Thursday, May 22, 2014

What Might've Been: The Paul Lynde Show (1972)

There's been many a show built around a star whose best work has been as part of an ensemble, but was proven unable to carry a show on his own. It happened to Tim Conway time and again in the post-McHale's Navy era. It also happened to Paul Lynde. Twice.

It was 1972. Bewitched had ended its run after 8 seasons, and was now running in daytime repeats six days a week on ABC. Lynde, appearing on Hollywood Squares over on NBC, was tapped to star in his own series after gaining iconic status as Uncle Arthur on Bewitched. He was clearly a favorite of Elizabeth Montgomery and her then-husband, William Asher, who'd formed their production company, Ashmont, toward the end of Bewitched's run, and their first post-Bewitched project cast Lynde in a very common domestic sitcom, one whose roots extended a decade.

The Paul Lynde Show actually begins with the 1962 movie, "Howie", a little known feature film based on a Broadway play. The Ashers and Lynde revisited the concept with this series, in which Paul Simms (Lynde) must navigate matters with his son-in-law, the aforementioned Howie (John Calvin). Nice idea, but one problem. It was airing opposite Adam-12 and The Carol Burnett Show. Ballgame.

The series lasted exactly 1 year, but Asher wasn't giving up on Lynde just yet. After James Whitmore was bounced from Temperatures Rising, another Ashmont series, the next season, Lynde was brought on board to replace him, playing a completely new character. Didn't help, as Rising, headlined by Cleavon Little, was another bust.

Here's the open to The Paul Lynde Show:

It wasn't long after that Lynde wound up doing commercials for Manufacturers Hanover Trust bank in New York. Go figure.

No rating. Never saw the show.


magicdog said...

I'd never seen this show but I definitely understand the problem such talented people who can't seem to carry a show. It's happened so many times over the years. I don't know if it's due to poor writing/show concepts, or that the star's mannerisms just happen to be best in small doses.

In Paul Lynde's case he was practically born to play comedy and trying to see him do anything serious would be just plain strange. If he were alive today, I have no doubt he would have had a chance to do more for some cable show where he could go beyond network censors.

hobbyfan said...

Paul did do some dramatic acting (i.e. Burke's Law), but not all that much.

A domestic sitcom didn't play to his strengths. Put him in a sketch comedy-variety show, such as Donny & Marie or the Dean Martin Show, and you get him at his best.