1 9 9 8 (USA)
9 x 30 minute episodes
Accompanied by his manservant, Niblet (Max Baker), black English nobleman Desmond Pfeiffer (Chi McBride) – the “P” isn’t silent so it’s pronounced “Puh-feiffer”- is chased out of his native country after racking up excessive gambling debts.
Upon arrival in Civil War America, he finds work as the butler for President Abraham Lincoln (Dann Florek) and his wife, Mary Todd (Christine Estabrook).
Some of the best comedy is mined from painful truths – and American slavery is one of the most painful of all – but it requires intelligence and wit, neither of which were in abundant supply on this short-lived show.
The series was beset by problems even before it aired. The pilot episode – which included at least one joke about slavery, a blackface sequence and a cotton-picking gag – was pulled in favour of a later episode.
But even with all that notoriety, the show failed to generate much interest.
After airing it four times in October 1998 to low ratings and poor reviews, UPN pulled the plug.
This amateurish swill is certainly a clear candidate for Worst Sitcom Ever.
Mary Todd Lincoln
Ulysses S. Grant