23rd Oct: It's time for the Second TV Tropes Halloween Avatar Contest! Details here.
NBC put a show on opposite Combat and Rawhide about the antics of lawyer Dave Crabtree (Jerry Van Dyke), a typically hapless sitcom family man who discovers that his mother has returned from the grave as a 1928 Porter open touring automobile. Most plots involved Dave getting into situations with his family, neighbors, and the hazards of owning a vintage car. It found a recurring villain in Captain Manzini, an obsessed automobile collector who wanted to acquire Mother to complete his collection. (Apparently it was the only make and model of the car to exist.)There is no real-life "1928 Porter," the company was meant to be fictional and the actual car used on-set was one of two variations of a Ford Model T. One version was made for normal driving shots. The other was a "stunt" car, built to be driven by a hidden driver (to make it appear like a Sentient Vehicle). The "stunt" version was modified by the then-ubiquitous George Barris, who also did the Monkeemobile and the 1960s Batmobile. Both cars survive. The normal version is owned by a fan, and the "stunt" car is on display at the Star Cars Museum in Tennessee.The show was critically lambasted and caused NBC to be something of a laughingstock for green-lighting it in the first place. The ratings were horrid across the board, except among the younger demographics who were more inclined to watch something silly than the two serious dramas competing in the time-slot. But, back then, networks only looked at total number of watchers in deciding what shows to renew. (And at the time, most households only owned one TV and the parents got to decide what to watch, limiting potential viewers further.)Despite this, NBC left the show on for its entire 30-episode season, likely to burn off the episodes and recoup some sort of investment (a common tactic in television).In 1965,
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