Friday, May 20, 2016

Classic TV: Mister Ed (1961)

The Beverly Hillbillies wasn't the only hit to emerge from the Filmways barn in 1961.

Mister Ed was a mid-season replacement that aired first in syndication from January-July of '61 before CBS picked up the series for the fall season, and kept it around for 5 years (1961-6). It can be construed as being derivative of Universal's "Francis the Talking Mule" movie series with Donald O'Connor, which producer Arthur Lubin had worked on and tried to obtain the rights to, but Ed came from a series of books that came around the same time.

Alan Young was cast as Wilbur Post, Ed's owner, and the only one to whom Ed will speak. How Ed (voiced by Allan Lane) was able to talk was never fully explained or realized, but a remake might address that issue, I'm almost certain of that.

After co-star Larry Keating, who doubled as the show's closing announcer, passed away in 1963, the producers worked around it and brought in Jack Albertson, who had made some recurring appearances, as a full-time co-star, continuing in the role of Paul Denton. Sad to say, I have no memory of seeing those episodes.

I became acquainted with Mister Ed via syndicated reruns in the late 60's and early 70's before an all-too-brief cable run on Nick at Nite brought the series back in the 80's. Having seen some of the "Francis" movies, too, I felt the same way about both. Unimpressed.

Following is the episode, "Ed Agrees to Talk". Posted in memory of Alan Young, who passed away today at 96.

Rating: B-.

No comments: