Friday, July 28, 2017

Forgotten TV: Meet Mr. McNutley, aka The Ray Milland Show (1953)

Film star Ray Milland transitioned to television in 1953 with the sitcom, Meet Mr. McNutley, which was under the umbrella of General Electric Comedy Theatre on CBS. Milland had the title role as college professor Ray McNutley, who taught English at Lynnhaven College, an all-girls school.

Meet Mr. McNutley came from the pens of prolific writer-producers Joe Connolly & Bob Mosher, four years before they hit the jackpot with Leave it to Beaver, which turned their fortunes around at Revue Studios. However, for the 2nd season, the series was rechristened, The Ray Milland Show, and a minor scramble of letters turned the professor into Ray McNulty. Don't ask. McNulty now taught drama at a more conventional co-ed university.

However, what kept the series from succeeding past the 2nd season was its most persistent competition through the entire run. You Bet Your Life, Groucho Marx's seminal quiz show, which, like McNutley, had transitioned from radio, was too firmly entrenched with viewers. Milland would return in the crime drama, Markham, in 1959.

To be truthful, I just never envisioned Milland as a comic actor, as I haven't seen a lot of his movies. Check out the episode "Fashion Model", in which Ray's wife, Peggy (Phyllis Avery), takes part in a fashion show. Gordon Jones (later of The Abbott & Costello Show) co-stars, but left after the 1st season. The late June Foray guest stars in this one.

It's a standard issue sitcom of the period, and the plot of Peggy trying to tell her husband about the fashion show sounds like something that could've been used on, oh, say for example, another CBS sitcom, like I Love Lucy.

Rating: C.

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