In 1957, most TV sitcoms were set in urban enviroments and were about the comedy inherent in daily,domestic life. Most TV viewers were watching those sitcoms on NBC and CBS. Other than modest,ratings success with the comely Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and Danny Thomas's heartwarming, Make Room For Daddy, ABC-TV wasn't exactly known as America's home of comic hits.
A writing and producing team , comprised of two brothers, Irving and Norman Puncus, wrote a pilot film for a series that found it's comedy in the contrast of a poor, rural family moving to live in a modern,suburban environment.
The Real McCoys chronicled the journey of a West Virginia,farming family as they take up residence at a ranch in California's San Fernando Valley, left to them by a beloved, deceased relative.
The promising script was rejected by NBC and CBS.But, after months of prospecting at the major networks, the Pincus brothers finally struck TV gold at ABC. Danny Thomas , who was a major star at the smallest of the national networks, liked the concept and agreed to finance the pilot.His producing partner, Sheldon Leonard, who later guided The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. and I Spy to the top of the Nielsen Ratings, directed the pilot, which was distinguished by its gentle,folksy humor, played out at a primetime pace.
Three time, Academy Award winner, Walter Brennan signed on to play Amos McCoy, the family patriarch. He was paired with the versatile and vaunted Richard Crenna, fresh from playing lovelorn,teenage under-achiever, Walter Denton, on the hit television and radio versions of Our Miss Brooks. Leonard and the Pincus Brothers recruited a facile supporting cast and were supported by the experienced,Desilu production team.
The clip,below, is from that pilot film, which aired as the first episode of the ABC-TV series, when it debuted on October 3, 1957. One element of the writing is amazing to me: As you'll see, viewers are given the entire backstory of the McCoy's motiviation to Go West in less than half a minute of exposition, during the first scene of the show.This typifies the kind of clarity in story development that smartly supported the bucolic, family comedy.Enjoy!!!!!
The Real McCoys ran six years on ABC-TV and achieved a major milestone when it became the first situation comedy in ABC's,short history to enter the Nielsen Top Ten. Upon it's cancellation in 1962, CBS-TV picked up the show, retitled it as The McCoys and aired it on Sunday nights at 9PM in the East, opposite the NBC-TV, powerhouse western, Bonanza. It was cancelled at the end of that television season. Fans of the show enjoyed years of reruns on the networks and in syndication.