Bert Gramus and Rufus Butterworth were childhood chums who decided to pool their savings and purchase a diner, which they called "Bert's Place". Originally bachelor Rufus worked as a cabdriver, while Bert and his wife Claudia operated the diner, but Rufus eventually quit his cabbie gig. Hal, Andy & Big Tom were some of their regular customers.Written by
Marty McKee <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I was pretty young in those days, but I definitely remember this series. It's a decent, mildly amusing, middle-of-the-road sitcom, about on the level of "I'm Dickens, He's Fenster" (which was made by the same producers and which bears more than a passing resemblance to this series). Bob Denver and Herb Edelman play (respetively) lifelong best friends Rufus and Bert. Bert and his level-headed wife (played by Joyce Van Patten) own a diner (the imaginatively named "Bert's Place") somewhere in downtown Los Angeles. Rufus runs a one-man taxi service (complete with a custom taxi designed by George "Batmobie" Barris), although it's hard to tell how he makes a living, since he seems to spend almost all of his time hanging out at Bert's Place. The two of them have typical 1960's sitcom misadventures, usually involving get rich quick schemes. Denver and Edelman have decent chemistry, and the stories, while repetitive, are OK, but the ratings must have been pretty soft right from the start, since halfway through the first season, since former "Gilligan's Island" co-stars Alan Hale and Jim Backus were added to the cast in recurring roles. The first season was shot on film in front of a studio audience.
The ratings ultimately justified renewal, but the second and final season brought wholesale changes to the show. Hale, Backus, the taxi and the studio audience disappeared as Bert and Rufus became business partners and moved the diner to a beach front location. The stories became much more silly and slapstick, and the series lost whatever charm it had. 17 episodes into the second season, it was canceled.
This is the final series in Bob Denver's CBS sitcom hat trick (the others being "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" and Gilligan's Island" ). Denver held an ownership interest in the show through his production company, and was an uncredited executive producer. The story is that Denver felt shafted by the producers of "Gilligan's Island" (imagine that), so he negotiated a very lucrative back-end deal for this series. He would have made a Thurston Howell-sized pile of money from the reruns, but, unfortunately for Denver, after the series was canceled, it was never syndicated. So much for the pile of money.
Denver, who had been a fixture on CBS prime time sitcoms for ten straight years, never had another prime time network series, although in 1975 he appeared on a CBS Saturday morning live action sitcom, "Far Out Space Nuts." A couple of things worth noting: Jerry Fielding's outstanding title tune, which is far more musically interesting than most TV theme tunes, and Reza Badiyi's charming opening credits sequence. Fielding also wrote the catch theme music for "Hogan's Heroes" and Badiyi will always be remembered for the title sequence for the original version of "Hawaii Five-O," the best title sequence in the history of American television, bar none.
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