Television Situation Comedy, 1982-83
Written by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, Barry E. Blitzer
Directed by Wes Kenney, Rod Daniel
Dixie Carter . . . . . . . . . Carlotta Beck
Delta Burke . . . . . . . . . Kathleen Beck
Michael Lombard . . . . . . . . Marshall Beck
Slim Pickens . . . . . . . . . Big Guy Beck (1982)
Forrest Tucker . . . . . . . . Big Guy Beck (1982-83)
Nedra Volz . . . . . . . . . . Mother B
Charles Frank . . . . . . . . . Stanley Beck
Jerry Hardin. . . . . . . . . . Wild Bill Weschester
Ann Wedgeworth . . . . . . . . Bootsie Weschester
The year was 1982. Prime-time soaps were in their heyday, with shows such as Dallas and Dynasty raking in high ratings. Given their popularity, it was perhaps inevitable that comedy spoofs of these shows would start to pop up across the TV lineup. Two of the most memorable were Fresno (which came later in 1986 and starred Carol Burnett) and Filthy Rich.
Though it lasted less than a year, only two seasons’ worth, Filthy Rich was a very funny show. The premise of the show was that Big Guy Beck, a fabulously wealthy Tennessee landowner, had passed on, leaving behind a feuding family, lots of money – and a video will, with which he remained in control of the situation from beyond the grave. Each week, his family gathered in the Beck mansion, Toad Hall, to be treated to another installment of Big Guy’s will.
Among Big Guy’s family members were oldest son Marshall, weak-willed husband of determined social climber Carlotta; youngest son Stanley, independently wealthy and a relatively likeable guy; an illegitimate son, Wild Bill Weschester, and his kooky wife Bootsie; and Mother B, Big Guy’s first wife, who managed to escape each week from the nursing home in which she lived. As if that weren’t enough, there was also Kathleen, Big Guy’s beautiful young second wife, interested mostly in getting her hands on the rest of the family fortune.
With such a family, there was bound to be conflict – and there was, starting when Carlotta and Marshall learned that under the terms of Big Guy’s will, they had to share Toad Hall with the socially inept Weschesters. Appalled beyond belief, acid-tongued Carlotta schemed each week to rid herself and Toad Hall of Wild Bill and Bootsie, while also fending off the deliciously bitchy Kathleen.
Filthy Rich wasn’t high comedy by any means, but its writers did manage to come up with some memorable lines:
Carlotta: Kathleen, dear, I suggest you stay out of this or I will verbally annihilate you. I will cut you off at the knees. I will take that two-cent accent and perfectly coiffed hairdo and stuff it down your demurely concealed, but nevertheless dime store cleavage!
Marshall: You know, Carlotta, you would have made a great ranch foreman on Big Valley (a 1960s TV Western series featuring a strong-willed matriarch).
Marshall: Mother, I think you've had far too much to drink. Let's take this wine and put it over here 'til dessert.
Mother B: Marshall, I have not had too much to drink. I know so because when I have had too much to drink, I throw up.
Marshall: Stanley, remember how when we were little, I was such a sickly child and you never wanted to play with me?
Stanley: Marshall, it wasn't because you were sickly; it was because you were whiny.
Marshall: Just keep smilin', Carlotta. Let it seem as though we're havin' the time of our lives.
Carlotta: I am smilin', Marshall. Someday this nightmare will be over. You and I will have all the money and these people will be tied to mules, working in our fields.
Filthy Rich jump-started the careers of both Dixie Carter and Delta Burke, and they would later work with Linda Bloodworth-Thomason on another excellent show, Designing Women.
The Internet Movie Database
: Filthy Rich.<http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083415/>. (July 2005).
The Network & Cable TV Guide
: Filthy Rich. <http://geocities.com/TelevisionCity/9348/filthyrich.htm>.