Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Modern Classic: Too Close For Comfort (1980)

Emmy winner Ted Knight, fresh from "Caddyshack", returned to television in the fall of 1980 with Too Close For Comfort, which was as far removed from his previous, self-titled sitcom as you could get. Knight had tried to go it alone 2 years earlier at CBS, but failed.

With The Mary Tyler Moore Show in syndication, Knight was able to avoid being typecast, and headlined as cartoonist Henry Rush, creator of Cosmic Cow. The domestic sitcom format allowed Knight to demonstrate the full extent of his comic talents, backed by Nancy Dussault, Lydia Cornell, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, and Jim (JM) J. Bullock. Bullock, in fact, was meant to be a 1-shot, but the producers liked what they saw, and kept him around, mostly to be a foil for Knight.

ABC had slotted Too Close in its powerful Tuesday comedy block, but pulled a bonehead play in season 3 by moving the show to Thursdays to provide backup to the Happy Days spin-off, Joanie Loves Chachi. Oops! The series was cancelled at the end of the season.

Ah, but that wasn't the end. Producer D. L. Taffner decided to bring the show back in syndication after a year's break, extending the series by another two seasons before a title change to The Ted Knight Show in 1986. The shift to syndication also marked the end for Cornell and Van Valkenburgh, as they left the show. Audrey Meadows (ex-The Honeymooners) had been brought in while the series was still on ABC, but eventually departed as well, with Pat Carroll joining the show in her place.

Here's a sample clip:

Bullock would later take on a regular gig as a panelist on Hollywood Squares, raising his own profile, but stopping short of becoming a pop culture icon.

Rating: B.

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