USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - BOOKS -

USA TO­DAY’s Kelly Lawler chats with read­ers Mon­days at 2 p.m. ET at face­­ATO­DAY. Read edited ex­cerpts below, email ques­tions to klawler@us­ato­ or tweet them to @klawls and visit her live on­line.

Ques­tion: Why do en­sem­ble come­dies split the cast into groups of two or three ac­tors and de­velop sto­ry­lines around those in­ter­ac­tions? Do cost sav­ings re­sult from this kind of pro­duc­tion, which might ex­plain its use on

An­swer: This is more about sto­ry­telling than bud­getary needs. Any se­ries with a big en­sem­ble needs to break it apart in or­der to let sup­port­ing char­ac­ters shine. Brook­lyn Nine-Nine finds unique pair­ings among the main cast. It doesn’t al­ways work: In the most re­cent sea­son of Ar­rested De­vel­op­ment, the stars’ sched­ules meant most episodes cen­tered on only one mem­ber of the Bluth fam­ily in­stead of a group, which was a mis­take.

Brook­lyn Nine-Nine?

Q: How is dif­fer­ent from

the De­sign Fixer Up­per: Be­hind Fixer Up­per?

A: The spin-off of HGTV’s pop­u­lar re­model and ren­o­va­tion se­ries is more like a be­hind-the-scenes reel from

Fixer Up­per than a new show. Be­hind the De­sign takes a closer look at houses that have al­ready been fixed up on the orig­i­nal se­ries by Chip and Joanna Gaines, and delves fur­ther into the de­tails of the de­sign.

Q: The sec­ond episode of ABC’s

is far su­pe­rior to the pi­lot. Not only are the adult char­ac­ters all re­lat­able and have chem­istry with one an­other, but the kids are all adorable, too.

A: Sec­ond episodes are usu­ally a much bet­ter in­di­ca­tor of the shape new se­ries will take. The writ­ers and ac­tors get into a rhythm, the chem­istry is usu­ally bet­ter and the episode feels more rep­re­sen­ta­tive than the pi­lot, which has to do a lot of work to set up the premise. Some­times you get a show with a great first episode that com­pletely craters in the sec­ond, but some­times it’s the op­po­site. I did not like the pi­lot of 30 Rock, but was drawn in by the sec­ond episode.

Split­ting Up To­gether


Stephanie Beatriz and Andy Sam­berg star in “Brook­lyn Nine-Nine.”

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