- Dec 9, 2001
- Fishkill, NY
- Real Name
- Rich Gallagher
The Phil Silvers Show (original title: You'll Never Get Rich) is one of the iconic television comedies of the 1950s. The winner of eight Primetime Emmy Awards, it deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence as such famous comedy shows from that era as I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, and The Jack Benny Program. The entire series (142 episodes, several of which have never been seen in syndication) is now available in an outstanding box set which is being released by Shout! Factory.
Studio: Shout! Factory
Distributed By: Shout! Factory
Video Resolution and Encode: 480I/MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English 1.0 DD (Mono)
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 62 Hr. 54 Min.
Package Includes: DVDFour Flipper Keep Cases in Slipcase
Disc Type: DVD-5 (single layer)
Release Date: 11/04/2014
That's right, Sarge. They got a lot of nerve putting their happiness ahead of your greed. - Corporal Steve HenshawMaster Sergeant Ernie Bilko (Phil Silvers) is often referred to as a con man, but he is better described as a schemer. As the head of the Motor Pool at mythical Fort Baxter, Kansas, Bilko has turned his corner of the Army base into his personal casino. Whether it is poker, roulette, craps, or raffles, and even setting up his own insurance company, Bilko is always dreaming up new ways to make a quick buck. However, he draws the line at cheating, so it really is not fair to call him a con artist.The commanding officer of Fort Baxter is the hapless Colonel John Hall (Paul Ford), who dreams of promotion but deep down realizes that he has been exiled by the Pentagon to an insignificant Army post in the middle of nowhere. Colonel Hall is well aware of Bilko's money-making schemes, but when he tries to put a stop to them he invariably is outwitted by the quick-thinking Sergeant. Bilko has an unlikely ally in Colonel Hall's wife, Nell (Hope Sansberry), because he unfailingly flatters her whenever they meet.Although Bilko never passes up an opportunity to hit up the men of the Motor Pool for money, they are intensely loyal to him because he makes their lives relatively easy and he shares their disdain for authority. Bilko is aided in his chicanery by Corporal Rocco Barbella (Harvey Lembeck) and Corporal Steve Henshaw (Allan Melvin). The other enlisted men include the dumpy but very funny Private Duane Doberman (Maurice Gosfield), Private Dino Papparelli (Billy Sands), Corporal Sam Fender (Herbie Faye), Private Irving Fleishmann (Maurice Brenner), Private Mullen (Jack Healy), and Private Fielding Zimmerman (Mickey Freeman). An interesting feature of the show, considering the era in which it was made, is that the Motor Pool was integrated with a black soldier, Private Sugie Sugerman (Terry Carter). Bilko's card-playing victims were mess Sergeant Rupert Ritzik (Joe E. Ross) and Sergeant Francis Grover (Jimmy Little). Ritzik in particular is an easy mark for card shark Bilko, a factor which invariably infuriates Ritzik's beleagured wife Emma (Beatrice Pons).Originally entitled You'll Never Get Rich, the program's name was changed at some point during its first season. It was the brainchild of Nat Hiken, who wrote many of the episodes and later created Car 54, Where Are You? The talented stable of writers included Neil Simon, who contributed to at least twenty scripts. After three seasons in Kansas the cast was moved to Camp Fremont in California, and Season Four includes cameo appearances from such Hollywood stars as Lucille Ball and Dean Martin. George Kennedy, who was then an active duty serviceman, was the U.S. Army's technical adviser on the show, and Phil Silvers encouraged him to become an actor by giving him some small parts. In fact, there were so many speaking parts on the program, and so many writers working on the scripts, that The Phil Silvers Show was cancelled after four seasons because of its high production costs. Fortunately for us, the original elements have been well-preserved and we now have the opportunity to revisit the entire series in all of its hilarious glory.Viewers undoubtedly will see similarities between The Phil Silvers Show and McHale's Navy. That is no accident, because Edward Montagne produced both shows and Billy Sands was a regular cast member on both.
The Production Rating: 5/5
These black & white programs are properly framed at 1.33:1 and overall look exceptionally good. Each episode appears to be complete and intact. The opening credits for many of the shows exhibit a bit of flutter and a minor scratch or two, but a check of most of the episodes turned up no evidence of any significant problems with scratches, debris, or other anomalies. I am quite certain that The Phil Silvers Show never looked this good when I watched it at home as a child.It has been suggested that these transfers might be inferior to those found on the 50th Anniversary set because the latter were sourced for HD masters. However, I did an A/B comparison of the Season Four episode "Bilko Joins the Navy" and I found no quantifiable difference in video quality other than the opening credits (which look better on the 50th Anniversary set).
Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA
The Dolby Digital mono audio is fine, with every word of dialogue clear and understandable. The audio is free of distortion, hiss, and other annoyances. English subtitles are available for those who need them. However, one oddity, which is a minor annoyance, is that the subtitles are On by default, even though the menu indicates that the default is Off, as it should be. To solve this, from the opening menu click on Subtitles and click on Off, and then proceed to watch the episodes.
Audio Rating: 4/5
There are quite a few entertaining extras on this set, although some of the extras which appear on the 50th Anniversary box set which was released by Paramount in 2006 are not included here. See below for more details on the missing extras.Several episodes are introduced by Allan Melvin, and there are commentary tracks by Melvin, George Kennedy, Larry Storch, Mickey Freeman, and Dick Van Dyke. Incidentally, the episode in which Dick Van Dyke appears, "Hillbilly Whiz," includes cameo appearances by New York Yankees Hall of Famers Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, and Phil Rizzuto.Season One is an exact duplicate of the Season One set which was released by Paramount in 2010. Even the packaging is the same, with the Paramount logo on the spine and on the discs.The extras on Season One are:1. "The Lost Audition Show" - This is a kinescope of an audition version of the show's first episode, "New Recruits." Viewers will note that Colonel Hall is not played by Paul Ford, and Jack Warden plays Corporal Henshaw. The kinescope has a lot of reel damage but is nevertheless watchable.2. "Original Network Opening" shows how the opening looked when the name of the show was "You'll Never Get Rich." The original opening was replaced with the familiar animated opening which graces the programs on this set. Original Cast Commercials are self-explanatory.3. "Lucy and the Efficiency Expert" is a 1966 episode of The Lucy Show in which Phil Silvers appears as an insufferable efficiency expert.The extras on Season Two are:1. "The Cast of Phil Silvers on Broadway" is a clip from a CBS special in which Allan Melvin, Mickey Freeman, Billy Sands and Maurice Gosfield (all in their Bilko uniforms) join Silvers for a song and dance number.2. An excerpt of an appearance by Phil Silvers and his close friend Jack Benny on The Dick Cavett Show.3. An interview with Cathy Silvers, one of Phil's daughters, who inexplicably is more interested in talking about her organic food business than telling viewers about her memories of her father.The extras on Season Three are:1. An interview with Phil's daughters Nancey Silvers and Tracey Silvers. Unlike their sister Cathy, they enthusiastically confine their remarks to reminiscences about their father and his many friends in show business.2. An interview of Phil on The Paul Ryan Show in Los Angeles.The extras on Season Four are:1. An extended excerpt from "Keep In Step," a 1959 television special which included the cast of The Phil Silvers Show in character.2. A promotional short for The New Phil Silvers Show, a sitcom which ran for one season (1963-1964).3. An entire episode from The New Phil Silvers Show in which Phil's character tries to patch up a spat between his newlywed neighbors but only manages to make things worse.4. Excerpts from Phil's final television interview with New York television host Sonny Fox. Phil suffered a serious stroke in 1972 but his mind remained sharp.These are the extras which appear on the 50th Anniversary set which are not included in the Complete Series set:Nick at Nite promo taping for the Sgt. Bilko moviePhil Hartman Nick at Nite episode introsEd Sullivan Show clip with Phil Silvers1956 Emmy Award highlightsFriars Stag Roast for Humphrey Bogart (audio)The Bilko Growl (audio-only song)1957 Emmy AwardsTony Randall and Jack Krugman Remember Sgt. Bilko (TV Land)If you own the 50th Anniversary set you may want to hang onto it for the additional extras.
Special Features Rating: 4/5
Fans of television shows on DVD have justifiably been frustrated when shows which are released one season at a time become stalled, so it is gratifying to see Shout! Factory step up to the plate and release complete series sets such as Hill Street Blues and The Bob Newhart Show. It seemed that The Phil Silvers Show was stalled after the release of Season One in 2010, so the announcement of the complete series set was met with praise. Fans of the show will be very pleased with this release. Although The Phil Silvers Show is now nearly 60 years old, the humor is mostly timeless and is as funny today as it was in the 1950s.The street date for this set is November 4, 2014, but for those who cannot wait it can be ordered now with free shipping directly from the Shout! Factory website.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewed By: Richard Gallagher
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