Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Television Review: GET CHRISTIE LOVE!: "A Few Excess People" (1975)



GET CHRISTIE LOVE! "A Few Excess People" (ABC-TV/Universal 1975) Season One, Episode 21: Original Air Date: March 26, 1975.  Starring Teresa Graves as Detective Christie Love, Jack Kelly as Captain Arthur Ryan, Michael Pataki as Sergeant Pete Gallagher, Dennis Rucker as Detective Belmont.  Guest stars: Phil Silvers as Uncle Harry Phenergan, Rose Marie as Mitzi Trousedale, Robert Donner as Bernie Karp, Bob Random as Willie Beamon, Val Bisoglio as Joe Thurston, Herbert Jefferson Jr. as Louis Turner, Troy Melton as Security Guard.  Written by Peter Allan Fields.  Directed by Bruce Kessler. 

Unwilling to be put out to pasture, Gallagher's Uncle Harry has bolted the Sunset Retirement Home in Newark to travel cross-county and see his nephew.  First problem--Harry thinks he's visiting Captain Gallagher of the LAPD.  Second problem: Detective Love and Sergeant Gallagher are the closest to respond to a warehouse alarm--with Harry as a passenger, giving the elder civilian a chance to elbow his way into a dangerous case.  Not something that is going to ingratiate him to the real Captain--Ryan.


While many prefer Murder on High C, which reunited Teresa Graves with several of her LAUGH-IN co-stars, I think the brief, gimmicky Glen Larson Era reached its comedic apex with A Few Excess People.  As fun as it was to see Arte Johnson driving the action in the former, we get the King of Chutzpah himself this time around, and Silvers doesn't disappoint.  Did he ever?


Long time freelancer Fields got his start on THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. and obviously did his homework, making sure to give the guest star plenty of Bilkoesque material.  Uncle Harry seizes credit for a license plate number from a fast-thinking security guard, takes over the real Captain's office (first inadvertently, then advertently), bluffs information out of seedy Karp and flatters Rose Marie's department store clerk out of her car (twice) and into a date.  For starters.  


It's all wonderful fun whenever Silvers is onscreen, and neither Fields nor director Kessler (RIPTIDE) can be accused of not utilizing him to the fullest.  Unfortunately, the writer goes a little overboard when Uncle Harry steps further into peril than seems logical by going to the robber's hideaway alone.  Not only out of character in terms of what would seem an acceptable level of risk to Harry, but also defeating what seems to be Harry's primary motivation up until then (even more than proving himself)--assisting the young Sergeant in reaching his full potential in the ranks.  Gallagher can't get any credit if he's not there, right?


Speaking of our Sarge, at least he isn't blurting out important case secrets on live TV this time.  It's still readily evident to us if not to his proud Uncle why he Pete is stuck in the ranks.  And while it was often lost after the mid-season tonal change, David Wolper's original intent for the series is subtly on display.  Harry waxes eloquent on his nephew's progressive qualities as a Captain, but only in reference to Christie's gender--her race goes unmentioned.  (That was usually the case on Silvers' own show, too, a rare 1950's sitcom to consistently cast African-American actors.)


Silvers' dominance usurps center stage from our star, something that became a problem more than once after Larson brought more contrivances to the show.  Christie Love again loses her maverick cop status, being reprimanded only for indulging her elder with nary an undercover assignment in sight.  Our star is reduced to constantly reacting to Mr. Phenergan's antics along with everyone else. 


But hey, Silvers was one of a kind, and is especially amusing when he's onscreen with Rose Marie, who makes the most of her scenes and gets the titular dialogue verbalizing Harry's need to prove he isn't ready to be discarded by society.  That certainly had to resonate with Silvers, who first saw a still-popular BILKO cancelled and then saw his prime time appearances getting scarcer in his middle sixties after failing to land another hit.  In fact, A Few Excess People is probably his lengthiest and most enjoyable prime time appearance in the years following his 1972 stroke.   Seeing one of the medium's comedic geniuses in fine form is well worth our star ceding the spotlight on this one occasion.


ONE LUMP OR MORE?

Louis Turner is the only one who gets sugared, when he is incredulous to find out Love is "the Man".

MISSED OPPORTUNITY:

Too bad we couldn't fit a poker game into the plot.  Who wouldn't want to see Bart Maverick heads up against Sergeant Bilko?


THE BOTTOM LINE:

As far as the Larson installments go, A Few Excess People mixes a worthy message with  sometimes wobbly execution in its second half.  Still, the police work doesn't suffer as much as it had in other high concept segments, and Silvers was capable of turning any appearance into a pseudo-PHIL SILVERS SHOW no matter the series.  It's a unique blend here for sure, predictably with far more laughs than usual and a case that holds up a bit longer than you might have predicted.  (**1/2 out of four)


If you'd like to see A Few Excess People for yourself:




Monday, May 31, 2021

Film Review: THE WILD BLUE YONDER (1951)





"Why the Hell isn't this on DVD/Blu yet?" -- Number 105  






THE WILD BLUE YONDER (1951 Republic) Starring Forrest Tucker, Vera Ralston, Wendell Corey, Phil Harris, Jack Kelly, Walter Brennan, Harry Carey Jr., James Brown, Penny Edwards, Ruth Donnelly, Wally Cassell and William Witney.  Written by Andrew Geer, Charles Grayson and Richard Tregaskis.  Directed by Allan Dwan.

Air Force Captain Corey is sent with other seasoned pilots to train on the B-29, the next bomber to be introduced into the Pacific skies during WWII.  Major Tucker is running the training in this upgrade to the B-24.  Tucker is a superb teacher but the target of resentment, accused unfairly of cowardice during his last mission.  Corey and Tucker compete for the affections of nurse Ralston, who is seeing Tucker at the outset but finds herself drawn to the new Captain.


In the face of questions from D.C. bigwigs about the B-29's cost and constant propaganda from the airwaves via the infamous Tokyo Rose, the project moves forward.  Confessing his demons to Major General Brennan results in Tucker's reassignment to engineering, his area of expertise.  With the overconfident Corey leading the bombing missions from Guam successfully, Tucker waits for the chance to 'redeem' himself in combat while watching helplessly as Ralston gravitates towards Corey.




Reliable Allan Dwan directs this attempt to replicate the highly successful SANDS OF IWO JIMA formula for Republic sans John Wayne, with cast members Tucker, Brown, Carey and Cassell returning for another tale of the winning of the war in the Pacific. Tucker gets the role of the commander resented by his men and haunted by past failures, and the film moves from Kansas to China to Guam while preparing for the superfortress' debut. 

 


Unfortunately SANDS screenwriter James Edward Grant wasn't available (he was working on The Duke's FLYING LEATHERNECKS that same year) and Tregaskis lacked his ear for dialogue (Tregaskis' only other screenplay was the unfortunate FAIR WIND TO JAVA).  Worse, battlefield footage so seamlessly blended in IWO JIMA was rather sloppy and obvious in this film.  As a result, the THE WILD BLUE YONDER shows its limitations often despite some solid performances and dandy ideas.  

One highlight is the re-creation of Sergeant Henry "Red" Erwin's heroism aboard the B-29.  In 1945 Erwin suffered severe burns disposing a white phosphorous bomb during a mission mid-air, saving the lives of his fellow crewmen.  This is niftily re-created by Dwan with stuntman David Sharpe portraying Erwin.  Corey's narration tells us about Erwin's Medal of Honor, but the rest of the Sergeant's story is well worth reading up on.


THE WILD BLUE YONDER continued Tucker's string of heroic roles after his IWO JIMA breakthrough, and he acquits himself as well as his Major disproves the scuttlebutt.   One streak was broken for the actor--after getting the girl in ROCK ISLAND TRAIL, CALIFORNIA PASSAGE and FIGHTING COAST GUARD, he loses Ralston to Corey this time around. 

Plenty of snarks would consider that no great loss, though the oft-maligned Ms. Ralston has her charms.  No, her performance isn't great: she never fully disappears into her character (never did, truthfully) and is visibly working.  But she isn't distractingly awful, either.  Just mediocre, but the athletic skater looks fetching enough to be a leading lady, especially on the beach.


Ms. Ralston gets some competition in the vavavoom department from Edwards, who Harris uniquely tries to woo with a Oujia board(!).  Speaking of, he was Tucker's childhood idol, and the two would become lifelong friends and would reunite for a riotous F TROOP episode years later.  Harris' comic relief is superior that of most war films--inspired casting, no doubt.  He sings his number one 1950 hit "The Thing" and is the first actor we see, looking ready to rib Jack Benny before he opens his mouth.


Corey gives his usual solid performance, though he seems miscast as the youngish daredevil.  The actor always looked a good ten years older than he really was (37 here; alcohol problems led to his death at 54).  He and Tucker would have another romantic triangle, this time with Margaret Lockwood, in LAUGHING ANNE two years later.


Walter Brennan is, well, Walter Brennan, adding star power to the supporting role of the Major General overseeing the B-29's development.  A young Jack Kelly can be seen among the soldiers, and we get ace action director William Witney (DARKTOWN STRUTTERS) in a rare acting role, as a new General who embraces Corey's high-risk, high-reward approach.  While THE WILD BLUE YONDER falls a little short of what it might have been, there's more than enough of interest here to warrant a good look.


SO....WHY ISN'T THIS ON DVD/BLU YET?

The Curse of Ralston?  Reportedly DAKOTA and THE FIGHTING KENTUCKIAN were her only profitable films for the studio (coincidentally Wayne was her co-star in both), and her professional reputation as a real-life Susan Alexander Kane didn't help any of her pictures with the press.  One of many Republic pictures to fade from view after late-night ubiquity throughout the 1960's.

WHY IT SHOULD BE ON DVD/BLU:

Martin Scorcese recently restored and released two dozen unfairly forgotten Republic pictures, among them the aforementioned LAUGHING ANNE.  This would be a fine candidate for a second round of Republic rediscoveries.  I most recently saw it overnight on CBN in the mid-1980's; no reason why it couldn't join the scores of war pictures making the rounds each May as we salute those who served.

From the film, here's Phil Harris singing "The Thing":



Sunday, May 23, 2021

Leon Errol Series: SERVICE WITH A SMILE (1934)



SERVICE WITH A SMILE (1934 Vitaphone short subject) Starring Leon Errol as Walter Webb, Marie Wells as Mrs. Webb, Harry Seymour as Harold Bigsby, Maxine Doyle as Girl in Auto, Herbert Evans as the Golfer, Frank Darlen as Customer, Mildred Dixon as Chorus Girl, Ben Hall as Will.  Written by Eddie Moran.  Directed by Roy Mack.

Introduction to the Leon Errol Salute series is at this link.

Owner of a small service station (one petrol pump), Leon is awakened by a phone call in the middle of the night.  It's his employee, informing him that the station has been destroyed by a fire.  Fortunately, the Mrs. reminds him, Leon just upgraded his insurance. It gives ol' Rubberlegs a great if not terribly original idea--exaggerate the loss so that the insurance company will give him the station he always wished to have.


At adjuster Seymour's office that morning, Errol goes into detail about the now jumbo-sized station which employs dozens.  Errol's daydream becomes our viewing pleasure: the titular full service is provided by beautiful girls in revealing boiler suits.  Female mechanics.  Female attendants.  Waitresses?  Goes without saying.


Leon really goes the extra mile for his customers.  Free lunch is provided, with a 19 hole golf course (!) just back of the lube rack if your car will be awhile.  Need a date?  That's no problem either.  It's a FULL service garage, Mr. Bigsby.  Maybe to any customer, but we mostly see males being catered to.  Not just by Leon, even the cops will help you out if you're stuck for a date!  


The boiler suits aren't as revealing as the togas and beach attire in Mack's Technicolor companion, GOOD MORNING, EVE!  That said, the Pre-Code attitude is intact, most prominently in the best musical number in either short, Whatcha Gonna Do Now?  Maxine Doyle is downright giddy that her boyfriend's car is at a standstill, singing that the setting "is right for petting".   All the women revel in the disablement of their vehicles for similar reasons.  Even if their fellas don't...


Errol eschews his wobbly legged drunk act in both Vitaphones, and doesn't appear to be dallying with any of his nubile mechanics.  Talk about atypical Leon; the only implied friskiness is with his wife Wells (twin beds notwithstanding) as we diplomatically fade to the adjuster's office.  Unfortunately, Leon is given nothing but groaners line-wise.  He's more master of ceremonies than instigator here, and GOOD MORNING, EVE! is wilder and racier--as suggestive as SERVICE WITH A SMILE gets at times, EVE shows us more.  


That said, both shorts would be very worthwhile for the florid Technicolor alone, but both are also consistently amusing through both reels, and seeing Leon Errol in color was way too rare a treat.  While I prefer the later effort (this was actually the very first Three-Strip Technicolor Vitaphone), SERVICE WITH A SMILE is still a pretty good time.  (**1/2 out of four)

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Television Review: LOVE THAT BOB: "Bob Gets Neighborly" (1957)



LOVE THAT BOB a.k.a. THE BOB CUMMINGS SHOW: "Bob Gets Neighborly" (NBC-TV/Laurel-McCadden Productions 1957)  Original Air Date: October 8, 1957.  Starring Bob Cummings as Bob Collins, Rosemary DeCamp as Margaret MacDonald, Dwayne Hickman as Chuck MacDonald, Ann B. Davis as Charmaine Schultz, Sara Shane as Joy Healy, Tom Griffin as Fred.  Written by Paul Henning, Shirl Gordon and Dick Wesson.  Directed by Bob Cummings. 

Introduction to the BOB CUMMINGS SHOW/LOVE THAT BOB episode guide.

A new neighbor has moved in next door, and Margaret is hopeful that her brother will get along with her.  Yep, her.  Having parted ways with her significant other, interior decorator Joy Healy is now across the hedge, and both Chuck and Bob feel that she could decorate any interior.


Naturally playboy Bob has designs on having her decorate his, but there are obstacles.  First, Ms. Healy's experience with ex Fred has left her really hating all men.  The other obstruction is in canine form: Joy's German Shepherd Buster, who isn't shy about literally unseating our playboy.  In fact, Bob loses two pairs of pants within hours.  Can The King regain his throne by appealing to Joy in a professional sense?  It's a last resort after every other ploy fails.


Well, here's a twist.  Bob Collins' never ending hunt for strange takes him to...The Girl Next Door.  Kinda surprising that LOVE THAT BOB exhausted over a hundred stories before reaching this seemingly obvious plot.  When Bob Gets Neighborly the nocturnal wanderer temporarily becomes a homebody, going home for his lunch hour and spending a quiet evening watching television in the Collins living room! 


Bob gets only half-support in his (con)quest, with Margaret and Chuck on opposite sides of a bet.  Naturally it's the widowed sister who takes the negative side ("Oh, I hope you do stick to your guns!") but ever-loyal Chuck not only wagers window washing on The King, but literally offers Bob the shirt off his back in support at one point.  


Bob's pursuit raises an eyebrow at times.  Feigning a need for Joy's professional services is expected, but entering her yard uninvited isn't.  Then again, having an adjacent intended is new to Mr. Collins.  And one has to have a grudging respect for going the extra mile like our playboy does.  He even tries to play wingman for Buster in an effort to literally get a foot in the door.  Foreshadowing his eventual fate with the German Shepherd's owner, Bob technically succeeds---yet still fails.


"I bet he usually does pretty well with girls."

Making her only LOVE THAT BOB appearance, Sara Shane is a worthy choice to play the ice queen Joy Healy.  Away from Bob's amorous intentions, she drops the guard enough to admit the above, stating that even Rock Hudson wouldn't interest her in her current state of mind.  (We now know that she wouldn't have interested Rock either, but that's another story.....)  So before we condemn Bob for taking the chase a bit farther than modern audiences might be comfortable with, well--a hint is there that his effort isn't entirely off-base.  Just poorly timed, perhaps.


If Bob blows his impression on us, it's in the ending.  An Alpha to admire until the scheme falls apart, Bob pettily reclaims his orange tree after Joy and Fred reconcile.  Yeah, it's funny, and setting boundaries on the orange tree is proper, but losing your cool while doing it just makes you look like a sore loser, Bob!  Too Beta for a man supposed to be King.  Besides, the guy just might blow it again--delayed gratification is still gratification, Bob!  Which you ain't getting by dropping the charm.  Bush league move for a champ--losing points for Bob Gets Neighborly with such a short-sighted finale for a guy who can usually play the long game.


Sara Shane is still with us at age 92, living in Australia when I last checked.  Like the show's star (HOW TO STAY YOUNG AND VITAL in 1960) she's the author of a self-help health book: TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR HEALTH AND ESCAPE THE SICKNESS INDUSTRY came out in 2000.  She left acting in 1964; THREE BAD SISTERS (1956) was probably her best-known film, with fellow LOVE THAT BOB guest starlets Marla English and Kathleen Hughes rounding out the titular siblings.


WHO WAS BLOCKING?

Buster provides one of the show's rare instances of a non-human interference.  Bob should know that a canine is going to be wise to a wolf. 


DID BOB SCORE?

A valiant try, but Bob only ends up being an unintentional Cupid.  Quite a lucky guy, that ex Fred.  He totally blew it with Sara Shane (dumbass!) but Bob's bullshit sets Fred up with a second chance he's done nothing to deserve.  The thanks Bob gets?  Fred says he sounds like a square!   FWIW, my money is on him blowing his second chance--dude still seems unaware.  Put it this way, Buster probably gets that muzzle removed soon....


THE BOTTOM LINE:

Whether he scores or goes home horny, Bob usually brings us the laughs. Bob Gets Neighborly is no exception.  A very solid entry for a fourth season that was arguably the show's best (I'd say that the third and fourth seasons are very close for that honor) with yet another fine script from the scribes.  Even the dogs give effective performances.  (*** out of four)

If you'd like to see Bob Gets Neighborly for yourself, you're in luck, courtesy YouTube:



Sunday, April 11, 2021

THE HORN SECTION SALUTES: James Hampton (1936-2021)



The Horn Section becomes The Bugle Section today, with the sad news that we must blow taps for Private Hannibal Shirley Dobbs.  The late great James Hampton passed away on April 7th from Parkinson's complications at his home near Fort Worth at age 84. 



Every F TROOP passing hits hard here at the Section, but Mr. Hampton's hits a little harder than most.  Like yours truly, he was Oklahoman at birth (OKC), attended University of North Texas, and settled in that great state in the DFW area for much of the last two decades.  As a matter of fact, an acquaintance of mine fixed his air conditioning once.  



As Dobbs, James Hampton essayed arguably his most memorable character before his thirtieth birthday, memorably bickering with Larry Storch's Agarn and serving as the orderly for Ken Berry's Captain Parmenter.  This didn't keep the bugler from unwittingly getting caught up in O'Rourke Enterprises at times.  Dobbs was used as bait to draw lovely Laura Lee to Fort Courage for a saloon gig in She's Just a Build in a Girdled Cage; threw in with the schemers to homestead in The West Goes Ghost, and was the key to the new I.G.'s happiness in For Whom the Bugle Tolls.  Perhaps most memorably of all, he saved Wild Eagle and Crazy Cat from the noose in Carpetbagging, Anyone?

While Dobbs might have been rather limited on the bugle (thanks to a famously 'fat upper lip'), one of the show's subtlest running gags revealed him to be remarkably talented on other instruments: he terrific on the flute and competent on bagpipes, bass drum, ukulele and tambourine.  Given Hannibal's talent elsewhere, perhaps it wasn't out of line to hold out hope for his improvement on the horn.

Hampton in HAWMPS!, erroneously identified on F TROOP in one obit.  Come on, the camel is a dead giveaway!


Hampton's career was so much more than F TROOP, though the role of Dobbs was certainly good preparation for his first lead in a feature: Joe Camp's HAWMPS! (1976), about the introduction of camels to the U.S. Army in the 19th century.  Incidentally, Hampton joined Forrest Tucker as the only F TROOP cast members to have served in the cavalry in real life.  Hampton had another big-screen leading role in HANGAR 18, co-starring with Gary Collins.

James Hampton's best known theatrical roles came in support.  Perhaps his best known is as the tragic Caretaker in THE LONGEST YARD (1974), with longtime friend Burt Reynolds, but Harold Howard (TEEN WOLF) and Dr. Woolridge (SLING BLADE) have also endured in the minds of film fans.



Adept at sketch comedy, Hampton was featured often on LOVE, AMERICAN STYLE and was reunited with Storch and Tucker for one of the show's segments in 1971.  Later, he supported Mary Tyler Moore alongside David Letterman and Michael Keaton in her 1978 MARY variety series.  He branched out into directing (frequently helming episodes of Reynolds' EVENING SHADE) and kept taking occasional roles into the 2010's even after retiring to DFW.

Hampton in that 1971 LOVE, AMERICAN STYLE

R.I.P. Mr. Hampton. For a great read, check out James Hampton's memoir, published in February: WHAT? AND GIVE UP SHOW BUSINESS?  Hampton interviewed:



Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Television Review: LOVE THAT BOB: "Bob and Automation" (1958)



LOVE THAT BOB a.k.a. THE BOB CUMMINGS SHOW: "Bob and Automation" (1958 NBC-TV/Laurel-McCadden Productions) Original Air Date: February 25, 1958.  Starring Bob Cummings as Bob Collins, Rosemary deCamp as Margaret MacDonald, Dwayne Hickman as Chuck MacDonald, Ann B. Davis as Schultzy, Angie Dickinson as Millie Davis, Kathleen Hughes as Mary, Laurie Anders as Janice Tuttle, Ruth Brady as The Mother.  Written by Paul Henning, Shirl Gordon and Dick Wesson.  Directed by Bob Cummings.

Series overview for LOVE THAT BOB a.k.a. THE BOB CUMMINGS SHOW is at this link.

The MacDonalds have been cost cutting to allow Uncle Bob to automate his business via the IBM 101 Electronic Statistical Machine.  Chuck's allowance has been cut and Margaret has been fixing wieners and sauerkraut almost nightly to help pay for the data machine.  Or is that date machine?  Turns out  Bob has done away with his not-so-little black book and is using the sorter instead.

BOB: "That's me, just a small businessman."

MARGARET: "One of the smallest!"



Needless to say, the family members aren't exactly thrilled with the result of their recent austerity.  "Stockholder" Margaret decides to turn the tables by crashing Bob's next appointment: 5'5", 118 lb. Millie Davis, who loves the music of Tchaikovsky and the poetry of Browning.  But how does the lobster loving brunette feel about Margaret's latest kitchen specialty?


The most unjustly overlooked series of the 1950's to these eyes, LOVE THAT BOB has a little extra spice compared to its key competitor in edginess, BILKO.  And I'm not just talking about the constant topic of sex, but also the success ratio of its lead while pursuing his less than altruistic goals.  We all knew Bilko would never get rich, but Bob does get laid.  Often.  Look no further than the following week's Bob Gives S.R.O. Performance for a textbook example of Bob's eventual carnal satisfaction resulting in a hilarious episode.  But BOB had this in common with Bilko and Ralph Kramden: it was also side-splittingly funny when he crashed and burned, and Bob and Automation joins Bob Batches It in giving us a classic example.


Not that Bob doesn't deserve his just deserts.  In his favor, Collins provides for his widowed sister and nephew--helping put Chuck through medical school at that.  But our Playboy practiced to deceive when implying his use of the unit was all business.   And the family stabilizing Bob's home life gets belt-tightening while the objects of Bob's desire get the likes of vichyssoise, cherries jubilee, the aforementioned Maine lobster and expensive wine.  (At least, treats intended for Millie.)  The IBM's true purpose is only revealed by a surprise visit to the office, so our Lothario is trying to get away with it in text as well as subtext this time.  And oh, boy, does he pay...


MARGARET: "The F.B.I. has to keep very detailed files!"

SCHULTZY: "The F.B.I. could take lessons."

Bob is in full-fledged stinker mode again, but it's hard not to admire his attention to detail in pinpointing every single "weakness" for the ladies in his life.  Milly and Janice are both new models to us, and he hasn't called the former in months, but she certainly left an impression to leave such detailed data in his mind.  Bob probably wasn't B.S.'ing when he told her that, anyway.  


Alas, that well oiled chain our shutterbug put together is only as strong as its weakest link, and Schultzy lets the cat out of the bag before a single minute has passed.  Highly motivated to rein in her mendacious brother, Margaret upsets the bowl of cherries (jubilee) with more gusto than usual and Bob can't even rely on Chuck's hero worship after hurting his nephew's pocketbook in the process of obtaining that dream machine.


Speaking of, the Electrical Statistical Machine is never blatantly identified (in 1958, you had to be a paying sponsor to get that during the show), but despite the lack of name checks in the script, IBM still gets some free publicity: its logo is clearly readable on the sorter in multiple shots.  With three scenes, the device is on camera often.


MILLY: "Why haven't you called me, Bob?"

BOB: "But my heart has, a thousand times!"

Returning to the series after Bob Traps a Wolf, Angie Dickinson deservedly gets this episode's slow burning centerpiece--a date with Bob inside his studio ("I want you all to myself") that takes eleven screen minutes to reach a payoff that proves to be worth the wait.  Her Milly Davis is a literal smoker (surprised Winston didn't get an extra plus in the dialogue) who inspires the painstaking specificity to get back in her good graces.  Angie was interestingly brunette in both BOBs.


While the future POLICE WOMAN is far more recognizable to 2021 eyes, the other object of Bob's desire was likely more notable in 1958.  KEN MURRAY SHOW icon Laurie Anders ("I like the wiiide open spayces!") came out of retirement at 35 to play Janice Tuttle, her first role since the Murray-produced vehicle THE MARSHAL'S DAUGHTER (her only film).  The curvy blonde is just as sexy and more expressive than in her deadpan MURRAY appearances.  Her many talents included dancing, martial arts, and jujitsu, but acting wasn't high on that list.  She's very funny here though, and returned in the season finale, Bob's Forgotten Fiancee.  Score another one for director Cummings, who simmers this imaginatively structured script to a satisfying boil.


WHO WAS BLOCKING?

Given her own desires, I'm not fully convinced that Schultzy's slip of the lip was intentional.  She certainly joined Margaret in putting a cold shower on Bob's aspirations with Milly.  The following night was a family affair, with Chuck joining his mother in creating a literal office full of obstacles to jar Janice away from him.  Summing it up: the only women Bob got tipsy turned out to be his sister and his secretary.


DID BOB SCORE?

Two very large, excruciating strikeouts for The King this time.  Can't win 'em all, and since neither Milly nor Janice ever returned to the studio, Collins was denied another at bat by both.  (Incidentally, Janice Tuttle would also be the name of The Ravishing Realtor played by Elena Verdugo the following season, so the moniker had to be some kind of in-joke with Henning.)


MOST SUGGESTIVE LINE:

There's a few, but Margaret gets the best one early, the aforementioned exchange concerning Bob's status as a small businessman.  He could take that one more than one way, ya know.

Speaking of suggestive, check out these downright orgasmic looks from our leading ladies while they're in the presence.  Was director Cummings as sneaky as his onscreen alter ego or what?




Riotously funny from beginning to end, proving that LOVE THAT BOB could follow the conventional path of its fellow sitcoms while still providing decidedly adult content for its era with the laughs.  We pretty much know the punchline, and the journey to it is tremendous fun.  Dickinson and the sadly forgotten Anders are on hand to provide us guys with a real eyeful, another bonus.  Quintessential installment of a classic at its peak.  (**** out of four)


If you'd like to check out Bob and Automation for yourself, here you go, syndication circa 1989 (but with no minutes cut and KXTX commercials intact):