Long before Courtney Cox was a Friend and long after Jim Nabors was a Marine, they teamed up for a failed NBC pilot called Sylvan’s Paradise.
The show revolved around a Hawaiian resort and the oddballs that inhabited it. Nabors plays the titular Sylvan Sprayberry, a goofy but good-hearted hotel bell captain. Cox plays Lucy, Nabor’s niece in the show, who also works at the hotel, according to MeTV.
The show only aired a single episode on August 2, 1986. The pilot performed well in the ratings. It retained nearly all of the viewers from the episode of The Golden Girls that aired before it. The show scored a 15.3 in viewership, only a small dip from 16.3 from its lead-in, The Washington Post said at the time. But despite its good performance, NBC bailed on the project.
In an interesting twist of fate, Brent Spiner played the mean, taciturn hotel manager. Spiner may not be a household name, but his character that debuted a year later is. Spiner starred as Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation. But had NBC picked up Sylvan’s Paradise, it’s unlikely Spiner could have also played the iconic role on the futuristic sci-fi behemoth that aired on CBS.
It seems the show was trying to capitalize on the Hawaii crazy of the late 1970s and 1980s. Several major shows were set there including Magnum, P.I., Hawaii Five-O, and Fantasy Island to name a few.
Some clips of the show have leaked online. But NBC has most likely hidden the full video in a basement somewhere.
Fans Booed Griffith at Show Because of Jim Nabors
In a 1996 interview with “Ralph Emery on the Record,” Griffith explained that they would go out each night with a basic routine. He’d come out first and do stand-up, they’d work in sketches into the act, and Nabors would sing. Each night, he’d set Nabors up to showcase his beautiful singing voice.
“Nobody knew (Jim Nabors) could sing. He was just new on the Griffith Show. And he came out in the gas station outfit, with the ball cap and the rag in his pocket, and the pencils… And I said, ‘Well, Gomer, now that you’re here, what would you like to do?’ He said, ‘I don’t know,’” Andy Griffith said.
Nabors hemmed and hawed until finally saying he’d sing a song from an opera. It scored big laughs until he began to sing.
That’s when Griffith knew he was in trouble because he could sense the electricity in the room. Nabors was such a good singer that the audience forgot about the star of the show entirely. And when Nabors left the stage, the audience booed Griffith in the hopes of getting more Gomer.
“He just had gotten in the business, and I’d come back out on stage and they booed me every show,” Griffith said.