NBC, desperate for a hit show not named The A-Team, Knight Rider, or Hill Street Blues for their primetime lineup, thought that going ape might solve the problem in 1983. Nope.
Mr. Smith was given the lead-off spot in the network's Friday block, as one lead-in to Knight Rider, which was entering its 2nd season. It had been a year since ABC had cancelled Mork & Mindy, but the first fantasy-sitcom to land on NBC since, well, Captain Nice, flopped badly opposite The Dukes of Hazzard.
CJ, the orangutan co-star in "Any Which Way But Loose" and "Every Which Way You Can" with Clint Eastwood, landed the title role, with co-executive producer Ed. Weinberger supplying the voice. Yes, they tried to sell us a talking orangutan, the product of the simian drinking an experimental potion. Leonard Frey (ex-Best of the West), Stuart Margolin (ex-The Rockford Files), and Tim Dunigan, who played Templeton Peck in the pilot episode of A-Team before being replaced by Dirk Benedict, are the human stars of note.
Gilmore Box serves up the open:
No rating. My late dad might've found Mork amusing, but back then, Fridays meant Dukes at our house.