Black Bart (non-existent unreleased TV sitcom based on "Blazing Saddles" Western comedy film; 1975-1979)

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TV listing for the pilot's sole airing.

Status: Partially Found

Black Bart was a sitcom starring Louis Gossett Jr. and Steve Landesberg that was produced by CBS from 1975 to 1979. The series was based on the 1974 satirical Western black comedy film Blazing Saddles, and was created for the sole purpose of allowing Warner Bros. to maintain the rights to produce a sequel to the film at any point they chose to.

Production[edit | edit source]

In 1974, following the immense success of Saddles, interest in creating a sequel to the film was unanimous among Warner Bros. executives. This response was anticipated by the film's director Mel Brooks, who himself was largely uninterested in producing follow-ups to his films, and thus sought to make it so production of a sequel would be far more trouble for Warner than it would be worth. Brooks' attorneys soon came up with what was seemingly the perfect solution:

“My lawyers, bless their souls, came to me and said, ‘Warner Bros. is going to try and take away your control of the movie. Let’s put in a crazy condition that says they can’t do any sequels unless they make it right away or make a TV show out of it within six months.’ Which is brilliant. They couldn’t make a sequel in six months, and the movie was too vulgar to be a TV show. Now it would air in family hour if that was still a thing. So the lawyers put that in, never thinking they’d make a TV show".

Brooks walked away from the ordeal satisfied in his belief that a Saddles sequel would never come to fruition, but Warner were even less willing to let a golden opportunity slip through their fingers than he had expected, as they immediately kick-started production on a Blazing Saddles TV sitcom that would never be viewed by the public (as Brooks' contract never specified that they had to release the series in any capacity).

The series was titled Black Bart, and featured the continued adventures of Sheriff Bart (now played by Louis Gossett Jr. in an early role) and his efforts to protect the town of Rock Ridge from criminal activity while also dealing with the racial prejudices of its townsfolk. Outside of the Bart character and the Rock Ridge setting, the events of the film are largely ignored within the series, with film characters such as Lili von Shtüpp and (notably) the Waco Kid being replaced with equivalents in the form of Belle Buzzer and Reb Jordan among others. The released pilot is largely maligned by fans of the original film, many of whom criticize the poor production quality and lack of jokes, though some do give praise to Gossett's portrayal of Bart.[1]

Mel Brooks was in no way involved with production of the series (with creation of the project instead being accredited to Andrew Bergman, who came up with the initial idea for Blazing Saddles and assisted with the film's screenplay), and was entirely unaware of its existence until 1977, when Warner Bros. informed him of their intentions to make several more Blazing Saddles films, before showing him 3 episodes of Black Bart as proof that they held up their end of the deal.

In spite of Warner's best efforts however, nothing ultimately came of their plans for Blazing Saddles, and by 1979, it had become very apparent that a sequel was unlikely to ever happen, thus leading to production on Black Bart being shelved that same year.

Availability[edit | edit source]

According to Louis Gossett Jr. himself, 24 episodes of Black Bart were produced over the course of 4 seasons. However, as the series was created purely to fulfil a contractual obligation, with no intention for it to ever be seen by the general public, very little of it has been released in the years since production ceased. The only episode to see a release of any sort was the pilot, which was broadcast on television a single time on April 4th, 1975, before later being released on the 30th Anniversary DVD and Blu-ray releases of Blazing Saddles as a bonus feature.[2] All other episodes of the series are yet to see a release.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

The pilot episode.

External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]