Here’s the deal:
Anyone interested in art is very familiar with the what-could-have-beens. Take any prominent artist in film, television, music, fiction, etc. and chances are there will be at least one cancelled or half-finished project of theirs that had so much promise.
I’ve written about this before concerning the Marx Brothers/Salvador Dali project Giraffes on Horseback Salad, but there are oodles more examples, like how prior to the Michael Keaton/Tim Burton Batman, Bill Murray nearly played the title role in a comedy version, or how Rod Serling wrote a script for an expanded film version of one of the best Twilight Zone episodes, “It’s a Good Life.”
So if you want another “What-if” gem to add to your collection, you should check out Lookwell.
Created in 1991 by Conan O’Brien and Robert Smigel and produced by Lorne Michaels, Lookwell featured geek icon and former Batman Adam West playing a washed-up TV detective who believes he has the expertise and responsibility to take on real cases. The show only made it to the pilot stage, but in the 22 minutes produced there’s a lot to enjoy.
West’s delusional Ty Lookwell is a great, bizarre character, completely out of step with everyone around him. Most of the humor stems from this fish-out-of-water set-up, with Ty regularly making ridiculous and oblivious statements like warning the police, “Remember this, gentlemen: I have a lot of free time,” and saying “The working class mind is strange and unpredictable.”
His detective “skills” are also fun to watch as he makes it a point to go undercover throughout the episode, each time dressing like a cartoon version of the role he’s playing. For instance, while at a black-tie dinner to raise money for the homeless, Lookwell appears as a tramp straight out of a Looney Tunes short, complete with bindle. While trying to blend in, he says to the regal guests, “Nice to be indoors” and “Hi there, the sidewalk is my pillow.”
There are other good bits and threads the show explores, but considering that this is a one-and-done situation, I don’t want to spoil them all. The strength of the writing, send-ups of the entertainment industry and West’s deadpan delivery make this a must-see for any comedy fan. Give Lookwell a look.
But seriously, some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb.