I get a lot of e-mails from people asking me about television shows, made-for-TV movies or miniseries they remember from years or decades past. I try to answer each question as best I can. Every now and then I like to dig through my inbox and pull out a few choice e-mails to answer here at Television Obscurities for everyone to read. Keep reading for today’s questions and answers.
I have been trying to find the name of show I saw around the summer/fall of, probably 1977. It was a sitcom, probably 30 mins, and the setting was a remote Alaskan US Air Force radar station. It might have been one of those “summer filler” shows and not a very short lived regular schedule show. Any ideas? Ever heard of it?
I’m often impressed by what people remember about short-lived television shows, made-for-TV movies or unsold pilots. “Zero Intelligence” was an unsold pilot that aired just once during the summer of 1976. It was set in Alaska and followed the misadventures of a group of soldiers stationed at a top secret radar installation during the 1950s. “Zero Intelligence” starred Sorrell Booke starred as the base commander, along with Don Galloway, Tom Rosqui and Clyde Kusatu (as an Eskimo nicknamed “Mo”). It was broadcast as part of “ABC Comedy Theater,” a two-hour block of four unsold sitcom pilots, on Tuesday, August 10th, 1976 from 9-11PM (“Zero Intelligence” was the fourth and final pilot). Rocky was slightly off in terms of the air date but otherwise remembered quite a bit about a half-hour pilot broadcast over three decades ago.
The first pilot, alternately referred to as “The Lorenzo Music Show” or “The New Lorenzo Music Show,” starred Lorenzo Music as a character named Lorenzo Music. So he was playing himself. His real-life wife, Henrietta Music, played his character’s wife, named Henrietta Music. In the pilot, Lorenzo Music auditions for a variety/talk show. I believe David Ogden Stiers played one of the guests on the variety/talk show but I don’t know if he was playing himself or someone else. Interestingly, Lorenzo and Henrietta Music would go on to host their own syndicated variety/talk show — The Lorenzo and Henrietta Music Show — during the 1976-1977 season.
The second pilot, “Cousins,” starred Lisa Mordente and Dee Dee Rechler as — you guessed it — cousins working at an advertising agency in New York City. One was a native New Yorker, the other hailed from Denver. David Ogden Stiers played their boss. The third pilot, “The Rear Guard,” was an attempt to adapt a British comedy, Dad’s Army, for American audiences. As has often been the case, it didn’t work. Dad’s Army (which ran from 1968 to 1977) was about members of the British Home Guard — volunteers who weren’t eligible to serve in the regular armed forces — during World War II. “The Rear Guard” was about an American civil defense unit during World War II, made up of men who weren’t eligible for the regular armed forces.
“The Rear Guard” starred, among others, Lou Jacobi, Cliff Norton and Eddie Foy Jr. Many of the characters were renamed versions of characters from Dad’s Army. The pilot itself was a reworked version of an episode of Dad’s Army that originally aired in October of 1973, in which the incompetent volunteers manage to capture a German U-Boat. The creators of Dad’s Army, Jimmy Perry and David Croft, helped write the script for “The Rear Guard,” which was missing for many years until enterprising fans of Dad’s Army were able to track down a copy. You can read all about the recovery of the unsold pilot at Missing-Episodes.com. For the record, three episodes of Dad’s Army are still missing.
Footage from “The Rear Guard” was included in a 2004 DVD set, Dad’s Army – The Complete First Series Plus the ‘Lost’ Episodes of Series Two, although it is only available in Region 2 encoding.