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A Successful Teen Sitcom
Two years after Leave it to Beaver became the first show to look at life from a child's view, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis becomes the first sitcom to focus on a teenage perspective of life.
What made Dobie Gillis stand out was Dwayne Hickman's portrayal of the title character. His clean cut, good looks attracted lots of female viewers to the show. Also, he had one of the great TV sidekick as well as one of the most offbeat, Maynard G. Krebs, played by Bob Denver.
Denver, who would go on to greater success on Gilligan's Island would portray not only TV's first beatnik but also one of the first breakout sitcom characters. He wore a goatee and a sweatshirt and shuddered when anyone said the work "Work." I should also point out that Maynard's other catch phrase was "You rang?" The line was also used by Lurch the butler in The Addams Family.
The show wasn't just about Dobie and Maynard. There were also Dobie's parents Herbert and Winnie, played by Frank Faylen and Florida Friebus. Winnie was a patient, understanding mom like June Cleaver and Herbert would sometimes say in the early episodes "I gotta kill that boy." Let's not forget an early TV appearance by Warren Beatty, who played Dobie's rival in the first season Milton Armitage. When Beatty left the show, he was replaced by Steve Franken, who would play one of the most popular characters on the show Chatsworth Osborne.
And there were the girls. The actresses who appeared as Dobie's girlfriends would make some of their early TV appearances such as Michele Lee, Sally Kellerman and Marlo Thomas.
Even though I haven't seen a lot of episodes, I did watch a few on the new Decades channel and I though it was a pretty funny sitcom. Unlike Beaver, Hickman breaks the fourth wall and talks to the audience. It was an added dimension to a successful teen sitcom. And that was Dobie with a "b".
The Odd Couple (2015)
Not as Good as the Original 70s Sitcom
I remember watching the 70s incarnation of The Odd Couple with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman and to me it was one of my favorite sitcoms.
I also remember with the New Odd Couple with Ron Glass and Demond Wilson and it wasn't very good since many of the episodes were remakes of the Randall-Klugman series.
Now, more than 30 years later, The Odd Couple is back, with Thomas Lennon as Felix and Matthew Perry (who is also the executive producer) as Oscar. It doesn't look a lot like the first two versions since there is a different supporting cast. Instead of the poker gang of Speed, Vinnie and Roy and also the Pigeon Sisters, there's Dani, Oscar's assistant played by Yvette Nicole Brown and Lindsay Sloane as their upstairs neighbor Emily.
The one character that's absent from this version is Murray the Cop. Al Molinaro made the character famous in the original and John Schuck took over the role in the Glass-Wilson version.
Also, Oscar is no longer a sportswriter, he's a sports radio talk show host. Felix is still a commercial photographer.
On the plus side, Lennon and Perry have good chemistry as Felix and Oscar. On the minus side, the episodes have a lot raunchier humor than the Randall-Klugman version.
The one thing the producers did right was bringing in Garry Marshall, who produced the first two versions as a consultant. With The Big Bang Theory as a lead in, it has been even more successful in the ratings than the first two versions. But can it sustain itself without Big Bang?
Garfunkel and Oates (2014)
A Funny, Sometimes Dirty Reality Comedy
If you're a fan of The Big Bang Theory, then you probably heard of Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci, who have played guest roles on the show. Micucci played Raj's girlfriend Lucy in a number of episodes.
But if you haven't heard of Garfunkel and Oates, the group that consists of Lindhome and Micucci, then the IFC show is your introduction to the funny female folk duo.
I have seen every episode so far, and to me their songs are funny and sometime dirty. I also like the avant-garde style videos that appear in each episode. It adds a lot to the comedy.
Even though IFC ordered only eight episodes, it's a show that deserves to be back for a longer run next season. It's a show that would also work on HBO since there are no restrictions on language. Give the show a chance, you'll see two outstanding and funny female comedy singers.
Mayberry R.F.D. (1968)
Didn't Miss a Beat After Andy Griffith's Departure
When Andy Griffith decided to leave his own show in 1968 to focus on a movie career, the show continued on under the title Mayberry RFD. Instead of Griffith, Ken Berry, a year after F Troop ended, portrayed a similar character Sam Jones. He was also a widower with a young son, played by Buddy Foster, the brother of actress Jodie Foster.
Also returning were the familiar characters of Goober, Emmett, Howard Sprague and Aunt Bee. Also returning was Arlene Golonka as Sam's love interest Millie. She brought beauty to the show. After the second season, Frances Bavier, who played Aunt bee since The Andy Griffith Show began in 1960, left the show and was replaced by Alice Ghostley as Aunt Alice.
Even without Griffith and Ron Howard, Mayberry RFD didn't miss a beat and turned out to be a very popular rural sitcom. Unfortunately, with ratings still high, CBS canceled the show as part of the Rural Purge in 1971. It's a show that hasn't had a long run as Andy Griffith and it deserves to be rerun on a network such as METV. Mayberry RFD continued the tradition of wholesome, rural sitcoms and shouldn't have been canceled while it was still on top of its game.
Kid Power (1972)
Ground Breaking Cartoon Doesn't Last
Seven years after Morrie Turner became the first African-American cartoonist to launch a comic strip with Wee Pals, ABC debuted an animated version titled Kid Power.
The show was the first to featured a multi-racial group of children as they learned lessons and solved problems in daily life. Some of the characters included Jerry, Nipper Sybil and Ralph the bully. They were members of the Rainbow Club.
I also remember there was a song in each episode sung by The Curbstones. They also sang the theme song, accompanied by outstanding and colorful animation from Rankin-Bass, best known for the holiday classic Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer. But unfortunately, the show didn't have any ratings power and after one season, the network moved the show to Sunday morning and showed only reruns. I should also point out that one of the voices was the son of the actor who played Tonto on The Lone Ranger, Jay Silverheels Jr. Turner recently passed away but his memory will live on with a show that tried to break racial barriers in Kid Power.
The Millers (2013)
CBS has Another Sitcom Hit
After watching TV's top rated sitcom The Big Bang Theory, CBS has another sitcom hit it the new show The Millers. Greg Garcia, the man behind such shows as Yes Dear and My Name is Earl, not only created and produced The Millers, he also wrote the pilot.
The pilot turned out to be a very funny episode, though it resembled Everybody Loves Raymond with the bickering parents premise.
The casting is outstanding. Will Arnett, a sitcom veteran from Arrested Development and Up All Night is great as Nathan, recently divorced from his wife and trying to adjust to singlehood. But then, his mother Carol, played by Margo Martindale, moves in and brings a Doris Roberts with a southern accent touch to the show. It's Martindale's first sitcom and she handles the format well. She is also very funny, especially in the scene where she tries to eat ice cream with a spatula. She could be considered for an Emmy nomination if the show stays on the rest of the season. I hope it does.
Beau Bridges is also hilarious as the dad, who has trouble with the remotes in Nathan's sister's home. He also handles his first sitcom well. Also contributing to the hilarity are JB Smoove and Jayma Mays, who also plays Emma on Glee.
Big Bang Theory fans don't need to change the channel when the episode ends. Stick around for The Millers. It's going to be a hit.
Back in the Game (2013)
Back in the Game Hits a Home Run
As a long-time baseball fan, I have been watching Back in the Game since it debuted and to me, it has the makings of a hit. It's the first sitcom about little league baseball since The Bad News Bears struck out on CBS in 1980.
What makes this show better than the show based on the movie series are the solid performances of Maggie Lawson, who ends up coaching her son's little league team and in his first sitcom role as her alcoholic father, James Caan. Caan seems to handle the sitcom format really well.
Let's not forget the actor who plays Lawson's son and the other members of The Angles. The add a lot to the show.
Back in the Game also reminds me of a boon i read when i was a youngster, The Year Mom Won the Pennant by Matt Christopher. Could Lawon's character lead The angles to the pennant? Watch this show. It hits a home run.
A Fun Kids Game Show
In 1964, Merrill Heatter and Bob Quigley revived their first game show Video Village by changing the title to Shenanigans and putting the show in ABC's Saturday morning kids line up.
Sponsored by Milton Bradley, the show featured two kids playing the role of pieces on a game board as the played versions of the sponsor's games and collected shenanaganzas to be redeemed for prizes.
I saw the show for the very first time on youtube.com and i thought it was a fun kids game show. Stubby Kaye, best known for his roles in the musical comedies Guys and Dolls and L'il Abner, did an outstanding job in hosting what would turn out to be his only game show. He brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the proceeding and more important, he had very good rapport with the young contestants. He also sang the show's theme song. It's a shame that any game show producer never offered him another hosting job. He would have also done well hosting an adult game show.
It was also one of the few times veteran Heatter-Quigley announcer Kenny Williams appeared on camera. He portrayed "Kenny the Cop" and added a lot to the show.
If you never seen or heard the show, view it on youtube. You'll have a shenanaganza.
A Very Funny Game Show That Didn't Click
i remember The Match Game/Hollywood Squares Hour and to me it was a very funny game show that combined to classic comedy games into one format.
Fortunately, Gene Rayburn was brought back to host the Match Game segment. Even though he didn't have the trio of regulars in Brett Somers, Richard Dawson and Charles Nelson Reilly, he still handled the show he hosted in two previous incarnations very adeptly.
But wait, There's more. After Match Game ended, three more celebrities came on for Hollywood Squares, hosted by Jon Bauman. Even though I really enjoyed the original Peter Marshall version, this version was weaker than Rayburn's Match Game because Bauman, aka "Bowzer" in Sha Na Na, was not much of a straight man than Marshall and lacked experience hosting a game show. Also, Mark Goodson, who was never a fan of the show, didn't allow the stars to bluff, so all the questions were multiple choice.
After time expired in Hollywood Squares, the winning contestant played the Super Match for a chance to win up to $30,000. The Head to Head Match to me, was done the right way, minus the Star Wheel and each panelist had a card ranging from 10 times their winnings to 30.
Unfortunately, the show suffered from low affiliate clearances due to local or syndicated programming and competition from long-running soaps General Hospital and Guiding Light. After nine months the show was canceled. It just didn't click with viewers.
The Patchwork Family (1972)
One of the Last Memorable New York Kids Shows
In January 1972, WCBS-TV replaced their long-running Sunday morning kids show Around the Corner with a show that also aired on Saturdays titled The Patchwork Family. The show was hosted by Carol Corbett, who I remember from the mid 60s when she hosted a lunchtime show on Channel 11. She had a puppet sidekick named Rags, who was voiced and operated by Cary Antebi. He also handled the puppets Flap and Sherlock on another successful kids show The Magic Garden.
Getting to the show, it was a nice mix of entertainment and education. The were exercise and musical segments as well as a rebus puzzle. Unfortunately, I didn't see a lot of episodes because I moved that summer from New Jersey to Minnesota but I also remember an instrumental in one of the episodes that was also used on the Jack Barry game show Hollywood's Talking as well as in commercials.
The Patchwork Family was one of the last memorable New York kids shows before most of them left the airwaves in the late 70s and 80s. Interesting note, after both Patchwork Family and Magic Garden left TV, Antebi dropped out of show business and became a rabbi.
I'll always remember the theme song that ended with this line: "It's certified and stated, That everyone's related in The Patchwork Family."