New Article: Otherworld

I’m a sucker for television shows involving time travel or alternate/parallel universes and thus this article is as much for me as it is for fans of Otherworld. I’d definitely call the show a popular obscurity but it was certainly short-lived (just eight episodes) and left an impression on many viewers, some of whom decades later e-mailed me wondering just what was this show they remembered.

This drama series ran for just eight episodes during the 1984-1985 season on CBS and was soon cancelled due to low ratings. Nevertheless, it developed a small but passionate fan base intrigued by the concept of an everyday family marooned on a parallel Earth where life is similar but different in every way. CBS insisted on a family friendly show and during its short run Otherworld produced episodes resembling Beauty and the Beast, Footloose and Mad Max.

There’s also an unfortunate rumor circulating that five episodes of Otherworld were filmed and never aired in the United States. The Internet Movie Database page for the series includes this rumor in its trivia section. And Wikipedia even states that viewers in Spain remember seeing an episode in which the Sterlings found their way home!

While at least one unproduced script does exist, there are no additional unaired episodes. Otherworld was syndicated in the United States by two cable channels, both of which certainly would have picked up the rights to additional episodes if they were available. And if these five episodes were broadcast internationally there would be more than just rumors. Someone would have seen them and know for sure. Plus, contemporary articles and reviews explicitly refer to the existence of just eight episodes.

None of them, however, explain why the two-hour pilot movie was cut in half. Perhaps CBS just wanted eight episodes to fill its schedule rather than seven (the pilot plus six standalone episodes). I’d love to see more episodes of Otherworld but they’re just not out there.


2 Comments

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    Sure, I remember “OTHERWORLD”: it aired on Saturday nights at 8pm(et) from January through March 1985. The fact that CBS scheduled it in one of their “worst” time periods [the majority of viewers watched “DIFF’RENT STROKES”, and whatever teen-oriented comedy Brandon Tartikoff could pair it with, on NBC at that hour] proved they didn’t have much faith in the series to begin with. But, they had this deal with MCA/Universal to schedule several of their shows that fall {among them were “CHARLES IN CHARGE” and “WHIZ KIDS”}, and just “threw it on the wall to see if it would stick” in mid-season. The series may have had a loyal “cult audience”, but, as now, that often isn’t enough to sustain a series that “the majority” often tunes out.

  • Eric Paddon says:

    The only series I know of where the lovely Gretchen Corbett (“The Rockford Files”) was a regular cast member (being only a semi-regular on Rockford).