Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My Mother The Car: Doesn't Deserve Its Bad Reputation

I just finished watching my DVD set of the "infamous" 1960s sitcom My Mother The Car (no comma after the word "Mother" and "the" is capitalized in the credits and although the title is incorrectly spelled and punctuated, I will simply go along with it*). Here is what I wrote over at

This 1960s "gimmick" show has a reputation as being one of the worst shows ever made, mostly by those who never saw it. The premise IS absurd: The central character, David Crabtree, has a 1928 Porter who happens to be his mother (reinCARnated, as people repeatedly note). The car, like Mr. Ed and Francis the Talking Mule, will talk only to one person, leading to amusing situations. The plots in MMTC revolve around the car, with many of the episodes centering on the unsuccessful attempts by a rich collector, played by Avery Schreiber, to own it.

The comedy is broad, the scripts are not that great while few are outright bad, and let's face it: This show's target audience was children. It was not meant to be sophisticated comedy, unlike star Jerry Van Dyke's brother's show. I remember watching it on delayed broadcast when it first ran, and I enjoyed it. Watching the episodes on DVD nearly fifty years later, I can say the show does not deserve the bum rap it has received by reviewers like TV Guide. I would honestly rank it as a three-star program, better than some comedies of the era, and not as good as others.

The DVD package I rank higher than the series. The prints are crisp and sharp; it has never looked better. Some quibble with the packaging, but I don't find the box objectionable (by the way, that is actor Sonny Tufts pictured with Jerry Van Dyke on the box and DVDs and also appeared in an episode of the show). Some reviewers note the lack of a laugh track on most of the episodes; that isn't a negative in my book.

I found the show highly watchable if a bit corny overall. People who remember the series will enjoy owning this set.

It was a long time before Jerry Van Dyke hit pay dirt on television. He did in the late 1980s with the sitcom Coach and garnered four Emmy nominations. I believe he is mostly retired now and lives in Arkansas with his second wife. He is 82 years old.

Co-stars Ann Sothern (voice of the car), Avery Schreiber, and Maggie Pierce have passed away. Sothern died in 2001, Schreiber in 2002, and Pierce in 2010.

*--The first episode also had the words during the opening credits to sing along with, but "alligator" was misspelled with just one "l." It was corrected afterwards.

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