Jim Nabors and Courtney Cox costarred in a flop 1980s sitcom

He played her uncle in a pilot that never got picked up.

Read to Me

Show business is full of "what if" stories. From alternate casting choices to accidents that changed a plotline mid-shoot, there is plenty to ponder when it comes to events that almost happened.

One consistent contributor to the chapters of hypothetical Hollywood history is the failed television pilot. Shows as varied as The Rifleman, The Brady Bunch and Green Acres all aired episodes toward the end of their runs' that were backdoor pilots intended to launch spinoffs. Obviously, none ever got off the ground.

The list of failed television pilots could stretch to the moon and back. Most weren't picked up for the same reason they've been lost to history — they were just plain dull. But sometimes, a pilot that didn't pique anyone's interest at the time now seems downright intriguing in hindsight.

One such pilot is the 1986 sitcom Sylvan in Paradise. It follows a bumbling hotel bell captain named Sylvan Sprayberry who works at a resort in Hawaii. Sylvan is surrounded by other oddball characters like Polly, who runs the puka shell gift shop, and Sparky, a bellboy who is engaged to Sylvan's niece, Lucy.

It came at the tail end of a wave of vacation and Hawaii-themed episodes and shows vying for airtime. In fact, one of the aforementioned Green Acres spinoffs was meant to take place at a Hawaiian hotel.

Sylvan in Paradise would be nothing more than a footnote in a story about a larger TV trend were it not for the fortuitous casting that elevates it from a ho-hum disappointment to an interesting failure.

Jim Nabors played the title role with his trademark Alabama twang, clearly meant to be the show's main draw. But what really makes this half-hour of television stand out are two of the other actors.

Courtney Cox, eight years before she became known to millions of people around the world as Monica in Friends, appeared as Nabors' niece, Lucy. Though Sylvan was still years before her most famous role, if this kooky pilot had become a successful show, it could have continued into the Nineties and changed the makeup of the now-iconic sitcom about six friends in New York.

Sylvan in Paradise (which also kicked around the potential title Hotel Hawaii) aired on August 2, 1986, a Saturday evening, sandwiched between Golden Girls and Remington Steele reruns. It performed quite well in the ratings, landing in the Top 10 for the Nielsens that week. And yet, NBC opted to pull the plug.

A much more immediate result of Sylvan in Paradise getting the boot connects to a show that debuted just one year later — Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The overbearing manager of the hotel in the pilot, Clinton C. Waddle, was played by a young actor who had been appearing on TV for a few years but only in small roles. He was about to get his big break, just not from the pilot costarring Gomer Pyle. Brent Spiner played Mr. Waddle in the Sylvan pilot, before winning the fan-favorite role of Data in the Star Trek series.

If Sylvan in Paradise had gone on to air just a few seasons, Spiner may never have auditioned for his career-defining sci-fi franchise role.

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327053 16 days ago
Would have loved to seen this show happen.🤔
cogaj38307 1 month ago
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MikeFranklin 1 month ago
Interesting that Nabors and Cox were from Alabama with the sitcom taking place in Hawaii.
LoveMETV22 MikeFranklin 1 month ago
Lol. Sounds like they had a thing for Hawaii at the time.
Mark091 1 month ago
Was Courtney Cox the woman
Who danced with Bruce Springsteen
In the video DANCING in the DARK
When he picked a woman from
The audience??!!
jvf Mark091 1 month ago
Yes, she was the girl
Kenner 1 month ago
Yeah, Jim was no ‘chandler,’ thank goodness.
Lantern 1 month ago
On Jim Nabors' variety show that aired for two years after GP went off the air, they did a really funny sketch almost every week. It was set in a boarding house, with Jim, Frank Sutton, and the actress playing Frank's wife as the proprietors. Ronnie Schell played an inebriated resident of the boarding house. I always thought this sketch would have made a good sitcom by itself.
Mark091 Lantern 1 month ago
The Jim Nabors Hour was a great variety show but I would
Have enjoyed the show better
If Roy Stuart Elizabeth MacRae and Tommy Leonetti had also
Been regulars on the show.
Mark091 Mark091 1 month ago
Roy Stuart played Cpl. Boyle
Elizabeth MacRae played
Lou Ann Poovie and Tommy
Leonetti played Cpl. Nick
Cuccinelli all of those persons
Were on Gomer Pyle USMC.
The Jim Nabors Show would
Have been an even better show
If Roy Stuart Elizabeth MacRae
And Tommy Leonetti had been
On that program.
Roy Stuart Elizabeth MacRae and Tommy Leonetti were just
As funny and just as talented
As Ronnie Schell Frank Sutton
And Jim Nabors.
lynngdance 1 month ago
Maybe this would be a good time to mention another failed sitcom! Ever heard of “Something Wilder”? Though it only lasted for about 8 episodes, it’s great actually! It stars..wait for it….. GENE WILDER!!! (😄😄😄) it originally aired in the 90s, and it available to watch on YouTube, so you might wanna check it out!!
Fun Fact: Alice Cooper guest starred on an episode! (P.S that episode is HILARIOUS)
texasluva lynngdance 1 month ago
!!Wanted!! but preferred Alive
Those that wish to participate in the Weekly Movie Quiz.
Reward:
Conversation as to what this movie might be
Winners name in MeTV Lights
Just plain ole fun
Let's Do it at: Which people in your life are most similar to these classic TV characters? (The Fonz in the pic)
No later then 10 P.M CT
Some good movies instore for everyone to enjoy and top entertainment. Next week I will be breaking the bank with a pre-4th of July show of juggernauts. Have fun.
texasluva lynngdance 1 month ago
Thanks for bringing it to our attention. I actually never heard of it. I bet there are thousands through the years most never heard of. Then to find out why. Maybe the star did not fit the part. A better show/series took it's place. An actor could never breaks its mold from past performances or one (Like Brent Spiner) hitting big on another as Data.
lynngdance texasluva 1 month ago
Your welcome! Yeah, there’s probably thousands of obscure ones, I just stumbled upon this one because it has Gene Wilder in it. 😄 luckily this one has at least 8 episodes.
lynngdance texasluva 1 month ago
Btw I’ll try to be at the quiz, but I might be busy. Anyways I’ll try 😁
texasluva lynngdance 1 month ago
You can come by anytime you wish. Early to make comments, later to pick up movies and watch vids. It will be here for anyone who wishes to see.
lynngdance 1 month ago
Just found a video of it, it’s not that bad actually! (Ok, attack me if you want 😆)
texasluva lynngdance 1 month ago
We lay dormant at this time but lie in wait for later
MrsPhilHarris 1 month ago
The writers actually called a character Sparky? It was doomed from the start.

JDnHuntsvilleAL 1 month ago
You can see at least a clip of the show on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3hBOOH9WZY
I can see why this show failed - it's about as deep as a rain puddle, as funny as a hernia, and as corny as a pocorn factory! Now, do you want to know how I *really* feel???
vinman63 justjeff 23 days ago
He still sounds as Pyle with a loud shirt.
justjeff justjeff 23 days ago
...and I'm gonna call myself out for mistyping "popcorn"...LOL!
Deleted 1 month ago
This comment has been removed.
hootrs23 1 month ago
another troll who believes in THE BIG LIE. lol
1 month ago
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JDnHuntsvilleAL 1 month ago
We're just going to keep flagging you. This is no place for your political rants.
1 month ago
This comment has been removed.
justjeff 1 month ago
You're arguing with a person who has to borrow numbers just to have a **negative** IQ!
justjeff 1 month ago
He must have been kicked off of Fox News forums for being too liberal!
justjeff 1 month ago
.. and (as the old saying goes) "If wishes were horses, then beggars woulds ride"... In other words, *no one* knows what shows will hit or miss in the world of TV pilots. Courtney Cox and Brent Spiner could also have been turned down for their "iconic" roles ['iconic' is *so* overused nowadays] and others could have been cast in their place.

It's so easy to ruminate about "what-ifs" in hindsight. If Star Trek hadn't been cancelled, could it have run so long that viewers would have tired of it, rather than having a cult status that has spawned endless offshoots? Could Gunsmoke have continued until Sheriff Matt Dillon was so old he would be upholding the law from a rocking chair? Could vanilla actually be chocolate undercover? What if so-and-so didn't leave a successful show midway through its run?

SImply put, what makes some TV shows truly classic are the (final) casting choices, quality of writing and production values... and, of course, viewer loyalty. The rest is all simple speculation and fantasy.

Remember, "IF" is the smallest word in the English language with the biggest meaning...

[If I hadn't written this long trope, then would it have been simply a small afterthought? What if they had never had this story online... What would I have replied to? What if Tuesday were actually Saturday? What if??????????]
LoveMETV22 justjeff 1 month ago
I like your comment. I can't resist adding "would of, could of, should of". Lol
justjeff LoveMETV22 1 month ago
Or the "New York version"... "Woulda-coulda-shoulda"...
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