Promotional network photo for the series, circa 1969.
Bert's New Place: A nighttime exterior shot of the relocated restaurant, "Bert & Rufe's At The Beach".
Rufus, Bert and Claudia inside the newly-refurbished establishment.
THE SECOND SEASON
Like Coca-Cola in the Summer of 1985, The Good Guys in the Fall of 1969 became, at least in my opinion, an unfortunate victim of an attempt to fix it when it really wasn't broken. Okay, maybe there were signs of a few hairline cracks in the first season's offerings, but it was nothing a few good writers couldn't fix. Instead, the series underwent a major--and questionable--overhaul that Fall.
For starters, the series' theme song was re-recorded with all-new lyrics, which in itself wasn't too bad a change (at least they were easy to understand, whereas I, for one, had trouble deciphering some of the lines in the original version). The location was changed from an urban street corner to a beach, necessitating another change: the abandonment of a live studio audience which was no longer feasible due to key scenes with dialogue exchanges having to be filmed outdoors on location. A laugh track was used instead and, possibly because it could respond to anything as funny, the comedy writing got weaker. Most of the supporting players were gone, including Alan Hale and Jim Backus, but ironically these later episodes seemed more in the spirit of Bob Denver's earlier misadventures as Gilligan. Besides shifting the action to a sand-and-surf locale, some episodes resorted to dream or fantasy sequences, sped-up action and broader slapstick. Animals were occasionally brought in for comic relief, and a few big-name guest stars turned up as well. At the same time, Herb Edelman's Bert became a more dark, brooding character who genuinely seemed like he'd rather be rid of Rufus and more dominant over Claudia. As a final throwback to Gilligan-esque antics, the events in more than one episode culminated in the "need" for Bert to play Rufus for a pawn in some plan to take him down a notch, with Claudia sometimes assisting him--or even becoming a victim of manipulation herself.
None of these changes helped the struggling series, and neither did CBS' decision to move it to Fridays at 8 (ET). Its competition at that hour included a new ABC sitcom called The Brady Bunch, created and produced by Sherwood Schwartz, whom Bob Denver had worked for during the Gilligan years (more irony), which seemed out of touch with progressive times, got bashed by most critics, had its own share of afilliate clearance problems* as The Good Guys continued to...and went on to become one of the biggest hits of the early '70s.
As a result, Rufus, Bert and Claudia--now trapped in a weekly web of increasingly sillier antics, deception toward one another as a comedy device, and plots that mostly couldn't hold their own against almost anything accomplished in Season One, faded from view after the January 23, 1970 telecast (which aired January 24 in Kansas City). In place of The Good Guys the following Friday was The Tim Conway Show, a sitcom reuniting Conway with his former McHale's Navy cohort Joe Flynn as the owners of a decrepit airline, replaced itself in a few months by two-year-old reruns of the afore-mentioned Talent Associates Ltd. sitcom, He & She.
*In Kansas City for example, The Brady Bunch was turned down by ABC affiliate KMBC during the premiere season; they picked it up a year later. Until then, it went unseen the first few weeks, then began airing sporadically on a newly-signed-on UHF independent station, KCIT Channel 50, which ceased airing it after 1970 began (the station ran into financial problems and died in July, 1971). In the Spring of 1970, KQTV, the St. Joseph, MO ABC station, began clearing it, leaving K.C. Brady viewers having to settle for fuzzy signals on not one, but two separate stations.
Winer, Diner And Mover
After promising Claudia that he'd give up on the diner and seek out a better job, Bert has second thoughts and decides to move the entire building to a beachfront lot, but he can't let her find out until the deed is done. Rufus somehow botches the first attempt to get it moved, so he and Bert devise a sneaky plan to get Claudia bombed on repeated champagne toasts so that as the movers tow the building with the threesome inside, she (allegedly) won't suspect anything.
GUEST CAST: Mr. Bender: JACK PERKINS.
Bert's Place begins it's trek to the beach--with Rufus, Bert and an inebriated Claudia along for the ride.
Two's a Crowd
Bert becomes so annoyed by Rufus' idiosyncracies that he decides to put a dividing line down the middle of the diner which neither one is allowed to cross. The arrangement is more than the customers--and Claudia--can bear.
GUEST CAST: Delivery Man: OWEN BUSH. Man: HOWARD DAYTON. Girl: SHERRY MILES. Customers: MICHAEL LERNER, SID CLUTE.
To Catch A Rufus
Money keeps disappearing from the diner's cash register and Bert suspects Rufus is the thief, so he plots to catch him in the act via a hidden camera.
GUEST CAST: Motorcyclist: MICHAEL BELL. Policeman: FABIAN DEAN. Marine: HENRY CAPPS. Hippie: MICHAEL FORD.
Fly In My Stew
A health inspector pays a visit to the diner and isn't pleased with his findings, so he puts the place on probation and vows to return for another inspection, but Bert and Rufus are unsure of when he'll be back.
GUEST CAST: Middleton: VINCENT PRICE. Bender: JACK PERKINS.
Claudia Sows A Few
An ill-advised attempt to dry out a wet newspaper by sticking it in the oven on top of a dish of baking hash leads to the creation of "Hash A La Rufus", whose unique smoked flavor pleases the guys so much that they add it to their menu. Meanwhile, Claudia wants to beautify the area outside with wildflowers whose seeds are in biodegradable capsules which she and Bert plant by tossing them on the ground as they drive. The act arouses the suspicions of two policemen who arrest them for trying to plant marijuana, and when the cops visit the diner they become equally suspicious of Rufus' "smoked hash" with its "secret ingredient", so he also gets busted. Can our heroes prove their innocence?
GUEST CAST: Sidney: DAVID FRESCO. Arthur: MICHAEL LERNER. Luther: FRANK WHITEMAN. Lab Worker: JOE TATA.
A reunion between Rufus and Bert and their old Army captain--who has the appearance of a seedy beachcomber--inspires the guys to arrange a benefit to help him out. In reality, the man has become a millionaire, and Claudia knows it...but she decides to have a little fun at Rufus and Bert's expense and not tell them. (Look at it this way: it's their comeuppance for the champagne stunt in the season opener.)
GUEST CAST: Ralph W. Arnold: ELLIOT REID. Chaplain: WOODROW PARFREY. Baitman: HAMILTON CAMP.
Fireman, Save My Diner
Bert tries out for the Volunteer Fire Department (partially in hopes of luring some of the firemen into the diner for added business), and Rufus insists on joining him, but only Rufus makes it in. Soon thereafter, he uncovers numerous violations at the diner and even the fire house, and Bert figures it's wreaking havoc with his business. Sooooooo...he and Claudia scheme to get him off the force by making him miss an upcoming time check.
GUEST CAST: Chief Andrews: JAMES GREGORY. Inspector: DORT CLARK.
Is This Trip Necessary?
Sierra Jake, an old sourdough who just finished a meal at the diner, offers Bert, Claudia and Rufus an old treasure map as payment instead of cash, prompting them to head out in search of presumed riches.
GUEST CAST: Sierra Jake: PERCY HELTON. Salesman: ART METRANO. Cafe Owners: REMO PISANI, RALPH MONTGOMERY.
No Orchids For The Diner
Lilli Resphighi, restaurant editor for a gourmet magazine, hires Rufus to cater a dinner at her home.
GUEST CAST: Lilli Resphighi: PHYLLIS DILLER. Morris: WARDE DONOVAN*. Angel: STAFFORD REPP. Florian: JOE BESSER. Bender: JACK PERKINS.
* Diller and Donovan were husband and wife at the time this episode was filmed.
A remnant of the show's filmed-before-a-live-audience days: this photocopy of an original ticket to an episode performance.
(Courtesy of Rick Polizzi)
The Eyes Have It
Claudia's need for corrective lenses--indicated by the presence of foreign objects in menu items ordered by an irate patron named Mr. Fogarty--sparks a disagreement between Bert and Claudia: she wants glasses, but he insists she get contact lenses. Though Claudia does get her glasses, persistent Bert comes through with contacts which he plans to "surprise" her with...if only Rufus can locate the lens he accidentally dropped into one of several pies being prepared.
GUEST CAST: Fogarty: RICHARD DEACON. (No information available on who played any other supporting guest characters).
The Chimp (a/k/a A Chimp Named Sam)
A chimpanzee whom Rufus becomes foster father to is a hit with diner customers who delight in seeing him wait on tables. Bert, on the other hand, wants to put a stop to this you-know-what business.
GUEST CAST: Spaulding: EDDIE MAYEHOFF. Cogan: FRANK CAMPANELLA. Bascomb: DEL MOORE. Kiley: BURT MUSTIN. Truck Driver: ALAN DRAKE.
A Familiar Ring
Once again, the Gramuses have a strong difference of opinion on what one costly investment to make. Claudia has lost her engagement ring and wants to use the insurance money to buy new diner fixtures, while Bert would rather replace the ring.
GUEST CAST: Salesman: JAMES MILHOLLIN. Ira: DICK WILSON. Elvira: JEANNE SOREL.
In an effort to better cope with one another, Bert and Rufus join a communications class led by an attractive woman psychologist. Eventually, Rufus becomes smitten with her.
GUEST CAST: Dr. Cummings: YVONNE CRAIG. Charlie: JOHN HARMON. Wife: PATTY REGAN. Husband: ART LEWIS. Male Customer: ED DEEMER. Female Customers: VIOLA HARRIS, HELEN BOLL. Executive-Type Man: NICO STEVENS.
Rufus clearly has no trouble expressing his feelings of love for communication teacher Dr. Cummings, played by Yvonne Craig.
A Fine Kettle Of Fish
Bert's doctor advises him to take leave of his responsibilities and rest up, so he and Claudia head to a motel for a second honeymoon while Rufus is left in charge of the diner, as well as some rare tropical fish belonging to their landlord. The result is no rest for Bert, who's concerned about the rare fish being left in Rufus' care.
GUEST CAST: Sid Cooper: SID GROSSFELD. Morgan: RALPH ROSE.
Deep Are The Roots
Bert and Claudia's eight-year-old nephew Stevie has come to stay with them awhile. He enjoys fishing with "Uncle" Rufus at Hacker's Cove, but they have no idea that gruff landowner C.W. Hacker considers them trespassers, and Rufus soon runs afoul of him. Knowing that Stevie idolizes him, Rufus tries standing up to the brute, but fear holds him back. Bert and Claudia consult their geneologist friend Lotus Plimpton to see if any of Rufus' ancestors were more heroic, but her findings prove just the opposite, prompting the Gramuses to try and build up his confidence before Hacker returns to clobber him.
GUEST CAST: Stevie: DANNY BONADUCE. C.W. Hacker: RICHARD X. SLATTERY. Lotus Plimpton: MAUDIE PRICKETT. Man: HOLLIS MORRISON. Lady Customer: DIANA HAYES.
Rufus has developed a crazed craving for sweet snacks, so Bert sends him to the office of Dr. Booth, who cures him via hypnosis. Later, a burglar breaks into the Gramus home intent on stealing an expensive brooch belonging to Claudia's aunt and, having overheard Bert's disclosure to her about Rufe's hypnosis session and the key word that triggers the trance, plots to use it to control him while he goes after the brooch.
GUEST CAST: Dr. Booth: RUEBEN SINGER. Burglar: CLIFF OSMOND. Customer: MILT COOPER.
Art A La Carte
One more time, the Good Guys try to help a friend in need. He's an artist seeking exposure for his paintings, which they gladly display on the diner walls...but their presence causes customers to lose their appetites. Just for the record, Rufus, Bert and Claudia spend their final seconds on-screen deciding to dig into slices of banana cream pie.
GUEST CAST: Piccardo: NED WERTIMER. Customers: MARSHALL KENT, DICK ELLIOTT, KIRK SCOTT.
Joyce Van Patten tried another CBS sitcom in 1972, co-starring in The Don Rickles Show, but audiences didn't warm up to "Mr. Warmth" as the lead character in a weekly series. Before The Good Guys, she had signed on as a regular on Danny Kaye's popular CBS variety show, and off-screen was a featured player in the musical stage production, "Spoon River Anthology", which CBS aired a TV adaptation of during the first season of Guys. In 1979 she returned to both the network and the variety format as a regular on The Mary Tyler Moore Hour, but this series did nothing to pump new life into the dying song-and-skit format (though this was actually more of a show-within-a-show), or to earn Joyce a place in series shrinedom. Finally, in the mid-1990s, Joyce lent her talents to a series that actually lasted long enough to hit the syndication circuit, the WB Network sitcom Unhappily Ever After. But her character--a booze-swillng, pill-popping grandmother--was dropped after only the first season, and eventually, so was the mother character played by Stephanie Hodge. This left the show with only one female star: Nikki Cox as daughter Tiffany Malloy who, as any adolescent male will tell you, was the "real" star of the show.
Herb Edelman grew a beard shortly after Guys ended, then did some bit parts in a few Screen Gems projects, including a highly-rated ABC Movie Of The Week, "The Feminist And The Fuzz", in which he co-starred with Barbara Eden, David Hartman, Jo Anne Worley, a pre-Charlie's Angels Farrah Fawcett and a post-Catwoman Julie Newmar, and a Bewitched episode in which he portrayed a take-off on fast food legend Colonel Sanders. In the fall of 1976 he did one season of a live-action Saturday morning sitcom for NBC, Big John, Little John, in which he played an adult who became a child after drinking from a fountain of youth. He returned to the nighttime sitcom grind in the 1980s, first in Ladies' Man (not to be confused with the later 1990s CBS sitcom of the same name), then in the series version of 9 to 5, but it was his portrayal of Stanley, the ex-husband of Bea Arthur's character in the highly-successful Golden Girls which earned Herb a place in rerun syndication. Sadly, he never lived to see any potential residuals from possible Guys reruns, as Edelman passed away on July 21, 1996.
Bob Denver, of course, knew what his young fans--faithfully parked in front of their TV sets weekdays after school for reruns of Gilligan's Island--wanted from him, and for the most part, that's exactly what they got. In 1973, he reunited with Sherwood Schwartz for one season of a new syndicated sitcom, Dusty's Trail, a veritable carbon-copy of his best-known series right down to the characters. A year later he lent his voice to The New Adventures Of Gilligan, an animated adaptation of the original for Saturday mornings, as well as another cartoon revival in 1982, Gilligan's Planet. He also appeared in the flesh on Saturday mornings in 1975 on the Krofft brothers' Far Out Space Nuts. Beginning in 1978, he was naturally on hand for the three TV-movie sequels to Gilligan, and almost every TV guest appearance he's made since the last Good Guys episode was initially broadcast couldn't help but make some allusion to his close association to the S.S. Minnow's first mate. He did, however, reappear as Maynard G. Krebs in a one-shot half-hour sequel, "Whatever Happened To Dobie Gillis?" and a TV-movie adaptation, "Bring Me The Head Of Dobie Gillis". His wife Dreama runs a website called the "Gilligan Fan Club", and during a reunion with all his castaway co-stars on Fox's Late Show With Ross Shafer back in 1988, Bob briefly mentioned that he went on to do a series called The Good Guys, which nobody ever heard of. Uh...nobody, Bob?
The world was saddened to hear that Bob Denver passed away from complications after open heart surgery on September 2, 2005. Had The Good Guys been available to the U. S. in syndicated reruns while he was still with us, he could have collected some handsome residuals and perhaps made that much more of a difference in certain peoples' lives.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
In spite of my obvious dissatisfaction with most of the second season episodes, I still want a chance to see them all in syndication or on cable just as much as the first season shows. Why? Because these later episodes never had a chance to be rerun, unlike the earlier ones which lasted a whole year and thus were mostly re-shown during the summer. The Saturday afternoon delayed broadcasts which KCMO-TV in Kansas City subjected it to resulted in an occasional episode being joined in progress after a CBS sportscast of some kind, and other weeks I was forced to miss most--or even all--of an episode due to weekend travel plans or other "commitments" I wanted no part of. Had the series aired in K.C. when it was supposed to, these problems might not have occured until Season Two when the show--seen nationally on Fridays--might have still gone unseen by me some weeks, since we'd occasionally be heading off somewhere late on a Friday afternoon, not getting there till after Guys ended, and with no chance to see a Saturday afternoon replay whether KCMO offered one or not. With no second chance to see the second season offerings on CBS, I wound up missing more of these than the first season shows. Despite the downward slide in quality, maybe the Phyllis Diller or Vincent Price shows, for example, would have yielded pleasant surprises. Not so with the "Fireman, Save My Diner" ep, which I mail-ordered on tape remembering it was one I missed on CBS...only to be let down by its outcome. The "Communication Gap" episode with Yvonne Craig is pretty good, though.
But, as one network has put it in recent years, if you haven't seen it, it's new to you. That applies to a great many people today who never got to see even one Good Guys episode, including the best ones. They only know Bob Denver as Gilligan, and while one will always be synonymous with the other, nowhere is it written in stone that this later, lesser-known series he did is simply unfit to air on any cable channel or local station, regardless of how obscure their shows of choice are otherwise.
Think I'm wrong? Take this simple test. Off the top of your head, can you guess which TV sitcom was the first to deal with radio disc jockeys? Now ask yourself which series Goldie Hawn made her TV debut on. If your respective answers were WKRP In Cincinatti and Laugh-In, you'd be wrong on both counts.
So what's keeping Guys from the rerun circuit? Too weak an entry overall, in addition to only 42 episodes made? Here's an idea. Take Guys and add these other Talent Associates Ltd. sitcoms that had short runs: Run, Buddy, Run with Jack Sheldon, The Hero with Richard Mulligan (which I never got to see even once, due to its having been locally pre-empted for its entire NBC network run by the Kansas City afilliate--thanks for nothing, WDAF-TV), The Governor & J.J. with Dan Dailey and Julie Sommars, and He & She. Then take this entire 100+ episode package and sell it to stations under an umbrella title like The Talent Associates Limited Runs. Who knows? It just might work in a number of markets, and with all the new UHF stations on the air or about to start up, it could get near-national exposure--if only for a year. Power people in the TV distribution game...let me win for once. Please?
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
The staff at the W. Dale Clark Public Library in Omaha, Nebraska, for their efforts in archiving all issues of TV Guide, including the program listings, from 1956 to 1990, and making them available for patron viewing on microfilm.
D.C. Hollis and Sal Mauriello, who each operate separate New Jersey-based mail-order video outlets specializing in public-domain prints of shows sometimes not available on broadcast or cable TV, from whom I got my copies of the pilot, "The Courtship Of Miles Butterworth" and "Fireman, Save My Diner"--here's hoping they or someone else can obtain more first-season eps, especially in color.
All the various individuals who put up a few Good Guys-related items up for auction on the phenomonally-successful eBay online auction website, which I was high bidder on, including the two TV magazines with the cast on the covers pictured elsewhere on this site, and the scripts to "The Eyes Have It", "A Fine Kettle Of Fish", "Compulsion" and "Deep Are The Roots". Sorry, but your names escape me for now; if you're reading this, e-mail me and I'll acknowledge you.
SPECIAL NO THANKS TO:
The programming, uh, "geniuses" at the old KCMO-TV in Kansas City back in the late '60s whose decision to reduce The Good Guys to a Saturday-afternoon tape delay resulted in a lot of missed episodes, frustration and unhappiness for me. Once more: the fishing show belonged on Saturdays...and The Good Guys should have been left where CBS--and I--wanted it!
And of course, those individuals responsible in any way for keeping all episodes unavailable to viewers such as myself who have been waiting FAR too long for their long-overdue return to domestic airwaves. Please put an end to all this waiting and wondering. There's no excuse not to.
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