One of the less successful moments in the late George Carlin’s great career was in 1994 when he did a self-titled sitcom for the Fox network. It was a well-meaning project. Fox, which had been in business less than ten years, still had a reputation for being an edgy network; it was the only broadcast network that would have allowed Carlin to be even a watered-down version of himself. Any other network would have stuck him with a wife and three cute kids; on Fox he was a weird conspiracy-theorizing New York cabbie, which is a character he could plausibly play. The creator was Sam Simon, one of the co-creators of The Simpsons; it was his first project after quitting The Simpsons. And the show was slotted after Married… With Children, a very solid hit and not a bad lead-in for Carlin’s iconoclasm.
But the show just didn’t work out, perhaps because Simon, a notoriously difficult person to get along with (on The Simpsons he and Matt Groening pretty much hated each other, and he quit the show after a falling-out with Jim Brooks), was perhaps not great for Carlin to work with. Carlin suggested as much on his website when he wrote the following about the show:
January, 1994 – “The George Carlin Show” premieres on Fox Television. Lasts 27 episodes. Lesson learned: always check mental health of creative partner beforehand. Loved the actors, loved the crew. Had a great time. Couldn’t wait to get the fuck out of there. Cancelled December, 1995.
Here are some promos for the early episodes, which don’t make it look very appetizing, but I suspect the series itself had better moments (not enough, however, to make it work):