Saturday, June 1, 2013

Zombcom: When a Much Loved Sitcom Returned From the Dead

When Netflix revived Arrested Development it reminded me of a time in the 1970s when a beloved sitcom was resuscitated... barely.

TV blog / Make Room For Granddaddy / ABC 1970 sitcom with Danny Thomas

Make Room For Granddaddy was one of the rare times a long-running television program returned to primetime - Make Room For Daddy aka The Danny Thomas Show ran for 11 years, 1953-1964, first on ABC then on CBS.

The success that Make Room For Daddy had on CBS no doubt helped persuade ABC to greenlight a sitcom starring Thomas' daughter Marlo, an unknown actress. That Girl debuted in 1966 and, even though it never finished in the top 25, it was a comparative hit for a network in dire need of a popular program.

Danny Thomas produced two Make Room For Daddy reunion shows with the original cast, he was the first to do so. In 1969 the second one-hour special Make Room For Granddaddy aired on CBS, picking up the story of the Williams family 5 years later. It earned boffo ratings so CBS again happily offered Danny Thomas a weekly slot for the updated production. Thomas agreed but ultimately decided against it when he saw the lousy timeslot CBS had in mind.

As before, the success of That Girl had to factor into ABC's decision to pick up Make Room For Granddaddy for the fall of 1970. The original cast all returned including Marjorie Lord as wife Kathy and Angela Cartwright as daughter Linda. Rusty Hamer as son Rusty was rarely seen and a new redheaded grandchild living in the Williams household was added for the cute factor. Secondary characters played by Sid Melton and Hans Conried were occasionally seen along with new regular Rosie Greer as Danny Williams' new pianist.

Big time guest stars like Lucille Ball, Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope turned up most weeks which gave the series a Here's Lucy feel, that sitcom was a top ten hit on CBS.

Despite a primo timeslot, airing between Courtship of Eddie's Father and Room 222Make Room For Granddaddy was a flop and was pulled before the end of the season.

Here's the fall preview, Sid Melton does the voice-over:


And here's the episode with Lucy, hard to see but notice the 'modern' graphics in the theme song, very 1970 ABC.