Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Night Funnies: Burns and Allen

Back when I was a child we got cable TV,  about the same time MTV started up.   I enjoyed the videos (yes, young children of today, MTV USED to have music videos), esp Duran Duran and the rest of the groups with too much make-up and big hair.....but what I REALLY enjoyed was the old sitcoms some of the channels aired late at night.  This was before Nick at Night, I think....  Anyway, David brought me surprise tonight, a DVD full of old sitcoms.  I would love to share these with my readers in a something I will call "Friday Night Funnies".

Tonight I am watching The Burns and Allen Show.

I think Gracie Allen is hilarious.  She might play dumb, I say "play" because I think she is a genius at it.

In tonight's episode a police officer followed Gracie home.  He told her she was getting a ticket for going thru a 20 MPH zone at 30 MPH.  She replied that it was ok because yesterday she drove thru at 10 MPH so it owed her....

In another episode Gracie is following a recipe for Frankfurters.  The directions say not to cook the frankfuter too long, so Gracie cuts them up into pieces....

Later an accountant stops by and tells Gracie "I am here to take care of your taxes this year"....Gracie replies, "oh GOOD!!!  We are tired of paying them ourselves".....

There are exchanges like this through out the series and they come fast and quiet often, one right after the other.

Here is a bit of back ground about the show...

"The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, which premiered on 12 October 1950, was one of the first comedy series to make the successful transition from radio to television. Similar to the format of the radio program in which George Burns and Gracie Allen played themselves, the CBS domestic comedy was set in their home, the first television series to depict the home life of a working show business couple.
The half-hour series was broadcast live for the first two seasons. The first six episodes were broadcast from New York, but the show soon moved to Hollywood, making it only the third CBS series to emanate from the West Coast (after The Ed Wynn Show and The Alan Young Show). On Burns' insistence, the show was broadcast on alternate weeks in order to provide sufficient time for rehearsals and alleviate some of the pressures of live broadcasts. During its bi-weekly period, the series alternated with the anthology series Starlight Theater and, later, with Star of the Family. After two seasons of live performances, the series switched to a weekly filmed broadcast. Although not filmed before a studio audience, the final filmed product was previewed to an audience and their reactions recorded. At a time when many series relied on mechanically reproduced ("canned") laughter, Burns claimed that his series only "'sweetened' the laughter when a joke went flat and there was no way of eliminating it from the film. Even then we never added more than a gentle chuckle."
Like other television pioneers such as Desi Arnaz and Jack Webb, George Burns must also be credited for his contributions behind the scenes. Burns and Allen incorporated a number of television "firsts," although Burns noted that "television was so new that if an actor burped, everyone agreed it was an innovative concept and nothing like it had ever been done on television before." Still, he was the first television performer to use the theatrical convention of "breaking the fourth wall" between the audience and the performer. He frequently stepped out of a scene and out of character to address the audience, then rejoined the story. This convention was later imitated by others, but not used effectively until It's Garry Shandling's Show in the 1980s." from

Episodes ended with a Burns and Allen dialog reminiscent of their vaudeville routines. At the conclusion, of every episode Burns would turn to Allen and close, "Say goodnight, Gracie," to which Allen would obligingly turn to their audience and fondly bid them "goodnight."


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