Friday, December 24, 2010

The Scrounger’s Cheapjack Christmas Special! #40: Where’s Raymond?

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Just Enough Information: Where’s Raymond? was stage and screen star Ray Bolger’s attempt to launch himself into sitcomdom, which ran from 1953 until 1955, with a major overhaul between seasons one and two.  During both, Bolger played Raymond Wallace, a musical-comedy performer who had a really bad habit of not showing up until just before the curtain rises, causing hair-tearing pandemonium (hey! just like the show title!).  The format gave Bolger a chance to fit a dance routine into every show, often based on one of his Broadway or film successes.

At the beginning of season two, there was an almost complete turnover in the supporting cast, premise, and even the name of the show (now just The Ray Bolger Show), which in even the best of conditions would have to be considered a bad sign.

The Christmas Episode: “The Christmas Show”. Original Broadcast: December 24, 1953.

This episode is more of a variety show than an actual sitcom, so there’s not much to sum up.  Raymond runs into his young friend Ginny, who gets the idea that if everybody was Ray, the world would be much better…and then she imagines exactly that, in an extended set piece.

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So in her fantasy, everyone she meets is her buddy Raymond…the guy in the Santa suit ringing the bell, the taxi driver, the toy clerk, and even…oh nonononono…even the giant dancing Sambo doll.

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Consider this a consumer warning.

I mean, the dancing is excellent, but seriously, what the hell?  Yeah I know, “different times”, and yes, the wind-up dancing blackface doll was a real thing for a long time, but they seriously couldn’t have made him the clown?

If you can get through that—or if you can fast-forward through it, take your pick—the last half is Ray and the Mitchell Boy’s Choir (the same group that sang almost the entire “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” over the credits of our Christmas Carol entry) caroling around town in a horse drawn sleigh.

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And that’s pretty much it. Ray/Raymond is almost pixie-like in his cheerfulness, and it’s a bit baffling why he didn’t just front a straight variety show instead of a sitcom. It’s safe to assume this is not how a typical show ran.  But really, what the hell was up with that tap dance?

Our Holiday Lesson For Today: Burnt cork can put a bad flavor on anything.

But Don’t Take My Word For It: Here’s the Youtube post.  If you really want to avoid…well, the part you might want to avoid…it starts at 6:17 in part 1 and ends at 8:54.  I wouldn’t be a good neighbor if I didn’t at least give you a fighting chance.

 

Next: Liberace at Christmas! We might just blitz through this one…

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