Weekend Flop Viewing: OPEN ALL NIGHT

This show had a very, very, very short run on ABC; I’ve posted the title song before (which is sort of famous even though the show isn’t). It was the first show created by the team of Tom Patchett and Jay Tarses after they left MTM productions, where they had produced The Bob Newhart Show and created The Tony Randall Show. (I think it was also one of the first shows, if not the first, where Patchett and Tarses’s powerful manager, Bernie Brillstein, gave himself an executive producer credit, paving the way for zillions of similar credits for Hollywood agents on TV shows.) It was similar to the British show Open All Hours, which was also about a guy who runs an all-night supermarket, but it was never formally credited as a remake, and I think this is one of those cases where the producers used a similar idea but changed enough things that they didn’t actually have to bill it as a remake.

It was a fairly typical product of the Patchett/Tarses sensibility. Tarses was angry, dark and given to experimentation; Patchett was more mainstream and light-hearted. As the linked New York Times article notes, their partnership broke up during their next and most famous creation, Buffalo Bill, because they resented having to balance each other out; they went their separate ways and did their own thing, with Tarses doing one-camera dramedies (The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd) and Patchett doing broad family comedy (Alf, which holds up a little better than Molly Dodd).

This is the pilot of Open All Night; later episodes — not all the produced episodes were actually aired — were a little wilder and more surreal, but this gives an idea of the slightly downbeat, despairing comedy that Patchett and Tarses were going for within the mainstream comedy format. It introduces the main characters: George Dzundza as the lead, Susan Tyrrell as his ditzy wife, Sam Whipple as his slacker stepson, Bubba Smith as another football player in TV, and a male-female cop team that seems to anticipate the cops on Corner Gas (though I doubt there’s any direct influence); Jay Tarses played the older cop himself, and his rookie partner was played by Bever-Leigh Banfield.

Act One:

Act Two:

And here, from a later episode, is the end of David Letterman’s recurring cameo: