Mr. Smith (partially found NBC sitcom; 1983)
Mr. Smith is a sitcom aired on NBC from September 23rd to December 16th 1983, for a total of 13 episodes. The premise follows the titular character, a superintelligent talking orangutan who becomes an advisor to the President. The series was executive produced by Ed Weidenberger, who also provided the voice for the lead character.
It has become notorious in the years since as its premise was not only outlandish (even for American television) but very poorly executed. Critics roasted it for being altogether too dependent on its single not-very-funny gimmick, and viewers apparently agreed; it eventually ranked 47th out of the 52 new shows that aired in that time period. Thanks largely to these factors, several episodes have yet to resurface online.
Former street performer ChaCha the orangutan is taken into custody by a government research team in Washington D.C. after escaping his owner Tommy Atwood. While bouncing between labs, ChaCha comes across a serum designed to increase human intelligence.After drinking the entire concoction, ChaCha develops an IQ of 256 (beyond even genius-level human intelligence) and acquires speech along with other human attributes and customs, for instance wearing clothes.
The newly-renamed Mr. Smith - as a play on the classic movie Mr Smith Goes to Washington - is thus decked out in a tiny power suit and installed as a top-secret advisor to the White House (strongly implied to be the then-current Reagan administration) handling various political issues and controversies. His erstwhile owner Atwood is appointed as his assistant and companion.
Mr. Smith was played by veteran orangutan performer "C.J.", best-known for starring alongside Clint Eastwood in 1978's Every Which Way But Loose and its sequel, Any Which Way You Can. . Other cast included:
- Ed Weidenberger (voice) as Mr. Smith / ChaCha
- Leonard Frey as Raymond Holyoke
- Tim Dunigan as Tommy Atwood
- Terri Garber as Dr. July Tyson
- Laura Jacoby as Ellie Atwood
- Stuart Margolin as Dr. Klein
- Delores Cantú as Laraine Sanchez
Given the series' notoriously poor reception and quick cancellation, it is not surprising that it has never been re-released in any official format. While home recordings definitely had become mainstream by 1983, no full episodes of Mr. Smith had resurfaced on video sharing sites to date prior to November 2022. Some clips are preserved in resurfaced NBC bumpers and other promotional materials of the period, and Delores Cantú has posted some additional clips of the series featuring her character on her Twitter account. In addition, an eBay listing of the script for the pilot of the series is available online.
A blog post by ReverseShot, archived from the Wayback Machine, announced that they had the entire series of 13 episodes on DVD.This was shared on various forums but ultimately has never surfaced, and no support for the claim can be found.
On December 9th, 2022, the 3rd, 6th-9th, and 12th episodes of the series were uploaded complete to YouTube (down to the original commercials) by James David Patrick. The 4th and 10th episodes were also uploaded but are missing a few minutes each. Per the video descriptions these are original VHS home recordings, newly digitized in response to demand.
|#||Episode Title||Air Date||Status||Notes|
|n/a||Pilot||n/a||Lost||Script can be found here.|
|#||Episode Title||Air Date||Status|
|1||Welcome To Washington Part 1||September 23rd, 1983||Lost|
|2||Welcome To Washington Part 2||September 23rd, 1983||Lost|
|3||Mr. Smith Operates||September 30th, 1983||Found|
|4||Mr. Smith Finds His Brother||October 14th, 1983||Partially Lost|
|5||Goodbye, Mr. Smith||October 21st, 1983||Lost|
|6||Mr. Smith Rescues Bobo||October 21st, 1983||Found|
|7||Mr. Smith Falls In Love||October 28th, 1983||Found|
|8||Mr. Smith Gets Physical||November 4th, 1983||Found|
|9||Mr. Smith Loses A Friend||November 11th, 1983||Found|
|10||Mr. Smith Makes A Commercial||November 18th, 1983||Partially Lost|
|11||Mr. Smith Plays Cyrano||November 25th, 1983||Lost|
|12||Mr. Smith Goes Public||December 2nd, 1983||Found|
|13||Mr. Smith Goes To Court||December 16th, 1983||Lost|
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Cast for Mr. Smith
- ↑ TheMovieDB page for Mr. Smith
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Wikipedia page for Mr. Smith
- ↑ TVObscurities article on shows with unusual premises, that includes Mr. Smith, giving additional information on it.
- ↑ Washington Post Article about Mr. Smith
- ↑ IMDB page for CJ the Orangutan
- ↑ dbpedia page for Mr. Smith, with CJ The Orangutan's previous film roles.
- ↑ Tim Dunigan's filmography
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Delores posting clips of her role as Laraine Sanchez in "Mr. Smith"
- ↑ Archived ReverseShot blogpost about the DVD release
- ↑ CriterionForums comment about the DVD release, redirecting from the archived ReverseShot blog post.