It’s eclectic!


At the risk of being accused of watching too much daytime TV, another thought occurred to me watching Frasier this morning. Have you nerticed how televsion sets and props are often an important character element in great sitcoms? Well I have.

Take Frasier, although a big slice of the action takes place in the studio where the main character Frasier Crane is a radio station phone-in psychiatrist, it’s primarily located in his beautifully-appointed Seattle apartment where he lives with his dad Martin and his father’s live-in physiotherapist Daphne Moon. As well as the terrific views of the city’s skyline (which are a composite image I believe), the apartment’s main living area offers some of the show’s iconic elements; Frasier’s beloved collection of African objects d’art, the sofa which, of course, is an exact copy of the one in Coco Channel’s Paris apartment, the exquisite sherry decanter on the custom-designed labrenza, the stunning grand piano and his Le Corbusier recliner. His father of course thinks this is all a pretentious mish-mash where ‘Nothing matches’ to which Frasier countered by saying ‘Of course it doesn’t; it’s eclectic’ thus setting the tone for the ensuing battle of wits between fussy Frasier and down-to-earth Martin.

This resulted in the first battle victory for the father who succeeds in having the stylish but impractical recliner moved to make way for the show’s most iconic furniture item, the hideously tatty and gaffer-taped but ever-so-comfortable reclining armchair which is the sole item Martin brought with him to the apartment (apart from dog Eddie). It stands as a statement of the maddening intrusion into Frasier’s neat, ordered high-brow world, which Martin is of course. It’s a perfect symbol for the show…

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See how much I’ve written already already about items which on the face of it are quite mundane, but which are really quite significant! I can write rubbish like this forever. Will & Grace features two great sets; Will’s stylish New York apartment (bit of a theme developing here) and Grace’s design studio which is full of fabrics and colours which perfectly reflect her busy dress sense in contrast to the effortlessly cool style of her wealthy yet useless assistant Karen. Another classic set was Monica’s Tribeca apartment in Friends. It wasn’t so much the furniture and fittings which were memorable (other than the main door) so much as the unusual and striking colour scheme of purple and tourquoise which, now I think about it, was symbolic of the apartment sharers Rachel and Monica’s bright yet contrasting personalities…

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See what I mean? I should add that the show had other significant prop features; the comfy sofa in the coffee shop, Central Perk, upon which many of the show’s conversational storylines took place and the fussball table and twin reclining armchairs (yet again) in Chandler’s flat he shared with Joey.

What about UK sitcoms? Well the incomparable Fawlty Towers had a series of great sets; there was the front desk, the kitchen and the dining room of course. But perhaps the most memorable setting was the opening scene at the front of the hotel and the iconic sign which had the letters of Fawlty Towers rearranged by some unseen scallywag into some rude expression each episode like Farty Towels, Watery Flows and my particular favourite Flowery Twats…

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Just brilliant.

Of course it’s not just tv sets which can be made to look memorable. It’s not too difficult to create striking impressions in your own home from the most mundane items. We have a very simply-designed bag for dirty laundry which we keep in our second bathroom, which has led us to re-christen this as the P W Botharoom. You may be intrigued how we can link a detestable man and his shameful beliefs with a rather nice bath/shower room from a simple laundry bag but, as Lloyd Grossman might say ‘the cerrrlue’s are all thar’…

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Crap line I know but what do you expect from a room with a loo?

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2 thoughts on “It’s eclectic!

  1. Not really connected to your main theme Paulie but did you know that the hatstand in “The Maltese Falcon” later appears in Friends where it graces Central Perk.

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