Wednesday, November 23, 2011

You Know The Voice: What if "Wilma" were "Archie"'s mom? (1964)

Try this one on for size.

In 1964, Screen Gems (Sony Pictures Television today) produced a pilot for a proposed primetime sitcom based on the Archie newspaper strip & comic books. Producer Harry Ackerman, the head of the comedy department at Screen Gems, felt it was necessary to make this Archie into a clone of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, but Dobie never resorted to using Rube Goldberg-esque contraptions.

The hook here is the presence of Jean VanderPyl (The Flintstones) as Mary Andrews, Archie's mom. We'll see her in the opening scene with William Schallert (The Patty Duke Show) as Archie's father, Fred. They're not the only familiar names in the cast, for that matter.

Also appearing are Roland Winters, who was the last man to play Charlie Chan in the movies back in the late 40's, as Mr. Weatherbee, and Mary Grace Canfield (later of Green Acres) as Miss Grundy. John Simpson, a relative unknown, was cast as Archie, and the evidence of this being a Dobie Gillis clone is clear from the go, as Simpson appears to forego Archie's traditional red-headed look in favor of being a blond.



I first ran across this in a VHS compilation a few years back that also included failed pilots for The Phantom (with Lon Chaney, Jr.) & The Shadow (worse than the movies with Rod LaRocque). I just wasn't down with the whole Archie-as-Dobie vibe. It felt too forced. As we all know, Archie would bounce back 4 years later in animated form, and the rest is history.

Rating for the pilot: C.

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