SAFE AT HOME

The first episode of the new season is usually an exciting time for TV show fans.  Many questions abound: Has the show changed much?  Will it still be as funny this year?  What will happen?  The same questions cross the minds of those seeing the first filming of the season, only at the filming you can get a better idea as to what's really going on as far as the crew's attitude and energy.  It's great to see a group of people return for another year with as much vitality and enthusiasm as before.  Such was the case with the first episode filmed (and aired) for the sixth season!

The studio seemed much the same as last year as we entered the soundstage and were shown to our seats.  From what we could see around the partitions, there hadn't been any changes in the sets (except for new prints on the walls of the apartment).  The third stage did contain some sets, but it didn't appear they would be used this week.  The first familiar face we saw after a long summer hiatus was that of warm-up comedian Robert Lee, who proceeded to prepare the audience with the same comedic flair we've come to enjoy each week.  He had to keep the energy going for a while, since the show was a little late getting started.  The cast finally made their curtain call at 7:30 and the show was at last underway.

The first scene filmed in the apartment went very well.  Melanie Wilson broke into laughter after Balki's line "Cousin Larry's right," and the entire cast followed suit.  It didn't take very long for them to recover from this giggle fit, and they performed the entire scene straight through.  They did a few pick ups after that, but were finished pretty quickly.  One very funny thing happened when they were going to start again, and Bronson couldn't remember if the stereo chair was supposed to be on or off from the point where they were restarting.  "Is the chair on?" he asked director Rich Correll.  "No, I just turned it off," Mark replied, just to throw everyone off.  It did!

In the next scene, Balki started to describe a scene of a burglar breaking into their apartment.  He crosses to the window and says, "The window opens . . . ," and he did indeed open the window, but it proceeded to fall shut again.  " . . . opens . . . and closes!"  When they retook the scene, they just left the window closed.

After the scene was filmed, Bronson munched down some grapes as the set people tried to fix the window.  It came time to film the golf bag being pulled up in the air by the Myposian trap.  The first time they took the shot, the men in the rafters in charge of pulling up the bag must have had a rush of adrenaline, because the bag just shot straight up into the rafters and disappeared!  The look of shock on Bronson's face was priceless!  What must have been especially concerning for Mark was the fact that he was due to be pulled up next!  But the audience just laughed themselves sick over the amazing, rocketing golf bag!  The second time they pulled the golf bag up it was fine.

The studio audience caught a blooper in the making as the scene came to  conclusion.  The cousins left the apartment after the golf bag demonstration, leaving the golf bag dangling.  When they came back in the next scene, the apartment had been robbed and the trap was reset.  Had the robbers reset the trap?  The editors got around this problem by cutting the former scene short and not showing them leave the apartment.  However, to do so, they had to cut a cute sight gag.  As the cousins are about to leave, Larry is going to open the closet to get their jackets, and Balki stops him, then opens the door and warns him to duck.  As they duck, a boxing glove pops out of the closet just above their heads!

Another short part was cut when the cousins walk into the apartment and see it's been robbed.  They both dash to their rooms and then come back.  Larry complains about several stolen items, but Balki comments that the robbers didn't seem to touch anything in his room.  During the filming of this, Mark came racing out of the bedroom and his foot slipped on some of the loose papers lying on the floor and he careened into and over the couch!

Mark was wearing a harness under his clothes that came down through his pants leg.  He was attached to the rope to be pulled upwards into the trap.  The first time they filmed it, the men in the rafters (with the golf bag apparently still on their minds) pulled him up too slowly.  They had to reshoot it, and the second time they pulled him up very fast, but he ended up being too high for the scene to work.  The third time was the charm, and they could finally let Mark down.

There was a break as the vault-like door was placed on the set and the control panel was placed on the wall.  The next scene went very smoothly with few mistakes.  During a break, Bronson looked up to the audience and asked "Are you as hot as I am?"  The audience overwhelmingly replied "Yes!"  Bronson exclaimed, "God Almighty, don't we have air conditioning in here?"  During the next take, the man playing the security installer messed up part of his speech, and Bronson jokingly stared at him shock.

There was a very long break as the set was filled with a thick fog made out of a vegetable oil substance.  It filled the entire apartment, then started spreading up into the audience stands.  It looked like we were all sitting in a fogbank!  Robert continued to entertain us as we patiently waited for the fog to dissipate enough to shoot through but still have enough in the air to make the lasers show up.

The fog finally dissipated to the right level and the cast and crew returned.  Several men were positioned around the apartment with mirrors to reflect the laser beams in the right direction as they swept across the apartment.  The scene was filmed a few times with surprisingly few mistakes.  But when Mark went to throw the toaster against the window, the reinforced glass that was to make it bounce off didn't prevent the window from getting cracked.  They had to replace the window before starting again.  Before the chair was thrown through, the reinforced glass was taken off.  The only other problem to come up after that was a bad film magazine in one of the cameras that needed to be replaced.

The toaster being thrown through the window was reshot later with another person doing the tossing.  The last scene of the show was filmed without any trouble, and by 10:50 they were finished.

As is their custom, the cast came out to answer questions from the audience.  One person asked Mark if he really liked Peter Pan peanut butter.  Mark explained that when you are a struggling actor with little food budget you do tend to eat a lot of peanut butter, and yes, he did eat it.  A little kid asked the cast if they were anything like their characters.  The classic answer came from Rebeca Arthur, who replied (a la Mary Anne) "I don't know.  I look like her!"

It was a great start to what look like a great season!

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