Old time radio blog.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Family [1/2] Hour

If you like gentle sitcoms like Father Knows Best, you might be surprised by the radio version, which has a meaner streak in the form of father Jim Anderson. I prefer this guy over the one on TV, both played by Robert Young; the supporting casts of his 'stupid' family however are played by different people -- specifically the kids, who sound like adults with annoying voices, especially the chick who plays Kitten, a whiny brat who deserves to be on a milk carton. Princess is just that, spoiled rotten and much dumber than Elinor Donahue's characterization. Bud sounds like a future street hustler, 'holy cowww'. Only Margaret, I think voiced by Jean Van Der Pyl (Wilma Flintstone) gets her sexy on although she sounds younger than Jane Wyatt.

If you like Married With Children or Roseanne, you'll probably like Life of Riley and My Friend Irma. These are generally low-brow sitcoms with bright stars and likeable scripts. Riley starred William Bendix as a blue collar worker with a wife and two kids; Irma (starring Marie Windsor in the title role) looked at the daily lives of a couple of roomies who worked as secretaries for different companies. Riley is a mug, Irma is a dumb blonde; each has a more mature foil in his wife and her roommate respectively. Each have supporting characters who give them something to play off; in Irma's case, a pair of vaudevillian stereotypes of an Irish landlady and a Jewish musician who continually lust after each other disguised as bickering.

If you like The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Love Lucy, and similar series revolving around minor celebs at home, you might enjoy The Phil Harris & Alice Faye Show . This was a long-running spin-off from The Jack Benny Program featuring Benny's wacky former bandleader, his real-life, tough-talking former Hollywood blonde bombshell wife Faye, and two girls playing their daughters. Harris is a natural wiseguy -- his dozen or so years with Benny in the 40's are among that show's best -- and is always worth listening to making an ass of himself. Faye is the long-sufferer who puts up with his shenanigans because let's face it, they were one of the sexiest couples in radio -- like Rob & Laura Petrie, you knew these two were balling like bunnies off-mike. Join Phil as he does stupid things like trying to get a break on the high cost of beef in post-WWII America, pleasing his sponsors (Rexall Drugstores), and pissing off Alice. Anything for a nooner while the girls are at school...

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