(Note: This is as close as I could get to the original question, because the next day’s post was connected to the previous day’s post, the following post was promised to be scheduled for that day, and the scheduled post after that was my birthday.)
Reader “Anonymous” – signed somewhat less anonymously “kj” – I sense a real person struggling to break out – asks about Best of the West:
“I read online that (“Best of the West”) was going to be renewed for a second season, except that (the show’s “Leading Man”) Joel Higgins signed on to do a seriously obscure TV series called ‘Sliver Spoons.’ Is that true?”
The Short Answer: That’s news to me.
(Though I am no stranger to being kept totally “in the dark.”)
Here’s what I know, or think I know, which amounts to the same thing, because, until correctly informed otherwise, you feel you actually “know.”
Let me do this backwards in order of importance, by which I mean in order of importance to me.
When a “Series Regular” – an actor appearing in every episode – signs their original contract, they are bound to that show for potentially – meaning if it runs that long – seven years. That’s the networks’ way of keeping the actors’ salaries under control for seven years. The actors agree to this arrangement because, often, they are struggling actors at that point, and, if they don’t agree to that arrangement, they don’t work. (Not because they are “difficult” but because “That there is the deal.”)
(“Seven years.” What does that remind me of? Oh yeah. “Indentured Servitude.” Although, in practice, with huge hits like Friends or The Big Bang Theory, those original contracts are “revisited.” Generally after a “hold-out”, but they’re revisited.)
As a result of that contractual obligation, the idea of Joel Higgins “jumping” to another series seems litigiously unlikely, as he was inextricably bound to Best of the West.
Plus, even if that “jump” were possible – and, as far as I know, it’s not – if it were known that a show was being renewed for a second season, why would an actor dump a sure “Bird-in-the-Hand” for a show-that-may-not–even-be-picked-up “Bird-in-the-Bush”?
That’s why the online report “dj” alludes to seems highly unlikely.
Now… embellishing your enjoyment… and salving my innate insecurity…
From the beginning, ABC, for whom we made Best of the West – or at least its “Top Brass” – did not believe in the show. Why did they order it? For one reason, because the show’s Executive Producers – contracted to “ride herd” on neophyte show-runner E. Raymond Pomerantz – co-created the network’s esteemed Taxi, and they did not want to displease them. Plus, to my imaginatorial credit, the Best of the West pilot filming “blew the roof off” with the assembled live studio audience.
Indicating the show – and its untried creator – apparently “had something.”
Despite its highly successful “Show Night”, ABC left Best of the West off its impending “Fall Schedule.” Hedging its bets, however, – or just placating Taxi’s head honchos – they ordered twelve additional episodes, promising a slot as a “mid-season replacement.”
They did not keep that promise.
“Oh, really? The networks lie sometimes?”
Let’s say “altered their strategy.” (But mean “lied.”)
Best of the West was finally scheduled the following fall. (Fulfilling the dream of appearing in the TV Guide “Fall Preview” edition, whose issues I had collected since 1958, and, minus four missing inclusions, still have.)
The show’s ratings began strong, but eventually fell off. Mid-season, in a purported “salvaging maneuver”, ABC moved the struggling Best of the West opposite Dallas, then the “Number One” show on TV. (Raising the question, “Salvaging how?”)
And then we were cancelled.
Allowing Joel Higgins to seek future employment elsewhere.
Although his “handlers”, seeing the ominous “handwriting on the wall” may have – illegally – put out “Now Available” feelers for their client, fueling the alluded-to online announcement – inaccurate as to “Season Two” pickup though possibly right about Higgins preemptively “Jumping the fence.” (Which, if I had known about, I’d have gone Ouch!”)
That’s the extended answer to “Anonymous’s” – AKA “kj’s” – thoughtworthy question.
Four days “after the fact”…
But at least I am trying.