Fri 21 Dec 2012
THE NEW ADVENTURES OF BEANS BAXTER. Fox, 1987-88. CAST: Jonathan Ward as Benjamin “Beans” Baxter Jr., Jerry Wasserman as Number Two, Stuart Fratkin as Woodshop, Karen Mistal as Cake Lase, Elinor Donahue as Susan Baxter, Kurtwood Smith as Mr. Sue, Scott Bremmer as “Scooter” Baxter, and Rick Lenz as Benjamin Baxter Sr. Theme composed by Joseph Vitarelli, Trumpet solo by Maynard Ferguson. Opening animation by International Rocketship Limited– Marv Newland. Creator/Executive Producer: Savage Steve Holland. Producer: Anthony Eaton.
Recently, I had put on my Indiana Jones hat and went off to explore a land of lost treasures … my storage locker. There I found some ancient Kodak Videotapes, one of which contained three episodes of a forgotten favorite of my past … THE NEW ADVENTURES OF BEANS BAXTER.
It is 1987 and Fox network had just begun. It had placed a lineup that included 21 JUMP STREET and MARRIED WITH CHILDREN on Sunday prime time. The network then turned to Saturday. Originally, Fox had announced its Saturday lineup, that included spy sitcom THE NEW ADVENTURES OF BEANS BAXTER, would premiere May 30 1987, but that was delayed until July (BEANS premiered on July 18, 1987). In the June 8, 1987 issue of “Broadcasting”, “FBC” (what the magazine called the Fox network) President James Kellner claimed the reason for the delay was so the network could focus all its promotional efforts on the encouraging ratings of the Sunday lineup.
The original order for BEANS was for thirteen episodes (“Broadcasting” 7/13/87). The 8/17/87 issue of “Broadcasting” reported Fox had renewed BEANS and ordered thirteen episodes. While only seventeen episodes were aired, BEANS would remain on the air in reruns from December 1987 until April 1988.
Beans Baxter was a typical 16-year old boy with a sitcom family of a younger brother, Mom and Dad. Dad worked for the Post Office or so the family thought. Dad’s new position forced the family to move from Kansas to Washington D.C. One day Beans sees his Father killed, then learns that his Dad is a spy and still alive. Dad works for the American spy organization called The Network. He had been kidnapped by an evil organization called UGLI. Network’s “Number Two” agrees to let Beans help find and save his Father.
Beans would receive his assignments in ways mocking MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE and GET SMART, from a master of disguise who turns up in such places as a toilet seat cover dispenser in a men’s room stall or the family toaster.
The series was a one-camera sitcom that featured silly, absurdist humor with little concern for reality or deep thought. Creator Savage Steve Holland off beat humor has been featured in such films as BETTER OFF DEAD (85) and animated kid series EEK THE CAT (92).
The cast was believable, a challenge considering the scripts and premise, but beyond that nothing memorable. The opening animation for the theme by Marv Newland (BAMBI MEETS GOZILLA, GARY LARSON’S TALES FROM THE FAR SIDE), and theme music fitted the fun off beat silly mood of the series.
“Beans Runs for President.” (8/1/87) Written and Directed by Savage Steve Holland. Guest Cast: Karen Haber, Taylor Negron, and Adrian Darval *** Beans must interrupt his campaign for High School President to save the daughter of the United States President who had been kidnapped by some angry Clowns.
Silly, brain-dead fun. The daughter is doing something she believes in as she joins an anti-nuclear protest … she believes it is a great place to find a boyfriend. It was 1987 and Clowns were just beginning to become clichés, yet even today the visual humor, such as the group of Circus Clowns armed with machine guns patrolling the hideout, holds up.
Opposite BEANS was ABC’s Movie CHAPTER TWO (79) repeat: 5.4; CBS’s Movie STILL IN THE NIGHT (82) (rating unknown); and NBC’s 227 repeat: 11.6
“Beans & Satanical Backwards Masking Conspiracy.” (8/8/87) Written and Directed by Savage Steve Holland. GUEST CAST: Dee Snider, Tim Stack and Lorraine Foreman *** Mother approved music is turning teenagers into evil demons lounge lizards who play the accordion. It is all a plot by Mr. Sue and UGLI to take over the World. Can Beans, Dee Snider and rock and roll save the day?
A very funny Exorcist take off with Snider the perfect choice as the music Exorcist.
Opposite BEANS was ABC’s THE ELLEN BURSTYN SHOW 4.8, CBS’ Movie GUILTY CONSCIENCE (85) repeat 6.8, and NBC’s 227 repeat 12.1
“Beans’ Wicked and Awesome Adventure at College.” (8/15/87) Written and Directed by Savage Steve Holland. Guest Cast: Ian Tracey, Amanda Wyss and Jennifer Stewart *** The Network is after a college student radical in search of information about UGLI. They want Beans to find out if the student radical’s ex-girlfriend and member of a college sorority know where he is.
Cake is tired of Beans ditching her (due to his spy work) while they are on dates, so she decides to follow him. She becomes convinced he is gay. Confusion and misunderstandings cause much of the humor resulting in a weak stupid sitcom episode.
Opposite BEANS was ABC’s THE ELLEN BURSTYN SHOW at 3.3, CBS’ Movie CHASE repeat 10.6, and NBC’s 227 repeat 12.7.
So does my old favorite hold up or disappoint? While THE NEW ADVENTURES OF BEANS BAXTER is nothing special, this mash-up of typical mindless 80s sitcom and spy thriller had enough moments to make me hope I have the rest of the episodes on tape somewhere in the forgotten areas of my storage locker. That maybe the only way to see them again as even the collectors market seems to have forgotten this one.
Additional Source: TvTango.com