Posted ByGerry O. on July 21, 2002 at 22:16:44:
In Reply to: "Grape-Nuts Flakes" Era posted byGerry O. on July 17, 2002 at 15:39:34:
: I've heard several Jack Benny programs from the "Grape-Nuts Flakes Program" run.....
: Is it just me, or do the "Grape-Nuts" shows mark a definite slump in the Benny program?
: I realize that the show had some tough breaks during this period (Jack's serious illness and 6-week absence from the show, Phil Harris going into the service and being replaced by various unfunny bandleaders, etc.).
: However, I just don't find many of the Grape-Nuts shows to be FUNNY....many of them seem to fall flat.
: Maybe this was a "growing pains" period for the program...it was after the silly (but funny), free-wheeling "Jell-O" era and just before the more sophisticated and extremely well-written "Lucky Strike" era.
: Do any of you have any thoughts on Jack's "Grape-Nuts Flakes" programs?
In checking out Milt Josefsberg's "The Jack Benny Show" book, it appears that the "Grape-Nuts Flakes" programs DID have their problems as far as quality of writing went.
The first "Grape-Nuts" season marked the first season of Jack's new team of writers (Josefsberg, George Balzer, John Tackaberry, Sam Perrin, etc.). These guys were trying to maintain the style of comedy writing made famous by Jack's previous "Jell-O" writers, Bill Morrow and Ed Beloin (as per Jack's instructions). However, these new, younger writers had a style of comedy writing of their own, and it took them a while to convince Jack to "tighten" or "speed up" the jokes....but until they did, many of their "Grape-Nuts" shows were awkward and sometimes unfunny programs....and the declining ratings were proving it.
Eventually these new guys were able to write Benny scripts in their own "streamlined" style. This resulted in much better scripts for the LATER "Grape-Nuts" episodes....and by the time the "Lucky Strike" series started, the writers were up to full speed, pounding out excellent scripts, which also utilized the "sitcom" format more and more....and Jack's ratings improved, eventually climbing back to the top.
For some reason, the "sitcom" Benny episodes seem to hold up the best today, and they're also the episodes and routines which people seem to remember most ("Your Money Or Your Life", "Christmas Shopping", "The Railroad Station", "The Vault", etc.).