CBS (ended 1999)


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"Pilgrims James and Polly Winthrop have just survived their first Massachusetts winter. Now, along with their fellow settlers, they must decide whether or not to remain in the uncivilized New World and face yet another year of disease-and each other. But don't be fooled-it's Puritan fun. There's the man who dreams of building a new nation (though he can't even build a house); the bumbling village idiot; a girl so smart she may be burned at the stake; and a Grammy with an eye for strapping young men. "James, an affable young Pilgrim father, who always sees the glass as half full, wants to stay and fulfill the hopes and dreams of building a new nation, although he can't even build a house. James must also contend with his best friend, Cotton, the bumbling village idiot who wreaks more havoc than a New World winter. James' lovely, strong-minded wife, Polly, wants to stand by her man, but her patience is tried by his unwavering optimism as well as the 50 percent mortality rate. Meanwhile, their three young children -- boy-crazy Abigail, so-smart-she-may-be-burned-at-the-stake Elizabeth, and slow-witted William -- are entertained by their Grammy, a wizened senior citizen who has quite the eye for strapping young men. Even though they live in an era centuries apart from today, the issues they face have remarkable and humorous similarities to modern life." (CBS press materials) Much better than this makes it sound, Thanks had no real chance at making it on network TV in 1999: a vicious satire on American pieties and religious bigotry? The air of cheerfully goofy anachronism was quite winning, as were the scene-stealing performances by veteran Leachman and newcomer Centner. But, in August, no one was watching except me...moreless
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  • A brilliant, dark, funny satire on America's roots - family moves to new neighborhood - it's just that it's Plymouth 1621. Simpsons meets Blackadder!

    This underrated classic was lost amid summer TV - one of the first original pieces of programming put on in the dog days of August by CBS - unfortunately it premeired against the PREMIERE of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (the game show for dim people) so it never had a chance in the ratings. But it got very good reviews (NY Times, L.A. Times and rave from Ent. Weekly - in fact it was the Ent. Weekly that first made me curious). What I love is maybe this smart satire of American roots wilkl finally get it's due. The brilliant Sarah Vowell (of NPR fame and the Incredibles) recently did a great piece on This American Life where she RAVED about THANKS - saying it was just too smart and too different for broadcast television - she quoted great lines from the show and praised it to high heaven (she's doing a book on the Puritans). Now maybe the six episodes can get released on DVD!moreless