Remember that one day when you could wake up without an alarm? When you would get your favorite bowl of cereal and sit between the hours of 8 and 12? This is a blog dedicated to the greatest time of our childhood: Saturday mornings. The television programs you watched, the memories attached to them, and maybe introducing you to something you didn't realize existed. Updated every weekend.
YOU’LL NEVER GET RICH / THE PHIL
SILVERS SHOW (CBS, September 20,
1955-September 11, 1959)
The CBS Television
Created by Nat Hiken, the series centered
on the adventures of Master Sergeant Ernest G. Bilko (Phil Silvers), the head of the
motor pool of the unremarkable army post of Fort Baxter in the fictional town
of Roseville Kansas. Bilko was a schemer who was always involved in some kind
of swindle or get-rich-quick scam while trying to do as little actual work as
possible. Under him were his right-hand men Captain Rocco Barbella (Harvey Lembeck) and Captain
Steve Henshaw (Allan Melvin),
as well as CaptaiN Sam Fender (Herbie
Faye), Private Duane Doberman (Maurice Gosfield), Private Dino
Paparelli (Billy Sands),
Private Fielding Zimmerman (Mickey
Freeman), Private Gander (Tige
Andrews), Private Mullen (Jack
Healy), Private Irving Fleishman (Maurice Brenner), Private Stash
Kadowski (Karl Lukas),
Private Claude Dillingham (Walter
Cartier) and Private Sugarman (an African-American defying the segregation
still prevalent at the time, played by Terry Carter). In charge of all
of them was Bilko’s long-suffering commanding officer, Colonel John T. Hall (Paul Ford). Bilko’s men were
fiercely loyal to him, despite the fact they were just as likely to be the
target of his schemes as the participants. However, Bilko did have his own code
of honor: only he got to fleece his men and would often turn his shady
skills against anyone else that tried.
Bilko and his men.
titled You’ll Never Get Rich during its first season, The Phil Silvers
Show debuted on CBS on September 20, 1955,
with a theme and music by John
Strauss. Despite television production beginning to move from New York to
California at the time, Hiken insisted on filming the show in New York and like
a stage-play: in sequence in front of an audience (which often resulted in a
lot of improvisations to cover for flubbed lines; particularly from Ford). When
Hiken left the series after the third season, the show moved production to
California and adopted an out-of-sequence format that everyone found easier.
The setting was also moved to Camp Fremont in California to realistically allow
Hollywood guest stars. Actor George
Kennedy, who was a veteran, was the show’s technical advisor and got his
acting start with a minor role as a military policeman. The series was
nominated for several Primetime Emmys,
winning a couple.
A face you can trust?
After four seasons and 143 episodes
(not counting the original unaired pilot), CBS abruptly decided to end the show.
It was too expensive to produce due to the large cast and they wanted to try
and recoup some of the cost in rerun sales, which they felt couldn’t be done
while a show was still airing. CBS sold the rights to NBC,
who saw massive returns when they aired it five days a week. Silvers’ Bilko
persona outlined the rest of his career; playing similar characters in various
television shows and films. Hanna-Barbera would take
inspiration from the character to churn out the titular character from Top Cat(which starred Gosfield) and Hokey Wolf, and even
Flintstones’ Dino had a Bilko-style voice for his debut episode (he
just barked for the remainder of his appearances). The series would air in
syndicated reruns off and on for the next several decades between network
television and cable, sometimes under the titles Sergeant Bilko or Bilko.
In 1996, a film adaptation starring Steve
Martin was released to theaters by Universal
Pictures called Sgt.
Bilko. It was a critical and box office flop.