28 May: Circus Maximus

The irrepressible Jordans as the irrepressible McGees. (Photo: NBC.)

The irrepressible Jordans as the irrepressible McGees. (Photo: NBC.)

Whom better to revel about circuses and wedding anniversaries on the same night six years apart than the First Couple of Wistful Vista?

Didn’t think so . . .


Fibber McGee & Molly: The Circus Comes to Town (NBC, 1940)

As if Wistful Vista isn’t already its own kind of circus of the soul, the real thing hitting town brings out the clowns and jugglers in several of the local denizens, including and especially the High-Flying Sucker of 79 (Jim Jordan) who’s just dying to see the show’s hula dancers and bumps into an old buddy.

Molly/Teeny: Marian Jordan. The Old-Timer/Horatio K. Boomer: Bill Thompson. Gildersleeve: Harold Peary. Mrs. Uppington: Isabel Randolph. Buster Dawson: Gale Gordon. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King’s Men. Writer: Don Quinn.


Fibber McGee & Molly: Wedding Anniversary (NBC, 1946)

The McGees’ anniversary finds Molly (Marian Jordan, who also plays Teeny) and Mrs. Carstairs (Bea Benaderet) at the beauty parlour getting new hair-dos and pondering how to get Fibber (Jim Jordan) to remember the day in the first place . . . especially when he’s in a slightly foul mood for Molly—and, seemingly, everyone else—bumping into a wealthy old flame of Molly’s.

The Old-Timer: Bill Thompson. Dr. Gamble: Arthur Q. Bryan. La Trivia: Gale Gordon. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King’s Men. Writers: Don Quinn, Phil Leslie.


Further Channel Surfing . . .


Lum & Abner: Lum Returns (NBC, 1935)—Chester Lauck, Norris Goff. Even Lum has to get over the fact that nobody really wanted to see his statue unveiled; Abner is relieved to learn Lum returned alive; and, Grandpap is relieved to be able to tell the boys to quit dragging the mill pond, after all. The usual laconic drollery.

The Great Gildersleeve: Gildy Gives Up Cigars (NBC, 1947)—Harold Peary, Shirley Mitchell, Richard LeGrand, Arthur Q. Bryan, Gale Gordon, Lillian Randolph, Earle Ross. He does it on doctor’s orders, but don’t think Gildersleeve isn’t tempted when everyone else—especially Leila—is excited about Peavey’s return from an out-of-town trip and hopes Gildersleeve can get the scoop on why.

The Henry Morgan Show: The Morgan Vacation Travel Bureau (ABC, 1947)—Henry Morgan, Arnold Stang, Florence Halop. The public service of making vacation planning—“when people try to find some quaint little place where they can live beyond their means”—a little more simple . . . well, it isn’t exactly that simple, all things considered. Especially not when this lot gets finished with it.

Old Gold Time: The Presidential Suite (NBC, 1948)—Don Ameche, Frances Langford, Frank Morgan. The Bickering Bickersons go at it over John’s attendance at a bachelor party; meanwhile, Frank (Morgan) appears in traffic court. Ho-hum until you get to John and Blanche’s usual estate of marital blitz.

The Halls of Ivy: Mummynapper (NBC; Voice of America rebroadcast, 1952)—Ronald and Benita Colman, Joseph Carbo, Sammi Hill. A normally quiet student acts strange lately—answering history questions in French, buying rounds of malts for fellow students, and maybe stealing a prize mummy in an elaborate prank. Ba-dum-bump.


Crime Drama

Let George Do It: Dead of Night (Mutual-Don Lee, 1951)—Bob Bailey, Virginia Gregg, Roland Morris, Louise Arthur, Ken Christy, Morris Lewis, Stan Farrar. Valentine’s caught in a web spinning a man, his girl friend, another suspicious character, said character’s claim that the girl’s ex-husband is dead, the now-widow’s social circle, a party line phone, and her late husband’s will. If you can untangle it, it’s worth the stay.


Drama/Dramatic Anthology

Theater of Romance: Pride and Prejudice (CBS, 1947)—Naomi Campbell, Eric Dressler, unidentified additional cast. The Austen classic romancing a beautiful daughter from a bookish family and a man reluctantly targeted for a stiff aristocrat’s daughter. Not disappointing considering the half-hour limitation.



Quiet, Please: In the House Where I Was Born (ABC, 1949)—Ernest Chappell, Betty Wragge, Cecil Roy, Lotte Stavisky, J. Pat O’Malley. Repeating a Memorial Day broadcast from 24 May 1948: Returning to his childhood home haunts a man to a fateful decision about his annual returns. Gripping.



Gunsmoke: Cow Doctor (CBS, 1955)—William Conrad, Howard McNear, John Dehner, Vivi Janiss, Sam Edwards, Parley Baer. Doc’s called to tend a farmer who despises doctors on principle and has a wife who’s even more stubborn. Better than the eventual television take.

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