Thursday, February 28, 2013

Fibber McGee & Molly - February 28, 1950 - Mayor LaTrivia's Party

Mayor LaTrivia is giving a party, and can't properly invite Molly without also inviting McGee, so he bites the bullet and sends the invitation.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Halls of Ivy - February 27, 1952 - Budget Problems

When the college is troubled by budget shortages, the Halls use some creative methods to increase revenue for the library.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Burns & Allen - February 26, 1948 - Gracie Goes to New Orleans

Gracie's going on a trip to New Orleans, but she thinks that George will be carousing with another woman while she's gone.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Jack Benny - February 24, 1952 - Buying a New Car

Jack plans to buy a new car, causing confusion and consternation among the gang, especially in an excellent bit with Phil Harris.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Fibber McGee & Molly - February 23, 1943 - Poker Game

McGee thinks he's putting one over on Molly by sneaking out to a poker game, but she might have the last laugh.

Friday, February 22, 2013

You Bet Your Life - February 22, 1950

On this episode, the contestants are a high school student with an older housewife student, a deputy district attorney with a housewife, and a piano teacher with a dog trainer.

This 1950 episode is near the end of the period where Groucho announced the game rules and results with a breathless excitement, as though people were tuning in to hear the quiz. He eased up on that soon afterward, and ran the quiz in a much more laconic style.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Phil Harris/Alice Faye - February 21, 1953 - American Red Cross Special

This was a special installment of the Phil Harris / Alice Faye show to benefit the Red Cross. Little Alice is going on her first date, and Sheldon Leonard shows up in a wonderful cameo to find her a date. Naturally, he returns with Julius.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Jack Benny - February 20, 1938 - How Old Is Jack?

With Jack just having had a birthday, the cast goes round and round trying to guess how old he is.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Fred Allen - February 19, 1941 - Restaurateur Lindy Lindemann

This hour-long Fred Allen episode is from the period when the series was titled "Texaco Star Theater", which was the title Texaco used for its most prominently-sponsored show at any given time.

At this point, the show was moving away from the "Town Hall Tonight" format, and closer to the format it would have in the "Allen's Alley" years. In the spot where "Allen's Alley" would be later, there was a similar segment called "The Newsreel", with man-on-the-street interviews. If you listen closely, you can hear Alan Reed and Minerva Pious doing character spots in the Newsreel; they would become more well-known as the characters Falstaff Openshaw and Mrs. Nussbaum.

The guest star is trendy New York restaurateur Lindy Lindemann, proprietor of Lindy's.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Great Gildersleeve - February 17, 1946 - Leroy Has the Flu

Leroy has the flu and stays home from school. At first Gildy thinks he's faking it, but ends up catering to Leroy's every need.

The ubiquitous Bea Benaderet plays Gildy's girlfriend and Leroy's school principal, Eve. Keep an ear out for the cute meta joke at the end of the show.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Duffy's Tavern - February 16, 1949 - Schoolmate Visits

When an old schoolmate of Archie's and Finnegan's is coming to visit, they pull out all the stops to impress him.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Jack Benny - February 15, 1948 - Surprise Birthday Party

Jack's birthday is coming up (his 39th, of course,) and everyone in the cast makes their own plans to throw him a surprise party, including the boys' club he belongs to, the Beavers.

Benny's birthday was February 14, so every year around that time, you could count on a very funny show built around his birthday, always his 39th (except when it was his 37th or 38th.)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Fibber McGee & Molly - February 14, 1950 - Looking for Lost Tubes of Radium

When three vials of radium are missing from the hospital, McGee rents a Geiger counter and goes looking for them.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

You Bet Your Life - February 13, 1952

The appeal of Groucho Marx's quiz show wasn't in the game itself, but in Groucho's chats with average people. For example, the first pair of contestants in this show are the wife of an upholstery shop owner and a man who works for the railroad, and has ridden to L.A. six times trying to get on the show.

This was 1952, so you'll note the woman was still defined by what her husband did for a living, not for her own qualities.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Burns & Allen - February 12, 1948 - Babysitting for Kay Kyser

When Gracie runs into bandleader Kay Kyser, he's exhausted from his newborn baby, and he and his wife need to attend an event that night. Gracie helpfully promises that George will babysit.

This episode, like many Burns and Allen shows, was written by Paul Henning (along with Keith Fowler). Henning later produced the triumvirate of Hooterville shows for CBS television - The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, and Green Acres. Henning would put his experience writing for Gracie Allen to good use with Green Acres' Lisa Douglas, a character who, like Gracie, had the power to bend the world to her special logic.

Monday, February 11, 2013

My Favorite Husband - February 11, 1949 - Valentine's Day

In this installment, Liz does a favor for her maid, Katie, by trying to get her a date for Valentine's Day with the butcher. The butcher thinks that Liz is the one who wants a date, and the complications grow from there.

This episode is fairly early in the show's run. Lucille Ball has already perfected her ditzy redhead character that she'll use for the rest of her career. Liz and George's names have been changed to Cooper (from Cugat, their name in the original novels), but Gale Gordon hasn't yet joined the cast as George's boss. In fact, here he plays the judge overseeing the case when the mix-ups send Liz to court.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Fred Allen - March 3, 1946 - Guest Orson Welles

This episode is from the heyday of Allen's popular show. Announcer Kenny Delmar was a sensation with his "Senator Claghorne" character, the DeMarco sisters started each show by mimicking Portland Hoffa's call of "Mr. Allen!" and Allen's Alley was in full swing.

The show begins with a few jabs at Jack Benny, with whom Allen had a show-biz "feud", and segues to Allen's Alley where the denizens comment on a rather silly news story about a chicken surplus. The guest segment is signaled by the arrival of a doctor, who makes the ludicrous statement that Orson Welles can't appear because he has an inferiority complex. Allen spends the rest of the episode trying to rid Welles of this complex, which is good for a bunch of laughs.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Jack Benny - February 9, 1941 - The Sponsor Likes Herbert Marshall

The week before, Jack had missed the show because of illness, and Herbert Marshall filled in for him. This week, we find out that everyone involved with the show prefers Marshall to Benny.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Great Gildersleeve - February 8, 1942 - Auto Mechanics

When Gildy brags about being a mechanical whiz, he's drafted to give a demonstration on automobile engines to a Red Cross women's squad.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Fibber McGee and Company - February 7, 1939 - Faulty Window Shade

This episode is from the period when the show was billed as "Fibber McGee and Company".

This was because Marian Jordan, who played Molly, was on an 18 month hiatus from the series for health reasons. Frequently, there was a female guest star to add some pizazz - often comedienne ZaSu Pitts, who appears in this episode.

These shows have the same clever writing from Don Quinn as the rest of the series. This episode starts with a broken window shade and takes off from there. While Marian Jordan's presence as Molly is missed, the episodes without her were a bit more fanciful, with McGee joining the army, running a store, etc.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Phil Harris/Alice Faye - February 6, 1949 - Phil Has to Fire Remley

When the sponsor insists that Phil fire Remley, Phil tries to find a way out of it.

The character of Remley was created on the Jack Benny show as a member of Phil Harris' band, always good for a joke about his drunkenness or other character flaws. When Phis Harris and his wife, actress Alice Faye, got their own show, the Remley character was brought along, played by radio great Elliott Lewis. There was a bump in the road when Benny left NBC for CBS, while the Harris/Faye show remained on NBC. The Remley character had to be returned to the Benny show as a mostly unheard butt of jokes, while Elliott Lewis remained on the Harris/Faye show as basically the same character, simply called Elliott.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Jack Benny - February 5, 2013 - Jack Challenges Fred Allen to a Boxing Match

This episode focuses on the feud between Benny and Fred Allen. After the discussion turns to which one could take the other in a fight, Jack, Mary and Rochester drive out to Andy Devine's farm so that Jack can train there.

The feud was fake, of course. Benny and Allen got along fine, and mllked the feud for laughs for many years.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Great Gildersleeve - February 4, 1945 - Visit by Aunt Hattie

In this episode, Aunt Hattie comes to visit, and interferes in the running of Gildy's household.

At one point, Gildy wants to read the paper "to see where the Russians are". This was in the last months of the Western campaign in World War II. The American, British and French forces were approaching Berlin from the west. Russian forces were approaching from the east, and gaining ground quickly. The end of the war in the European theater was eagerly anticipated.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fibber McGee & Molly - February 3, 1942 - Lost Diamond Ring

Molly has lost her engagement ring. As with many other Fibber McGee and Molly episodes, this is a fairly slight foundation on which a bunch of spirited comedy routines are built.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Burns & Allen - February 2, 1943 - Good Help Is Hard to Find

George tries to hire a maid, but isn't happy with the candidates he finds.

The applicants are played by the great Bea Benaderet, who would play the Burns' neighbor years later. At this point, she was already a popular voice actress. For one of the applicants here, Bea used an abrasive voice that was very similar to the one she used as Red Riding Hood in the Warner Bros. cartoon Little Red Riding Rabbit ("HEY GRANDMA!!!")

Friday, February 1, 2013

Jack Benny - February 1, 1948 - Jack and Mary See a Ronald Colman Movie

When Ronald Colman's new movie premieres, Jack realizes he doesn't have tickets to the opening. Mary bails him out, but Jack steps in it again when they and the Colmans go to a restaurant after the movie. Frank Nelson plays the waiter, of course.