Lotsa Luck (1973–1974)

TV Series  -   -  Comedy
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New York City bus company's lost-and-found department manager and bachelor Stanley Belmont lives with his bossy mother, his sister Olive and her unemployed husband Arthur all of who live ... See full summary »

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Title: Lotsa Luck (1973–1974)

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1  
1974   1973  
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete series cast summary:
...
 Stanley Belmont (22 episodes, 1973-1974)
...
 Iris Belmont (22 episodes, 1973-1974)
Wynn Irwin ...
 Arthur Swann (22 episodes, 1973-1974)
Beverly Sanders ...
 Olive Swann (22 episodes, 1973-1974)
Jack Knight ...
 Bummy Pfitzer (22 episodes, 1973-1974)
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Storyline

New York City bus company's lost-and-found department manager and bachelor Stanley Belmont lives with his bossy mother, his sister Olive and her unemployed husband Arthur all of who live off Stanley. Arthur is perfectly content to live with Stanley and avoid finding a job. Bummy is Stanley's long time friend and co-worker who drives a bus. They take lunch breaks together when they scheme to resolve Stanley's problems. Written by J.E. McKillop <jmckillo@notes.cc.bellcore.com>

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10 September 1973 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

Based on the UK series On the Buses (1969). All the characters kept their original first names except Bummy - called Jack in Britain - although ironically the actor's name was Jack. See more »

Connections

Remake of On the Buses (1969) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Family Strife Outlives Topical Humor
31 October 2010 | by (Ukiah, California) – See all my reviews

"Lotsa Luck" is a well-remembered, but sadly failed series from NBC's 1973-1974 television season. It had an extraordinary pedigree, having been created by three of the most respected writers and producers of its day, yet it only lasted a single season. It left behind 22 episodes and what was perhaps Dom DeLuise's best effort at a television series, cut down before its time.

The series was created by Carl Reiner, Bill Persky, and Sam Denoff. Reiner was the creator and producer of "The Dick Van Dyke Show," which arguably was the best comedy series of all time. Reiner decided to take that show off the air in 1966 when it was still getting good ratings and the writing still seemed as fresh and unforced as it had during its early days. Persky and Denoff had started out as a writing team and were, according to one account, the "unlikely saviors" of Reiner, who was facing serious burnout as the end of the second season of "Van Dyke" approached, having not only produced the show but written about two-thirds of its episodes.

Persky and Denoff took on an increasing share of the writing as their tenure on the Van Dyke show went on, and eventually stepped into Reiner's shoes as producers in its final season while Reiner was off making a motion picture. When the Van Dyke show ended, the duo went on to produce other shows themselves, including Marlo Thomas' "That Girl" from 1966-1971.

What had made the Van Dyke show special, as Reiner liked to say, was that he looked for humor in "real life" situations, consciously avoiding the "battle of the sexes" between spouses that had been the staple of so many other domestic comedies, whether on "The Honeymooners" or even "I Love Lucy." When the three of them reunited in 1973, however, television had changed -- it was now dominated by comedies coming out of Norman Lear's stable, including "Sanford and Son," "Maude," and, of course, "All in the Family." Lear's shows were about a different kind of domestic disharmony compared to the shows of the 1950s and 60s, and they also had louder voices than much of what had been on the air a decade earlier. So Reiner, Persky, and Denoff also created what was perhaps a more deliberately dysfunctional situation than they had in their past collaboration.

Like both "Sanford" and "All in the Family," "Lotsa Luck" was borrowed from a British television series, this one called "On the Buses." Dom DeLuise was Stanley Belmont, an unmarried man of about 40 who still lived with his mother, and who indeed worked for a bus company. But Stanley had been promoted off the streets and into the lost-and-found department, the better to build plots around the sometimes crazy things people would leave on New York City's buses -- and occasionally around Stanley's need to "borrow" items from the lost-and-found, usually with predictable, chaotic results.

Rounding out the cast were Kathleen Freeman as Stanley's "Ma," Beverly Sanders as his myopic, slightly overweight sister Olive, and Wynn Irwin as her ne'er-do-well husband Arthur -- or as the other characters put it with a New York accent, "Ahthuh." Freeman had one particular bit that she used at least once per show -- asking Stanley (when he would refuse to do something she wanted him to do), "Do I have a son, or do I not have a son?" Stanley would then respond, in a weary tone of defeat, "You have a son," bringing the follow-up, "You're a good son, Stanley" and a final retort, "You're a real pain in the neck, Ma" from him. Arthur was content to hang around the house all day in his bathrobe, unshaven, still recovering from an otherwise unexplained "operation" -- which had taken place four years before -- while occasionally applying "salve" to ameliorate his unnamed complaint.

The topics the show delved into were certainly more tilted toward bathroom humor than they had been in the "Van Dyke Show" or "That Girl" -- literally so in the case of the show's pilot, in which Olive manages to get her foot caught in the toilet tank (don't ask), and which Stanley then breaks in his attempt to free her. The replacement toilet they purchase is an "orange sherbet" color -- with a purple lid. And further complications, naturally, arise.

As the saying goes, Robert Benchley it ain't -- but the show was frequently hilarious, particularly the verbal battles between Arthur and Stanley, a working stiff who supports three people and resents the real stiff -- his good-for-nothing brother-in-law. All four of the regulars -- especially, of course, DeLuise -- had terrific comedic timing, and all performed well despite the demands of putting the show on before a live audience.

Unfortunately, the three creators also borrowed another conceit from Norman Lear, choosing to shoot the show not on film but videotape, which despite being a "newer" technology (and undoubtedly a cost savings for the show) neither looks as good nor ages as well as film stock. The pilot episode in particular looks terrible, but many of the other episodes have held up reasonably well.

Sadly, the show was canceled after only one season, but happily, the complete series has been available on DVD for several years. For those who were able to see it at the time, it's a fondly-recalled tidbit from an era of the winding down of Vietnam, stagflation in the economy, and something brewing in the newspapers called "Watergate." Of course, none of those things had any bearing on the battle of wits among Arthur, Stanley, and the rest of the Belmont household. In that sense, "Lotsa Luck" holds up better than a topical show like "All in the Family" -- because family strife is always good for laughs even when the political and social concerns of those days have gone forever.


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