Elegy for a forgotten sitcom


In the comments section of my recent Open All Hours post, my feuding partner Sam Johnson mentions a short-lived ABC sitcom from 1981-82 entitled Open All Night, which he and many others have argued was a transplant from the better-known Britcom. There’s certainly a strong argument to be made that there are a lot of similarities between the two shows, but to the best of my knowledge I don’t believe the creators of Night—Tom Patchett and Jay Tarses—ever officially acknowledged that the Roy Clarke creation subsequently inspired their program.

The cast of Open All Night, clockwise from top left: Bever Leigh-Banfield, Jay Tarses, Bubba Smith, George Dzundza, Susan Tyrrell, and Sam Whipple.

Night is one of those series that has slipped through the cracks of TV sitcom history; it was hysterically funny, and starred George Dzundza as a luckless shlub named Gordon Feester, who managed a convenience store (364 Store) along with his fluttery, scatterbrained wife Gretchen (cult fave Susan Tyrrell) and nitwitted stepson Terry (Sam Whipple). Providing security for the joint was a gentle giant named Robin (Bubba Smith), because the cops on the beat—Steve (Tarses) and Edie (Bever-Leigh Banfield, who I firmly believe was one of the foxiest women on the tube)—were coffee-drinking, donut-scarfing buffoons. (Not at all meant to represent real law enforcement, I’m sure.) To say the show was quirky would be like calling Einstein that guy who could do math; I can certainly understand why it had a short run (it wasn’t everybody’s cup of Orange Pekoe) but it was on ABC—what did they have to lose?

Sam suggested that the show might be available on YouTube, but I went a-lookin’ and all I could find was this clip featuring some doofus who later landed a late night gig:

If Open All Night is to be remembered for anything, it certainly should go down in TV history as featuring one of the best theme songs of all time:

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