Corby has made something of a recent career out of sneering at Mike's taste in -- well, everything. This may be frequently overlooked. But when he pooh-poohed the incomparable "Dobie Gillis," based on stories by the very funny writer Max Shulman, I had to say something. (Shulman's Barefoot Boy with Cheek was one of the comedy inspirations of my youth. Since it's about college life in the 1940's (no, I'm not that old), probably dated now.)
The show featured the teenaged (at first) Dobie (Dwayne Hickman) longing after unattainable girls. His pal was Maynard G. Krebs, played very memorably by Bob Denver. The cast, in fact, was a showpiece of comic acting. Dobie's dad was played by the perpetually cranky Frank Faylen and his mother by the protective Florida Friebus, who you will recall as one of Bob Newhart's addled "group" patients on "The Bob Newhart Show"
who may have been the only onscreen couple both of whom had alliterative "F" names. You're familiar with the iconic images of Maynard, allergic to work (which word he would repeat, shrieking, whenever he heard it), a bongo-playing beatnik (here with Dwayne Hickman as Dobie).
In its first season, Dobie's romantic rival was one Milton Armitage, played by Warren Beatty (here in a scene with Mel Blanc):
(The next time you would have seen him back then is in Elia Kazan's "Splendor in the Grass" with Natalie Wood.) But for me, the two most memorable characters are Zelda Gilroy, played by Sheila James. She pined after Dobie, who resisted her advances. After her acting career, she became a lesbian activist, and, as Shelia Kuehl, has held several elective offices in California.
Directed by the legendary Rod Amateau. Guest stars galore: Barbara Bain, Michael J. Pollard, Ronnie Howard, Sally Kellerman, Rose Marie, Bill Bixby, Richard Deacon, Norman Fell, Jack Albertson, Michele Lee, Mel Blanc, Jo Anne Worley.
All right. Those names may not mean much to you now. And you may not think they're funny. But at the time, the show was a hit. It aired almost as many episodes as "The Dick Van Dyke Show," its approximate contemporary. Are you gonna bust a gut watching "Dobie Gillis"? No, not now. But you have to watch the thing through the lens of the late fifties and early sixties. I don't know if it was revolutionary, but it was the only show I can think of from that era about teenagers (Hickman was in his 20's when it was filmed). Mike R is right: Bob Denver is funnier in this show than he ever was in "Gilligan." It's a gentle humor, not a place to turn for dick jokes.
I caught up with some clips and episodes on You Tube as I was writing this. Still gave me a smile.