Thursday, May 8, 2008

Forgotten '60s sitcom gem 2: He and She

Courtesy of the same poster who put up the item below, who calls himself “Mr. Retro” (thank you, Senor!) we have another lost Sixties sitcom gem, a one-season wonder called He and She starring the real-life married couple Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss. The show ran from ’67-68, and revolved around a cartoonist and his cute-as-hell wife who were young cosmopolitan folk along the lines of Rob and Laura Petrie, and Anne Marie and Don Hollinger.

Benjamin is an unusual performer who was very good as the filmic alter-ego of Philip Roth in two films (Portnoy’s Complaint must be seen, it is fucking amazing!), but he is better remembered by fans for his sci-fi turns in Westworld(1973) and the cult sitcom Quark (1977). I think he actually gave his best performance as the scumbag husband in Frank and Eleanor Perry’s Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970). He has worked as a director for the past quarter-century, but hasn't ever really lived up to the promise of his first two pics (My Favorite Year and Racing with the Moon). Prentiss made her debut as an attractive ingenue in Where the Boys Are but is best known for The Stepford Wives (1975).

The show features one of my all-time fave character guys, Kenneth Mars, who was the once and future Teuton from Mel Brooks’ classic Producers and Young Frankenstein, and the best-ever guest from the tip-top Fernwood 2-Night (the only guy who made the unflappable Martin Mull and Fred Willard start to break up on camera).

The whole damn thing is stolen, though, by Jack Cassidy as uber-ham Oscar North, a preening TV actor playing “Jet Man,” the character created by Benjamin. Cassidy was quite a show-biz pro, who is seen to best advantage in this clip from Dinah! doing a song used on SCTV as a theme for the Jackie Rogers Jr. character, “She Loves Me,” from the B’way play of the same name. It’s often been noted that Cassidy’s turn on He and She was the precursor to Ted Baxter on MTM.

Aaaaaaand, just in case you were wondering how was behind such the show, it’s the exact same team that did The Good Guys: producer/scripter Leonard Stern (also writer Arne Sultan, his cohort from Get Smart; Jerry Fielding did the music and Reza Badiyi put together the cute-as-hell opening and closing credit montages.


ProstateCancer said...

I always had a nice warm feeling, while watching HE and She.

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