Sunday, September 27, 2015

What Might've Been: Ace Crawford, Private Eye (1983)

In the 60's, Tim Conway's 1st post-McHale's Navy project had him skewering Westerns in Rango, which lasted half a season. His last sitcom, 1983's Ace Crawford, Private Eye, barely got past a month.

I think part of the problem might've been that Conway, who co-created this series, had put himself in an unenviable position, trying to duplicate what had made him so popular as part of an ensemble on McHale, as a well meaning bumbler. In fact, when you think about it, Conway basically remade Rango as Ace Crawford, subbing the hard-boiled private eye genre for Westerns.

The supporting cast included Shera Danese (Mrs. Peter Falk), Joe Regalbuto (a few years before Murphy Brown made him a big star), and Billy Barty, long associated with the Kroffts back in the 70's (i.e. The Bugaloos, Sigmund & the Sea Monsters). Had Conway tried to do a straight crime drama to demonstrate some range, this wouldn't have been written off by viewers for what it was, not so much a parody, but Conway treading a trail already blazed. Bear in mind, too, that the Zuckers' Police Squad! met a similar fate a year earlier, but was successfully resurrected in a series of movies. Ace Crawford? Not so much.

Gilmore Box offers the intro:

No rating. Tuesdays at my house meant The A-Team in those days.

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