This time around in Balladeer’s Blog’s recurring feature Forgotten Television we’ll take a brief look at some dumb attempts at launching sitcoms.
Stars: Barney Martin, Hamilton Camp, Sherry Lynn
Premise: Five actors dressed up as dogs hung out and joked about their human owners. The dogs’ owners, that is. Believe it or not the talented Peter Bonerz directed this unsold sitcom pilot and Brandon Tartikoff was executive producer. How either of them had the nerve to show their faces in public again is beyond me. (ORIGINALLY TITLED A DOG’S LIFE)
WHERE’S MOMMA? (1974)
Stars: Richard Mulligan, Michele Carey
Premise: Mulligan starred as a widowed real estate agent who was so ill-prepared to raise his twin children that his wife, played by Michele Carey, returned from the afterlife to help him out. Only Mulligan’s character could see the wife’s ghost, leading to the usual “comedy” set pieces.
THE DECORATOR (1965)
Star: Bette Davis, Ed Begley
Premise: Davis portrayed an interior decorator who insisted on living with her clients for awhile to make sure her plans for their decor truly reflected their personalities. Each episode would feature her getting caught up in the clients’ problems, sitcom style. I don’t know if they had Bette say “What a dump” as an in-joke. Produced by Aaron Spelling.
MARS: BASE ONE (1988)
Stars: Jonathan Brandis, Christy Taylor, Nancy Youngblut
Premise: Doltish Dan Aykroyd, who believes any alien visitation story told to him, created, produced and wrote this inane program about an American family living on Mars right next to a Soviet engineer and the stripper he married. If you found Quark too intellectually challenging then THIS was the sitcom for you!
MR AND MRS DRACULA (1980)
Stars: Dick Shawn, Carol Lawrence, Paula Prentiss
Premise: Dracula and his wife are forced to flee Transylvania when the peasants revolt. The couple settle down in a New York City apartment. Hijinx failed to ensue but groan-inducing jokes did. One example – Drac’s son complains that all the kids in school tell him his dad sucks. Get it? A vampire? Sucks? Well, there’s always the godawful stuffed bat puppet. Both pilots for this show failed.
Stars: Peter Boyle, George Newbern, Amy Yasbeck
Premise: Jokes about dog flatulence were the name of the game on this comedy about a cop named Stanley Poochinksi who was killed in action, then came back reincarnated as a talking canine coworker for his former partner. Tried to be a comedy-drama but was neither. To borrow a decades-old joke the network should have said to the people behind this thing “What are you smoking? Give me some.” and “You’re fired!”
TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER (1964)
Stars: Jack Albertson, Will Hutchins, Juli Reding
Premise: Two Venusians arrived on Earth and went into business with an inventor to sell interplanetary products. Supposedly the origin story for Amway. (I’m kidding!) Bad Movie legend Bert I Gordon produced this pilot meant to cash in on the success of My Favorite Martian. Jack Albertson played the cranky boss of the Earthman who got mixed up with the ETs.
WHO GOES THERE? (1965)
Stars: Pat Hingle, Ben Blue, Lisa Gaye
Premise: A family in Southern California find themselves haunted by the ghosts of General George Custer and the fictional Chief Running Dog. The pair emerge from an old painting once owned by a descendant of Custer. I may scoff at the ideas behind the shows on this list but let’s face it – I would have said no to The Flying Nun and other, equally ridiculous sounding programs that became hits. This sitcom might have been the next I Dream of Genie if given a chance. Who the hell knows?
POOR DEVIL (1973)
Stars: Sammy Davis Jr, Christopher Lee, Jack Klugman, Adam West
Premise: Each week poor, inept devil Sammy (you know who) would try and fail to win someone’s soul for his boss Lucifer (Christopher Lee) back in Hell. Sammy hasn’t delivered a soul for damnation in 1,400 years and Lucifer is pretty steamed about it. Jack Klugman IS the accountant targeted by Sammy and Adam West IS the truly despicable heavy of the story.
AFTER GEORGE (1983)
Star: Susan St James, Joel Brooks, Richard Schaal
Premise: Susan Roberts (played by St James) lived in a futuristic home designed by her late husband, who, just before his death in a car accident, programmed his own personality into the talking computer system which runs the high-tech residence. After George was the middle program in Susan St James’ Hat Trick of television hits alongside McMillan and Wife and Kate & Allie. (I’m kidding!) Richard Schaal provided the voice of the late George Roberts in this attempt at a sci-fi comedy.
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