The Great Gildersleeve was a pleasant, charming radio show. The television version utterly lacks the charm and cuteness of its radio counterpart.
The show's principal actor, Willard Waterman, seems charismatic and talented, yet the Gildersleeve character he plays is an unpleasant woman chaser. The writing (at least of the episodes I've seen) is excruciatingly tedious; each episode centers upon a singularly feeble premise and then "does it to death."
For instance, in one typical episode Gildersleeve's lust gets him committed to a long course of dance lessons and must get himself out. It's a tired, worn-out premise, yet it's repeated three times in the same episode. This thin plot is padded with feeble gags so tedious that a kindergartener wouldn't have the patience to write them. There are no sub-plots.
Other observers are apparently not so complementary as I've been. Sam Frank ("Buyer's Guide to Fifty Years of TV on Video") described the TV version of the Great Gildersleeve as "insulting and offensive." I haven't seen the episode he was describing, but apparently the show's values were consistently bad. He cited star Willard Waterman as later proclaiming, "The young man who produced the series, Matt Rapf, was an idiot who had never heard the radio show..."
These are harsh words from the show's star, but regard them fair warning before you waste half an hour on an episode. It was offered on video for a while, but apparently did not sell because the tapes were eventually given away as freebies. Hmmm.
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