Variety Speak

Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! This week, I mined the Variety archives to share with you some of the weekly magazine’s reviews, which were published at the start of every TV season for both new shows and those returning. Although the authors only typically adjudicated the season’s first or second stanza, their critiques offer insight as to how the magazine — a thought-leader for industry members — viewed each respective series.

I selected five of my favorite comedies from the ’50s and ’60s — I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Bewitched, and Gilligan’s Island — to focus on here…

 

I LOVE LUCY

Season One (1951-52) – Oct. 17, 1951

“It’s a slick blending of Hollywood and TV showmanship . . .”

Season Two (1952-53) – Sept. 17, 1952

“It was a familiar situation, but deftly handled . . . [with] excellent visual comedy . . .”

Season Three (1953-54) – Oct. 07, 1953

“However, the opening show was a disappointment . . .”

Season Four (1954-55) – Oct. 06, 1954

” . . . mixing slapstick, situation, and good dialog . . .”

Season Five (1955-56) – Oct. 05, 1955

“. . . retains all of the ingredients which have made it the top situation comedy . . .”

Season Six (1956-57) – Oct. 03, 1956

“. . . it was inevitable that rapidfire gags and quips would be unleashed . . .”

 

THE HONEYMOONERS

Season One (1955-56) – Oct. 05, 1955

“. . . it has qualitative elements of enduring nature . . .”

 

THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW

Season One (1961-62) – Oct. 11, 1961

“As situation comedies go, it is about par . . .”

Season Two (1962-63) – Oct. 03, 1962

“. . . one of the brighter . . . comedies . . . has returned . . . but [with] . . . a faltering getaway . . .”

Season Three (1963-64) – Oct. 02, 1963

“Leave it to [this] nimble, often witty [show] . . . to pull a surprise . . .”

Season Four (1964-65) – Sept. 30, 1964

“. . . still following its same basic humor pattern . . .”

Season Five (1965-66) – Sept. 29, 1965

“. . . one of the best-written and best-executed comedies of the ‘Sixties . . .”

 

BEWITCHED

Season One (1964-65) – Sept. 23, 1964

“. . . one of the winning entries of the [season] . . .”

Season Two (1965-66) – Sept. 26, 1965

“. . . [it] remains just as beguiling . . .”

Season Three (1966-67) – Sept. 21, 1966

“. . . an anachronism, if a durable one . . .”

Season Four (1967-68) – Sept. 13, 1967

“No one is rewriting this hit . . .”

Season Five (1968-69) – Oct. 02, 1968

“. . . the relaxed humor regularly comes off . . .”

Season Six (1969-70) – Sept. 24, 1969

“Some might find it odd to see Samantha . . . with . . . a stranger . . .”

Season Seven (1970-71) – Sept. 30, 1970

” . . . as bright and shiny as any . . .”

Season Eight (1971-72) – Sept. 22, 1971

“. . . the old tried and true success formula . . .”

 

GILLIGAN’S ISLAND

Season One (1964-65) – Sept. 30, 1964

“It doesn’t work . . .”

Season Two (1965-66) – Sept. 29, 1965

“. . . [It] doesn’t show a single sign of improvement . . .”

Season Three (1966-67) – Sept. 21, 1966

“. . . a few laughs, once [the] outlandish premise is accepted . . .”

 

 

Come back next week for a new Wildcard Wednesday! And stay tuned Tuesday for more sitcom fun!