Bob Newhart has it easy — when he titles his sitcoms, he looks no further than his own name (he recently joked with reporters that his next series after Bob might be called B). Usually, it’s not so simple — and a lot can be at stake. Would you have watched Dynasty if it had been stuck with its original title, Oil?
Of the 36 new prime-time shows this fall, nearly a third have undergone some sort of title change. CBS’ Love Is Hell became Love and War; NBC’s The Neighborhood became Up All Night became Out All Night. At one time, NBC’s Malcolm-Jamal Warner sitcom and ABC’s Robert Urich drama were both calling themselves Crossroads — Warner’s became Here and Now; Urich’s, once called C.C. Riders, stuck with Crossroads.
CBS execs had hated the name Polish Hill for their gritty new Robin Givens cop show, but the new title, Angel Street, hasn’t met with universal acceptance either. Carps one TV critic: ”It sounds like a show about a happy bordello.”
Jennifer Tilly, who plays a happy hooker on Fox’s Key West, isn’t thrilled with her show’s title either, preferring the original Sex and Politics at the End of the World, which was bounced because of anticipated advertiser skittishness. ”But Key West,” jokes Tilly, ”makes us sound like an Aaron Spelling show or something.”
Producer Marcy Carsey (The Cosby Show, Roseanne) this season launches Frannie’s Turn, a comedy with a feminist slant. It started out as The Little Woman, but the network felt the audience wouldn’t understand the intended irony. As Carsey explains, ”CBS said, ‘You could turn women off… you could get canceled before people figure it out.”’
Hmmm. Figure It Out — has that been used before?