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Fibber McGee and Molly - The Lost Episodes, Volume 1 - 10 hours [Download] #RA550
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Fibber McGee and Molly: The Lost Episodes
By the fall of 1949, television was making serious dents in the large audience numbers that radio had enjoyed for well over a decade. Though TV had long been fodder for many a radio comedian's jokes, the ratings of radio's more popular comedy programs were starting to shrink as listeners became viewers -- and comedy acts like Jimmy Durante and Burns and Allen were seriously considering their futures and looking to get in on the ground floor of this new-fangled fad, abandoning their radio shows in the process.
Jim and Marian Jordan (a.k.a. Fibber McGee and Molly) were a rarity. Here were two performers that had sized up the situation and determined that television had nothing to offer them. The Jordan's did reluctantly acquiesce to long-time sponsor Johnson's Wax's request that they film a pilot for the cathode ray tube but, having fulfilled that obligation, the team was dissatisfied with the result and decided to stick with what they felt was their métier. Though the floor polish merchants from Racine, Wisconsin would decide to drop their sponsorship of "Fibber McGee and Molly" at the end of the 1949-50 season, they bore no ill will or bad feelings toward the Jordan's; they, like many a sponsor, were just heck-bent and determined to move their substantial advertising cash into the burgeoning new video marketplace.
Pet Milk assumed sponsorship of "Fibber McGee and Molly" from 1950-52, followed by Reynolds Aluminum for the 1952-53 season, but radio's overall ratings continued to droop. Under normal circumstances, Fibber and Molly would have been opening their script for that week's broadcast only to find a pink slip, but the National Broadcasting Company wasn't ready to let their long-time stars walk away -- especially since the network had paid big money in 1948 to buy the show lock, stock, and barrel from the team and series' co-creator Don Quinn. So, in the fall of 1953,
"The Fibber McGee and Molly Show"
was revamped into a five-day-a-week, quarter-hour program that would play on the network twice each weekday: once in the daytime and once in the evening.
From October 5, 1953 to March 23, 1956 - a total of 577 fifteen-minute broadcasts - Fibber and Molly McGee continued to generate mirth from their famous address at 79 Wistful Vista. Due to varying sponsorship, the budget for the daily series was considerably smaller than had been allotted to the half-hour weekly programs and, unlike the live evening show, the daily show was prerecorded without the presence of a studio audience. Money saving also dictated the departure of many of the performers associated with the long-running comedy program: Gale Gordon, who had played both Mayor LaTrivia and weather man "Foggy" Williams, bandleader Billy Mills, and singing group The King's Men were all absent from the new series. Even announcer Harlow "Waxy" Wilcox was given his walking papers, replaced by John Wald -- though Wald's previous experience on Fibber and Molly's famed spin-off "The Great Gildersleeve" did make him the ideal man for the job. Bill Thompson (as the Old Timer and Wallace Wimple) and Arthur Q. Bryan (as Doc Gamble) still remained from the earlier days and, fortunately, the series was able to make good use of the talents of "Radio Row": Virginia Gregg, Parley Baer, Joseph Kearns, Herb Vigran, and Mary Jane Croft can be heard on many of the programs. (To add a little character variety, the creative minds behind the fifteen-minute shows did give the McGee's a pair of new neighbors: Les and Sally Nelson, as played by Robert Easton and Mary Lou Harrington.)
Don Quinn, the creator and creative wordsmith of "Fibber McGee and Molly", had departed from the show as well; he gradually phased himself out during the 1949-50 season while developing his other radio sitcom hit, "The Halls of Ivy," and turned over the writing duties to his longtime partner Phil Leslie. By 1953, Leslie was the head writer, and he in turn hired reliable scribes like Ralph Goodman, Leonard Levinson, and Joel Kane to assist him in scripting duties; Max Hutto assumed responsibility in the director's chair.
The half-hour version of "Fibber McGee and Molly" only occasionally featured "serialized" plot lines - stories that would play out over two or more broadcasts - but with the quarter-hour format, Leslie took a page from the "Lum 'n' Abner" scrapbook and began to fashion lengthy story arcs to accommodate the new five-times-a-week broadcasts. The longest running of these was the saga of "Citizen X" (displayed in the first three programs of this collection), a contest cooked up by Wistful Vista's merchant community to boost the local economy. Over the course of fourteen episodes, Fibber McGee valiantly tried to unveil the identity of "X"...finally discovering, to his embarrassment and chagrin, that the culprit was none other than his better half, Molly.
Thanks to the talents and professionalism of the writers and performers involved, the show retained a consistent level of quality; unlike many a contemporary radio series that both tightened its belt and overstayed its welcome, "Fibber McGee and Molly" was never allowed to dwindle into tossed-off "What the heck, no one's listening anyway" mediocrity. Though constrained by a tight budget and a dwindling radio audience, the new "Fibber McGee and Molly Show" did manage to attract a few sponsors to pay the bills -- including Tums (with Jack Benny's announcer Don Wilson doing the commercials), Richard Hudnut Home Permanents, and Carter's Little Liver Pills. Oddly enough, however, even the financial largesse of these and other fine merchants made it impossible to do much regarding the McGee's famed hall closet; would you believe that, in 577 quarter-hours, that immortal gag figured in only EIGHT episodes? (Apparently, sponsor or no sponsor, sound-effects men do NOT come cheap!)
On the inaugural broadcast of the five-a-week run, Fibber and Molly's longtime chum Wallace Wimple recited a poem he composed in honor of their new format:
Welcome to Mr. and Mrs. McGee,
Back again on NBC.
As I look ahead It makes me shriek.
What'll you do FIVE times a week?
The answer is simplicity itself: charm and entertain a new generation of radio fans both old and new. In this, the first of a new series of collections transferred from the long-lost original NBC Reference Recordings, Radio Archives invites you to listen to some irrefutable evidence: forty full-length programs that, for the most part, have not been heard since they originally aired over fifty years ago. An additional bonus is their sparkling audio quality; thanks to the innovations of the digital age, these classic shows can now be heard at a level of clear and crisp high fidelity that far exceeds what was available to the average listener in 1954. The result is shows that sound - and are - just as bright, fresh, and entertaining as they were when first heard -- a real tribute to the time, talent, and devotion to quality that went into their production.
Friday, January 22, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sustaining
The "Citizen X" Contest Concludes
Monday, January 25, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sponsored by Richard Hudnut
Tuesday, January 26, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sponsored by Tums
Inherit the Winded
Wednesday, January 27, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sponsored by Richard Hudnut
Thursday, January 28, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sustaining
Sink or Swim
Friday, January 29, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sustaining
Banking on It
Monday, February 1, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sponsored by Richard Hudnut
Tuesday, February 2, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sponsored by Tums
Wednesday, February 3, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sponsored by Richard Hudnut
Check and Double Check
Thursday, February 4, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sustaining
A Thing as Lovely as a Tree
Friday, February 5, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sustaining
Dial "M" for Myrt
Monday, February 8, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sponsored by Richard Hudnut
In a Pickle
Tuesday, February 9, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sponsored by Tums
Stay Away From the Attic
Wednesday, February 10, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sponsored by Richard Hudnut
Thursday, February 11, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sustaining
Friday, February 12, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sustaining
There Goes the Neighborhood
Monday, February 15, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sponsored by Richard Hudnut
Tuesday, February 16, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sponsored by Tums
The Old Master Painter
Wednesday, February 17, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sponsored by Richard Hudnut
Noises in the Attic
Thursday, February 18, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sustaining
Movies are Your Best Entertainment
Friday, February 19, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sustaining
Father of Our Country
Monday, February 22, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sponsored by Richard Hudnut
Big Game Hunter
Tuesday, February 23, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sponsored by Tums
All the News That's Fit to Print
Thursday, February 25, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sponsored by Richard Hudnut
Friday, February 26, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sustaining
Peace in the Valet
Monday, March 1, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sponsored by Richard Hudnut
A Taxing Problem
Tuesday, March 2, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sponsored by Tums
McGee's Lucky Day
Wednesday, March 3, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sponsored by Richard Hudnut and Carter's Little Liver Pills
A Mother of an Invention
Thursday, March 4, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sustaining
Mr. Miggins Goes to Wistful Vista
Friday, March 5. 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sustaining
Monday, March 8, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sponsored by Richard Hudnut
Tuesday, March 9, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sponsored by Tums
Wednesday, March 10, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sponsored by Richard Hudnut and Carter's Little Liver Pills
Hard Sell Crab
Thursday, March 11, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sustaining
Friday, March 12, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sustaining
Monday, March 15, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sustaining
Wednesday, April 7, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sponsored by Arrid Deodorant
Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?
Thursday, April 8, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sustaining
Brand New Key
Friday, April 9, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sustaining
I'd Rather Fight Than Switch
Monday, April 12, 1954 - 15:00 - NBC, sustaining
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