The Phil Silvers Show

Started by Slim, January 01, 2023, 10:52:13 PM

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014: The Reunion

Bilko is granted 10 days' leave. He uses it to attend a reunion with his old war buddies.

Bilko expects his old comrades, whom he remembers as loveable "goof-offs" and no-hopers, to be impressed that he's now a Master Sergeant. But they've all been considerably more successful than he has.

Just a bit uncomfortable, this one. In the best tradition of comedy tinged with melancholy.

There's a brief scene filmed outside the Waldorf Astoria in New York. Had a look on Street View to compare it to the present day. I find old street scenes priceless. The Pan Am building isn't present; construction started a few years after this was filmed.

Good one.


015: The Rich Kid

Fender is a corporal now, I think that's new though no mention is made of his promotion. More importantly his wife has had (yet) another baby, which means that he's had another payout from the platoon's welfare fund, which is now down to 15 cents.

A replacement is drafted in for him while he's on leave with his wife and new child, and it turns out that said replacement is the sole heir to a "$200m automobile fortune".

Bilko's behaviour toward him once he finds out that he's rich is hilarious. Priceless. But it's one of those where the devious Master Sergeant's conscience wins out in the end.

An actress called Jane Dulo plays a brash and opportunistic local girl called Mildred and I must say her comic touch is almost as good as Phil Silvers'.

Very good one.


016: Hollywood

A film producer is making a lurid war film. The Pentagon needs someone who served at the Battle of Kabuchi to go to Hollywood to act as technical advisor. They send for Bilko.

I'd say the Bilko manipulative personality trait is just a little overcooked in this one.

I loved the payoff though, although I saw it coming.


I was only thinking about Sgt Bilko the other day. It used to be repeated regularly on BBC2.


017: The Investigation

A taxpayers' committee is established to investigate waste and extravagance in the military. They visit Fort Baxter, of course.

Bilko sees this as an opportunity to wangle a salary increase.

Obviously the plots are going to be a bit contrived in these, in the best traditions of theatrical farce. But this one stretches credulity a bit too far. It also stretches a single joke far too thin. And the payoff is weak.


Quote from: cygnusxdave on January 17, 2023, 04:19:21 PMI was only thinking about Sgt Bilko the other day. It used to be repeated regularly on BBC2.

There are a few complete episodes on YouTube.


018: Kids in the Trailer

One of Bilko's men has a visit from his wife and kids, so he arranges a three day pass for him. Unfortunately the platoon is only entitled to one three day pass and he's already given it to Doberman. Even worse, after he persuades Doberman to give it away, he ends up having to look after the kids.

It must be pretty hard to get young kids to remember their lines and all that but these ones do very well.

This one has a couple of brief scenes composed of footage shot outdoors, which I think is a first.

Very, very good one.


019: The Revolutionary War

Bilko receives a package from his Aunt Minerva - mementos from his great-great granduncle who, Bilko learns, was on General Washington's staff during the Revolutionary War.

This makes him reassess his finagling, conniving ways, and aspire to be an officer. He comes over a bit Frank Burns.

I vaguely remembered this one. The payoff of course is that Bilko's ancestor - as is revealed in his diaries - turns out to be just as devious and conniving as his 1950s Master Sergeant descendant.

There's a gag about a person called Benedict Arnold that I had to look up. Fascinating story. Would have taken a trip to the library to do that the first time I saw this, probably in the '70s.

Anything to do with the American War of Independence annoys me quite honestly, but despite that - it's a good one.


020: The Transfer

Bilko threatens to leave Fort Baxter to teach Colonel Hall a lesson for "interfering with private enterprise". To his disappointment, the Colonel accepts his transfer request very readily. Unfortunately Bilko's replacement is so painfully, officiously military and GI that he starts to miss Bilko. Meanwhile, Bilko's new comrades at his new post are such easy prey for his schemes that he starts to get bored.

Curiously, Benedict Arnold gets a mention in this one as well! This time I didn't have to look it up.

Peak Bilko, this one. Not too fanciful, clever, very funny.


021: The Rest Cure

Fort Baxter is enduring a heatwave.

Bilko tries to persuade a major from the Pentagon that he and his men have gone a bit doolally from the heat, so they can get a break at an army rehabilitation camp in Colorado, where it's cooler.

The major is Darrin's boss from Bewitched, David White. He looks about 55 here but amazingly, despite the grey hair and double chin he was 39 when this was filmed. I've just read that his son, who would have been born roughly at the time this was filmed, died in the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie.

You can see the payoff gag coming a mile off, but it's still very funny.


022: Dinner at Sowici's

Bilko and Hogan - apparently an item now - attend a wedding together, and Bilko starts to worry she wants to marry him.

He decides to take her to dinner at Sgt Sowici's place, so she can witness the horror of an Army marriage for herself.

I well remembered this one for the hellish, incessant nagging of Mrs Sowici and her slob of a husband's total disregard for her point of view, as well as the appalling dishevelment of their domestic arrangements.

Silvers' physical comedy in this one - the body language and facial expressions - is off the scale. Bravo.

Laugh-out-loud brilliant. Pure genius. I actually physically applauded it when the credits came up.

Thank goodness these were recorded onto film and still exist - if the BBC had made The Phil Silvers Show they'd probably have wiped them in the '60s.


023: Army Memoirs

Bilko's various schemes and misconduct have landed his fellow Master Sergeants, whom he has involved in them, in trouble with their superiors. When Bilko is implicated, he finally gets busted down to private.

The story basically concerns Bilko wangling his stripes back. It stretches credulity too far. But there's an amusing payoff and it's not a bad one.


024: Miss America

Bilko is running a Sweetheart of the Platoon contest, featuring photos of the mens' wives and girlfriends pinned to the bulletin board. One of the men in particular has a very good-looking sweetheart.

Bilko decides to enter her in the Miss Kansas finals as "Miss Fort Baxter".

It's one of those overly fanciful ones and of course there's a degree of objectification that feels a bit incongruous in the present day.


025: The Court Martial

Fort Baxter is to be tested as an Army induction centre. Colonel Hall wants to process, uniform and induct 300 recruits into the Army in three hours.

Captain Barker comes up with a process to do the job in two hours.

Unfortunately, one of the new recruits assigned to Bilko has brought a chimpanzee with him and (of course) the chimp gets inducted into the army accidentally. Then court-martialled.

If you know The Phil Silvers Show at all you'll know this one; probably the single best-remembered episode of them all. Brilliant.

Silvers' quick-witted ad-libs with the highly unpredictable member of the cast are sheer genius. The court martial scene where they have to act around the chimp must have been very tense.


026: Furlough In New York

Joan Hogan is planning a furlough to visit friends in New York, and she hasn't told Bilko about it. Simultaneously, Bilko is planning a furlough to New York, and of course he hasn't told Joan about it.

As soon as they get there, they both start telephoning old flames, without any success.

Unusual one in that there's no Bilko scheme or wangle. You can probably guess roughly how it goes; it's a good old-fashioned farce. Made a bit of a change from Fort Baxter. I liked it.