Even Dick Van Dyke had his Jim Belushi.
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Wait this was a real show and not a parody of stupid '60s sitcoms? Fuck.
John Holmes Motherfucker
MMTC is some kind of weird cultural touchstone. I can remember the Munsters making a joke about it in the mid sixties. Aaron Sorkin made a joke about in the Pilot of Studio 60 on the Sunset strip 40 years later. There's an episode of Arrested Development entitled My Mother the Car. We're making jokes about it now. I was listening to NPR's ON THE MEDIA, and Bob Garfield was starting to talk about forgettable television shows, and I knew before he said it that he was about to mention MMTC, proving Bob wrong this time.
Why is this show always on the tips of our tongues? There's got to be more than one reason. The theme song is certainly right up there. haven't watched the show more than once since 1970, but I'm 100 per cent sure that I could sing at least 90 per cent of the theme song.
There's something great about the premise, which is ridiculous and yet also profoundly Freudian. I feel like garcet and I just stumbled on the obvious. Even if you believe in reincarnation, you probably don't believe that people are reincarnated as objects, and it seems unlikely that Jerry's mother would have died early enough to be recreated as a 1928 Porter, unless she died in childbirth. Jerry Van Dyke himself was born in 1931. But a car is something you can step inside of, so, as garcet and I just figured out, this may be a comedy about an immature man's desire to return to the womb.
i don't rmember, but it's not possible that I've been coming here for 13 years, and I've never mentioned my theory about Plan Nine from Outer Space as an absurdist tragicomedy about a chaotic universe where stupid aliens stupidly fail in their stupid attempt to prevent stupid humanity from stupidly destroying the universe with a stupid weapon who no one, not even the aliens, can pronounce. Bela Lugosi rises from the dead, in a form so hilariously phoney that it only reiterates how doomed we all are. In the best scene, two military officers listen to a tape of Dudley Manlove, pretty much explaining the Alien's mission from beginning to end, and the commanding officer's hilarious response is "FIND OUT WHAT THE HELL THEY WANT!" Ed Wood was a bad filmmaker who opened himself to chaos. Chaos became his collaborator, and just once, he created great art.
Sixties comedies usually have bad jokes, with every last bit of humor in the dialogue smothered by the laugh track, but they can be profoundly comic at the level of character interaction. I've recently rediscovered "My Favorite Martian" and Ray Walston's deadpan performance. I Dream of Jeannie was always funnier than the sum of its jokes. It's just possible that there's more to "MY MOTHER THE CAR" than we've been willing to admit. I'm going to take another look.
I'm pretty sure JHMF just put more thought into the concept of MMTC than the writers, producers, actors, and directors put into the entire series.
I Dream of Jeannie holds up really well, actually far better than Bewitched, which was the critical darling of the two at the time. The secret in IDoJ is the level of absurdist humor and the focus on extreme situations.
Munsters and Addams Family also still work, both due to the stellar performances by the entire casts. Munsters strong point being the firmly vaudevillian humor and Addams Family being its commitment to weird when weird was VERY weird.
I will have to check out My Favorite Martian again. I haven't watched it since I was a child (I don't remember watching it, but my parents have told me I did at one point) so it probably deserves another look.
I think the common thread is Paul Lynde.
The sixties was the time for "high concept" sitcoms with "fantastical" premises, the better ones had other things going on besides the premise and the lesser ones, the justly obscure ones and even the notorious one discussed here tended to hang everything on their 'novel' premise. For every one that took off there were plenty left behind, like the only aired once pilot for "Where's Everett?" a 1966 production starring Alan Alda as a father who discovers an invisible alien baby left in a basket his doorstep one day, and how his family adopts it and must deal with it's mischievous nature.
"My Mother, the Car," is ridiculed and forever epitomizes network insanity. But was "My Mother, the Car" basic premise any crazier than a man who fights crime with his talking car? A half-man, half-robot secret agent who runs in slow motion, or an astronaut who marries a genie? It's all in the execution and MMTC besides it's wacky premise is just another bog-standard Sixties sitcom, belabored and mediocre.
You're all putting too much thought in to this. All of these shows were created in California in the period when LSD was not just legal, but was about a decade in to being touted as the miracle cure for everything from alcoholism (at one point in the late 50s I believe, maybe early 60s, it was the only government approved treatment for alcoholism in Canada because it was shown to have a 90% long term success rate when combined with talk therapy) to psoriasis and would be provided free in huge quantities by Sandoz to anyone who could convincingly falsify research credentials.
Between that and the the psychotherapy fad of the 40s and 50s you pretty much have the formula for why all this stuff exists.
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