“I MARRIED JOAN”— Classic TV Collection 4

“I Married Joan”

Classic TV Collection Volume 4

Amos Lassen

Joan (Joan Davis), a scatterbrained housewife, and her staid and settled domestic court judge husband, Bradley Stevens (Jim Backus), were the two main characters of an NBC series that ran for three seasons from 1952-1955. The show was cut from the same mold as the I LOVE LUCY series, with Joan Davis’ comedy antics coming from the physical school of humor. This DVD collection contains 10 hilarious episodes from all 3-seasons.

Television comedy tastes, formats and so on have changed over the years yet some of the comedy bits on “I Married Joan”, particularly the physical comedy, on the show were superior to anything before or since. Joan Davis started out as a child performer in front of live audiences and she perfected her brand of physical comedy long before she became a television star through this program. Jim Backus as her husband was perfectly cast as Judge Stevens, her husband.

This is an overlooked and highly underrated program of the fifties and one of the best sitcoms of all time. Davis brought her great timing and knockabout style of comedy which she mastered so well in her movies of the 30’s and 40’s to the small screen and really made this show work. Joan Davis was, with Lucy, Carole Lombard, and Carol Burnett, one of the great female comedy clowns of all time. She was in many movies, and then this series.

When Lucille Ball was an acclaimed, but not very widely known B picture actress, Joan Davis was winning a lot more acclaim for her own brand of goofy physical humor on radio and on film. When the motion picture studios started cutting down production and leaving people out of work, Davis turned to television. Unfortunately she was a year after Lucy and Desi who put on a very successful situation comedy about a wacky wife with an exasperated husband that we love so well.

When Joan Davis debuted “I Married Joan” in 1952 she was accused of copying Lucy but you will see that this is not true if you watch any of her episodes. But Lucy was there first and got the deserved credit.

“I Married Joan” trailed in the wake of “I Love Lucy”. It ended in 1955 because her TV husband Jim Backus quit the show. The show certainly has a dated feel (it does have an annoying laugh track) but the jokes are still clever and Joan Davis was brilliant. Joan was a ditsy, goofy character long before she made it to television. I have watched each episode several times and find them priceless classics.

“I Married Joan” is a fun sitcom that takes it’s place in my DVD library alongside other great classic shows and we are lucky that we have had there saved. There is broad physical slapstick comedy in just about every show, and there are laugh out-loud moments galore. One innovation of the show was the music in the series is performed by the Roger Wagner Chorale. There is not one note of instrumental music played in the entire series. The famous theme song, once heard, is nearly impossible to forget.

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