By Will “The Thrill” Viharo
TV or not TV? That is the question. These are just some of the answers, thanks to the magical self-programming convenience of DVD. Box sets of vintage and even newer television shows are all the rage nowadays, but for RetroRadar readers, with “Friends” like those, who needs ’em? Return with us now to a time on the tube when Jennifer Anniston was just a twinkle in her Brad’s eye:
Collecting one my all all-time favorites into two double-sided discs, the 21 episodes that comprise THE BEST OF MISTER ED, VOLUME ONE (MGM) include “The First Meeting” between likable Wilbur (Alan Young) and the famous talking horse (voiced by veteran cowboy star Allan “Rocky” Lane) and several choice episodes, like “The Horsetronaut” and “Ed, the Beachcomber.” You’ll also find several obligatory guest celebrity highlights, including “George Burns Meets Mister Ed,” “Clint Eastwood Meets Mister Ed” (when young, pre-Leone Clint was best known as the star of Rawhide!) and “Zsa Zsa.”
This fairly long running black and white series (which aired for five seasons, for ’61-’66) milked the premise shamelessly, casting Ed in all sorts of outrageously silly situations that saw him dressed up like anything from a beatnik to a doctor, often challenging Wilbur’s loyalties to his own wife (ahem!) in the process. But, I never get tired of it and look forward to more volumes, which will hopefully include Ed’s stowaway trip to Hawaii. Word has it there will be a new Fox series with Sherman Hemsley (yes, Mister Jefferson!) taking over the reins as Mister Ed’s voice. (That kind of TV Land incest is just too confusing to me personally.) I still can’t figure out how they got Ed to lip-sync that dialogue so credibly in the first place, and this was way before CGI. I’ve heard rumors it was either peanut butter or a stocking stuffed up his teeth. Either way, how did he “talk” on cue? Maybe Mister Ed was for real, after all….
While we’re on the farm, we also want to pay a visit to Hooterville’s popular big city transplants Oliver (Eddie Albert) and Lisa (Eva Gabor) Douglas. GREEN ACRES: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (MGM)—again on two double-sided discs containing all 32 premiere episodes—is a must-have for fans of the series, old and new. The full color cornball laughs and oddball characters will have you feasting off your small screen like that TV-lovin’ Arnold the Pig.
A spin-off of Petticoat Junction (which itself spun off The Beverly Hillbillies), Green Acres endures because it is a fairly sophisticated satire on cultural mores. My wife loves the leopard sofa, too. Neither of these collections contains any extra features, but I didn’t miss them. Who needs running commentary from Mister Ed? He has enough to say in the actual series.
Beatnik lounge lizard and writer Will “the Thrill” Viharo and his wife, Monica “the Tiki Goddess,” host a live cult movie cabaret called “Thrillville” at the Cerrito Speakeasy Theater in El Cerrito, CA. Will also has a B-movie tiki lounge at home, where he watches his DVD collection while drinking homemade Mai Tais, which are rather strong may have influenced these reviews somewhat.