Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Favorite forgotten shows

Here’s a Friday Question that became an entire post.

Joe in DC asks:

Recently, a guy named Kieran Fisher (@HairEverywhere) wrote: “Name a forgotten TV show you really enjoyed.” He lives in Scotland so a lot of his replies were names of UK shows I’d never heard of, but I was gratified to see Peter Sagal (of NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me) list Quark and Buffalo Bill. (I myself threw out Grand and Doctor Doctor.) Curious what some of your forgotten/enjoyed shows might be.

Besides the ones I created?

BUFFALO BILL would definitely be on my list. Created by Tom Patchett & Jay Tarses and brilliantly played by Dabney Coleman, this was really the first sitcom where the lead character was a giant asshole. And boy, was it refreshing. BUFFALO BILL was way ahead of its time.

Then two series by the same writer, Richard Rosenstock: THE MARSHALL CHRONICLES for ABC and FLYING BLIND for Fox. Super smart writing and hilarious Jewish characters (although those were probably the two main reasons why those shows didn’t last).

GOODTIME HARRY is another I’d choose. Created by Steve Gordon, who wrote and directed ARTHUR, it had some of the sharpest dialogue you’ll ever hear.

UNITED STATES by Larry Gelbart was a fascinating experiment. NBC never gave it a chance. This was more of a dramady in that it really explored the inner dynamics of a marriage, both the light and dark aspects of it.   But how does a half-hour comedy succeed at 10:30 at night?

Then there’s ALL IS FORGIVEN. Howard Gewirtz & Ian Praiser created this series under the Charles Brothers banner. It was a backstage look at a soap opera starring the very under-appreciated Bess Armstrong. Lots of very funny episodes.

PIG STY by Rob Long & Dan Staley was a very funny show ahead of its time about slothy Seth Rogen-type characters. It was the first show the old UPN picked up so it never got the exposure it deserved.

LATELINE. Okay, I directed a bunch so I’m not exactly unbiased, but this show created by John Markus and Al Franken was a fresh look at politics in a sitcom format.

FAY was a wonderful show from the mid ‘70s. Created by Susan Harris, it starred Lee Grant as a woman in her 40’s trying to date. Funny, real, a true gem. NBC screwed them by scheduling it at 8:00. Should have been Susan Harris’ MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW.

If you want to go way back, MY WORLD AND WELCOME TO IT from the ‘60s was a funny and affectionate take on Thurber cartoons. Danny Arnold created this one.

Also from the ‘60s, HEY LANDLORD by Garry Marshall & Jerry Belson.

I very much enjoyed THE DUCK FACTORY created by Allan Burns & Herbert Klynn. It was a single-camera look at the goofiness of an animation studio. The star was some guy named Jim Carrey.

So there are a few. I’m sure there are others… besides mine of course.

94 comments :

Daniel said...

I'm not sure if it's considered "forgotten" or not, but I loved "Northern Exposure," especially the first two seasons. It aired around the same time as "Twin Peaks" but only got a fraction of the oxygen that that show got (then and now).

Also, a Canadian series from a few years ago called "Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays." Only 11 or so episodes. Extremely funny and endearing. Beautifully shot, too (single camera). About a co-dependent relationship between a psychologist and his patient. Mostly Canadian cast, but it did feature Ed Asner and Michael Murphy in a few episodes. Worth buying on DVD.

slgc said...

I miss Fernwood 2 Night and America 2 Night with Martin Mull and Fred Willard as the asshole late night talk show host and his hapless sidekick with whom he was stuck. It was ahead of its time in terms or satire and sarcasm, and the humor holds up over thirty years later.

Back to You with Kelsey Grammar and Patricia Heaton (with support from Fred Willard and Ty Burrell) had a strong start but was sadly killed by the writers strike.

Matt said...

I liked SportsNight, mainly because I love Aaron Sorkin's writing sports. It made it two seasons but was basically cancelled so Sorkin could do The West Wing, which I also love.

Terrence Moss said...

How far back do we have to go? I loved "Kitchen Confidential" starring Bradley Cooper from about 12 years ago.

"Some of My Best Friends" (2001) starring Jason Bateman should have gotten more of a chance from CBS.

I'm glad "Flying Blind" was mentioned.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

THE FAMOUS TEDDY Z - a young Jon Cryer playing a novice Hollywood agent, plucked out of the mailroom by a capricious movie star, with, assigned to help him, a brilliant and ambitious, ticked-off, passed-over female doomed-to-remain-a-secretary-because-sexism (Jane Sibbett), and the agent the movie star fired (Alex Rocco). Loved it because of the lampooning of "Hollyweird".

EISENHOWER & Lutz - a young Scott Bakula playing a seedy lawyer with a degree from Mexico or somewhere who tries to help the needy folks around him, but who has the problem of being unable to manage the women in his life: current girlfriend (DeLane Matthews), ex-girlfriend, a much more successful lawyer (Patricia Richardson, a few years before HOME IMPROVEMENT), put-upon secretary (Rose Portillo), and larger-than-life father (Henderson Forsythe). It only lasted 13 episodes and was kind of silly, but I thought it was fun and I liked all the cast.

Going back further, I remember liking HE AND SHE, which starred real-life couple Paula Prentiss and Richard Benjamin, both of whom I've always liked, but I can't remember anything about what the show was like.

Sadly, someone trying to have this conversation in 50 years' time will probably be drawing on the same pool. Today's sitcoms don't last long enough to be forgotten if they're not hits.

wg

Toby the Wonder Horse said...

“BUFFALO BILL. . . was really the first sitcom where the lead character was a giant asshole.”

What about FAWLTY TOWERS?

Pat Reeder said...

I'm glad you mentioned "My World and Welcome To It." I'm still waiting for NBC to bring that back. At least release the old ones on DVD.

A couple of other suggestions: "He & She" and the early episodes of "It's Your Move" when the premise still involved both leads pulling elaborate scams on each other. All these shows have two things in common:

1. Brilliant shows.

2. Very quickly cancelled.

Kirk said...

CPO Sharkey with Don Rickles.

Sanford, Redd Foxx's second show featuring that character.

Lotsa Luck with Dom Deluise.

The sitcom where Rob Reiner played an immigrant. Can't recall its name and don't have time to look it up.

Another sitcom that took place in the 1930s with Dabney Coleman and Rue McClanahan

John Hammes said...

Remote Control (1987 - 90) answered the question - if anyone had asked - what would it be like if David Letterman hosted a game show. David Letterman did not host this game show. Instead, the likes of Colin Quinn, Denis Leary, Adam Sandler, Kari Wuhrer, Alicia Coppola, and the late great Ken Ober were foisted on an unsuspecting but happy populace.


No Soap, Radio (Spring 1982) - Steve Guttenberg, Yukon Dan, Basketball Head. Only five episodes, airing back to back with Police Squad! Five episodes, a criminally short run.

Terence Towles Canote said...

I don't know if it is truly forgotten, as I have run into lots of people who remember it, but He & She would be one of my favourite forgotten shows. Also, Profit,which ran on Fox for all of 8 episodes.

John Mazur said...

Loved a short lived 1 hour on NBC in the early 70’s with James Garner & Margot Kidder ..... Nichols.

Helene Elliott said...

I'd add "That's Life," which starred Robert Morse and E.J. Peaker. Funny, smart, great musical numbers. Attended a taping when I was a kid and can still recite the lyrics from one of the songs.

Ralph C. said...

"The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd" and "Dream On".

Kendall said...

Another Jay Tarses show, The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd. It got cancelled and was picked up by Lifetime, making it one of the first (I think) original scripted series on a basic cable network.

benson said...

Maybe my favorite forgotten gem was from Gary David Goldberg. Brooklyn Bridge. What a wonderful show. (Great trivia here: one of the Marys is now Bill Murray's girlfriend)

Very much agree about Sports Night. Truly a great series. My twenty-something aged boys discovered the show, as did several friends and they love it, too. Older son also loved Studio 60 from Sorkin.

Same with Buffalo Bill. I have a couple of dozen episode on VHS and they still hold up.

I liked Ken and David's series, Mary. John Astin was a hoot as Ed LaSalle. And whatever happened to Katey Sagal?

The Tony Randall MTM series was good, as was the Betty White MTM series, co-starring John Hillerman.

One of the first two sitcoms when Fox debuted. Duet was good for awhile, but lost it's way.



michael del said...

I really loved The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd, which was another Jay Tarses show. It was a rather quirky, single camera comedy/drama. It actually had a decent run but is pretty forgotten, especially since it jumped networks from NBC to Lifetime.

Also loved The Newsroom. I don’t know if it’s forgotten or not, but certainly less known since it was a Canadian show. Incredibly smart and funny.

Anonymous said...

Joking Apart, a Steven Moffat Brit series PBS aired back in the 90's, and Flying Blind, one of the first Fox shows--my memory may play tricks on me about the show, but I thought Tea Leoni was the most vibrant, funny, and attractive woman on television.

Keith

Bryan Robinson said...

The following is on the Buffalo Bill Trivia page on IMDB:

"Mentioned by Brandon Tartikoff in his memoirs. Saying that cancelling Buffalo Bill was the biggest professional regret of his career."

Bryan Robinson said...

The following is on the Buffalo Bill Trivia page on IMDB:

"Mentioned by Brandon Tartikoff in his memoirs. Saying that cancelling Buffalo Bill was the biggest professional regret of his career."

Brian said...

"Captain Nice"... always made me laugh :). No one does silly any more on television and that's a shame. There's a whole generation who hasn't had the chance to laugh at silly, clever, harmless and clean shows.

Charles said...

Agree with the Anonymous comment about Tea Leoni on Flying Blind (and, honestly, still today). And with benson's mention of Duet, which I loved, but that may be because I was sort-of going out with a Mary Page Keller type at the time.

I'll throw in My Life and Times, which I always think of as "My So-Called Life and Times", since the shows aired (at least in my memory) at approximately the same time, and The Associates.

Johnny Hy said...

Pat Reeder, I loved It's Your Move. Jason Bateman was great as was David Garrison in his pre Married with Children days.

Just started watching Terriers and I am feeling pangs of depression realizing there is only one season of this show. Tremendous chemistry for that cast with great writing.

Gary said...

In complete agreement with Terrance about HE & SHE with Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss. Smart, sophisticated sitcom that could also be very silly, with a great cast playing well-defined, quirky characters. This could have achieved the heights of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, had it been given more of a chance.

allison nathe said...

My Favorite Martian.

David G. Whitham said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who misses "Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip", "Sports Night", and "Buffalo Bill".

My all-time favorite forgotten show is Ed, starring Tom Cavanagh and Julie Bowen.

allison nathe said...

My Favorite Martian. My Mother the Car. Mr. Ed

Thomas Anderson said...

"The Strange World of Gurney Slade" starring Anthony Newley in the UK in 1960 is a very quirky show that only lasted six episodes or so, but was way ahead of its time in breaking the 4th wall. I stumbled onto in on YouTube.

JonCow said...

Richie Brockleman, Private Eye (late 70's) with Dennis Dugan before he became a director.

Anonymous said...

Here's some:
"Harris Against The World" with Jack Klugman; always fun to watch him get ticked off

"East Side, West Side"; When I was a kid, this show could scare me...rats in a baby's crib, lives just snuffed out, a crisis every week

"Nichols" Funny stuff without a laugh track...in school, most of us guys had a thing for Margot Kidder [recently back on one of the old folks channels]

"Thicker Than Water" Malcolm Atterbury was great as the old man

Victor Velasco said...

Almost forgot "Frank's Place"...not close to a dramedy but some situations re: race and color that had (and have) some nervousness around them; great cast.

VincentS said...

Wow, I remember MY WORLD AND WELCOME TO IT. Loved it. William Windom giving his usual excellent job.

Cat said...

Second on the It's Your Move suggestion. Jason Bateman was a wonderful child actor, he outshone Ricky Schroeder in every scene they shared on Silver Spoons.

Anonymous said...

I'm Dickens...He's Fenster. How can you go wrong with Marty Ingels and Astin?

Loved Hey! Landlord! Chuck the Butcher lives!

Xwordz

Smada Raj said...

Most of my faves are here, Buffalo Bob, Richie Brockelman, Duet, Sports Night, My world and Welcome to It, but how about...
Max Headroom: 20 minutes into the future. Season one was loaded with hilarious social critique, an interesting adventure plot, with promises not kept in the aborted second season.
Tenspeed and Brown Shoe with Ben Vereen (his first show after Roots I think) and a very young Jeff Goldblum.
From the BBC, Mulberry. If you haven't seen it track it down. The seasons that we have are funny, poignant and magical. Only one more was planned, but it was cancelled arbitrarily by new BBC management.
I think the Coleman/McClanahan show was the Spap Maxwell Story, good, but no Buffalo Bill

Andrew said...

Not sure if you're including variety shows, but I remember The Tim Conway Show from the early 1980's. It was hysterical. I was only a young kid, so I have no idea if it's held up, or was really any good.

Another great 80's show that comes to mind: That's Incredible! Cheesy, but still lots of fun.

Sted Man said...

TV Funhouse, a 2000 "kids show" featuring debauched puppets dubbed "the Anipals." It was a sort-of spinoff of Robert Smigel's animated feature of the same name on "SNL." Just eight perfect episodes.

The other great psychotic "kids show" was Wonder Showzen (2005-06).

sanford said...

Great show. Ran 3 years?

Dr Johnny Fever said...

Probably for me it's 'Night Court':

... there's not a person in my circle that didn't watch it :)

... there's not a person in my circle that remembers it until I mention it :(

I've just started rewatching 'Night Court' on DVD, but I've heard seasons 4+ are difficult to find. I'm hoping eBay will be my friend.

MikeN said...

Voyagers, Becker

71dude said...

I'll Fly Away, Brooklyn Bridge and Homefront - all period shows that premiered in the fall of '91 and were cancelled two seasons later.

We've Got Each Other
Best of the West
Domestic Life
Hot L Baltimore
Mr. Sunshine (with Jeffrey Tambor as a blind guy)
Shannon's Deal
The Cavanaughs
Brother's Keeper (on which you worked)
Out of Practice
Enlisted

jcs said...

I terribly miss "Men of a Certain Age" which never got a fair shake at TNT. Ray Romano, Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher plus a great supporting cast gave an excellent performance. Mike Royce and Romano created realistic characters - flawed, yet loveable - and found writers that delivered well-crafted and funny scripts with depth. You can clearly tell that Royce and Romano put all their talent and enthusiasm behind this series. Most critics liked it and so did I.

John Blahut said...

"It's Your Move" Jason Bateman was great in it. It was cancelled during its first season. I don't believe we ever would have had "Married with Children" if it weren't for this show.

jeff said...

How about Kate and Ally, Men in Trees.

jeff said...

Kate and Ally...Men In Trees come to mind.

Joe said...

"Flying Blind" was a great show, and Tea Leoni -- who still looks great -- might have been the hottest woman on TV ever in that show.

"The Ben Stiller Show" could be hit-or-miss, but it came up with some "SCTV"-worthy parodies, and deserved better than it got from Fox.


Bruce said...

Couldn't agree more with Peter Sagal about "Quark." Loved that show and loved writing it even more.

chicoruiz said...

Here's a really obscure one: SHERIFF WHO, a 1967 Garry Marshall/Jerry Belson show. The premise was intriguing but probably unsustainable: a western sitcom in which the bad guy was the recurring character, and every week a guest star played a new sheriff who tried to bring him to justice only to be driven out of town. In the pilot (which may have been the only episode to air) Dick Shawn played a sheriff who had been an interior decorator; the episode culminated with a fistfight in which he was overly concerned with not breaking any of the room's furnishings.

Some of the show's scripts were eventually revamped into a TV movie, EVIL ROY SLADE.

VillageDianne said...

Ditto on Franks Place. IIRC there was no laugh track, and it was unusual for the time in other ways, more subtle. For awhile they re-ran it on BET.
I liked the show so much that once I dreamed that they were bringing it back. I was so disappointed when I woke up and realized I only dreamed it.

Anonymous said...

Coronet Blue
Way Out
I married Joan

Rod Richey said...

I adored "My World and Welcome to It"! Way ahead of its time!

tavm said...

I'll pick a couple of period shows that were short-lived: "Homefrone" about returning veterans and their dealing with life after World War II and "Brooklyn Bridge" Gary David Goldberg's autobiographical slice of life of childhood in the title city during the '50s.

Howard G. said...

Thank you Ken and 71Dude for mentioning two shows I created, ALL IS FORGIVEN and DOMESTIC LIFE as Favorite Forgotten shows, though frankly I'd rather have made it into the blog Terrible Shows That Survived Into Syndication.

john leon said...

Man Up on ABC. It had laugh out loud moments.
http://m.imdb.com/title/tt1828238/

Kendall said...

Another one that had high ratings and cultural significance at the time, but you never see anymore is Murphy Brown. I guess all the jokes about current events made it not good for syndication.

Kyle Burress said...

This question got me to wondering about a couple other things about certain tv shows that have bugged me for years.

1. What are your thoughts on shows that have a character that is around for a while and then just suddenly disappears with no explanation, or treated as if they had never even been there in the first place? Examples that come to mind are Chuck Cunningham from 'Happy Days', Judy Winslow from 'Family Matters' and Mandy Hampton from 'The West Wing', just to name a couple. Other shows such as 'Law & Order' do it all the time.

2. How do you feel about characters on shows being recast? Obvious examples are the two Beckys from 'Roseanne' and the two Darrins from 'Bewitched'. A much more minor one that you are all too familiar with are the two Garys from 'Cheers', although to the untrained eye it would probably go unnoticed due to the time lapses between character appearances.

Tom Galloway said...

Not yet mentioned, Parker Lewis Can't Lose from the early 90s. While it seemed it'd be a Ferris Bueller ripoff (and there was a Ferris Bueller tv show that premiered the same year with Jennifer Aniston as the sister, but it was quickly cancelled), it quickly became a live action surrealistic cartoon with good solid characterization and humor.

It was also, as far as I know, the first tv show to regularly interact with fans on the Internet. Somehow, the producers got regular printouts of the Flamingo Digest, the online mailing list for fans of the show (Flamingos were the mascot of the high school the show was set at), and ended up using some list members names for very minor one-shot characters, having a few fans as crowd scene extras (in part due to a promotion done with Entertainment Tonight who did a story about said fans). Several of us, including myself, got to visit the not filmed in front of an audience set, and I was fortunate enough to get to sit in on a writers' meeting. Great bunch of folk.

VP81955 said...

"The Naked Truth" with Tea Leoni (she played a photographer for a supermarket tabloid -- but only its first season, on ABC. It was moved to NBC for its second season, went through its '90s sitcom sausage machine, and lost all its charm. Something similar happened to the syndicated "She Spies" with Natasha Henstridge.

Buttermilk Sky said...

I remember a Canadian show called "Corner Gas" that popped up on cable and then disappeared. I still want to visit Dog River, Saskatchewan.

Anonymous said...

i second @jcs. MEN OF A CERTAIN AGE was a gem that unfortunately didn't get enough of a fan following to keep it going.

--Orleanas

James said...

Three that I've seen again recently and I know they hold up.

1) [b]The Tick[/b] - the Patrick Warburton version from around 2002. Followed the first-season of [b]Family Guy[/b], which nobody liked at the time (I still don't), and not really a fit. I thought the Tick was very funny and fresh and interesting on several levels. And Liz Vassey looked great in a superhero suit. Available cheap on DVD.

2) [b]E/R[/b] - the sitcom with Elliot Gould and Mary McDonnel, around 1984. They ran it following [b]Charles In Charge[/b], and they went together like french vanilla ice cream and crab lice. It should have followed [b]M*A*S*H[/b] or something like it; Charles in Charge of adolescent girls shared no common audience. [b]E/R[/b] was character comedy, sophisticated, punctuated with drama. Really, really well done. And Mary McDonnell made my heart go pitta pat. Available via bad VHS transfers on YouTube.

3) [b]Hardware[/b] - a British sitcom set in a hardware store. Starred the guy who's Dr. Watson on the Sherlock Holmes tv show now, and Peter Serafinowicz who's currently [b]The Tick[/b] on Amazon. Ran for two series but still only something like 12 episodes total. Maybe I like it because of all the Britcoms I've seen, it's the closest to a good American one as I've seen. Available (last I looked) on YouTube.

JR Smith said...

"My World and Welcome To It"...my how I had forgotten that one! Pleasant, gentle short-lived sitcom. Thanks for that blast from the past Ken.

Mitch said...

I liked United States. Glad that I taped a bunch of them, because I don't think the series made it to home video.

He & She was sort of ahead of its time -- in that for a network show it was very close to its time. Just my opinion, and I did like the show.

One show that really was ahead of its time was Peter Tewksbury's drama, It's a Man's World. I think it had one season around 1962 or '63.

Arthur Mee said...

Police Squad! Everyone remembers the Naked Gun movies, but the original TV series was funnier.

Anonymous said...

Red Green Show. Canadian hillbillies. If you've never seen it, find it. Used to be on PBS, haven't seen it anywhere, although there are enough seasons it should be on Netflix or somewhere.

I remember Herman's Head being funny, but it has been decades (I think), so it may not be good.

Diane D. said...

Sixty one comments and no one has mentioned The Larry Sanders Show!! Amazing! Thank goodness it's available on DVD. Other than ALL of Ken's shows, the only other one I miss terribly is Northern Exposure---also available on DVD.

BTW, I haven't even heard of most of the shows mentioned. I hate to think what I've missed.

cd1515 said...

Great call on Men of a Certain Age, very well done.
Also I’ll add “Action” with a young Jay Mohr as a Hollywood douchebag (may not have been much of a stretch)
And “The Job” with Denis Leary & Lenny Clarke as NYC cops.

Mike Barer said...

Room 222, Gidget, Hank,Dennis The Menace. I'll add more when I think of them. I loved ABC comedies, perhaps because I lived in a rural town and CBS was all country comedies, although I did like Petticoat Junction and Beverly Hillbillies.

Mike Barer said...

The Smothers Brothers had a sitcom in the 60s. Joey Bishop Show, Car 54 Where Are You?

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

Preferred Slap Maxwell to Buffalo Bill--sharp writing, more depth,and mercifully, unlike BB, no laugh track.

Rue McClanahan had no connection to Slap Maxwell; she was on Golden Girls at the time.

Perhaps you're thinking of Shirley Jones, who appeared in a few episodes.

The show in which Rob Reiner played an immigrant was called Free Country. He also served as a writer and a producer.

The show had a brief run on ABC in the summer of 1978, immediately after Reiner left All In The Family.

Anonymous said...

Men of a Certain Age, Frank's Place, Wait Till your Father Gets home, Keen Eddie, St. Elsewhere, Larry Sanders, Cybill, Buffalo Bill, Square Pegs, China Beach, Moonlighting, 3rd Rock, My So-Called Life, 30 Something. Janice B.

Mike Bloodworth said...

I was going to mention Franks's Place, but you beat me to it. The one episode I remember is when Frank wanted to join the "Capital C Club." It was an exclusive club that only took very successful blacks and, unfortunately, very light-skinned blacks. Would he sell out or stick to his principles?

-bee said...

"Breaking Away" - a really good series based on the movie with some of the same cast

Grand - sitcom featuring three different 'classes' of people in a town that manufactures pianos. First season was great and hard edged but it was ruined in the 2nd season.

John Laroquette Show - also ruined in 2nd season.

EZ Streets: A proto-The Wire - different elements of society in a decaying city - a cop working undercover with gangsters, an impoverished guy with an addict girlfriend who goes to work for said gangsters and a mayor struggling with a crack addiction while trying to save the city from economic ruin. Joe Pantoliano as the gangster was amazing.

Anonymous said...

77 Sunset Strip, going way back

71dude said...

Apple Pie was the Rue McClanahan-Dabney Coleman sitcom - it aired for two weeks in the fall of '78.

DARON72 said...

Not a sitcom but I loved "Robbery Homicide Division" that aired for a short time in the Fall of 2002. It was probably too slow-moving of a police show for most people but I thought it was great. I believe star Tom Sizemore's substance abuse problems and being up against "Law & Order: SVU" lead to its early end.

Unkystan said...

Welcome To New York (Christine Barasnski and Jim Gaffigan). CBS never gave it a chance but laugh out loud funny. Also Ellen Show (deGenerous, Cloris Leachman, Martin Mull, Gaffigan). Going back in time I'd love to see Camp Runamuck, The Practice (Danny Thomas), George & Leo (Bob Newhart, Judd Hirsch, Jason Bateman), Best of the West, Van Dyke & Co., Phyllis, The Associates, Davis Rules (especially for Jonathan Winters). I could go on, but I'm getting a little sad.

Pete Grossman said...

I know I'm going to catch hell for this (and perhaps it's already been mentioned - I haven't read all the comments), a show my wife and I terribly miss is Newsroom. So freaking sharp, so relevant, so risky and tough to write this alternate universe. We never understood the "hate watching" horseshit. Damn, those people needed to seriously get a life. Thank you Aaron Sorkin for, well, a lot, and this great work.

Cowboy Surfer said...

I enjoyed Brimstone on FOX starring Peter Horton working for the Devil.

I have no idea why but the Jackie Thomas Show starring Tom Arnold made me laugh.

Brian said...

I'd like to put a bid in for "Wish You Were Here" (CBS), created by Steven Bawol. A stockbroker, Denny Cogswell (Lew Schneider) gets tired of his job and decides to quit and travel the world. He sends videotapes back from his trips while his family watches them.

It lasted 6 episodes as a summer replacement. The only episode that I saw was when he went back to the hometown of his grandfather in the Balkans, who, apparently spoke of his impoverished upbringing and the great amount of walking he had to do. When he arrives, he sees a CASTLE with his grandfather's last name and finds out that not only was his family rich, they exploited and abused the villagers. Cogswell is disheartened to find out about his granddad's lie. He is almost thrown out of the town when he is asked, who was his grandfather was and when he says the name, the villagers' mood change immediately, "Oh, HIM! He rejected his family values and we called him "The Walker", because he couldn't bear to see others suffer."

Sadly, I seemed to have seen the last episode. I have never seen any reissue or online video for anything more than a promo for this show.

If you were to ask Sarah Vowell, she would stick up for Phoef Sutton's "Thanks", a sitcom based on Puritans.

Gabriel's Fire - James Earl Jones plays a policeman that is released from jail after 20 years for killing his partner. He is exonerated, because the partner was about to kill a family and Jones stopped him. He then goes to work for the lawyer that helped secure his release. A brilliant show that, was "fixed" when it was redone as "Cops and Robbers" featuring Jones and Richard Crenna and it became a comic drama. Legal wrangling, so I was told, keeps this off the air.

The last show I'd like to mention is "Dear Diary" starring Bebe Neuwirth and written by David Frankel. Fresh off another great but cancelled show, "Grapevine", an anthology comedy which featured stories about how couples met, "Dear Diary" was a pilot for ABC about a woman with a successful marriage, career and children, who is suddenly fired. Funny and clever, but not picked up for a series. I'd heard about this for years and finally saw it when someone uploaded it to YouTube, where it stayed for, seemingly, twenty-four minutes and 17 seconds.

Frankel was vindicated when the pilot was nominated for and won an Oscar!

Cowboy Surfer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin FitzMaurice said...

The Smothers Brothers had a summer variety program on ABC in 1970, a little more than a year after their CBS show as cancelled.

The ABC incarnation was a bit unorthodox--some shows were taped without a studio audience--but it had a refreshing, unvarnished feel to it.

There's a clip of the ABC Smothers show on YouTube featuring Harry Nilsson performing I Guess The Lord Must be In New York City.

Horaceco said...

"Trophy Wife" is a recent show that I wish had a much longer run. Funny cast and great writing. I'm glad to see that I'm not the only person who enjoyed "Studio 60".

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

The Smothers Brothers had a summer variety program on ABC in 1970, a little more than a year after CBS cancelled them.

The ABC incarnation was a bit unorthodox--some shows were taped without a studio audience--but the program had a refreshing, unvarnished feel to it, and should have been renewed.

There's a clip on YouTube from the ABC Smothers show featuring Harry Nilsson performing I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City.

Johnny Walker said...

I second the mention of Steven Moffat’s JOKING APART. Some wonderful stuff in there.

I’m surprised nobody has mentioned BAKERSFIELD PD. I feel it was an prototype for things like Arrested Development and Parks & Rec. Far more subtle than those, but I still remember it being very funny.

Also anyone remember STACKED? Pamela Anderson’s sitcom. What a bizarre thing. I don’t know how I feel about it now, but I remember thinking the writing did a good job making it work. And it had Christopher Lloyd.

Of course I remember NORTHERN EXPOSURE. I hope that hasn’t really been forgotten. The first seasons were great (although it’s one of those shows that suffered because it used expensive music that couldn’t be included on the DVD versions).

flurb said...

I'd like to nominate Jennifer Saunders' gentle but very funny single-cam followup to AB FAB: JAM AND JERUSALEM. (It was called CLATTERFORD in the US, and at least the first two seasons are on Region 1 DVDs.) Written with Abigail Wilson, it's about a women's church group in a tiny UK village. Though it has its share of satirical zingers, the tone is more affectionate and sympathetic than that of the AB FAB juggernaut. (No slam on AB FAB, which someone or other in our family still quotes at least once a week.)

The BBC lost interest in J&J by the third set of six episodes, and admittedly it repeats itself just a bit during the nine hours of its full run; still, it's got a huge cast of terrific comic actors, and a lot of very good writing, some of it genius-level. Special mention to Saunders' featuring of her erstwhile comedy partner Dawn French, who is sidesplitting as a nutcase character for most of the series, and then, in a late episode, we learn why she's so crazy, and our hearts just break.

All that, and Kate Rusby singing on the soundtrack. Lovely stuff.

Mike said...

I still remember "The Two of Us", which ran for a couple of partial seasons on CBS in the early 80s. It was an adaptation of the UK sitcom "Two's Company". The writing was ok, but the cast (mainly Peter Cook and Mimi Kennedy) was wonderful. They were a couple of decent writers away from a hit.

"Homefront" (which also included Mimi Kennedy), about three soldiers returning to a small town after WWII and the family of a fourth who didn't return, was a fun show that deserved a longer run.

Lauren said...

I loved MY WORLD AND WELCOME TO IT but I think I'd like to see it now - to see if it was as I remembered it.
Okay then two FOX shows cancelled before their time. The innovative and funny THE GOOD GUYS with Bradley Whitford and Colin Hanks. SO good! A buddy cop thing done creatively. Then KEEN EDDIE, also creative and different and starring Mark Valley and Sienna Miller. Mark is allowed to be something besides a Marine or a model.
Also miss THE ADVENTURES OF BRISCO COUNTY JR. and HOMEFRONT on ABC. Good stuff.

Mike Bloodworth said...

You've mentioned so many show I remember or at least am familiar with. Let me ad the FIRST Bill Cosby Show. (late 60's, early 70's?) Not big on jokes. The humor came out of the situations. Plus it had a great Quincy Jones theme song. Arnie starring Herschel Bernardi. Wait Till Your Father Gets Home. Hanna Barbera animation. It was supposed to complete the trilogy. i.e. the present day between the Flintstones and Jetsons. It totally sucked! Not funny and poorly animated. It could have been what the Simpsons became if it had been executed properly. Someone mentioned Fernwood, but no one brought up Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. I liked Herman's Head. Many people, including myself believe that Disney's Inside Out was a rip-off of H.H's premise. The only thing I remember about He and She was that they lived next door to a firehouse. One of the gags was that there was a plank bridge between the two buildings. The firemen would walk across the plank to come inside their apartment. I think Kenneth Mars was one of the co-stars. Finally, I know this will get me a lot of condemnation, but I DID NOT like Sports Night. Its the show that turned me off to Aaron Sorkin big-time. I must state that this has nothing to do with his politics. I feel the show was over written, pretentious and ostentatious. I didn't care for Studio 60 either.

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

I also remember Wait Till Your Father Gets Home--sort of an animated All In The Family for early evening syndication in 1972.

Saw it again many years later on Cartoon Network--it didn't hold up.

Tom Bosley provided the voice of the father; Jack Burns supplied the voice of the next door neighbor.

Stuart Raish said...

Boomtown which aired for year but even better was Southland that was on NBC & TNT.

Daniel said...

Michael Del: LOVED "The Newsroom." Hilarious series. The punchline at the end of the Chinese food episode was one of the biggest, most unexpected laughs I've ever had.

Mike Bloodworth said...

P.S. to my reply: Speaking of animation, I also loved Johnny Quest. I have the first season on DVD. It holds up pretty well. I'd love to see a movie version , but they'd probably ruin it. By the way, Complex Magazine rates J.Q. as #7 on it's list of the "50 Most Racist T.V. Shows."

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

Two more: Lou Grant and The Paper Chase.

CBS stupidly doomed Paper Chase by scheduling it opposite Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley in 1978. By the time the network moved it to a more appropriate time slot, it was too late.

I only watched the CBS installments; I never saw the Showtime episodes.

Joe Siegler said...

Herman’s Head.