The Imogene Coca Show aired from October 1954 until June 1955 on NBC.
The Imogene Coca Show never quite figured out what it wanted to be. Initially it went on the air as a situation comedy with Miss Coca essentially playing herself as an actress whose comic adventures in " real life," away from the tv cameras, formed the basis for stories. After only 2 weeks in this format, the show was altered to become a comedy-variety show with sketches, production numbers, and guest stars. On February 19, 1955 the format was overhauled again. It was now a situation comedy about a newlywed couple, Betty and Jerry Crane ( Imogene Coca, Hal March), and the adventures they had with their neighbors Helen and Harry Milliken ( Bibi Osterwald, David Burns). All the changes and tinkering with format never gave the show a solid audience and it was canceled at the end of it's first season.
Here's an article from Time Magazine talking about Imogene and some other comedians as they get ready to star in some tv shows for the 1954-1955 season.
Review of the Week
Monday, Oct. 11, 1954 Article
It was a big week for the comedians. Several of the old familiar faces and a few new ones tried just about anything and everything for a laugh.
The week's most stirring questionónot finally answeredówas: Would Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca, who broke up their topnotch Show of Shows team last spring, do as well separately as they did together? With his own Caesar's Hour (Mon. 8 p.m., NBC), Sid began with a fine skit in a cafeteria, went on to a funny getting-dressed scene. But when Guest Star Gina Lollobrigida showed up, he switched from well-paced pantomime to goo-goo-eyed mugging that suggested Milton Berle.
With Billy de Wolfe as her guest, Imogene Coca (Sat. 9 p.m., NBC) did little better with song and a strained set of sketches. Only in one skit-Motorist Coca trying to get through a toll station without a dime-did she show her talent for getting laughs with the famous whimper.
A new face, ballyhooed as an "offbeat, low-pressure Wally Cox-Will Rogers type," was crewcut George Gobel (Sat. 10 p.m., NBC). Straining at a deadpan, Midwestern delivery ("Wai, I'll be a dirty bird"), Gobel was better at dialogue than monologue. The show's two sketches were unpretentious, underplayed and very funny.
The old hands did well enough. Balloon-shaped Jackie Gleason (Sat. 8 p.m., CBS) growled, grinned and blustered his way through a refreshingly lively one-hour situation comedy. Red Buttons (three Fridays a month, 8 p.m., NBC) returned with a hatful of new routines and old Bronx-accented characterizations. Old Trouper Jimmy Durante (Sat. 9:30 p.m., NBC) was as agile as ever. Groucho Marx was again quizmaster on You Bet Your Life (Thurs. 8 p.m., NBC) and insulting his guests while paying them money.
Ray Bolger (Fri. 8:30 p.m., ABC) strained a few laughs out of a routine boy-and-girl-in-Manhattan situation, but, in his second season, there was still not enough of the famed Bolger dancing shoes. A more pretentious 60-minute production is The Martha Raye Show (alternating Tuesdays, 8 p.m., NBC). Tireless Trouper Raye bounced through songs and dances, but even her magnificent energy and Guest Star Wally Cox's support failed to pull along the old story line. The gags were hysterical, the mugging furious, and the sponsor (Hazel Bishop lipstick) added to the confusion by forcing its inane commercials into the action.
Of all the week's comedians, Steve Allen had the most arduous chore. His Tonight (Mon. through Fri., 11:30 p.m., NBC), starts off in New York, at intervals picks up more stations across the nation, finally signs off the air at 1 a.m. E.S.T.
When the show is cut off for local commercials, it must still be kept moving for the stations where commercial time remains unsold. As a result, Allen's easy, oh-so-casual delivery becomes choppy and labored. Tonight's 90 minutes (plus a 15-minute local broadcast) forces him to rely on singers and special news telecasts as a respite from what is plainly a TV marathon.
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