Sunday, June 29, 2014

Summer Nose-talgia #5: Happy Birthday to Richard Lewis of "Anything but Love"!

Maybe you don't remember his ABC sitcom Anything but Love but how can you have anything BUT love for the charming and hilarious comedian/actor Richard Lewis who made neurosis sexy as well as funny?  Lewis turns 68 today and he's still utterly relevant and delightful.  Most recently he appeared in many episodes of his childhood pal Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm, but there was a time at the end of the 1980s when the only slightly unconventionally handsome Lewis was the hottest of stuff.

He had made his mark with his breathless, non-stop, jam-packed comedy sets, such as this one from 1981:

Or this from maybe about ten years later:

Anything but Love had a simple rom-com premise:  a pair of colleagues working at a Chicago magazine begin a tentative romance and hope it doesn't ruin their terrific platonic friendship. Lewis' co-star was the talented and personable Jamie Lee Curtis; her Halloween, Prom Night and Terror Train days of starring as the Scream Queen of Teen Slasher Films were a decade or so behind her but she had branched out with well-regarded movies like My Girl and A Fish Called Wanda.  Pairing the hyperkinetic Lewis with the strong and self-confident Curtis was a study in contrasts.  Working from the timeworn assumption that opposites attract, the pairing in Anything but Love was both realistic and great fodder for a sitcom.

Here's a promo for the debut of the show on March 7, 1989:

One of the show's opening credit sequences:

And here's a different one:

Here's another promo for an episode of the show:

An episode with John Ritter!

Anything but Love aired on ABC beginning in March of 1989 and found some measure of success over the next three years, making it to 56 episodes in four different "seasons" but lacked the solid audience support that studio 20th Century Fox was looking for. Evidently they were the ones who pulled the plug on the series, citing the slim odds that the show would last long enough to garner the industry-standard number of episodes for a successful syndication run which was the Holy Grail for episodic TV producers. Anything but Love ended its network run on June 3, 1992.

In several ways Anything but Love was a bit of a thematic precursor to the very successful NBC sitcom Mad About You which came along in the Fall 1992 season.  Slightly neurotic male lead -- played by former stand-up comedian Paul Reiser -- plays a creative guy who marries his best friend -- played by actress Helen Hunt -- and they try to find a way to keep their modern marriage fresh and relevant.  In contract to Anything but Love, Mad About You was able to hang in for seven strong seasons and amass 164 episodes, more than enough for a good second life.

While Anything but Love may not have been everything it promised, it did showcase two talented performers and allowed us to see a slightly tamed-down Richard Lewis, one of America's funniest stand-up comedians ever.

There are lots of photos related to Anything but Love at the Sitcoms Online Photo Galleries, here.

And a very Happy Birthday to the eternally amusing Richard Lewis!

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