Episode #153

Terms of Endearment is an episode focusing on the movie of the same name, as part of the Podcast News miniseries covering the films of James L. Brooks. Posted 18 March 2018.

Summary

Valorie Curry, Griffin's co-star on The Tick, has never listened to Blank Check before. So of course Griffin immediately springs to action on every recurring feature and inside joke and bit he can think of - but she must be used to rolling with that kind of behavior on set.

A new miniseries! Terms of Endearment! Female character-centric! Gigantic hit right out of the gate! Valorie was bowled over by Debra Winger's performance and by Brooks' talent for writing showstopping lines. It's a cancer movie, and that caused David to avoid the movie for a long time... but it turns out that it's not structured the way a stereotypical cancer movie weepie is. It's more like Boyhood or something - stories of entire lives.

And the men in this film are... Jeff Daniels is a golden retriever who messes on the rug, Danny Devito is a hairy egg, and Jack Nicholson is, well, an asshole.

#TheTwoFriends and Ben and Valorie are surprised by the way this movie is shot - it's almost like a play, and not like their idea of what a sitcom guy (which of course was Brooks' milieu) would do. Lots of long takes, shots with the actors shown working off of each other. But... I feel like no one on mic has seen "Taxi" recently, because that's what that show did all the time. It's a big open set in the taxi dispatching garage, with a great ensemble cast, so it lent itself to a more proscenium wide shot type of feel. As Brooks got farther away from the day-to-day of live-action television shows he started relying more on closeups in his films, to his detriment.

Anyway... this is a PG movie but the sexual situations committed to film are amazing, to the point where everyone in the studio is floored - because no comedy today would ever try to get away with doing those scenes. Did studios and censors just not have any idea what to make of female sexuality at the time? Meanwhile, the Nicholson role was originally written for Burt Reynolds. Sit with that for a second. What would their careers have looked like had they been switched here? Debra Winger was reputedly working through addiction at the time, and John Lithgow was a last-second replacement in his part - what crazy head games was Brooks playing behind the scenes of this movie? The death of Debra Winger's character is somehow a surprise when it happens - how did Brooks pull that off? The untelegraphed time jumps in the movie - are they genius or jarring? Why the hell is there a 1996 sequel to this movie?

Milestones and Ephemera

  • the secret ingredient of so many directors' great first movies: Polly Platt
  • audience praise for Griffin's Method weight gain for his role on The Tick: nonexistent
  • Warren Beatty as Dirk Diggler: hooboy
  • Griffin's grandmother: too young to be a grandmother, call her 'manu' (français nonsense for 'young and beautiful'). Also she's a criminal.
  • Bob Kerrey: 5 Comedy Points
  • "Did... did you just call it Tətanic?"
  • Not wangs, not dongs, but 'ding-dangs'
  • A big batch of Burger Reports from the hotline, plus from Valorie!

Sponsors

Jack Nicholson calls Griffin on his Nokia 5110 workphone somehow, to complain about his thinning hair. Griffin yells over the speakerphone, but the more civil David comes to the rescue with news about Hims, which works with doctors to connect you with medical-grade solutions for all sorts of male-oriented concerns like that - but without you having to make a time-consuming or awkward appointment to actually go to a doctor's office. Maybe it can even be used to treat baldness... downstairs? I dunno, but anyway, listeners can get a trial month for just $5. forhims.com/check.

Ding-dong - the red kid from the board game Don't Wake Daddy tiptoes in. David, roll the dice! He whispers that his dad needs better sleep so he doesn't have to stay so quiet. Casper makes great mattresses - try them out, kid! 100 night risk-free trial, and listeners can get $50 off, casper.com/check. Also, he tells Valorie he's a big fan of her work on "The Following."


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