Wednesday, February 3, 2010
JEEPERS, IT'S MR. PEEPERS - RARE, UNAIRED PILOT FOR 50'S HIT SITCOM - NBC-TV - CIRCA 1952
Long before the birth of educational television, one of the young medium's biggest shows featured a teacher and took place,largely, in a classroom.
But, NBC-TV's MR.PEEPERS was actually an early sitcom starring the eccentric and endearing Wally Cox as the slight and shy,junior high school science teacher, Robinson Peepers.
The 30 minute , B&W show, created by David Swift and produced by the legendary Fred Coe, was a low-key look at the comic adventures of a mild mannered educator living in small town America, during the post WWII years.
In this pilot, which was never broadcast, and in the subsequent, EMMY nominated series,Cox was surrounded by a talented and towering ensemble of NYC actors,including Patricia Benoit as his love interest,plus Tony Randall, Marion Lorne, and Jack Warden.
You'll notice a young Walter Matthau as the school's voluble coach in this episode.
Many of MR. PEEPER'S Great scripts were provided by master comedy writers Everett Greenbaum and Jim Fritzell, who would,later, co-author some of THE ODD COUPLE's best episodes.
Production values may be primitive from a 2010 perspective,but were above average in television's infancy.
MR. PEEPERS debuted to great ratings and critical reviews on July 3, 1952.It was a Sunday night staple,opposite CBS-TV's alternating, powerhouse competition, THE JACK BENNY PROGRAM & ANN SOUTHERN STARRING IN PRIVATE SECRETARY.
The gentle,classroom comedy ended its NBC-TV run on April 12,1955.
Wally Cox, a man of eclectic interests, including riding his motorcycle with friend and former roommate Marlon Brando, went on to a great career in television comedy, as did so many of his versatile cast mates.
Cox was a favorite on THE HOLLYWOOD SQUARES, and he was the voice of the animated,super pup, UNDERDOG.,also on NBC-TV. Cox did guest shots on a variety of primetime shows,including I SPY, THE BILL COSBY SHOW,MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE and more.
The four clips posted, below, are from the MICHELLE66 YOU TUBE SITE and constitute the 30 minute, unaired pilot film for the series.
This segment was produced LIVE at NBC's Century Theater in NYC without an audience and was captured with the NBC lenticular film method, better known as a kinescope.
As the episode was switched with LIVE cameras, the line feed, which would normally be the signal sent out to the network in a LIVE program, was ,instead,recorded on 16mm film.
That grainy, sparse recording preserved the performance, so network executives could repeatedly review the program.
Here is a nostalgic snapshot of nascent, network television,MR.PEEPERS from NBC-TV. Enjoy!!!!!