Saturday, August 18, 2007

At times they even talk alike

Sue loved the Patty Duke show. So did I. Obsessively. I was 9 when it first aired & wanted complete & total silence while the show was on. God help my little sister if she fidgeted or sneezed or crinkled the wrapper on her Hostess Snoball.

"Meet Cathy, who's lived most everywhere,
From Zanzibar to Barclay Square.
But Patty's only seen the sights
A girl can see from Brooklyn Heights --
What a crazy pair!

But they're cousins,
Identical cousins all the way.
One pair of matching bookends,
Different as night and day.

Where Cathy adores a minuet,
The Ballet Russes, and crepe suzette,
Our Patty loves to rock and roll,
A hot dog makes her lose control --
What a wild duet!

Still, they're cousins,
Identical cousins and you'll find,
They laugh alike, they walk alike,
At times they even talk alike --

You can lose your mind,
When cousins are two of a kind."


  1. One of the great TV openings. But have you ever heard of identical cousins anywhere else? Now that I'm older, that really strains credulity. Of course, it's now apparent to me that the premises of most of the classic shows were a real stretch. Take "Bewitched," for example. If you want to mess with someone's mind, just ask her or him, "Remember the episode in 'Bewitched' when Endora cast a spell on Darrin?" (In fact that was almost EVERY episode!)

  2. Or Family Affair. Who moves into a penthouse with a quasi-gay parental unit (Uncle Bill and Mr. French), Mrs. Beasley in tow? Apparently, two sets of kids as evidenced by Different Strokes a few decades later (straight parental unti - Mr. Drummond and Mrs. Garrett-- this time).

    I used to tell my mother I wanted to run away and live with Mr. French. Until I saw his version of a Miracle on 34th Street. (shudder)

  3. Well, in fairness to the Uncle in "Family Affair," Sue, he had those kids thrust on him, and I say, here and now, he's to be commended, 40 years after-the-fact, for assuming that responsibility. Back in the '60's, I assumed all British people were pretty much like Mr. French, still do for that matter.

  4. I was very confused about the whole English butler named French thing. He sort of merged with Nanny from the Nanny and the Professor in my mind.

  5. I've never heard of flying nuns either, but that didn't stop me from watching Sister Bertrille every week.

    Not to mention the addicting nonsense of the Man from UNCLE & the Girl from UNCLE, (I don't think they called her the Woman from...) and the tongue-in-cheekiness of Batman.

    I also loved Star Trek, especially the fact that Spock - pointy ears not withstanding - made some serious sense.

    Straining credulity is what tv does best. Nowadays it's especially delicious when tv tries to get all reality "serious", presenting us with crappy actors, scenarios & scripts.

    To this day it'd be easier for me to go with the flow of a genie in a bottle than it is for me to buy what the 7 bazillion CSIs & tiresome dramas-at-the hospital shows are selling.

  6. Right on, Gloria! I could do a term paper on exactly what you've said. Unfortunately, the television moguls believe our "sophisticated" modern audience requires programming that showcases people or characters the audience can "relate" to. (Can you relate to any of these people in the reality shows? The sitcoms? I can't.) When was the last time you saw a sitcom dare to do an episode involving mistaken identity or amnesia? I'm serious about this. These sorts of contrivances, employed for comedic effect, predate television by thousands of years. You'll find vehicles like that in Shakespeare and throughout Chaplin's work, and most everybody elses up to a certain time. Yet beginning in the 1970s, they were largely scrapped because audiences were deemed too "sophisticated" or jaded or something. I'm not advocating that TV turn back to The Munsters for crying out loud, but it would be fun to return to a more innocent -- a more implausible time, don't you think?

  7. I don't watch alot of tv, usually when my brain's on overload and I don't want a dose of reality or faux seriousness. I want nonsense, dammit!

    I like Ugly Betty, it suspends belief, it makes me laugh, I root for Betty. Sort of like the Office too, but I thing the English version has more bite to it.

    The people in the reality shows are ick, ick, ick. Some are too much like the losers I encounter on a daily basis, the rest, I fear, are losers just waiting to meet me...

  8. My top two shows are The Office and My Name is Earl, both of which turn conventional sitcoms upside down. I like Scrubs and How I Met Your Mother (you go gay brother), but for the most part I watch dramas. The procedural drama engages me in the classic "whodunit" experience, whereas most sitcoms are just ... silly.

    I do like 30 Rock, mostly because of the ensemble, but I struggle over the Liz Lemon character -- she's so stereotypical and just doesn't have that Mary Richards thing going on for her. I can't figure out if that *is* the joke or not. I watch, I laugh and I feel guilty.

    Perhaps what you old timers :-) are describing is why I became so enamored of old school television when I was young ... it really was a different time.

  9. Sue, you have excellent taste. "The Office" is kind of the official show of the Carbolic Smoke Ball. It's the only show I personally watch on a regular basis.