Saturday, July 3, 2021

What Might've Been: Black Bart (1975)

 After Mel Brooks' "Blazing Saddles" had been nominated for three Academy Awards, Warner Bros. decided to take a chance and spin off one of the central characters from the movie into a sitcom. The studio, it is said, tricked Brooks into thinking they had a full season's worth of episodes, 24 back in those days, in the can, but all there really was, it happens, was a pilot, which aired in April 1975, less than a year after the movie.

Black Bart landed at CBS, with future Oscar winner Louis Gossett, Jr. (billed as Lou Gossett back then) in the title role, taking over from Cleavon Little (ex-Temperatures Rising). Steve Landesberg (ex-The Bobby Darin Show) and Noble Willingham, who'd later find success in "Good Morning, Vietnam" and Walker, Texas Ranger, are among the co-stars.

Some of the dialogue would, today, be politically incorrect for obvious reasons. Gossett had done quite a bit of television comedy during this time, including a guest appearance on The Partridge Family and the TV-movie, "Skin Trade". I think he was paired with either Little or Richard Pryor (who co-wrote "Saddles" with Brooks, among others) for his Partridge appearance.

Five months later, Brooks would land at Paramount with the first of his Robin Hood parodies, When Things Were Rotten, for ABC.

No rating. Just a public service.

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