Like THE SLAP MAXWELL STORY, which I wrote about a while back, THE JOHN LARROQUETTE SHOW had some pretty dark moments for a sitcom. Larroquette, fresh off his long stint on NIGHT COURT, played John Hemingway, a recovering alcoholic who becomes the manager of a bus station in St. Louis. The other characters included Hemingway's assistant, the owner of the lunch counter, the janitor, and a hooker who worked out of the station and became involved in a romance with Hemingway. The show's philosophy could be summed up by the sign from an amusement part ride that Hemingway stuck up on his office wall: "This is a Dark Ride".
Well, yeah, but it was also pretty funny, although the humor was mixed in with some pretty bleak moments. We watched it regularly and enjoyed it. Now, in looking it up on IMDB, I see that my memory has betrayed me yet again: I thought it ran for only two seasons, but it actually lasted for four seasons. The first one is regarded as the best, because each year the network executives forced the show's creators to tone down the grittiness and soften the characters even more. I'd agree with that assessment, although we watched it all the way through and still enjoyed it. But that first year it was a sitcom the likes of which are seldom seen, and certainly not these days. (The only one to come close is Matthew Perry's GO ON, which is wildly inconsistent but has its moments.) I don't think THE JOHN LARROQUETTE SHOW is available on DVD, but some of the episodes are posted on YouTube.