What 7 Classic TV Shows Were Almost Called
Just like films, TV shows often go through several name changes from original concept to pilot script to pitch meeting to "We think it would be more marketable if you called it [fill-in-the-title]." Here are 7 examples.
1. HAPPY DAYS // NEW FAMILY IN TOWN
In the early 1970s, Garry Marshall and Jerry Belson collaborated on a TV series set in idyllic 1950s Milwaukee. Paramount passed on New Family in Town, but they did eventually retool that pilot script and used it as a piece called "Love and the Happy Days" on their anthology series Love, American Style in 1972. That segment was so well-received that Marshall and Belson were hired to produce a series based on their original idea, only with a new title (Happy Days) and some new casting (Tom Bosley instead of Harold Gould).
2. IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA // JERKS
When Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day, and Rob McElhenney were cobbling together the pilot script for a proposed TV series about a group of very self-centered buddies, they pitched it to various networks with a title which they felt best summed up the main characters: Jerks. FX kinda sorta liked the idea, except for the title and the locale (the show was originally set in Los Angeles). The creators changed the setting of their show to McElhenney's hometown and the new name just presented itself: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
3. DIFF'RENT STROKES // 45 MINUTES FROM HARLEM
When Norman Lear was asked by Fred Silverman to build a series around 10-year-old Gary Coleman, he mapped out a basic story that had Coleman being adopted by a wealthy white man who lived in the Westchester town of Hastings-on-Hudson and called the project 45 Minutes from Harlem. Conrad Bain was brought on board to portray the pater familias, and he suggested the backstory (wealthy widower honoring his dying housekeeper's request that he adopt her two boys) that became the premise of the series. Since the millionaire's home had moved from the suburbs to nearby Manhattan, the name of the show was changed to Diff'rent Strokes.
4. THE OUTER LIMITS // PLEASE STAND BY
The science fiction anthology series The Outer Limits was originally going to be called Please Stand By. But with the Cuban Missile Crisis so fresh in America's mind, ABC decided that flashing the words "Please Stand By" on TV screens might send viewers rushing to their backyard bomb shelters.
5. THAT 70S SHOW // TEENAGE WASTELAND
That 70s Show was called Teenage Wasteland when Ashton Kutcher auditioned for the role of Michael Kelso. The pilot script underwent a few more name changes (including another Who classic, The Kids Are Alright) before it finally aired under its familiar title.
6. ROSEANNE // LIFE AND STUFF
The original title for Roseanne was Life and Stuff, which its star felt neatly summed up the premise of the show. However, by the time the pilot was filmed, the producers thought it wise to exploit the skyrocketing success of Roseanne Barr's standup comedy and named the show after the "Domestic Goddess" America seemed to love. "Life and Stuff" became the title of the premiere episode.
7. FRAGGLE ROCK // WOOZLE WORLD
When creator Jim Henson first envisioned a utopia of different Muppet creatures living together in harmony, he called them "Woozles" and tentatively titled the series Woozle World. The other "species" detailed in his early drafts included the Giant Wozles (who evolved into the Gorgs) and the Wizzles, a precursor to the Doozers. Eventually, it became Fraggle Rock.