1 9 7 7 (USA)
4 x 60 minute episodes
The career of young black comic Richard Pryor was definitely on the rise when production started on his first regular television series during the summer of 1977. He had become successful as a nightclub performer, was seen regularly on television talk shows and had begun a career in motion pictures.
His original commitment had been to do a minimum of ten variety shows for the series, but with the demands for his time growing after the success of two films, Silver Streak (1976) and Greased Lightning (1977), coupled with censorship problems he had with NBC management, it was mutually agreed that he would do only four shows.
Although considered one of the most inventive, offbeat, and satirical performers, Pryor’s background as a nightclub comic led him to try material that might be regarded as questionable for television.
There were constant disagreements about what material was acceptable, and the opening sequence from his first show – in which he was shown nude from the waist up, commenting that he had lost nothing in his battles with the network censors, followed by a pan down his body in which he appeared to be both completely nude and emasculated (he was actually wearing a body stocking) – was censored before the show was aired.
His feud with NBC was highly publicised in the press but did little to attract viewers from ABC’s Happy Days, his prime competition, which numerically had twice the audience of The Richard Pryor Show.
Regulars joining Pryor on the show included Allegra Allison, David Banks, Sandra Bernhard, Victor Dunlop, Argus Hamilton, Jimmy Martinez, Paul Mooney, Tim Reid, Marsha Warfield, Robin Williams and “Detroit” John Witherspoon.