In my wilder moments I like to think I've heard it all, and then something like this comes along.
Thanks to my friend Billy Ingram at TVParty!, here's the story of - and no, I'm not making this up - the infamous Britcom Heil Honey, I'm Home, which purports to be "the trials and domestic travails of Adolph Hitler and Eva Braun, a not-so-typical suburban couple."
The show only aired once, which I guess doesn't surprise me. It was probably ahead of its time - I mean, it's hard to imagine a network not taking a chance on it today. Sure, it would offend people, but isn't that good? Good for free press, good for ratings. What's not to like? In fact, the reason it failed was probably because, as this clip illustrates, it simply wasn't all that funny.
There's not much to add to Billy's story about this flop, but it did get me to thinking about similar ideas. There was, for instance, Monty Python's classic Atilla the Hun Show. That can't be that much more offensive an idea, can it?
Then there was the ignoble UPN disaster The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer, the story of "A black English nobleman named Desmond Pfeiffer (the "P" is not silent) [who is] is kidnapped by his enemies and sent to America on a slave ship. He eventually becomes President Abraham Lincoln's valet. In the show, he serves as the intelligent and erudite backbone of a Civil War-era White House populated by louts and drunkards."
Actually, I suppose I'm only succeeding in making a case for why Heil Honey was destined for failure. And still, I think it could have worked. Rather than doing the show as a spoof of 50s sitcoms, imagine - oh, imagine the more absurdist, subversive British sense of humor. With, let's say, John Cleese as Hitler, and a supporting cast equally loony. Hell, for that matter, you don't even have to imagine it - take a look at this:
Now that's funny. Is it offensive? Without a doubt. Is it going to upset people? What do you think? But in the end we're not talking about whether or not a show like Heil Honey is a good idea; the question is whether it can be a funny idea. Maybe you shouldn't do a show like this at all, but if you do, you'd better do it right.
I await my residual check in the mail. ◙