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I still contend that Joan Davis is the greatest female comic of all time. This overlooked and highly underrated program of the fifties is one of the best sitcoms of all time. A lifelong performer since childhood, Ms. Davis brought her great timing and knockabout style of comedy which she mastered so well in her movies of the 30's and 40's to the small screen and really makes this show work. Lucy has gotten more exposure over the years and this is the reason she has maintained her popularity but in my opinion Joan is the superior comic actress. A real gem that still shines on home video.
It is hard to believe that Joan Davis was one of the highest paid actresses in the 1940's for her radio and "B" movie work, since most people have forgotten her. I can remember watching this program as a small child, and then again on cable when it was rereun in the mid 1980's. Even though some of the comedy bits were butchered due to poor editing, many others that were shown were still top notch. Although television comedy tastes, formats, etc., have changed over the years, some of the comedy bits, particularly the physical comedy, on the show were superior to anything that I've seen done before or since. Because Joan Davis started out as a child performer in front of live audiences, she was able to perfect her brand of physical comedy long before she became a television star through this program. Jim Backus as her husband was perfectly cast, even though he relates in his books that he was not happy playing second banana during this time, as Judge Stevens, her husband. While Lucy is far better known, and for many still defines 1950's TV comedy, I believe that Joan did it better. I only wish that these programs were still available on cable to be viewed.
Joan Davis was, with Lucy, Carole Lombard, and Carol Burnett, one of the GREAT female comedy clowns of all time. She was in many movies, and then, after I Love Lucy was a megahit, Davis was starred in this sitcom of similar format - and of similar title: I Married Joan. But instead of a Cuban bandleader it was a judge, played by the brilliant Jim Backus, she drove crazy. Everything worked out in the end. And the show was a delight. It also had one of the best theme songs of the Fifties which says it all about the comedy: I married Joan; what a girl, what a whirl, what a life... never know where her brain has flown...!".
"I Married Joan "is wonderful, delightful and hysterically funny. Joan Davis was an exceptionally gifted comedian. Her use of timing, delivery, and physical comedy make her a master of her craft. It is very unfortunate that few people have seen this great performer in her classic T.V. series. Many of the episodes are masterpieces that rival "I Love Lucy". In fact, in my humble opinion, are better. Joan Davis' real life daughter Beverly Wills plays her sister on the series and the very talented Jim Backus portrays her husband, Judge Bradley Stevens. If you admire and appreciate great comedy, this series is a MUST view. I hope that it is aired again soon.
I just purchased the two DVDs that just came out on "I Married Joan."
Miss Davis is a wonderful actress that did not get her just do, mainly
because everything was focused on another great lady, Lucille Ball.
One of the fun things to watch are the supporting actors, who moved from set to set. You find the same actors on "Lucy," "Joan," "My Little Margie," "Private Secretary," and "Burns and Allen." I don't believe that Joan Davis was Emmy-nominated in the Best Actress category for comedy. That's very surprising and just as shocking as the fact that Esther Rolle was never nominated for "Good Times," in which she gave some of the finest acting on TV. Doris Day was never nominated for The Doris Day Show, either, but WAS cited by the Golden Globes. Miss Rolle never tried to BE funny, she played comedy straight -- the SITUATION was funny. Same with Miss Day. They didn't appear to be "funny" but they were.
If you "love Lucy," you might want to take a gander at Joan Davis in "I Married Joan," Gale Storm in "My Little Margie," and Gracie Allen in "Burns and Allen." All different, but all funny as hell for 50s comedy.
When Lucille Ball was an acclaimed, but not very widely known B picture
actress, Joan Davis was winning a lot more acclaim for her own brand of
goofy physical humor on radio and on film. She was a mainstay of
support to a lot of the glamor girls and guys at 20th Century Fox.
A long term extra marital affair with Eddie Cantor helped push her career along as Cantor featured her on radio and had her co-star in two of his films.
Like so many players when the motion picture studios started cutting down production and leaving people out of work, Davis turned to television. Unfortunately one year too late to get credit for originality.
Lucille Ball and her real life husband beat her to the tube by a year. They put on a very successful situation comedy about a wacky wife with an exasperated husband that we all know about.
So when Joan Davis debuted I Married Joan in 1952 she was accused of copying Lucy. Not so as any viewing of her films will so demonstrate.
But Lucy was there first and got the deserved credit.
I Married Joan was a very funny show that trailed in the wake of I Love Lucy. It ended in 1955 because her TV husband Jim Backus quit the show. As Judge Bradley J. Stevens, he was her exasperated straight man of a husband. He'd get to show his comic flair later on in Gilligan's Island.
Sad that Joan Davis was never able to develop another television show to show her talent before she died.
A very funny lady, with a very funny show.
while the show certainly has a dated feel (it does have an annoying
laugh track), the jokes were often clever and Joan Davis was brilliant.
no, she was not stealing her schtick from Lucille ball (who i also
love). Joan was a ditsy, goofy character long before she made it to
television. i believe her physical comedy was actually better and more
natural (see the movie HOLD THAT GHOST for a brilliant example.) did
they steal plot lines from Lucy? well, having not seen this show in a
while (i don't believe this show was ever on nick at nite. it was on
cbn, of all places.) but i will say that Lucy's plots were not exactly
original either, and being that both shows were on at the same time,
it's difficult to say who came first (if it even matters). the thing is
everyone has seen Lucy for years and just assumes she did it all first.
Joan Davis deserves her place in entertainment history along side Lucy, gale storm, Imogene coca and Gracie Allen.
This series seems to be the one that is most often likened to the peerless "I Love Lucy", and yes, there are some similarities. But "I Married Joan" still remains a funny riff on the theme, well-crafted and well-acted by Joan Davis and Jim Backus. The two have a palpable chemistry between them, and Ms. Davis has a wonderful facility for physical humor. The series also has a parade of wonderful character actors who troupe through the series, and the show is very often laugh-out-loud funny. The dvds I have of the show have very acceptable quality even though they seem to be edited from the original films. All-in-all, "I Married Joan" is a fun sitcom that takes it's place in my DVD library alongside such favorites as "My Little Margie", "Susie", "Pete and Gladys", the Betty White comedies, and of course, "I Love Lucy". There is broad physical slapstick comedy in just about every show, and there are laugh out-loud moments galore. One innovation of the show was the music in the series is performed by the Roger Wagner Chorale. There is not one note of instrumental music played in the entire series. The famous theme song, once heard, is nearly impossible to get out of one's head. Reportedly, Joan Davis and Jim Backus did not get along too well during the series, but there is not a moment of that to be seen during the finished product. A true classic.
"I Married Joan" (NBC) was a contemporary of "I Love Lucy" (CBS) and in
many ways they were similar. The show wasn't a ratings hit, but it did
make it into the top 25. Joan Davis was even nominated for an Emmy
Award in 1953. Unfortunately "I Married Joan" didn't have as much
syndication sales muscle behind its reruns. Desilu did an exceptional
job of getting their old shows on the air, which is part of the reason
why Lucille Ball is better known today.
I have watched each episode several times and find them priceless classics. Watching Joan Davis and Jim Backus together is a treat! The show is a must see for Jim Backus fans. If you can't watch "I Married Joan", find the Abbott and Costello movie "Hold That Ghost" Co-starring Joan Davis. It is a small sample of her comic genius. Some episodes of "I Married Joan" can be viewed on retrovision.TV at the time of this review, July 2013.
I remember watching this show and totally enjoying it.
But - upon looking back and comparing it to "I Love Lucy" - it is trumped by all the story/ character devices and comedy techniques employed by the Lucy/Desi effort.
Where do I start?
- Lucy and Desi were a real-life couple - so of course TV audiences of the 50s found that compelling
- Lucy and Ricky Ricardo always had possible allies/enemies in the Mertzes, so story lines had more possibilities
- Lucy ripped off her comedic technique from the Marx Brothers - so she always kept things "physical" in a way that had been proved by other classic comedians
- Ricky Ricardo's "fame" was offset by his Cuban heritage/bandleader ID; Joan's husband Brad the Judge just seemed "too intelligent" to up with Joan's wackiness (we could accept that a non-English-speaking musician would marry wacky Lucy; but why would a degreed, accomplished legal professional ever have the patience to put up with - and ultimately marry - someone like Joan - unless he himself was somewhat "off" - in which case - how could Brad ever have made it through law school???)
- The show seemed too deliberate in its invocation of "I Love Lucy": "I Married Joan" - save for the middle past participle, copies the Lucy's show title in form; the announcer states that Joan is the "queen of comedy" - but why state that unless you're trying to wrest the crown from someone previously so-designated?
- Ultimately, Joan was not the beauty that Lucy was - nor did Joan ever go to the lengths that Lucy did to achieve "comedic effect" (that, of course, was a much the result of Lucy's writers as well as Lucy herself: there were no "Hollywood" or "Europe" sojourns - nor were there any "baby/Little Ricky" plot lines).
I don't mean to diss Joan Davis - I think she put herself out and played some very funny roles during her career.
I just don't think her star - and this show - ever rose to heights of Lucille Ball and "I Love Lucy" - and for good reason.
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