Beloved film legend James Stewart made his much-anticipated, highly-publicized series TV debut in this domestic comedy about the frequently chaotic home and professional lives of a small-town college professor.
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In Easy Valley, Jim Howard is an anthropology professor at Josiah Kessel College which was founded by his grandfather. He lives in a large house along with his civic-minded wife Martha; their grown son Peter, Peter's wife Wendy, and grandson Jake; and their younger son Teddy who is the same age as his nephew. Nobel-prize winning fellow professor Luther Quince is a bachelor (he regrets not meeting Martha first) and a dear friend of the family who often stops by for meals and to give his opinions. In each episode, Jim speaks directly to the audience and always ends by wishing peace, love, and laughter. Written by
As of this message, these curious shows are being ran again on TV. It is worth a look for more than just fans of Jimmy Stewart because they are a curious and mostly successful attempt at what I felt was a thinking person's comedy. If taken in the context of the times it was made, the show rightly asked for more attention and engagement from the viewer while watching, something that was mostly unheard of from most TV comedies of the time and perhaps even now. You can't walk off while watching and come back a few minutes later and "catch up with the story" like most comedies, this show doesn't work that way. I think this came mostly from the writing, each 30 minute episode was filled to the brim with details enough to fit in most hour long shows. All actors in their roles gave decent to great performances including Mr. Stewart who did his usual great job of acting while being "Jimmy Stewart"!
So why didn't the show last longer than it did? I'm not really sure myself but I'm willing to guess. Perhaps it's one, none, or a combination of these ideas.......
1. Longtime Jimmy Stewart fans at the time were expecting something different, perhaps a version of a typical classic Jimmy Stewart movie and what they got was a bit too much of a take of modern life forced upon them with too many details to follow for some of these viewers just to see a glimpse of their favorite star. Better to stay with their old memories perhaps?
2. In the early 1970's, a lot of the younger generation of TV watchers had a pre-conceived notion that watching a "Jimmy Stewart" show was a bit "corny" because he was older and these viewers didn't give it a fair chance?
3. The emergence of an exciting new era of radically different popular comedies in the early nineteen seventies like "All In The Family" "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" diverted much needed viewers away. A case of bad timing?
4. As I mentioned earlier, perhaps it was too much show for the average viewer to pay attention to. The show demanded too much of their attention. No matter how decent or good a show is, most TV viewers(then and now) tend to only want TV to lull them and not to think too much.
5. Perhaps Jimmy Stewart got bored with the project after awhile because he secretly didn't enjoy the grind of a weekly TV show. He like many was a very busy man in his career as well as his private life. Jimmy Stewart was and had been in the USAF Reserves as a high ranking Officer by this time. His Military record of service was and is a legend among many! Perhaps after awhile it became a matter of what was more important to the actor?
Watch the show, enjoy it and be patient. It is just one part of a great actor's career and not bad even on it's own. You should be pleased! Feel free to comment on this post directly to my e-mail or here. Thank you.
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