John T. Ryan
ANTHOLOGIES as series in Television have always been a common component of the seasonal line-ups of every Network ever since the beginnings of TV broadcasting. This was a category of programming that they came about very honestly; as the Old Time Radio shows had many an ever popular anthology in its very makeup. They came as Drama (First Nighter, Playhouse 90), Western (Death Valley Days, Wagon Train*) and Historical (You Are There, Victory At Sea).SELDOM did we see an Anthology Series strictly limited to making us laugh, to Comedy. One exception we can think of (and about the only one that comes to mind off hand is our honorary series of the day, LOVE, American STYLE (Parker-Margolin Productions/Paramount Television/ABC TV Network, 1969-74).THE length of the shows varied between 30 and 60 minutes, as the earlier episodes started out at the hour mark, only to cut to a half hour, and still later back up to the hour mark. Each installment would consist of between 2 and 4 vignettes; featuring completely different casts, totally different stories and absolutely different settings; all bound together within the notion of each being, some how, "Love Related" INASMUCH as the episode weren't really related to "Love", but rather to what would be phonetically spelled something like "Ess-Ee-Ecks", the humor is typically of the American tradition of titillation, double meaning and 'naughty' suggestiveness. Hence, we were able to receive all of 'them dirty', little jokes and stuff; while not offending either the ABC Censor or Newton Minnow.BECAUSE each story was short of duration and featured non-continuing characters and story-lines, there was very little wasted time and no padding, whatsoever. It was the mission of the writers to get it all out in front; relating any and all about each character post haste, because basically, they are living out their entire fictional lives in a quarter hour.WE have heard that we've heard is that those in Hollywood loved series like LOVE, American STYLE (and any other anthology) called for the use of m any different Actors and Actresses, Comedians and Comediennes to populate the length and breadth of the various and numerous mini-episodes.ONE unusual episode appeared in the series. It featured a story about a family in the 1950's getting their first Television Set. Ron Howard was the Teen-Ager with Harold Gould as his father. It was set in Milwaukee and dang, if it didn't bear a strong resemblance to the later HAPPY DAYS series! We found out later that it was a failed HAPPY DAYS pilot. Well, they get our Frugal Utilitarian Award for creative use of what would probably be discarded.WHEN we look back on this collection of funny business, it reminds us most of the old one and two reeler comedies that were produced by guys with names like Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd, Sennett, Roach and Christie. Silent or sound, these short subjects featured comic players with whom their audiences were familiar. Although there was very little continuity of particular roles & names of characters, we instantly knew them and we reacted accordingly.IN short, we believe the series is a sort throwback to those great "Old Time Movies" that we all seem to love so much. This is both a flattering comparison for the series; as well as a further proof that there is truly nothing new under the Sun.NOTE: * Okay, Schultz, you're right. WAGON TRAIN does have recurring characters. But how else could we go West each week without the likes of Major Adams,Flint McCullough, Duke Shannon and Charlie Wooster? Each week's story was different and told new and varied stories along the Trail. Ergo, we feel that the classification as a Western Anthology Series is totally justified! Got it? POODLE SCHNITZ!!
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