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Producer Danny Salles on Episode 4: Joan on the Range

When Joan decided to join Melissa on her annual vacation to a Wyoming ranch – we were very excited. The idea of seeing Joan attempt to ride a horse was worth taking the propeller plane to Cheyenne. And when Joan wanted to join the family to go fly-fishing – we were eager to see if she’d catch anything. Now you have to know, as a producer, it’s our job to make our crew as invisible as possible. Not an easy task when you are out in the middle of the wilderness with no other people, electricity, or vehicles around. We kept our cameras at safe range for the most part and used wireless microphones on Joan, Melissa and the rest of the cast to make sure we could record what they were saying. That way, we wouldn’t ruin the mood by having our crew in the river, and spoil the shots with a boom (the pole that holds the microphone). It all seemed like a great plan.

Joan assured me that she felt pretty steady in the water and that the current in the river was not too strong for her. Let me give you a piece of advice: when a funny lady tells you she’s just going to go fishing and not to worry – worry. After about an hour of fishing, Joan started getting bored with fishing, or more correctly, with not catching squat. It seemed that Cooper only had to put his hook in the water and something bit. Not Joan. It was like the fish knew she was coming. She started getting bored and casting her reel farther and farther. Finally, she did hook something. A bush. The next few moments seemed like they were playing in slow motion. Joan tugged. The bush tugged back. And Joan went down with a splash and a glug. Of course, our first thought was for Joan. She’s hardly frail, but still, she’s no Jacque Cousteau either. And she had on waders – which are great for keeping out water, except if you are under water. With the help of Melissa and the fishing instructor, she was back on her feet. And in typical Joan fashion, she was delighted knowing that her spill would make for funny TV. She found a hilarious way of cursing the universe, except the crew couldn’t hear most of it because her microphone went under water with her. Joan was fine with a toweling off. The microphone – not so much. Six hundred bucks down the drain. It was an expensive lesson for me. Water, electronics, and comedy simply don’t mix.