Classic TV Episodes: WKRP In Cincinnati – Turkeys Away

Some tv episodes are classic and will live on. When you tell someone you like a certain show, there is always that certain episode that many people will bring up that represents that show. I’ll go through a few random shows in the next few weeks and pick the one that I remember the most. They will be in no particular order.

” Those can’t be skydivers. I can’t tell just yet what they are but… Oh my God! They’re turkeys! Oh no! Johnny can you get this?”

” The Pinedale Shopping Mall has just been bombed with live turkeys. Film at eleven”

“I really don’t know how to describe it. It was like the turkeys mounted a counter-attack. It was almost as if they were… organized!”

“As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly”

WKRP IN CINCINNATI – Turkeys Away

When I talk to people about this show. This episode always comes to mind. The Characters are Bailey Quarters, Les Nessman, Mr. Carlson, Venus Flytrap, Dr. Johnny Fever, Herb Tarlek, Jennifer Marlowe and Andy Travis

Les’s play by play of the promotion is great. The complete episode is great but when Mr. Carlson says the closing line it turns into a classic episode.

It starts off with the big guy Mr. Carlson trying to act busy driving everyone crazy trying to be useful and probing the office to see what everyone was up to. He decided he would plan a promotion. He told the salesman Herb to get 20 turkeys ready for a Thanksgiving radio promotion.

Les is at the shopping center and Mr Carlson and Herb are up in a helicopter. He then notices a dark object being dropped from the helicopter, then a second one. Believing them to be skydivers, his tone becomes increasingly cautious when he sees no parachutes are opening. After a few more moments he realizes in horror that the objects are live turkeys. Continuing his broadcast (which bears a strong resemblance to the Hindenberg disaster) he says that the turkeys are hitting the ground and that the crowd has begun running away in panic. One turkey hits a parked car. Les continues, saying the turkeys are hitting the ground like “sacks of wet cement”. He tries to retreat to the store behind him but realizes he can’t after annoying the owner.

At the studio, the gang are listening, horrified themselves, when the broadcast is suddenly cut off. Johnny calmly tries to re-establish contact with Les, but hears only silence. Johnny thanks Les, telling his listeners that the shopping mall was just “bombed by live turkeys” and ends the broadcast.

At the end, Mr. Carlson says the phrase that elevates the episode to a classic. “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly”

The play by play by Les.

As God As My Witness, I Thought Turkeys Could Fly

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0742671/plotsummary?ref_=tt_stry_pl

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

This is my go-to Thanksgiving movie. Steve Martin and John Candy are a great team in this comedy. Personally, I think this is John Candy’s greatest movie. I watch it every year and always looked forward to it. The heart warming ending never fails to get to me.

The movie is full of great scenes and some good lines from Candy and Martin. John Candy can make me laugh with just a look on his face. The guy was a great comedian and a really good actor.

John Hughes is the Director and writer. He shot over 3 hours and had to edit it down. Below is a short plot. For those who haven’t seen it…you are missing a funny movie. It was rated R because of a one-minute scene with the F-Bomb used 18 times by mostly Martin. The movie was released in 1987.

By the way….there is a new extended version of the movie that has been released that has over 75 minutes of extra footage…that will be bought. 

Some great quotes:

Neal: Del… Why did you kiss my ear?
Del: Why are you holding my hand?
Neal: [frowns] Where’s your other hand?
Del: Between two pillows…
Neal: Those aren’t pillows!

Del: You play with your balls a lot.
Neal: I do NOT play with my balls.
Del: Larry Bird doesn’t do as much ball-handling in one night as you do in an hour!
Neal: Are you trying to start a fight?
Del: No. I’m simply stating a fact. That’s all. You fidget with your nuts a lot.
Neal: You know what’d make me happy?
Del: Another couple of balls, and an extra set of fingers?

For those who know the movie…

YOU ARE GOING THE WRONG WAY!

Short Plot

In New York, a marketing executive Neal Page wants to travel home to Chicago for Thanksgiving. He has difficulties getting a taxi and his flight is canceled. He meets in the airport the clumsy and talkative shower curtain ring salesman Del Griffith who has taken his cab and they travel side-by-side to Chicago. However the bad weather shuts down O’Hare Airport and they land at Wichita, Kansas. They both want to go to Chicago and they decide to travel together.  Neal is cursed/blessed with the presence of Del Griffith, shower curtain ring salesman and all-around blabbermouth who is never short of advice, conversation, bad jokes, or company.

Along their journey, Neal changes his viewpoint about Del Griffith and his own behavior.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093748/

Happy Thanksgiving… Mr Obvious

For everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving…I hope you have a wonderful day with your family and friends.

This is from the Bob and Tom show…a Thanksgiving episode of Mr. Obvious. I always enjoyed this one…it’s a parody on call in shows.

(hi hello,
this is Mr. Obvious,
and welcome to the Mr. Obvious show.
let’s take a call.)
um
hello is this Mr. Obvious?
(speaking.)
hi Mr. Obvious,
long-time listener,
first-time caller.
(well, thanks very much for the call.)
well, thank you Mr. Obvious
for taking my call.
(well, you’re very welcome.)
all right, bye.
(now remember,
if you have a problem
you too can call
the Mr. Obvious show
and speak to me personally,
why? it’s Mr. Obvious,
let’s take another call.)
um
hello is this Mr. Obvious?
hi Mr. Obvious,
long-time listener,
second-time caller.
(well welcome to the program caller, how can i help?)
well Mr. Obvious, i need some advice on cookin’ a turkey.
(well to be quite honest caller, it’s not as difficult as it may sound.)
well,
that’s what they say Mr. Obvious,
but i tell you what,
i tried cookin’ one the last five years,
and i just haven’t had any success.
(well now, let’s start at the beginning,
do you have a big roasting pan?)
oh sure do Mr. Obvious.
(good, now do you have an oven?)
well of course i do Mr. Obvious.
I’m no idiot Mr. Obvious.
I’m not like a lot of those people that call your show.
(now please don’t take offence caller.
it’s just that sometimes my callers
are
well…
how should i put this,
a little naive.)
i got you Mr. Obvious.
(so again caller, don’t take offence at this question.
do you actually have a turkey?)
sure Mr. Obvious, i got a nice big 25-pound turkey.
(great.
well caller,
i don’t mind telling you
that you do in fact seem
a little more astute
than many of my callers.)
jeez thanks Mr. Obvious.
coming from you that means a lot.
(okay you have a turkey?
you have a pan?
you have an oven?
have you stuffed your turkey caller?)
oh yeah that’s all done.
(pre-heated the oven?)
yup.
(again caller, i don’t want to belabour the point,
but you really have something on the ball.
it’s callers like you that i hoped to attract
when i first started the Mr. Obvious program.)
thanks again Mr. Obvious, makes me proud.
(in fact, Mr. Obvious is a little bit puzzled at this point
as to why you haven’t been able to successfully
cook your turkey in the past.)
well i am too Mr. Obvious.
(all right,
what exactly has happened in the previous years when you tried to cook your turkey.)
um well you know, usually the problem is the turkey’s just too tough.
(hmmm too tough you say…)
oh yeah, real-real tough.
(now do you baste the turkey?)
yup, i tried that and it didn’t seem to help.
(have you thought about putting the turkey in a bag?)
in a bag Mr. Obvious?
(yes siree caller.
many people swear by this method of cooking a turkey.)
that sounds kind of hard Mr. Obvious.
(hard?
why no caller,
it’s not hard at all.)
well if you say so.
can you hang on a second,
and I’ll give it a try well I’ve
got you on the phone here?
(well…
normally Mr. Obvious
is pressed for time,
but for a caller like you,
I’ll spare a few seconds.
go ahead,
put your turkey in the bag.
I’ll hold on.)
great.
thanks Mr. Obvious.
I’ll be right back.
alright, come here boy…
get in this bag…
(what?
what’s goin’ on there?)
calm down boy.
come on,
get in the bag
little feller.
(what’s goin’ on there?
caller?
CALLER!!
hello?)
OW god damn it!
(why do i even try,
oh boy…)
Mr. Obvious?
(yes caller?)
it’s not gonna work I’m tellin’ you.
he’s just too tough. i can’t get him in there.
i figure, even if i did get him in there,
if he can get out of a roasting pan
like he has in the last five years,
i don’t think a paper bag is gonna hold him very long.
(your turkey’s alive isn’t he caller.)
oh yeah he’s alive, there’s no doubt about that.
he’s a tough old bird.
(you’ve been trying to cook the same “live” turkey for five years caller?)
sure have, and i haven’t had a bit of success Mr. Obvious.
(well i can’t help but say Mr. Obvious is saddened by this turn of events.)
yeah i know what you mean Mr. Obvious,
my little girl,
she get’s sad every year
when i try to pop this dawg-on turkey in the oven.
(apparently I’m not the judge of character and intellect that i presumed that i was.
caller, hey here’s an idea.
have you ever thought about killing the turkey?)
tell you what Mr. Obvious,
I’ve sure thought about it a couple of times,
man, when that sucker bites me i just want to wring his neck.
sometimes all that gobbling drives me up the wall.
I’ve never been so mad that i actually seriously thought about killin’ him…
(ah-huh.
caller, you can’t cook the turkey till he’s dead.)
really?
(yes really,
you cook dead turkeys, not live ones.)
hmm…
i never really made the connection.
(hey,
that’s all the time we have for today…)
hey Mr. Obvious?
(yes caller.)
thanks Mr. Obvious,
you’re a lifesaver.
(i appreciate it.
join us next week for another…)
hey Mr. Obvious?
(yeah?)
one more thing…
(ah-huh?)
how long do turkeys typically live?
(join us next week
on the Mr. Obvious show.)

You Can’t Take It With You

I first watched this 1938 movie in the 90s and I still watch it from time to time. Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur had great chemistry on screen. The following year they would be in “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington”…another great movie. Capra wanted Jean Arthur in It’s a Wonderful Life but she was committed to a Broadway show.

This movie is about a rich man named Tony Kirby (Jimmy Stewart) who is working reluctantly for his ruthless banker dad. He falls in love with his stenographer Alice (Jean Arthur). The father doesn’t really care but his mother is outraged that he would love someone beneath him. This part of the story you have seen before but it’s when the great Lionel Barrymore who plays Alice’s grandfather Martin Vanderhof enters… the movie gets going.

Martin and his family do exactly what they want, his daughter Penny received a typewriter in the mail by mistake and thinks she is a novelist, Alice’s sister dances every time music is played and a basement full of unemployed older gentlemen who like to invent things…especially firecrackers… It’s a crazy household but they live life and are not bothered by a thing.

This is the opposite of the Kirby family who is uptight, overwhelmed, and disgusted by this family…except Tony of course.

The movie is full of off-the-wall humor and Alice’s family is great. Anyone that comes to the house wants to stay…and sometimes does. The grandfather goes out and finds one person (Mr. Poppins) who invents things but works at a terrible job and Martin invites him to live at the house with his family to be…”a lily of the field” and quit his dreadful job.

Here are some quotes from the meeting

Grandpa Martin Vanderhoff: How would you like to come over to our house and work on your gadgets?

Poppins: Your house? Well I don’t know, thank you.

Grandpa Martin Vanderhoff: Oh go on, you’ll love it. Everybody at over at our place does just what he wants to do.

Poppins: Really?

Grandpa Martin Vanderhoff: Mmm-hmmmm.

Poppins: That must be wonderful. But how would I live?

Grandpa Martin Vanderhoff: The same way we do.

Poppins: The same way? Well, who takes care of you?

Grandpa Martin Vanderhoff: The same One that takes care of the lilies of the field, Mr. Poppins, except that we toil a little, spin a little, have a barrel of fun. If you want to, come on over and become a lily too.

This is a screwball comedy and a good one. Lionel Barrymore is magnificent in this. Just a few years later he would play mean Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life.

This movie was directed by Frank Capra. Some critics in his day called him “Capra-corn” because of the optimism he showed for the everyday man. I think he was a great director. This is one of his best movies.

It’s a very good movie…any movie with Jimmy Stewart can’t be bad. The comedy holds up today. After the movie, you will want to be a lily of the field.

This movie is based off a play written by the great George Kauffman and Moss Hart.

TV Draft UPDATE

Tomorrow morning we will kick off our last TV draft round! We have 8 more TV Shows coming…we all want to thank you… the readers who have made this possible and a fun experience. I also want to thank the bloggers who have reviewed all of these shows and we have covered every decade from the 1950s until now. Below are the picks that began in January and will end on July 3. Thank you… Paula, Lisa, Dave, John, Keith, Mike, Liam, Vic, Hanspostcard (who started it), and Kirk for all of the reviews below.
Round 1 TV Show Who Posted Home Site
1. Doctor Who Vic https://cosmic-observation.com/blog-posts/
2. The Sopranos Mike https://musiccitymike.net
3. Bozo’s Circus John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com 
4. Barney Miller Max https://powerpop.blog
5. The Wire Kirk https://slicethelife.com/
6. Police Squad Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
7. Only Murders in the Building (OMITB) Paula http://paulalight.com
Round 2
1. The Odd Couple Mike https://musiccitymike.net
2. Cartoon Town John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com 
3. Fawlty Towers Max https://powerpop.blog
4. Rockford Files Kirk https://slicethelife.com/
5. Mission Impossible Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
6. Firefly Vic https://cosmic-observation.com/blog-posts/
Round 3 TV Show Who Posted Home Site
1 Hogan’s Heroes John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com 
2 Seinfeld Mike https://musiccitymike.net
3 Starsky & Hutch Vic https://cosmic-observation.com/blog-posts/
4 Perry Mason Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
5 Upload Paula http://paulalight.com
6 Lovecraft Country Lisa https://tao-talk.com/
7 King Of The Hill Dave https://soundday.wordpress.com/
8 Adam 12 Max https://powerpop.blog
Round 4 TV Show Who Posted Home Site
1 Breaking Bad Mike https://musiccitymike.net
2 The X-Files Vic https://cosmic-observation.com/blog-posts/
3 Columbo Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
4 Six Feet Under Paula http://paulalight.com
5 Shameless Lisa https://tao-talk.com/
6 Friends Dave https://soundday.wordpress.com/
7 Monkees Max https://powerpop.blog
8 JAG John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com 
Round 5 TV Show Who Posted Home Site
1 Sisters Vic https://cosmic-observation.com/blog-posts/
2 30 Rock Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
3 One Day At A Time Paula http://paulalight.com
4 Ray Donovan Lisa https://tao-talk.com/
5 Emergency Dave https://soundday.wordpress.com/
6 The Andy Griffith Show Max https://powerpop.blog
7 CSI: Miami John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com 
8 Mad Men Mike https://musiccitymike.net
Round 6 TV Show Who Posted Home Site
1 The Twilight Zone Max https://powerpop.blog
2 Tell Me Your Secrets Paula http://paulalight.com
3 My Name Is Earl Lisa https://tao-talk.com/
4 Ed Dave https://soundday.wordpress.com/
5 Get Smart Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
6 The Unicorn John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com 
7 The West Wing Mike https://musiccitymike.net
8 The Gong Show Max https://powerpop.blog
Round 7 TV Show Who Posted Home Site
1 All In The Family Paula http://paulalight.com
2 Trailer Park Boys Lisa https://tao-talk.com/
3 Downton Abbey Dave https://soundday.wordpress.com/
4 Life On Mars Max https://powerpop.blog
5 Burn Notice John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com 
6 Friday Night Lights Mike https://musiccitymike.net
7 The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show Liam https://othemts.wordpress.com/
8 The Honeymooners Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
Round 8 TV Show Who Posted Home Site
1 New Tricks Lisa https://tao-talk.com/
2 SCTV Dave https://soundday.wordpress.com/
3 WKRP In Cincinnati Max https://powerpop.blog
4 The Two Ronnies John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com 
5 Star Trek: Voyager Mike https://musiccitymike.net
6 Siskel & Ebert Liam https://othemts.wordpress.com/
7 Sherlock Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
8 Curb Your Enthusiasm Paula http://paulalight.com
Round 9 TV Show Who Posted Home Site
1 Jeopardy Dave https://soundday.wordpress.com/
2 Saturday Night Live Max https://powerpop.blog
3 Riverboat John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com
4 Suits Mike https://musiccitymike.net
5 The Kids In The Hall Liam https://othemts.wordpress.com/
6 Arrested Development Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
7 L.A. Law Paula http://paulalight.com
8 Resident Alien Lisa https://tao-talk.com/
Round 10 TV Show Who Posted Home Site
1 Max https://powerpop.blog
2 John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com
3 Mike https://musiccitymike.net
4 Liam https://othemts.wordpress.com/
5 Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
6 Paula http://paulalight.com
7 Lisa https://tao-talk.com/
8 Dave https://soundday.wordpress.com/

TV Draft Round 9 – Pick 2 – Max Selects – Saturday Night Live

I wanted to do a more modern show other than Life On Mars…and this would qualify as it…kinda. It has been on the air since 1975… a whopping 47 years. It’s been on life support at times but has always pulled through. It’s an institution at this point. There is not enough room on a post to go over every cast. Everyone has their favorites some were extremely funny and some were extremely bad (1980 – 1981 cast) and they all make up the history of this show. 

I’m going to concentrate on the original cast and how the show became SNL. Most of you have favorite different casts…usually, the one you grew up with. 

Even if you don’t like this show or what it’s become…it was a cultural landmark and no one can deny that. It changed television forever. The show started because Johnny Carson wanted more time off. NBC had been airing reruns of Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show on the weekends to fill space in their lineup. This allowed them to double-dip on profits from Carson’s outrageously popular show without spending another dime on production costs. He told NBC he would only be making four shows a week, which meant that best-of Carson shows that had been airing on Saturday nights would now need to be moved to a weeknight.

 NBC executive Herbert Schlosser sought to create a new show with an old format…a variety show to fill the slot on Saturday Night. He picked Lorne Michaels, a Canadian writer who only had a handful of credits to be the producer. Michaels started a show that was far different than Schlosser imagined but to his credit… Schlosser was behind it and pushed for it to be on the air. The first two shows were experiments but by the third show, they found the format they would keep to this day. The funny thing is…Johnny Carson never liked the show. 

Lorne Michaels made the show to appeal to baby boomers with a touch of Avant-Garde and “guerrilla-style comedy.” It was a game-changer much like All In The Family was to sitcoms. Late-night was never again a wasteland. This show helped open the doors for David Letterman and other shows to follow it. 

It started out as “Saturday Night.” The Saturday Night Live title belonged to ABC for a show hosted by Howard Cosell who was out of his league. After Cosell’s show was cancelled, ABC let Saturday Night have the “Live” part.

Who was the best cast through the years? This is a question that is debated over and over again. People argue and usually pick the cast they grew up with. I grew up in the Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo era. Personally, I always thought the original cast was the best era of the show. Yes, I thought the Murphy and Piscopo casts were very funny along with later casts that had Dana Carvey, Michael Myers, Chris Farley, Chris Rock, and many others that followed. The first five seasons had something extra that others would not and could not have. It had an underground feel that vanished after it became a pure comedy show. They had a massive amount of talent in that first class. 

John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd, Chevy Chase (though I liked his replacement better…Bill Murray), Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, and my favorite overlooked cast member Laraine Newman. They were the perfect cast for that time. 

Why do I like the original cast the most? They tried new things and went out on a limb. Some of the skits succeeded some fell flat but they were different from anything on TV at that time…and also at this time. That cast pushed the envelope and made the network executives worry. The host each week was usually under the radar actors, writers, comedians musicians, and sometimes athletes. The musical guests were mostly rarely seen performers that weren’t on tv…prime time or otherwise. Frank Zappa, Leon Redbone, The Kinks, Patti Smith, Ry Cooder, Kinky Friedman, and others. You would have more popular musicians like Paul Simon but the show gave you a great variety. 

No way would Michaels ever dream of that now…he usually gets whoever is the most popular to draw in ratings. He can no longer do what he did in the 70s because of that. He also used the complete ensemble. It was not Eddie Murphy, Joe Piscopo, and everyone else of the early eighties. It was about building an unknown cast and all of them having a shot…not a star-driven show that gave all the best bits to the big names. He made sure the entire cast had a lead in skits and parody commercials. Dick Ebersol who followed Lorne Micheals, was famous for getting stars in the cast and the show revolving around them.

A lot of the skits are now famous… Ackroyd’s Bassomatic, the Samurai, the uncomfortable but funny Word Association with Richard Pryor, The Killer Bees, The Mr. Bill Show, Weekend Update, Roseanne Rosannadanna, Land Shark, Bag of Glass, The Wild and Crazy Guys, the Coneheads, The Lounge Singer, Mr. Mike, The Blues Brothers and many more.

The writers for the show were not in the variety show comedy vein..they were not in the current SNL vein either. The style was more aggressive, especially with Michael O’Donoghue. He was a comedy trailblazer with National Lampoon and added black humor to SNL. Other writers were Franken and Davis, Rosie Shuster, Alan Zweibel, Marilyn Miller, Anne Beatts, Herb Sargent, Tom Schiller, and also Ackroyd and Chase.

The original group also did some serious skits along with comedy and trips into the bizarre (See the ultra-dark “Mr. Mike”). …It separated the original from any other cast.

I like the feel of the underground the first five years had but you can only be that for so long…popularity takes over. Those first 5 years (the first four were great…the fifth very good) set the foundation that holds to this day…just without the daring and danger.

Ann Beatts was one of the original writers who saw the popularity of the show rise beyond anything she ever imagined. She knew the risk-taking traits in the show would have to end because of it. “You can only be avant-garde for so long until you become garde.”

By the 5th season (1979-1980), it was a circus grown out of proportion. The cast by that time were usually bigger stars than the guest hosts.  Everyone left after that season along with Lorne Michaels. The show went on without him until 1985 when he rejoined. It was never the same again. Sometimes it was funny and sometimes not but it was never the same experimental show it was at the start. 

What other show would introduce “Acapulco Gold” and “Orange Sunshine” to a national television audience?

SNL2.jpg

The Bassomatic…something you cannot explain with words.

The best Star Trek parody…

TV Draft Round 8 – Pick 4 – John Selects – The Two Ronnies

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by John from The Sound Of One Hand Typing.

Sunday nights at the Holton house in Chicago would see Mary and I in front of the TV at 10 PM, watching Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Dave Allen At Large (which it doesn’t look like anyone choe for this; maybe I’ll write it up later), The Two Ronnies, and Doctor Who.

The Two Ronnies was a comedy and variety show that ran on the BBC from April 1971 to December 1987. It starred British comedians and actors Ronnie Corbett and Ronnie Barker. They met in 1963 when Corbett was a bartender at The Buckstone Club in Haymarket, London, and Barker was making a name for himself in the West End and on radio. They first appeared on The Frost Report with John Cleese, but their big break came when they improvised through an eleven minute technical issue at the BAFTA Awards in 1970. In the audience was Bill Cotton, head of Light Entertainment for the BBC, who signed them to a contract.

Personality- and appearance-wise, the two looked completely different: Barker was big, heavy, and spoke with a blue-collar accent, while Corbett was short, slight, and spoke with more of an upper-class accent. They didn’t become a comedy team like Morecambe & Wise and continued to work on separate projects while they were doing the show. They had some of the best comedy writers working with them, including most of the cast of Monty Python’s Flying Circus (John Cleese, Eric Idele, Michael Palin, and Terry Jones), and Spike Milligan, and Corbett wrote some sketches using the pseudonym “Gerald Wiley.” The humor was, for its time, off-color, relied on double-entendres and what would now be considered not politically correct and sometimes downright offensive. Kind of a higher-class The Benny Hill Show.

The show started and ended with a “news broadcast,” where the two would take turns reading humorous fake news items, such as “Someone broke into the local police station and stole all the toilet seats. Police have nothing to go on.” During the rest of the show, they would do comedy sketches together and separately. For example, “Swedish Made Simple.”

Another with the two: “The Inventor’s Convention.”

An example of Barker working alone is “TV Symbols.”

During each show, Corbett would sit in a chair and tell a joke, getting sidetracked as he was telling it.

The last sketch of the show was usually a musical one, in the grand tradition of the British musical theater. Some of the earlier shows had a continuing story instead of the musical number; I don’t recall seeing any of them when they were broadcast on WTTW in Chicago. I have a couple of examples. This is “Yeomen of the Guard.”

Another: “The Sultan’s Harem.”

The show would end as it began, with Corbett and Barker reading some late “news items,” and with a running gag, where Corbett would say, “that’s all we have time for, so it’s good night from me,” and Barker would say “And it’s good night from him.”

All the shows have been released on DVD. Many of them are available from eBay. Britbox or Acorn might have them available as well. Many of their sketches and musical numbers can be found on YouTube as well.

TV Draft Round 8 – Pick 3 – Max Selects – WKRP In Cincinnatti

***I have a bonus below the videos…an interview I did with a real DJ…Keith Allen (who is in our draft) about WKRP.***

I was 11 when this show aired. It was one of the shows from the late 70s that I wouldn’t miss.

This show was not like the Mary Tyler Moore Show, Bob Newhart, or All In The Family. Those are great shows…some of the best ever sitcoms…but they were aimed more at adults while this one I always felt was largely aimed at teenagers. The show aired from 1978 to 1982. Rock and Roll on a sitcom was not common at that time at all. It was the hippest show on television in primetime.

WKRP in Cincinnati” was produced by MTM – the studio Mary Tyler Moore and Grant Tinker built that produces shows such as The Bob Newhart Show, Mary Tyler Moore Show, Phyllis, The White Shadow, Rhoda, and many others.

The episode I remember the most having an effect on me was about the horrible event in 1979 when eleven people were killed at a Who concert in Cincinnati’s Riverfront Park. The show handled the tragic situation very well.

42 years ago, 'WKRP in Cincinnati' made its debut

The plot…to make it short was about a Program Director (Andy Travis) who had a perfect record in turning bad radio stations around joins the staff at WKRP. The station is at the bottom of the ratings and he wants to change the format to Rock from Laurence Welk type music which is met with trepidation from the oddball staff. Actual radio DJs were excited because they loved that the show portrayed sides of the industry you never see. They were such big fans that they would send in bumper stickers, posters, and other items that were used to decorate the walls in the TV radio station studio. Howard Hesseman who played Dr. Johnny Fever was a DJ in the 60s in San Francisco.

The show would feature new rock music as well as old. Blondie gave the show one of their gold records in appreciation because the show played “Heart of Glass” and helped to make it number 1.

When you watch the reruns…they don’t look as clear as some of the other shows of the era. Unlike Cheers, The Bob Newhart Show, Mary Tyler Moore, or M*A*S*H… WKRP was shot on videotape instead of film. That’s why WKRP reruns are murky, instead of the pristine clarity of filmed shows

The show also caught radio before it started the change. The change was giant companies buying radio stations and having them pre-program shows without local flavor. It was beginning during the show’s run. Slowly but surely the radio would be taken over by monopolies and we would lose some of the attachments we had to local DJ’s… MTV came and made the divide wider. 

Close to 10 years after WKRP in Cincinnati had left the air, The New WKRP in Cincinnati premiered in 1991. Rejoining the cast was Gordon Jump (Arthur Carlson), Richard Sanders (Les Nessman), Howard Hesseman (Dr. Johnny Fever), and Frank Bonner (Herb Tarlek). Both Tim Reid and Loni Anderson made guest appearances but Jan Smithers and Gary Sandy decided to skip it.

Before I end I must mention an iconic episode that is always remembered. The Turkeys Away episode. Forty live turkeys were dropped from a helicopter onto an unsuspecting Cincinnati shopping mall below. In what was supposed to be a Thanksgiving giveaway promotion, the station’s manager… Arthur “Big Guy” Carlson….decided to drop live turkeys from a helicopter.

At the end, Mr. Carlson says the phrase that elevates the episode to a classic. “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly”

How close was WKRP to real stations? See below the videos…

The extended theme song by Steve Carlisle Wkrp In Cincinnati peaked at #65 on the Billboard 100 in 1979.

The Cast

Jan Smithers – PowerPop… An Eclectic Collection of Pop Culture

Bailey Quarters – Jan Smithers – A shy soft-spoken lady in charge of billing and station traffic soon worked herself up to an on-air personality and other duties. She and Jennifer on the show were a bit like Mary Ann and Ginger on Gilligans Island…my pick is Miss Quarters any day of the week!

WKRP In Cincinnati: Andy Travis -- Leadership Lessons

Andy Travis – Gary Sandy –Andy comes to the station as the new Program Director to turn the station around and finds the station’s employees…are like from the Island of Misfit Toys. He finds their strengths and tries to make it work. His character was based on real-life Program Director Mikel Herrington.

WKRP in Cincinnati - Johnny Fever Speaks His Mind on the Air - YouTube

Dr. Johnny Fever – Howard Hesseman – Fun Fact…David Cassidy was offered this role but turned it down.  The role ultimately went to Howard Hesseman, but only after he was invited to read for Herb Tarlek’s character and flatly refused to read anything but Johnny.

Johnny had been around for a while and was fired off a Los Angeles radio station for saying booger on air. He was probably my favorite character…next to Bailey…on the show when I first watched. Dr. Johnny Fever was based on real DJ “Skinny” Bobby Harper.

WKRP in Cincinnati: Cincinnati Tech – T-Shirts On Screen

Venus Flytrap – Tim Reid – Venus was the night DJ and was one of the smoothest DJ’s ever…Venus wears 70’s type flashy clothes and in the series eventually becomes Assistant Program Director. Venus was the coolest character on the show.

Super 70s Sports on Twitter: "Herb Tarlek was so far ahead of his time that  his legal address was “The Vanguard of Fashion.” https://t.co/a4vKnVUH6b" /  Twitter

Herb Tarlek –  Frank Bonner – Herb was a salesman and dressed very tacky and loud. He hits on Jennifer at every opportunity, despite being married… but gets turned down constantly.

Loni Anderson as Jennifer Marlowe in WKRP in Cincinnati 1978 to 1982 (AIC)  : r/Celebhub

Jennifer Marlowe – Loni Anderson – She was Ginger to Bailey’s Mary Ann. Mr. Carlson’s receptionist…she was the highest-paid employee at the station even though refusing to do most things that receptionists are required to do. She was very intelligent though and Anderson demanded that before taking the role.

T.V. Boss Hall of Fame - Arthur P. Carlson — Dan Saraceni

Arthur Carlson –  Gordon Jump – The lovable but ineffective station manager who is the son of the station’s owner. He never wanted to know what was going on…, but when he tries to be hands-on…it leads to disastrous results (see Turkey’s Away episode)

Les Nessman - Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia

Les Nessman – Richard Sanders – The incompetent News Director…Les was obsessed with the region’s hog farming industry…constantly mispronounced names… ignored obvious news stories for Hog Reports…but he would win the Silver Sow Award and The Buckeye Newshawk Award. He also had an invisible office with invisible walls that the station could not afford to build.

I interviewed a DJ…and he is Keith Allen who is in the TV Draft. I asked him

  1. WKRP, what about it is realistic and what is not?

    LOL – DJ’s and other radio people get asked this a lot! I guess it depends on who you ask. Here are my thoughts –

    Are there sales people like Herb?  Yes.  Are they as annoying?  Yes!

    Are all news people like Les?  No, but there are plenty other folks in the biz like him.

    Do all stations have a sexy secretary/receptionist?  Some of the stations I worked at did.

    Are all General Managers like Mr. Carlson?  No, some are actually quite bright and know their stuff.

    Do DJ’s usually give their program directors (like Andy) a headache?  Yes.  Very much so!

    Do Programmers and General Managers often not see eye to eye on what’s going on with the station?  Many times this is true.

    Can you get fired for saying “booger” on the air?  I don’t think so.  We spent an entire morning talking about how those green raisins look like boogers and we weren’t fired.

    Do many DJ’s have big egos like Venus and weird idiosyncrasies like Johnny?  Yes, and you know it almost immediately when you meet them.

    In many ways, WKRP is very realistic and while radio people probably find the show funnier than the average viewer, we also find one thing particularly annoying – the DJ’s don’t wear headphones in the studio.  When a DJ turns on the microphone, the speakers in the studio shut off so there is no feedback.  The DJ can hear the music and his/her voice in the headphones, so they know when to stop talking.  These guys never seem to have headphones on and it has always bothered me.

    They also seem to have the uncanny ability to throw a record on the turntable and have the song cued up immediately.  I never had to spin vinyl until I moved to the west side of the state.  I can tell you, you have to put the needle on the start of the groove, play it through a small cue speaker and wait for the song to start.  You then stop it and turn the record back a ¼ turn, so that when you hit start, it plays at the right speed and doesn’t wind up to it.  Carts are a whole lot easier, but almost all the music on WKRP is on vinyl.

TV Draft Round 8 – Pick 2 – Dave Selects – SCTV

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Dave at https://soundday.wordpress.com/

SCTV

For my next pick in this TV event, I go to a show that always made me laugh hysterically…and make me feel a bit proud. SCTV was not only one of the funniest and most creative shows of its era, it was Canadian to boot.

SCTV stands for “Second City Television”, because it sprung forth from Second City. That was (and remains to this day) a ground-breaking comedy troupe and theater from Chicage (America’s “Second City”). It opened its doors in 1959, and by 1961 was making stars out of people like Joan Rivers and Alan Arkin with their creative comedy sketches. But instead of just playing their home city, the organization had big dreams – ones they’ve fulfilled as they describe themselves as “the most influential and prolific comedy empire in the world.”  They began touring with their show and found an enthusiastic response in Toronto when they played there in 1963. Second City took note, and ten years later opened a second club there, in its early months “no air conditioning, no liquor license and almost no audience.” That quickly changed though as they moved to a bigger venue and found homegrown wits like Catherine O’Hara, Dave Thomas and John Candy.

Only a couple of years in, there was interest in making it into a TV show. Once the idea was hatched to do a show about “the world’s smallest TV station”, the cast was on board. They saw endless possibilities of skits involving actual TV shows they could satirize, goofy commercials and behind-the-scenes follies involving the fictional station’s management. Global TV (a Canadian network) was interested and put them on air in 1976, with a half-hour show. After a couple of years, they canceled it but soon an independent company in Edmonton bought the idea, moved the players to the Prairies and resurrected it, soon selling the show to Canada’s premier network, CBC. A few stations in the U.S. began running re-runs, and soon NBC came knocking, wanting a replacement for the Midnight Special. They ran it for a couple of years as a 90-minute late night show (rather akin to Saturday Night Live)  but were said to be rather lacking in commitment to it, and after two seasons axed it when the crew refused to re-jig the show to run on Sunday evenings against 60 Minutes. (NBC also wanted it made much more G-rated, family-oriented humor rather than the edgy satire they SCTV was making.) At that time Cinemax cable in the U.S. and a Canadian subsidiary revived it for one final season of 45 minute shows. By 1984 when it wrapped up, they’d made 135 episodes of varying length and production quality…and created both some big-name stars and some entirely memorable characters.

SCTV‘s original cast was largely kept in tact through the years and was a goldmine of comic talent. They were essentiallly unknown then but wouldn’t stay that for long.  Andrea Martin, Catherine O’Hara, John Candy, Eugene Levy, Rick Moranis, Joe Flaherty, Harold Ramis… funny each one in their own right but brilliant together in an ensemble. Of them, only Ramis was brought in from American Second City; Moranis came in directly from a background of being a radio DJ in Toronto! We see their ongoing work in so many great comedy films like Home Alone, Ghostbusters, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Splash and TV shows like Schitt’s Creek.  In terms of launching great careers in comedy, it’s probably second only to Saturday Night Live…and that one has had an advantage of  40 more years of talent to be culled from.

That alone made the show noteworthy, but it was great because of the strength of the shows themselves and the sketches they created. The station which was set in the imaginary town of Melonville was run by Guy Caballero, a boss played by Joe Flaherty, whose character was as shady as his suit was blinding white. Guy was confined to a wheelchair… but quick to jump up and run away when threatened. His station was inhabited by regulars like boozy, washed up playboy-type Johnny LaRue (Candy), and the owner, leopard-print clad cougar Edith Prickley (Martin), and the hapless local news team of dim-witted Earl Camembert (Levy) and hard-nosed Floyd Robertson (Flaherty). Between the workplace bits we got to see the fine programming of SCTV…things like Bill Needle’s ascerbic talk show, Count Floyd’s “Monster Horror Chiller Theater” (which sometimes boasted titles like the “3D House of Cats”… you simply had to see it to appreciate the “3D” effect!) , kids show “Mrs Falbo’s Tiny town” and various movies, usually parodies of real hit ones. And in between we’d get commercials for local businesses like Harry, the Guy with the Snake on His Face and his adult video store.  Like the Simpsons later, the shows were funny enough at face value but took on an added level of hilarity when one was wise to exactly what they were spoofing.

About 40 years has passed since it went off the air, but even the thought of things like the opening scene of “Mrs. Falbo’s Tiny Town” (remember her trying to drive?), Flaherty as Count Floyd (the frustrated late night movie host dressed as a vampire who often had to admit, “well that wasn’t very scary, kids…”) John Candy as Paul Fistinyourface, the angry high school teen on the TV dance show or as Gil Fisher “The Fishin’ Musician” crack me up. Speaking of the last, “The Fishin’ Musician” with Candy as Gil, the fisherman with his guide Ol’ Willie (who looked a lot like Willie Nelson and took the fishing boat ‘out into the weeds’ every time, natch) was their way of allowing for musical numbers. Through the years bands like Rough Trade, The Tubes and Boomtown Rats went fishin’ with Gil…and playing a little number or two. In retrospect, years later it became even funnier seeing Bob Geldof as a disgruntled punker with the Boomtown Rats and acting as a high school tough in their parody of To Sir with Love , “Teacher’s Pet” (with Eugene Levy as Ricardo Montalban, an ongoing spoof on the show, being the Corinthian lether-loving teacher).

It was a different kind of humor, probably ahead of its time and perhaps to Americans, a wee bit odd. I’m frequently told, living in the U.S., that I have a different sense of humor than many Americans; I think Canada is a cultural “bridge” between the States and Britain, and that applies to our comic sensibilites too. SCTV found the happy medium to be edgy for the mainstream but not so much so as to be confounding or alienating.  All that said, ironically, the ongoing skit on SCTV I found the most tiresome was the one that was probably it’s most popular and the one which reveled in its Canadianism – Bob and Doug McKenzie and the “Great White North.” But no one hits it out of the park every time…SCTV is remembered because it did more often than not. When a show of largely social satire from four decades back can still make me fall on the floor laughing, they must have been something special. And they were.

TV Draft Round 7 – Pick 8 – Keith Selects – The Honeymooners

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Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Keith at https://nostalgicitalian.com/

For my next pick in the Hanspostcard TV Show Draft is one that is one of my all time favorites. I don’t remember when I first was introduced to this show, but I am guessing my dad had something to do with it. Early on in the draft, I chose Police Squad, which only aired 6 episodes. This show is known for its “Classic 39” – The Honeymooners.

This isn’t my first blog about the show. Some time ago, I took part in a “Favorite TV Episode” Blogathon and picked 2 of my favorite episodes to present. You can read that blog here:

https://nostalgicitalian.com/2019/03/22/some-favorite-tv-episodes/

When you think about 50’s TV shows, there was very little struggle involved. Think about it. I Love Lucy, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, The Andy Griffith Show, and Leave it to Beaver all showed families who were living in nice homes or apartments, showed no signs of financial struggles, and while there may be a misunderstanding here and there, it was mostly “bliss.” In 1955-1956, however, The Honeymooners focused on two couples from New York, who were struggling to get by.

The show focused on the lives of Ralph (Jackie Gleason) and Alice Kramden (Audrey Meadows), and Ed (Art Carney) and Trixie Norton (Joyce Randolph). One article I found on the show says this about Gleason’s Kramden character: Ralph was the get-rich-quick scheming, short-tempered, soft-hearted guy who was always striving for greatness, but never made it out of that two-room Brooklyn apartment. And that’s one of the main attractions for even the most casual of viewers: the characters are so identifiable. As Jackie himself said at the time, “Everything we did could have happened. People like the show, because we are them.”

The show began as a simple sketch on the DuMont Television Network, on the Cavalcade of Stars. The original hosts were Jack Carter and Jerry Lester, but in July of 1950 comedian Jackie Gleason took over the hosting duties. In the process, Gleason took the struggling show and turned it around to be a hit. The show, which featured comedy skits and a number of different performers each week, was broadcast live in front of a theater audience. In 1951, Jackie and his writers came up with the idea for a sketch called The Honeymooners. It was about a struggling couple living in Brooklyn who frequently fought, but in the end, there was no question that they loved each other.

Leonard Stern was a writer on both The Honeymooners and The Jackie Gleason Show. In an interview with the Archive of American Television he stated, “We started doing one sketch of The Honeymooners every five or six weeks and the response of people on the street was tremendous. So we started doing them every other week. Eventually, though, everyone, including Jackie, lost interest in the other characters in the different sketches, so we started to do them every week until the fatigue level hit its high and we’d have to take a break. I think Gleason had fun doing them, because he recognized the impact Kramden and Alice and Norton and Trixie were having on the audience. I’m not a great fan of ratings, but let me say that 53% of the total television audience was watching the show. There’s nothing like that in existence today. It was astonishing and the show itself was live. Remember, the audience of 3,000 people filled that theater. You earned your laughs. It was a resounding success and very exhilarating for all of us. It was opening night every week.”

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When Gleason left the Dupont Network and went to CBS, he hosted the Jackie Gleason Show, where the Honeymooners sketches continued. In the 1952 season, the sketches usually ran between seven and 13 minutes. In the following season, and those sketches ran for a minimum of 30 minutes, and sometimes longer. Then, in the 1954-55 season, they actually filled the entire hour of The Jackie Gleason Show and was doing so well in the ratings that it occasionally surpassed the viewership of I Love Lucy. That is almost unheard of!

In the 1955-56 season, The Jackie Gleason Show literally became The Honeymooners! It aired as a half-hour sitcom that was filmed in front of a studio audience. In total, 39 episodes were produced, and these episodes are the ones that are still being broadcast today. These 39 episodes are the ones that most people remember.

I read an article that said Jackie Gleason had actually been given a three-year contract from CBS for 78 episodes of The Honeymooners to be produced in the first two seasons. The contract also included an option for a third season of 39 more. For whatever it is worth, Gleason felt the quality of the scriptwriting couldn’t be maintained, and the show was mutually canceled by him and CBS.

honeymooners-ralph-alice

A Closer Weekly article says: What’s particularly impressive about The Honeymooners living on the way it has is the fact that back in the day, there needed to be a minimum of 100 episodes of a show available so that local stations could run it five days a week. Any less made syndication difficult, since the cycle would be repeated that much sooner. But then there was The Honeymooners, with a mere 39 episodes to offer up, yet it worked. And continues to do so.

In a 1996 appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Jackie was asked why the show ended. He told Carson, “We were running out of ideas. I liked The Honeymooners and I liked doing them, and I didn’t want to denigrate them by forcing scenes that didn’t mean anything. So I wanted to quit, but they didn’t believe me. They thought I had another job someplace, but I didn’t. I’m glad I did stop them, because what we had done was good and if we had gone any further, we might have spoiled it.”

Those “Classic 39” are classic for a reason. They are still funny. The situations that The Kramdens and the Nortons muddle through every week will make you laugh, cry, think, and smile. They still hold up today. Each one of them has memorable scenes and quotable lines.

In one episode Ralph tells his boss he is a great golfer and is immediately asked to go play around with him. Now Ralph needs to learn how to play – and fast. He finds the perfect teacher in his best friend Ed Norton. In pure Art Carney fashion, Ed reads from a book that you must “address the ball,” to which he takes the club, stands in front of the ball, looks down and says, “Hello, Ball!”

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An episode of the show was featured in the movie Back To The Future. When Marty McFly winds up in 1955, a family is watching the episode The Man From Space. Intending to win the $50 first prize at the Racoon Lodge’s costume ball, Ralph decides to create his own outfit. And what an outfit! After appropriating (among other things) a faucet, a pot, a radio tube, and the icebox door, he presents himself as the Man from Space.

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In another episode, Alice says she wants to go dancing. Ralph has Ed come over to teach him how to dance. Ralph’s outfit is hilarious (he tells Alice it is “what all us cats where! I’m hip!”). The dance (to the song The Hucklebuck) is worth the watch.

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To me, sometimes the funniest stuff can be as simple as Ralph’s face …

In another classic episode, Ralph and Norton appear on a TV commercial trying to sell their Handy Housewife Helper, a kitchen gadget that can, among other things, open cans, remove corns, and “core an apple.” In the inspired, ad-lib-laden episode, “Chef of the Future” Ralph demonstrates the wonders of the gizmo to “Chef of the Past” Norton. Rehearsal goes great, but in front of live cameras, Ralph freezes up.

chef

Art Carney was the perfect second banana. The play between him and Gleason is classic. In one episode Norton’s sleepwalking becomes a waking nightmare for Ralph. Ralph can’t get any sleep because he’s been asked to keep his pal from wandering off on late-night strolls around the neighborhood.

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Another classic episode takes place at the pool hall where Ralph gets into an argument with the diminutive guy named George. “My friend is even bigger than me,” he tells Ralph. “I have a friend Shirley that’s bigger than you,” Ralph counters. But then he comes eye-to-chin with George’s friend, the towering Harvey, who challenges Ralph to a fight. This prompts Norton to observe: “He’s even bigger than your friend Shirley.”

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Many of the plot lines from the classic episodes made it into the Joe Piscopo and Eddie Murphy novelty hit “The Honeymooners Rap.”

In the 1980’s, Jackie Gleason announced that in his vault he had found a number of Honeymooners skits from The Jackie Gleason Show that had been shot on Kinescope, which is a way of filming directly through a lens that actually focused on the screen of a video monitor. 107 of those skits were released on DVD and syndicated to television stations. These would have been shot before the “Classic 39” and two of them stand out to me.

Jackie had been a guest star on the Jack Benny Show, so Jack makes an appearance as the Kramden’s landlord. The rent is being raised and Ralph is mad. When there is a knock on the door, Ralph opens it and Jack Benny is standing there. The audience chuckles in anticipation. Ralph calls to Alice that “the Landlord’s here” and the audience erupts. Benny stands there quietly as Ralph reads him the riot act! He calls him a “penny pincher” (which plays into Benny’s “cheap” character”) and says that he pinches a penny so hard that when he is through “both heads and tails are on the same side of the coin!”

benny

In another lost episode, Ralph must lose weight for work. All through the episode, he is starving. Finally, he is left alone in the apartment and sitting at the kitchen table. He notices a cake pan. He lifts the lid and sees the cake. His eyes bulge and he goes nuts. As he is about to tear into the cake Alice walks in. “Everybody get back,” he yells! The brief 3 minutes of him staring at the cake before getting ready to eat it is comedy genius!

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As brilliant as Jackie Gleason was as Ralph Kramden, he never won an Emmy Award for it. Art Carney, however, won 5 Emmys for Best Supporting Actor on The Honeymooners and the Jackie Gleason Show.

The Honeymooners influenced a huge 1960s cartoon – The Flintstones. It is a blatant rip-off of the show and was a huge hit. It is said that Gleason considered suing Hanna-Barbera Productions because of the similarities, but decided that he did not want to be known as “the guy who yanked Fred Flintstone off the air”

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Water Buffalo members and Racoon members

The Honeymooners is over 65 years years old! Joyce Randolph, who played Trixie Norton is 97 years old and still going strong. I wonder if Gleason ever thought that those 39 episodes would still find an audience today and that they would still bring much laughter.

In 1990, Audrey Meadows joined Bob Costas on Later to discuss the show. You can see that footage here:

If you have never seen an episode, I encourage you to do so. The two episodes I mentioned in a previous blog are good places to start – TV or Not TV or A Matter of Record. Most are available on Youtube.

Thanks for reading!

TV Draft Round 7 – Pick 7 – Liam Selects – The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Liam at https://othemts.wordpress.com/

The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show

(1959 – 1964)

When you have an animated series featuring talking animals, the natural inclination is to file it under “Children’s Entertainment.”  And yet The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show featured witty wordplay, spoofs of popular culture, self-referential humor, and political satire (particularly regarding the Cold War). You can tell that network execs were confused by the fact that they sometimes aired the show in prime time and sometimes on Saturday morning.  During the show’s five season run from 1959 to 1964 it also switched networks.  For the first two seasons it was on ABC and called Rocky and His Friends. Then it moved to NBC and became The Bullwinkle Show.  CBS never gave it a shot but the show lived on in syndication under the names The Rocky Show, The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, and The Adventures of Bullwinkle and Rocky. Whew!

Ok, but beyond this rocky (pun intended) broadcast history, what was the show about?  Jay Ward created the show to be an ongoing adventure serial about a moose and a squirrel. Animator Alex Anderson created many of the characters but declined to work on the show itself.  Ward hired Bill Scott as head writer and co-producer of the show, as well as writers Chris Hayward and Allan Burns. General Mills came on board as the show’s main sponsor. The ongoing serial featured four main characters, two heroes and two villains:

  • Rocket J. Squirrel (a.k.a. Rocky the Flying Squirrel), voiced by June Foray, is a noble all-American kid in squirrel form who serves as the straight man to his partner Bullwinkle’s antics. His catchphrase is “Hokey smokes!”
  • Bullwinkle J. Moose, voiced by Bill Scott, is a good-hearted and optimistic, but very dimwitted moose. He and Rocky are roommates in the fictional town of Frostbite Falls, Minnesota.  He attended Wossamotta U. on a football scholarship.
  • Boris Badenov, voiced by Paul Frees, is a spy from the fictional nation of Pottsylvania (a thinly disguised amalgamation of countries behind the Iron Curtain.). He is constantly up to no good and scheming on a plan given to him by his Fearless Leader or concocting his own criminal conspiracy. He proudly introduces himself as the “world’s greatest no-goodnik.”
  • Natasha Fatale, voiced by June Foray, is another Pottsylvania spy and Boris’ partner in crime. The design of Boris and Natasha are inspired by Charles Addams’ characters Gomez and Morticia Addams.

Over five seasons and 163 episodes, Rocky & Bullwinkle and Boris & Natasha appeared in 28 different serialized story arcs. The shortest serial had only 4 chapters while the longest had 40!  And this was in the days before DVD box sets and streaming video made binge watching possible, so the creators of the show put a lot of faith in the audience remembering what happened earlier in the story.

A typical 23-minute episode would have two segments of a Rocky & Bullwinkle serial, each ending on a cliffhanger (and a bad pun).  Additionally, the show would have a couple of supporting features drawn from the following:

  • Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties – In a parody of silent film melodramas, the brave but dumber-than-Bullwinkle mounted policeman Dudley Do-Right (Bill Scott) attempts to foil the plots of the villainous Snidley Whiplash (Hans Conried). This usually requires rescuing Nell Fenwick (June Foray), whom Dudley loves, but she in return is only fond of his horse.
  • Aesop and Son – Old fables are retold in a comical way by Aesop (Charles Ruggles) and his son, Junior (Daws Butler).
  • Fractured Fairy Tales – Edward Everett Horton narrates fairy tales updated with modern themes and a lot of puns.
  • Peabody’s Improbable History – Mister Peabody (Bill Scott), a genius talking dog, adopts a boy named Sherman (Walter Tetley). Since the boy needs exercise, Peabody invents a time machine called the WABAC. They travel to various historical events to see what “really” happened.
  • Bullwinkle’s Corner – Bullwinkle attempts to be cultured by reading poetry with comical results.
  • Know-it All – Bullwinkle, who we have already noted is quite dim, attempts to be the authority of various topics while Boris Badenov undermines his efforts.

The one great flaw of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show is its animation style.  Television animation of the 50s and 60s relied on the practices of limited animation such as reusing simple backgrounds and the stilted motions of the characters to save money.  But even by the standards of limited animation, The Rocky and Bulwinkle Show’s animation was choppy and full of visible flaws.  General Mills insisted on outsourcing the animation to the Mexican studio Gamma Productions S.A. de C.V, and Ward was never happy with the quality.  But ultimately, the witty scripts and terrific voice acting made the poor quality animation irrelevant to the show becoming a classic.

The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show legacy lives on in syndicated reruns.  Despite never being a morning person, I went through a phase as a teenager in the late 1980s where I would get up to watch it at 6am before school!  The show has also been released in various home media formats.  Attempts to revive the show in the 1970s and 80s failed but it eventually found its way to the big screen.  Boris and Natasha: The Movie (1992) and Dudley Do-Right (1999) were live-action adaptations that both bombed. A live-action/animated hybrid movie The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (2000) was also poorly received.  Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014) from DreamWorks Animation got much better reviews and spun off a Netflix series (2015-2017).  DreamWorks Animation Television followed up with a reboot series of The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (2018-2019) on Amazon Prime Video.  I have not watched any of these having remained loyal to the original work of Jay Ward and company.

TV Draft Round 7 – Pick 2 – Lisa Selects – Trailer Park Boys

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Lisa at https://tao-talk.com/

TPB1

l.-r.: Julian, Bubbles, Ricky

I know that originally I was going to write about the mixed martial arts series, Kingdom, but it had too much of a Ray Donovan vibe, so I decided to write about Trailer Park Boys, a beloved series that I haven’t watched all episodes of but have watched dozens of them. The series started out with a movie pilot first in 1999, where the boys are introduced. Between 2001 and 2018, twelve seasons were made. Set mostly in Nova Scotia, Canada with also some in New Brunswick; but to be honest it doesn’t matter what geographical location it is set at because what matters is that it is set a trailer park. There is a wealth of very cool trivia on the show at imdb. This is one piece about “the” trailer park :

The first 4 seasons were filmed in different trailer parks in Nova Scotia, Canada. The pilot was filmed in Spryfield, Nova Scotia. The first season was filmed in Sackville, the second in Dartmouth, the third in Lakeside, the fourth in Dartmouth again (in a different park than the second). For the Christmas special and season 5 and onward, they have used a park they purchased in Dartmouth.

OK, where do I begin to talk about the varied residents of the fictional Sunnyvale Trailer Park?It’s probably best to introduce the three main characters, Ricky, Julian, and Bubbles, best friends from way back, all of them pretty shiftless petty criminals who love to smoke weed and scheme their harebrained schemes. Around them revolves an endlessly entertaining cast of characters. You wouldn’t think life in Sunnyvale could sustain a pilot movie and twelve seasons, but the comedic genius of creator, Mike Clatterburg, and through the comedic skills of the cast, its shine has not only been sustained but rebooted for new audiences to love and laugh with when Netflix added it to the roster.

Characters
John Paul Tremblay plays Julian. Dark hair, handsome, and always carrying a glass of rum and coke with clinking ice. He often comes up with ideas that sound like they might work if he had a crew that wasn’t so bat-sh*t crazy in their various ways. Inevitably, the plan goes awry, and if he and the crew are lucky all they get out of it is caught. Several times though, Julian is sent back to prison. He knows his boys will wait for him to get things going again once he’s out. Julian is fairly unlucky in love. He’s tried a few relationships but they aren’t sustained.

Rob Wells plays Ricky. Ricky is hands-down the most outrageous and shifty one of the three guys. Ricky has a potty mouth, and I’ll admit it took me a bit to get used to his profanity. Another bit of trivia from imdb about that:

Throughout Season 1 to Season 7, including the Christmas Special, but not the movies, the word “fuck” is said a total of 1,284 times (averaging 46 times an episode). The word “shit” is said a total of 967 times (averaging 31 an episode). From all uses of the words, 74.3% of the time, it is said from Ricky.

TPB2

l.-r.: Lucy, Sarah (in the back,) Mrs. Leahy, and Trinity

Ricky is the only one of the three that has a family. His on again, off again girlfriend, Lucy, played by Lucy Decoutere, lives most of time with her friend, Sarah, played by Sarah Dunsworth, who is always trying to talk Lucy out of having anything to do with Ricky; yet the chemistry is strong between Ricky and Lucy and they always keep getting back with each other, if only for a night. Ricky and Lucy have a daughter, Trinity, played by Jeanna Harrison. Ricky adores Trinity and makes it his mission – when he’s not scheming with his buddies or in prison – to teach Trinity the ropes about life in the trailer park. The things he teaches her are wildly inappropriate for a child or anyone who hopes to lead a law-abiding lifestyle. Ricky’s dad, Ray, played by Barrie Dunn, also lives in the park. Ray is in a wheelchair and collects disability checks from the government, but at some point you begin to wonder just how disabled Ray is. Another aspect of Ricky is his educational aspiration. Ricky has only made it to Grade 6, and his dream is to go on and get his Grade 7. Finally, Ricky is a smooth talker extraordinaire. You will be amazed at the things Ricky is able to talk his way out of!

Mike Smith plays Bubbles. I think part of the reason Bubbles has the nickname he does is his thick coke bottle bottom glasses which look like big bubbles over his eyes; the glasses give the effect of blowing his eyes way out of proportion to his face through magnification. He has a particularly humorous and endearing way of talking. Bubbles lives in a garden shed in somebody’s yard and has two great passions: shopping carts and kitties. He nabs the beat up carts that have rolled into the gully from the edge of the mall parking lot. I know he fixes them up and I think he sells them back to the mall. Bubbles is a soft touch for kittens and has turned his shed into both a sanctuary and a shrine to them. Bubbles has a strict moral sense about things and often speaks the voice of reason when it comes to some of Ricky and Julian’s schemes. Even so, he can be convinced to bend a little, and when he’s in, he’s in all the way. His love for his buddies is consistent and unshakable. In a later season, we meet Bubbles’ alter ego in the form of wise-cracking and cruel ventriloquist puppet named Conky.

Now that the three “boys” and a few others are introduced, it is time to meet some of the other residents of the park.

TPB3
Randy and Mr. Jim Leahy

John Dunsworth (Sarah’s real-life dad) plays Mr. Jim Leahy. Jim is married to the owner of Sunnyvale, Mrs. Barb Leahy, played by Shelley Thompson. Jim is a “whole hog” functional alcoholic that is seldom, if-ever, sober. Jim is the manager of the trailer park, who is ever-vigilant about trying to bust the boys while they are carrying out their schemes, but is also extremely unsuccessful in doing so. They are just too wily for him. Jim is also gay. Jim’s somewhat younger lover is Randy, played by Patrick Roach. Randy has been a gigolo in the past, regardless of gender. He’s an opportunist. Randy’s trademark is white pants that ride under his big beer gut, which is always in view as Randy seldom (never?) wears a shirt. I can’t remember if Randy drinks, and it seems he’s trying to get Jim to slow down. Randy gets very sexually adventurous with Mr. Leahy. He also acts as Mr. Leahy’s joined-at-the-hip (in more ways than one!) sidekick in trying to bust the boys. When Mrs. Leahy catches on about Jim and Randy, they break up and she starts a relationship with Sam, played by Sam Tarasco. Sam is a veterinarian that can be handy to patch the boys up when they get into scrapes. Sam likes to grill out and have picnics.

TPB4

Cory and Trevor

Just when you think Ricky, Julian, and Bubbles have reached the bottom (or is it the top?) of the trailer park food chain, there is Cory, played by Cory Bowles, and Trevor, played by Michael Jackson. Cory and Trevor idolize Ricky and Julian and are on stand-by to assist in carrying out scams with them. Most of the time they don’t question their roles; yet even when something tells them it’s not a good idea, it doesn’t take much convincing to get their help.

TPB5

Tyrone and J-Roc

Aspiring rappers J-Roc, played by Jonathan Torrens and Tyrone, played by Tyrone Parsons, have their own entrepreneurial side schemes going on which are usually separate from the boys’ but sometimes they intersect.

Last but not least are law enforcement who keep getting called by Mr. Leahy, who used to be a police officer and so has somewhat of an “in” with them, to investigate the crimes the boys are involved with, but again, the boys are too slick for the law. Officer George Green, played by George Green is one; Detective Ted Johnson, played by Jim Swansburg, is another.

The format of the show is that a camera crew follows the boys around to document what living in a trailer park is like. Without going into the nitty gritty of the plots, now that you’ve met the characters you can imagine what kinds of hilarious plots they get engaged in. Although the show clearly is making fun of people who live in trailer parks, and with the folks in this show, they are definitely worthy of being made fun of, you also get to love each and every one of them.

I don’t think you can find these DVDs at your local library. They are being streamed on Netflix. You can probably find some out on YouTube. They are well-worth hunting down.

Genre: Comedy
Grade: 10
Etc.: Warning: extreme profanity; drug (weed) and crime-oriented themes; LGBTQIA+ friendly; some crazy gun play
Awards: 4 wins and 22 nominations

Warning: lots of profanity in the video

Sources:
imdb trivia
Julian, Bubbles, Ricky image
Lucy, Sarah, Mrs. Leahy, Trinity image
Randy and Mr. Leahy image

TV Draft Round 7 – Pick 1 – Paula Selects – All In The Family

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Paula at http://paulalight.com

I’m extra-excited to do this write-up because not only was All in the Family one of my favorite shows way back when, but it’s also one of the few that stands the test of time. So many other shows that I enjoyed in my youth are impossible for me to watch now because they are so full of sexism and jokes that just fall flat. AITF was unique in that it took the common bigotries and stuffed them into the character of Archie Bunker so the rest of us could see how ridiculous they were. (Sadly, many of them persist regardless.) But in his way, Archie was lovable, and he did end up changing, especially after his wife Edith died and he went on to the spin-off Archie Bunker’s Place.

AITF was a sitcom created by Norman Lear. It debuted on CBS on January 12, 1971 (over 50 years ago!) and ran for nine seasons. The show was based on a British sitcom Till Death Us Do Part, and it was produced by Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin. Carroll O’Connor played the main character Archie Bunker, Jean Stapleton played his wife Edith, Sally Struthers played their daughter Gloria, and Rob Reiner played Gloria’s husband Michael Stivic. Most people will recognize the opening theme song “Those Were the Days,” which Archie and Edith warbled off-key, thus beginning each episode on a funny note. [My source for this post is Wikipedia.]

The writing touched upon many issues that had previously been avoided on network comedy: abortion, anti-Semitism, homosexuality, rape, religion, cancer, menopause, etc. Due to its bravery in tackling these topics, AITF has been regarded as one of the greatest series in history. It also went from meh Nielsen ratings in the first season to No. 1 during summer reruns and afterward. The Writers Guild of America ranked it as the fourth-best written TV series ever.

The premise of the show is that Archie, a middle-aged working-class white man in Queens, NY, has the perpetual grumps toward his family, his neighbors, and the world in general. He is narrow-minded and conservative, and he views people strictly through his prejudices and stereotypes. One of the most frequent targets of his snide asides is his son-in-law Michael, a graduate student with a Polish background. Archie calls him “Meathead,” and Michael earnestly tries to enlighten Archie about new cultural ideas resulting in much hilarity for the audience.

To save money, the Stivics live with the Bunkers, so there are plenty of opportunities for the two men to butt heads, over topics major and minor.

Gloria is often exasperated with their arguments, but since she’s a feminist, she’ll take a stand on issues relating to women’s rights. She also gets particularly incensed at the inconsiderate way Archie treats her mom. For her part, Edith tries to keep the peace in their home by ignoring Archie’s nasty comments.

Another frequent target of Archie’s snark is a family of black neighbors, the Jeffersons. George Jefferson (played by Sherman Hemsley) is hilarious in his own right and ends up successful and wealthy enough to move out of the neighborhood to a posh place. The Jeffersons is a spin-off of AITF (there are many!), with George and Louise living in a luxury building (kinda similar to the one in Only Murders!).

If you’ve never seen AITF, I highly recommend checking out a few eps. Personally, I never get tired of stumbling across a clip here or there. This is one of my favorites, and it never fails to make me laugh.

~*~

Paula Light is a poet, novelist, flash fiction fan, cupcake connoisseur, mom, grandma, cat mommy, etc. Her blog can be found at http://paulalight.com.

TV Draft Round 6 – Pick 8 – Max Selects – The Gong Show

Drinking out of a garden hose, learning math and grammar from Schoolhouse Rock, playing pong, walking on the shag carpet in our bare feet, wearing mood rings, walking through beads instead of doors, and watching the Gong Show. That is what a lot of us were up to in the 1970s as kids and adults. 

I watched this show and Dialing for Dollars on our local NBC affiliate when I was around 10 years old. Only in the seventies could this show happen. It was like amateur hour at a high school with celebrities judging the event for laughs. This show was so bad it was good. That is the heart of the show…so bad it’s good… If an act was bad…which many were the judges would bang a gong to show their dislike.

The winner would win $516.32… union scale at the time. It wasn’t about winning…it was about being in front of millions of viewers. The show ran from 1976 to 1978 and was in syndication for years and years. The show had a total of 501 episodes. 

Chuck Barris was the emcee of this grand extravaganza. Some of the acts were bad and they knew it, some really thought they were good but were bad and a very few were actually good.

A few talented people appeared on the show at different times. Paul Reubens (Pee-Wee Herman), Steve Martin, Cheryl Lynn, Oingo Boingo, Michael Winslow, The Unknown Comic,  and more. It’s fun spotting a future star in reruns. 

The judges included  Jamie Farr, Jaye P Morgan, Arte Johnson, Rip Taylor, Phyllis Diller, and Anson Williams. Jaye P. Morgan was fired off the show near the end of the show’s run. She often attempted to strip on the show, and usually got stopped. Except for one time, when she unbuttoned her shirt and flashed everyone while the camera was on her. 

My favorite part of the show for some reason was a stagehand who would dance named Gene Gene the Dancing Machine. I also remember the popsicle twins. How the censors let the Popsicle Twins get through I don’t know… they were shown on the east coast but their segment never made it to the west coast. 

The Gong Show was finally canceled because NBC warned Barris to tone down the racy elements of the show…he never did. The popsicle twins and Jaye P Morgan’s flashing didn’t help.

In the last show, Barris played in a country band called the “Hollywood Cowboys” and sang a modified Johnny Paycheck song “Take this job and shove it” and gave NBC the finger…which they blocked out of course. 

Barris had his hand in a lot of shows. In 1965, he launched “The Dating Game,” which revolutionized TV game shows. Next came “The Newlywed Game,” “The Game Game” and a Mama Cass special, among others.

Chuck Barris, in his book, Confessions of a Dangerous MindAn Unauthorized Biography, claimed to have been an assassin for the CIA. His wife said:  “After I met Chuck, I read the book and I didn’t really place any judgment on it one way or the other. Chuck and I never talk about whether he really did it.” He would never answer when asked if it was true or not. In 2002 George Clooney directed a movie about the book.

Maxene Fabe wrote in TV Game Shows, that Barris was “the first man in America to realize how desperately ‘ordinary’ people want to be on television.” Hmmm…sounds like it holds true today with all of the reality shows that are on. 

In 1980 “The Gong Show Movie” was released and it was written, directed, and starred Chuck Barris. The TV show was revived in 2017 and 2018 for twenty episodes with Mike Myers as host.

Chuck Barris passed away in 2017 at the age of 87. 

When you think back on shows you watched when you were younger and you get a chance to watch them now…it’s usually different than you remembered…not this one. This one is exactly how I remembered.

TV Draft Round 6 – Pick 5 – Keith Selects – Get Smart

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Keith at https://nostalgicitalian.com/

It’s time for my next pick in the Hanspostcard TV Show Draft. My next pick is sort of a guilty pleasure. So many of the gags are ones you see coming a mile away, but they still crack me up. It is another one of those shows that was loaded with great guest stars and a solid cast. My next pick is Get Smart.

In the early 1960’s, America got their first look at James Bond and the secret agent/spy genre took off in full force. In 1965, Daniel Melnick, who was a partner in the production firm of Talent Associates in New York City, decided that it was time for a TV series that satirized James Bond. He approached Mel Brooks and Buck Henry to write a script about a “bungling James Bond-like hero.”

mel and buck

Mel said that Talent Associates had a pool table. He and Buck met at the pool table and while playing discussed the show. Mel says, “I knew we could do this thing together because we couldn’t stop babbling about things like the Shoe Phone and the Cone of Silence. These things just rolled out of our mouths.”

Henry said they created the script for the pilot in about three months around the pool table. “We decided on a secret agent named Smart – Maxwell Smart – and gave him, as his most sterling quality, a remarkable lack of insight. Nevertheless, since he was our hero, he would always win out despite his inspired inefficiency. We also gave him a number, which all operatives must have.” The number they chose was 86, which was chosen by Melnick and derived from the slang expression “to eighty-six someone.”

The show was pitched to ABC. The pitch was pretty much exactly what the show ended up being: Max would work for the Chief, the head of the Washington-based US intelligence agency Control. He would have a beautiful and brilliant young partner known only as Agent 99. Loaded up with gadgets, they would fight against the evil agents of Kaos, an international organization seeking world domination.

Originally, Mel Brooks considered playing Smart himself. Orson Bean was also considered. ABC decided that if it aired the show, Tom Poston (best known for his work on the Steve Allen Show and Newhart) would star as Agent 86. ABC liked the pilot, but wanted to change things up. They wanted Max to have a mother and a dog on the show. Brooks hated the idea of Max coming home to his mother at the end of every show and explaining everything to her. When they told ABC “no,” they passed on the show calling it “un-American.”

They took the script to NBC. NBC had already spent all the money allotted for making pilots. Grant Tinker was contacted about the show and was told that he “had to” read the pilot. “I read it and I just loved it. It was exactly the kind of thing that makes me laugh.” He called the head of programming at NBC and convinced him to come up with the money for one more pilot. They did so one one condition – Tom Poston, who was not under contract at NBC, would be replaced by Don Adams, who was.

The Cast

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Maxwell Smart – Agent 86

You have to wonder how Max keeps his job! He is extremely clumsy and forgetful. He’s forever on the Chief’s last nerve, yet he always wins. He is a proficient marksman, skilled in hand to hand combat, and incredibly lucky. Believe it or not, he is one of the top Control agents!

Once Don Adam’s was brought in as Max, many of his routines from his stand up act were incorporated into the character. He had used his “Would you believe…” before, but it became a staple on Get Smart.

Smart: At this very moment, 25 Control agents are converging on this building.

Kaos Agent: I don’t believe it.

Smart: Would you believe 2 squad cars and a motorcycle cop?

Kaos Agent: No

Smart: How about a vicious street cleaner and a toothless police dog?

Agent 99

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Played by Barbara Feldon, whom Buck Henry says he fought for from the beginning. Despite some sources, the creators of the show and Feldon herself say that 99’s real name is never mentioned. Originally, they wanted her to be Agent 69, but Henry says, “We knew it would never get past the censors. So 99 was our little joke.”

99 is another of Control’s top agents and often works together with Max. One had to wonder what an intelligent and sensible woman like 99 sees in a goofball like Maxwell Smart!

The Chief

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For the Chief, Mel Brooks and Buck Henry wanted someone who would “personify authority and grave intensity all while delivering ludicrous information with a stern voice and fatherly demeanor.” They had seen Ed Platt in North by Northwest and Rebel Without a Cause and knew he was their Chief.

He is the head of Control. He oversees all of Control’s activities and missions. He frequently speaks to the President over a direct line. He considers 86 and 99 to be Control’s best agents and his best friends, even though Max seems to be a continuous thorn in his side.

Chief: All we know is that they threaten to wipe out the city containing our finest intellectual minds and greatest leaders!

Max: Well, at least Washington is safe.

Larabee

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Larabee (played by Robert Karvelas) is the Chief’s right hand man and assistant. In all honesty, he is even more slow-witted and incompetent than Max! Don Adams said that they used Larabee for the jokes that were “too dumb for Max.” Despite his stupidity, his unwavering dedication and extremely simple mind make him an indispensable government employee.

Hymie The Robot

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Hymie (played by Dick Gautier) was a robot originally designed by Kaos to battle against Control. However, in his first appearance on the show, Max mistakes him for a rookie Control agent and takes him under his wing. When Hymie is ordered to kill Max, Hymie shoots his creator instead. Max then reprograms him to work for Control.

Hymie often takes things literally. When told to get a grip on himself, he grabs himself. Many jokes of this type were Hymie oriented (“Kill the lights,” “Grab a waiter,” “Hop to it,” “Knock it off,” and so on.

Agent 13

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Agent 13 (David Ketchum) is forever spying from odd places. You will find him in washing machines, in mailboxes, file cabinets, lockers, fire hydrants, and other small places. He is loyal to Control, but often complains about his assignments. Though he complains, he always gets the job done intercepting messages, overhearing plans, and often coming to Max’s rescue.

From 1965-1966, Agent 44 was played by Victor French and was also confined to small spaces like Agent 13.

Professor Carlson

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Carlson (Stacy Keach Sr.) is a Control scientist and inventor. He often presents Max with gadgets that will be used on his assignment. Carlson succeeded Professor Parker who was played by Milton Selzer.

KAOS

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Maxwell Smart calls Kaos “a monstrous organization of evil dedicated to the destruction of the free world and the systematic subjugation of every man, woman, and child on this planet. Kaos Agent Omar Shurok describes it as “the international organization of evil formed in 1904 in Bucharest , designed to foment unrest and revolution throughout the world.”

Ludwig Von Seigfried

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Seigfried (played wonderfully by Bernie Kopell) is described as “the merciless, fiercely conceited, preeminent Kaos kingpin” who “considers himself vastly superior to his underlings and his adversaries.” He is also described as “undeniably sinister, shrewd, underhanded, conniving, contemptuous, haughty, scornful, and explosive. He considers all Kaos agents thick-witted, nitwits, fools, incompetents, bunglers, dummkopfs, dunderheads, and sissies, and he is easily angered by the slightest display of incompetence or silliness.”

Seigfried (on the phone with Max): Your Chief was just silenced by a pistol butt.

Max: That’s a little drastic, wasn’t it, Seigfried? Couldn’t you have just shushed him?

Seigfried: We don’t SHUSH here!

Shtarker (or Starker)

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(King Moody) He is Seigfried’s ruthless, but often inept henchman. Shtarker is the Yiddish word for a “strong-arm man” or a “tough guy.” He certainly is a towering bodyguard, but he is nothing more than a goofball.

Gadgets

Throughout the show there are many gadgets. No doubt, many of these were inspired by the James Bond series. There are too many to list here, but there are a couple that have become synonymous with the show.

Shoe Phone

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Mel Brooks is credited with coming up with the idea for the Shoe Phone. It came to him one day when every phone in his office started ringing and he took his shoe off and began speaking into it.

In 2002, the prop shoe phone was placed on display in an exhibit called “Spies: Secrets from the CIA, KGB, and Hollywood” which featured real and fake spy gear in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

Cone of Silence

Buck Henry claims to have come up with this recurring gag.

Whenever something needed to be discussed that was sensitive, Max would insist on Control’s protocol of using the Cone of Silence. It was designed to keep whatever was discussed audible to whoever was in it. However, it almost never worked. Many times the people under it could not hear each other, or couldn’t understand what the other was saying. Sometimes they had to yell so loud that the people outside the Cone of Silence could hear better than the ones under it.

Catchphrases

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Get Smart contributed many catchphrases that were popular among viewers. “Would you believe…” which I already mentioned was just one of them. Others were:

  • “Missed it by that much.”
  • “Sorry about that Chief”
  • “I asked you not to tell me that”
  • “….and LOVING it!”
  • “Of course, the (such and such). Just one question. What’s the (such and such)?
  • “The old (such and such) trick”

Passwords

Sometimes a password was needed to enter Control buildings. Other times a sign and counter sign was needed.

Passwords include:

  • Ricardo Montalban hates tortillas
  • Herb Alpert takes trumpet lessons from Guy Lombardo

Signs/Countersigns include:

Sign: Camptown ladies sing this song

Countersign: Doo-dah. Doo-dah.

Sign: Camptown racetrack five miles long

Countersign: Oh Doo-dah day.

The Show

Get Smart aired for 5 seasons. The first four seasons were on NBC and when faced with cancellation, it moved to CBS for it’s fifth and final season. In the final season, the show “jumped the shark” and 86 and 99 got married and had kids, which many say is what killed the show.

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Afterward

In 1980, Don Adams starred in the theatrical film, The Nude Bomb. It lacked much of what made the show so good. Max is not working for Control, 99 is not present, and it lacked all the fun of the show.

In 1988, many of the original cast reunited for Get Smart Again, a TV movie that aired on ABC. It reunited 86, 99, Larabee, Hymie, and Agent 13. Seigfried and Shtarker return as Kaos agents. It was more true to the original series and it helped spawn a short-lived weekly series on Fox in 1995.

Why I Picked It

Today, we are bombarded with all kinds of shows on TV that try to push a political or social message. Get Smart makes me laugh. It is one of those shows that I wish didn’t have a laugh track (the only thing I hate about it). I love to watch the interaction of the characters and enjoy the guest stars. It’s one of my favorite guilty pleasures.

The theme song is one of my favorites, too! When I worked at one hospital, I used to have to walk down a long hallway and I would often find myself humming the theme! Silly, yes! Incidentally, it is interesting to note that in 2010, TV Guide ranked the opening title sequence at number 2 on its list of Top 10 credits sequences as selected by readers. It’s classic!

Thanks for reading!!