Taken Too Soon: The Pitts

the pitts index

A sitcom from Mike Scully and Julie Thacker-Scully of The Simpsons fame, this fairly unusual creation starred Dylan Baker, Lizzy Caplan, Kellie Waymire and David Henrie yet only aired for five episodes before it was cancelled, with the final two episodes being shown on the same night. Surprisingly there was talk about an animated version of the show with Baker and Caplan signing up for it, and Allison Janney taking over Waymire’s role after the actress sadly died in 2003, but after a pilot was made (yet never released) it wasn’t taken any further.

It’s a real shame that it was cancelled so quickly and that the animated series didn’t make it to air as it’s a quirky delight. Sure, it’s a very broad sitcom and lacks the subtlety found in classic era Simpsons but it’s big and brash and very, very weird and so I found myself liking it a lot. Want to know how odd it is? Well the first episode begins with the son, Petey (David Henrie), possessed and an exorcism taking place, as his body has been taken over by Satan. Fortunately for all involved the devil’s quickly banished and Petey’s back and all perky again, though it quickly becomes clear that The Pitts are one unlucky family, with all of them having recently been struck by lightening while the father, Bob (Dylan Baker) had been stung by a sod load of scorpions straight afterwards. They’re also the family who the urban myth “The bloody hook” revolves around, while daughter Faith (Lizzy Caplan) suffered from a beard of bees, though how that came out about is never explained.

Luckily such things don’t get them down, as both Bob and his wife Liz (Kellie Waymire) are ridiculously chirpy and upbeat types who take life as it comes, and near death as it comes as well. The kids are slowly getting used to the madness too, though fight a lot because, well, they’re teenagers and that’s what teenagers do. After an incident where Bob and Liz have to leave the copy shop they run together as the children were “fighting like a couple of cardboard box salesmen” they decide to hire a nanny, and as anyone who’s seen The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (or the terrible film Evil Nanny) will probably guess, this isn’t going to go well for the Pitts.

It’s got plenty of pithy lines, with “The Pitts are just one of those families who have extra bad luck. Like the Kennedy’s” probably being the sharpest, but when the family discover that the Nanny, Shirley, is trying to seduce Bob and kill off the rest of them Liz cries out “You’re insane”, Shirley drily responds “Yeah, I think that’s been established” in a very funny moment, and Petey’s dejected “I wish I was still Satan” also generated a big laugh. At one point it looks like Liz has killed the Nanny too, kicking her in to a bath and electrocuting her, but this is a network sitcom so she somehow lives and indeed is cured of her lust for Bob, commenting “Those 5,000 volts were what I needed to get over you Bob”. So yes, it’s daft and all rather silly, but many of the best sitcoms are.

The second episode is even more ridiculous as it sees Bob almost dying after eating a peanut based cereal despite being allergic to them, and Faith buying a car which turns out to be haunted. There’s the odd dodgy joke, at one point Petey utters the sentence “Next stop behind the Korean restaurant to look for cat parts”, but the rest of it is mostly delightful idiocy with it turning out that Faith also has a haunted cello, and there’s a fantastic sequence where she bunks off school and spends the day with the car playing Frisbee, going surfing, and mucking about on the swings, while a song called “I’m in love with an automobile” plays in the background. Of course life never stays simple for the family and it’s not long before the car is madly in love with Faith, and kidnaps her and forces her to marry him in Las Vegas, which leads to the silliest bit yet as the family track them down, jump on the car, only for it to leap on to the pyramid shaped Luxor Hotel and race up it.

Given the absurdity of the first two episodes you probably won’t faint at the news that the show carries on along these lines, with the third episode seeing Bob and Liz turned in to werewolves, the fourth featuring a ventriloquist’s doll coming to life, Faith gets a pipe through the head in the fifth, the entire family are taken hostage by escaped prisoners in the sixth and in the final episode the parents accidentally join a satanic cult. All of them are packed with zany, mad moments, very funny dialogue and some pleasingly goofy slapstick, the ever cheery nature of the family creates a lot of merriment and unless you hate anything which isn’t deadly serious it’s a show you’ll enjoy.

Special mention should go to the cast, all turn in great performances and are extremely likeable, it feels like a real family and not many sitcoms can boast of that, and though I’m not convinced it was a show which could have run for years and years considering the ludicrous concept I’m sure the writers could have created a good two or three seasons of entertaining madness. As it is we only have these seven episode but thanks to youtube at least it can be watched whenever you want to, and if you’re in the mood for something enormously goofy I’d recommend doing so this very millisecond.

Alex Finch.

Related Link:
The first episode is on youtube here, and the uploader has put up all the others too.

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