Just before football season begins, NBC hits us with a gut punch. There will be no revival of Coach, the sitcom starring Craig T. Nelson that ran on ABC from 1989 to 1997.
Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva reports that the network shut down the show due to “creative issues” with producers, which were apparently the subject of rumors for weeks within the TV industry. The new Coach had a straight-to-series order for 13 episodes with NBC, yet only the pilot episode had been filmed to this point.
Andreeva’s sources told her that one issue with the show was that it felt dated. Perhaps that shouldn’t be a surprise, given that Coach was a hit 18 years ago. Much has changed in TV since then. For one thing, single-camera sitcoms are now the norm. And maybe college football is different enough to make the storylines seem out-of-date, though it doesn’t seem like that would be an issue with TV execs and viewers.
As it would have been strange to keep Coach in the same setting as 18 years ago with Nelson having aged, the new version of the show was to take place in the current day with Hayden Fox being asked by his son to come out of retirement and work as an assistant on a staff at an Ivy League school in Pennsylvania that was starting up its football program.
Being the star of the show certainly has its benefits for Nelson, as he’ll be paid for all 13 episodes, despite the show being canceled. All of the other cast members will only be paid for the pilot episode that was produced. Most of the characters from the original show were not part of the rebooted sitcom, with only Dauber Dybinski (played by Bill Fagerbakke) set to return. Shelley Fabares (who played Fox’s wife, Christine Armstrong), Jerry Van Dyke (Luther Van Dam) were not in the new cast.
According to Deadline, Universal TV — the studio developing the show — plans to shop Coach around to other networks. One possibility would be Netflix, which is reviving Full House. But does Coach have the same cult, nostalgic appeal to support a run on the streaming provider? If the goal is to produce more family-friendly programming, there might be a fit. Keep hope alive, Coach fans!