By Admin | March 7, 2007

Unseen since its initial run during the 1973-74 television season, “Lotsa Luck” has primarily been remembered by trivia buffs as the American remake of the long-running British TV classic “On the Buses.” That may not mean much to American viewers, since “On the Buses” never played in the U.S. But then again, “Lotsa Luck” never meant much to American viewers, hence its one-season run.

Discovered anew, “Lotsa Luck” is a pleasant but forgettable sitcom that relies too heavily on benign putdowns to fuel its episodes. Dom DeLuise, in a rare promotion from second banana to main role, stars as Stanley Belmont, the harried manager of the lost and found department for the New York municipal bus company. Most of his adventures, however, center around his home life: the unmarried Stanley lives in Brooklyn with his cantakerous mother (Kathleen Freeman), dumb sister Olive (Beverly Sanders, beneath bottle-cap glasses and huge hair curlers) and her bathrobe-clad slovenly husband Arthur (Wynn Irwin). Much of the humor is rooted in Stanley commenting unkindly about Arthur’s rumpled appearance and refusal to work.

There were two main problems with “Lotsa Luck.” The first was DeLuise, who rarely had the chance to display the inventive and anarchic humor he brought in his supporting work with Dean Martin, Mel Brooks and Burt Reynolds (God bless Captain Chaos!). Except for a few moments where he’s truly allowed to shine in broad comic hijinks (such as the jittery decoy in a drug bust, where he attempts to record criminal activity with a microphone hanging from his hero sandwich), DeLuise’s presence is strangely benign and subdued.

Second, there was plenty of repetition in the 24 episodes. Recycled plots – mysterious behavior (Arthur sneaking out at night, the mother sneaking out at night), Stanley trying to get to first base with pretty girls, Stanley trying to mix work and show business – kept popping up, making the show grow stale quickly.

Still, there was a nice ensemble among the cast regulars, although Wynn Irwin’s Arthur was clearly the first among equals (if only because he was the oblivious butt of the jokes). And if “Lotsa Luck” never produced big belly laughs, at least it never insulted the viewer’s intelligence with demeaning or vulgar humor. Perhaps it could’ve found its footing had it been given a chance at a second season.

In any event, the DVD presentation offers an interesting curio for those who love 70s television. Lotsa luck, indeed!

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