Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Television Review: LOVE THAT BOB: "Bob to the Rescue" (1955)



LOVE THAT BOB a.k.a. THE BOB CUMMINGS SHOW: "Bob To the Rescue" (1955 Laurel/McCadden Productions/NBC-TV) Original Air Date: April 10, 1955.  Starring Bob Cummings as Bob Collins, Rosemary deCamp as Margaret MacDonald, Dwayne Hickman as Chuck MacDonald, Lyle Talbot as Paul Fonda.  Written by Paul Henning and Bill Manhoff.  Directed by Rod Amateau.

Introduction to the LOVE THAT BOB/THE BOB CUMMINGS SHOW episode guide is at this link.


Bob is thrilled to hear that Margaret has a suitor--until he learns the prospective date is his old Air Force frenemy Paul Fonda, a.k.a. El Lobo "south of the border" (according to Bob).   Bob's first discouragement is surreptitiously leaving the phone off the hook.  His second?  The unfortunate 'news' that Margaret is visiting Grandpa Collins in Joplin for the duration of Fonda's two week vacation.


Uninterested in Bob's black-book alternatives that would send him as far away as Vancouver(!), Fonda offers to stay and help out while Margaret's away.  Collins continues to weave his tangled web, attempting to make Margaret's fake vacation a real one with some well-placed telephone impersonations.  At least, Bob thinks they are. 

For me but not for thee, eh?  If Bob Collins calling any man a wolf isn't hypocrisy, the playboy certainly applies a double standard when it comes to his sister's dating life.  You'd think Collins would be thrilled to have competition from his fellow poon hound removed, but Bob to the Rescue gives us one more example of family being more important to Bob than the almighty vagina.


Margaret calls her footloose brother out as a whited sepulcher, so he clarifies: as a mother, she needs a husband, not a philanderer.  (Takes one to know one?)  It's unsurprising that Margaret chafes at such piety--as LOVE THAT BOB frequently makes crystal clear, girls want to have fun too.  Little wonder that Schultzy shoots for the moon (Bob) and Margaret looks for a Fonda over (say) a Harvey Helm of her own.


The ubiquitous Lyle Talbot (330 iMdb credits) makes his second appearance with Bob to the Rescue, and the pre-Code matinee idol isn't yet living up to that wolfy reputation Bob tries to pin on him.  Here, there's no indication that Paul's intentions aren't honorable.  Figuring out his great comedic potential, Henning's staff would develop Fonda nicely, and the friendly cockpit rival would end up recurring on LOVE THAT BOB over the entire run, right up to 1959's Bob, the Last Bachelor--the show's antepenultimate episode.  Talbot is his usual solid self here, but Fonda is still rounding into form at this stage.  Like BOB itself.


Chuck is sixteen at the time of this 15th series installment, and his admirably unwavering loyalty to Uncle Bob is evident as he protects Mom from this would-be beau with a baseball bat.  Bob couldn't be wrong, right?  Deferential Chuck isn't even trying to pry into adult conversation yet.


Bob to the Rescue is amazingly bare bones compared to segments to follow: no models with only the four principals plus Fonda and all of the action confined to studio and home.  Well, that's not entirely true--we have the first appearance of Cummings as Grandpa Joshua Collins, still snapping photos back in Joplin.  In contrast to future appearances, he's taking those pictures of a woman who appears to be middle-aged and isn't getting slightly frisky with her.

Grandpa would become much more prominent in later seasons, but the dual role only lasts a couple of minutes here.  Like Fonda, Bob's mentor in both aviation and photography would blossom hilariously in future episodes.  Cummings did utilize the same aged makeup and mannerisms during the dream sequence in It's Later Than You Think, but this is the first time he uses them to play Grandpa.  And fortunately far from the last.



WHO WAS BLOCKING?

Just Bob, blocking his own sister in this early installment.  Seeing this makes it easier to understand why she turned the tables so often in subsequent seasons.

DID BOB SCORE?

There's nary a model in the studio and not a single date on Bob's calendar, since he's just too busy meddling in the affairs (literally?) of others.  You can't hit a homerun if you don't step up to the plate, Bob!


THE BOTTOM LINE:

It's the first appearance for Grandpa Collins and the second for Paul Fonda, with hints of the hilarity to come from both.  The silver tongued orator using his wiles to be prudish comes across like a handcuffed Beethoven at times, but there are some laughs, if few indications of the lasciviousness to come.  Not bad, but much better laughs await.  (**1/2 out of four)



Bob to the Rescue is available on DVD through Shokus Home Video on LOVE THAT BOB, VOLUME VII labeled as Bob Cries Wolf. 

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