Here’s an extra Friday Question I wanted to sneak in early:
What are your thoughts on Sgt. Bilko?
First off, let’s be clear, there is only ONE Sgt. Bilko – and that is the television series starring Phil Silvers. The movie adaptation with Steve Martin was awful and will be treated as if it never existed.
Ah, but the TV show was a revelation. Phil Silvers was a true comic genius. And I can’t imagine a TV network today approving him to star in a series. He was bald, he was 50, he wore glasses. And as an army sergeant who presided over the motor pool at Fort Baxter, Kansas during 1950’s peacetime, there was not one pretty face in the bunch. Everyone looked like they were out of a Don Martin cartoon in MAD magazine. But they were all, to a man and woman, FUNNY.
And the series was created and written by one of my comedy Gods, Nat Hiken. He was far and away the best writer on his staff… and that staff included Neil Simon.
For inspired lunacy, razor sharp dialogue, and monster laughs that still stand the test of time, I can’t recommend SGT. BILKO enough.
The entire series is out in a box set. I believe it’s also on one of those nostalgia channels. Treat yourself.
And I’ll leave you with this: as part of the class on comedy I taught at USC I showed twelve great pilots from the ‘50s to present. ALL IN THE FAMILY, MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, MASH, SEINFELD, etc. Which show got the best response? Which show got the most and best laughs? It wasn’t even close.