Broadway's Carol Channing Tries for Small Screen Stardom
THE CAROL CHANNING SHOW was an unsuccessful sitcom pilot for for the Broadway legend, then at the height of her fame and just stepping out of the still-running smash HELLO, DOLLY! Carol is cast as a sweet but in-your-face rube from "Frisbee", wherever that is, who comes to New York in hopes of making it in show business. Quickly out of money, her friend Jane Dulo lets her move in with her and husband policeman Richard Deacon until Carol finds a job. In this pilot, Carol goes through two bad jobs, one in a restaurant, the other as a taxi dancer.
Carol is always fun to watch but the story isn't much despite a script by the famous I LOVE LUCY writers Bob Carroll Jr and Madelyn Davis and is produced by no less than Desi Arnaz. This episode looks like a bad THE LUCY SHOW episode, complete with Lucy's son from the show, Jimmy Garrett, making an appearance as a kid who won't share his candy. Richard Deacon plays the Gale Gordon role of a loud, overbearing supporting player who is always exasperated by the star, a stock character on 1960's sitcoms. A very delightful surprise is seeing Desi Arnaz Jr (all of thirteen!!!) with his hair slicked back and a fake mustache playing a nonspeaking cameo as a tango-loving customer of the ballroom, a character obviously much older than Desi Jr's years.
This show isn't good but it's not terrible so it is kind of surprising it wasn't picked up given the successful scorecards of those involved with the production. Certainly many a worse sitcom has been green-lighted. The pilot is a bonus feature on THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW DVD set, a subsequent Arnaz production that was picked up the following year.
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