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Bryan Cranston & Ty Burrell to Revamp the 1950s TV Show 'Tightrope!' into a Must-See Slapstick Comedy

(L to R) Bryan Cranston and Ty Burrell announce new series  'Tightrope!' Premiering on Roku

Back In April, Roku announced an exciting new scripted comedy series, 'Tightrope!', reimagined by executive producer Bryan Cranston and starring Emmy and SAG Award-winning actor Ty Burrell. As I learned more about the original 1950s series, I discovered a few details that excited me about the concept.

The original 1950s series starred Mike Connors, who later became well-known for his role in the CBS TV show 'Mannix.' 'Tightrope!' consisted of 25-minute episodes, with Connors portraying an undercover officer named "Nick."

In one notable scene, the Chief of Police describes Nick: "The undercover man has no name, no face, no identity... just a job." Only Nick's handler in the police knew his true identity. Adding to the show's cool '50s vibe, in the tradition of classic film noir, Connors' character narrated the episodes. Because no police officers knew Nick was working undercover for the law, he often faced danger from both sides—navigating the "tightrope" between good and evil.

The new six-episode Roku series, produced by Cranston's Moonshot Entertainment, Burrell's Desert Whale Productions, and Village Roadshow Television, is described as a slapstick comedy. In this series, Burrell will play a lone wolf detective who travels from city to city, solving cases while searching for his long-lost love who got away.

(L to R)-Bryan Cranston and Justin Berfield in in Malcolm in the Middle (2000) Image Courtesy IMDb- Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen in Modern Family 2017 Image Courtesy of Eric McCandless/ABC
(L to R)-Bryan Cranston and Justin Berfield in in Malcolm in the Middle (2000) Image Courtesy IMDb- Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen in Modern Family 2017 Image Courtesy of Eric McCandless/ABC

“I’m so thrilled to be working with Bryan, and Roku Originals, on this bonkers (in the best way) idea of a show,” said Ty Burrell.

What makes this show promising is the talent and experience behind it. Bryan Cranston and Ty Burrell have worked together on 'Modern Family,' and both know how to make you laugh.

Cranston's company, Moonshot Entertainment, has produced shows like 'Your Honor' and 'Sneaky Pete.' Burrell's company, Desert Whale Productions, is working on a new show called 'Forgive & Forget.' Additionally, the project has the backing of Village Roadshow Entertainment, known for producing over 100 films, including the 'Matrix,' 'Sherlock Holmes,' and the 'Oceans' franchise, as well as the 2019 Oscar-winning film 'Joker.'

(L to R)- Image Of Ashley Jensen and Mathew Horne in Agatha Raisin in Kissing Christmas Goodbye - Image of Ebony Vagulans as Madison Feliciano and Lucy Lawless as Alexa Crowe in My Life Is Murder 2019 Images courtesy of April McMillan/Christine Ramage/AcornTV/AMC Networks - Image of Sally Lindsay as Jean White and Steve Edge as Dom Hayes in season 1 of The Madame Blanc Mysteries 2021 AcornTV

The allure of whodunit TV shows, for me, lies in their ability to immerse viewers in a rich blend of mystery, intrigue, heartfelt emotion, and a generous dose of humor, all set in beautiful small towns. Warm Up With These Cozy Mystery TV Shows For Sherlockians & Whodunit Lovers


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Mike Connors as Nick Stone in the 1959 TV Series 'Tightrope!'
Mike Connors as Nick Stone in the 1959 TV Series 'Tightrope!'

Although I couldn't find the series on traditional streaming channels, I quickly found an episode on YouTube. In 'Thousand Dollar Bill' (Season 1, Episode 6), Nick is working undercover on a bank robbery case. The action starts right away with a quick bank heist.

Some of my favorite moments feature the actors using retro slang like "I want in for a piece of the action," "the caper," and "my dough." The episode turns into a whodunit when the thieves are caught, but the $100,000 they stole goes missing. The police lieutenant who caught them is suspected of taking the money. Nick, thinking the case was solved, now has to figure out if the lieutenant is innocent or a dirty cop.

I won't spoil the ending of this episode, but at only about 25 minutes long, the story moves quickly and is fun to watch. Can you guess who has the money before the episode is over? Needless to say, the good guy wins in the end and drops this line as the credits start to roll: "No name, no face, no identity... just a job. A job that takes me to all kinds of places. Where will I be next? I never know, but that's the way it's got to be when you're assigned to undercover... when you walk the tightrope."

“I was inspired by the on-the-nose old drama series of the ‘50s to mess with the whole thing and create a new version of a lunatic comedy, never seen before in a TV series. ‘Tightrope!’ is a result of a fever dream, and conceived over a bowl of chili at Chasen’s, savvy?” said Bryan Cranston.

While we wait for more information, such as additional casting details, it’s intriguing to consider Cranston and Burrell’s approach. If they can balance the seriousness of 'Dragnet' with the slapstick comedy of a character like The Pink Panther's Inspector Jacques Clouseau, or even Leslie Nielsen's character Detective Frank Drebin from The Naked Gun, and if the premise remains strong with the added touch of narration, 'Tightrope!' could make for a hilarious viewing experience.

Let me know your thoughts on this upcoming series.

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