Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! This week, I’ve got a brief post ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday with something that I think you’ll find most appetizing — an offering from the short-lived MTM sitcom The Last Resort (1979-1980, CBS), a 15-episode ensemble workplace multi-cam (in the post-Animal House craze) about college students who spend their summers working as the wait stuff in the kitchen and dining room of a vacation resort.
The series starred the late Larry Breeding (whom you’ll remember as the actor cast as Laverne’s final love interest, prior to his untimely passing) and the very funny Stephanie Faracy, along with an ensemble featuring Robert Costanzo, Walter Olkewicz, Ray Underwood, John Fujioka, and Zane Lasky — the latter a former regular on The Tony Randall Show, for which the creator and executive producer of The Last Resort, Gary David Goldberg, had previously written. Indeed — another reason this show is a timely study here is that it was the first sitcom created by Goldberg, Family Ties’ future master (still in his ensemble workplace comedy phase, before hopping over to the family world), and he brought along several scribes from this series to that future hit, including fellow MTM vet Lloyd Garver. So, as we leave the ’70s and head into the ’80s, transitioning from Laverne & Shirley to Family Ties, this is a fun connective tissue…
Now, I’ve only viewed four of the 15 produced episodes, but from what I have seen, it’s a show with a pronounced sense of humor, a strong cast, and an ensemble of leads who mostly have unique, recognizable definitions. However, looking over the log lines and based on what I’ve watched, it doesn’t seem like they were (yet) motivating stories through their personas — too many familiar narrative gimmicks and plot-led ideas. But if the quality of the writing and performances is an indication, time would have likely brought a coalescence of character and plot, well-supported by laughs that are already there in fine supply. In fact, I think you’ll see all of the above reinforced in the entry I’m sharing with you here: the 13th aired installment, “Dorm Window,” a parody of Rear Window, which uses an external reference point for a funny story that isn’t predicated on the lead characters but is nevertheless enlivened by the cast (including guests John Fiedler and Joan Shawlee). It was first broadcast by CBS-TV on February 25, 1980, with a script by Gary David Goldberg, Lloyd Garver, and Marty Nadler, and direction by Asaad Kelada (who helmed the entire run). It may not satisfy you as a whole meal, but it’s, at least, a sweet treat for this Thanksgiving week — enjoy!
Come back next week for a new Wildcard! And stay tuned Tuesday for more sitcom fun!