Thursday, September 5, 2013

What Might've Been: Delta House (1979)

The long running humor magazine National Lampoon may have peaked commercially in the 70's & 80's. How, you ask? Well, there was a namesake radio show, and, in 1978, the hit feature film, "National Lampoon's Animal House", which was star John Belushi's ticket out of Saturday Night Live. The "Vacation" movie series with another alum of SNL, Chevy Chase, came along in the mid 80's. The last film to bear the magazine's name, "Van Wilder", introduced America to Ryan Reynolds. Hey, not everything works, ya know?

Also filed under "not everything works" was a short-lived sitcom spin-off from "Animal House". Delta House spent four months on ABC in 1979, returning five cast members from the movie, but not the most important one. I believe Belushi was still doing SNL at the time, and about to begin "Blues Brothers", so he wasn't available to reprise as "Bluto" Blutarsky. That led the producers to create a heretofore unseen brother, Blotto, played by a second generation actor, Josh Mostel (papa Zero was in "Fiddler On The Roof" & the original "The Producers"). While it was a great idea to continue the story, viewers didn't agree, and turned away in droves. I guess Belushi was the selling point to the movie, after all, and if he's not there, they're not digging.

I believe this was the last series that Edward Montagne produced for Universal, I'm not sure, a dubious end to a career spanning three decades in television.

Of course, there was some light at the end of the tunnel. Stephen Furst (Flounder) would resurface in a more serious role a few years later, first on St. Elsewhere, then on Babylon 5. John Vernon turned to cartoons and worked on Batman: The Animated Series. What I would later discover is that Vernon actually had been doing cartoons before "Animal House". He worked on the Canadian produced Marvel Superheroes Show in 1966.

Gilmore Box uploaded the open:

Simply put, ABC put the show on the wrong night. Had it been fitted into their powerful Tuesday lineup, fitted somewhere between Happy Days & Three's Company, which I think was already on Tuesdays by then, maybe it succeeds after all.

Rating: B-.


magicdog said...

I seem to remember Susan Sarrandon was on this show at some point.

It's impressive how many of the original cast from the film were able to reprise their roles for TV!

I think the problem was this schtick was better suited to the big screen. Continuing the Delta House adventures seemed like such an afterthought. Belushi, too was the big act to follow and without him, a big piece of the magic was lost.

magicdog said...

Addendum: Did you catch that in joke with the building in the background? It was called "Hunts Hall"!!

Get it??

hobbyfan said...

Ah, a reference/homage to Huntz Hall of Bowery Boys fame. John Landis must've been a fan.......