That 1870's Show

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A huge hit at the turn of the century.

That 1870's show is an American Sitcom which takes place in suburban Illinois during the Reconstruction Age in the United States. The show launched the career of several of its famous stars into politics, including Abraham Lincoln (who later went on to invent "abolition"), Rutherford "Scooter" Hayes (who became the 37th. President of the United States), and Jim "Mad Dog" Crow (for whom the "Jim Crow Law" is named). Currently the show remains syndicated around the world, because who doesn't enjoy Post Colonial American humor of the late 1800s?


The show was the brainchild of Lewis and Clark Productions, Culver City, CA. The working title for the series was Western Expansion, Diplomacy, and Economic Facilities from 1869-1880. It was later changed to "That 1870's Show" after everyone said "What?". First created as part of a class requirement for a William & Mary University Extension Writer's Program course, the Pilot Script was pitched to execs at "Scriptapalooza" in Niagara Falls to French Trappers. Not buying the 'originality' and 'feasibility' of the premise, the writers turned to the independent production company owned by Penny Marshall Sr. of "La Boeheme il Freunde", a long running play about two misfits in Philadelphia and their wacky sidekicks "Vinnie and Squishy" and their exploits in a mead bottling plant in soon to be discovered Wisconsin, Sherwood Schwarz, Exec. Prod.


The show centers around Andrew Jackson and his five teenage friends: Belle Starr (Andy's seductive redheaded girlfriend), Benjamin Franklin (the Inventor-Type), Woodrow "Woody" Wilson (tall and handsome, walked around with a boner all the time), Hector "Pancho" Villa (2 years older than the others and had a license and rode a horse), and Annie "Sunglasses" Oakley" (a fiery brunette who was quick with a pistol).

Elements of the show[edit]

It was a difficult time for America. Native Americans were angry that there land was being taken away by the railroad tycoons, Hawaii and Pluto were being annexed, Cuba was misbehaving, and with the invention of the steam engine, America was going through its second Industrial and Cultural Revolution. The show provided the perspective of the world from the eyes of teenagers who welcomed change and were curious. Not content with working as child labor in factories, farming, or going off to war against the French or the British, armed only with muskets and a sack of canned beans, these youngsters discussed Amendments to the Constitution, how much it would suck to live in Ireland during the potato famine, and Indian Wars.


The Stephen Foster written theme song, "The Camptown Races" was the obvious choice at is was the #1 most requested song on Billboard 100 top 100 hits of the '70s, just eeking out "Jingle Bells" and "I Wish Someone Would Invent the Automobile".

The Oak Ridge Boys sang the theme song the first two years, then the words were changed slightly to "doo-dah" instead of "oom-pah" when Jan Hammer was commissioned to "spice up" the intro. The bringing on of Jan Hammer, the change in music, and the opening Hawaii 5-0 video helped to catapult the show into the top 5 shows of the day.

"The Colonies Funniest Gaffaws" held the #1 spot, followed by CSI: Jamestown, in the #2 spot respectively, That 1870's Show close behind in the #3 spot.

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Parody of That 70's Show