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Thanks aired from August until September 1999 on CBS.
James ( Tim Dutton) was a young Pilgrim who had just survived his first Massachusetts winter in the New World with his family in this silly period comedy. He was an eternal optimist who ran the Plymouth general store with his outspoken wife, Polly ( Kirsten Nelson). They had three children-Abigail (Erika Christenson), who suffered from raging hormones; Elizabeth ( Amy Centner), who may have been too intelligent for her own good ( some people, including her sister, frequently accused her of being a witch); and William (Andrew Ducote), the family dullard. Also living with them was sarcastic elderly Grammy ( Cloris Leachman), whose age didn't keep her from showing carnal interest in the young men of the community. James' best friend , Cotton ( Jim Rash), was the villiage idiot; Dr. Addington , the local dentist, Reverend Goodacre ( Keith Szarabajka) and the Magistrate ( Robert Machray) There were lame jokes about the hardships of life in the New World, the religious ferver of the Pilgrims ( "no fun allowed!"), stoning sinners and the times in general.
An Article from the Deseret News
CBS gives 'Thanks' for a Pilgrim sitcom
By Scott D. Pierce Deseret News television editor
Published: June 28, 1999 12:00 am
CBS will soon be giving us "Thanks" -- but we'll have to wait and see if we'll be giving the network thanks in return.
One of the more offbeat pilots any of the networks had in development for this fall was a sitcom the Eye was working on titled "Thanks." And we're talking genuinely strange -- it's a half-hour comedy about Pilgrims trying to survive life in the New World.Really.
The show, from executive producers Phoef Sutton ("Cheers") and Mark Legan ("Grace Under Fire"), didn't make CBS's fall schedule. But the network has ordered six episodes of the series for broadcast later this summer. (At least it will be something new.)
"Thanks" is the story of the Winthrop family. Having survived their first winter in the Massachusetts Bay colony, James (Tim Dutton) and Polly (Kirsten Nelson) "must decide whether or not to remain in the uncivilized New World and face yet another year of disease -- and each other."
And it's a comedy. Really.
The cast includes the Winthrop's three children -- boy-crazy Abigal (Erika Christensen); "so-smart-she-may-be-burned-at-the-stake Elizabeth" (Amy Centner); and dim-witted William (Andrew Ducote) -- as well as James' best friend, Cotton (Jim Rash), the village idiot.
And then there's multiple Emmy-winner Cloris Leachman, who plays Granny -- "a wizened senior citizen who has quite the eye for strapping young men."
Well, viewers are always saying they want something different. "Thanks" could be that.
MUSICAL ANCHORS: Catherine Crier, who used to be at ABC, is leaving the Fox News Channel for a job at Court TV. She'll be replaced by former CBS newsie Paula Zahn, who will take over the (soon-to-be-retitled) "Crier Report" in addition to her nightly newscast anchoring duties at FNC.
QUOTABLE: "Late Show" host David Letterman: "Former President George Bush, you know what he did on his birthday? He jumps out of an airplane, parachutes out of an airplane. Here's what I like about former President George Bush -- he waits till he's out of office to do something really stupid.
A Review from The New York Times
TELEVISION REVIEW; For Some Unhappy Pilgrims Witchcraft Is Not a Problem
By ANITA GATES
Published: August 2, 1999
Things are hard in the Massachusetts Bay colony, but at least the long, morale-destroying winter is over and the spring thaw is under way. It's a beautiful day, James Winthrop (Tim Dutton) declares, people are ''airing out their clothes, dragging out their dead.'' His lovely wife, Polly (Kirsten Nelson), cheerfully calls their two daughters and one son to breakfast: ''Get up, children! Your boiling water's ready.''
James is a happy Pilgrim, and he is pretty much alone in his optimism. Everyone else in town is fed up and wants to go back to England on the next ship. Especially his cranky mother (Cloris Leachman), who lusts after sailors and loves to tell her grandchildren pirate stories about having been violated.
On ''Thanks,'' a limited-run sitcom beginning on CBS tonight, the Winthrops and their neighbors specialize in deliberately anachronistic (and/or culture-specific) observations. Young Elizabeth Winthrop (Amy Centner) tells the local doctor that he should wash his instruments because there might be tiny, invisible animals living on them that could spread disease. Elizabeth is promptly charged with witchcraft (not for the first time). James speechifies about ''not saying what this colony can do for me but what you can do for your colony.'' And when he responds to a complaint by his daughter Abigail (Erika Christensen) with ''And I suppose if half the girls in your class jumped off a cliff, you'd do that too,'' Abigail's answer is extremely satisfying.
The lasciviousness of Ms. Leachman's character could get old fast, as could James and Polly's running joke about the difficulty of finding privacy for sex in a one-room house, but the show's dark humor has promise. In the first episode, laughs are drawn from starvation, plague and fire-and-brimstone preaching. And when a pregnant woman talks about having had contractions while attending a public execution, Polly sighs and remarks, ''Ah, the circle of life!''
CBS, tonight at 8:30
(Channel 2 in New York)
Phoef Sutton and Mark Legan, executive producers. A production of Touchstone Television.
WITH: Tim Dutton (James Winthrop), Kirsten Nelson (Polly Winthrop), Erika Christensen (Abigail), Amy Centner (Elizabeth), Andrew Ducote (William), Cloris Leachman (Grammy) and Jim Rash (Cotton).
A Review from the New York Daily News
'THANKS' FOR NOTHIN', PILGRIM PLYMOUTH-SET SITCOM'S A TURKEY
BY David Bianculli
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Monday, August 2, 1999, 12:00 AM
THANKS. Tonight at 8:30. CBS. 1 Star For months, I've been complaining about the absolute dearth of summer programing, and begging for the broadcast networks to end their self-imposed vacations and show us something other than reruns and newsmagazines. Tonight, CBS answers that call by launching "Thanks," a new summer sitcom premiering at 8:30. You know that adage "Be careful what you wish for you might get it"? "Thanks" is the kind of first-run show that gives reruns a good name. Created by Phoef Sutton and Mark Legan, who clocked time with "Cheers" and "Grace Under Fire, respectively, "Thanks" is a period situation comedy about the first settlers in Massachusetts. Setting a sitcom in 1621 Plymouth isn't necessarily a horrible idea. "Best of the West," an ABC sitcom about the Old West, was a riot. But "Thanks" is closer, at least in execution, to last season's memorably awful UPN Civil War-era sitcom disaster, "The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer.
" Tim Dutton and Kirsten Nelson star as James and Polly Winthrop, who have just survived their first Massachusetts winter, crammed in a cabin with their three children and James' overbearing mother. Cloris Leachman, the only true comic talent in the cast, plays that somewhat overheated Grammy, but not even she can wrest laughs from this script and premise. "What do you miss most, Mother?
" James asks when Grammy pines for life back in England. "The religious persecution? The extreme poverty? The fine food?
" What I miss most is a sitcom that knows how to be amusing or at the very least, watchable. Thanks, but no "Thanks," CBS.
For more on Thanks go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanks_(TV_series)
For a Website dedicated to The Pilgrims go to https://www.pilgrimhall.org/
To learn more about The Pilgrims go to http://mayflowerhistory.com/
To read Sarah Vowell's essay on Thanks at Salon.com, published on August 25, 1999. go to https://www.salon.com/1999/08/25/thanks/
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Keywords: The Cast of Thanks