Monday, June 9, 2014

What Might've Been: The Pruitts of Southampton and The Phyllis Diller Show (1966-7)

Picture this scenario. You're filthy rich beyond your wildest dreams. You have everything you've ever wanted. That is, until the Internal Revenue Service comes a'callin', and claims you owe a ton of money in back taxes. Now, you're broke, but you get to keep the tony mansion, with all the coolest swag kept hidden under lock & key.

So went the premise of The Pruitts of Southampton, one of two sitcoms Filmways sold to ABC in 1966 after the demise of The Addams Family. Phyllis Diller toplined, and sang the show's theme song.........

Unfortunately, viewers weren't buying into a premise that was, for all intents & purposes, a reverse of another Filmways series, CBS' Beverly Hillbillies. They could see through it all, and ABC pulled the show back into the shop for repairs, if ya will.

When the series returned, it was rechristened The Phyllis Diller Show, but the concept remained the same, although the open suggested more slapstick comedy was on the docket. Addams star John Astin joined the cast, as the Pruitt mansion was rejiggered into a boarding house. DentelTV1 uploaded a sample episode:

The concept was the brainchild of executive producer David Levy, who also adapted Addams for television. Writer-producer Nat Perrin was also a holdover from Addams, but in hindsight, they might've been better off renewing Addams Family for a 3rd season and add Phyllis as an eccentric, heretofore undiscovered relative or something. Richard Deacon, fresh from The Dick Van Dyke Show, was cast as IRS agent Baldwin, sympathetic to the Pruitts' cause, but also vulnerable to the silliness that was going on.

Could something like this work today? Go back to what I said earlier about this being a reverse of Beverly Hillbillies. A feature film version of that cherished classic didn't work at the box office, and with the economy what it is now, doing this over again won't work, either.

Diller would turn to variety for her next---and last---series. Yep, that failed, too.

No rating.


magicdog said...

They could try to revive the concept - but then Lois Learner would sick her trolls on the show's creators!

I rather like the idea of Phyllis Diller having been on Addams Family! Maybe as a relative, maybe as a neighbor who isn't scared by their odd lifestyle.

hobbyfan said...

Lois Learner? Who dat?

magicdog said...

You're kidding right?

hobbyfan said...

No, I'm not. I've never heard of Ms. Learner.