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???