Single Season Sitcom Shout-Out: GOOD MORNING, WORLD

Welcome to another Wildcard Wednesday! In today’s post, I’m sharing a bit about a multi-camera single season sitcom of the ’60s, Good Morning, World (1967-1968, CBS) and listing a few of my favorite installments. Every episode, miraculously, has been released on DVD!

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Good Morning, World was created by Bill Persky and Sam Denoff, two of the head writers of The Dick Van Dyke Show, and as a multi-camera sitcom in an era when most of the shows were single camera, comparisons with the aforementioned show were inevitable. (The pair also created That Girl.) The show starred JOBY BAKER as Dave Lewis, a Los Angeles disc jockey who hosted “The Lewis And Clarke Show” with his best friend Larry Clarke (RONNIE SCHELL). Dave was married to Linda (JULIE PARRISH) and the series, like Van Dyke’s, split its time between the home and the office. Meanwhile, Larry was a swinging bachelor and had a casual relationship with the Lewis’ next door neighbor, Sandy Kramer, played by a young GOLDIE HAWN. Rounding out the cast was BILLY DE WOLFE as prissy station manager, Roland Hutton, Jr., who had a Buddy/Mel inspired relationship with Larry. As you can see, similarities between the two shows extended beyond the setup of the cameras.

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Comparisons between the two would be unfair if the similarities weren’t so obvious. Unfortunately, Good Morning, World did little to distinguish itself from its creators’ prior series — with many of the situations seemingly applicable to both the Lewises and the Petries. (The only problem is, there’s no doubt that the Petries could have done it funnier.) The series is most successful when it finds sparks of originality, but complicating matters is the cast, which, aside from De Wolfe, rarely exceeds the realm of slightly above average mediocrity. This is most surprising as all of the regulars seem capable of more. Baker is the biggest problem; his likable blandness is such that the character seldom becomes more than a pawn in the uninspired weekly plots. Meanwhile, Parrish has a stage presence that almost demands better writing. Unfortunately, she rarely receives it. Schell has his moments, but like Hawn, proved better in shows that were better crafted. In short, the show wasn’t good enough, and I can understand why it only lasted a year. (Next Tuesday’s He & She, a single season multi-camera sitcom of the same year, will prove to be the opposite!)

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I fear I’ve painted a picture that’s quite dire. The truth is, the series is far from excruciating. In fact, most of the time, there’s an air of general amusement. And though the laughs are scarce, the show and the characters grow on you by the end of the season. For this reason, it would have been nice to see the series get another 13 episodes to adjust itself and find a way to work more organically — which hopefully would have meant more laughs. (Remember, The Dick Van Dyke Show was nearly cancelled twice in its first season!)

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There’s only one episode that stands out for its originality, and could be considered excellent. I want to share that with you. There are also two other episodes that, were I to compile a list of the best installments of the series, I would undoubtedly include. Following that, I will list several more notable installments for those curious fans who are interested in assessing this series.

 

The Best Episode of the Series…

01) Episode 8: “No News Like Nude News” (Aired: 10/31/67) 

Dave and Larry accept a free invitation to what they think is a dude ranch; it’s really a nude ranch.

Written by Rick Mittleman | Directed by George Tyne

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This episode easily stands out for its original premise. It’s a classic sitcom misunderstanding: Dave and Larry think they’re going to a dude ranch, but find out that one of the letters is off — it’s a nude ranch. Shockingly modern for a ’60s sitcom, this episode wonderfully mines all of the seemingly possible comedy out of the situation. (And a good forerunner to the episode of The Golden Girls that utilized a similar premise.) Fans of classic sitcoms, if you watch nothing else of this series,  I recommend watching this episode. It’s the only one I can truly call stellar. CONTACT ME FOR ACCESS TO THIS EPISODE.

 

Two Other Great Episodes…

02) Episode 9: “Stan And Ollie Meet Larry And Dave” (11/07/67)

A rare set of Laurel and Hardy salt-and-pepper shakers threaten Dave and Larry’s friendship.

Written by Sydney Zelinka | Directed by Gary Nelson

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This episode is notable because of its clever nuances. While hosting an auction, Larry and Dave both become enamored with a pair of Laurel and Hardy salt-and-pepper shakers, so they each have their girls bid on them. The girls realize that both men want them so they decide to split the cost and give one to each. Unfortunately, neither Larry nor Dave wants just one of the pair…

03) Episode 17: “First Down And 200 Miles To Go” (01/02/68)

Dave’s quest to see a big game on television takes from from Palm Springs and back.

Written by E. Duke Vincent & Bruce Howard | Directed by Gary Nelson

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The premise for this episode isn’t particularly original, but it unfolds with a well-plotted story and a nice build. This is one of Baker’s stronger episodes, and given the slight elevation of the script, the entire ensemble gels a little better together than they do in the majority of the other episodes. There are a few laughs, and though nothing outstanding, this one represents the series well.

 

Other Notable Episodes For Curious Parties…

04) Episode 3: “You Vs. Me” (Aired: 09/19/67) 

Dave and Larry are nominated against each other as Outstanding Radio Personality of the Year.

Written by Jack Winter | Directed by George Tyne

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05) Episode 7: “Love At First Flight” (10/24/67)

Sandy thinks Larry is ready for a commitment when he names her as his life insurance beneficiary.

Written by Rick Mittleman | Directed by Danny Dayton

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06) Episode 10: “Feet Of Clay And A Head To Match” (11/14/67)

Dave and Linda have trouble adhering to Hutton’s rules when they stay at his house while he’s away.

Written by Bernie Orenstein & Saul Turteltaub | Directed by Robert Scheerer

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07) Episode 19: “The Wedding Present” (01/16/68) 

As a belated wedding present, Larry helps Dave secure the living room chair of his choice.

Written by Sam Bobrick & Bill Idelson | Directed by Gary Nelson

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08) Episode 22: “I Love A Charade” (02/06/68) 

Dave anticipates a surprise birthday party that’s non-existant.

Written by Rick Mittleman | Directed by Gary Nelson

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09) Episode 24: “Here Comes The Bribe” (02/27/68)

Dave and Larry try to avoid the bribery of a crooked record promoter.

Story by Ronny Pearlman | Teleplay by Bruce Howard | Directed by Gary Nelson

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10) Episode 26: “The Lady And The Pussycat” (03/19/68)

Dave’s widowed father intends to propose to one of his two girlfriends and needs help choosing.

Written by Joseph Bonaduce | Directed by Gary Nelson

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Come back next Wednesday for another Wildcard post! And tune in tomorrow for more Xena!

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