Thanks to Zack Smith for calling my attention to the availability of this ’80s cult flop (well, it’s not a big cult) on YouTube. This show was created by Michael Moye and Ron Leavitt, who had worked together on shows like The Jeffersons and Silver Spoons. For their own show, they pulled Jason Bateman off the cast of Silver Spoons and made him the star of a show that was, at the very least, an attempt to do something a little different from other comedies of the era. Bateman played a kid who is an old-fashioned con-man and scam artist, a Tom Sawyer type of character who used to be ubiquitous in kids’ fiction but is now mostly absent. (He was sold as kind of a cross between J.R. Ewing and Alex Keaton, only younger.) The main conflict of the show was between Bateman and his single mother’s boyfriend (David Garrison) who is essentially an older version of Bateman’s character, and can sometimes foil his scams.
The show wasn’t all that funny most of the time — the rather anemic studio audience reaction, frequently backed up by canned laughter, demonstrates that — but it was at least trying to be edgier than the other network comedies. When it was canceled after one season, Moye and Leavitt wound up going over to the new Fox network, bringing Garrison along with them, to create Married… With Children.
This two-part episode, entitled “Dregs of Humanity,” is the most famous episode of this show: Bateman comes up with a fake band consisting of skeletons, which leads to hijinks, complications, and sticky situations. The episode is full of jokes about the ’80s music world, making it a time capsule — more so in this upload because it includes the original NBC commercials. (“It all starts with David Hasselhoff on the trail of Jack the Ripper!”)
This is the second part of the two-parter, complete with long recap of the first part; part 1 is available on YouTube. Don’t you love the way these shows would have a voice-over announcer actually recapping the plot, instead of just a “previously on…” and a bunch of clips?