We Interrupt This Program to Bring You a Special Sitcom Rarity (IV)

Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! I’ve got one more sitcom rarity to share with you, before we resume next week with our regularly scheduled programming….

It’s an episode from the final season of The Danny Thomas Show (1953-1957, ABC; 1957-1964, CBS), which was a pleasure to study here last year as a less substantive but nevertheless connective tissue between the best sitcom of the 1950s, I Love Lucy, and the best sitcom of the ’60s, The Dick Van Dyke Show. Indeed, our coverage of the 1963-’64 season, in particular, hinged around the notion that Danny Thomas was plainly becoming more like Dick Van Dyke, not only with writers who worked on both (like Keller & Merrill and Marshall & Belson), but also with a crusade for more character-based realism (and comic modernity) that manifested itself most notably in similar story templates. (You can read more about that here.) My MVE — Most Valuable Episode — from this collection is “Beautiful Lady,” which was credited to head writers Jack Elinson & Charles Stewart (also of The Andy Griffith Show), directed by Danny Thomas himself, and first broadcast on April 06, 1964. It claims a routine sitcom story — the return of an old flame (Marilyn Maxwell) who makes the spouse jealous — but the leads, particularly Marjorie Lord’s tenuously defined Kathy, have consistent, clear, and relatable motivations and, in her case, a comic perspective that actually lets her propel the humorous plot. In fact, you’ll see exactly why I framed the last year of Danny Thomas as Dick Van Dyke-like. Here’s a clip. (For COZI’s full cut of this episode, visit this link; the password is rustyhamer).



Come back next week when we resume Get Smart! And stay tuned for a new Wildcard!