The American variety series 'Our Place' (no relation to the same-named Australian sitcom) was a summer-replacement programme, far above average for that benighted subgenre. During the opening credits, the pleasant title song was warbled by the Doodletown Pipers, a squeaky-clean ensemble of fresh-faced young male and female singers. None of the Pipers were soloists, but the one Doodletowner (Doodler?) who stood out was a very tall beanpole-thin tenor who tended to stand at the centre of the group during their (loosely) choreographed numbers. 'Let me tell you Our Place ... is a Doodletown dream come true,' doodled the Pipers, while comedians Jack Burns and Avery Schreiber pretended to decorate a Wendy-house.
Also appearing were the Muppets, muppeteered primarily by Jim Henson and Frank Oz ... but these two gentlemen were not listed in the credits. Interestingly, the only Muppet who appeared in every episode of 'Our House' *was* listed in the opening credits. This was Rowlf, the gruff-voiced dog with an easy-going manner, who played piano and compered the variety acts. Kermit and Miss Piggy were nowhere in sight, but some very imaginative one-off Muppets made single appearances. One clever routine featured a Muppet orchestra led by a Muppet conductor, all of them having inflated balloons for heads. The conductor led his orchestra through a performance of the 'Blue Danube' waltz, but - one by one - each musician's balloon-head popped loudly, until only the conductor remained. With no orchestra left to conduct, he let the air escape from his head with a flatulent sound. I'm not describing this very well, but it was funny and clever.
The comedy team of Burns and Schreiber did some of their well-honed routines. Each episode featured a variation of their taxicab routine, with Schreiber as the jaded Jewish cabbie contending with Burns as his know-all passenger. They also did some of their other nightclub routines, such as the one in which Schreiber is a coin-operated machine dispensing annoying advice to customer Burns. It's a shame that Burns and Schreiber never quite reached the top rank of cross-talk comedy acts; they were very original and witty. They both had separate careers (Schreiber as an actor, Burns as an actor and scripter) concurrent with their team-up work, which may be one reason for their undeserved obscurity.
Each episode of 'Our House' featured a guest-star turn. The best of these was 'Sir Cyril Ritchard' (as the credits listed him). Throughout this episode, Rowlf kept expressing hope that Ritchard would perform his 'Captain Hook' number from 'Peter Pan'. When Ritchard finally arrived, he started to recite a Shakespearean soliloquy ... until Rowlf persuaded him to perform Captain Hook instead. Conveniently, Ritchard just happened to have his prop hook-hand handy. With the Doodletown Pipers (in pirate costume) as his back-up singers, Ritchard did his number.
I've viewed kinescopes of the 'Our Place' episodes. They really ought to be released on video, or shown on cable. 'Our Place' is adult-intelligent yet kid-friendly. The only drawback to this delightful programme is that none of the cast members are well-known to modern audiences.
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