Table Space

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Could you pass the salt?
The comic convention, when two people are dining at a table designed to accommodate twenty, is that they sit at either end.

Two people, surrounded by wealth and opulence, sit down to dinner at the opposite ends of a table that is long enough to seat entire football teams. Rather than doing the sensible thing and sitting close together, they sit at the far ends of the table. Bonus points if the distance between the two as a result of the table's size is used to reinforce the emotional distance between them.

Examples of Table Space include:

Comic Books[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Done a couple of times in the Batman book The Long Halloween in a Shout-Out to the 1989 movie.

Film[edit | hide]

  • When you're making a silent film in 2011 you need non-verbal clues to get the characters' emotional states across, so The Artist uses this to demonstrate the emotional gulf between George Valentin and his wife.
  • Done in the Winona Ryder version of The Crucible to emphasize John and Elizabeth Proctor's emotional estrangement.
  • In Dark City, when a poor couple is "turned" into a rich couple, their formerly modest four-seater extends out into one of these.
  • The first Batman movie. He makes a nice joke about it. The table's huge, the mansion's huge, has he even been in this room before? They decide to move into the kitchen with its much smaller table.
  • Citizen Kane puts him and his wife further and further apart as their tables got bigger.
  • In Richie Rich, the live action movie of 1994, telephones are involved so they can communicate. In this case, Richie sat at the other end on purpose seeing as he didn't like their dinner guest, Lawrence Van Dough.
  • Parodied in Coming to America: the king and queen sit so far away from their son, the prince, that he must talk to them through an intercom. He eventually gets frustrated and just walks to the other end of the table, much to the dismay of the others.
  • Mirror Mask has scene featuring an enormous dining table, with the Black Queen at one end and Helena at the other. Helena says something, to which the Queen takes offense. Close-up of Helena's face AND THEN THE QUEEN'S FACE IS RIGHT THERE YELLING AT HER.
  • Legend
  • Done in the Alfred Hitchcock film Rebecca. The table isn't quite as oversized as some examples, but they do sit on opposite ends.
  • At the end of Rodney Dangerfield's Easy Money, the family is eating at a long dining table with Rodney at one end.
  • Used to nightmarish effect in the 2010 movie "Victim" where the Mad Doctor has dinner with his "daughter". In actuality she was the man he kidnapped who beat his real teenage daughter until she was rendered brain dead, and who subjected him to various medical procedures and mind rapes to make him look and believe he was his daughter as an elaborate form of karmic revenge.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Lampshaded in Making Money and mentioned in Lords and Ladies.
  • Happened in the Lord Peter Wimsey book Thrones, Dominations.
  • Labyrinths of Echo have this as a standard procedure for nobles (at least, in the capitol). The people unused to this sight aren't too surprised, mainly due to being delivered to the table in a palanquin after been greeted by a small choir of servants in livery at the door. On the upside, on the mostly-informal dinners individual places are not fixed - one is supposed to gesture the bearers to stop when the palanquin passes a pedestal near interesting snacks or drinks, then move on to try something else. This allows the host to show off a little, in that having a good chef can be a matter of pride as much as convenience. And, of course, when it's after-dinner chat time, the participants can be moved closer just as well and don't need to shout.

Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Done several times in the BBC Merlin, most often between Morgana and Uther to highlight the increasing emotional distance between the two.
  • In News Radio, when Lisa goes over to Jimmy James' mansion, he had just bought a very long table that he insists she sit at the end of. They had to yell at each other to talk.
  • A Bit of Fry and Laurie has a sketch which parodies this.
  • Done in The Goodies
  • And in Mr. Bean.
  • A furniture-building how-to show with a humorous angle ended with the two hosts at the ends of a massively long table like the cold distant couple in Citizen Kane, then segues directly into doing a scene from Jerry Lewis's Cinderfella where Lewis goes up and down the length of the table to pass the salt, jabbering incessantly.
  • In one of the Gilligan's Island TV movies, after the castaways make it back home, Mr. and Mrs. Howell are shown to dine like this.
  • Appears in the Scrubs episode "My Cold Shower", when Kelso has an Imagine Spot about what it'd be like being married to Elliot.

Web Original[edit | hide]

Western Animation[edit | hide]

Homer: "LOOK HOW LOUD I HAVE TO YELL!!!"

    • When Mr. Burns tries to adopt Bart as his son, they dine like this even though it's not all an intimate way to eat.
  • The Incredibles has Bob and Mirage dine at opposite ends of a table after Bob neutralizes the Omnidroid. It does a good job at setting up the opulent but ultimately empty life that Bob is about to enter with his new job. Also, judging from what Mirage says, the great size of the table, coupled with its placement right next to a wall of lava, stem from her boss's obsession with power.
  • Done in an episode of Arthur, when Arthur imagines what it would be like if his parents never spoke to each other again.
  • A scene in The Flintstones has Fred and Barney conversing at either end of a long dining table, including this exchange:

Barney has just made some remark, [[AC:Fred replies: Oh.
Barney: What'ya say, Fred?
Fred: I SAID "OH!"]]

  • One episode of the Looney Tunes, "From Hare to Heir", had Bugs Bunny promise Yosemite Sam (who is short on money) a million pounds provided he keep his Hair-Trigger Temper (get it) in check. What follows is Bugs deducting bit by bit with each outburst. In one scene, as Bugs and Sam are eating at different ends of a very long table, Bugs frequently asks for various things, forcing Sam walk all the way down to the far end of the table. Each time as he's walking all the way back to be seated, Bugs calls back for another item. This causes Sam to lose his temper, prompting Bugs to reduce 300 pounds (which makes Sam go into a rage-inducing fit, taking away 400 pounds more)

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • One Gibson Girl print showed this—the Gibson girl, her titled and otherwise odious husband, and her dream of a happy marriage where she, her husband, and the children would be romping on the lawn.