while displaying daily stock market results The remote is not always handy to change channels fast enough and the mute button does not always work fast enough. I have complained to KDKA but they claim it is required by their national affiliate, which makes no sense. — GERALD VIA E-MAIL
Rob: There is definitely no requirement that any TV news station use this music so I’m not sure why anyone at KDKA-TV would tell you that. Music going to and coming back from commercial is a staple of local TV newscasts going back decades. It’s simply a convention of the medium.
“There are music beds that play under teases as we go to commercial breaks and under graphic elements like stocks and lottery numbers that are not voiced over by an anchor,” said KDKA news director Anne Linaberger. “The music is not made purposefully louder.”
Q: Just an observation from a longtime Western PA TV news viewer: I finally thought of a reason why numerous other viewers inquire whether or not an on-air personality is still with a station: TV stations used to have their on-air personalities state that someone was either on-assignment or has the day/evening off. — JIM, BROOKVILLE
Rob: Good point, Jim.
Q: Why do the sitcoms have laughter after everything the actors say? It is very annoying and the laughter seems like it is inserted by the networks. The laugh always seems the same and it’s always louder than the dialogue. — BRUCE, MCDONALD
Rob: Laugh tracks have been a convention of TV since the medium’s earliest days.
Once upon a time there was a single “laugh track” for all shows. Then producers recorded the studio audience’s reaction and sweetened that with canned laughs.
Today many producers say they don’t sweeten the laughs, although that claim seems suspect. And when it comes to TV comedy, the reality is there are more comedies without laugh tracks today than ever before.
Q: What happened to "The Returned"? I really liked that show. Also, did they cancel “Damien,” and if so, why? — KEVIN VIA E-MAIL
Rob: Both shows were canceled for the reason shows are always canceled: Not enough financial upside to keep them going. Both had lousy ratings.
Q: What happened to “Chain Reaction” on GSN? They brought the show back with a new host last year and I haven't seen new episodes since. Did GSN cancel this show? — LINDA, ROBINSON
Rob: Not officially but it doesn’t sound like GSN is eager to make more.
“We produced 40 episodes in 2015 and they have all aired at least once,” explained GSN publicist Marc Grossmann. “We are continuing to offer repeats of the episodes throughout our schedule, but as far as new episodes being created, there’s nothing to announce at this time.”
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