Be Thankful the ’80s Are Over


This weekend’s Filler Clip ™: I have never seen this show, and probably never will, but I know of it because I had a book called “The Best of TV Sitcoms” (a guide to the best U.S. sitcoms from the ’50s through ’80s, as chosen by newspaper critics) where critics chose it as the worst sitcom of the ’80s. The worst sitcom of any decade is pretty impressive; worst of the ’80s is kind of an astounding achivement. That was, after all, a time when bad network TV shows were worse than they would ever be allowed to be today — there are lots of bad shows now, but they usually have a certain baseline of technical competence.

Apparently it was one of the first projects Fred Silverman set up as an independent producer after he left NBC. (Having run all three networks, there was nowhere left for him to go as an executive. If only Fox had existed at that time.) He and the creators sold it to NBC in the middle of their pre-Cosby slump, and NBC put it on the air. It was about two guys who run an ad for a live-in maid, and wind up hiring a gorgeous blonde. In other words, Three’s Company with one girl and two guys and with the guys’ steady girlfriends replacing the Ropers. Then it got revived in syndication, because in the late ’80s everything was getting revived in syndication.

I’m actually surprised that cable channels — which have taken the place of syndication when it comes to ordering and running cheap sitcoms– have been slow to do the same, and commission new episodes of canceled broadcast-network shows. Maybe the success of The Game on BET will prompt other cable networks to do the same.

Anyway, I don’t know if this was the worst sitcom of its era and I’m not very anxious to find out, but I do know one thing: those glittering credits effects were pretty snazzy at the time.


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Be Thankful the ’80s Are Over

  1. I'm not entirely sure on the ratings, but I believe Futurama has done decently well on Comedy Central.

  2. I would think reviving a canceled broadcast show that wasn't an out-and-out bomb, but rather an on-the-bubble show that just happened to fall off the wrong side of the bubble, would make sense. You'd have a built-in audience, at least for the first couple of episodes. An ideal candidate would be a show that's already been on for a couple of years and built a following that, while perhaps too small for network, would be sizable in a cable channel's eyes. I know not everyone migrates when a show moves from broadcast to cable, but for a lot of on-the-bubble shows, even half the audience would be good for a lot of cable channels.

    For example, I thought My Name is Earl would have been a good candidate for cable-channel revival.

    • There actually was some talk about reviving Earl for TBS, as I recall. But that show had several things working against it, most obviously that it was really expensive to produce and there weren't a lot of places to cut the budget. Greg Garcia said something to the effect that negotiations with TBS fell apart because they couldn't make the economics work without damaging the integrity of the show.

      In other words, it's hard to revive an expensive show on the cheap. I'm not exactly sure how Futurama does it, though I assume Fox is willing to swallow some of the cost because they'll make it back in DVD sales and syndication.

      (I suppose Earlcould have saved money by moving production to Atlanta the way The Game did, but who knows if the cast would have accepted that.)

      • I also got the impression that the Futurama cast all had to take a haircut to get the new season (and the movies) made. True, they didn't end up using different voice actors like Fox threatened, but I doubt they are being paid what they all thought they should be making.

        Of course, in the years off the air, a haircut might end up meaning "about the same pay as when the show was cancelled the first time."

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