April 02, 2022

McDUFF, THE TALKING DOG

 

McDUFF, THE TALKING DOG
(NBC, September 11-November 20, 1976)
 
D’Angelo-Bullock-Allen Productions
 
 
MAIN CAST:
Walter Willison – Dr. Calvin Campbell
Jack Lester – McDuff (voice)
Michelle Stacy – Kimmy Campbell
Gordon Jump – Amos Ferguson
Monty Margetts – Mrs. Osgood
 
 
            McDuff, the Talking Dog was a live-action sitcom featuring, as the title states, a talking dog. However, McDuff (voiced by Jack Lester) wasn’t just your average talking dog; he was the spirit of a hundred-year-old English sheepdog that lived in the home moved into by veterinarian Dr. Calvin Campbell (Walter Willison), his kid sister, Kimmy (Michelle Stacy), and housekeeper, Mrs. Osgood (Monty Margetts). Only Calvin could see McDuff, who just happened to speak perfect English (which others could hear) while also communicating with the animals that entered Calvin’s care. This, of course, led to a series of misunderstandings and complications with his family believing he was eccentric while his neighbor, Amos Ferguson (Gordon Jump), thought something funny was going on next door. The only other regular human character on the show was Calvin’s nephew Squeaky (Johnnie Collins III).


Publicity shot of Calvin and McDuff with Kimmy.



            McDuff, the Talking Dog debuted on NBC on September 11, 1976, as part an attempt to shift into live-action programming and away from animation. The series was created and written by William Raynor with Myles Wilder, Dick Conway, Fred S. Fox, Seaman Jacobs and Jack Mendelsohn. The series’ music was composed by Richard LaSalle with a theme written by Raynor and Wilder. McDuff’s talking effects were accomplished via close-ups of a puppet dog head with a movable mouth, or by the camera focusing on the spot where an invisible McDuff was supposedly sitting.

Press release for the first episode.


            NBC’s entire live-action Saturday morning programming slate was a failure, with McDuff becoming the first casualty. It was cancelled two months after its premiere, airing only 11 of the 13 produced episodes before it was replaced by reruns of Speed Buggy. As of this writing, only clips from the Smilin’ Saturday Morning Parade preview special and the intro can be found online. “The Not So Greatest Show on Earth” has been circulated in VHS collector circuits and eventually made its way online, but the YouTube account hosting it had since been suspended. Clips from it can be found in an episode of the Stay Doomed podcast.
 
 
EPISODE GUIDE:
“Par for the Course” (9/11/76) – Walter is entered into a charity golf tournament with McDuff ensuring his swing will always be true—at least, that’s the plan.

“K-9 Hustler” (9/18/76) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“The Little Dog Who Wasn’t There” (9/25/76) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“K.O. Calvin” (10/2/76) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“The Indian Legend” (10/9/76) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“Grin and Bear It” (10/16/76) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“Well, Well, Well” (10/23/76) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“The Picnic Olympics” (10/30/76) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“Horse of Another Color” (11/6/76) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“The Not so Greatest Show on Earth” (11/13/76) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“A Haunting We Will Go” (11/20/76) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“The Dog Show” (N/A) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“There Was a Crooked Dog” (N/A) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.

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