Thursday, April 17, 2014

What Might've Been: The Jimmy Stewart Show (1971)

To be perfectly honest, I didn't even know this show existed.

Movie legend Jimmy Stewart headlined his own primetime sitcom in 1971 for NBC. That was the good news. The bad was that it lasted just 1 season, and this was despite the fact it aired in back of the venerable Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights.

Stewart had tried a series once before----on radio. His Western, The Six Shooter, made the transition to television under the title, The Restless Gun, which we reviewed a while ago. Here, Stewart plays a college professor who opens his doors to his son (Jonathan Daly) and daughter-in-law (Ellen Geer) and their two children. Perhaps another reason this show flopped was the presence of character actor John McGiver, who had previously flopped as a lead (Many Happy Returns) and in a supporting role (Mr. Terrific) in the 60's.

You'll notice that The Jimmy Stewart Show operated without a laugh track, one of the first of the modern era to do so. Series creator Hal Kanter had moved to WB from 20th Century Fox after Julia had ended, but his golden touch seemed to have been left behind.

While I never signed up for it, there is a blogathon devoted to Stewart, mostly his movie work, as I didn't see anyone offer to cover his TV series, much less radio. Stewart would give it another go, but not with a weekly series, two years later. However, Hawkins, a series of TV-movies that cast Stewart as a lawyer, failed to get past 1 season as well. Oddly enough, the concept was tweaked and revisited in the 80's, becoming a huge comeback hit for Andy Griffith as Matlock. Go figure.

Here's the intro:

Perhaps Stewart should take solace in the fact that after his show was cancelled, ABC and producer Don Fedderson tried out another cinema legend, Henry Fonda, in The Smith Family. And, yep, that was also a 1 year wonder.

Rating: B.

No comments: