Sunday, August 23, 2009

From Get Smart to Get back into movies: Brooks and Henry

In 1965,  the classic "Get Smart" was created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry.  Mel Brooks, already known for his zany contributions to Your Show of Shows, would later bec0me a comic icon for writing and directing "The Producers", "Young Frankenstein", "Blazing Saddles",  and "Spaceballs".  Buck Henry would later be known for writing "The Graduate" and  "To Die For" among many other films, as well as his many stints as guest host on early SNL episodes.

During their successes on the big screen, Brooks and Henry made some forays into network TV sitcom-land.

Henry's immediate follow-up to "Get Smart" was 1967's superhero sitcom parody "Captain Nice" (NBC) starring William Daniels.
 Similar to the "Munsters-Addams Family" controversy, a competing bumbling superhero program appeared during the same time on CBS ("Mr. Terrific").  It lasted half a season.

Brooks followed up his early 70's cinema successes with "When Things Were Rotten", a Robin Hood parody on ABC in the fall of 1975.
 Oddly, he would make a successful Robin Hood feature film parody in the 90's.  I always wondered how much material he stole from this series...which lasted a couple of months by the way.  Great theme song though.  And what a cast:  Dick Van Patten, Bernie Kopell, Dick Gautier (all hold-overs from Get Smart) and the incredible Misty Rowe.

Henry, having co-directed "Heaven Can Wait" with Warren Beatty, decided to create the cience fiction satire "Quark" on NBC in 1978.  
 Hot on the trail of the new "Star Wars" phenomenon, this well-cast and well-written sitcom starring Richard Benjamin just didn't gel with audiences.  Either that or the adventures of a garbage scow in outer space just was to expensive to produce.  This will be a cult classic someday much like Brooks "Spaceballs".

So now I'm waiting for these guys to team up again on a script called "The Creators" about the travails of creating followup TV successes when you become hotshots on the big screen.  Now with all the quality cable programming, it seems the tables have turned.  Of course, Mel is on Broadway now and Henry is signing autographs at film festivals.