Before (& after) Burnett: The Tim Conway Show(s)

Branching out on one's own can be some tough business. Especially when that business is show business, leaving the success of an ensemble to go solo is a very big risk. Sure, now and again, a solo record will eclipse the sales and acclaim of the act's former bandmates, but those instances are the exception that proves the rule. It's not easy going it alone.

Maybe that explains the tumultuous history of Tim Conway's two shows. He seems like a shoo-in to successfully lead a program with his name in the title. When Tim Conway is part of a team, he contributes what is often the best part of the show. Despite sharing the screen with legends like Ernest Borgnine and Joe Flynn, Conway consistently stole scenes on McHale's Navy. His Ensign Parker was instantly likable, and his comedic timing and pratfall prowess were always highlights of the program.  If any character was worthy of a spin-off, it was the bumbling, good-natured Ensign Charles Parker. 

But instead of Parker's Platoon, viewers were served the first of two series to use the title The Tim Conway Show. This earlier Show saw Tim Conway teamed again with Joe Flynn, who played Captain Binghamton on McHale's Navy. Here, Conway and Flynn played new characters that kept the same power dynamics of their earlier pairing. Flynn was again cranky, and Conway was once more trying his best to not muck things up. Their obvious chemistry could only keep the show in the air, though, for a short run of 13 episodes.  {seelaso}

"13" really was the unluckiest number for Conway, too. This wasn't the first time that a show with him on the topline failed to make it past a baker's dozen. "Rango ran for thirteen weeks until a fellow came in from ABC and said 'Don't do this anymore," Conway told the United Press International. "Then I did The Tim Conway Show about a bad airline and we found out viewers didn't think it was funny to make fun of airlines."

"They also didn't think it was funny to make fun of the West in Rango. Then I did The Tim Conway Comedy Hour, which they didn't think was fun. The Carol Burnett Show was fun."

During the time he was quoted, Conway was gearing up for his second attempt at a Tim Conway Show. This second iteration would be formatted as a variety show, rather than a sitcom like its predecessor. Obviously, with his history on The Carol Burnett Show, Conway is a perfect pick to lead a variety program. But Conway was untrusting and self-effacing while looking to the future of his new show.

"I'm trying to get out of the TV business, and I think this show will be the quickest way. This should just about wrap it up for me."

"We're thinking about having a comedy patrol in the industry where if you do a bad show, rather than cancel or do another show, they come around to your house and they actually shoot you. Depending on how bad the show is, of course. If it isn't all that bad, they shoot you in the leg. But if they kill you, you know you did a pretty bad show." 

The second Tim Conway Show fared better than the first. It lasted two full seasons. For his efforts, Conway was only ever "shot" by directors.