Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010 TV Marathons; Blog Book Review: Lost Laughs of '50s and '60s Television

Happy Memorial Day! As we pay tribute to our troops, let's have some fun as well watching the tube on this day off! If you're not going outside, then there are plenty of TV options for you on this day! Are you headed to the shore or would you rather watch Jersey Shore (good god we hope not!)? Looking for DIY hints for your newest summer project? Then get out the beach towel, pull up a lawn chair and check out TV movies, specials and marathons for Memorial Day Weekend 2010!
Among the marathons today are the marathons we have previously mentioned, such as Bewitched and Sanford & Son on TV Land and The Tracy Morgan Show on TV One. Festivities begin on TV Land at 8am, while TV One starts their sitcom fun at 12 noon. BET has a marathon of The Game starting at 10am through 11pm.
Other marathons include Star Trek: The Next Generation marathon on BBC America, Criminal Minds marathon on ION, Cops on G4, American Gladiators on MTV2, The Unit marathon on Sleuth, Law & Order marathon on TNT, NCIS marathon on USA Network, and TeenNick's marathons of Zoey 101 and Drake & Josh.
For the full times of these marathons and much more marathons we didn't cover (like Band of Brothers on Spike and Hoarders on A&E), check out the full list from our pals at TV Tango!

Next up we have a special book review for you on this holiday! See skees53's Blog Book Review of Lost Laughs of '50s and '60s Television:

Lost Laughs of '50s and '60s Television

Lost Laughs of '50s and '60s Television (McFarland Publishers, $35.00) is David C. Tucker's look at thirty different sitcoms of the first two decades on television that have, for whatever reason, become "lost." And when they say lost, they really do mean lost. We all remember some of the biggest hits of those decades, such as I Love Lucy, The Twilight Zone, Leave it to Beaver, Bewitched, The Andy Griffith Show, and many others. But does anybody truly remember, for example Hennesey or Pete and Gladys, or for that matter, even heard of them? Tucker gives us all of the details of thirty sitcoms that shaped and molded the genre, then completely disappeared, mostly to never be seen again.

The book begins with a brief introduction by Tucker where he admits, for the most part, there is a reason that we don't hear much about these series. Simply put, many of the series were awful, but at the same time, fun to watch for that very reason. Some of the series were good series, but couldn't really go on due to financial or artistic differences of the cast and crew. Tucker doesn't claim that these sitcoms deserve more attention than the more popular series of the dawn of television, but rather presents the thirty chapters of this book to give some attention to those series that have come and gone, only to be buried deep in the archives (or in some cases, destroyed).

The book dedicates approximately five to ten pages to each of the sitcoms covered in the book, with each chapter beginning with cast and crew details as well as network and time slot information for the series. He then proceeds to give a few lines of dialog from the actual series itself, after which he goes into a detailed synopsis and critique (although he doesn't try to necessarily form an opinion) of each and every series that is covered in the book. The series that the book covers include the following:

* Angel - This series was supposed to be the answer to the recently ended series I Love Lucy, except in this series, the wife was the foreign one with the accent (French, to be specific) and the husband was the American born half. The series focuses on Angie (Annie Farge) trying to adapt to life in America.
* The Bill Dana Show - Bill Dana plays a Mexican immigrant trying to adjust to life in America (clearly, series like this were a big theme at the time).
* The Governor and J.J. - Late '60s sitcom about the private and public life of a governor and his daughter.
* The Great Gildersleeve - A series about a man raising his niece and her young brother who is always seeking romance, but can't seem to get a wife.
* Grindl - Anthology-style sitcom starring Imogene Coco, a maid and housekeeper who takes different jobs every week, and ends up in different circumstances.
* Happy - Early '60s sitcom that brings viewers inside the head of a baby who can seemingly talk (although the world around him doesn't hear him talk, think of the movie Look Who's Talking.
Hennesey - Early '60s sitcom that showed both the funny and serious world of the Navy.
* Hey, Jeannie! / The Jeannie Carson Show - Musical comedy that tells the story of a young woman arriving to America from Scotland.
* How to Marry a Millionaire - Based upon the film of the same title, three women are going through any means necessary to find the man of their dreams, specifically a rich one. Barbara Eden is one of the golddiggers (for the lack of a better word) of this series.
* Ichabod and Me - A Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher written series that, in the style of Newhart or the '80s film Funny Farm, takes a big city newspaper writer and his five-year-old son to a small New Hampshire town.
* I'm Dickens... He's Fenster - Duo played by John Astin and Marty Ingels perform slapstick-style comedy in this series where they work in the construction business.
* It's a Great Life - Francis Bavier plays a widow who rents a room in her home to two young men who have just returned home from the Army.
* It's About Time - Sherwood Schwartz sitcom about two astronauts who made a bad turn and ended up back in the days of cavemen, leading to confusion and chaos, much like his earlier series, Gilligan's Island.
* The Jim Backus Show: Hot Off the Wire - Series about a two-bit newspaper wire staff that will do almost anything to stay ahead of the game.
* Love on a Rooftop - A series from Screen Gems, produced by Harry Ackerman, about a young couple that finds love, despite her wealthy background and his poor background.
* Margie - A sitcom in the vein of Happy Days or The Wonder Years that goes back in time, to the 1920s to be specific, to tell the story of a 17-year-old girl growing up.
* McKeever and the Colonel - This series was The Phil Silvers Show meets Dennis the Menace, as it tells the story of three mischievous adolescents in military school.
* Meet Mr. McNutley / The Ray Milland Show - A simple sitcom about a college professor and his wife, created by Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher.
* The Mickey Rooney Show: Hey Mulligan - Before 30 Rock's Kenneth the Page, there was the IBC studio's page, Mickey, who is just as clumsy as the similar character on 30 Rock.
* Mr. Adams and Eve - Ida Lupino and Howard Duff, husband and wife in real-life, play a husband and wife who play a husband in the movies.
* Mr. Terrific - An ordinary man is recruited by the government to take a pill that gives him extraordinary strenth.
* Mrs. G. Goes to College / The Gertrude Berg Show - Series where Gertrude Berg plays a woman in her 60s going to college for the first time.
* My Hero - A real-estate salesman who can never seem to make his quotas manages to keep his job because he saved his boss' life a few years ago--his hero.
* O.K. Crackerby! - An Oklahoma billionaire and his family strive to make it into high society by any means necessary.
* Occasional Wife - A man and woman create a phony backstory and pretend to live a married life to go further in their own lives.
* The People's Choice - A sitcom about a man who travels the country for his job and has a talking dog (voiced by Mary Jane Croft).
* Pete and Gladys - Harry Morgan and Cara Williams star in this spinoff of December Bride.
* Peter Loves Mary - A married couple from the entertainment business in New York City settle down in a small Connecticut town.
* The Tom Ewell Show - A sitcom about a suffering father in a female world with his wife and three daughters.
* Wendy and Me - An attempt by George Burns (he also stars in the series) to recreate a sitcom similar to Burns and Allen after his wife Gracie Allen retired from the previous series.

These are very rare series, as I myself had only heard of less than five of them. Tucker provides interesting insight into each series, complete with quotes from episodes and still photographs from each of the series. He gives details of specific episodes, behind-the-scenes information, audience reception, impact on future television, and more in his insights. The series peaked my interest in many series, although given the "lost" nature of each of these series, it is unlikely that I will ever be able to see most of them (although an episode of Mrs. G. Goes to College did show up on Shout! Factory's release of The Goldbergs).

Everything in the book is carefully sourced, with a complete bibliography in the back of the book. There is also an index in the back of the book to help you find anything that you may be looking for, and an appendix with a chronological listing of the series (the chapters are presented in alphabetical order by the series titles).

Fans of sitcoms of the golden age would want to read this book. Never before has anybody compiled so many details about these truly lost series, and the book is a very interesting read. Of course, I'm sure that there are more than just thirty series that Tucker could have written about, and he also hints in the introduction that a future book may come along some day about lost sitcoms beyond the decades covered here. I would love to read such a book, and hope that he (or somebody) writes a book of that nature in the future.

Reviewed by skees53
(4/5 stars)

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New on DVD/Blu-ray (June)

Ballers - The Complete First Season The League - Season 7 - The Final Fantasy Maude - The Complete Fifth Season Workaholics - Season Six Two Guys and a Girl - The Complete Series

06/14 - Ballers - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
06/14 - The League - Season 7 - The Final Fantasy
06/14 - The League - The Complete Series
06/14 - Maude - The Complete Fifth Season
06/14 - Survivor's Remorse - The Complete Second Season
06/21 - Workaholics - Season Six
06/24 - The Monkees - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
06/28 - Two Guys and a Girl - The Complete Series
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, June 28

The Middle - "Risky Business" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Frankie is completely gobsmacked when Mike’s brother Rusty (Norm Macdonald) pays an unexpected visit and offers him an opportunity to partner on one of his crazy business ideas — and Mike wants in. Meanwhile, Axl goes to extreme measures to prove to Mike that he can handle riding his dad’s new motorcycle; and unbeknownst to her parents, Sue tells Brad that her college roommate is so horrible that she’s resorted to living in her car.<> black-ish - "Churched" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
In the Johnson home, Sundays involve SAT prep and sports, so when the family is invited to Church on Sunday by the neighbors, Dre goes against his instinct of always saying “no” and agrees. When they end up having one of the best Sundays they can remember, they realize they should say “yes” to things more often. Meanwhile, Jack and Diane find out they were never baptized, and take it upon themselves to do whatever they want.

Uncle Buck - "Going to Jail Party" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Alexis is convinced that Buck is to blame for Miles’ new, impulsive attitude after she catches him attempting a risky stunt for his YouTube channel. With Miles’ punishment looming, Buck decides to throw a “going to jail” party while Mom and Dad are out, but unfortunately a creepy neighbor calls the cops and ruins their celebration. Buck, Miles, Tia and Maizy seek revenge and end up in a prank war.

Uncle Buck - "I Got This" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Buck and his buddy Cy have a tradition of watching the Bulls games on TV together with Buck’s lucky basketball beside them (or the Bulls lose). But Buck’s multi-tasking skills are pushed to the limit as Tia, Miles and Maizy all have separate crises on the night of a big game, and Will and Alexis are out celebrating their anniversary.

Wrecked - "The Community Pile" (TBS, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Pack goes on a vision quest; Danny helps Owen relax; Todd makes a power play to take control; the survivors make a discovery that could change everything.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of June 27)

Tuesday, June 28

  • Jim Jefferies (Legit) - Catch Jim on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Sarah and Erin Foster (Barely Famous) - Sarah and Erin are guests on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Paul Scheer (The League/Fresh Off the Boat) - Paul is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Jade Catta-Preta (Manhattan Love Story) - Jade appears on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Drew Carey (The Drew Carey Show/The Good Life) - Drew is a guest on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Steve Harvey (The Steve Harvey Show) - Steve appears on a repeat of The Meredith Vieira Show, so check your local listings.
  • Sherri Shepherd (Lesss Than Perfect/Sherri) - Sherri is a guest on Steve Harvey, so check your local listings.
  • Busy Philipps (Vice Principals/Cougar Town) - Busy discusses her new HBO show Vice Principals, a new comedy series, created by Danny McBride and Jody Hill, that follows a high school and the two people who almost run it on the AOL Build Show at 1pm. She will also be on Good Day New York on WNYW-Fox5 in New York sometime in the 9am hour.
  • Jonathan Groff (Looking) - Jonathan talks about Looking on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Constance Zimmer (Good Morning, Miami), Shiri Appleby (Sunday Dinner) and Craig Bierko (Unhitched/Madman of the People/Sydney) - The stars of Lifetime's UnREAL are guests on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Arsenio Hall (Arsenio) - Arsenio guest co-hosts Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.