Burns and Allen Show

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Peter Neski, Jul 27, 2006.

  1. Peter Neski

    Peter Neski Supporting Actor

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    I made a couple dvds of the three columbia house tapes of this show
    after watching them.I don't understand why sony dosn't do something with
    theis wonderful show,
     
  2. Bob Hug

    Bob Hug Screenwriter

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    Peter, take your choice for any or all of these reasons . . .

    1. It’s black & white; something that appears to "scare" Sony. In those few instances when Sony does actually release a b&w show like “Bewitched” or “I Dream of Jeannie,” they have so much confidence in their product that they also have to release it in a colorized version.

    2. Demographics for this show are “bad,” i.e., they're not a good fit for most of those under age 40.

    3. The show has not been in wide circulation for many years.

    4. There are about ten or so episodes floating around on cheap “public domain” releases that some major studios believe kill the market for any legitimate release.

    Frankly, Sony ought to license “Burns & Allen” to an independent (who would know how to market it), but that’s probably not going to happen. So enjoy and savor your homemade DVDs.
     
  3. Charles Ellis

    Charles Ellis Screenwriter

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    Shame on Sony! The PD episodes are from the first season, when it was aired live. In later years the show was filmed before an audience, and that's the majority of the show! Those episodes probably have great film masters as opposed to the kinescopes of the first year. I'd definitely buy a legit release of the later filmed seasons.
     
  4. Pete Battista

    Pete Battista Screenwriter

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    I picked up 2 of the public domain releases from a dollar store not to far from me... and have yet to watch either one of them... they were blind buys for me. I guess I should make some time to check them out... I have the first 2 volumes from Television Classics... each holding 3 episodes...

    Vol. 1:
    - Income Tax Man
    - Free Trip to Hawaii
    - Space Patrol Girls

    Vol. 2:
    - Teenage Girl Spends the Weekend
    - Book Salesman
    - Gracie Gives a Wedding

    So I take it that these are all from season 1 then? because the case says from 1950, 1951 and 1952 for the eps.
     
  5. Garysb

    Garysb Screenwriter

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    The show was filmed in later seasons but never shot in front of a live audience per the George Burns book "Gracie: A Love Story"
     
  6. Michael Alden

    Michael Alden Supporting Actor

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    Sony thinks that those of us who would be interested in the show are too busy spending our money on denture cream and on fixing our victrolas to afford DVDs.
     
  7. Bert Greene

    Bert Greene Second Unit

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    Yep, this is something I'd get in a heartbeat, were Sony to serve it up (however unlikely that may indeed be). "Burns and Allen" is a pretty important 1950s series, and consistently funny to boot. That first filmed season, 1952-53, is especially good, perhaps the best of the series.

    I also have some of the p.d. releases from the earlier kinescope seasons. They are pretty funny, too, although the video quality can be spotty. I hope those first two seasons are at least well-preserved somewhere (and thus, not among the "lost" material from those early days of tv). Same with the early "Jack Benny" shows. It would be great to see them both, complete and chronological, with original commercials and all.
     
  8. David Rain

    David Rain Screenwriter

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    To my knowledge, all of the filmed eps do still exist somewhere but haven't been shown on TV in years. I watched them in the early 80's on a cable network called CBN which has now morphed into ABC Family.
     
  9. Charles Ellis

    Charles Ellis Screenwriter

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    You're right, Garysb! I'd forgotten that what was done was that the shows were filmed on a soundstage, and then the completed shows were projected in a theater with an audience, and their actual reactions were recorded as to provide a genuine laughtrack, not the usual canned laughter. The audience reactions were mixed into the episode's soundtrack, and the result was a filmed show with real laughter.
     
  10. Gregory V

    Gregory V Stunt Coordinator

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    I would DEFINITELY buy any kind of season releases for this show.
    Gracie Allen was one of the funniest women EVER. And Bea Benaderet was always wonderful as Blanche.
     
  11. Jeff#

    Jeff# Screenwriter

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    Nobody can complain about network radio's The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show being in black and white! [​IMG] And you can get almost 200 of those still in existence for FREE by downloading Mp3 files from a few classic radio (a.k.a. Old Time Radio) websites.

    There were a few versions of George & Gracie's comedy show, beginning on the radio in the 1930s. It was a variety show with a monolog and a long sketch (as Jack Benny did) that held the show together for several years. Although the couple were married years earlier in their vaudville days (first appearing in movies as early as 1930 and starting in radio a few years later), it wasn't until a major format change in 1942 (when Swan Soap took over sponsorship) that Burns & Allen became the sitcom portraying them as a married couple that would remain. It focused primarily on their home life and preparing their radio show. Maxwell House assumed sponsorship in 1946, keeping announcer Bill Goodwin from the Swan days until that ended in 1949.

    For a few months in 1940, there was a continuing storyline of Gracie Allen running for President and those make for interesting listening!

    In the early 1940s, the guitar player Senor Lee was a comedy character in Artie Shaw's orchestra. His broken English made him a prototype of sorts for Ricky Ricardo, although Senor Lee was a supporting character. From 1942 to 1949, pitchman Bill Goodwin and as The Postman (and other characters) Mel Blanc were regulars.

    You can get 182 episodes of their radio show at www.154.ca/otr/archive.cgi?program=burnsandallen and download all 6 sets of shows at the same time.

    The major differences between the radio and later TV series:

    1. In the radio show George didn't talk to the audience directly, the way he would sometimes talk to the camera on the TV show (a.k.a. "Breaking the fourth wall").

    2. The radio show wasn't in black and white, so nobody can complain about that! [​IMG] Of course some people prefer to see as well as hear, so that's their problem.... But if you're at work you certainly can't be watching TV so get out that Mp3 player or I-Pod! [​IMG] The audio quality on many of those old radio shows are excellent since many of those transcription discs (records) and even the tapes were well preserved.
     
  12. Roger_S

    Roger_S Stunt Coordinator

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    I think I'd like to take a chance and pick up one of the PD releases...can someone recommend which one to buy? I saw at an online store that there's one that has over 8 hours but it's from Good Times and I always am leery about that particular company.
     
  13. Bob Hug

    Bob Hug Screenwriter

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  14. Roger_S

    Roger_S Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks, Bob. I did check that out. I decided to take a chance and order the 3 discs published by Critics Choice...I've gotten a few other items by them and the discs are watchable. That's about all I can expect from these PD publishers, I guess. None of them that I've seen reviews of are exactly pristine.
     
  15. Brett*H

    Brett*H Stunt Coordinator

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    Those Dollar Store releases aren't bad at all. We picked up a volume of "Burns and Allen" from our local Family Dollar store as well. It has one double sided disc with 5 episodes on each side. I have to say that I was very impressed with the video quality on these. They look very, very good. They're released by Brentwood Home Video and distributed by BCI.

    They contain the original commercials from the series which ranges from Colgate to Carnation Canned Milk.

    The audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 but the audio quality varies from episode to episode.We had to turn our subwoofer almost all the way down in order to obtain some crispness of the dialogue.

    Just for the heck of it we also grabbed "Ozzie and Harriet" and "The Lone Ranger". The "Ozzie an Harriet" eps are also visually very clean and the audio is great. Ricky's musical numbers sound nice and clear! This set also contains commercials with Harriet making pancakes with Aunt Jemimah's Pancake Mix.

    The Lone Ranger volumes contain episodes that are just as great looking/sounding as any commercial release by these big name studio/companies. One of the volumes are the very first 3 episodes of the series.Incidentally, this very same release sells for $14.95 on Amazon.

    Even though I'd buy season releases of these shows in a heartbeat, I would recommend picking up these little volumes to anyone who would like a good sampler of these classic tv shows. They're nice releases considering that they only cost a buck apiece.[​IMG]
     
  16. andrew markworthy

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    Please may I ask a dumb Brit question? I've seen some of these shows on a compilation box set. The product placement in the shows was (to a Brit at least) jaw-dropping. E.g. everything stopped two or three times per show for a (painfully embarrassing) plug for the sponsor's product. Was this the norm on US TV at the time? E.g. if there was a production of Hamlet, would 'To be or not to be, that is the quesiton' be followed by 'Should I buy my regular brand of toothpaste or try new Acme?'.
     
  17. Bob Hug

    Bob Hug Screenwriter

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    Andrew, it's not a dumb question . . .

    In the early days of television, it was fairly common for a show to be sponsored by a single company, such as Carnation Milk or the like. In some instances, like "Burns & Allen" or the early detective show "Martin Kane," the commercials were integrated into the shows themselves. In other instances, commercials were filmed and inserted at logical breaks in the show as they are today. Some shows alternated sponsors every other week, e.g., an automobile manufacturer one week, a cigarette company the next. And some shows even had the sponsor as part of their title, i.e., the Colgate Comedy Hour, or the Lux Playhouse, or Texaco Star Theater, among others. While you really don't see commercials integrated into television shows too much anymore, it's more or less been replaced by product placements where you can distinctly see a product's trade name, e.g, an actor might have a soft drink can like Coca Cola that you can easily see.
     
  18. andrew markworthy

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    Bob, thanks for the info. Nothing like that in the UK. In the early days of commercial TV, there was the occasional infomercial on terrestrial TV, but that was about it. Today there are infomercials on some of our satellite channels (generally on channels purely devoted to infomercials). As for sponsorship of programmes, that has only been allowed for about the last decade, and there cannot be explicit product placement. On the intro or outro to the commercial breaks, there is often an 'amusing' (i.e. usually just plain irritating) very brief sketch or similar advertising the sponsor's product.
     
  19. Roger_S

    Roger_S Stunt Coordinator

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    My copies have now arrived. The quality is about what I expected...not great but not horrible. The focus is a bit soft but I can live with them for what I paid...about $6 a volume. They list the airdates on these, most are from 1950 to 1952 but one is from 1957.
     
  20. Jeff#

    Jeff# Screenwriter

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    The sponsors estentially owed the shows on TV back then, and not just in the early years of TV (which was the 1940s actually) but throughout the 1950s and even into the early 1960s. The same can be said for radio, where it all started. The must amusing comedy sketches in the days when radio was like television (and TV was often made fun of at the time) were on The Red Skelton Show and also the sitcom "My Favorite Husband", in which Lucille Ball (who played Liz on the show) did various other characters in the Jello-O commercials, in which she performed with straight-man announcer Bob Lemond.
     

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