Tuesday, July 29, 2014

TV Flashback: Frat Boy Fracas

Remember this one? We've talked before about network executives' fondness for shows based on hit movies. One of the most extreme examples of this phenomenon came in 1979, following the unexpected box office success of National Lampoon's Animal House. ABC's Delta House, pictured above, was the authorized TV adaptation. But, lo and behold, NBC and CBS, too, greenlighted sitcoms centered on college hijinks. Brothers and Sisters (not to be confused with the later show starring Sally Field) was NBC's entry in the race, centering on the Greek life at Crandall College. It premiered in January 1979, and was a dead duck by April. CBS' Co-Ed Fever fared even worse. Its first "preview" showing, on Sunday, February 4, 1979, drew such low ratings that the network pulled the plug immediately, not even airing the other five episodes that were shot.

As for Delta House, it suffered from at least two disadvantages in its quest for TV success. As seen in this ad, the ensemble cast mostly lacked the name performers from the film, including Saturday Night Live's John Belushi. Aired in an early evening time slot, it didn't enjoy the freedom to include the type of raunchy humor that fueled the movie. Thirteen episodes aired between January and April 1979, but after that, the boys of Faber College once again flunked out.

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