Melba (TV Series 1986) Poster


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Notorious for lasting just ONE episode
bronty26 July 2004
Long after Melba Moore's singing career came to a standstill, CBS provided her with this, her very own sitcom. Alas, for her, CBS, and all involved, it had the distinct misfortune of arriving the night of the first space shuttle disaster, garnering THE lowest ratings EVER for a first-run show and was canceled immediately. I happened to be one of the very few, probably, who caught this show and the space shuttle disaster merely hastened what was inevitable: cancellation. One cannot always base a review on just one episode, particularly a pilot - just as in life, a show must find its way, develop its own voice and flavor - but this was obviously another attempt by CBS to try and capture some of the audience the way NBC and "The Cosby Show" had, and it was done poorly, with writing that was, at best, mediocre and very forced, with hardly an honest-to-goodness laugh to be found, and featuring a leading lady who, while not without her charms (Moore comes off as a nice enough person and not without talent), seemed distinctly uneasy shouldering the burden of an entire show, something made all the clearer by a lack of any real chemistry with anyone else on-screen. Still, she tried, but it was a lousy show and what CBS did could only be called a mercy killing. If anyone remembers this show - and I don't profess to remember much about it, just how I felt about the show! - it's as a footnote in the history of Very Bad TV.
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CBS Didn't Listen
Steeber18 February 2017
My review is more of a memory than anything else. New to New York, I was employed part-time doing musical accompanying, and I had plenty of roam time for the city's famous sidewalks. Around Sixth Avenue, attractive female pages with clipboards were summoning passersby --querying them about coming into Black Rock (CBS's headquarters) to watch prospective TV shows. Who could resist?

I took up the invitation one day and was ushered into the famous black tower. We rode an elevator to whatever floor the screenings were happening, and I ended up entering a tiny theater with about fifteen to twenty other people. There was a projection screen (as I recall) for us to watch, and we sat in cloth-padded chairs that had consoles attached to them. Buttons corresponded to laugh moments, moments of approval and disapproval. I guess all of this "data" would go into some master view of audience reaction - a mediocrity Rorschach, in a sense.

I did mean mediocrity. "Melba" was pure formula. Even Lou Jacobi's asides, I remember, sounded like Yiddish-English commentary from a laugh barrel. Melba herself seemed a bit lost in her own sitcom. I voted with my buttons - sure that I might make the difference whether this show might air. I remember being incredulous that CBS didn't understand the dross they were offering for review.

After the lights went up, we were able to scribble a bit on our tiny comment cards with the usual dulled half-pencil. I started writing an essay on the foolhardiness of airing this comedy-like piece, so filled with clichés. A CBS page urged me to finish and exit, which I did - offering the card filled with my disapproval.

To my astonishment, CBS did air "Melba". I didn't remember that it was the night of the Challenger explosion, though I do remember that day. Perhaps I watched in astonishment once again, though I was hardly surprised that the show didn't make it any further than the ill- fated shuttle. In both cases, you had ground crews who might have known better, though thankfully no lives were lost at CBS - just jokes.

Upon exiting the floor I was given a ballpoint pen in a box "signed" by Donald T. Grant, thanking me for my time. I cherish it as a memento of 80's New York, and another adventure from much younger years.
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