DVD Tuesday: Rhoda, The Abbott and Costello Show

Every Tuesday I take a look at obscure and/or classic television programs, specials, miniseries or made-for-TV movies being released on DVD. For the record I consider anything broadcast prior to 1980 to be classic or else there wouldn’t be much to discuss. The releases referred to in these posts are encoded for Region 1 use in the United States and Canada.

It’s the last Tuesday of March and there are only a few releases of note for fans of classic television. From E1 Entertainment comes The Abbott & Costello Show – The Complete Series Collector’s Edition, containing all 52 episodes of the syndicated 1952-1954 sitcom. Both seasons of the show were released individually in 2006 and I believe this new collection is those season sets with new packaging and a few new bonus features, namely a new 44-page commemorative booklet and a 1978 television special titled “Hey, Abbott!” hosted by Milton Berle. The remaining bonus features — interviews and home movies — were also found on the season sets. A review can be found at Sitcoms Online.

Also out today, from Shout! Factory, is Rhoda: Season Two, with all 24 episodes from the 1975-1976 season. The Season One release was a disaster, with questionable video and quality quality plus numerous edited episodes. Read the Sitcoms Online review of the Season One set for more information. Thankfully, it seems the Season Two set contains both unedited and better quality episodes. Reviews can be found at Sitcoms Online and DVD Talk.

4 Comments

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    If you do get “THE ABBOTT & COSTELLO SHOW” on DVDE, here’s a hint- the first season is better than the second. Why Lou decided to do away with those plots that recycled their best stage, movie and radio routines in favor of those “two-reel” stories in the second season where he often got a raw deal at the end of the episode (i.e., thrown into a garbage can; beaten up by Mike the Cop and Mr. Fields; jumping out of a window with Bud after quitting their job AND ruining their employer at the same time; being shot at while tarred and feathered, et. al.) is beyond me. Those kind of episodes just about killed the series- and a third season was probably never produced for that reason. In fact, after production ended, one of the second season writers, Clyde Bruckman, who had written for Buster Keaton in the silent era [and pirated some of his best routines for his scripts; in fact, he virtually reworked the core of Keaton's "One Week" into the "Honeymoon House" episode], committed suicide.

  • pBOB says:

    Does anybody remember Rhoda being moved around so much on the schedule that it was canceled mid season and some eps never airing “at the time”?

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    Sure, I remember “RHODA” being “moved around” after the first season, ‘pBOB’, because CBS programmer Fred Silverman made a BIG mistake by insisting she get married less than six weeks after the first episode, instead of letting a “courtship” between Rhoda and Joe Gerard [David Groh] “naturally” unfold during the first season. Silverman wanted BIG RATINGS for the series as well as CBS- and he got them, at the cost of almost destroying the show. He later admitted he HAD made a mistake in having Rhoda married earlier than planned. A married Rhoda was BORING in season two- and it led to a separation, then a divorce..and MANY shifts of nights and times to its “burial ground’ on Saturdays in the fall of 1978 [gone at the end of December]…if the producers thought having Brenda married would be an “aide” in luring viewers back in season five, too bad- the show was cancelled before such an episode could be produced! As for 20th Century-Fox, the current owners of “RHODA”- they don’t really care THAT MUCH maintaining about the MTM TV library: this is why season one on DVD was basically culled from edited “syndicated” prints of the series {where’s the opening sequence where Mary saw Rhoda off at the Minneapolis airport in the first episode? It was omitted from the syndicated version, that’s why!!!}. The quality of season two might be “acceptable” on DVD, but as I’ve said, the season where Rhoda was a “housewife” was boring….watch, and you’ll see why!

  • DuMont says:

    While in retrospect, marrying Rhoda off so fast may have been a mistake, the initial CBS justification being that they wanted to create a differentiated comedy with ‘Rhoda’ as a hip young married woman compared to ever-single Mary on ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’. ‘Rhoda’ was also skedded Mondays at 9:30 pm out of ‘Maude’, and Mr. Silverman may have been trying to fashion a W18-54 targeted funny married-couples block leading into ‘Medical Centre’.

    I think the concept changes and creative struggles endured by ‘Rhoda’ had more to do with unlucky casting. I was never a fan of Mr. David Groh in the role of Joe. To me, Mr. Groh always seemed kind of pissed off and grouchy. And back at the time of spinoff from Mary, much of the comedic situations were planned to leverage the talents of Miss Nancy Walker as Rhoda’s mother, who became less and less available as the series progressed.

    The best, most memorable episodes of the series were those that had Miss Nancy Walker as a recurring regular. Her character was only seen in about a third of the 1974-1978 episodes (mostly 1974-76) due to her multitude of acting obligations. She was already a recurring regular in ‘McMillan & Wife’ 1971-76, then a new-to-ABC Mr. Silverman poached her over to ABC in a comedy development deal which led to her eventually headlining in two ABC sitcoms ‘The Nancy Walker Show’ in 1976-77 and ‘Blansky’s Beauties’ in 1977. Had Miss Walker been more integral in ‘Rhoda’ as the ever-interfering mother-in-law, perhaps the marital comedy would have been funnier, and the marriage to Joe would have endured the series.

    While traveling recently, I was able to get American Life Television network, and it was such a treat to see the ‘Rhoda’/’Phyllis’ block on tv again in the mornings and afternoons.

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