Some TV shows actually improve when you binge-watch them.
One of my cable channels is called "Decades".
Every weekend, they offer up one old series that you can binge-watch.
One episode after another.
This past weekend, they aired episodes of "The Abbott and Costello Show".
I watched them all day Saturday.
On Sunday, I went to the Bears game, so I did not stick with it.
There were two seasons of "Abbott and Costello".
1952 (39 episodes) and 1953(39 episodes).
The '52 season was hilarious.
The '53 season was abysmal.
The '52 season had a live audience, vaudeville, burlesquish feeling to it.
The '53 season had a one-camera much slower-paced feel, as if it was shot underwater.
When I watched on Saturday, it was all shows from the '52 season.
I had never binge-watched it before.
It was addictive.
It was funny in a way I'd never experienced it being before.
Every element was perfect.
From the opening credit music to the two of them entering in front of a stage curtain, it felt like "Okay folks, sit back and we are just going to simply entertain your asses off".
And they invariably did.
They had great peripheral characters.
Their landlord, Sidney Fields, played by a bald man named Sidney Fields, often got "Story By" credit.
This meant most-likely that he took old burlesque sketches and committed them to paper.
He was a hilarious foil.
He also doubled, tripled, and quadrupled as Mr. Fields' brother, Professor Melonhead, Doctor Melonhead, Lawyer Melonhead,
Melonheads of all varieties.
All of them wearing ludicrous toupees, designed to fool nobody.
That was the beauty of burlesque.
You were never bound by any pretense of reality.
It was pure sketch.
There was Joe Besser, playing an eleven year old named Stinky, complete with Little Lord Fauntleroy costume.
Joe Besser was easily in his forties at the time.
And you bought into it.
Because it was worth it. He was that funny.
There was my personal favorite, Mr. Botchacaloupe, played by a wonderful actor named Joe Kirk, whom I had never seen in anything else before or since.
Mr. Botchacaloupe was the all purpose Italian stereotype. He sounded like Chico Marx. Only hipper.
He always owned a store.
And it was a different kind of store each time.
If Bud and Lou had to go to a record store, it was Mr. Botchacaloupe's record store.
This occurred when, in order to impress his girlfriend, Hilary Brooke, a tall statuesque woman, way out of Costello's league, that he could play the piano, Abbott had the brilliant idea that they'd get a record, and Abbott would be planted behind Hilary's piano, and on cue he'd put on the record and Lou would mime playing as if playing to the record.
What could possibly go wrong?
So Botchacaloupe suggests a record:
Botchacaloupe: How about this-a-one? Jinjadanelle daneeva du gan, moutza ganda glitza dian, moutza gan dida gwanda da bell,
moutza ganda de la Jinjadanelle.
Costello: What does that mean?
Costello: I don't know. What else have you got?
Botchacaloupe: How 'bout this-a-one. It's called "Amole"
Costello: What does that mean?
Botchacaloupe: It means "When I went down south to Alabammy to see my mammy, I go through the back door, she goes through the front door, we miss each other for 'tree weeks.
Upon the rejection of "Amole", Botchacaloupe smashes the record on Costello's head.
Botchacaloupe lost his temper easily.
Another time Botchacaloupe owned a bakery. It was Costello's birthday and nobody cared, so he went to Botchacaloupe's bakery so Botchacaloupe could bake him a birthday cake, Costello had very specific needs for this cake, after a half-hour Botchacaloupe brings out this gorgeous, enormous birthday cake.
Costello is impressed but is disappointed that there are no marshmallows baked in the cake.
Botchacaloupe: You want marshamaloons? Why you no tell-a-me you wanna marshamaloons?
After two more passes, Costello is totally pleased with the result.
Botchacaloupe: Okay, where do you want me to send it?
Costello: I don't want you to send it anywhere. Just bring me some coffee. I'll eat it right here.
Botchacaloupe has had enough, and pushes Costello's face into the top of the cake.
Like I said, Botchacaloupe lost his temper easily.
Abbott was also a bit of a psychotic.
They would go into a restaurant.
Abbott: Now we've only got enough for one of us. So when the waitress asks you what you want, you don't want anything.
No matter what she says, you don't want a thing.
Costello: I don't want nothin'.
Abbott: Now you've got it.
The waitress approaches.
Waitress: What can I get for you boys?
Abbott: I'll have a Tuna Fish sandwich and a cup of coffee.
Costello: And what about you, handsome?
Costello: I don't want anything.
Abbott immediately turns on him.
Abbott: What do you mean, you don't want anything? You're in a restaurant. A place of business. You can't just come in here and not order anything. Order something!
Costello: I don't want anything.
Abbott: Order something small.
Costello: I'll have a small steak.
At this point, Abbott slaps Costello hard in the face.
They did variations on this constantly.
And when you watch this show in binge form, the more often he does it, the funnier it is.
That first season was played at a breakneck pace.
Unmatched on that level by any other show.
I can't recommend this experience highly enough.
My books, "Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
They are all compilations of blog entries that have been removed from the blog.
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The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not e-books.
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- mark rothman
- Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."