Tuesday, January 12, 2016

What Might've Been: The Jerry Lewis Show (1967)

Television, for the most part, hasn't been kind to Jerry Lewis.

Aside from his appearances on The Colgate Comedy Hour with Dean Martin, Lewis fronted three self-titled series, one of which was a 1-week late night talk show in the 80's. To think of Lewis today in conjunction with television usually entails his many years as national chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and hosting an annual September telethon that bore his name.

In 1963, ABC signed up Lewis for a Saturday night variety show. 40 episodes were promised, but the series was cancelled after 13, due largely to production being suspended in late November after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, more so than falling ratings.

Four years later, with ex-partner Martin well entrenched at NBC, Lewis joined him there, as The Jerry Lewis Show was rebooted, broadcast in color. This version lasted two seasons, slotted against the likes of Red Skelton and, in season 2, The Mod Squad. While Martin's show was at the bottom of the lineup, Lewis was near the top. It all goes according to the type of comedy sketches each wanted.

Let's take a look at a sample episode, featuring Joey Heatherton and Laurence Harvey.

As great a physical comic as Lewis was in his prime years, viewers had grown accustomed to Skelton on Tuesdays at the time.

Can't fairly rate this based on this small sample.

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