The Corner

Caveman Sitcom

I find the news that ABC is going to adapt the Geico caveman commercials into comedy series fascinating and maybe even inspired. If they can keep the understated smug alienation of the cavemen intact without becoming preachy or annoying it might just work. The more Office-like it can be, the better is my guess.

I’m trying to think if this has happened before. Of course, there used to be all sorts of commercial-artistic cross-overs during the supposed Golden Age of TV and Radio. I’d always heard that Popeye had started as a spinach commercial, but that seems not to be the case. And the “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” came before “I’d like to teach the world to sing.” But I feel like I’m missing an obvious example of a commercial-to-entertainment example. JPod, thoughts?

Update: Max Headroom! Another commercial-to-entertainment example — also with a Coke tie-in.

Update II: Several readers complain that Geico has been wheezin’ the juice, as it were. From a reader:

Jonah – the GEICO caveman are a complete rip-off of Phil Hartman’s unfrozen caveman lawyer from the early 90′s and to a lesser, not as sad extent, Encino Man.

Update III: Ah, right! “The Ernest Goes…” franchise (may it last for eternity!) is another example. From a reader:

Jonah,

Another example of commercial to TV crossovers from my childhood is Ernest P. Worrell. Although he started more as a regional advertising character, and had a more successful movie career, he did have a Saturday morning show called “Hey Vern, It’s Ernest”.