US TV shows not broadcast in the UK
DATE WITH THE ANGELS (1957)
One of Betty White's earliest sitcom efforts. She starred as newlywed Vicki Angel; her husband was insurance agent Gus (Bill Williams). The pair would get their friends and neighbours into various comic situations, all of which were resolved by the show's end. Natalle Masters and Roy Engle played neighbours Wilma and George Clemson; Richard Reeves was friend Murph; and Jimmy Boyd appeared occasionally as the Angels' nephew Wheeler. Chrysler Corporation was the show's sponsor (future game show host Tom Kennedy did the commercials for the Plymouth line), but low ratings meant no more dates with the Angels; the show ended its run in January 1958. The following month, White filled the time slot for Chrysler with a short-lived comedy variety series which ran through April.
DECEMBER BRIDE (1954)
The old mother-in-law joke was turned upside down in this sitcom, which began on radio in 1952 and made the move to television two years later. Veteran character actress Spring Byington played Lily Ruskin, a vital widow always looking for a suitable man; she was based on creator Parke Levy's own mother-in-law. Lilly got along well with her son Matt Henshaw (Dean Miller) and her daughter-in-law Ruth (Francis Rafferty). Her best friend was outspoken Hilda Croker (Verna Feldon); Lily and Hilda would get into a number of unusual situations. Also on hand was Lily's next-door-neighbour Pete Porter (Harry Morgan), who didn't like HIS own mother-in-law, and complained often about his never-seen wife Gladys. Because it was jointly produced by Desilu and CBS, December Bride won the coveted time slot behind I Love Lucy on Monday nights, and became a solid top-ten series. It ran for five seasons, but the character of Pete Porter was popular enough to launch a separate series. Pete & Gladys starred Morgan with Cara Williams as Gladys, a scatterbrained but earnest woman. Verna Feldon and Francis Rafferty were occasional regulars on the show, which ran from 1960 through 1962. Morgan would later go on to television fame as Officer Bill Gannon on Dragnet (1967-70) and Colonel Sherman Potter in M*A*S*H.
THE DEPUTY (1959)
US Western series starring Henry Fonda. He wasn't the deputy - he was the Marshal, Simon Fry, who each week would assign his deputy, Clay McCord (actor Allen Case) to whatever task was required such as going undercover to learn the plans of a gang of outlaws, trekking into Apache territory on a peace mission or protecting a citizen from a hired gunman. As such it was Case rather than Fonda who was the real star of the show and of the 75 episodes made 54-year old Fonda only featured in half-a-dozen stories, the rest of the time he appeared at the beginning to send McCord on his task and at the end to congratulate him on a job well done! The series was inspired by the 1957 movie Tin Star starring Fonda and Anthony Perkins in which Fonda played a veteran marshal-turned-bounty hunter who decides to help a young and inexperienced deputy protect himself from the criminal elements in town. The series is notable for giving a TV debut to a young Robert Redford. Allen Case went on to co-star in the 1965 western series The Legend of Jesse James as outlaw Frank James. Sadly, he died of a heart attack at the age of 52. The series was created by Norman Lear, who would go on to develop some of the biggest TV comedy hits of the 1970s, like All in the Family, Sanford and Son and Maude. (Laurence Marcus)
THE DINAH SHORE SHOW / DINAH SHORE CHEVY SHOW (1951)
Dinah Shore was one of the few women who headlined her own variety series on American television in the 1950's. And for good reason. She was beautiful, had a distinctive vocal style, was always generous to her many guests, and like her TV contemporary Perry Como, her relaxed presence made for pleasant viewing. It's no wonder when she sang her sponsor's jingle, "See The U.S.A. In Your Chevrolet," even die-hard Ford owners couldn't help but join her. Dinah Shore had long been a familiar singer and actress to Americans; she easily made the transition to the new medium. Starting in November 1951, Shore starred in a 15-minute live show that aired before NBC's Camel News Caravan on Tuesday and Thursday nights. She sang a few songs, had an occasional guest star and featured such vocal acts as The Notables and The Skylarks. The Dinah Shore Show was loved by critics; Jack Gould of The New York Times noted Shore "was the picture of naturalness and conducted her show with a disarming combination of authority and humility." By the fall of 1956, Dinah's 15-minute show was reduced to just Thursday evenings-not because she was cancelled by the network. NBC gave Shore an entire hour in prime time, now known as The Dinah Shore Chevy Show, every Friday night. After one season, the 15-minute show was dropped for good, and the "Chevy Show" moved to Sundays, where she held her own against the Western craze of the period. Shore remained the charming hostess, with the longer format giving her more of a showcase for her songs and interactions with a long list of guest stars. Dinah continued to sing the praises of her car maker sponsor (sometimes in elaborate filmed musical numbers), and ended each show by giving the audience a great big kiss-MUAH!. Chevrolet's long relationship with Dinah Shore ended in the fall of 1961, when her series moved back to Fridays (alternating every other week with the prestigious Bell Telephone Hour). In the fall of 1962, the series-now known as The Dinah Shore Show-alternated with The DuPont Show Of The Week on Sundays. Shore herself won four Emmy awards for her television work, but her series ended its run on May 12th, 1963. She went on to host a number of specials, then became a staple of daytime television with musical/variety/interview programmes such as Dinah! and Dinah's Place. And remained the attractive, talented and gracious woman she always was–right up to her death from ovarian cancer in February 1994.
EAST SIDE/WEST SIDE (1963)
A social drama of the Kennedy era, it starred future Oscar-winning actor George C. Scott as Neil Brock, a social worker for a private organization based in the slums of New York City. His secretary and assistant was Jane Foster, played by Cicely Tyson, who became one of the few African-American women to have a regular series role up to that time. Elizabeth Wilson was Frieda Hechlinger, the head of Community Welfare Service. Each week, the series explored controversial social issues in the poorer and neglected areas of New York. Its best-known episode, "Who Do You Kill," featured James Earl Jones and Diana Sands as a black couple whose baby was bitten by a rat in their tenement apartment; the child died, sending the couple spiraling into despair. Another episode, "No Hiding Place," dealt with a black couple moving into an all-white suburb; realtors tried to get "panicked" white residents to sell their homes at a loss. The practice, known as "block busting," was common before federal housing laws took effect.
East Side/West Side had fine writing and strong performances from Scott, the core cast and the show's guest stars. But the stories proved to be limited because Brock-as a private social worker-could help victims only so much. Also, the issues presented on the show-abortion, prejudice, and drug abuse-did not lend themselves to a neat, tidy resolution as television drama of the era demanded. The situation wasn't helped by meddling from CBS network president James Aubrey, a champion of light, fluffy programmes. At one point, he told East Side/West Side producer David Susskind he wanted the cast "out of Harlem and I want them on Park Avenue." Susskind thought the demand was silly-who would need social justice in one of New York's more affluent areas? But under Aubrey's orders, changes were made. In the middle of the season, Brock went to work for Congressman Charles Hanson (Linden Chiles) as an advisor on social issues, but fought with public relations advisor Mike Miller (John McMartin), who worried about the congressman's image with voters. Wilson and Tyson disappeared from the cast; and a pre-Get Smart Barbara Feldon became Brock's girlfriend. Susskind later admitted, "A gloomy atmosphere for commercial messages, an integrated cast, and a smaller Southern station lineup, all of these things coming together spelled doom for the show. I'm sorry television wasn't mature enough to absorb it and like it and live with it." Not even in John Kennedy's New Frontier.
FIBBER MCGEE AND MOLLY (1959)
In the early days of television, America often "raided" radio for its best material to transfer it from the microphone to the camera. In a number of cases this proved a winning formula. One of the most popular radio shows of all time was Fibber McGee and Molly. Fibber was so called because of his tendency not so much to lie, but to exaggerate greatly. Most of the times he'd come up with harebrained schemes (like digging an oil well in the back yard) only to come back down to Earth with a bump. Fortunately for him his adoring wife Molly was always there to catch him and soften the fall. The radio series had a number of running gags such as Fibber's inability to tell a joke which was often followed by Molly's reprimand "T'ain't funny, McGee!" The line found its way into popular culture during the 1940s. The most enduring gag was The Closet - Fibber's closet was often opened to a loud cacophonous clatter of bric-a-brac as it rained down over his head. "I gotta get that closet cleaned out one of these days" was the observation once the racket subsided. "Fibber McGee's closet" became another popular catchphrase - this one synonymous with household clutter. Real-life married couple Jim and Marian Jordan played the leads but when it came to making the TV show NBC decided to re-cast. With younger actors Bob Sweeney and Cathy Lewis in the roles the series was launched on September 15, 1959. Very few of the actors in the TV series had had any part in the radio version. Fibber McGee and Molly, the TV version, completely failed to hit it off with the American public. Even the closet joke was not as funny when you saw it as when you heard it. With the TV series seemingly unable to recreate the flavour and humour of the original radio version Fibber McGee and Molly failed to limp on for an entire season and was cancelled by mid January 1960.
THE GABBY HAYES SHOW (1950)
After playing the scruffy sidekick to numerous Western heroes including Randolph Scott, Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and John Wayne, Gabby Hayes was rewarded with his own television series in 1950. Hayes, who looked every inch the typical cowboy was in fact born in New York and didn't even learn to ride a horse until he was in his forties and later admitted he hadn't even been a particular fan of the genre. Nonetheless he became a popular performer and consistently appeared among the ten favourite actors in polls taken of movie-goers of the period. He was closely associated with what eventually became clichéd Western phrases such as "yer durn tootin", "dadgumit", and "young whippersnapper." In 1974, Mel Brooks paid homage to Hayes by creating a lookalike character (played by Claude Ennis Starrett) named Gabby Johnson in the Western spoof Blazing Saddles. Hayes retired from the movies in the late 1940s and hosted The Gabby Hayes Show on television, although he did not appear as a participating character. Instead, Hayes introduced the show telling tales of the Old West, illustrating his dissertations with film clips from various cowboy movies. The first series, which ran from 1950 - 1954, was shown on NBC and had a running time of just fifteen minutes. The second series (1956) on ABC was a half-hour broadcast on Saturday mornings. When the second series finally ended George 'Gabby' Hayes retired from showbiz. He passed away the following year. (Laurence Marcus)
THE GENE AUTRY SHOW (1950)
After thirteen years as a singing cowboy on radio and the movies, Autry, largely due to the success of Hopalong Cassidy, started turning out weekly television adventures by the wagonload. Discovered by film producer Nat Levine in 1934, Orvon Grover Autry made his film debut for Mascot Pictures Corp. in In Old Santa Fe. Autry went on to make 44 B-movie Western films up to 1940, all in which he played under his own name, riding his trusty stallion, Champion. His television films began broadcasting in 1947 but original made-for-television episodes didn't appear until July 1950. These ran until 1956. Autry's role changed almost weekly from rancher, to ranch hand, to sheriff, to border agent. Pat Buttram supplied comic relief as Autry's sidekick, Pat - later to become familiar to the next generation of television viewers as Mr Haney on Green Acres. Alan Hale, Jr. - aka The Skipper from Gilligan's Island - played a bad guy in several episodes but he also played Gene's sidekick, Tiny, in two episodes of Season 1. Autry's horse won fame in his own right - getting a TV series; The Adventures of Champion from 1955 to 1956. Timeless Media Group has released the first four seasons of fully restored and uncut episodes on DVD in Region 1. (Laurence Marcus)
This sitcom starred Dick Kallman as Hank Dearborn, a teenager who was left to care for his younger sister Tina (Katie Sweet) after their parents were killed in a car accident. To earn a living, Hank decided to take classes at fictional Western University. Of course, having no money, Hank resorted to "auditing" courses-finding out who didn't show up and posing as that person through elaborate means (which would be considered identity theft today). Dr. Lewis Royal (Howard St. John) was the registrar at Western, who was on the hunt for the young man auditing classes-not realizing the culprit, Hank, was dating his daughter Doris (Linda Foster). Moreover, the college's track coach spots Hank racing to class, and invited him to join the track team. Every week, Hank was forced to stay a step ahead of Dr. Royal and social workers who could take Tina away to foster care. Hank had a small but loyal following-too small for NBC, which cancelled the series after one season. But in an unusual move, the network allowed "Hank's" producers to tie up loose ends in the series finale: Hank was finally caught posing as an absent student, but because he did so well on a recent exam, Western University offered Hank a full scholarship. The final scene had Tina remarking "There goes my brother-the registered student." "Hank's" theme song lyrics were written by none other than Johnny Mercer! Dick Kallman was one of a number of promising performers hand-picked by Lucille Ball for her "Desilu Workshop," a project motivated in part to keep her mind off her upcoming divorce from Desi Arnaz. The young actors were featured in a Christmas special on Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse in 1959. Kallman went on to a moderately successful music and stage career before he was murdered inside his New York City apartment in 1980.
THE HATHAWAYS (1961)
This was considered a family sitcom-if you stretched the definition of "family" to include two humans and their three chimpanzees. Jack Weston was real estate agent Walter Hathaway; Peggy Cass his wife Elinore-who was the booker to their trio of chimps Candy, Charlie and Enoch. Elinore treated the chimps as real children, which always worried Walter (did she care more about the chimps than him?). Watching TV authors Harry Castleman and Walter Podrazik called The Hathaways "possibly the worst series ever to air on network TV...utterly degrading...total worthlessness." Ratings were so low, ABC found only one sponsor-cereal and pet food maker Ralston Purina-willing to even sponsor half the series. Fortunately for all involved, it was cancelled after just one season. Candy, Charlie and Enoch were real performers, billed as the Marquis Chimps. They were a popular act, appearing in commercials, and on Jack Benny and Ed Sullivan's programmes-certainly more dignified settings than The Hathaways could offer.
Based on Ted Key's long running cartoon strip published in the Saturday Evening Post, Hazel starred Shirley Booth as the titular housemaid to the Baxter family who ran the family home far more efficiently than George Baxter (Don DeFore) ran his office, where he was a highly successful corporation lawyer for the firm of Butterworth, Hatch, Noll and Baxter. Hazel had a nose for everyone else's business, although ultimately this proved to be to everyone's advantage. George's wife, Dorothy (Whitney Blake) was more likely to be found shopping than housekeeping and it was Hazel's organisational skills that kept the Baxter household running smoothly. In 1965 the show moved networks so George and Dorothy were 'transferred' to the Middle East on assignment leaving Hazel and their son, Harold (Bobby Buntrock) to move in with George's brother's family. Steve Baxter (Ray Fulmer) was insistent that Hazel would not take over his home. She did!
HE AND SHE (1967)
Real life husband and wife Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss starred in this domestic/workplace comedy that was slightly ahead of its time. Benjamin played Dick Hollister, a successful New York cartoonist who created the superhero character "Jetman," which was turned into a television show. Veteran actor Jack Cassidy played Oscar North, who portrayed "Jetman" on the fictional series. Dick's wife, Paula (Prentiss) was an off-centre social worker whose problems also became Dick's. Kenneth Mars was the couple's fireman friend Harry Zarakardos, and Hamilton Camp played the building's superintendent Andrew Hummel. But despite critical raves and a time slot following Green Acres, He And She was never the hit it deserved to be. One of its producers, Allan Burns, was later part of the Mary Tyler Moore Show team. Ironically, Cassidy turned down the part of that show's pompous newscaster Ted Baxter, saying it was too similar to his He And She role. CBS aired reruns of the series during the summer of 1970.
HEAD OF THE CLASS (1986)
This above-average high school sitcom starred Howard Hessman (who gained fame as Dr. Johnny Fever on WKRP In Cincinnati) as Charlie Moore, an out-of-work actor who became a substitute history teacher at Manhattan's Millard Filmore High School. One of his classes included members of the school's Individualized Honors Program. They were a group with above-average intelligence, but they weren't so great with social skills. The IHP class included nerdy Arvid Engen (Dan Frischman); overweight and blustery Dennis Blunden (Dan Schneider); conservative Yuppie Alan Pinkard (Tony O’Dell); spoiled rich girl Darlene Merriman (Robin Givens); grounded Sarah Nevins (Kimberly Russell); overachiever Maria Borges (Leslie Bega); Indian exchange student Jawaharlal Choudhury (Jory Husain); artist Simone Foster (Khrystyne Haje); 11-year-old student Janice Lazarotto (Tannis Vallely); and greaser Eric Mardian (Brian Robbins), who was intelligent despite his dislike for anything academic. It was up to Charlie to give the IHP students street smarts, along with book smarts-much to the dismay of blustery principal Doctor Harold Samuels (William G. Shilling) and the admiration of his assistant Bernadette Meara (Jeanetta Arnette). Head Of The Class became the first modern American entertainment series to film an entire episode in the Soviet Union (Charlie and the IHP class went to Moscow to face their Russian counterparts in an academic tournament). The show also featured the cast doing mini-musicals; once each season, the students would perform such productions as Hair and Little Shop Of Horrors. During the show's run, Givens became a media sensation, thanks to her marriage to controversial boxer Mike Tyson. There was gradual turnover among the students; several left before the show's demise and a few new IHP members were added, including problem student T.J. Jones (Rain Pryor). Hessman also decided to leave the series after four seasons; his replacement was Scottish-born comic Billy Connolly as Billy MacGregor, who was more of a stand-up comic compared to the droll educator Charlie Moore was. The series ended its five-season run with the remaining IHP students graduating from Filmore High, which was waiting to be demolished. Dan Schneider (who played Dennis Blunden) went on to produce and write a string of successful teen sitcoms on the Nickelodeon cable channel, including iCarly; The Amanda Show and Zoey 101. The New York Times later called Schneider the Norman Lear of children's television. Co-star Brian Robbins also worked with Schneider, and later produced such network series as Smallville and One Tree Hill.
HEAVEN FOR BETSY (1952)
Real life husband and wife Jack Lemmon and Cynthia Stone co-starred in a twice-a-week 'live broadcasted' domestic comedy. Each episode only lasted 15 minutes and featured the misadventures of newlyweds Pete and Betsy Bell. Unlike other domestic sitcoms it was the husband who was responsible for much of the mayhem with his tendency to jump headlong and headstrong into a problem before realising the possible consequences. It was his wife, an ex-secretary turned homemaker, who would get Pete out of trouble. He was an assistant buyer in a New York department store and they lived together in a two-room apartment. The series had a short run, September to December 1952. Lemmon and Stone divorced in 1956. She only enjoyed a brief career in television whilst Jack Lemmon went on to a hugely successful movie career. Their son, Chris Lemmon, is a successful author. (Laurence Marcus)
THE HOLLYWOOD PALACE (1964)
This old-fashioned variety hour was ABC's answer to CBS' long-running Ed Sullivan Show. Unlike Sullivan, there was no permanent host; a guest star assumed the hosting duties every week and introduced a variety of acts from singers and dancers, to acrobats and stand-up comics. The Hollywood Palace was born from the failed rubble of The Jerry Lewis Show. The comic's expensive and live two hour series was quickly panned by critics and shunned by audiences. After ABC bought out Lewis' contract at the end of 1963, it was still stuck with the old El Capitan Theater in Hollywood that was home base for Lewis' show. Network executives decided to use the theater for an hour-long variety show. Bing Crosby was the first star who agreed to host; he would assume the duty 31 times during the "Palace's" run. Other guest hosts included such names as Milton Berle, Dean Martin, Judy Garland, Jimmy Durante and even stars of ABC series such as Elizabeth Montgomery of Bewitched. The Hollywood Palace was structured much like the live vaudeville shows that were popular in the early years of the 20th century even down to having an attractive woman come out and present a card that introduced the next act to audiences. One of the early "card girls" was a shapely actress named Raquel Welch. The Hollywood Palace also introduced some popular musical acts to viewers. The Rolling Stones, for instance, made their first American appearance on "Palace;" when they were featured in a June 1964 telecast, guest host Dean Martin mocked them on the air. Martin's comments were deleted when the "Palace" episode was later repeated. But there was no mocking the Jackson 5 (fronted by a young and obviously talented Michael Jackson) when they made their national TV debut on "Palace" in October 1969. As was the case with many ABC programmes of the period, The Hollywood Palace aired in black and white; it would not broadcast in colour until the fall of 1965. (Sullivan's show also switched to tint around the same time.) Crosby hosted the last installment of The Hollywood Palace; the February 7th, 1970 "clip episode" featured the best moments from the show's run. One year later, CBS would give the axe to Ed Sullivan after 23 years anchoring Sunday nights. The demise of both vaudeville-style variety shows marked the end of an era in American television.
HOPALONG CASSIDY (1949)
As originally created by author Clarence E. Mulford, Bill 'Hopalong' Cassidy, the star of twenty-eight pulp fiction novels, was a rude, hard-living, tough-talking, wrangler of the old Wild West who got his nickname after being shot in the leg. On screen he was an entirely different character. Reserved and well spoken, with a fine sense of fair play who did not smoke, drink or swear and who always let the bad guy start the fight. The drink of his choice was the nonalcoholic sarsaparilla. In 1935, actor William Boyd was offered the supporting role of Red Connors in the movie Hop-Along Cassidy, but boldly asked for the title role which he was given. The film series eventually ended in 1947 after 66 films, with Boyd producing the last 12. Anticipating television's rise, Boyd had the prescience of mind to purchase the rights to the Hopalong Cassidy character, books and films. They didn't come cheap-but his $350,000 investment was paid back handsomely. In 1949, he released the low-budget films to television, and the first network Western television series became a sensation almost immediately. The following year alone, Boyd earned an estimated $800,000 from the telecasts, merchandise and endorsements. More than 100 companies sold Hopalong Cassidy products, including children's dinnerware, pillows, roller skates, soap, wristwatches, and jackknives. Hopalong Cassidy was also featured on the first child's lunchbox to bear a commercial image. The success of the show and tie-ins inspired several juvenile TV Westerns, including The Gene Autry Show and The Roy Rogers Show. With all the movies finally released to television original made-for-TV episodes were filmed from 1952 to 1954. Hoppy was still owner of the Bar 20 Ranch and his sidekick, Red Connors, was the perfect foil for Cassidy, who, unlike most cowboys heroes, dressed all in black and, with snow-white hair, cut quite a figure atop his horse Topper. On June 7, 2011, Timeless Media Group released Hopalong Cassidy: The Complete Television Series on DVD in Region 1. The 6-disc set features all 52 episodes of the series restored and remastered.(Laurence Marcus)
I MARRIED DORA (1987)
This sitcom proved that illegal marriage was a bad idea for a TV series-but it was partially redeemed by a strange final episode that wrapped up the loose ties. Peter Farrell (Daniel Hugh-Kelly), a Los Angeles architect and single dad, was in danger of losing his El Salvadorian housekeeper Dora Calderon (Elizabeth Pena) to the federal immigration folks for her illegal status. Peter's bright idea: Marry Dora, allowing her to stay in the States and care for his children Kate and Will (played by Juliette Lewis and Jason Horst respectively). Of course, it was pointed out to the producers and the network that marriages under false pretences violated federal law. So on the premiere episode of I Married Dora, ABC announced that fact, and told viewers "You should not try this in your own home." The series found its humour in Peter and Dora hiding their marital status, while resisting the inevitable attraction to each other. In early 1988, ABC put the show out of its misery, but not without a final episode: Peter received a lucrative two-year job in Bahrain, and prepared to leave without Dora and the kids, even though Dora begged him to stay. Peter got onto the plane-and soon got off again. "It's been cancelled," Peter told Dora. "The flight?" asked Dora. "No," replied Peter, "our series!" The camera quickly pulled back, as the cast and crew waved so long to the few viewers who stuck with I Married Dora. It was the least they could do.
I'LL FLY AWAY (1991)
A period drama set in the late 1950's and early 1960's, it centred on the lives of a Southern district attorney and his African-American housekeeper during the Civil Rights movement. Sam Waterston played Forrest Bedford, a widower in the town of Bryland (state unknown) who hired Lilly Harper (Regina Taylor), to care for him and his children Nate and Francine (played by Jeremy London and Ashlee Levich respectively). Both Forrest and Lilly become more and more involved in the black community's struggle for equal rights-Forrest as a prosecutor; Lilly as an activist. I'll Fly Away was loved by critics but was never a mainstream hit, and the network pulled the series after two seasons. In an unusual move, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) funded a two-hour movie called I'll Fly Away: Then and Now, which wrapped up the storylines left unresolved. It aired several months after the final series episode aired on NBC. PBS also aired each of the original episodes. Sam Waterston went on to co-star as prosecutor Sam McCoy on Law & Order, while Regina Taylor became a regular on The Unit and continues to act in films and on stage. The show's title came from a 1929 Christian hymn written by Albert E. Brumley.
I'M DICKENS...HE'S FENSTER(1962)
I'm Dickens...He's Fenster followed the comic exploits of two construction workers and bosom buddies (played by John Astin and Marty Ingels). After producing thirty-two side-splittingly hilarious episodes, and despite critics' raves in The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter and Time Magazine, the show was prematurely cancelled in its first season. By the time its final ratings came in, showing it having beaten Sing Along with Mitch and Route 66 for its time slot, it was too late to reassemble the cast, who had moved on to other projects. The successful and beloved show had become a casualty of timid programming and unlucky timing. Although short-lived, I'm Dickens...He's Fenster featured an extraordinary roster of guest stars, many of whom made their television debuts on the show including: Yvonne Craig ("Batgirl" from Batman), Harvey Korman (The Carol Burnett Show), Sally Kellerman (M*A*S*H), Peter Lupus (Mission: Impossible), Lee Meriwether (Batman, The Time Tunnel), Ellen Burstyn (The Exorcist), Edy Williams (Beyond the Valley of the Dolls), and Jim Nabors (The Andy Griffith Show, Gomer Pyle USMC). The series also featured such directing talent as Arthur Hiller (Love Story, The In-Laws), Jay Sandrich (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls) , Norman Abbott, (The Munsters), Claudio Guzman (I Dream of Jeannie) and writers Mel Tolkin (Your Show of Shows, All in the Family), Don Hinkley (The Steve Allen Show, The Muppet Show) and Jay Sommers (Green Acres, Ozzie & Harriet). In addition to being creator, writer, director and producer on I'm Dickens...He's Fenster, Leonard Stern's remarkable career included writing for the Abbott and Costello and Ma and Pa Kettle movies, and the classic TV shows The Honeymooners, The Phil Silvers Show and The Steve Allen Show. From 1965-1970, Stern was executive producer, writer and director on the classic spy spoof Get Smart (starring Don Adams and Barbara Feldon). He also created, produced and directed the TV series He & She (co-starring Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss) and McMillan & Wife (starring Rock Hudson and Susan St. James). He also co-created the immensely popular series of children's game books, Mad Libs. In 2012 to commemorate the series 50th anniversary a 3 disc DVD set featuring over 10 hours of content never before released on DVD or VHS was made available by Lightyear Entertainment and can be purchased through Amazon.Com in the USA and Canada. This is not currently available in the UK. (Review courtesy of Lightyear Entertainment)
An hour-long comedy-drama now considered a cult classic, it told the story of four young men who lived on a houseboat. Wes Macauely (Glenn Corbett) was a pre-law college student who cared for his younger brother Howie (Mike Burns) after their parents were killed in a car wreck. Wes' fellow college buddy, Tom-Tom DeWitt (Ted Bessell)--who came from a wealthy family--lived with the group; by the second episode, Tom-Tom's friend Vern Hodges (Randy Boone) joined the gang on the houseboat they shared (called “The Elephant”) in the fictional college town of Cordetta. Wes was easily the most settled of the four; he worked at a gas station and had a fiancée, Irene Hoff (Jan Norris). The stories revolved around the personalities of the four young men—Wes' struggles to make ends meet; Tom-Tom's obsession with the fast life (and fast girls); Howie's coming-of-age; and Vern's free-spirit nature and talent with a guitar. It's A Man's World was ahead of its time in dealing with the differences between adults and youth, premarital sex, and the rise of feminism. While a minor cult favourite among college students, it could not succeed against ABC's entrenched Cheyenne or CBS' game show staples To Tell The Truth and I've Got A Secret. Despite letters urging NBC to stay with the show, the network yanked the series in late January 1963. All four of the young stars would go on to roles in other television series; one of the show's writers, Earl Hammer, would later find fame as creator of the now-iconic family drama The Waltons.