A Show With Lynda Carter And Loni Anderson Couldn't Possibly Fail. But It Did.

Entertainment | June 1, 2021

Source: (IMDb).

Lynda Carter and Loni Anderson were two of the most popular actresses of the groovy era, with Lynda Carter crafting the role of Wonder Woman and Loni Anderson starring in WKRP in Cincinnati. However, they did not have much success in 1984, when they starred in Partners in Crime, which ran from September 27 until December 29. In Partners in Crime, Lynda Carter played the role of Carole Stanwyck, whose name was inspired by Carole Lombard and Barbara Stanwyck, while Loni Anderson was Sydney Novack, a character whose name was inspired by Kim Novack, but changed because the name Sydney had more spunk. 

Guest stars Steven Keats and Richard Lynch. Source: (IMDb).

The Premise

The show, which was created by William Driskill, was set in San Francisco. The two main characters, played by Carter and Anderson, have very little in common, except that they share an ex-husband. Raymond. After Raymond is murdered, Stanwyck and Novack work together to find his killer. The pair eventually decide to work together to run the detective agency which Raymond left them. The short-lived show also featured Walter Olkewicz as Raymond’s assistant, Eileen Heckart as Raymond’s mother and Leo Rossi as Lt. Vronsky, as well as other guest stars like Vanessa Williams. 

The opening shot. Source: (YouTube).

Getting Ready For Their Roles

Just as it didn’t fail because of a lack of star power, it didn’t fail because those stars were unprepared. To get ready for their roles, Anderson and Carter had to learn some new skills; Anderson mastered the skill of picking pockets, playing the double bass since her character was a musician, and speaking 40 words of Chinese. Carter’s education was not as extensive, as she played the role of a broke photographer, which was out of character since, as she told People in the summer of 1984 before the show premiered, "Unlike the character I play, I love to spend money and be extravagant." 

Source: (IMDb).

Johnny Carson's Company Produced It

Johnny Carson’s production company, Carson Productions, put the show together and was able to air it on NBC. Designed to be light and sometimes funny, it combined comedy and action for each hour-long episode. The show was produced by Leonard B. Stern, the successful writer who wrote for The Jackie Gleason Show and The Honeymooners, and who won and Emmy in 1967 for Outstanding Writing Achievement for Comedy for his work on Get Smart.

Source: (IMDb).

So Why Did It Fail?

Executives were worried about the ratings and wanted to see changes. They failed to see that some of their actions really didn’t help the ratings. Partners in Crime aired at 9 PM on Saturday nights, a time slot that was not really a hot spot, and it had to compete against The Love Boat and Airwolf. The title was also problematic as the series shared the same title as a PBS series which premiered in the Fall of 1984. When The New York Times reviewed the PBS show, it said of the premiere that this “part of public television's Mystery! series, is very silly indeed. Its efforts to be lighthearted will leave you either slightly giddy or mildly irritated, depending on your tolerance for terribly sophisticated, flapper-era Britons." This review did no favors for the Carter and Anderson show as the eighth episode of it had aired five days earlier. Of course, this review came out in the era before easy access television menus with a lot of description for each show. Overseas, they tried a different title to eliminate confusion; it aired as Fifty/Fifty so that it could not be confused with the British show, Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime.

When the show did not have great ratings, the executives decided they needed to make some big changes. One of those changes was to kick out Leonard Stern and replace him with Larry Brody to make the show darker and less fun. This did not help to revive the struggling show though, and after only 13 episodes, the show was cancelled and the NBC Saturday night schedule was shuffled around and new shows were added.

Tags: Ladies | Loni Anderson | Lynda Carter

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Linda Speckhals


When she’s not out walking her dog, or taking in a baseball game, Linda loves learning about history, science, and philosophy. She will travel wherever the wind may blow, and happily loses herself in a book, whenever she can. At heart, she is a music loving tree-hugger.