"You know he'll always finish up in the final four," said Tinker. "We always finish in the final four too."
Tinker knows the equation so well he can recite the weekly formula for spitting out a situation comedy by rote:
--Read through with cast on Monday.
--Rewrite, rehearse and hone scenes on Tuesday and Wednesday.
--Block out sequences for the camera on Thursday.
--Shoot finished product on Friday night before a studio audience.
"Not only do you have the psychic income of that audience telling you that you did good work but you've also banked an episode," Tinker said. "I mean, what's better than that?"
The one problem, said Tinker, is that there is a limited supply of good writers. Asked how many good comedy writers there are in Hollywood, Tinker deadpanned:
Of course there are more than that--but not many, he insisted.
"I've spent more time since we got here rebuffing people, and it's hard to do sometimes," Tinker said. "You get a little glib at it, but it's not an easy thing to do anytime to reject somebody because he's a \o7 B\f7 writer and you're looking for \o7 A\f7 writers. And there's a lot of \o7 B\f7 's humming around."
Tinker made an appearance on CBS News' overnight news program "Nightwatch" two weeks ago and mentioned that he was looking for writers. The next day, Tinker's secretary was on the phone all day screening would-be writers.
"We were thinking about changing the (telephone) number," Tinker said. "And that show was on in the middle of the night! I didn't think anybody was watching."
Tinker predicts that the TV pendulum is about to swing back toward drama.
"Right now there's just too much of it (comedy)," he said. "There will be some fallout over the next year or two, but right now there's too much employment for comedy writers.
"So I would think a good half of our attention will be on other kinds of projects--dramatic shows of any kind that are reasonably affordable."