Friday, November 23, 2018

What Might've Been: Anna & The King (1972)

20th Century Fox bequeathed CBS with a pair of sitcoms in 1972, both based on hit movies. You know, of course, that M*A*S*H went on to win a bunch of Emmy awards in its 11 seasons (1972-83), and gradually transitioned into more of a dramedy as time progressed.

Anna & The King, you'd think, would've also been a winner. Yul Brynner, having already won an Oscar and 2 Tony awards for his role in the movie and stage versions of "The King & I", made a rare foray into television to reprise as the King of Siam, this time opposite Samantha Eggar (Deborah Kerr had the role of Anna in the movie). Brynner was back at CBS, which gave him his first television job several years earlier as a director on Studio One.

So what went wrong? It aired on Sundays, opposite the 2nd half of The Wonderful World of Disney. Game over.

Interestingly, Keye Luke had the distinction of co-starring on Anna as well as ABC's freshman series, Kung Fu, which premiered a month later, and didn't air weekly during its first season. For Luke, it was really a hat trick, since he was also the lead voice in the CBS Saturday morning series, The Amazing Chan & The Chan Clan that same season. Brian Tochi, who played the Prince, may be better known for his later Saturday morning work, co-starring in Space Academy five years later, also for CBS.

Unfortunately, Anna & The King lasted just 12 episodes, when its pedigree suggested it should've succeeded. Had it been on a different night, things might've been different.

Gilmore Box provides the intro:

No rating. My house was a Disney house on Sundays.

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