Three attempts were made to create a Fawlty Towers for American Television. Chateau Snavely was supposed to be a tour de force starring Betty White and Harvey Korman, but the pilot never made it to air. Watching the second adaptation, Bea Arthur's Amanda's by the Sea (1983), was like being eaten alive by Filigree Siberian Hamsters. It lasted all of six weeks on ABC -- and hopefully someone gave everyone involved in that production a damned good thrashing. And then there was John Larroquette's Payne.... [more inside]
In 1990, the Fox network was looking for a sitcom to become the next Cosby Show. So initially, David Mirkin, Adam Resnick and Chris Elliott pitched Get A Life as "What would Dennis the Menace be like, at age 30?": a show starring Elliott as a likeable, wisecracking 30 year old bachelor who lives with his parents, has a job as a paperboy and is beating the system by refusing to grow up. But once they had a green light.... [more inside]
Other Space: A sci-fi workplace comedy created by Paul Feig. Featuring Milana Vayntraub (a.k.a. the lady from the AT&T ad), Karan Soni (a.k.a. the dude from the AT&T ad), and Joel Hodgson and Trace Beaulieu from MST3K.
John Cleese: "I remember at a party I met these chaps from Viacom, who said they were working on a new Fawlty Towers. My ears pricked up at the sound of cash registers and said, 'That's wonderful, are you going to change anything?'. They said, 'Well we have changed one thing, we've written Basil out'. And that's absolutely true, they took Basil and Sybil's lines and gave them all to Bea Arthur." The resulting effort was a 1983 ABC series called Amanda’s By the Sea which could charitably be described as a fiasco. [more inside]
Somewhere between Buggin' Out and Gus Fring, Metafilter favorite Giancarlo Esposito starred as Paul Gigante, a city cop transplanted by family circumstances into a dysfunctional small town police department and frustrating partnership with the imbecillic Wade Preston, in Bakersfield P.D., a short-lived comedy gem from Fox Network. Partially available for your viewing pleasure in grainy video on a YouTube playlist, with German subtitles and no laugh track. [more inside]
It may be the most notorious Thanksgiving promotion of all time. It is the 40th best television episode of all time. It's available in (semi-)entirety on HULU. And the classic TV blog offers an oral history. Happy thanksgiving, and, as God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.
Here's a sitcom with an unusually high pedigree: Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi to play an old married couple in a new british sitcom from Itv, airing in april 2013!
"Everybody Knows Their Names: The GQ Oral History of Cheers." (Single page version.) On the thirtieth anniversary of the premiere of Cheers, GQ "sat down with just about everyone who made it." Also, Christopher Lloyd, Amy Poehler and Shawn Ryan talk about what they learned from the show. [more inside]
"Waking up married after a drunken Vegas weekend used to be an adventure reserved for one man and one woman. But thanks to a new law, athlete Brady Kelly and actor Cheeks find themselves unexpectedly and legally wed. Unwilling to undermine the hard-fought battle with a public quicky divorce, these two decide to make a go of it. They were doing okay when they were dating. But how will it work out, now that they are HUSBANDS?" The hilarious web-series by Jane Espenson and Brad Bell enters its second season, with cameos by pretty much everyone you love.
Small, Far Away - The World of Father Ted: Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews revisit Craggy Island 15 years after the premiere of the classic Irish comedy, Father Ted.
I walk up to "2 Broke Girls" co-creator Michael Patrick King, offer my hand and say, "Mr. King, I'm sorry things got so ugly there, but I wanted to say that it came from a place where a lot of us in the room like the parts of your show involving Kat and Beth, and want the rest of the show to live up to that." King, stone-faced, silently turns and walks off the stage.
The Powers That Be was a short-lived, irreverent sitcom about a dim US Senator (John Forsythe, in his last major starring role on television) and his dysfunctional family, that aired on NBC between 1992 and 1993. Created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, who would go on to create Friends, the show co-starred David Hyde Pierce (pre-Frasier) as the Senator's suicidal son-in-law. [more inside]
Splitsider asks "Is the 2011-2012 Sitcom Schedule the Worst in a Decade?"
The Strange World of Gurney Slade was a "sitcom" starring Anthony Newley (previously). Airing on British television in late 1960, the show's self-reflexivity, bizarreness, and deep experimentation was truly ahead of its time for television. All six episodes are available on YouTube. [more inside]
RIP David Croft, writer / producer of some of Britain's most well known and loved sitcoms including Dad's Army, Are You Being Served?, It Ain't Half Hot Mum, Hi-de-Hi! and 'Allo 'Allo!
Two and a half years ago, we explored the early history of Cartoon Network... but it wasn't the only player in the youth television game. As a matter of fact, Fred Seibert -- the man responsible for the most inventive projects discussed in that post -- first stretched his creative legs at the network's truly venerable forerunner: Nickelodeon. Founded as Pinwheel, a six-hour block on Warner Cable's innovative QUBE system, this humble channel struggled for years before Seibert's innovative branding work transformed it into a national icon and capstone of a media empire. Much has changed since then, from the mascots and game shows to the versatile orange "splat." But starting tonight in response to popular demand, the network is looking back with a summer programming block dedicated to the greatest hits of the 1990s, including Hey Arnold!, Rocko's Modern Life, The Adventures of Pete & Pete, The Ren & Stimpy Show, Double Dare, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Legends of the Hidden Temple, and All That. To celebrate, look inside for the complete story of the early days of the network that incensed the religious right, brought doo-wop to television, and slimed a million fans -- the golden age of Nickelodeon. (warning: monster post inside) [more inside]
Louis C.K. has what most artists dream of: total creative control over his show.
Sitcom Maps from DanMeth.com
For the past 50 years, The British have made some of the funniest Comedy TV Shows. Come inside for A Video Chronology of The History of British TV Comedy. [more inside]
Ronnie Hazlehurst RIP. Who? Well if you've seen any of the BBC's sitcoms and light entertainment programmes from the 70s onwards, you would have probably heard his work... [more inside]
Am I the only one who notices that Scrubs is the best new show on television? Great writing and a great cast make me wonder who is Watching Ellie and putting the Seinfeld Curse at 3 for 3 with 2 RBI's and a double. If you haven't seen Scrubs, check it out. If you have, tell other people to watch it. Don't let quality television go off the air because of a bad time slot! (Tue. at 9:30 Est on NBC)