Sunday, October 19, 2008

Little buddies

Kliph Nesteroff, one of the many sages at WFMU’s Beware of the Blog, has unearthed from the dusty YouTube archives a February 5, 1969 episode of The Good Guys, a CBS-TV sitcom which had a short-run from 1968-70. The series focused on the misadventures of Bert Gramus (Herb Edelman) and Rufus Butterworth (Bob Denver); a pair of childhood pals who had gone into business for themselves (Bert owned a diner, Rufus drove a cab) but were always out for opportunities to grab the brass ring of big success. Bert was married to Claudia (Joyce Van Patten), who frequently helped her hubby in the diner…Rufus, on the other hand, was a bachelor.

This outing guest stars Denver’s former Gilligan’s Island compadre Alan Hale, Jr. as “Big” Tom Reardon, a truck driver who frequented Bert’s Place, as he tries to work up the courage to marry his girlfriend Gertie Zybisco (Toni Gilman). (You’ll also recognize a very pre-Alice Vic [billed as Victor] Tayback as her brother, scraggly beard and all.) Big Tom could almost be called a semi-regular since he appeared in two other Guys episodes, as did another Gilligan alumnus, Jim Backus, who showed up on three occasions as Claudia’s father.

When Guys returned for a second season in the fall of 1969, Rufus had jettisoned his taxi business and became Bert’s partner but even in this first season episode he’s already helping out at the diner (his cab activities clearly didn’t keep him too busy, I gather). Generally, I don’t like to judge TV shows on the basis of having seen only one episode but in watching this one it would appear that Guys was a fairly amiable endeavor if not particularly groundbreaking, comedy-wise. (If you’re not satisfied sampling just one episode, this gentleman at has a set of five episodes for sale.)

Anyway, I figured I’d direct a little attention to this rarity (especially to Sam Johnson, who remembers the show a little more clearly than I do) and also be a commercial for Kliph’s site, Classic Television Showbiz, which is choc-a-bloc with vintage TV content. Kliph, despite his dislike for the comedically sublime I’m Dickens…He’s Fenster (which doesn’t make him a bad person…only horribly, horribly wrong), comments over here at TDOY every now and then and I just felt that a shout-out was necessary. (Do you suppose I should tell him that Dickens/Fenster creator Leonard Stern and writer Mel Tolkin also had a hand in The Good Guys? Nah, I’m sure he’ll figure that out eventually…)


Sam said...

I know of Nesteroph's blogs but I'm not too much of a fan of his. On his Saturday Morning blog, he'd posted some of the names of the voice actors incorrectly and and I had to correct him, which he never acknowledged. It just feels like he's just posting them which is cool, but not giving the correct details of the shows. Still, I'm glad you let me know about the show and I hope to have a post about it myself one day in the future.

Kliph Nesteroff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

even brilliant writers like Tolkin or Stern are not going to turn everything they touch to gold

You raise an excellent point, Kliph--and if my observation on your opinion of Dickens-Fenster was harsh, I apologize profusely. It may be due to the fact that I watch a good many "forgotten" sitcoms from time to time and when I come across one that makes me laugh fit to beat the band, I have a tendency to hyperbolize a tad.

But it's nice to be able to reach an agreement that the sitcoms of yesteryear--even if some of them show their age--are enjoyable to watch today.

Eryk said...

Someone asked me about a character named Bert from a late 60s sitcom. I 'm reasonably sure they were referring to Bert of "The Good Guys". They stated that Bert could make himself disappear by snapping his fingers. Does anyone remember anything about that notion. I've been unable to locate anything about it on any site so far.
Thanks in advance.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Eryk: From your description, it sounds like your friend is referring to the character of Burt Campbell from TV's Soap, a slightly "tetched" individual who had convinced himself he could make himself invisible by snapping his fingers (he has reasoned that people rarely paid any attention to him that that was the only plausible explanation). Of course, no actual invisibility resulted from this, it was all in his mind.

Burt was played by actor Richard Mulligan, who eventually nabbed an Best Actor Emmy for his work on Soap and later starred in the popular sitcom Empty Nest. My mother positively adored Mulligan's portrayal on Soap; one time she was laughing so hard at something he did she experienced a coughing jag, necessitating a trip to get a glass of water.