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]
How could anyone possibly screw up Ferris Bueller's Day Off? By turning it into a sitcom. [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]
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]
What do you need to be an international CONTROL super spy fighting the forces of KAOS? A Shoe-Phone. A Cone of Silence. A Bulletproof Invisible Wall and a Laser Blazer. Then, and only then, can you Get Smart. [more inside]
It's been twenty-five years since the Punky Brewster series finale. Wonder what Soleil Moon Frye's been up to in the meantime? She's now an author, does voice acting, and a mom. Catch up with her here, read about the real life girl on which Punky was based, or head below the jump to catch up on four years' worth of viewing pleasure. [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]
Angus Jones, better known as Jake on the show Two and a Half Men, has joined the Seventh Day Adventist Church. The young star has released a pair of videos urging people to stop watching the show.
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]
It ran for 8 seasons, from 1975 to 1982. Took home three Emmys out of 32 nominations. The Captain's badge (#233451) is on display at the Smithsonian Museum. Dennis Farina, who worked as a Chicago policeman before turning to acting, reportedly once called it the most realistic cop show ever seen on television. But unlike other cop shows, there were no car chases or shootouts, and the show rarely left the precinct. Out of the 170 episodes of Barney Miller that were produced, 68 from the first four seasons can be seen in their entirety on Crackle's YouTube channel*. Take a seat, have a brownie and check out some classic television. [more inside]
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?"
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]
Ever wish you could watch the pilot episode of Married... with Children with different actors portraying the roles of Bud and Kelly? Of course you have. Why wouldn't you? [more inside]
Louis C.K. has what most artists dream of: total creative control over his show.
The sitcom Taxi was inspired by two non-fiction articles that appeared in New York Magazine in September, 1975: Night-Shifting for the Hip Fleet and The Word from Belmore, both by author, writer and journalist Marc Jacobson. (Google Books: Original layout and photos.) In 2004, he checked in with local cabdrivers to see how things had changed for them after 30 years. As predicted, leasing did spell the end for the artist/writer/actor cabbie. [more inside]
Mallory's Clothes. As per the Tumblr description, a comprehensive rundown, in chronological order, of Mallory Keaton's outfits from the series Family Ties (1982-1989). Found by Matthew Perpetua (behind the Fluxblog mp3 blog), then also discovered by Justine Bateman herself.
The consensus godawful Brad Garrett sitcom Til' Death apparently turned into a surrealist masterpiece in its final season. [more inside]
I Love Lucy Pilot (1951). Originally unaired. More about this. Of related interest, the audition for the I Love Lucy Radio Show.
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]
Make an independent sitcom? These guys did. On a shoestring budget, a collection of very funny folk have created a 22-minute-long pilot episode of Break a Leg. Heavily influenced by Arrested Development, I found it funnier than most sitcoms I see on TV. The next episode is apparently a few months away.
Fred and Ethel resurrected as corporate shills "Through the magic of Hollywood, famously tightfisted Fred (William Frawley) and his irascible wife, Ethel (Vivian Vance), are brought back to life in a series of entertaining vignettes," California-based PacifiCare said in a release about its new television advertising campaign. Using body doubles, voice impersonators and computer-generated imagery, the national TV ads that will premiere in mid October will enable the two long-dead actors to "speak" once more. And, oddly enough, they'll be talking about PacifiCare's new drug plan.
Everybody Hates Chris : Everybody Hates the Pilot (Google Video: 21:03) is the funniest thing this Nebraska slice of white bread has seen in a while. (Show's home page here.) Let's just say it isn't exactly The Cosby Show. (Anybody notice that Google Video is using Flash™ now?)
Oh Rob! What it was like to be in the studio audience of The Dick Van Dyke Show. Nice essay from Mark Evanier.
"It could be a sitcom or something completely different" What is it? A new show on Fox, based on the Sims video game by EA's Maxis studio. Will Wright, the creator of the Sim line of games, has signed on to help create the show, which is being described as "blending puppetry with animation" and "set in feudal Japan but dealing with modern-day suburban situations". If that's not "orignial", then I don't what is.
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)
When I think WTC attacks, I think...SITCOM? Uhhh, CBS, uhhh...hmmm...anyone?
Guess the Evil Dictator or Television Sit-Com Character Hours of fun.