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13 TV Shows That Changed Titles

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When these shows got retooled, their names got changed, too.

1. New Title: Seinfeld / Original Title: The Seinfeld Chronicles

Original Title

New Title

When NBC aired Jerry Seinfeld’s new TV show on July 5, 1989, its title was very different from the one we know and love today—at least for an episode. The comedy was called The Seinfeld Chronicles for its pilot episode and then changed to simply Seinfeld. NBC was worried that audiences would mistake The Seinfeld Chronicles for another TV comedy called The Marshall Chronicles on its rival network, ABC. Both TV shows aired in 1990, but only one is considered the greatest TV comedy of all-time.

2. New Title: Ellen / Original Title: These Friends of Mine

Comedian Ellen DeGeneres was at the center of the TV comedy These Friends of Mine, which premiered on ABC in 1994. During the show’s first season, DeGeneres’ star was on the rise, and she was becoming more popular than her TV friends. When These Friends of Mine returned for season two, it was re-titled Ellen to suit the titular character and to capitalize on DeGeneres’ growing popularity.

3. New Title: Saturday Night Live / Original Title: NBC’s Saturday Night

NBC’s long-running late night sketch comedy and variety show Saturday Night Live has been on the air since 1975. While we’re all familiar with its title, the widely popular TV show was originally titled NBC’s Saturday Night. A month before its initial broadcast, rival network ABC launched a like-minded variety and comedy show called Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell. In an attempt to avoid confusion, SNL producer and creator Lorne Michaels called his show NBC’s Saturday Night. Cosell's show was canceled the following year, and Michaels dropped the “NBC” moniker and the show officially became Saturday Night Live in March 1977. For a brief time during its sixth season, SNL was alternatively known as Saturday Night Live ’80, as a way to break into a new decade of comedy.

4. New Title: Saved By The Bell / Original Title: Good Morning, Miss Bliss

Original Title

New Title

In 1987, NBC aired the pilot for a teen comedy, entitled Good Morning, Miss Bliss, which starred Hayley Mills as the titular teacher and future Beverly Hills 90210 actor Brian Austin Green as a serious, suit-and-tie-wearing student. When NBC passed on the series, The Disney Channel stepped in to pick it up in 1988. The comedy was set at the fictional John F. Kennedy Junior High School in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Disney later dropped Good Morning, Miss Bliss after 13 episodes and NBC immediately picked it up after seeing how much potential the show had on Saturday mornings. NBC re-tooled the comedy to focus on the teenage students instead of the teacher character, and relocated it from Indiana to southern California. Now under the name Saved By The Bell, NBC’s teen comedy became one of the most iconic Saturday morning TV shows of the '90s. In syndication, Good Morning, Miss Bliss is also known as Saved By The Bell: The Junior High Years.

5. New Title: The Hogan Family / Original Title: Valerie and Valerie’s Family: The Hogans

Original Title

New Title

In 1986, the family sitcom Valerie was NBC’s most popular comedy. However, when the comedy’s star Valerie Harper got into a dispute with the series’ producers over her demand for a salary increase and a share in the series’ syndication revenue, the writers killed off the comedy’s main character at the end of its second season. When it returned for its third season in 1987, the TV show’s titled changed from Valerie to Valerie’s Family: The Hogans and added a new character, the family’s aunt Sandy, played by Sandy Duncan. Also in 1987, Harper filed a lawsuit against the show’s producers, and the sitcom’s name was changed again to simply The Hogan Family for its fourth season. (Interestingly enough, Sandy Duncan had starred in her own name-changing sitcom back in 1971—originally called Funny Face, the show was retitled The Sandy Duncan Show the following year.)

6. New Title: Almost Home / Original Title: The Torkelsons

Original Title

New Title

In 1991, the short-lived family sitcom The Torkelsons aired on NBC. The show was set in a suburban Oklahoma town and followed a mother named Millicent and her five children struggling to earn a living after the children’s father left the family. But when ratings for the series were low, NBC execs decided to re-tool The Torkelsons instead of canceling it. For its second season, NBC changed the title to Almost Home and relocated Millicent and three of her five children from Oklahoma to Seattle, where she took a job as a nanny for a magazine tycoon and his two children. But the name change couldn't save the show, which was canceled after its second season.

7. New Title: Two Guys and a Girl / Original Title: Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place

Original Title

New Title

The TV sitcom Two Guys and a Girl (not to be confused with the 1998 indie film Two Girls and a Guy or the 1951 comedy Two Gals and a Guy, which is also known as Baby and Me), aired as Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place when it premiered on ABC on March 10, 1998. The comedy followed the Friends format of beautiful twenty-somethings living and working in a major metropolitan city—in this case, Boston. When the titular two guys embarked on more ambitious careers, the pizza place was dropped from the series’ title and premise altogether at the beginning of its season three. Two Guys and a Girl was canceled shortly after.

8. New Title: 8 Simple Rules / Original Title: 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter

The family sitcom 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter was a lighthearted comedy about a father coming to terms with his children’s teenage behavior. But when star John Ritter suddenly died after filming the third episode of its second season, the series changed its format and name to 8 Simple Rules. Ritter’s death was written into the show, which then followed his character's grieving family.

9. New Title: Zoe… / Original Title: Zoe, Duncan, Jack and Jane

Original Title

New Title

In 1999, The WB was the hub for teen dramas and comedies, including Felicity, Dawson’s Creek, and Charmed. The network was looking to introduce more comedy programming for their teenage viewers, and the sitcom Zoe, Duncan, Jack and Jane was born. The series followed four high school friends coming of age during their senior year in New York City. When audiences had trouble remembering the show’s title, its producers eventually simplified it to Zoe… when the TV show was re-tooled for its second season.

10. New Title: Little House: A New Beginning / Original Title: Little House on the Prairie

The long-running TV series Little House on the Prairie saw some drastic changes when it reached its ninth season in 1982. The series’ star, Michael Landon, left the show, but still stayed on as executive producer; it followed a new family living in the Ingalls’ house; and changed its name from Little House on the Prairie to Little House: A New Beginning. The series was canceled a year later due to low ratings.

11. New Title: Parker Lewis / Original Title: Parker Lewis Can’t Lose

One of the most underappreciated TV comedies of the '90s is Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, which aired on Fox from 1990 to 1993. The series followed a teenager and his friends' daily misadventures at Santo Domingo High School. While the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off strongly influenced the TV comedy with post-modern elements, Parker Lewis Can’t Lose injected a surreal and hyper quality to the Ferris Bueller character prototype. However, in its final season, the series’ creators toned down the show’s manic pace and re-titled the comedy to simply Parker Lewis.

12. New Title: Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles / Original Title: Gargoyles

Original Title

New Title

The animated series Gargoyles aired its first two seasons in syndication on Disney in an afternoon programming block that included Darkwing Duck, Goof Troop, and the TV series version of Aladdin. In its third and final season, Disney moved Gargoyles from afternoon programming to Disney’s One Saturday Morning on ABC and retitled the animated series Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles. As a result, the series saw a slump in quality, with new writers and producers replacing the old guard. Die-hard fans ignore The Goliath Chronicles, and series’ creator Greg Weisman doesn’t consider the third season part of Gargoyles' canon and mythology.

13. New Title: SCTV Network 90 and SCTV Channel / Original Title: Second City Television (SCTV)

Original Title

New Title

When Second City Television (SCTV) moved from Canadian broadcast network CBC to the American NBC in 1981, as a mid-season replacement for the late night variety show The Midnight Special, the highly influential sketch comedy TV series changed its broadcasting format from 30 minutes to 90 minutes. To reflect the change, SCTV also changed its name to SCTV Network 90, and then simply SCTV Network for its fourth season.

For SCTV’s last season, the sketch comedy show moved to the premium cable networks Superchannel in Canada and Cinemax in the United States. The comedy also changed its running time to 45 minutes and its name one last time to SCTV Channel.

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20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
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15 Festive Facts About Jingle All the Way
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

In all of Arnold Schwarzenegger's film oeuvre, Jingle All the Way might just be the one that most exhibits the ugliness of humanity. Set on a fevered Christmas Eve brimming with desperate last-minute shoppers, Schwarzenegger's Howard Langston and Sinbad's postal worker character Myron Larabee find themselves battling one another to make themselves look good to their sons by getting their hands on the elusive Turbo Man action figure. The comedic genius Phil Hartman; Rita Wilson; future young Anakin Skywalker, Jake Lloyd; Laraine Newman; Harvey Korman; Martin Mull; Curtis Armstrong; and Chris Parnell were the other willing participants in this cult comedy, directed by Brian Levant. Here are some things you might not have known about the contemporary holiday classic.

1. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER WAS ABLE TO PLAY THE LEAD BECAUSE OF A DELAY ON A PLANET OF THE APES REMAKE.

Arnold Schwarzenegger signed up to star in the Apes remake in March of 1994, but 20th Century Fox rejected multiple scripts for the movie, including one co-written by Chris Columbus (Gremlins, The Goonies). Columbus left the project in late 1995, and Schwarzenegger followed him soon after, freeing him to sign up for Jingle All the Way, produced by Columbus, in February 1996. Fox's Planet of the Apes reboot found its way into theaters in 2001, starring Mark Wahlberg and directed by Tim Burton.

2. SINBAD THOUGHT HE SCREWED UP THE AUDITION.

Sinbad in 'Jingle All the Way' (1996)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Filming was delayed so that Sinbad could follow through on his commitment to travel to Bosnia with Hillary Clinton. Even though Columbus agreed to wait for him, the comedian still thought he "messed up" his audition and told his manager-brother he was going to quit show business.

3. OFFICER HUMMELL WAS INITIALLY WRITTEN AS A WOMAN.

Though the role of Officer Hummell was written for a woman, the part went to Robert Conrad. Conrad's explanation was that the producers "wanted someone who could pull up next to Arnold and tell him to pull over and he pulls over."

4. IT WAS CHRIS PARNELL'S FIRST MOVIE.

The future SNL star played the toy store clerk. "Well, it was my first movie role, and I didn't know how they typically shot scenes," Parnell admitted in a Reddit AMA. "So I had to laugh a lot, and I sort of spent all of my laughing energy in the wider takes, so by the time we got to the close-up shots, it was a real struggle to keep that going."

5. MARTIN MULL STAYED ON SET FOR OVER TWO WEEKS LONGER THAN HE WAS SUPPOSED TO.

Mull (KQRS D.J. a.k.a. Mr. Ponytail Man) was told it would just be a one- to two-day shoot for him. Unfortunately, his part had to be shot on a rainy day, and it didn't rain in Minneapolis for two and a half weeks.

6. PHIL HARTMAN MADE UP A BACKSTORY FOR HIS CHARACTER.


20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Hartman (Ted Maltin) was probably joking for the film's official production notes, but you never know. "Ted is a guy who sued his employer for headaches caused by toner fumes and now hangs around the neighborhood and helps all the housewives," Hartman said. He also offered a take on how he was kind of being pigeonholed in Hollywood when he added, "Ted's another weasel to add my list of weasels."

7. HARTMAN ENTERTAINED HIS BORED YOUNG CO-STARS.

To keep young E.J. De la Pena (Johnny Maltin) and Jake Lloyd (Jamie Langston) from getting bored shooting a car scene all day, Hartman improvised songs designed to bring kids to hysterics. One tune contained the lyrics “You make my butt shine, the more you kiss it, the more it shines! The clock is ticking, so keep on licking, oh how you make my buttocks shine!”

"When you’re an 8 year old hearing that kind of potty humor, it was hilarious!" De la Pena remembered. "And we had a lot of fun."

8. JAMES BELUSHI HAD EXPERIENCE PLAYING SANTA BEFORE.

Belushi sort of trained to portray the Mall of America Santa in the movie by playing Kris Kringle for four years in "about 20" different homes, according to his estimation.

9. SHOOTING BEGAN IN MID-APRIL.

The Minneapolis/St.Paul areas were chosen because the producers figured they had the longest winter. But they also filmed in Los Angeles' Universal Studios for the big parade over a three week span, where it was typical hot California weather on the verge of summer. Sinbad remembered it was 100 degrees on the days when he wore the Dementor costume, and the water in his helmet had started to boil.

10. THE REAL TURBO MAN DIDN'T SWEAT.

Daniel Riordan's Turbo Man suit ensured he wouldn't have trouble with the scorching heat. He was wearing a vest underneath used by race car drivers. "They're very thin membrane vests that are filled with small, plastic tubing that's tightly coiled, back and forth, and they run cold water through it," Riordan explained. "So when they run it, it's like this cold water right up against your body and it was amazing. The sensation was fantastic."

11. TURBO MAN FIGURES WERE SOLD AT WAL-MART.

200,000 were originally produced and sold at 2,300 Wal-Mart shops for $25. They would have made more but, as Fox’s president of licensing and merchandising explained to Entertainment Weekly, there were only six and a half months to produce and promote Turbo Man toys, and it usually takes "well over a year."

12. THEY ALMOST SOLD DEMENTOR DOLLS TOO.

Sinbad recalled that the studio didn't sell Dementor action figures even though they tested high during research. "I had a prototype of the doll but they said 'give it back, we'll get you the real one when it comes out,'" Sinbad said." ...And dude, it NEVER came out!" Sinbad told Redditers his theory: "I think that they didn't want the competition between Turbo Man and my doll."

13. SOME PARENTS HAD ALCOHOL-RELATED COMPLAINTS AFTER TEST SCREENINGS.


20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Schwarzenegger and Sinbad talking at a bar over some alcohol, and the fact that reindeer also imbibed in beer, were among some of the problems mothers and other early viewers took issue with.

14. THE FILMMAKERS WERE SUED FOR PLAGIARISM, AND LOST.

Randy Kornfield penned the official script, but high school teacher Brian Alan Webster alleged his Could This Be Christmas? script was very similar. The publishing firm that had the rights to Webster's script won a $19 million lawsuit from 20th Century Fox, but the ruling was overturned in 2004. Webster's screenplay was about “the quest of a Caucasian mother attempting to obtain a hard-to-get action figure toy as a Christmas gift for her son. In the course of this pursuit, she competes with an African-American woman, similarly seeking to give the action figure doll as a Christmas gift.”

15. THERE WAS A SEQUEL STARRING LARRY THE CABLE GUY.

None of the original cast members nor characters returned in the straight-to-DVD Jingle All the Way 2 (2014). It was produced by 20th Century Fox and WWE Studios and featured wrestler Santino Marella. Sinbad expressed incredulity when a Redditer inquired if he was asked to return for it. "What they are doing a new version without me! Ain't gonna work!"

Additional Sources:

Schaefer, Stephen: "Sinbad leaps at the chance to go postal in Jingle All the Way," December 6, 1996; Des Moines Register

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Ralph Heimans/Buckingham Palace/PA Wire via Getty Images
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The Cult of Prince Philip
Ralph Heimans/Buckingham Palace/PA Wire via Getty Images
Ralph Heimans/Buckingham Palace/PA Wire via Getty Images

For seven decades, Prince Philip has been one of the more colorful figures in Britain's Royal Family, prone to jarring remarks and quips about women, the deaf, and overweight children.

"You're too fat to be an astronaut," he once told a boy sharing his dream of space travel.

British media who delighted in quoting him are still lamenting the 96-year-old's recent retirement from public duties. But the people of the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu are likely to be optimistic he'll now have the time to join them: They worship him as a god and have based a religion on him.

Followers of the Prince Philip Movement, which started in the 1960s, believe that the prince was born to fulfill an ancient prophecy: that the son of an ancient mountain spirit would one day take the form of a pale-skinned man, travel abroad, marry a powerful lady, and eventually return to the island. When villagers saw the prince’s portrait, they felt the spirit in it, and when he visited Vanuatu in 1974, they were convinced.

Chief Jack Naiva, a respected warrior in the culture, greeted the royal yacht and caught sight of Philip on board. "I saw him standing on the deck in his white uniform," Naiva once said. "I knew then that he was the true messiah."

True believers assign large world movements to the machinations of Philip. They once claimed his powers had enabled a black man to become president of the United States and that his "magic" had assisted in helping locate Osama bin Laden. The community has corresponded with Buckingham Palace and even sent Philip a nal-nal, a traditional club for killing pigs, as a token of its appreciation. In return, he sent a portrait in which he’s holding the gift.

Sikor Natuan, the son of the local chief, holds two official portraits of Britain's Prince Philip in front of the chief's hut in the remote village of Yaohnanen on Tanna in Vanuatu.
TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty Images

The picture is now part of a shrine set up in Yaohnanen in Vanuatu that includes other photos and a Union flag. In May 2017, shortly after the Prince announced his retirement, a cyclone threatened the island—and its shrine. But according to Matthew Baylis, an author who has lived with the tribe, the natives didn't see this so much as a cause for concern as they did a harbinger of the prince's arrival so he can bask in their worship.

To date, Prince Philip has not announced any plans to relocate.

A version of this story ran in a 2012 issue of Mental Floss magazine.

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