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Series: The Secret Diary Of Desmond Pfeiffer
That infamous ad.
"The Civil War defined America.
Both the good and the bad.
It was the crossroads of our being,
and it was a hell of a crossroads."
— Shelby Foote, from
The Civil War


Who would have thought there was a comedy in all that?
Well, we did.
We were fortunate to acquire an extraordinary historical document.
The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer (the "P" isn't silent) chronicles the life and times of a member of President Lincoln's staff at the height of the Civil War.
Pfeiffer, an English nobleman, claimed that he and his trusted man-servant were forced by rival noblemen to flee to America due to a dispute over the queen... All 5 of them.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Everything that follows actually happened... You can't prove that it didn't.
— The opening preamble to the series

The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer was a very short lived and controversial sitcom on UPN that only aired four episodes, all of which were in October 1998. Starred Chi McBride as the titular character, a Servile Snarker Black English nobleman and butler who is kidnapped and sent to America on a slave ship, then becomes Abraham Lincoln's valet in the Civil War-era White House. He then becomes more competent than everyone else, who is depicted as being comparatively stupider.

The series is extremely rare, never having been released on home video or in reruns, due to its extremely controversial nature. The NAACP led a protest against the show, citing its arguably light-hearted portrayal of slavery towards African Americans, forcing the pilot episode to be pulled. It would have been forgotten if it weren't for being parodied in Clerks: The Animated Series. Appropriately enough, for a show that was both critically panned and low rated (the reason it was cancelled), it was advertised with the tagline "Critics hate it."


The series provides examples of the following tropes:

  • It Is Pronounced Tro PAY: See above regarding how "Pfeiffer" is pronounced.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: As Desmond enters America, he seems to lose his English accent.
  • Servile Snarker: Desmond Pfeiffer.
  • Straight Man: Arguably Desmond.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Not something spoken in the show, but when Desmond Pfeiffer enters the White House, it is exactly what he is when surrounded by President Lincoln's staff.
  • Take That: One to the Clinton administration in light of the Monica Lewinsky scandal in the first episode, "AOL: Abe Online".


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alternative title(s): The Secret Diary Of Desmond Pfeiffer
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