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Old 06-12-2017, 03:23 PM   #1
JamesG
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TV Conan O'Brien and Robert Smigel Look Back on Adam West's 1991 Pilot "Lookwell"

Conan O'Brien and Robert Smigel Look Back on their lost, Glorious Adam West Comedy "Lookwell"
by Dan Snierson
6/12/17




He starred on one of the most successful ’70s detective shows. (Actually, it was canceled after three seasons.) He recites Shakespeare at will. (It’s the same line every time.)

He firmly believes that a couple dozen episodes of playing cops and robbers qualify him to help the police to solve crimes in real life. (It doesn’t. And they don’t want his help. Like, at all.)

There is only one man who fits this description and he goes by the name Ty Lookwell, the delightfully deluded semi-hero at the heart of the extremely short-lived 1991 NBC comedy "Lookwell".





Created and written by a pair of then-SNL writers and eventual comedy stars named Conan O’Brien and Robert Smigel, this one-episode series stands as a pop culture gem of what-could-have-been proportions, a joke-jammed achievement of alterna-comedy that looked nothing like anything else on a broadcast network at the time.

Brimming with dry, deadpan, daffy humor, "Lookwell" served as a wonderfully batty vehicle for the late Adam West (who was forever known for his aslant, assured, tongue-in-cheek portrayal of Batman), and one in which he revved his finely tuned comedic engine while popping some serious self-serious comedy wheelies.

It’s 22 minutes of Adam West at his Adam Westiest.





Ty Lookwell ruled for part of the 1970s as the grizzled, hard-boiled, take-no-criminal-guff detective named Bannigan. Now, many years later, we find him out of work (and out of time, in many ways). He’s resorting to unsuccessfully auditioning for shows like Happy Days: The Next Generation (a reboot joke in 1991!) and being confused for other famous TV detectives, while his unseen, new-to-the-business nephew Matt just breezes into town and immediately scores meetings with the likes of Francis Ford Coppola, Kevin Costner, and Steven Spielberg.

Ty isn’t discouraged — his mind and body appear to reject anything resembling negativity or self-doubt — so he whiles away the days before his next sure-to-come-any-minute break by watching old episodes of Bannigan and hosting an acting workshop (downstairs, second door on the left) in which he ascribes far too much thespian significance to his TV detective work of yesteryear.





For example, Lookwell shows his class a clip of Bannigan sneering to a defiant, lawyer-demanding pimp, “You can call the Supreme Court for all I care! You’re going to do time, Leron — hard time.” Lookwell turns off the projector and dramatically repeats that “hard time” line to the wide-eyed students before previously explaining to them:

“In those lines, I had to convey both anger and triumph… a sense of disgust with Leron, and all he represented, as well as reaffirmation that the balance of nature would be restored. I served, if you will, as both magistrate… and messenger.” Silence.

So… the pimp was actually funneling money through the disco?” asks a slightly skeptical student named Jason (played by future In the Bedroom and Little Children director Todd Field). Jason was the lone student who questioned Lookwell’s loony ways, but ultimately, he too was sucked into the windmill-tilting crusade of justice that was to ensue.





Which, of course, it did. Because if there is one thing Ty Lookwell believed dearly, it’s that he could crack any case wide open, just like his TV alter ego. So when Ty stumbles into the vicinity of a car-theft ring, he grandly offers up his sleuthing services to the police. (After all, he’d once been awarded an honorary badge at a formal ceremony in Television City. Still, carries it around with him.)

And when the police issue him clear instructions to step out of the character and slowly back away, he brushes them off and takes his method acting to the hardscrabble streets of L.A., giving West a fantastically delirious showcase to slip Ty into such woefully outmoded undercover identities as a scarf-and-goggles-wearing race car driver named Dash Carlisle and a hobo wearing a patchwork jacket and carrying a stick with his belongings.

As he tries to solve this crime with faulty deductions and a trip to the park to seek wisdom from a Shakespeare statue, Lookwell further descends into both sadness and madness, but his can-do spirit and the rock-dumbest of luck help him to emerge victoriously — or at least allow the bubble to go unburst for one more day.





"Lookwell" would be a victim of changing executive regimes at NBC, and only one episode ever made it into America’s living room, burned off into a summer night. (In a feeble footnote, that pilot earned the distinction of being the lowest-rated show in the week that it aired.)

Life moved on, but ever so slowly, word-of-mouth began to build: VHS tapes of the "Lookwell" pilot were passed around by comedy nerds, and later, the show grew into the stuff of YouTube cult legend. As part of EW’s Untold Stories series, we revisited the gonzo, gone-too-soon series through the eyes — and mouths — of O’Brien and Smigel.

Here, in an extended Q&A (which was conducted before West died on June 9 following a battle with leukemia), the duo looks back on "Lookwell" with a mixture of fondness, amusement, head-shaking, and pride in knowing that their almost-show gave the legendary West a chance to shine again.


Full Article Here: http://ew.com/tv/2017/06/10/adam-wes...igel-lookwell/
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