1 9 7 5 (USA)
14 x 30 minute episodes
Following the success of the long-running Hogan’s Heroes, there were great expectations for Bob Crane starring in his own eponymous sitcom.
The MTM show aired on NBC between March and June 1975, with 14 colour episodes filmed in front of a live studio audience.
Bob portrayed Bob Wilcox, who had been a highly successful and well-paid big-wig in the insurance industry – until the day he realised he just wasn’t happy in his work.
The opening credits showed Bob on several phone lines at the same time, suddenly mouthing the word “Stop!” before throwing his briefcase into a lake.
Even though he was now in his 40s, and much older than all of the other students, Bob decided to go to medical school to become a doctor.
His wife, realtor Ellie (Trisha Hart,) became the breadwinner and the couple and their seldom-seen daughter Pam (Erica Petal) moved from their glamorous home into an apartment in the old Star Trucking Company building in a downbeat neighbourhood. Bob also sold his car and travelled everywhere by bicycle.
Their landlord was a widower named Mr Ernest Busso (Ronny Graham), who also owned the Busso and Petrie Toy And Novelty Company next door.
Busso was always inventing new gag items, like toothpaste which turned your teeth black and itching bath salts.
At City School of Medicine in Los Angeles, the assistant Dean was the fastidious Dr Lyle Ingersoll (Jack Fletcher). Bob’s fellow students included Marvin Susman (Todd Susman), Lester Schmidt (Will Seltzer), and Jerry Mallory (James Sutorious). Harold Gould had a recurring role as Dr Strauss.
Laughs were derived from the family’s adjustments to their huge change in income status, and Bob’s attempts to fit in with students half his age.
In June 1978, Bob Crane’s off-camera life caught up with him and he was found brutally murdered in a hotel room.
Mr Ernest Busso
Dr Lyle Ingersoll