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The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis: A truly original sitcom


"The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" remains an anomaly in early 60's television. When the tube was focused on picture-perfect mothers ('Donna Reed'), loving fathers ('Ozzie and Harriet', 'Leave It to Beaver'), "Dobie Gillis" featured the cantankerous Frank Faylen as 'Herbert T. Gillis' who was often heard to threaten: "I've gotta kill that boy!" The somewhat less-than-glamorous Florida Friebus played Dobie's loving mother, Winnie. There was a beatnik character, Maynard G. Krebs, who is sublime as portrayed by Bob Denver. (Denver went from sublime to silly with his 'Gilligan' character...what a shame).

The central character, Dobie, is played to perfection by Dwayne Hickman. For some reason, Hickman's hair color went from blonde to brunette during the series. The blonde Dobie is funnier to me, as he looks like the mugging baby mama's boy that was the essence of Dobie.

'Seinfeld' has nothing on Dobie, as the series usually followed the flimsy plot of the main character chasing pretty girls all the time. When they stuck to this 'non-plot', the show was at its funniest.

The show stands out in my mind much like 'The Honeymooners' did. The stark reality of the Kramden's 'hovel' was very odd, considering that most sitcoms took place in beautiful 'showcase' homes.

So many original touches in this sitcom. Maynard always wanting to see the movie 'The Monster That Ate Cleveland'. Zelda Gilroy (Sheila James) crinkling her nose as the audience wonders why this intelligent girl is so smitten with a goof like Dobie ('that's Dobie with a 'B'). The classic shots of Dobie talking to the audience in front of Rodin's 'The Thinker' in the park. Maynard reacting in horror to the concept of 'Work'.

Steve Franken as 'Chatsworth Osborne, Jr.' made for an even funnier spoiled rich kid than his predecessor -- Warren Beatty as 'Milton Armitage'.

And then there was TUESDAY WELD. Tuesday as 'Thalia Menninger' was so hot for television, that eventually they just dropped her. Or so it goes. TV has offered up true sex symbols very rarely, but Tuesday Weld fit the bill quite well.

I recently viewed an episode called 'The Right Triangle', and I found the writing quite perceptive for the early sixties. The dialogue was sexually quite sophisticated, as witty as any Dick Van Dyke episode.
A hell of a lot more interesting than any 'Father Knows Best' or 'Donna Reed' show.

To an old gas like me, who is left cold by today's television fare, the sub-culture of subchannels is an enjoyable experience. Thank God for MeTV and the Antenna Channel. Although there is something ironic about curling up by the old rabbit ears to watch black and white sitcoms in this age of HDTV and satellite services. What did someone say....everything old is new again???



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I don't know how ppopular it was? It's not a series that seems to come up much in 60's discussions.
My guess is it was more like the "Odd Couple/Adams FAmily" in that it was more of a small loyal following rather than a large audience that delivered big ratings.

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A five-season run never suggests merely "a small loyal following." The sharp, observant writing and terrific characterizations have helped this series stand up (and out) more easily than many other comedy series which I enjoyed regularly as a kid in the '60s.

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Correction:a four year run. Your points are otherwise well taken.

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I don't understand this shows status. before just hearing one person, one person talk about it about 20 years ago, I had never even heard of this show. and I only saw on write up on it in tv guide magazine about 20 years ago also where it listed as one of the best shows of all time. but it has to have just a small loyal following because the mainstream hardly ever talks about it, so it has to be a cult hit tv show. but just because it's a cult hit tv show that doesn't mean it's not a great show. it just wasn't watched by enough people and loved by enough people for it to be a mainstream, happy days, loved by most people show.

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It was a top 30 show during its second and third season. It just wasn't as popular in syndication as some other programs.

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All agreed, though I should point out:

Dobie Gillis' hair went from blond to brunet after season one because Dwayne Hickman's hair began falling out form the constant bleaching needed to keep his crew cut blonde. He was allowed to keep his natural darker hair color for the rest of the series.

Tuesday Weld was dropped because she and Hickman did not get along well, and was moved into feature work at Fox.

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All agreed, though I should point out:

Dobie Gillis' hair went from blond to brunet after season one because Dwayne Hickman's hair began falling out form the constant bleaching needed to keep his crew cut blonde. He was allowed to keep his natural darker hair color for the rest of the series.

Tuesday Weld was dropped because she and Hickman did not get along well, and was moved into feature work at Fox.

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Don't forget about some of the great jazz music used to score the show. That was back when jazz was limited to smokey coffee houses like Maynard would frequent and wasn't seen on TV much (except for maybe Peter Gunn).

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I'm just a patsy!

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Don't forget about some of the great jazz music used to score the show. That was back when jazz was limited to smokey coffee houses like Maynard would frequent and wasn't seen on TV much (except for maybe Peter Gunn).



... and Perry Mason.

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@jadedalex

Like you said, this show really did stand out, mainly for being not like the other shows of its time. I recall catching DOBIE GILLIS on Nick at Night over a decade and a half ago, and really enjoyed it. I actually start watching it because at the time, I had no idea that Bob Denver did anything previous to GILLIGAN'S ISLAND, so seeing him as a cool beatnik was an eye-opener in itself. Then I started watching the show and found it to be unique and different in its treatment of the characters---for one thing, they actually acted like real people and not the usual cookie cutter stereotypes you usually see in shows from that era---they each had distinctive personalities,and it was actually funny on top of that. In other words, it wasn't your typical sitcom for that era----it seemed like most of the young people on the show were going into their early '20's,as opposed to the majority of sitcoms then, which only seemed to feature little kids and teenagers. It just came off as more aimed at adults then anything else,which was also unusual.

And,yeah, for some reason, it's barely mentioned when classic '60's shows are written about---it's never even gotten half the hype that LEAVE IT TO BEAVER gets. Which is funny, because from what I read, LEAVE IT TO BEAVER was never even high in the ratings during its run, so go figure---it only started to get more popular in reruns. It's worth a re-discovery though, for anyone who likes genuinely offbeat old-school TV series.

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I was in college when this series originally aired, and it was extremely popular with college-age kids. Maynard G. Krebs was sern as a funny version of the beatnik types who populated the coffee shops that were springing up everywhere.

And everyone was in love with Tuesday Weld.

Good to see this one resurface after so many years.

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Dwayne Hickman and Tuesday Weld had previously worked together on the film "Rally 'Round The Flag, Boys!" (1958), which was what led to them being cast in "The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis".

Hickman was interested in Weld and she rebuffed him. That seemed to mark the beginning of their feud. Weld wasn't used to doing a weekly series and she was a minor at the time, required to attend school. Hickman not only expressed dismay at her lack of professionalism and her unwillingness to rehearse, but that she was introverted and kept to herself. However, he was always quick to point out that she was an important asset to the show and respected her talent as an actress. And he described her physical beauty in glowing terms.

When Weld returned for her guest appearances in the last two seasons, she had matured a great deal and the cast and crew were amazing in the change in her.

I think the personal differences between Hickman and Weld didn't stop their chemistry from showing through onscreen, which is good.

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totally agree with you. I was just introduced to this show a couple night ago as Decades channel had a two or three day I assume marathon of it. this is a ground breaking show. so, so good, so nuanced, so original, so strange, so fantasy like. it has such a strange tone and feeling to it and aura. the first episode that I watched of it was about Maynard having to leave the military as they were doing a role call and then the brown haired guy had to step in and pretend to be him.

it had such a quirky, electrifying, odd radiance to it which was so apparent from the very beginning of that first episode to me. wow, just wow. so clever, the jokes are so fast paced and so unique. the story set ups are also so clever and well put together and original and fresh. it's so ahead of it's time in terms of comedic brilliance and comic timing, and it's great episodic sitcom format.

it's interesting how nowadays no show has this much going for it or is as good as this show. the problem is every show nowadays has no soul or a heart and they always try to one up each other in terms of how ugly, nasty, crude, sexual, or racy that they are. when will they learn that all these things are bad and don't make a good show. they should go in the opposite direction and make edifying, uplifting, and moral shows. also, they should go back to the '60s way of making smart, nuanced, under the surface humor sitcoms and comedies like this show.

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