The truth is that there are only so many words you can put together to create a title that is both apt for the content of a show and enticing to prospective viewers. As a result, the television landscape is littered with TV shows that feature the exact same name, but very often present content that could not be more different.
The span between the two sitcoms titled “The Goldbergs” may be the longest in the history of two TV series sharing the same title and nothing else. The original version of “The Goldbergs” premiered in 1949 and became one of the first blockbuster offerings of the new medium. Along the way, one of its stars fell victim to the Communist Blacklist , it bounced around on three different networks and saw five different actors play two of its characters. A show called “The Goldbergs” premiered on the one network that didn’t air the original back in the 50s, but this 21st century Goldberg family has nothing at all to do with the groundbreaking original. Set in the 1980s, “The Goldbergs” is really about how the rise of video cameras affected the future of the entertainment industry.
The 1970s sitcom “Happy Days” is one of the most familiar titles in TV history. Who doesn’t have some kind of reference point for the Fonz, Mrs. C and the despicable Chachi? Everybody knows about the show that took place in an increasingly mythical 1950s. But how many people know that “Happy Days” was also the name of a variety show that premiered just three and a half years earlier? What is especially interesting about this show that shares its title with a more popular series is that it was a variety show that revolved around the happier days of a bygone era. But where the “Happy Days” you know and love presented the 1950s as a happier era, the variety show presented music and comedy related to the 1930s and 1940s as a happier time. One can assume the songs and comedy focused on the positive aspects of the Depression and Hitler.
“Three’s Company” will forever be associated with jiggling of its blonde female stars and the mugging of its male star. Not much else left to say about this bewilderingly successful sitcom of the 1970s. “Three’s Company” is also the name of short-lived 1950s musical show with a short running time. For fifteen minutes a vocalist accompanied two piano players. Not really sure which version of “Three’s Company” sounds like more torture to watch.
“The Practice” was a 1990s David E. Kelley legal show that saved Dylan McDermott from being just another has-been young actor from the 1980s. Like other David E. Kelley TV series, it focused on the human foibles of those charged with being responsible for maintaining a sense of order in a chaotic world. Twenty years earlier “The Practice” was used with a medical connotation. Father and son doctor team Jules and David Bedford clashed professionally at the Bedford family medical practice, but they still loved each other.
The most infamous case of two shows sharing the same title arrives at that honor not because of the stark differences in content between two TV series that share one title, but because they were both about the exact same thing and featured the same actor. The first “E.R.” was a sitcom and introduce a mullet-headed George Clooney to TV viewers. Ten years later, Clooney had wised up on the hair situation and started his march to Oscar-winning movie stardom in a drama called “E.R.”
Wheel of Fortune
Three decades separate the premieres of two different shows titled “Wheel of Fortune.” The first was a 1950s whose wheel of fortune spun round and round before coming to a stop that revealed the award. But this “Wheel of Fortune” was decidedly different from the one you know. In order to win on the original “Wheel of Fortune” you didn’t have to piece together missing letters to form a well-known phrase. No, all you had to was qualify to get on the show in the first place by having committed some outstanding act of heroism or bravery. Knowing this fact should make it less entertaining to watch some dunderhead guess “Magic Hand” when the puzzle on the second version of “Wheel of Fortune” gives him everything but the “i” and “w.”