22 January 2004 | eskovan1
Basically a California version of SNL
"Fridays", which ran for two seasons on ABC, was a live sketch comedy show with a celebrity guest host & famous guest band. It aired at 11:30ET on, duh, Friday nights. So yes, it was ABC's version of Saturday Night Live. But more importantly, it was done from Los Angeles, so it was a West Coast version of SNL. And it showed.
Too many of the sketches were simple, 'one-joke' bits. The Rhasta-man for example, consisted of nothing more than the audience waiting for the jamaican guy to finally say, "ganja!" so they could hoot & holler (picture Married with Children's or Arsenio's audience). The same thing would happen during the Weekend Update-style newscast. Melanie Chartoff, who was the show's sex kitten, served as news anchor and the audience would howl at her thru most of the bit. Mark Blankfield's "I can handle it" pill-popping pharmacist was also little more than that, him acting whacked-out on speed and trying to deal with customers.
The show did have some bright spots:
Michael Richards 'Battle Boy' for instance. He was this psychotic kid who did terrible things to his army men (set them on fire & scream horribly). Plus he had a white trash mother who would just yell at him all the time. Richards also did a great 'Record Critic Guy' where he basically trashed everything (and early 80s music deserved some serious trashing!)
John Roarke was a very good impressionist, though his characters were too sterile and robotic. He had great technique but little flair for personal nuance.
Bruce Mahler not only did the memorable & weird 'dancing chickens' bit but also several good news skits opposite Chartoff such as having removed his brain and holding it in his hands still connected to his spine via a cable. And a simply yet funny bit with the two of them inhaling helium.
Also Rich Hall started out on this show (great trivia question: Who's the only person to be a regular cast member of both Fridays & SNL? Him!)
And I did indeed see the Kaufman show. And it was disappointing to find out the next day that the whole fight thing had been fake.
I also saw one of the last shows on March 5th, 1982 (John Belushi had died earlier that day).
Howard E. Rollins from the "In the Heat of the Night" TV series hosted and did a very funny bit about an insane morgue attendant who made the corpses act out little sketches with him.
And William Shatner, some 5 years before his infamous 'Get a life' bit on SNL, showed his gift for wacky comedy for the first time hosting Fridays.
Overall it was a funny show. Not groundbreaking in the least, and a complete ripoff of SNL, but still funny and worthy of more than just two seasons (I don't remember hearing about its cancellation, it just wasn't on anymore).