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Fibber McGee and Molly - The Lost Episodes, Volume 10 - 6 hours [Download] #RA683
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Fibber McGee and Molly: The Lost Episodes
A few years ago, two radio enthusiasts were chatting about comedy shows and, inevitably,
"Fibber McGee and Molly"
came up in the conversation. Recently, Radio Archives had begun releasing the long-lost episodes from the McGee's fifteen-minute daily run, originally aired between 1953 and 1956, and one of the conversationalists had not yet had the chance to hear them. "I've always liked "Fibber McGee and Molly"", he said, "but I bet they sound pretty tired in these shows." Like many who had never heard these programs, this fellow assumed that after eighteen years on the air, the comedy couple wouldn't be capable - or interested - in giving the show their all in a five-a-week format.
As those who have heard the daily episodes released in our earlier nine volumes can readily attest, nothing could be further from the truth. Jim and Marion Jordan, the stars of the series, were professionals - dedicated performers who were incapable of giving a less than top notch performance no matter what the circumstances. They had made their fame as Wistful Vista's favorite residents and, having seen the series through the worst of the depression (it debuted in 1935), a world war, and now into the cold war era, they were not likely to damage the franchise by "phoning in" their characterizations. They had, by their own decision, decided to take a pass on television (even though NBC had strongly encouraged them to move into the new medium) but, even if the network would have to settle for radio rather than video, they felt the series - a multi-year top ten ratings grabber - still had plenty of life left in it.
As it turned out, both the Jordan's and NBC were correct in their assumption. Though a daily version of Fibber & Molly's antics would, due to budgetary necessity, not be as elaborate as their half-hour weekly show, some felt that the program was actually better for the revisions. Some elements were, of course, initially missed; for example, Harlow "Waxy" Wilcox, the team's long-time announcer, was no longer on board and, thus, not able to ring the doorbell mid-show for his weekly pitch on behalf of Johnson's Wax. Likewise, Gale Gordon wasn't available to make regular appearances as Mayor LaTrivia, the easily flustered politico who Fibber so enjoyed sending into a sputtering lather of heated exasperation. But, to make up for their absence, both Bill Thompson and Arthur Q. Bryan were regularly on hand to lend their skills to the comedy - both considerable contributions, as Thompson's Old Timer and Wallace Wimple were stalwart pals of the McGee's and Bryan voiced Fibber's readiest argument rival, Doc Gamble. And even if Wilcox and Gordon would no longer appear, the presence of a virtual who's who of radio regulars certainly made up the difference. Dependable talents like Virginia Gregg, Parley Baer, Joseph Kearns, Herb Vigran, and Mary Jane Croft were often heard on the programs, as well as Robert Easton and Mary Lou Harrington as the McGee's neighbors Les and Sally Nelson. Gone missing were the live musical numbers by The King's Men and Billy Mills and his Orchestra but both, it could be easily argued, contributed nothing to the comedy elements of the show in the first place.
What's interesting about hearing these long-lost shows is, of course, their consistent quality and entertainment value. But it may surprise those only familiar with the half-hour version that, in a fifteen-minute format, Fibber & Molly present themselves in a far more intimate sort of way. Without a studio audience to drum up laughter, it's left to the Jordan's and their supporting players to make us laugh individually at home - and laugh we do, as Fibber continues to get himself involved in the same hair-brained schemes and tall tales and Molly continues to love and support him despite his over-the-top tendencies. The half-hour weekly shows often came across as more of a comic strip than a sit-com, with dialogue regularly peppered with old jokes, bad puns, and one-upmanship. In the quarter-hour version, the best of the bantering remains - McGee's occasional forays into tongue-twisting tales, his insult matches with Doc Gamble, and the Old Timer's "That ain't the way I heered it" replies - but the general atmosphere is much more down to earth, almost as if the writers had given a listen to Peg Lynch's "Ethel and Albert" and decided to take a lesson in intimacy from it's realistic characters.
You might well think that, hearing them each and every day, audiences would have quickly grown tired of the familiarity - but, once again, this was not the case. Rather than overstaying their welcome, Fibber and Molly grew more familiar and endearing with every broadcast - basically, they became welcome visitors into our homes five days and nights a week. (As it was prerecorded, the show was usually aired twice a day.) We all know someone like Fibber McGee - overly talkative, self-aggrandizing, and immediately enthusiastic about his latest scheme to make it big - and we also, if we're lucky, know someone like Molly - warm, encouraging, and always trying to gently talk us out of making fools of ourselves. These people are friends of ours, almost like family, so when they came into our homes at either noon or the late dinner hour - the times when "The Fibber McGee and Molly Show" aired over NBC in the mid-1950s - listeners welcomed them as old friends in the same way that they might have been glad to hear a close neighbor ringing the doorbell.
In it's quarter-hour version, McGee and company continued to charm and entertain listeners for nearly three years, a impressive feat in a society that was quickly forgetting how much they had once appreciated radio. In this, the tenth volume of a new series of collections transferred from the long-lost original NBC Reference Recordings, Radio Archives invites you to listen to twenty four full-length programs from the fall of 1955 that have not been heard since they originally aired well 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 the 1950s. 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.
The Free Passes
Monday, October 17, 1955 - 15:00 - NBC
Tuesday, October 18, 1955 - 15:00 - NBC
McGee Fixes the Heater and the Old Timer Writes a Song
Wednesday, October 19, 1955 - 15:00 - NBC
Identifying the Stranger
Thursday, October 20, 1955 - 15:00 - NBC
McGee's Water is Turned Off
Friday, October 21, 1955 - 15:00 - NBC
McGee Waits at the Beauty Shop
Monday, October 24, 1955 - 15:00 - NBC
The Monster at the Milton House
Tuesday, October 25, 1955 - 15:00 - NBC
A Mysterious Phone Call at Midnight
Wednesday, October 26, 1955 - 15:00 - NBC
Switching the Tires
Thursday, October 27, 1955 - 15:00 - NBC
Molly Buys a New Coat
Friday, October 28, 1955 - 15:00 - NBC
McGee Straightens Out His Key Ring
Monday, October 31, 1955 - 15:00 - NBC
A Surprise Package from Aunt Sarah
Tuesday, November 1, 1955 - 15:00 - NBC
Dr. McGee, Diagnostician
Wednesday, November 2, 1955 - 15:00 - NBC
Trouble with the Law
Thursday, November 3, 1955 - 15:00 - NBC
McGee Tries to Lower Wimple's Tax Bill
Friday, November 4, 1955 - 15:00 - NBC
At the Auto Show
Monday, November 7, 1955 - 15:00 - NBC
A Fire in the Fireplace
Tuesday, November 8, 1955 - 15:00 - NBC
McGee Hunts for His Hunting License
Wednesday, November 9, 1955 - 15:00 - NBC
Shopping for the Hunt
Thursday, November 10, 1955 - 15:00 - NBC
To the Hunt!
Friday, November 11, 1955 - 15:00 - NBC
Monday, November 14, 1955 - 15:00 - NBC
The Hunt Begins
Tuesday, November 15, 1955 - 15:00 - NBC
McGee Returns Home
Wednesday, November 16, 1955 - 15:00 - NBC
McGee Can't Sleep
Thursday, November 17, 1955 - 15:00 - NBC
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