TV classics: Mr. and Mrs. North
USA 1952-54, 2 seasons, 57 episodes, approximately 30 minutes each, CBS (1952-53), NBC (1954), black & white. Based on Richard & Frances Lockridge’s original novels. Cast: Barbara Britton, Richard Denning and Francis De Sales
Plot summary: Pam and Jerry North keep stumbling into murder cases they investigate with or without a little help from their police detective friend.
Review: Before Mr. and Mrs. North found their way to the small screen, the married sleuths had a career in radio, a motion pictures and a series of novels to look back on. Originally created by Richard Lockridge as newspaper fiction in the 1930s, Mr. and Mrs. North were first reprinted as short stories and then further developed into a series of crime novels by the author himself and his wife Frances. In 1941, the sleuths were presented on Broadway, then moved on to silver screen Hollywood and radio one year later. Following their continued radio success, Mr. and Mrs. North were finally picked up for the small screen in 1952, starring Barbara Britton and Richard Denning as the title characters.When the show was canceled in 1954, the two leading actors reprised their on-screen chemistry on the continued radio program until it was taken off the air one year later.
For the duration of the show, Mr. and Mrs. North were often supported by befriended New York police Lieutenant Bill Weigand (Francis De Sales). Although helping them with an occasional interrogation or professional advice, the cases were always solved by the hobby sleuths, primarily by Pam who had a tendency to get herself in trouble for uncovering the truth. Jerry, her loving husband, often seemed to be one step behind – a fact that didn’t stop him from ignoring her hunches or ideas until her words made sense to him (mostly when Pam had already put herself in danger again).
If you think that the show may have dwelled on the interaction between husband and wife, in fact it did. That was the driving force of the show. The crimes they stumbled into were a mere setup for an entertaining half hour of married investigating. Sometimes, the solutions to their cases were so simple, it wouldn’t have worked if Pam and Jerry’s behavioral pattern hadn’t been so funny. Barbara Britton and Richard Denning did a beautiful job creating a sparkle of spousal familiarity that added spice and joy to the short and easy plots.
All in all, Mr. and Mrs. North is a diverting program with a group of sympathetic characters and a decent cast of actors who were joined by fantastic guest performers such as Raymond Burr (who would take on the role of his life as Perry Mason in 1957). It’s a great show for a cold winter night when all you want is to lean back on the couch with a hot cup of whatever-you-like.
Selected episodes available on DVD and online.