Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Forgotten TV: Lewis & Clark (1981)

Lewis & Clark was one of the first sitcoms produced by Johnny Carson's production company for NBC. However, due to reasons known only to the network, and baseball's postseason might've had something to do with this, the series didn't start until the last week in October 1981. Uh-oh.

Lewis & Clark told the story of a city slicker, if you will, from New York (Gabe Kaplan, ex-Welcome Back, Kotter) who decides he wants to own a country music night club. So he packs his family off to Luckenbach, Texas, the town made famous in song by Willie Nelson & Waylon Jennings. Unfortunately, neither of those country icons even appeared on the show. Guich Koock (ex-Carter Country) did, as the other lead.

NBC, however, quickly found out that even though "Urban Cowboy" was still an inspiration, more than a year after its release, it wasn't registering with viewers. The network moved it from its original berth on Thursdays to Saturdays, hoping to pick up viewers from Barbara Mandrell's variety hour. That didn't work, and, just like that, NBC dry-docked Lewis & Clark, burning off the remaining episodes in the summer of '82. Koock was never heard from again, but co-stars Ilene Graff and Amy Linker would be, albeit separately. Linker was Sarah Jessica Parker's sidekick on Square Pegs, but Graff hit the jackpot, landing a gig on Mr. Belvedere, which ran for five seasons.

Here's the intro to Lewis & Clark. Wikipedia's listing for the show doesn't tell us who sang the theme song.



No rating. My folks had other interests on Thursdays, and Saturday was bowling night.

8 comments:

Hal Horn said...

Always liked Gabe Kaplan, but this show had no chance.

Guich Koock was typecast for sure. My fellow Texan was later a regular on Suzanne Somers' syndicated series "She's the Sheriff", which lasted two years. He was essentially playing the same deputy character he had played on "Carter Country". He also turned up as a guest star several times on "Walker, Texas Ranger" and other TV projects filmed in Texas.

hobbyfan said...

Oh, forgot about "She's The Sheriff", and that was reviewed a while back. Maybe if NBC put Lewis & Clark on a different night other than Thursday to start, would it have succeeded? They were that desperate for a hit show not named Little House on The Prairie back then......

Mike Doran said...

Guich Koock owned the town of Luckenbach, Texas - in real life.
He and a friend bought the place in the late '70s, and tried to turn it into a "tourist attraction" of sorts; permitting its use as a "locale" on Lewis And Clark (even though the whole show was done in Burbank) was part of that.
True story …

hobbyfan said...

Didn't know you could actually buy a city in reality. Thought that was just a plot device.

Hal Horn said...

Well, it was basically a ghost town at the time (the purchase was actually around 1970, several years before Waylon Jennings immortalized it in song) and has an official population of 3 even today; the price was $30,000 total, with Koock being a one-third partner.

I don't think there was a good landing spot for it on the NBC 1981 schedule. HARPER VALLEY was fairly compatible, at least, but everyone was watching MAGNUM P.I. from 7-8 PM CT Thursdays. Kaplan's hot streak was over at the time too (NOBODY'S PERFEKT bombed just two months earlier at theatres)--at least, away from the poker table.

hobbyfan said...

And I think today's generation might know Kaplan more as a poker player than a 70's icon. I think Harper Valley was also airing on Fridays at one point, given the constant schedule shuffling back then.

Oh, and Hal? I found a little something on YouTube you might like. A GE Theatre, I believe it is, with Forrest Tucker co-starring with Bette Davis. If you haven't already seen it or reviewed it, LMK.

Hal Horn said...

Thanks hobbyfan! I've run across it before, it's from 1958, and I believe Leif Erickson is in it too, right? I need to get around to reviewing that one and some of Tuck's other anthology appearances.

hobbyfan said...

Yes, a pre-High Chapparal Leif Erickson. I will have it up soon.