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We Need a Better Title!

November 5, 2014

Sometimes all you need to improve a TV show is a new name…or maybe not.

TV Show Name ChangeWhen CBS began promoting its upcoming Rob Schneider sitcom in late 2011, ads said the name of the show was ¡Rob! It was written that way to hint at the plot: loosely based on Schneider’s real-life experience of marrying into a large, Spanish-speaking family. By the time the show aired it had been renamed, simply, Rob. Reason: Journalists hated having to find a way to type the obscure ¡ character, and complained about it in their reviews. CBS actually changed the show’s name to please the punctuation police.

Fox debuted Too Something in fall 1995, a sitcom about two slackers living in New York. The meaningless title confounded audiences, so halfway though the season, the network took it off the air. When it would return in the spring, it would be renamed…with a title suggested by a “rename the show” contest. The winner: New York Daze. The title didn’t help bring in viewers to the low-rated show, which was cancelled in spring 1996.

The initial premise of Cougar Town, when it premiered on ABC in 2009: a divorced Florida woman in her 40s (a “cougar”) wants to date men in their 20s. But as the show developed, it became less about dating and more about a group of friends. Creator Bill Lawrence proposed two new titles: Sunshine State and Grown Ups. ABC rejected both, but reportedly the real reason it stayed with Cougar Town: DVRs. The network feared DVRs wouldn’t pick up on the change, and then wouldn’t record the show formerly known as Cougar Town.

In 1971, CBS began work on a sitcom based on the 1957 musical Funny Face. They hired Broadway star Sandy Duncan for the lead role of a college student/aspiring actress. The show was an immediate top 10 hit, but had to pause production midway through its first season so Duncan could undergo brain tumor removal surgery. This gave rise to the urban legend that Duncan has a glass left eye—she doesn’t. The tumor damaged her optic nerve, and she lost sight in her left eye. While Duncan’s appearance changed, CBS didn’t change the name of Funny Face to The Sandy Duncan Show because keeping the former title would’ve been cruel. Rather the show was extensively retooled for fall 1972 with a cast and plot overhaul. The new show didn’t last the season.
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