Thursday, June 09, 2005

Off-Topic: [((R x D + V) x F) + S]/A.

There is an article at about a team of British scientists headed by a molecular neurobiologist/stand-up comic who have come up with a formula for successful sitcoms:

There are long-standing golden rules for sitcom, but our findings bring them down to this single equation," Dr. Helen Pilcher, who led the research, tells the Guardian newspaper. "The formula shows why some programs fail to make the grade whilst others make us laugh time and time again." The study was commissioned by UKTV Gold, a satellite channel in the United Kingdom. Pilcher and her team analyzed two decades' worth of British comedies and came up with a formula that looks like this: [((R x D + V) x F) + S]/A. Pilcher explains to the paper:

"Comedic value is determined by multiplying the recognizability of the main character (R) by their delusions of grandeur (D). This is added to the verbal wit of the script (V), and the total is multiplied by the amount someone falls over or suffers a physical injury (F). "The difference in social status between the highest- and lowest-ranking characters (S) is added, and finally the total is divided by the success of any scheme or stratagem in the show (A). Each term in the formula is assigned a value up to a maximum of 10 to give an overall scientific score."

To establish a baseline for the formula, Pilcher's team applied it to the BBC medical drama "Casualty" and came up with a total of 5.5, figuring no comedy would score lower than that. None did, although a 2001 BBC2 show called "'Orrible" was close at 6.5, the lowest score among those tested. The long-running show "Only Fools and Horses" scored the best, coming out with a total of 696. "The Office" was next at 678, and two other shows familiar to American viewers, "Fawlty Towers" and "Blackadder," also made the top five.

The bottom five includes the BBC's "According to Bex," which could be bad news for CBS. The network's midseason comedy "Everything I Know About Men," about a woman (Jenna Elfman) trying to make sense of the men in her life, is an Americanized version of the show.
Well, usually American versions of good British shows are bad, so maybe an American version of a bad British show will be good. Not bloody likely!

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