Thursday, May 8, 2008

Forgotten '60s sitcom gem: The Good Guys

Fifties sitcoms are the blueprints for the genre (borrowed liberally from the radio and certain master comedians like Fields), while the Sixties sits moved into the very high-concept area with flying nuns, talking cars, goofy castaways, and sea-captain ghosts. This find is a low-key buddy comedy that I remember watching as a very tiny kid, but had no clear memories of. I’m happy to report it’s cute as hell, with some decent gags. The Good Guys ran only a season and a half (1968-70), and involved the dynamic between a down-on-his-luck diner owner (the blessed Herb Edelman) and his cabbie friend (uber-sidekick Bob Denver, fresh from his stint with the Skipper and Mary Ann). The show is charming and simple — Edelman tries to avoid the stupid plans hatched by Denver, while long-suffering spouse Joyce Van Patten puts up with it all. This particular episode finds Denver getting involved with a heartsick young musician and Edelman trying to avoid a rich rival (played by the priss exemplar William Daniels).

The show was created by veteran scripter Jack Rose (who worked on Bob Hope pics in the Forties and wound up doing things like A Touch of Class in the Seventies), and was produced by Leonard Stern (who produced comedies from Get Smart to Grace Under Fire). It's 40 years old this year. DAMN, I wish the “classic TV” networks would put stuff like this on.

Check out the pilot episode here:

Or just sample the super-’60s theme song here. The credits sequence was done by the long-unheralded director/title designer Reza Badiyi, who directed countless TV episodes of classic shows, was once Jennifer Jason Leigh's stepdad, and helped craft many credits montages, among them Hawaii 5-0 and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

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