Sometimes, the executives in Television Land just don’t see genius when it’s laid out in front of them.
“Lookwell” was a TV pilot written by Conan O’Brien and Robert Smigel (of SNL’s TV Funhouse fame and the voice behind Triumph the Insult Comic Dog). It starred Adam West as a former TV detective from the 1970s who can’t let go of his past fame and, armed with a citizen’s police badge, believes he can help the real police in solving crimes.
The pilot was aired by NBC in 1991 and was never picked up. Conan, who was also a writer for The Simpsons, of course went on to have an amazing late night career, and Smigel’s done pretty well for himself, too. And Adam West has developed a cult icon status with his role as Mayor Adam West on Family Guy.
But this show could have been genius. Genius, I say. Police Squad-level genius.
From the opening scene at a casting call for Happy Days – The Next Generation:
Actor 1: You know, I regognize you. Aren’t you Ty Lookwell?
Lookwell: Yes, but until this audition is over, I prefer to be addressed as Buzz McCool.
Actor 1: Well, it’s nice to meet you. You know, I remember Bannicheck, that was a great show.
Lookwell: No, I wasn’t Bannicheck, that was George Pappard. I was Bannigan.
Actor 2: Brannigan?
Lookwell: No, that was Hugh O’Brien. I was Bannigan.
Actor 1: Oh right, right. You had the black secretary.
Lookwell: No, that was Mannix. I had a sheep dog.
Actors 1 and 2: Right!