Saturday, 20 December 2014
40 Abbott and Costello
First watched : Uncertain
This was introduced to BBC1 on Monday 1 June 1970 as part of the re-jigging of the teatime schedule to accommodate the 1970 World Cup ( of which I have no recollection whatsoever ). It proved that not everything Hanna-Barbera did turned to gold.
These five minutes shorts were part of a series of cartoon resurrections of comedy greats ; Laurel and Hardy got the same treatment. Of course the problem was that not only were these guys mostly dead, so were the people who wrote for them so what you have here is two cartoon representations of well-loved figures dropped into the lamest of scenarios - usually "Lou Costello" yelling as he ran away from some dangerous beast - without any hint of why people loved them so much in the first place.
What makes this one particularly sad is that Bud Abbott was so hard up by this time ( 1968-69 ) he actually agreed to come in and do his "own" voice on the wretched thing. And that wasn't the worst of it. Lou Costello had died in 1959 so his voice was performed by Stan Irwin, a nightclub manager and friend to both men. Costello had developed a high pitched yelping tone in their radio days when the pace of their repartee made it difficult for some listeners to tell them apart. It worked for him but Irwin's exaggeration of the voice combined with his wooden delivery make it excruciating, unbearable even in 5 minute doses.
It disappeared from our screens in 1971 and good riddance !