What 7 Classic TV Shows Were Almost Called

ABC
ABC

Just like films, TV shows often go through several name changes from original concept to pilot script to pitch meeting to "We think it would be more marketable if you called it [fill-in-the-title]." Here are 7 examples.

1. HAPPY DAYS // NEW FAMILY IN TOWN

In the early 1970s, Garry Marshall and Jerry Belson collaborated on a TV series set in idyllic 1950s Milwaukee. Paramount passed on New Family in Town, but they did eventually retool that pilot script and used it as a piece called "Love and the Happy Days" on their anthology series Love, American Style in 1972. That segment was so well-received that Marshall and Belson were hired to produce a series based on their original idea, only with a new title (Happy Days) and some new casting (Tom Bosley instead of Harold Gould).

2. IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA // JERKS

When Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day, and Rob McElhenney were cobbling together the pilot script for a proposed TV series about a group of very self-centered buddies, they pitched it to various networks with a title which they felt best summed up the main characters: Jerks. FX kinda sorta liked the idea, except for the title and the locale (the show was originally set in Los Angeles). The creators changed the setting of their show to McElhenney's hometown and the new name just presented itself: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

3. DIFF'RENT STROKES // 45 MINUTES FROM HARLEM

When Norman Lear was asked by Fred Silverman to build a series around 10-year-old Gary Coleman, he mapped out a basic story that had Coleman being adopted by a wealthy white man who lived in the Westchester town of Hastings-on-Hudson and called the project 45 Minutes from Harlem. Conrad Bain was brought on board to portray the pater familias, and he suggested the backstory (wealthy widower honoring his dying housekeeper's request that he adopt her two boys) that became the premise of the series. Since the millionaire's home had moved from the suburbs to nearby Manhattan, the name of the show was changed to Diff'rent Strokes.

4. THE OUTER LIMITS // PLEASE STAND BY

The science fiction anthology series The Outer Limits was originally going to be called Please Stand By. But with the Cuban Missile Crisis so fresh in America's mind, ABC decided that flashing the words "Please Stand By" on TV screens might send viewers rushing to their backyard bomb shelters.

5. THAT 70S SHOW // TEENAGE WASTELAND

That 70s Show was called Teenage Wasteland when Ashton Kutcher auditioned for the role of Michael Kelso. The pilot script underwent a few more name changes (including another Who classic, The Kids Are Alright) before it finally aired under its familiar title.

6. ROSEANNE // LIFE AND STUFF

The original title for Roseanne was Life and Stuff, which its star felt neatly summed up the premise of the show. However, by the time the pilot was filmed, the producers thought it wise to exploit the skyrocketing success of Roseanne Barr's standup comedy and named the show after the "Domestic Goddess" America seemed to love. "Life and Stuff" became the title of the premiere episode.

7. FRAGGLE ROCK // WOOZLE WORLD

When creator Jim Henson first envisioned a utopia of different Muppet creatures living together in harmony, he called them "Woozles" and tentatively titled the series Woozle World. The other "species" detailed in his early drafts included the Giant Wozles (who evolved into the Gorgs) and the Wizzles, a precursor to the Doozers. Eventually, it became Fraggle Rock.

Breaking Bad Movie's Title, Release Date, and Plot Details Revealed

Frank Ockenfels, AMC
Frank Ockenfels, AMC

While Better Call Saul has been a wonderful way to stave off Breaking Bad withdrawals, fans have been waiting months to get more details on the Breaking Bad movie that was announced earlier this year. And it has finally arrived. Netflix has just announced that the movie, titled El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, will drop on October 11, 2019.

According to the official synopsis, the film will "reunite" fans with Aaron Paul's Jesse Pinkman following the events of the series' highly acclaimed finale:

"In the wake of his dramatic escape from captivity, Jesse must come to terms with his past in order to forge some kind of future. This gripping thriller is written and directed by Vince Gilligan, the creator of Breaking Bad."

According to Variety, "It is unclear whether Bryan Cranston, who played main character Walter White in the series, will appear in the film. Cranston has previously confirmed that the film was happening but would not say whether or not he would be involved."

While Cranston's involvement may be unknown, based on the newly released trailer, it's clear that Charles Baker will be reprising his role as Skinny Pete. (We can only hope that this means Badger will be along for the ride, too.)

Though Breaking Bad aired on AMC, partnering with Netflix makes sense for the film, as the streaming network owns the rights to the series (which remains a popular binge-watch). And Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan has credited Netflix with being a key reason for the show’s ultimate ratings success.

While accepting the show’s first Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series in 2013 (it won again the following year), Gilligan took a moment to acknowledge the integral role Netflix played in helping Breaking Bad find its audience.

“I think Netflix kept us on the air,” Gilligan said. “Not only are we standing up here, I don’t think our show would have even lasted beyond season 2 … It’s a new era in television, and we’ve been very fortunate to reap the benefits.”

This Damn Fine Twin Peaks Box Set Is the Only One Fans Will Ever Need

Amazon
Amazon

Fans of David Lynch’s three-season drama Twin Peaks know there’s quite a lot to excavate. The series, which ran from 1990 to 1991 on ABC and returned for a one-season engagement on Showtime in 2017, has been a perpetual source of ambiguity, red herrings, and the downright inexplicable.

Now there’s a centralized hub of all things Peaks to dwell on. Twin Peaks: From Z to A is a Blu-ray box set containing all episodes of the original series; 1992’s feature film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me; 2017's Twin Peaks: The Return; an international version of the 1990 pilot with additional footage; as well as an abundance of new and archival material totaling 20 hours in length.

The box for the 'Twin Peaks: From Z to A' Blu-ray DVD set is pictured
Amazon

Inside the package, which is illustrated with the Douglas firs that are part of the show’s iconography, are mini-figures of Special Agent Dale Cooper and Laura Palmer, played in the show by Kyle MacLachlan and Sheryl Lee, respectively. The box acts as a diorama of sorts and opens to reveal the Red Room, a location where many of the show’s most surreal moments took place. A series of three-by-five index cards provide backdrops of key scenes. The only thing the set doesn’t have is Lynch’s hand-drawn map of the show’s Washington location, but you can find that here.

The set is limited to 25,000 copies. It retails for $139.99 on Amazon and is due for release on December 10.

[h/t Newsweek]

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER