Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Jack Benny Program: "New Year's Eve"

First aired December 31, 1961

Jack Benny flashes back and tells the story of how he spent the last New Year's Eve:

Jack and his co-stars have just finished rehearsing. Show announcer Don Wilson has invited Benny's band and their wives to his house for a New Year's party.  Singer Dennis Day is wearing a "Baby New Year" costume and feels embarrassed about it.

Dennis as the Baby New Year.
 Jack shows up backstage dressed up in a tailcoat and top hat, ready for a night on the town. Don invites Jack to the party, but Jack has a date that night with "Gloria". Don and the band are impressed when they hear Gloria's name mentioned.

Jack offers a New Year's toast with the band.
Jack is called out of the room for a phone call from Gloria. Jack is heartbroken when she tells him something has come up and she has to cancel their date. Don walks by, Jack starts to ask him if he can come to his party, but Jack can't get a word in edgewise.

While the rest of the city makes merry with champagne and confetti, Jack wonders the streets in a depression, finally deciding to stop in a diner and have some soup.

 He insists on sitting at the bar. He is waited on by none other than Gloria (Shirley Mitchell). It turns out Gloria cancelled because she couldn't get out of work from the diner. Will Jack have to ring in the New Year by himself?

Jack visits Gloria at her job.
Plus, Dennis Day sings "An Irishman Will Steal Your Heart Away". 

Dennis sings a song, accompanied by Frank Remley on guitar.

J.A. Morris says:

A very good episode. For those used to the typical Benny comedy routines (deadpan takes into the camera and jokes about him being cheap), "New Year's Eve" may surprise you. Benny spends most of this episode in "sad clown" mode, dejected by Gloria cancelling their date. I won't spoil the ending, but near the end of this episode, we get a touching moment between Jack and his trusted valet Rochester (Eddie Anderson).

While researching this episode, I learned that it's a remake of an earlier episode that aired on December 27,1953.  And that episode borrowed the plot from Benny's radio show.

Sammy Weiss' bass drum doubles as a keg of beer!

Jack Benny's humor is a little dated, but fans of his show will like this episode. It makes for nice New Year viewing. I watched it on a dvd called The Christmas TV Episodes, but it seems to be available on other "public domain" dvds as well.

Rochester & Jack near the end of the episode.

My rating:
3 champagne flutes.

No comments: