Thursday, July 3, 2014

Old Time Radio: Archie Andrews (1943)

Everyone knows that Superman conquered radio as well as the movie screen in the 40's. However, the Man of Steel wasn't the only one to spring from the comics to radio.

Riverdale's favorite son---maybe---- Archie Andrews debuted on the air in 1943, but had trouble staying on the air, going through 2 networks over a period of 3 years. It wasn't until the series moved to the NBC radio network in 1946 that it finally took off.

Strangely, the sitcom format that worked so well on radio failed to translate into television, as evidenced by a pair of failed pilots, first in 1964, when Harry Ackerman & Screen Gems tried their luck, and then again 12 years later, when James Komack attempted one, feeling he had the winning formula established with Welcome Back, Kotter. Sure, it was on the same network as Kotter (ABC), but the network felt they had enough teen-driven sitcoms by that point when you factor in Happy Days. They opted instead for the inner-city-driven What's Happening!, and Archie was burned off in the summer.

Back to radio, Archie Andrews spent 7 years on NBC (1946-53), with a then-unknown actor named Bob Hastings in the title role. Hastings was the 3rd actor to essay the part overall, but it was the launchpad for a career that lasted all the way to 2010, his last work being on a video game. Hastings passed away on Monday at 89, and in tribute, as we did over at Saturday Morning Archives, we're serving up a little "Jive Talk", as Jughead has to school Archie on the new slang. Gee, who'dathunk Jughead would actually be teaching anybody anything?

While Archie was enjoying his greatest television success as an animated series (1968-76, 1977-8), no one considered dusting this show off to capitalize, while other radio shows such as The Bickersons, The Shadow, Gang Busters and others were introduced to a new generation of listeners. Go figure.

That said, we'll pass on a rating.

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