Hillary Bailey Smith
Carl Michael Lindner
|Opening theme||"You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me"|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||18 (3 unaired)|
|Running time||30 mins.|
|Original run||October 1, 1994 – June 13, 1995|
A fifty-something husband, Gene Bergman (Wilder), and his wife, Annie (Hillary Bailey Smith), who is in her thirties, are learning to cope with raising 4-year-old fraternal twin sons, Sam and Gabe (Carl Michael Lindner and Ian Bottiglieri). Sensitive, emotional Gene was especially unprepared for the prospect of fatherhood this much later in his life, and couldn't fathom how the generation gap was going to play out with the kids once they grew older. Sensible Annie pulled him through all the obstacles, and in the meantime, the Bergmans were just settling in for the joy of Sam and Gabe's innocent years. Gene ran an advertising agency with his partner, crabby best friend Jack Travis (Gregory Itzin), whose offices were located adjacent to both their homes. Jack, whose kids were grown, was at first unsure about Gene's newfound habit of dropping work frequently throughout the day to play with the twins, but eventually adjusted and sometimes found himself babysitting Sam and Gabe whenever some situation (usually comedic and slapstick) caused Gene and Annie to be away. Also working for the agency was Annie's irresponsible younger brother, Richie Wainwright (Jake Weber), who doted on the kids almost as much as Gene. Others seen were Annie's niece from another of her siblings, boy crazy teen Katy Mooney (Raegan Kotz), and Caleb (Cleavant Derricks), the neighborhood handyman.
The intended wit and charm of the show was drawn from Gene Wilder's comedic intuitiveness and the frantic mimicry and mugging he put on with his two young co-stars. Wilder and on-screen wife Hillary Bailey Smith also developed a "comedic supercouple" repertoire, as they often found themselves in situations ribbed with slapstick every week, slightly reminiscent of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball; at the same time, they were found to depict the smart, modern career couple of the 1990s. Something Wilder unfortunately failed to catch on with viewers, which led to cancelation by March 1995.
Production and scheduling
The series premiere of Something Wilder was delayed by a few weeks in the fall of 1994, as a result of casting issues. Jennifer Grey had originally won the role of Annie Bergman, and shot the first pilot; test audiences, however, disapproved of the age difference between her and Wilder. Grey was let go, but the search for her replacement proved more challenging than expected. Almost down to the wire, NBC was then able to snag acclaimed daytime soap actress and current One Life to Live star Hillary Bailey Smith in for the role. Smith continued in her role as D.A. Nora Gannon on One Life to Live sporadically during the run of this series (despite the fact that OLTL was on a competing network, ABC), and resumed it full-time when Something Wilder was canceled.
After the series finally premiered on October 1, 1994, on Saturdays at 8/7c, lackluster ratings prompted NBC to pull the show only after the first four episodes had aired. This only proved to be temporary, as Something Wilder was scheduled for a re-launch of sorts, immediately after November sweeps. The re-launch came about when the network felt that confusion over the show's originally promoted debut date (in September) led to a drop-off in potential audience levels when it launched early the following month. Upon returning to the air in a new Tuesday 8:30/7:30c slot in early December, the series continued steadily for another three months, but it fared little better in the ratings. NBC dropped the show from its lineup again in March 1995, and officially canceled it not long after. One more original episode turned up in the same Tuesday time slot on June 13, 1995, but NBC chose not to air the remaining three episodes of the 18 in total that had been produced.
Notable guest stars
Alice Cooper guest starred in the 14th episode ("Hangin' With Mr. Cooper", aired March 14, 1995) when Gene unexpectedly finds himself cast in a television appearance promoting Cooper's new hit single. Cooper moving in as his neighbor was likely an attempt to heighten attention to the struggling series.
- Brooks, Tim and Marsh, Earle, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows