Don Ameche's Musical Playhouse (1950–1951)
"Holiday Hotel" (original title)

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Season:

2 | 1 | unknown

Year:

1951 | 1950
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Cast

Series cast summary:
Betty Brewer ...
 Herself (2 episodes, 1950)
Helen Gallagher ...
 Herself (2 episodes, 1951)
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Release Date:

23 March 1950 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Don Ameche's Musical Playhouse  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Don't block the car, Horton.
14 December 2002 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

In the early days of American television, the actors would often do the commercials in the middle of the storyline, without breaking character. For example, at the halfway point in early episodes of the Burns and Allen show, George and Gracie would suddenly stop everything to discuss the merits of Carnation Condensed Milk, and they would rave about all the wonderful recipes you can make with it. Many of these early shows are worth viewing again, but most tv stations are reluctant to syndicate them ... due to the fact that they contain blatant testimonials for commercial products.

'Holiday Hotel' offered an unusually clever variant on this formula, and this programme is also historically significant for another reason. It's probably the very earliest example of what would become a long television tradition: namely, the premise of the offscreen character who is frequently mentioned by the other characters but who is never shown on-camera ... such as the unseen hotelier in 'Magnum, P.I.', Niles Crane's unseen wife Maris in 'Frasier', Number One in 'The Prisoner', and Mrs Slocombe's pussycat in 'Are You Being Served?' Apart from those two innovations, 'Holiday Hotel' was not otherwise an especially good or enjoyable series.

'Holiday Hotel' was a sitcom, set in the lobby of a luxury hotel owned by a mysterious businessman named Mr Holiday, who is frequently mentioned by the other characters but never seen on-camera. The place is (very badly) run by a hotel manager played by Edward Everett Horton, repeating the same flustered role he portrayed (to greater effect) in so many movies. ('Oh, dear! Oh, my! This is terrible!') In this show, Horton keeps glancing about nervously and muttering about what Mr Holiday will say if he finds out about the latest disaster. Basil Fawlty could do a better job than this poor sod... and he's funnier too.

The most interesting (and imaginative) aspect of this show was its commercial gimmick. An automobile showroom was located in the ground floor of the Holiday Hotel. At regular intervals, a car salesman would interrupt the plotline to give a sales pitch for one of his cars. By an amazing coincidence, all the cars in the showroom were manufactured by the sponsor of this tv series, and the car company's logo was prominently displayed on-camera during the action, as part of the set design for the auto showroom. It would be impossible to re-broadcast 'Holiday Hotel' without including all the constant plugs for the car company that sponsored this show in 1950 ... so you'll very likely never see this programme. No great loss.


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