Two seasons ago, the Family Channel began offering original programming, tepid stuff like the sappy Western Bordertown. This season, the cable network is at it again (Mickey Rooney in a TV version of The Black Stallion mmmm boy, can't wait), but at least one odd, original show managed to get through the Family gauntlet. Maniac Mansion is the first live-action TV show from George Lucas' Lucasfilm (so you know the special effects are good). It stars SCTV's Joe Flaherty (so you know it's off-kilter).
Flaherty is an inventor named Dr. Fred Edison; he lives with his wife and three children in a rambling old house nicknamed Maniac Mansion. Now comes the odd stuff: The kids' names are Ike, Tina, and Turner. And a wayward experiment by the father has transformed 4-year-old Turner into a hulking 6'4'', 250-pound young man (he's played by adult actor George Buza). The house is also inhabited by the children's uncle Harry who, through another failed experiment, is trapped in the body of a housefly (you know it's Harry, though, because he has a tiny human head).
What with all this foolishness, Flaherty doesn't have to bother much with plots or punch lines he just lets the family chatter while he does a lot of SCTV riffing, such as impersonating Bing Crosby and Broderick Crawford to cheer up a depressed Turner. What jokes there are include recondite cracks about James Joyce and John F. Kennedy's assassination. How the heck did this ever get on the Family Channel? B