The Big Bang Trip

So on Tuesday this week I worked half a day because I went to Hollywood to watch a live taping of The Big Bang Theory.

I left work about noon, but our plans had changed an I knew we would not be leaving La Jolla where I work any sooner than 1:30, so I took  along lunch at a near by strip club. No, not that kind of strip club. It’s a steak house called The La Jolla Strip Club. It’s a vodka bar and steak house. I had a really bug burger and some tasty fries.

It was shortly after two before we left La Jolla, me, My sweetie-wife, Fish and a friend. It was much later than I had hoped for a departure and I was nervous this would end badly. They give away more tickets than they have seats and it’s a first-come first-serve basis.

Anyway the traffic up wasn’t too bad and we made the trip is just over three hours. That was lucky as we arrived about 5:10 – 5:15 and according to the tickets had to be no later than 5:30. We got checked in, our tickets numbered and our hands stamped and sat on benches to wait with the rest of the audience. After a wait they took most of the people waiting across the street to WB studios and the sound stage leaving the rest of us to wait. It seems that at that moment the studio was full and we were now on a stand-by status. The delay in San Diego was working against us and I could tell that Fish was a bit angry. What were waiting on was to see if the reserved seats for family and friends of cast and crew were going to be required; if so we were out of luck, if not we might get in.

They came and collected another batch of people and the four of us started the process of being counted. I was terribly afraid that we were going to be told that they couldn’t fit in our entire group. Fortune smiled and we all got in.

We crossed the street and walked into WB studios. The sound stage for Big bang, number 25, was on the far side of the studio and we got to cross the whole lot. I don’t know about anyone else, but I really liked that. Fortune smiled again and they were able to find four seats together for us.

They were playing an earlier episode on the monitors to warm the audience up. We got to see about three quarters of it I think, but it was one I had never seen so I do not really know. Funny thing – the monitors were high-def, widescreen monitors, but they were CRTs. How queer.

Now, Fortune seemed to tease us. We were seated on the far right side of the stage, not great seats, and directly in front of us were three Chinese girls, all very loud and very excited. One dressed in red kept popping up and standing and blocking my view and Fish’s. Fish was ready to start kicking when the MC started entertaining the audience and the girls settled down.

Now Hollywood is a lot like the military: it’s mainly hurry-up and wait work. There is a lot of time when nothing appears to be happening on the stage and an audience would normally get bored. What TV shows do is have a MC to play games, give out out treats, and tell jokes to keep the audience entertained. Ours was pretty good and it turned out the Chinese girl in front of us was a PhD student in physics and quite a character. Our MC got a lot of good material working with her.

I ignored the MC a lot of the time and watched the stage particularly when they weren’t taping. I was fascinated by watching the crew and actors work. Jim Parsons struck me as a very studious actor. He had his script out and seemed to be making right up to the start of the evening’s work.

The show is shot in sequence, so the first scene is shot first and the next and so on. This I am sure helps the audience follow the story when a shot may be repeated several times until the take is just the one the director wanted. Actually there were very few flubbed lines or such and most of the scenes were allowed to play out to a natural break point, quite unlike feature film shooting. I was surprised how much alteration would occur to the text even at this late stage. One scene I think had a joke that didn’t work as well as they had hoped and they re-wrote it in the spot.  (when you see it ‘4 minutes!’ is not the original line.)

It took about three hours to tape the whole episode and honestly some take looked perfectly fine to me, but then again I am not a director am I? Anyway that start shoot after 7pm and ended after 10.

We took the long drive back to San Diego and went our separate ways. I was in bed shortly after 1 am and up again at 7:20 for work. That’s why I dreamed of a police stand-off with my demand being an extra hour of sleep.

When you see the episode you’ll know why I categorized this under Lord Of The Rings.

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