DVD REVIEW: The Red Skelton Show - The Lost Episodes @ 13 March 2014 11:42 AM
Red Skelton is a giant of comedy. Like many comic masters who rose up from stage to movies to radio to television, he is among several greats who should be celebrated more today, instead of reducing a description to his idiosyncracies.

Many in the industry, including fellow comedians, believed that only Skelton could laugh during and sketch and make it work. Harvey Korman also made it work on The Carol Burnett Show in his sketches with Tim Conway. Most recently, both Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers, now heading their own late night hits, were able to pull off laughing in sketches. When it's done correctly -- and often it is not -- the laughs draws the audience into the gag. And it saves cornball jokes.

Skelton was a master mime, as you can see in this collection, particularly in the monologues. These programs are edited because of music rights (the theme song, "Holiday for Strings," is not included) but the funny parts are there. Even if you've never seen Skelton's show, you will be drawn into his style within a few shows.

His characters have subtle differences, but they are indeed not all the same. George Appleby is a mild-mannered suburbanite drawn into Twilight Zone-style predicaments, his wife played by guest stars like Vivian Vance and Eve Arden, San Fernando Red is a dishonest Senator Claghorn (or Foghorn Leghorn). Clem Kadiddlehopper is a dimwit who finds himself in important positions. And his signature character, Freddie the Freeloader (based on his father's clown character) is a hobo who makes the best of life in surreal ways.

This is pure, silly, escapism. There are some tame political jabs (from the Kennedy era in these episodes) but overall the material is like a classic cartoon, complete with gags involving gadgets built into the sets.

Relax, chill out and chuckle. Everybody can use some silly old laughs.

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