As much as we tend to emphasize “big” in our society, we’re also a people in love with things that are smaller than life. We marvel at miniaturization, from tiny sweaters, to tilt shift photography, to miniature firearms. And in the case of our Book of the Week, On the Set: Take Two, really small sitcom sets.
Bookmaker and modeler Charles Brogdon has an obsession with studio sets, a fascination that began during a family vacation to Hollywood. He took mental pictures of studio sets during live studio filming (as audience members were prohibited from taking actual photographs), and came home and built the sets from Lego. As an adult he’s graduated his craft to meticulous, miniature recreations of studio sets, from sitcoms of the past to newsrooms of today.
How small are these? A dollar bill will dwarf a couch. The couch, by the way, is made from scratch. Brogdon doesn’t buy any of his furniture. And the sets are so complete, they even have lights, cameras, and catwalks. And while Lego blocks may still help form the walls, these sets are truly hand crafted marvels.
Brogdon’s sets appeal not just to our fascination with miniaturization, but also to the central place television has in our collective memories (it’s a device which, in itself, seems to shrink the world – at least it did in the days before home theaters). And while there’s no winking irony or high concept at work here, Brogdon’s sets-as-sets show television as an obviously constructed reality, an idea which is increasingly supplanted by a tide of reality shows which all seem to insist that our world has become one big studio set.