Sunday, February 18, 2018

What Might've Been: Condo (1983)

After leaving M*A*S*H, McLean Stevenson must've been cursed by a gypsy or something, because every series he tried as a lead ultimately failed, the most successful of which was Hello, Larry, which ran for 2 seasons.

Condo was the last of those series. One of several Spring 1983 replacements for ABC, Stevenson and Luis Avalos (ex-The Electric Company) were cast as neighbors in adjacent condominiums. What producers Paul Junger Witt & Tony Thomas (Benson, Soap) and John Rich tried to do was create a show that would have the same kind of racial tension as, say for example, All in The Family or The Jeffersons, the latter of which was still on the air at the time.

So what killed Condo? Trying to reinvent the wheel, if you will. Co-producers Saul Turtletaub & Bernie Orenstein had also worked on Sanford & Son and What's Happening!, but everything else they developed for ABC (i.e. 13 Queens Boulevard) flopped.

Edit, 5/31/2020: We have to change the video. Here's part 1 of the series opener:

Marc Price, at the time, was only a recurring regular on Family Ties, and would land a full-time deal with that series the following fall. James Victor would be better known for his role as Sgt. Mendoza in the 1990 remake of Zorro.

Rating: C.


Hal said...

Hello, Larry is the butt of most of the Stevenson Curse jokes, but this series was far worse IMO.

hobbyfan said...

McLean also co-hosted a talk show, which came about a couple of years after "Condo". Yep, said yak-fest also fell in under a year.

magicdog said...

I remember this one. Despite having great writers in the team (like Paul Junger Witt & Tony Thomas who were part of "Soap", "Benson" & "Golden Girls"), this was bad. I blame TPTB for trying to bring back Norman Lear's sitcoms in some fashion (something Lear himself did do around this time with "AKA Pablo"). The show would always push jokes about class and color differences all. the. time. while trying to be "edgy" for an 80s audience.

One episode in particular I remember was that the older son of McClean Stevenson's character, had an affair with the hispanic daughter and got her pregnant (they did get married). She eventually gave birth and we got to see some cringe worthy jokes from friends of the boy's family making crude remarks about the baby ("He looks just like you! Hey nice tan!") and when the baby mamma steps into the room, there's another remark about her being "hired help".

I don't know if you noticed but the opening credits seemed to also push the different reasons for the families to move to the condo and end up neighbors (when IRL, they might not have). The white family seemed to be downsizing (ie. unable to afford to live in their nice big house) while the hispanic family was moving on up to a better one (not quite as high as the Jeffersons, but better than how they started).

hobbyfan said...

Plot contrivance to advance the attempt at racial humor? Yep. Seems that way. Seems they were trying to fuse together concepts of "All in the Family" and "Chico & the Man" (why I didn't think of that in the first place, I don't know).