Remember the episode of ”Diff’rent Strokes” where Willis had sex in Mr. Drummond’s living room? Or ”The Facts of Life” scene where Jo brandished a gun?
Probably not, since those scenarios exist only in the funhouse-mirror world of NBC’s ”The Rerun Show,” which consists entirely of twisted remakes of old sitcoms. The show (beginning Aug. 1; 9:30 p.m.) will offer oh-so-wacky re-creations of shows ranging from ”The Jeffersons” to ”Saved by the Bell.” ”The idea was, why not tap into these great scripts, bring an extra layer of comedy, and make what’s old new again,” explains exec producer David Salzman (”Mad TV”), who cocreated the show with John Davies (“Second City Presents”).
Don’t expect sophisticated deconstruction here. As its producers’ sketch-comedy backgrounds suggest, ”The Rerun Show” opts for unadulterated silliness instead. ”The number one complaint about sitcoms it that they’re not funny enough,” says Salzman. ”We have a chance to double the comedy quotient of an average sitcom.”
In the show’s take on ”Diff’rent Strokes,” for instance, a female cast member plays Arnold, approximating Gary Coleman’s height by shuffling around on her knees. Adoptive dad Mr. Drummond is a marble-mouthed possible pedophile who tickles Arnold just a little too long and snaps bikini shots of daughter Kimberly. Meanwhile, the apartment’s wall is decorated with mug shots of the trouble-plagued original cast of the show.
Despite the mad flourishes, original scripts are never altered, except to trim what the creators calls ”the boring parts.” The cast of unknowns attempts to finds additional comedy by shifting emphasis in their lines, adding nonsensical props (like Jo’s gun), or exaggerating character traits from the original shows (”Facts of Life”’s Blair gains weight from scene to scene).