Thursday, October 20, 2016

What Might've Been: O. K. Crackerby (1965)

The late Cleveland Amory, best known as a television critic for TV Guide for what seemed like forever, decided to develop a show of his own in 1965. Unfortunately, O. K. Crackerby, Amory's pride & joy (co-created with Abe Burrows), was a one season entry for United Artists & ABC.

The title character is a millionaire and single parent (Burl Ives, Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer) who thought that his money could elevate him into high society. Amory wanted the show to be more about Crackerby's major domo, St. John Quincy (Hal Buckley), but once Ives was brought aboard, everything changed.

The series lasted 17 episodes total before ABC scuttled it. A season earlier, the similarly themed The Tycoon, with Walter Brennan, had likewise flopped. The other common bond between Brennan and Ives, other than their musical pursuits, was that their next series would each be a greater success. Brennan with The Guns of Will Sonnett (1967-9) and Ives with The Bold Ones: The New Lawyers.

Let's take a look at part one of the episode, "Crackerby the Treasurer".

The shift in creative direction from Amory's vision to Burrows' final product, perhaps mandated by UA and/or ABC resulted in the show's low ratings and subsequent cancellation in January 1966, making room for Robert Goulet's similarly unsuccessful Blue Light.

Based on what we've seen, it's easy to understand why it failed. Money doesn't buy everything, and what was meant to be satire wasn't perceived as such.

Rating: C.

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