TV Classics: Date with the Angels
USA 1957 -58, 1 season, 33 episodes, 20-25 minutes each, ABC, black & white. Producer: Don Fedderson, Presented by the Plymouth dealers of America, Announcer: Tom Kennedy. Cast: Betty White, Bill Williams, Recurring guest stars: Maudie Prickett, Richard Reeves, Richard Deacon, Burt Mustin, Natalie Masters, Roy Engel, Nancy Kulp, George N. Neise, Jimmy Boyd et al.
Plot summary: Vicki and Gus Angel’s first year of marriage. She’s a housewife. He’s an insurance salesman. They both live in the L.A. area and master their lives with strange neighbors, funny friends, awkward family members and everyday challenges after having said “I do”.
Review: There are several reasons to start watching a show that’s been off the air since over fifty years. Provided that the show is available on DVD, VHS or online. Date with the Angels offers a very obvious reason if you consider the well-deserved relaunch of Betty White’s long small screen career. Although relaunch is a misleading term since she never really stopped working in all those years. After her most recent successes on Saturday Night Live, Hot in Cleveland and alongside contemporary Hollywood stars like Sandra Bullock on the silver screen, many viewers will still remember her as naive and iconic Rose Nylund from The Golden Girls. Or as a guest star on Boston Legal, That 70s Show or The Bold and the Beautiful. Betty White is America’s TV darling who was a regular on a variety of game shows such as Password or Match Game, who starred on Mama’s Family, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and then in her own Betty White Show in the 70s. She received numerous Emmy awards for her work, including one for 1952s Life with Elizabeth. So Date with the Angels is a perfect addition for the average Betty White fan who wants to see more of her comical, sweet side and not so much of the raunchy image she’s been booked on as of late. It is fair to say that if you don’t like Betty White, you may probably not enjoy this show.
On another note however, Date with the Angels is a beautiful example for a 1950s comedy show. It’s not as big as I love Lucy of course, nor was it as successful or long-living. But it is mighty entertaining anyway. The setting is simple, but the wardrobe is beautiful and the writing features the two protagonists very well. What makes this show work is the combination of Betty White’s on-screen charm and Bill Williams’ entertaining way of playing with and adding to it. He is a wonderful Gus Angel and, like Vicki Angel, a little too good to be true. But that’s the fun of it! After all, Date with the Angels introduces the audience to a newly-wed couple. They are bound to be a little too in love, a little too cotton candy. But then, are they?!
Date with the Angels is pure entertainment which works better on some episodes and turns screwball on others. But again, the cast is who holds it together. Who makes it smooth and carries even the weakest episode. Bill Williams is such a delight to watch, and so are the supporting guest stars. And although Betty White introduces every episode and she’s the featured star, her on-screen husband is equally memorable. After The Adventures of Kit Carson which went off the air in 1955, he gets to show off his romantic talents and his sense for timing. It’s a pity this show didn’t last longer than a season, especially for the sometimes underestimated work of Mr. Williams.
Available on DVD, unfortunately incomplete. Date with the Angels example episode