Saturday, November 12, 2016

Hey, Landlord (1966-67)

Hey, Landlord
Stars: Will Hutchins, Sandy Baron
31 episodes

In Short: Zaniness for rent.

Many are called. Few are chosen. It's a bit of Biblical wisdom that could kind of sort of be applied to the TV industry. Which seems to have a philosophy of throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks, when it comes to devising new shows. In my research for this project I've tentatively determined that the number of forgotten TV shows (forgotten being a somewhat subjective criteria, I'll concede) is somewhere between a helluva lot and several boatloads.

But success is fickle and even those who won the great TV series sweepstakes didn't actually manage to win every time. Sherwood Schwartz scored with Gilligan's Island (1964-67) and then again with The Brady Bunch(1969-74), but turned out duds with the time travel comedy, It's About Time (1966-67), and Dusty's Trail (1973-74), a comedy series that tried to recreate Gilligan's Island in the American West, even going so far as to cast Bob Denver in the Gilligan role.

Garry Marshall also spun the TV series wheel and won, most notably with mega-hits like Happy Days (1974-84) and Laverne and Shirley (1976-83). He's not quite so well known for such efforts as Blansky's Beauties (1977), a spin off from Happy Days, or Who's Watching the Kids (1978), a show which sort of morphed from Blansky's Beauties into something much like it.

One of Marshall's first ventures into the sitcom creation is just as obscure as the aforementioned pair of spin offs. I hadn't even heard of Hey, Landlord until recently, even though it aired for a full season in the mid-Sixties. The gimmick here is a pretty simple one. Aspiring writer Woody Banner's uncle has died and left him a Manhattan apartment building. He moves from Ohio to take over, bringing along a friend - Chuck - to share an apartment and help out. Wacky residents are contained therein and others are coming and going and thus the stage is set for all manner of hijinks.

Of Note:
The working title of the show - Woody. Brilliant.
Sally Field made a few appearances as Woody's little sister, Bonnie.
Music and theme by Quincy Jones. You know him.
Appearances by Rob Reiner, Henry Gibson, Richard Dreyfuss, Paul Lynde, Sid Melton, Peter Bonerz, John Astin, Jack Albertson, and Fred Willard.

Observed: "Aunt Harriet Wants You" (1:31)
Rose Marie drops in for a visit to her nephew. She is Woody or Chuck's aunt - memory fails me - and she is a no-nonsense and rather brassy military woman. She and Jack - a mousy photographer who lives in the building - go out on a date and though much is made of this commingling of the opposites it doesn't work out. So Jack tries to be more of a manly man and Aunt Harriet tries to be more demure. That also doesn’t work out so well but in the end they learn to like each other for what they are.

Maybe the 30 episodes that preceded this one, the final episode of the series, were uproariously funny but I didn't find this one to be. Comedy is a subjective thing but the comedy that was attempted here was mostly of a very old school type. That's not always a bad thing but in this case it just didn't work.

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