The Burns & Allen Show

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What are the earliest TV shows that you remember?

For me it is The Third Man starring Michael Rennie. Possibly because Rennie was the star of my favorite movie: The Day the Earth Stood Still. Alien comes to Earth and warns the human race it had better shape up or face annihilation. What more could I want at seven or eight.

And The Burns and Allen Show. George Burns would watch the other cast members on TV with the rest of us. The television of my childhood was rarely inventive, I'm sure having a TV actor watch the program with me is the main reason Burns & Allen remained so strongly fixed in memory.

Do you remember CBN, the Christian Broadcasting Network? The 700 Club's Pat Robertson owned it. Eventually he sold it to Disney and it became ABC Family (reruns of tedious crap like 7th Heaven).

Somewhere around midnight the Christian programming would end and ancient sitcoms begin. I spent many happy hours rediscovering Mister Ed or seeing I Married Joan for the first time. And becoming reacquainted with George and Gracie.

It wasn't what has since been called the fourth wall that grabbed me. It was the irresistible illogic of Gracie Allen. George Burns often attributed his success to Gracie. Burns was a good straight man but watching Gracie triumph over everyone with her surreal free association was a joy.

This cheap four episode DVD had a few surprises. There were more Harry Mortons (male half of the Burns' neighbors) than I'd guess. The two that lasted were both satisfying angry middle class men. And the early announcer wasn't nearly as much fun as Harry Von Zell. Mostly he was a shill for Carnation Evaporated Milk. That was a hugely successful product when I was a kid. A brand almost as familiar as Coca-Cola and Campbell's Soup.

The earliest shows weren't as good as the later ones but at such a cheap price I can't see a reason to not grab the DVD if it matches your own tastes.

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