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Get A Life (Fox 1990-1992, Chris Elliott, Brian Doyle-Murray)

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The sitcom world has had more than its share of decade legends: The 50’s had I Love Lucy, the 60’s had The Andy Griffith Show, the 70’s had Happy Days, the 80’s had The Cosby Show, and the 90’s had Seinfeld. But what about that in-between time? Lodged somewhere between the last two, lost in that forgotten chunk of time known as the “early 90’s,” came a show that changed millions of lives. A show so ahead of its time that reviewers and audiences alike were scared by its genius, reviled by its audacity and nauseated by a humor they couldn’t yet understand. Or maybe they just didn’t like it. Either way, the callous masses deemed the series “stupid and juvenile.” The year was 1990. The network was Fox. The show was Get A Life.

The concept was simple, unfolding the lack-of-life story of Chris Peterson, played by cult fave comic Chris Elliott. Not the most original premise for a sitcom, except that Chris was a thirty-year-old paperboy who lived over his parent’s garage. His best friend was Larry Potter, an executive married to a successful woman named Sharon, who despised Chris and his negative influence on her whipped husband. Chris’ perennially bathrobed parents, Gladys and Fred (the latter played by Chris’ real-life father, Bob Elliott, one half of the veteran comedy team Bob and Ray) were supportive, if not always understanding of their son’s unwillingness to accept adulthood.

After the first season, Chris moved up in the world, out of his parents’ garage and into the garage of a retired cop named Gus. The always bitter Gus, played by Brian Doyle-Murray (Bill Murray’s brother), was like a father figure to Chris, even though he was usually just as dumbfounded by Chris’ simplicity and childishness as Fred was. However, their contrasting personalities worked to the show’s advantage, turning Chris and Gus into a veritable comic tag team.

Although the show’s material was cleverly written, most of the series’ humor came from the absurd plotlines. Some of the more memorable episodes found Chris stuck upside down on the Hell Loop Roller Coaster, starring in a local theater group’s rendition of “Zoo Animals on Wheels,” accepting a whopping $5 bribe to not rat out the corrupt FDA, working as a male escort, and developing a close bond with an extra-terrestrial named S.P.E.W.E.Y (Special Person Entering the World, Egg Yolks). In a rare move on network TV, Chris died at the end of almost one-third of the show’s 35 episodes. Some of the more interesting ways in which Chris met his maker were by getting blown up, having a giant boulder crush him, being ripped apart by Paperboy 2000, and having his head ripped off and used as a soccer ball by Gus and Sharon.

Despite the show’s poor reviews (and even poorer ratings), Get A Life garnered a huge cult following. It’s easy to see why a majority of people were unable to find humor in Chris’ singing “Mr. Bojangles” in a falsetto voice with a cat on his head (this was how he summoned his mailman), or why Chris thought Emma Samms was “the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen, with the possible exception of Charles Durning.” The show was cancelled after only two seasons, but continues to live on in the hearts and minds of Elliott-philes the land over.

production details
USA / Fox – Elliottland Productions – Mirkinvision / x25 minute episodes / Broadcast 23 September 1990 – 14 June 1992

cast
Chris Elliott as Chris Peterson
Brian Doyle-Murray as Gus
Sam Robards as Larry Potter
Robin Riker as Sharon Potter
Zachary Benjamin as Bobby Potter
Taylor Fry as Amy Potter
Elinor Donahue as Gladys Peterson
Bob Elliott as Fred Peterson

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TV

Ape And Essence (The Wednesday Play BBC-1 1966, Alec McCowen)

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In Scifi drama Ape and Essence, based on the novel by Aldous Huxley, a group of New Zealand scientists conduct a survey on a Britain ravaged by atomic war 80 years previously.

Series: The Wednesday Play Season 2 Episode 29

cast
Alec McCowen as Alfred Poole
Robert Eddison as Arch Vicar
Derek Sydney as Chief
Jenny Lee as Flossie
Yvonne Antrobus as Young Girl
Sydney Bromley as Craigie
Martin Carroll as Director of Food
Hazel Douglas as Mies Hook
John Falconer as Patriarch
Petra Markham as Loola
Ken Parry as Science Praet
Amanda Reiss as Polly
Jonathan Scott as Int. Priest
Fiona Fraser as Part of Crowd
Ann Mitchell as Shaven-Head
Jacki Salt as Mulatto Girl
Carol Blake as Shaven-Head
Gordon Craig as Part of Crowd
Robert Cude as First Man

crew details
Writer: John Finch
Book: Aldous Huxley
Music: BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Producer: Peter Luke
Director: David Benedictus.

production details
Country: UK
Network and Production Companies: BBC One
Duration: 1×75 minute episode
Aired From: 18 May 1966

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Plane Makers, The (ITV 1963-1965, Patrick Wymark, Barbara Murray)

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Plane Makers Patrick Wymark

Drama series The Plane Makers took us behind the scenes in the boardroom and shop floor of the Scott Furlong Aircraft Factory. After two seasons the lead character John Wilder took a place on the board of a merchant bank and the series was then renamed The Power Game.

cast
Patrick Wymark as John Wilder
Jack Watling as Don Henderson
Barbara Murray as Pamela Wilder (Seasons 1-2)
Ann Firbank as Pamela Wilder (Season 3)
Reginald Marsh as Arthur Sugden
Alan Dobie as David Corbett

crew details
Creator: Wilfred Greatorex
Producers: Rex Firkin (seasons 1-2), David Reid (season 3)

production details
Country: UK
Network: ITV – ATV
Duration: 57×50 minute episodes
Aired From: 4 February 1963 – 12 January 1965 black and white

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Running Wild (ITV 1987, Ray Brooks, Janet Key)

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Sitcom Running Wild was about the ups and downs of separated couple, Max and Babs, trying to get on with their lives. In season two Max wants to return to his wife but Babs is not so keen.

cast
Ray Brooks as Max Wild
Janet Key as Babs Wild
Sharon Duce as Wanda
Michelle Collins as Stephanie Wild
Peter Amory as Rob
Berwick Kaler as Tom Coleman (Season 1)
Brigit Forsyth as Jenny (Season 2)

crew details
Writer: Philip Trewinnard
Producers: Marcus Plantin (Season 1), Derrick Goodwin (Season 2)
Directors: Vic Finch (Season 1), Derrick Goodwin (Season 2)

production details
Country: UK
Network and Production Companies: ITV – London Weekend Television
Duration: 13×25 minute episodes
Aired From: 6 March 1987 – 4 June 1989

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