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Reading all the great comments from readers of this website made my
Sunday morning! It is too bad, indeed, that "The Mothers-in-Law" is not
in syndication and Lucie Arnaz and I have talked about this often. It
has something to do with Desi's estate, I believe, and legal
However, be that as it may, everything wonderful written about "my little Italian Mama", Kay Ballard is all true - she is, was and will always be the very best!!!! I can only say that those days, back in 1966-1968, were the best 56 weeks of my life! Thanks, all, for watching and enjoying the program! Jerry Fogel (Jerry Buell)
In the very early '70's, my local station WNEW-TV in New York ran this series over and over again. Since then, "The Mothers-in-Law" disappeared into oblivion. Probably nobody has seen it on TV since the mid '80s when Desi Arnaz died. Well, it ever comes back, you have to see the great chemistry between Arden and Ballard. The show was written by the same writers as "I Love Lucy", Madelyn Pugh Davis and Bob Carroll, Jr. That being said, the scripts, although considered "old-hat", were very funny. Kaye and Eve get into some very funny situations and are real pros! Too bad it only lasted two seasons. This is also one of the rare TV shows where everybody (except Deborah Walley) used their real first name!
The opening credits sequence of THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW was one of the best ever. The theme song was quite manic, and was accompanied by clips of the actors getting hit with flying objects, splashed with water, and crashing into walls and through floors and ceilings. What's more, the appropriate sound effects for each mishap were dubbed in. The result was one of the most wild opening credits sequences I have ever seen, which emphasized the madcap events in the episodes themselves. All of this is made even more hilariously bizarre (or bizarrely hilarious) by the almost complete absence of memorable opening credits sequences, and memorable theme songs, on television today.
This has to be one of the most underrated shows in the history of television. I remember watching reruns of it when I was younger and I thought it was pretty funny. I especially loved the dynamic of Kaye Ballard's and Eve Arden's characters. They both would always give advice to their children and usually with hilarious results. Also, this was one of the few shows on television at the time in which the in-laws didn't have an antagonistic relationship with each other. I hope that one day they will bring back this funny show in reruns.
This is a show which had two of the greatest writers in TV history,
Caroll & Pugh who co wrote I Love Lucy. The cast was great as the
talented Eve Arden & Kay Ballard were very good comedians who played
off each other very well. The legend Roger C. Carmell is great in this
show too. Herb Ruddley, if I recall his name correctly, played off
Carmell well too as the straight man to Rogers classic funny man.
For some obscure reason, NBC tried putting this on Sunday nights when Ed Sullivan was still big and put it in a killer time slot. That is the main reason this show only lasted 2 seasons. The shows were funny and the format of the main cast going after each other week after week was a fresh approach.
The show naturally had a lot of ties to Lucy as the writers and Desi Jr. were on the show sometimes too along with other well known guest stars. This series is on DVD now,folks who saw it then have fond memories and folks who see it for the first time will wonder how network Execs at NBC killed such a promising & well done show in two seasons. Of course it was consistent with NBC's track record then as they also killed the original STAR TREK too.
This was a fun show cast in the same die as "I love Lucy." Who could believe Desilu could strike gold twice with casting Eve Arden and Kaye Ballard in essentially the Lucy and Ethel roles? I just barely remember watching an original run of an episode or two, but like several others have mentioned, they did run them briefly in the late 70's. How cool was it to live in a converted garage where the garage door opener was still installed? That device made for a fun episode where Eve and Kaye get stuck on top of the door while spying on "the kids" when someone decides to open up the garage door. The opening credits were frantic and colorful, it should have lasted longer. If you were a fan of Dharma & Greg, this was essentially a remake of The Mothers-In-Law.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I originally saw this series when it first aired back in the late
1960's, later on a local television channel about 14 years ago, and now
on the recently released DVD of the complete series.
It really holds up well. Some of the TV series back then were too topical or quickly became dated, not so with "The Mothers In-Law"! It is timeless comedy that still brings big laughs.
Whoever did the casting was a genius. There's Eve Arden who's talent certainly shows why she stayed popular. Always known for a smart remark in the movies, she continues to entertain in this series. Then, there's Kaye Ballard who makes up the other half of the two main characters. Her character is so strong that after all the years since the show originally aired, you still remember her catch phrase, "Oh Really!" and her character bragging about singing with the Ossie Snick Orchestra. Next, there's Roger C. Carmel, probably best remembered as Harry Mudd from the original "Star Trek" series, a great character actor and highly underrated. He is the perfect casting as Roger Buell (later played by Richard Deacon in the second season). He just fits the outlandish hats and stunts the character uses as a writer. Roger's foil is Herbert Rudley, a veteran of many movies and TV shows. Another piece of perfect casting, he is great as the more strait laced lawyer, often at odds with Roger. Add to this Jerry Fogel and Deborah Walley who are very likable and entertaining as the long suffering newlyweds and you have a cast that never fails to entertain.
In addition to a great cast, writers from the original classic, "I Love Lucy" utilize their talents with very funny scripts.
Though the show never fails to provide laughs, there are some episodes that really stand out. A few of them are:
"A Night to Forget" where Eve and Kaye get locked in a department store. They try to call their husbands for help but get a wrong number in Barcelona, Spain!
In "Through the Lurking Glass", Roger is writing for a TV show about the Masked Martian. So, he dresses up in the costume and jumps out at people in the park in order to gauge their reactions for his script. Naturally, he gets arrested and has trouble trying to explain since he is dressed up as a martian. So, he calls for help only to get Eve and Kaye coming in dressed like grasshoppers followed by Herb in an "Arabian Nights" type costume, then Jerry and Suzy dressed as a kangaroo and rabbit!
Then, there's "You Challenge Me to What?" Roger challenges Herb to a duel after his writing is insulted. The girls try to stop it only to be caught by the police dueling with swords in their hands!
"How Not to Manage a Rock Group", this episode has a guest appearance by the rock group, The Seeds, in this instance, called The Warts. They perform their classic "Pushin' Too Hard".
The "Mothers In-Law" is a classic show with talented writers and cast, a show that deserved a longer run and a must see of television comedy.
I'm only 40, but I loved the Mothers In Law, as well. Kaye Ballard was a standout to me because of how vocal and hilarious she was. Of course Eve Arden was amazing too. If you live in Southern California and head out to Palm Springs, Ballard will be emceeing the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies, a vaudeville-type show which showcases a cast of older comedians, actors, dancers, vaudevillians who prove they are nowhere near past their prime. A great show that Ballard will be emceeing for part of this season. (They change up their emcees each year, having had some of the more famous old Hollywood names of the past host in recent years). The Follies has received coverage in newspapers from all over the world, the Today show did a segment on it, and it continues to grow in popularity. Check it out.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have to be honest to say that this show has similar traits to some of the Lucy shows. That was of course because it was written by I Love Lucy writing staff, and produced by Desilu's Desi Arnaz. While writing is paramount to any program it's also the actors that make or break classic comedy. Here we have Kaye Ballard and Eve Arden, who in my opinion really do shine every bit as much as Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance did ~ it's chemistry. They were magic. Some of the physical predicaments the two ended up in were priceless and comparable to anything Chaplin or Ball ever put on screen. Without spoiling anything, even though most people can't see this program at all, the pilot had a mishap with a piano. Then later on there was an issue with meatballs~ incredible comedy ~ even with meatballs, and I'm a vegetarian! If you still and forever loved Lucy this show is definitely worth being a part of your television DVD collection. Vote for it at TV shows on DVD dot com. Have a great day... Eric
I have asked friends for years if they remembered a show about a short loud Italian lady and a tall thin red head that were neighbors and in-laws. no one remembered it. i was born in 1965 and remembered it and begun to think i dreamed it and made myself believe it was a TV show. Finially a friend i talked to remembered it and gave me Kaye Ballard and eve Arden names. at last i am not nuts....well as far as this goes. i wished it was back on TV..... i am tired of the remakes that spoil the old shows. The Bady Bunch remake and part two were cool. cant they think of something new. i miss the shows i grew up on and learned from. please bring back to air on TV if possible.
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