Two oddball comedies are back on TV after a long hiatus. Do they still work? The short answer is yes! In the long answer, let’s start with a story that started a long time ago:
In the fall of 1960, the CBS sitcom “Our Miss Brooks” came on the air for a full half-hour. The premise was essentially the same as a classic American storybook: a young girl was raised by her eccentric and abusive uncle. By the end of the show, the girl would “walk,” a word that meant to become an adult, when the uncle would be banished for good.
During the summer of 1963, the show did well enough that CBS asked the show’s writer, John J. O’Connor, to rewrite a longer episode. It would have been similar to the one he had written with Paul Julian and John Forsythe, but rather than being about a young girl and her uncle, it would have been about the girl, her friend, and the uncle’s best-friend friend. The new episode was titled “Walk,” and would feature the woman with the funny name being the lead.
But the show was a disaster. This was not the result of the first writer, though. As CBS was figuring out how to make the show, a much better script was being written by Arthur Laurents, George Abbott, and Mike Binder.
The network liked the script, and the episode was rushed into production. When it aired in November 1963, it was canceled, replaced by “The Odd Couple” and “The Honeymooners.” The original “Walk” was never broadcast.
A similar, and more serious, case happened at first on the ABC show “The Life and Legend of Lonesome Dove” in the summer of 1971. The CBS version had originally aired in 1961, but then the program was dropped because it was not a hit. Then, in 1963, the show was picked up by ABC, and a show-within-the-show took the place of the old half-hour series. The theme song that used to drive the show (“