Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The G. Stands for Walter

The man who created one of TV's most indelible characters has died. I'm speaking, of course, of Bob Denver, but not, of course, of Gilligan. Before Sherwood Schwartz's (no relation) weekly morality play (each of the castaways represented a different Deadly Sin, don'tcha know), Bob played the great beatnik role model Maynard G. Krebs on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, perhaps the greatest "lost" sitcom of all time. I caught this show during its brief run on Nick at Nite in the early '90's, but during its original run (1959-63) it must have been an oddity; a hip, subversive look at high school and romance (the MacGuffin, essentially was Dobie's endless scheming to either get laid or rich or both), it regularly broke the fourth wall as Dobie addressed his anxieties and frustrations to the audience. Denver inhabited Maynard with a gangly, lazy wisdom; he name-dropped hepcats like Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonius Monk, caught "The Monster that Devoured Cleveland" at the Bijou just about every week, and howled with shock and horror whenever the word "work" was mentioned. (Why isn't the full run of this show collected on DVD?) Of course, after Gilligan, hardly anyone remembers Dobie and Maynard. What a shame.

Goodbye, Bob. Goodbye, Maynard.


Blogger Tim Akers said...

I loved Maynard as a kid. In fact, I was never really a Gilligan's Island fan, and always thought of Denver as Maynard. That was a great show.

8:17 AM  
Blogger Pete said...

His Krebs character was genius. It's one of two beatnik-satirizing TV portrayals I can remember seeing from that era (a single episode of Perry Mason was the other). Anybody aware of others?

9:13 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

I watched Gilligan as a kid, but I was never really a fan. I'm firmly in the cult of "Dobie." In fact, I've got the book in my to-be-read stack right now. (Sadly, Maynard was created for the series and did not appear in the book.)

I'm not sure it qualifies as satire, but "Dragnet" has lots of unintentionally hilarious depictions of the counter-culture. Joe Friday really was the ultimate square.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Pete said...

Dragnet was satire, but the unintenional variety. I doubt if Jack Webb had a humorous bone in his body.

11:08 AM  

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