Could you ever imagine them continuing Mork and Mindy as a TV series if they lost Mork and Mindy? You can’t, but they actually attempted Sanford and Son without Sanford and Son. Do you think it was surprising it lasted 4 episodes before it was cancelled? I’m just shocked anyone thought it was a good idea at all.
Sanford and Son was one of NBC’s few hits when they were in the perennial ratings basement. So when Redd Foxx decided to leave the show for his own variety show on ABC, the thought was that they could continue the show with Desmond Wilson as Lamont in the leading role. Desmond wanted a leading role salary if he was going to take on the lead and the producers balked. So they decided to bring on new characters where Fred Sanford’s Army buddy would take over Fred’s house and the rooming house that Fred bought in one of the last episodes of Sanford and Son that is renamed the Sanford Arms.
So when Sanford Arms starts up, it’s explained that Fred and Lamont move to Arizona. The friend of Fred named Phil Wheeler is added to the show as the main character along with his teenage kids. Grady, Bubba, and Aunt Esther from the original series are retained, but the magic was certainly gone. By losing Fred and Lamont, they took the show into a situation where it’s no longer the same show. Turning Sanford and Son into Sanford Arms is far different when they turned Golden Girls into The Golden Palace after Bea Arthur departed. Since the other three “Golden Girls” stayed on. It’s no shock that this train wreck of Sanford Arms lasted only four episodes.
As a post note, Redd Foxx’s variety show was cancelled after a year and he returned to the Fred Sanford role three years later in a sequel series called Sanford because Desmond Wilson balked at returning. Instead of Lamont, Fred’s partner is a heavy set Southerner. While one thinks, laughter ensues, the show lasted just 26 episodes. By the way, Sanford acted as if Sanford Arms never existed.