Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! This week, I’ve got another Q&A entry, where I answer questions submitted by readers. Thanks to everyone who sent in something — if you don’t see your “Q” here, I just may “A” it next time. (And keep them coming — any related topic on which you want my opinion and/or a little research? Just let me know!)
Adam YTK needs advice… I have never seen a Fred Astaire movie before and would be curious to know if you have a favorite Fred and Ginger movie or place where I should start? Thanks!
My top three favorites are Top Hat (1935), Swing Time (1936), and Shall We Dance (1937) — I think they have the strongest scores and, on the whole, the best dance routines from all ten of the famous duo’s filmed collaborations. If I had to pick one though, it would probably be Top Hat — “Isn’t This A Lovely Day?” and “Cheek To Cheek” are heavenly.
Brandon Richter wants more information… I saw someone say that Sam and Darrin from “Bewitched” were the first TV couple to sleep in the same bed. The can’t be true. Is it?
No. Although it’s hard to know the first time a couple was shown in the same bed — because early television was broadcast live and not preserved on film or tape — historians believe that the first couple to regularly be shown in one bed were Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns, a real-life married pair starring in the series Mary Kay And Johnny, which ran in various forms from 1947-1950 and is often called America’s first TV sitcom. As for other couples before Samantha and Darrin in 1964 to be shown together in bed, I can confirm that the also-wedded Ozzie and Harriet Nelson alternated between single and double beds throughout the 1950s (sharing one as early as 1953), Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy also enjoyed one bed in their short-lived 1954 sitcom The Marriage, and the Arnazes were allowed to push two twins together to emulate one big bed in the pre-pregnancy days of I Love Lucy (that is, 1951-1952). Beyond real-life couples, Gertrude Berg was shown in a single bed with the actor playing her husband at least once on a surviving 1954 episode of The Goldbergs. So, with those being just a handful of examples (I’m sure there are more), we have enough evidence to say definitively NO, Sam and Darrin weren’t the first TV couple (married in real life or not) to share a bed, although we still don’t know with certainty the first couple to do so, since so much of this medium’s historical record is missing.
Vincent has a question… What is your favorite sitcom opening credits?
Cheers’ — both musically and visually, “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” makes you want to hang out with those characters at that bar. It’s joyful and thematically true.
Christopher says… Hi Jackson! While I’m not surprised that Herman’s Head didn’t do well in your site poll (the copies I watched were a bit rough!) I would still love to get your general thoughts on what was definitely one of the most ambitious sitcoms of the 1990’s. Thanks.
I’d love to squeeze Herman’s Head in here somewhere; it’s certainly more fun than Nurses, on which I devoted three whole Wildcard posts. So, it’s not outside the realm of possibility. In the meantime, here’s what I think based on what I’ve seen (and this could change in a more formal study)… I think Herman’s Head is a series where a great cast and an imaginative team of writers are saddled with a high-concept gimmick that not only fails to inspire much story on its own, but also distracts from the show’s inherent strengths, never adding to the exploration of its characters in a meaningful way. It’s got a lot of raw elements to enjoy — its avant-garde reputation indeed being part of its charm — but it’s set up to struggle based on its premise, and I’m afraid it does. Again, I’d love to dig deeper — we’ll see if I can find the time/place. In fact, let me know in the comments below if you’d like to see Herman’s Head here!
MDay991 asks… Are you ever going to cover any sitcoms from the 2000’s or 2010’s?
Probably. I’m still figuring out how I can move into that era though — Sitcom Tuesdays has generally kept a minimum of 12 years distance between a season airing and its coverage here, and I’d prefer to maintain a decade buffer, because it’s hard to contextualize trends without a certain amount of perspective that only comes from time. So, that would mean only examining 21st century sitcoms that ended before the last ten years — and that imposes a limitation that makes things both easier and more difficult. Ultimately, I’d need to find the main themes I want to address for the 2000s decade, specifically, and then select a handful of possible shows before making a public commitment. And if I do decide to move in that direction, I’ll then consult the readers here in one of our annual surveys — probably early next year. Stay tuned…
Have a question for me? Submit it at the “Ask Jackson (Q&A)” link.
Come back next week for another Wildcard! And stay tuned Tuesday for more of The Nanny!