Mr. Dugan (unaired CBS sitcom TV series; 1979)
Mr. Dugan was an unaired sitcom created by Norman Lear, the creator/producer of sitcoms such as All In The Family, The Jeffersons, and more. It was intended to air in the spring of 1979, but was pulled from schedules at the very last minute due to negative reaction from African-American Congressmen.
Mr. Dugan chronicles the adventures of the eponymous African-American congressman, having been a former football star. He soon finds out that being a Congressman is a harder task than playing football.
Reception Leading To Cancellation
The series was intended to premiere on March 11th, 1979 on CBS, but before airing it, Norman Lear and CBS screened a few episodes to real African-American Congressmen in the hopes that they would approve of Dugan as a positive role model for African-Americans.
However, the Congressmen's reaction to Mr. Dugan was overwhelmingly negative, the exact opposite of the reaction that Lear and CBS were intending. Many of the men called Dugan a racial stereotype and that it was demeaning to African-Americans. One Congressman simply said "it stinks" then proceeded to angrily walk out of the screening room.
One other particular Congressman, named William Gray III, was especially offended by the main character of Mr. Dugan. Gray was a former African-American football player himself, and worried that the main character of Dugan could be misinterpreted as an offensive caricature of him.
All the negative reception from the politicians caused CBS to cancel the show, canning it so close to the premiere of the series that it appeared in some television schedules a few days before its cancellation, and its canning also left the three episodes the show had currently produced at the time unaired.
The actor of the offensive character himself, Cleavon Little, was angry with the cancellation of the series, saying that, had the series aired, Mr. Dugan could have become the "strongest" African-American character on television at the time. He stated he was planning on getting more black actors, writers, and more crew members onto the series, produce some of the episodes himself, and that he wouldn't have taken the role, had he known the reaction it was going to get.
The series was reworked into another sitcom titled Hanging In that aired in August of 1979, but that series did not even last a full month before being cancelled.
A full list of episodes for Mr. Dugan does not exist as of yet, due to the cancellation of the series before airing. No traces in the form of video have surfaced of the series, and it is likely nothing will be uploaded of it due to the negative reception.
- IMDb page for the series. Retrieved 17 Oct '19
- Wikipedia article on the series. Retrieved 17 Oct '19
- A Washington Post article about the show's cancellation. Retrieved 17 Oct '19
- Pages 58 and 59 of the March 29th, 1979 issue of Jet. Retrieved 17 Oct '19
- Encyclopedia Of Unaired Television Pilots, 1945-2018. p. 1151. Retrieved 17 Oct '19