We can all name a ton of shows featuring lawyers, doctors, and teachers. Once you begin looking at other careers, it’s not easy to find more than one or two successful shows about each profession. Let’s look at a few series about photographers and see what develops.
Love That Bob – 1955-1959
Bob Collins (Bob Cummings) is a bachelor and a professional photographer. He lives with his sister Margaret McDonald (Rosemary DeCamp), a widow, and his nephew Chuck (Dwayne Hickman). Bob spends his time trying to get dates with his models while his sister spends her time trying to get him to settle down. Although he was not aware of it yet, we all knew the real love of his life was his assistant Schultzy (Ann B. Davis) who was obviously in love with him.
Not only did Bob get around, but his show followed suit. This show debuted on NBC for a half season and then moved to CBS for two years. Then it went back to NBC for two years and finally finished its life on ABC.
The opening of every show was Bob and his camera; he said “Hold It. I think you’re going to like this picture.” Though Bob tried hard to be a playboy, he was so insecure we liked him in spite of himself and because of Schultzy.
Among the beautiful bevy of models on the show, we also got to know his best pal Harvey Helm (King Donovan) and his next-door neighbor Pamela Livingston (Nancy Kulp), an avid bird watcher.
The writers had a great perspective for the series because the show lasted five seasons for a total of 157 episodes.
The Box Brothers – 1956-1957
The Box brothers lived in San Francisco. They badly needed money and were offered a chance to buy a photography studio. They developed more trouble than photographs. The brothers were total opposites. Mild-mannered Gilmore (Bob Sweeney) dated quiet Marilee Dorf (Nancy Hadley) while strong-willed Harvey (Gale Gordon) dated the self-assured Dr. Margaret Kleeb (Ann Morriss).
The show was one of the first series to feature a character who was heard off camera but never seen. Andy worked in the darkroom, so we never saw him in person. The show also featured Howard McNear soon to run a barber shop in Mayberry and Barbara Billingsley who would dress in pearls and parent the Beaver.
After 26 episodes, the network had a flash of inspiration to cancel the whole thing.
Shirley’s World – 1971-1972
Shirley Logan (Shirley MacLaine) is a mod, young photographer who works for World Illustrated magazine based in London for editor Dennis Croft (John Gregson). She travels the world taking pictures, and the shows were filmed in England, Scotland, Japan, and Hong Kong, among other spots. She usually becomes involved in the lives of the subjects she is sent to photograph.
The show was a collaboration between British ITC and Sheldon Leonard. It was expensive to film due to the traveling costs for shooting around the world and MacLaine’s salary which was reported as $47,500 per episode. This salary would be the equivalent of about $275,000 per episode today.
After 17 episodes, the network either ran out of money or changed its focus to cheaper production methods because this series was cancelled.
All’s Fair — 1976-1977
In 1976, Norman Lear created this sitcom about 49-year-old Richard Barrington (Richard Crenna) involved with 23-year old Charlotte Drake (Bernadette Peters). He was a political columnist and she was a photographer, and they both lived in Washington DC. That was about all they had in common. He was conservative, lived in a luxurious townhouse, and was a gourmet cook. She was liberal, lived cheaply, and was a vegetarian. Most of the series centered around their generation gap and their political differences.
Jack Dodson, no longer living in Mayberry, played Senator Joplin, Barrington’s friend and Michael Keaton played President Carter’s aide.
The dialogue was fast-paced. One reviewer described it as “the best new comedy of the year” and the New York Times said, “casting is first rate and the finger-snapping pace of the show leaves just about everything looking easy and undemanding.”
Peters was nominated for a Golden Globe. The only other well-known show to debut in 1976 was Alice. I’m not sure if the writing quality was uneven or if the jokes just got tired and predictable, but after 24 episodes, the network decided it had been overexposed and moved on.
We’ve Got Each Other – 1977-1978
Mary Tyler Moore’s company produced this sitcom. Stuart Hibbard (Oliver Clark) was a copywriter who worked from home and took care of the house and cooked the meals. His wife Judy (Beverly Archer) commuted to Los Angeles for her career as a famous photographer’s assistant. Tom Poston played Damon Jerome the photographer. He was great with a camera but a terrible businessman, so he relied on Judy for everything.
Stuart had to deal with their nutty neighbor Ken Redford (Martin Kove), and Judy had to put up with a self-centered model DeeDee Baldwin (Joan Van Ark). Damon’s secretary Donna (Red Woods) tried to keep peace between the women at work.
Thirteen was an unlucky number for this show which was cancelled after that many episodes. I guess Damon was a underexposed photographer whose contract was not renewed.
Whitney – 2011
We started with star Bob Cummings in this blog and we end with Whitney Cummings, no relation. Whitney created and starred in this show about a photographer and her friends, a group of 20 somethings, who live in Chicago. Her boyfriend Alex Miller is played by Chris D’Elia.
Beverly D’Angelo from the Vacation movies played her mom in the original pilot, but was replaced by Jane Kaczmarek with all the scenes re-shot. The show did not garner great reviews. The debut was watched by 6.8 million viewers in September, but by December only 4 million of them were still watching.
After 38 episodes, the network thought too large a time lapse had happened and ended the show. Cummings also was the co-creator of 2 Broke Girls the same year. That show had better luck, lasting five years, being cancelled this past May.
Obviously shows about photographers did not do too well over the television decades. But if anyone can handle it, it’s these characters – after all they deal with negatives all day long.