Thursday, April 3, 2014

What Might've Been: Mr. T & Tina (1976)

After successfully getting Welcome Back, Kotter off the ground, producer James Komack couldn't land another hit at ABC. Oh, he tried, but for some reason, no matter what he did, it didn't pan out.

In the summer of 1976, as memory serves, I recall seeing a live-action pilot adapting the Archie comics for television. Unfortunately, that's been lost to the mists of time. We told you before about Sugar Time, Komack's homage to girl groups after a fashion. Now, here's a series that made the fall schedule in 1976, but didn't survive Halloween.

Mr. T & Tina brought Pat Morita over from Happy Days via a back-door pilot on Kotter, where he played Toro Takahashi (same last name as his Days character of Arnold). In fact, the Sweathogs appear at the start of the following video, uploaded by Gilmore Box:




Co-star Susan Blanchard might be better known for 2 things. Her husband was soap star Charles Frank (All My Children), and for a number of years, Ms. Blanchard did commercials for No Nonsense pantyhose. Komack brought in veteran writers-producers Bob Carroll, Jr. & Madelyn Davis (ex-I Love Lucy), but their comic talents were of little help. If memory serves, the series was slotted in between Kotter & Barney Miller, so it should've succeeded, but it lost viewers and was gone by the end of October. Co-star Ted Lange (ex-That's My Mama) rebounded and boarded The Love Boat, while Morita returned to Paramount, which cast him in Blansky's Beauties, another flop, this one, as memory serves, headlining Nancy Walker (Rhoda), otherwise known for her ads for Bounty paper towels.

No rating. Never saw the show.

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