Canceled Andy Richter Sitcoms, Ranked
We all love Andy Richter, whether it’s because of his work as Conan O’Brien’s long-time sidekick, his recent podcast The Three Questions or the time he completely mopped the floor with Wolf Blitzer on Celebrity Jeopardy!.
One aspect of show business that Richter has had a historically tough time with, however, is the sitcom game. After departing Late Night in 2000, because he got “itchy” (there are creams for that, Andy), Richter pursued an acting career and ended up starring in not one, not two, but three half-hour network comedies — all of which were ultimately canceled.
After a decade of commercial TV misfires, Richter eventually returned to the Conan-adjacent sofa when the host took over The Tonight Show, which also didn’t have the longest of runs. Hey, at least Richter got to try on Lady Gaga’s flamethrowing bra.
So which of Richter’s prematurely-scrapped comedies is his best? We’ve decided to rank the three shows, starting at the bottom with…
Richter’s three-camera Fox sitcom Quintuplets was so generically familiar that the finale easily could have revealed that the Chase family murdered the cast of Everybody Loves Raymond and seized their house. Richter played the affable father of, you guessed it, quintuplets (conceived thanks to “fertility drugs”), bizarrely played by actors of varying ages. The show lasted for just one season in 2004 — although its spirit lived on thanks to a meta gag in Arrested Development, in which Richter himself is an identical quintuplet.
Andy Richter Controls the Universe
Richter’s first starring role was in the ambitious Andy Richter Controls the Universe, about a frustrated writer who pens technical manuals for a company founded by a racist old coot who, despite being long dead, regularly converses with Richter, thanks to his overactive imagination. This is just one of Richter’s many daydreams that hijack the reality of the show, which frustratingly lasted for only two seasons but totally deserved more.
Looking back at Andy Richter Controls the Universe, it may be more aggressively early-2000s than you might remember. It kind of feels like if Charlie Kaufman was forced to make a workplace comedy in the style of those “You Wouldn’t Steal a Car” anti-piracy ads. Sure, some of the show’s humor, including an episode devoted to Richter’s gay panic, doesn’t always stand the test of time, but it’s still pretty great.
Andy Barker, P.I.
It’s a damn shame that Andy Barker, P.I. only lasted for six episodes, because it was an often hilarious show with a great premise. Richter starred as an accountant who moves into a strip mall office formerly occupied by a retired private detective. When clients in need of a P.I. start showing up, Richter decides to work cases on the side, with the help of an uncouth video store employee played by Tony Hale, who knows all the hard-boiled detective tropes.
The show was a perfect fit for Richter, created by his pal Conan O’Brien and Late Night head writer Jonathan Groff. In retrospect, as a comedic riff on retro mysteries like Matlock and Murder, She Wrote, Andy Barker P.I. was arguably ahead of its time, anticipating today’s hit TV comedies about amateur sleuths like Only Murders in the Building and Poker Face.
At least it lasted longer than Lookwell…
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