The Weber Show (2000-2001)
Type: Renamed Show
One show, same season, two titles, no waiting.
Steven Weber, former costar of the hit NBC series Wings (which airs every hour on the hour for infinity on the USA cable network) was given his own brand spanking new show on NBC in the Fall of 2000 (that is the time the show went on the air and not the name of a heroic epic). The show had troubles, okay. And it doesn't help when your show has troubles and its named Cursed.
It started off simple enough. Sitcom big shot Steven Weber was supposed to star in a sitcom named Cursed. The gimmick of the show was that in the very first episode Weber's character is literally cursed. He has a blind date with a girl that ends very badly when she puts a full fledged curse on him. Then, in the subsequent episodes we would see how the curse would play out. All sorts of problems and calamities would befall him and, say it with me now, hilarity would (hopefully) ensue.
Here's where things go hinky. First of all, as a premise for an episode or two of a show this could be funny. I'd even bet money they did this one on Bewitched. But as the premise for a hopefully long running series quite frankly it sucks. I mean it is literally stretching a gimmicky Bewitched episode premise to series length. About the 10th time something fell on Steven Weber's head or his apartment caught fire you'd just scream out, "Okay! I get it ! I get the freaking point! He is very very unlucky! Ha ha. What's on ABC?"
On top of that bad word of mouth on the show started leaking to the media. Advanced word before the show even hit the air said the show was gonna be a dud. And unlike other duds that might just be ignored, this show was, well, cursed with a title that made it an all too easy target for continued slamming in the press. "Is Cursed REALLY cursed?" I'm sure after a few weeks of those sorts of headlines the set of that show was just a happy funtime jamboree.
With the show not yet on the air the producers busted their buts making fixes and changes. Even they must have seen that the central gimmick on the show was thin and couldn't float a whole show. But the title was already set as Cursed. How are ya gonna do a show named Cursed with no curse? So they started sort of trying to downplay THE CENTRAL IDEA OF THE SHOW. Yeah, good idea. That's like doing Gilligan's Island and really trying to keep people from noticing it was about people stranded on a desert island. The lead character on Cursed wasn't so much cursed anymore (even though we see him get cursed in the first episode). Nope, now he was just inherently unlucky. Yeah that's it. Not even unlucky really just, maybe a little clumsy? Maybe that'll work.
This was bad. On the good side, NBC put the show in the middle of its successful Thursday night lineup where, put between hit shows, it started drawing good ratings. They were lower ratings than the shows on either side of it but still...
The actual "but still" was that Cursed was "but still" stuck with a lead anchor of a premise tied directly to the title of the show. But what else to call the dang thing? Most shows are named either after the show's premise (and that was working oh so well here) or after the star of the show. Now Steven Weber might have helped made Wings a hit show and he might be very talented but he wasn't exactly a hugely well known "name", which is sort of the point of naming a show after somebody after all. And NBC had a blowout flop the season before with The Mike O'Malley Show, a show named after it's comedian star who had no name recognition value. Damned if they did change the name and damned if they didn't. Rock and a hard place time. Cursed (See I told ya! It's just too easy).
Anyway, to stop belaboring the belaboring, after a few months of trying to decide whether to stick with the title and the premise or kick them both to the curb, the decision was made for better or worse to rename the show The Weber Show. I personally think the change was probably overall a good idea. They could then just do what they wanted with the plots and forget the stupid gimmick. The show had a funny cast to work with all of whom are very funny and veterans of other shows (I personally love Chris Elliot... well, you know, platonically). The writing was not too bad and, like I said without having to work with the gimmick, I'm sure it made things easier. But still, that title... bleah! Nothing against Steven Weber and the whole Weber clan but I don't think so. You hear The Cosby Show, it puts you in mind of a certain style of comedy and a mindset so that you have an idea of what to expect. It whets the appetite. Same thing with Newhart, Seinfeld, I Love Lucy... When I here Weber it whets my mind for barbecue on an outdoor grill. Looking back over my article I spot something I think might serve as a better title. Might I suggest The Happy Funtime Jamboree. No really. Think about it. It's too late now as the show was cancelled at the end of its first season but if they had just used my title, it would have been a HUGE hit.
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