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Sgt. Ernie Bilko is the ultimate con man. He runs the motor pool at a small Kansas US Army Camp. Colonel Hall, nominally in charge of the base tries to keep Bilko's plans in check. Bilko runs every money making scheme that he thinks he can pull off. Midnight cruises on Landing Craft, Tank Rides, Poker games, and an interesting deal with local service stations for spare parts for jeep tires. Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Originally, the series was filmed like a play. The cast had to memorize the entire script and the scenes were filmed in one take, in sequence, in front of a studio audience. When Michael Todd made a guest appearance in the second season, he insisted on the episode being filmed like a movie, out of sequence, multiple takes, with no audience. Silvers and the crew found Todd's way was faster, cheaper and less demanding for the actors, so the series changed over to this new policy. The episodes were screened for audiences of military servicemen, whose responses were recorded and added to the shows. See more »
MSgt. Ernest G. Bilko:
You said "but". I've put the finger on the whole problem. You're a "but" man. Don't say "but". That little word "but" is the difference between success and failure.
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From What I've Seen, A Brilliant Sitcom-Why Isn't It on DVD?
I regret that I have only seen a fraction of the episodes of THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW. But those that I have seen confirms the show's reputation as an authentic television classic. Consider the star, Phil Silvers as Sgt. Ernie Bilko. Was there a more lovable conniver? His joy in his scheming was so droll and endearing one couldn't help but root for him. Yet Bilko never wanted to hurt anyone and whenever he learned any plan could hurt someone, he wouldn't go through with it. Silvers' ruefulness at such moments was as delightful as his ecstasy.
Silvers was backed by a delightful supporting cast. Particularly memorable were Maurice Gosfeld as the innocent Private Duane Doberman and Paul Ford as Bilko's flustered superior Colonel John Hall. Joe E. Ross got his big break as the gruff but lovable Sgt. Rupert Ritzik. Producer Nat Hiken would later team up Ross with Fred Gwynne in the police sitcom CAR 54 WHERE ARE YOU? And what hilarious, inventive scripts that so deftly served those performers. I'm no prude but I consider such riotous episodes like "The Trial of Harry Speakup" and "The Face on the Recruiting Poster" proof that writers don't have to stoop to raunchiness to generate laughs. The problem with today's television sitcoms is that they often indulge in gratuitous filth.
With so many old sitcoms coming out on DVD today, isn't it about time for DVD episode guides of THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW? Why should DVD users be denied access to, from what episodes I've seen, a wonderful show? Such a treasure does not deserve oblivion.
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