TV classics: Our Miss Brooks
USA 1952-56, 4 seasons, 130 episodes, approximately 25 minutes each, CBS, black & white. Created by: Al Lewis. Cast: Eve Arden, Gale Gordon, Jane Morgan, Robert Rockwell, Richard Crenna, Gloria McMillan
Plot summary: Connie Brooks is an English teacher who fights a daily battle of sarcasm and wits with her students and colleagues, landlady and principle while all she’s really after is love.
Review: Originally introduced on radio in 1948, Our Miss Brooks was a big comedy success for Eve Arden and her talented cast of fellow actors. Moving on to television in 1952, the cast remained almost completely intact as they continued to entertain their audience with great approval. On TV (and radio respectively), Robert Rockwell succeeded Jeff Chandler as Connie Brooks’ love interest Philip Boynton. He was later replaced by Gene Barry as Gene Talbot when Miss Brooks moved from a public on to a private school in 1955 to change the setting and tone (Miss Brooks switched roles from pursuer to pursued). These alterations were not particularly well received by the audience and ultimately broke the show’s neck. Philip Boynton’s mid-season return did not prevent cancellation but the character appeared in the follow-up movie in which he then finally got married to the leading lady in 1956.
Our Miss Brooks was one of the first hit shows on television, popularly rerun for several years. The show was praised by its audience and critics alike and lived on in its original form on radio until 1957. Our Miss Brooks was a witty, smart and entertaining show which introduced a female lead who was capable in her job, warmhearted and feminine. She was groundbreaking as a working woman on television, a teacher who did address many realistic issues of her profession in a comedic way. She was also competent, funny and independent in her job, a direct contrast to a predominance of housewives and mothers. Our Miss Brooks did not glorify teaching or working girls, nor did it belittle traditional homemakers. The program offered an insight into a woman’s life outside of the home, a lady who handled her students and colleagues with sarcasm and wit.
Today, fifty-five years after going off the air, Our Miss Brooks is every bit as entertaining as it used to be although our realities and perception of working women have changed. Eve Arden’s performance is still gripping and hilarious, her repartee genuine and priceless, the supporting cast supportive in the best of sense, adding to the program’s top notch quality. So if you’ve been unfamiliar with Our Miss Brooks so far but like to to be entertained in a smart and amusing way, then give Connie Brooks a chance to win you over. She’s a classy lady whose comebacks may knock you off your feet while she’s trying to allure her future husband.