The Jimmy Stewart Show (TV Series 1971–1972) Poster


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Second-greatest theme tune ever!
F Gwynplaine MacIntyre6 February 2003
'The Jimmy Stewart Show' was an extremely well-produced series that fell between two stools: it wasn't funny enough to be a comedy, and it wasn't gripping enough to be a drama. It was just an 'Aw, shucks' show which tried to make viewers feel good without stirring them much. Veteran actor James Stewart gave an ingratiating, folksy performance that didn't seem to involve much effort.

This show had one of the very best theme tunes I've ever heard, only a notch below 'Hennesey', which is the greatest tv theme tune ever written. In the opening credits, Stewart rides a bicycle along a country road while the soundtrack plays a gentle leisurely instrumental theme with one triumphant crescendo during the bridge. It's the perfect music for bicycle-riding; to this day, whenever I ride my bicycle through the hill roads of North Wales, I whistle Jimmy Stewart's theme tune.

An American tv producer gave me some old reels of this tv series. Every episode begins with the announcer intoning: "sor of the week] PROUDLY presents ... Mister JAMES Stewart". So why is this series called 'The JIMMY Stewart Show'?

Stewart plays a science teacher at a community college, approaching retirement age. Despite their age, Jim's wife gave birth to their second son, Teddy, only about 10 years ago. Recently, Jim's older son has moved back home (with his wife Wendy and their own son, also about 10 years old). So there are two annoyingly cute little boys under the same roof, and one boy is the other boy's uncle! The uncle had a more dominant personality, and he was usually able to pressure Teddy into committing mischief by saying: 'I'm your uncle, so you have to do what I tell you.' Much comic byplay was hung from this slender hook, but very little of it succeeded. Actress Ellen Geer, as Jim's daughter-in-law Wendy, was cross-eyed and had a bizarre semi-Latina accent: I could never figure out whether or not her character was meant to be Mexican.

So far my review has been negative, but this series really had some strong merits. I especially savour one episode guest-starring Cesar Romero as a local businessman whose builders had just dug a foundation for his new business property. Before Romero pours the building's foundation, Professor Jim got permission for his archaeology class to go fossicking in the work pit, just to get some experience and maybe find a few arrowheads. To everyone's surprise, they discovered some genuinely significant relics of prehistoric man, and now Jim had to forestall the construction work until the entire site could be searched for artefacts. Romero's character was all business, and he didn't understand why these archaeologists couldn't just dig somewhere else and let him pour his foundation. The scriptwriters came up with an intelligent and believable ending for this episode, which is also one of the very few times I've seen scientific fieldwork depicted accurately in fiction.

Another episode featured a very Capra-esque running gag, in which Jimmy Stewart kept balancing pencils on the edge of his desk and then using one finger to flick them across the room. This doesn't sound funny, but Stewart performed it in a very endearing way.

The opening credits bill actor John McGiver as appearing 'very often' in the role of Luther Quince. (Great name!) McGiver played a recurring role (in most but not all episodes) as one of Jimmy Stewart's fellow professors. McGiver was an actor of narrow range but he was brilliant within that range, and he's excellent here (with poor material) with his cantankerous delivery.

All in all, I'll rate 'The Jimmy Stewart Show' 8 points out of 10. I enjoyed watching it and it gave me a good feeling, and I suppose that this was the producers' original intention.
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Have another look and think.....
big_bellied_geezer22 June 2003
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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Utterly outdated for the 1970s. Could have been filmed in 1961!
retrodiscogamer19 August 2015
Utterly ridiculous. This show could have been filmed in 1961, considering the atrocious fashions and music and Jimmy Stewart's childish acting. I assume Jimmy Stewart insisted on this since I have never seen a TV show from 1971 that looks so outdated. It is no wonder it was cancelled. It's a miracle that so many episodes were made. Who was the target audience? People at the old folks home? Every male has such ultra short outmoded haircuts that people would have literally starred at them in 1971 wondering where they had come from... Apparently Jimmy Stewart was living in a dream world in the 1970s.

If you are a fan of early 1960s conservative humor then you will probably like this nonsense.
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The 1970s Should Have Been
aramis-112-80488015 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Two new shows premiered in 1971. One was "All in the Family"--Norman Lear's brash distopia with a far-left Democrat's vicious (and founded) view of Republicans in Archie Bunker. Bringing foul language to the small screen, Lear smeared his comedy full of "issues" making it a show that is set in its own time, with, as always happens in Democrat-produced shows, the Democrats coming out on top in arguments while Republicans are simply crass bigots incapable of intellectual thought.

While in another show, lifelong Republican and one of America's finest and most beloved actors ever, James Stewart, brought his quiet charm to the small screen. Like the characters he played in "Mister Smith Goes to Washington" and "It's a Wonderful Life" Stewart is all-American in the best sense. A brilliant comic actor (he won his Oscar for a comedy) Stewart starts his show talking to the audience and often breaks the "fourth wall" by giving knowing looks to the camera, bringing the audience in as conspirators on his side.

The story: Stewart (I can't recall his name but it hardly matters) plays an Anthropology professor in a small college in a small town (I'm a country boy but it's like the sort of town I grew up near). For a variety of reasons he lives with his wife (Julie Adams, Stewart's co-star in "Bend in the River") and their young son. Then his grown son and his family moves in.

The children provide a clever running gag. Both boys are about the same age, but the professor's grandson calls the professor's younger son "Uncle Ted."

The quiet charm Stewart emits pervades this slice of small-town life. Rather than a family at each others throats in New York (face it, most of the country doesn't know New York and could care less), this family works through its problems.

Also on the scene is the ever-welcome character actor John McGiver.

However, the series had some problems. While "All in the Family" changed the laugh track to a live-audience ambiance (forever after dooming us to stage-bound overacting and forced laughter from audiences who may be trying to summon up the ability to laugh at a tenth take), the Stewart show went out without a laugh track, or any cues to New Yorkers or anyone else with low mentalities that it's time to titter.

At the time, "comedies" were broadcast with laugh tracks while only serious shows did not. The absence of a laugh track probably confused viewers accustomed to being told when to laugh. Another favorite show of mine, "Andy Richter Controls the Universe", tried the same stunt and ended up making fewer shows than Stewart. But believe me, Stewart's show is funny enough without it.

Then there's the fact that Stewart portrays an Anthropology professor. While I don't have any figures on it, this may have proved just a little too outre for viewers at the time. And maybe more so now, since society seems a lot dumber as a whole than it was then.

Overall, a family show that doesn't tackle "issues" (why should it? It's a comedy, for God's sake! Enjoy it!). It's in a nice little town (not quite so rural nor as well-populated as Mayberry, but the show was hardly given time to expand). It's a great show and it's a shame it lasted only one season. But perhaps it's best, before the whole thing devolved into a smaller version of the lousy "Room 222."
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