The George Burns & Gracie Allen Collection (Passport)
C- Sound: C+ Extras: D Episodes: B-
battle to get top names for TV, CBS outbid NBC to get George Burns and Gracie
Allen, though they were on NBC radio at one point. With financial backing from Carnation, The
George Burns and Gracie Allen Show made the leap from radio to the new
medium. The new The George Burns & Gracie Allen Collection collects eight
half-hour episodes, but on 4 DVDs! It is
nicely packaged, but for 5 DVDs (even if they were the limited DVD-5s and the
fifth is devoted to a documentary), there could have been more episodes per DVD
or less DVDs.
the show is funny. The jokes center on
the crazy persona of Gracie as the not-in-touch-with-any-reality-but-hers wife
of serious jokester George. At the
least, it is top rate entertainment with very talented comic actors. At its best, there are some real laughs that
come out of nowhere that hold up very well.
Considering the show is even older than I Love Lucy, that is most impressive. The episodes are as follows:
1950 Pilot Show
Gracie’s Tax Return (Bob Sweeney went on to Our Miss Brooks)
Gracie’s Checking Account
Gracie’s Wedding Plans
Swami (Walter Woolf King (The Marx Bros.’
A Night at the Opera))
Beverly Hills Society
went on long after Allen’s untimely passing, so people know how great he was,
but Gracie left too early. To put it
bluntly, she is a gem! Though it is not
said much, she had to be one of the 20th Century’s greatest comic
actresses. Her energy and timing are
unbelievably good, so much so that she could go a few rounds with the best of
them. Add the chemistry she had with
George and it is no wonder that they are still one of the most legendary performing
couples of all.
Harry von Zell, Fred Clark and Bea Benadaret are among the more recognized
regular faces here, but all the performers were top rate and too much was at
stake competition-wise. The result was a
show that helped CBS become the number one network and hold that position into
the 1970s. This show ran until 1958,
then Gracie retired and George tried to do the next season on his own. It only lasted that one season.
frame image is average, off of kinescope materials that are lucky to have
survived. They are not great and The Honeymooners – The Lost Episodes
are more like what such material should look like, and With that said, it is not bad and the sound
is better than the box would let you believe.
The Dolby Digital Mono diagram indicates 1.0, but it is better 2.0,
which is in surprisingly good shape. It
shows its age, but has no pops, clicks, or major background hiss or
warping. That should make fans
happy. Not including the documentary on
DVD 5, which we are not counting as an extra, there are no extras. There must be some promos on the show, maybe
in the CBS vault, but they are not here.
that documentary, it is part of a series called Hollywood Couples and runs about 50 minutes. It repeats footage form the episodes in this
box, but has good footage outside of that.
It is a nice wrap up to this set, making me forget a bit that more shows
could have fit.
- Nicholas Sheffo