1 9 8 2 – 1 9 8 3 (USA)
15 x 30 minute episodes
The founder of the family fortune, Tennessee land baron Big Guy Beck (Slim Pickens), was dead, but he still controlled the lives of his heirs. Before dying, and being cryogenically frozen, he had produced a living will on videotape, and each week another section of it was played for the family.
The terms of the will were hardest on socially prominent elder son Marshall (Michael Lombard) and his equally status-conscious wife Carlotta (Dixie Carter).
They were forced to welcome Big Guy’s illegitimate son, Wild Bill Weschester (Jerry Hardin) and Bill’s flaky wife, Bootsie (Ann Wedgeworth), into the family mansion, Toad Hall. For the simple Weschesters this was paradise, but for the Becks it was humiliating.
Big Guy’s greedy, social-climbing, sexy young widow, Kathleen (Delta Burke), was looking for a new meal ticket, while his first wife, elderly Mother B (Nedra Volz), belied her age by repeatedly escaping from the nursing home where she was living.
Only Big Guy’s younger son, Stanley (Charles Frank), who was independently wealthy, seemed to be normal. He was considerate and charming and spent much of his time foiling the devious plans of Marshall and Carlotta to rid themselves of both the Weschesters and the constraints of the will.
George Wilhoit (Vernon Weddle) was the attorney who administered Big Guy’s taped will.
When this limited-run series returned to the air in October 1982 Forrest Tucker was seen as Big Guy in the tapes, since actor Slim Pickens had died after the first few episodes had been produced.
The writing was bawdy, brilliant, and satisfying when American audiences couldn’t get enough of oil-rich families fighting and trying to out-manoeuvre each other. Sadly, the series never got the chance to grow.
Big Guy Beck
Wild Bill Weschester
Winona (Mother B) Beck