Thursday, May 12, 2016

What Might've Been: Fernwood 2-Night (1977)

The talk show genre was begging to be parodied. Norman Lear was more than willing to oblige. Unfortunately, the idea was short-sighted, and shouldn't have been.

Fernwood 2-Night lasted just 2 months as a summer replacement for Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, and was set in the same fictional city as the latter, Fernwood, Ohio. While Hartman satirized soap operas, Fernwood's Barth Gimble (Martin Mull) & Jerry Hubbard (Fred Willard) were clearly modeled after Johnny Carson & Ed McMahon (The Tonight Show), but with a more laid back approach. Frank deVol was cast as bandleader Happy Kyne, fronting the Merry Makers, who were anything but when the camera was on them.

In a way, Fernwood was an extension of Hartman, sharing some of the same characters, including the mayor (Dabney Coleman) and citizens like Sylvia Miller (Fannie Flagg).

I don't have much memory of watching the show or its follow-up, America 2-Night, which ran for 4 months in 1978 after Hartman ended its run. Hence, no rating.

We'll leave you with a sample episode.

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