Wednesday, October 12, 2016

TV Time Bonus: More on The Joey Bishop Show

The other day, I talked about the last several episodes of season 2 of The Joey Bishop Show, which we can see on DVD thanks to the (now defunct?) Questar outfit. Season 2 is the only bit of Bishop available on legal DVD right now, but the extras give us an intriguing glimpse of how radically different the sitcom's first season is.

The series pilot is a fascinating bonus on the final disc of the season 2 collection. Things look different right away because season 2 transitioned to color , while the debut campaign is in good ol' black and white. More importantly, Joey Bishop's character is not at all  the in-command, smartest guy in the room kind of dude we see in the second season. He's a bit of a klutz and, especially compared to this episodes co-stars Danny Thomas and Joe Flynn, far from the savvy showbiz insider he would play after the format change.

Can you  blame Joey Bishop? In the pilot, he is, as Wikipedia puts it, "an incompetent Hollywood public relations man" who screws up a visit from Danny Williams (Thomas playing his Make Room for Daddy character) and apparently screws up a lot of things.  Ratings were not great when the show went to series, and I'm sure one of the first things Bishop suggested was changing his character from a nice enough guy who means well but always gets into mishaps to a guy clearly in charge of his own show and own life.

An odd element of the pilot is the strong presence of Joey's family, which causes all kinds of havoc when he has to offer the star lodging at his own pad. His parents (Billy Gilbert and Madge Blake) have good intentions but are meddlers, and stranger still, his unmarried sister is attracted to Danny, and the family wants to encourage a relationship. Well, guess who plays this sister? Yep, Marlo Thomas--Danny's real-life daughter!

The psychosexual tangles of that situation aside, this pilot is an amusing glimpse into the early days of the series, and it proves just how different Bishop becomes in season 2, when he becomes a talk show host with an all-new supporting cast, including Joe Besser (and you know Besser, for better or worse, is going to make anything different). Is it better or worse? I don't know because this is the only season 1 episode I've seen. Season 2 isn't exactly a masterpiece, but I wish more of The Joey Bishop Show could be seen on DVD because, well, why not?

Below are some glimpses of early Joey Bishop Show:

"Nothing weird about you and Danny. No, nothing at all..."

In the office, Joey is always spilling something or knocking something over

Joey does NOT get to be this kind of cool  in the series pilot

"I got out of Frank's shadow to play stooge to these guys?"

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