Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Saturtainment: Pryor's Place (1984)

Sid & Marty Krofft had previously sold one first-run series to CBS, 1975's Far Out Space Nuts, which lasted one year. Now, the network was looking for programming to counter then-#1 NBC, which dominated Saturday mornings in the 80's with Smurfs, Mr. T, & Alvin & the Chipmunks. The Kroffts offered up a Sesame Street-esque half-hour, Pryor's Place, somehow managing to secure comedian Richard Pryor to do a Saturday morning show. By this point, Pryor had started making more family-friendly comedies, and had come off a dramatic turn in "Superman 3" a year earlier.

Here's the intro, with the theme performed by Ray Parker, Jr. ("Ghostbusters"):

Unfortunately, Pryor's Place met the same fate as Space Nuts did, cancelled after just 1 season, only in this case, CBS wasn't willing to let the show play out the string. By the spring of '85, the network had acquired the original Land of the Lost to fill the space vacated by Pryor.

Due to syndicated programming airing from 11 (ET) forward on Saturdays, the local affiliate aired Pryor at 7:30 am, which was when I'd be able to see the show. Had it been given an earlier berth, there's no guarantee the show's fate would've changed for the better. It can be said that Pryor's near-death experience a year or two earlier had given him a career epiphany, leading to this show and movies like "Moving", which came out the following summer. At least he fared better this time than with his prime-time show, which got a month on NBC in 1977.

Rating: B.

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