TV classics: I Married Joan
USA 1952-55, 3 seasons, 98 episodes, approximately 25 minutes each, NBC, black & white. Executive Producers: Joan Davis, James Bank, Sponsored by General Electric. Cast: Joan Davis, Jim Backus
Plot summary: Joan and Bradley Stevens lead the eventful life of a married couple: Joan constantly gets herself into trouble while Bradley laughs them out of it.
Review: I Married Joan went on the air on October 15, 1952 and lasted a good three seasons. The show aimed at lovers of I Love Lucy which had started its unequaled run for fame one year before. Circling around Joan Stevens’ mishaps and quirks, the series was a picture perfect vehicle for Joan Davis’ vaudeville background and comedic skills. A witty and physical comedienne, Joan Davis had no trouble turning her series into a display of fireworks of hilarity and perfectly timed absurdity. Her talents were beautifully complemented by co-star Jim Backus as Bradley Stevens, whose character met Joan’s idiosyncrasies with faith and a hearty sense of humor.
Occasionally supported by Geraldine Carr as Mabel and her real life daughter Beverly Wills as her on-screen sister, Joan Davis created a genuinely funny character that had the potential to stand up to the competition of her time. Little known to young women today, she was also one of the early female (executive) producers (along with Betty White or Gail Patrick Jackson for example) who shaped their final product with diligence and abandon.
Unfortunately, her show was cancelled in 1955 as the audience’s interest faded and Joan Davis’ health took the better of her. In the 1980s, nineteen years after her premature death, I Married Joan was rerun on cable TV and found a new appreciative audience. Today, selected episodes are available on DVD and online. For those of you who enjoy good comedy, this TV classic will be a treat you do not want to miss on your shelves. It may have first aired a good sixty years ago, but like good wine, class and talent never get old.