Wednesday, 11 March 2015
Were Bob and Ray a Success?
They also rose to fame at a time when just about everybody who was anybody was transported from dying network radio into TV. Bob and Ray’s humour wasn’t of the baggy-pants variety show, or of the honey-the-boss-is-coming-over sitcom, which was about all you saw on the tube then. They may have been a little bit early for television.
Here’s a piece from the Philadelphia Inquirer of June 30, 1952 about one of their TV efforts. Audrey Meadows had been in the supporting cast but left and had been replaced by Cloris Leachman at this point.
Bob and Ray Succeeding In Difficult Task of Satire
By MERRILL PANITT
Of all the various kinds of comedy, satire is the least likely to succeed with a mass audience. Henry Morgan proved that a number of times by failing to click with a whole succession of radio and television shows.
Morgan's sometimes harsh burlesquing of the current scene won him a large group of fans—large, but not large enough to satisfy sponsors who think in terms of millions of viewers.
TWO UNINHIBITED LADS
The cause of satire on TV now is in the capable hands of Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding, a couple of uninhibited lads who have long since inherited the Morgan radio audience. They've tried TV before without too much success but are back in a Saturday night half hour on NBC stations—including Channel 3 here.
It may be that Bob and Ray will have better luck than Henry Morgan. Their satire is broader and often funnier than the Morgan brand. They also have a knack of kidding without seeming bitter.
TAKEOFF ON DRAGNET
Last Saturday night, as an example, they did a takeoff on Dragnet, which is easily the best TV crime program. Their version was called Fishnet, and was a very funny hunk of business.
Aping the rapid-fire, monotone delivery of the Dragnet cast, Bob and Ray—assisted by Cloris Leachman—dramatized "a true story from the files of the Gloucester, Mass., police department." The names of all characters were revealed, by the bye, "so that their relatives might suffer."
'KILLER' FINALLY GIVES UP
Needless to say, the killer—Bob—finally gave up, but not until every pat phrase from Dragnet had been used, including, "Blood all over the place," "What do you think," and "I'm innocent." He confessed after the smelliest third degree in history, during which a waitress reeled off the names of scores of fish dishes on her menu and finally thrust a live lobster into Bob's face to prove he hated fish.
Another high point in last Saturday's show was a miniature program produced to increase the sale of stamps in post offices. It opened with Ray, dressed in a page-boy's box cap, intoning, "Call for Philatelics, call for Philatelics!”
NEW STAMP INTRODUCED
After Stamalong Cassidy had told kids to be sure to try a roll of three-cent stamps for dessert, Bob and Ray introduced a new series of stamp creations to the tune of "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody." A scantily dressed girl would parade out with her face framed in a stamp outline. As she paraded, one of the two comics would intone:
"Miss three cent stamp.
"Petite and sweet — designed for the working man.
"And the elite.
"She's beautiful, demands inspection.
"Wouldn't you like her in your collection?"
SOME FUNNY, SOME NOT SO
There were other sequences—some funny, some not too funny. The one during which Ben Grauer sang a song in Spanish while typing, answering phones, and being a busy convention reporter, was one of the funny ones.
TV's got to have some good satire to balance all the slapstick comedy of the regular season. Bob and Ray seem to have the formula. Let's hope they make the grade with a sponsor and a regular once-a-week program during the cool weather.