Hauling Like A Brooligan

Stephen Gallagher

Old Sitcoms Never Die…

These days, they surface on Hulu.

Gail Renard made the comment, “Speaking of star cars, I wonder what ever became of the one from the Smothers Brothers’ TV epic, “My Mother The Car.” A title and a pitch all in one.”

Someone else in the UK remembers My Mother the Car! Were the Smothers involved? It’s been lawd knows how many years and I still know all the words to the theme song. For anyone who doesn’t know it, the show featured a guy (Jerry Van Dyke, brother of the more famous Dick) whose 1928 vintage car contains the reincarnated soul of his mother, who nags him accordingly.

Back in the 60s, much of what we in Britain knew of US culture came from imported sitcoms. Though we thought we were seeing a reflection of suburban American life, what we were probably seeing was America’s reflected fantasy of itself.

Which shows reached our TVs depended on what the networks’ buyers (ITV’s, mostly) picked up and what your region’s company chose to run. So in the Granada area we had Lucy in her various formats, The Beverly Hillbillies, Gilligan’s Island, F Troop… we saw No Time for Sergeants, but not Leave it to Beaver. The Dick Van Dyke Show, but no Andy Griffith.

You’d think that My Mother the Car would have to be the brainchild of someone strung-out on too many drugs, until you realise that it was probably an attempt to make a variant on the successful talking-horse comedy Mister Ed. Then it makes logical sense, kind of. Mister Ed was a TV recycling of the Francis the Talking Mule series of movies. Which were probably the brainchild of someone strung-out on too many drugs.

But it’s far from the forgotten show I imagined it to be. Last week I discovered that there are complete episodes of My Mother the Car streaming online from Hulu (restricted to the US, as far as I can tell). The print was pin-sharp, the colours diamond-bright. By using 35mm film with feature-quality lighting, they made the shows technically future-proof.

As for the car itself… it was one of George Barris’s creations, and has been spotted in a museum in Tennessee.

Now I’m wondering if anyone else remembers the dude ranch sitcom Guestward Ho!…

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One response to “Old Sitcoms Never Die…”

  1. At last someone else who remembers the words to the theme song of My Mother The Car! Shall we do a duet?

    But I owe you a huge apology; the Smothers Brothers weren't in My Mother The Car at all. They were in t'other American 60s sit com classic, "The Smothers Brothers' Show." That was the rollicking series in which buttoned-down Dickie was haunted by brother Tommy who'd died and returned as an apprentice angel.An easy mistake to make. Sadly I can sing the theme song to that as well, as well as most of the others you mention. A youth well spent.