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CAR 54 WHERE ARE YOU? THE COMPLETE SECOND
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Car 54 Where Are You? ~ Season 2
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Bad news is: the packaging STILL stinks. As I received and unwrapped mine today, Disc One was loose, and the cheap cardboard packaging is not worthy of this great show. HOWEVER, Shanachie FINALLY got it right as each disc in this set contains the correct episodic order of the shows. HOORAY!!(See my other review for Season One,as I had to literally print out the order that one of the reviewers here was kind enough to list, and I have it attached to the Season One package).
Most of the reviews have covered the shows, so I won't go into detail, but, this season has lots of guest stars, i.e., Shari Lewis (remember Lamb Chop?) Sugar Ray Robinson and even Mitch Miller!! Plus, F-Troop's loveable Corporal Agarn, Larry Storch, is great as Charlie the Drunk, and Molly Picon, a marvelous actress who guested in an episode in Season One, is back as Mrs. Bronson. "Hail to the Chief", the first episode, is terrific in that, those of us who remember the Kennedy Presidency get a treat to see JFK and Jackie at the end. However, the shot was taken before he became President, just after he won the Democratic nomination and they were given a ticker-tape parade in downtown Manhattan. (Jackie was pregnant with JFK Jr. here) Terrific nostalgia, nonetheless.
I still crack up just looking at Toody's (Joe E. Ross) face. Also included in the Season Two set is a Bonus of Joe E. Ross and his stand-up comedy come back audition film. Supposedly, Car 54 retired to the police garage after just two seasons due to Ross' ego (he reportedly got so big-headed nobody wanted to work with him) and also his wanting to go back to stand up. Well, here it is. (And for this they cancelled Car 54?) Judge for yourself.
All in all, I would rather have these two season - eight disc sets to watch again and again when I really need a belly laugh. Today's shows leave a LOT to be desired, which is why, I suspect, everything old (and funny) is new again. This show was and is still, after 50 years, hysterically funny.
CAR 54, WHERE ARE YOU? ran for two seasons, Sunday 8:30 to 9 pm on NBC-TV. Filming was on location and at the pioneer BIOGRAPH studio, a Bronx fixture since 1913. The TV drama NAKED CITY was a Biograph production, as were BUTTERFIELD 8 (1960), ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW (1959) and PRETTY BOY FLOYD (1960). The shuttered studio was destroyed by a 1980 fire and renovated as an apartment complex.
Created by Nat Hiken (of "Sgt. Bilko" fame), "Car 54" was one of the first integrated shows on TV. Set in a fictional precinct (the 53rd), its main characters are a Mutt & Jeff team of uniformed cops. Diminutive Officer Toody is brash, pushy and a bit slow on the uptake; he has a domineering wife. Officer Muldoon is very tall, introverted and somewhat brighter than his partner; he lives with his mom.
Season Two had a female officer (Lisa Loughlin) for one episode. Another part-timer, Mickey Deems, was originally a drummer and arranger. He appeared in an off-Broadway musical with Hal Linden ("Anything Goes") and as half of a slapstick comedy team in over 200 "Mack & Myer" one-reelers. Linden (aka BARNEY MILLER) is also here, as an asst. DA.
Kenny Delmar was Fred Allen's announcer and Sen. Claghorn on radio's "Allen's Alley." John Alexander played Uncle Teddy on Broadway and in the film adaptation of ARSENIC AND OLD LACE (1944). Molly Picon was a star of Yiddish theater and vaudeville. Larry Storch was Cpl. Agarn on TV's F TROOP. Katherine Helmond was a regular on SOAP and WHO'S THE BOSS? Margaret Hamilton was Dorothy's nemesis in THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939). Jules Munshin appeared in several MGM musicals. Herschel Bernardi voiced hipster "Charlie the tuna" in STARKIST TV ads. Joe E. Marks was Pappy Yokum in the LI'L ABNER (1959) movie musical and played Smee in NBC's Mary Martin version of PETER PAN (1960). Kenneth Mars is the zany playwright in Mel Brooks' THE PRODUCERS (1968). Jack Gilford was Doc Daneeka in CATCH-22 (1970). Middleweight boxing champ Jake LaMotta was bio'ed by Martin Scorsese in RAGING BULL (1980). Other title holders seen here: Sugar Ray Robinson and Rocky Graziano.
FOR A COMPLETE PROGRAM LIST,
SEE COMMENT #1, LOCATED BELOW.
Car 54 was a little before my time; I didn't get to see it until the late '80s on Nick-at-Nite.
Personally, I was blown away that both Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis were on a program that pre-dated the Munsters.
And, just like with the Munsters, both actors shine through as comic geniuses, along with Joe E. Ross.
In fact, Al and Fred are very natural in their own skin - they really didn't change their characters once they
put on make-up for their roles in the Munsters. The two shows blend together.
For you Munsters fans, don't forget, Grandpa said that Car 54 was his favorite show. He said, "that Al Lewis
really cracks me up"
I like the idea that the box sets show, "brought to you by ...", clips of classic products of the era. There aren't a
lot of special features but I actually like it that way as I think the "Special Features" on DVD sets have gotten a little
out of hand; sometimes, the special features are longer in duration than the main material.
The packaging could be a little more conducive towards preserving the condition of the discs but this is the growing trend
in packaging these days for box sets.
Car 54 takes place in the early '60s, in the Bronx. There are a lot of references to President Kennedy and a
lot of references to the Jewish population in the Bronx at that time, although other ethnic populations were also
highlighted in various episodes.
The show featured other typical actors/celebrities of the time, including, Nipsey Russell, Larry Storch and
This is a show that is simply innocent humour based on the classic formula of a small communication gone misinterpreted
that escalates in to complete mayhem and absolute confusion. This is most obvious in my favorite episode from the Second
Season - The Biggest Day of the Year.
It stands out as one of the most funny shows in early TV history that can be appreciated by all ages and the entire family.
I highly recommend checking it out. Try watching it along with Munsters episodes!