Thanks took place in 1621 and followed the misadventures of the Winthrops, a Puritan family living in a colony in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The family had just survived their first winter, and far from glossing over the horrors of settler life, the show seemed to wallow in them. The original press materials actually read:
"Now, along with their fellow settlers, they must decide whether or not to remain in the uncivilized New World and face yet another year of disease ... and each other. But don't be fooled: It's Puritan fun."
So if you think it's hilarious to watch stern, severely religious people die of syphilis and hypothermia, just say "Thanks!"
Characters on the show included the standard idiot relief, Cotton, played by the future Dean Pelton from Community, and Cloris Leachman as the horny Grammy Winthrop, who was always hitting on younger men and telling her grandchildren bawdy stories about being violated by pirates ...
"Because you can't spell 'clitoris' without good ol' Cloris!"
One of the show's very first lines was "It's a beautiful day. People are airing out their clothes, dragging out their dead." There was constant mention of the "50 percent mortality rate" within the colony, and how fellow settlers frequently died in terrible ways. Which is kind of OK: We're down with black comedy. But aside from a few morbid mentions, that is not the tack that Thanks took: The show hinged on all of your standard sitcom elements, like the befuddled dad, the wacky neighbor and the rebellious teenage daughter, and its formulaic jokes played to a canned laugh track. It was a dismal, morbid, tense situation paired with default wacky sitcom shenanigans; it was basically Married With Children if the show took place in Auschwitz and Marcy was a Nazi ...
Actually, that sounds amazing. Bring back Thanks, you soulless network bastards!