Continuing my celebration of my 100th blog by looking at famous production companies.



Today we have Witt/Thomas/Harris (or just Witt-Thomas). It was founded in 1975 when Paul Junger Witt (who goes back to The Partridge Family) joined with Tony Thomas to form Witt-Thomas Productions. A year later Tony Thomas married writer/producer Susan Harris who also joined the company.



This was the first project this company produced, and it was unique! Designed as a satire on soap operas, this show had very broad humor and running story lines. The cast included Katharin Helmond, Billy Crystal as one of the first openly gay character to appear on a sitcom, Richard Mulligan, and many others. It took me years to finally watch some of these, and I admit they were clever. The writing was sharp and the subject matter was edgy. Maybe to edgy for 1978, which is why the show disappeared.


I have talked a lot about this show, that’s because it was one of the first show’s I ever loved. I watched this show when I had no idea that it was a spin-off and had no knowledge of the source material it spun off from. I still loved it. Of course, it was a spin-off of Soap. Benson was the butler on that show, here was head of household affairs for the dimwitted governor of the never named state. Robert Guillaume was so funny on this show with this comments, and the rest of the cast was good to. One recurring theme for Witt Thomas Harris was to have one dimwit character in every show who told stories. Here it was the governor.  Lots of other great performers on this show including Renee Auberjonois and Ethan Phillips who would go on to have roles in Star Trek’s spin-off’s. This show was great, and I  just wish they more than the 1st season would come out on DVD.



It’s a Living


This probably won’t be recalled by many, but I liked this show. Why? Two words- Ann Jillian. She was the bombshell of the 80’s, as hard as that may be to believe. To be fair, this show kind of sucked. It was a show about a fancy restaurant on the top of a building, and the four leads were waitresses who walked around in skimpy outfits. Yes, I am serious. For a horrible show there was a lot of talent behind it, and it sure tried hard. Look it up on YouTube, you may be surprised.



The Golden Girls

Then we got this great show. How could you go wrong putting Bea Arthur, Betty White, and Rue McClanahan in the same show? Well, the truth is you can’t go wrong with that. Add Estelle Getty as the wisecracking Sophia and you have a fantastic show. I have already talked about this a lot so I won’t go on to much here. This was, quite simply, funny. What else can you say?



Beauty and the Beast


I honestly can’t believe the show existed, never mind was popular. Before she was known for The Terminator, Linda Hamilton was known for this little gem. I can’t be too hard on this because it has a cult following. People who love this show really loved it. I don’t understand how it even got past the concept stage. The twist is that this was set in modern times. I will say that Ron Pearlman was decent in this show.



Empty Nest

This spin-off of The Golden Girls was pretty good, but not great. Richard Mulligan (from Soap, gee wonder how he got this role) was the star. It also featured Dinah Manoff and Kristy McNichol. At first the show was about Richard Mulligan’s character living alone, but it didn’t take long for his daughters to move in with him. The show did manage to last awhile, but probably thanks to its time slot on Saturday’s between Golden Girls and Amen.



Mayim Bialic was the cute teenager facing adolescence in this series. Ted Wass was the father (he was also on Soap…hmmmm). This show was most famous for bringing Joey Lawrence to the public scene. He didn’t last long though, but for awhile he was a heartthrob who even made record. The thing I enjoyed in this series was in the first season every episode had a dream sequence with some celebrity. Phil Donahue, Rhea Pearlman, Little Richard, Estelle Getty (as her Golden Girls character), and even Alf all had cameos. As the series took off, the dreams disappeared and suddenly every episode was a “very special episode”.



Herman’s Head

I liked this show, for a minute or two. It was an interesting premise. Herman was just an average guy, but every episode we got to see the voices in his head that determine his choices and actions. These voices were portrayed by four actors as Angel, Animal, Wimp, Genius and Jealousy standing around an attic. While the voices bickered we also saw Herman’s real life as he worked for a major magazing publisher. This show was good at first, then got stupid. This show has a special memory for me, which is why I remember this otherwise lousy show.



Yeah, this show sucked to. This show was just as it sounds, about a bunch of nurses. Not a direct spin-off from Empty Nest or Golden Girls, but the hospital was the same one seen on those shows. The show tried, but it just didn’t work. Even adding Loni Anderson and having many crossovers between Empty Nest and Golden Girls just couldn’t help this show find an audience.


The Golden Palace


I’ve talked about this before and the huge mistake this spin-off was. Without Dorothy, Rose had to be stronger, and Blanche had to be more responsible. Doing that took all the fun out of the characters. On top of that, Sophia lost her acid tongue and was softer. Is it any wonder this show vanished after one season?


The John Larroquette Show


Gotta be honest, I never liked this show. John Larroquette played a recovering alcoholic named John who was night manager of a St.Louis bus depot. This series was dark and gritty, which was just a turn off for me. I probably was not alone since the show was almost cancelled after one year, and returned the next season much lighter. However, the show still did not last all that long.


Other entries include Hail to the Chief, Good and Evil, Whoops, and Pearl which would be their final production.




Continued tomorrow!

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