Friday, 1 March 2013

60's U.S. Television sitcoms - variations on a theme

U.S. Situation comedies in the late 50's tended to be the W.A.S.P.(White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant) family like Father Knows Best, Ozzie and Harriet, Leave it to Beaver (June says to Ward Cleaver in bed, "Dear, I think you were a bit hard on the Beaver last night" .... ooo, er, Nurse! but I digress, it's still a classic joke though, but not mine).

Then some bright spark in the early 60's came up with the idea of the dysfunctional family or the unconventional home situation - 'fish out of water' premise. And all the networks jumped on the bandwagon. Here are the variations on the same theme, in no particular order:

  • My Favourite Martian (I think it was a rip off of Gore Vidal's play A Visit to a Small Planet, also a Jerry Lewis movie)
  • My Living Doll (I think my first TV crush was Julie Newmar, this over 10 years before Westworld did the robot gimmick)
  • The Munsters (not based on a cartoon like next show, Universal had all those 30's horror movies to reference)
  • The Addams Family (it is line ball which of the last two shows came first)
  • Bewitched (loved Edora, as soon as Tabitha came into it you knew 'jumping the shark' was nigh)
  • The Beverly Hillbillies (typical 'fish out of water' premise like: Tarzan in New York, Crocodile Dundee, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, numerous Brendan Fraser movies: Blast from the Past, Encino Man, George of the Jungle - he specialises in looking cute but bemused). Shit, this blog post should have been entitled "How to get off the subject"
  • Green Acres (another 'fish out of water' idea like The Beverly Hillbillies but flipped around - urban to rural)
  • I Dream of Jeannie (setting it in Cape Canaveral was topical and a winner)
  • My Mother, the Car (this was short-lived for good reason, a variation on Mr Ed, the joke was all in the title) 
Then some bright spark in the 70's came up with the 'let's have social commentary' sitcom. So we had: All in the Family (rip-off of UK 'Til Death Do Us Part), The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Maude, The Jeffersons (both Archie Bunker spinoffs).

But that's another story....

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