Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Forgotten TV: Filthy Rich (1982)

During the 70's & 80's, the networks were not afraid to poke fun at the soap opera genre that was dominating daytime television. ABC was the most successful with Soap, which lasted four seasons (1977-81). NBC flopped with 1979's Highcliffe Manor. The syndicated Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman didn't last as long as you'd think, just a couple of years, and it copied the five-days-a-week format of the daytime sudsers.

CBS entered the picture in 1982 with Filthy Rich, which centered on the squabbling Beck family, who were hoping to gain an inheritance after their father, Big Guy Beck, had passed on. Only 15 episodes were produced before CBS pulled the plug.

Film vet Slim Pickens was originally cast as Big Guy, but health issues forced him out after the first pilot, replaced by Forrest Tucker (ex-F-Troop, Ghost Busters). Big Guy would appear via videotape, while the family was divided into factions. The cast also included soap veterans Ann Wedgeworth (ex-The Edge of Night, Another World), whose last foray into primetime was a brief run on Three's Company a couple of years earlier, and Charles Frank (ex-All My Children). Nedra Volz came over from Dukes of Hazzard to play Big Guy's first wife, who was now dealing with age issues (i.e. senility). 

Here's a sample episode:

Creator-producer-writer Linda Bloodworth would later reunite with Delta Burke & Dixie Carter in developing the more successful Designing Women, and brought back Wedgeworth to co-star with Burt Reynolds and friends in Evening Shade.

So why did it fail? Soap had been gone for a year by the time CBS green-lit Filthy Rich after its second pilot, and since the former was in syndication by this point, viewers preferred it to the new kid on the block. Even airing in front of M*A*S*H on Mondays didn't help during the 2nd season.

No rating.

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