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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Amazon.com


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Thursday, October 18

The Big Bang Theory - "The Planetarium Collision" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Amy doesn’t have time to work on super-asymmetry, Sheldon goes to great lengths to ensure she’s available to work with him even it if means accidentally sabotaging her career in the process. Also, Koothrappali doesn’t want Wolowitz to join him in hosting a show at the planetarium. Emmy Award winner Bob Newhart returns as Arthur Jeffries.

Young Sheldon - "A Research Study and Czechoslovakian Wedding Pastries" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Dr. Sturgis (Wallace Shawn) recommends Sheldon and Missy for a university research study on twins, and Mary is unhappy when the test results go to Sheldon’s head.

Mom - "Big Sauce and Coconut Water" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Christy is certain that Bonnie is in over her head when she invites a freshly paroled Tammy (Kristen Johnston) to stay with them.

Murphy Brown - "Three Shirts to the Wind" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Murphy and the team weigh the pros and cons of accepting the offer to have the first interview with a headline-grabbing former White House senior advisor (David Costabile) who wants to promote his divisive book and agenda on “Murphy in the Morning.” Also, Avery moderates a lively political discussion on his show with locals in Buffalo, N.Y.. Original series cast member Charles Kimbrough returns as Jim Dial in his first of three episodes, and Merle Dandridge guest stars as the team’s arrogant network boss, Diana Macomber.

Superstore - "Toxic Workplace" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Amy (America Ferrera) and Jonah (Ben Feldman) get combative to keep their new relationship hidden from their co-workers. Meanwhile, Glenn (Mark McKinney) spirals when he learns Kelly (Kelly Stables) wants to transfer to a new store, and Cheyenne (Nichole Bloom) struggles to organize a Cloud 9 carpool.

The Good Place - "Jeremy Bearimy" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
The group explores the three main branches of ethical thought.

Will & Grace - "Tex and the City" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Will (Eric McCormack) and Jack (Sean Hayes) visit Jack’s grandson, Skip (guest star Samuel Faraci), in Texas to watch him perform at his church’s talent show. But when Jack learns Skip plans on singing “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend,” he becomes afraid for his grandson’s safety. Karen (Megan Mullally) tags along to check out the portion of the border wall she sponsored, only to discover that Beverley Leslie (guest star Leslie Jordan) has claimed it as his own. Back home, Grace (Debra Messing) and Noah (guest star David Schwimmer) try to figure out if something is wrong in their relationship because their numerous attempts to have sex have failed.

I Feel Bad - "I'm Vain A.F." (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
An upcoming launch party at GamePunch throws Emet’s vanity into overdrive. Intent on scrubbing a bad picture off the company website, Emet is dead set on redeeming herself and getting the perfect photo at this year’s party – that means getting her hair done, professional make-up and toning up a problem area: her husband.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 15)

Thursday, October 18

  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep/The New Adventures of Old Christine/Seinfeld) - Catch Julia on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Laura Benanti (The Detour/Go On/Starved) - Laura stops by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • John Mulaney (Mulaney) - John appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Meredith Hagner (Search Party/Men at Work) - Meredith is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Maya Rudolph (Forever/Up All Night) - Maya drops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Nick Kroll (The League/Cavemen) - Nick visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Sanaa Lathan (Family Guy/The Cleveland Show/LateLine) - Sanaa appears on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Busy Philipps (Vice Principals/Cougar Town) - Busy is a guest on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Stockard Channing (Out of Practice/The Stockard Channing Show/Stockard Channing in Just Friends) - Stockard visits Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Jenna Fischer (Splitting Up Together/The Office) - Jenna appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • John Stamos (Grandfathered/Jake in Progress/Full House) - John talks about You on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Chelsea Handler (Are You There, Chelsea?) - Chelsea stops by The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Michael Fishman and Maya Lynne Robinson (The Conners/Roseanne) - Michael and Maya Lynne are guests on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET. Michael and Lecy Goranson can be heard on The Morning Mash Up on SiriusXM.
  • John Goodman (The Conners/Roseanne/The Trouble in Normal, Ohio) - John talks about The Big Lebowski reunion on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
  • Bailee Madison (Trophy Wife) - Bailey talks about Hallmark Channel's Good Witch: Tale of Two Hearts on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (September/October)

The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Eleventh Season The Middle - The Complete Ninth Season Modern Family - The Complete Ninth Season Step by Step - The Complete Second Season Perfect Strangers - The Complete Fifth Season

09/04 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - The Complete Season 12
09/04 - Mom - The Complete Fifth Season
09/04 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Fifth Season
09/04 - Superstore - Season Three
09/04 - Young Sheldon - The Complete First Season
09/11 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Eleventh Season (Blu-ray)
09/11 - The Middle - The Complete Ninth Season
09/11 - Modern Family - The Complete Ninth Season
09/11 - People of Earth - The Complete Second Season
09/18 - Community - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
09/18 - Step by Step - The Complete Second Season
09/18 - You're the Worst - The Complete Fourth Season
09/25 - Blondie - The Complete 1957 Television Series
09/25 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Fifth Season
10/02 - The Beverly Hillbillies - The Official Fifth Season
10/02 - The Love Boat - Season Four - Volume One / Volume Two
10/02 - Saved by the Bell - The Complete Collection
10/16 - Police Squad! - TV and Movie Collection
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest