Screen Couples

We all know them: the Stoneses, the Andersons or the Stephenses. For some, they may be a guilty pleasure, for others a mere necessity to get a story told. For me, they are the cherry on top of any tale: fictional couples and their personal stories. On the fringes of drama, comedy and mayhem, romantic innuendo has always been my favorite treat. From Date with the Angels and Family Ties to Murder She Wrote or Babylon 5, I have a weakness for double entendre paired with a healthy sense of humor, smarts and mutual respect.

Della and Perry1) Perry Mason and Della Street, for example, have been my favorite couple for more years than I care to admit. On paper, radio and screen, the lawyer and his secretary know how to put a smile on my face. Committed to their work as much as to each other, the true nature of their relationship has always remained a mystery. For some fans, they are the best of friends while others suspect some hanky-panky behind closed doors. For me, they have long been married, the epitomized working couple who combines independence with traditional values. And that’s the beauty of those characters and their story. They ignite your imagination and tease you to the point of sizzling frustration with a simple look, remark or smitten smile. It is a tradition Erle Stanley Gardner himself started in The Velvet Claws in 1933 and lasted until 1994 when the last Perry Mason TV movie aired on NBC. Perfected by its signature cast, Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale, Perry and Della have since lived on in the hearts of many fans, the flame of their romance burning more and more brightly towards the series’ end.

Jennifer&Jonathan2) The second couple I have loved for as long as I can remember are Jennifer and Jonathan Hart. Sophisticated, rich and charming, the Harts had everything including a mutually executed interest in solving mysteries. Following in the footsteps of TV’s Mr. and Mrs. North, they dug up trouble where it’s usually hard to find but their love for each other made their cases stand out from others. Together, they were invincible and (much like Della and Perry) have stood the test of time. A mere decade after Hart to Hart was canceled on ABC, the couple returned to television in 1993, matured, refined, and every bit as committed to each other as they had always been. Today, the Harts are still a dream couple for their fans, a twosome who showed their audience the ingredients of true love and how it beautiful life can be even if you are denied to have your desired offspring.

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The Mickey Mouse Club

TV classics: The Mickey Mouse Club

USA 1955-59, four seasons, approximately 330 episodes, 30 to 60 minutes each, ABC, black & white. Cast: Jimmie Dodd, Roy Williams, Bob Amsberry, Tommy Cole, Annette Funicello, Sharon Baird, Bobby Burgess, Darlene Gillespie, Cubby O’Brien, Karen Pendelton, Doreen Tracey, Lonnie Burr and many others.

Plot summary: Who’s the leader of the club, that’s made for you and me? M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E! Hey! there, Hi! there, Ho! there. You’re as welcome as can be. M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E. Mickey Mouse! Mickey Mouse!

Mickey Mouse Club-1

Review: Every holiday season, I love to revisit childhood classics and today I’m rolling the drums for The Mickey Mouse Club. Do you already hear it, the catchy tune of the theme song and the lyrics you will never forget once you’ve heard them?! It’s one of those songs that stay in your head all day and paint a happy smile on your lips if you are the likes of me. If you aren’t, I’m sorry for bringing it up but in the middle of all the Christmas shopping and baking and carol singing, I got in the mood for two of my favorite cartoon characters, Minnie Mouse and Mickey.

Originally a brainchild of Walt Disney and Bill Cottrell, The Mickey Mouse Club was a variety show for children and their families created by Bill Walsh and Hal Adelquist to help finance the Disneyland theme park. Hosted by Jimmie Dodd and his Mouseketeers, the program featured weekly music, talent and comedy segments, a serial, as well as cartoons with Mickey Mouse as the regular star. Dubbed by Walt Disney himself, Mickey appeared in newly developed stories and theatrical shorts from the 1920s through 40s. His girlfriend Minnie was also featured on occasion or paid tribute to in charming acts such as “Cooking with Minnie Mouse” presented by the Mouseketeers, Jimmie and Ruth Dodd.

In general, The Mickey Mouse Club was entertainment, pure and simple. It invited children to enter Mickey’s clubhouse on a weekly basis and picked up everyday topics in their clips and serials to gently teach them how to deal with different situations. Fun, decency and common sense were major factors, as well as making the children feel part of Mickey’s family of Mouseketeers and cartoon characters.

Today, the show can be revisited on Youtube or, occasionally, in reruns on TV. Although revived in the 1970s and 90s, the original MMC has not lost any of its charm and remains one of those classic shows any of its remakes cannot hold a candle to. In the 1950 and 60s, the first Mouseketeers brought a lot of joy and laughter to an entire generation whose love for Mickey and company was passed on to their own children. With selected episodes now available as Disney Treasures on DVD, chances are high that their grandchildren will also get to enjoy the uplifting quality of this genuine program (as an incentive for those of you who are late Christmas shoppers).

For more information on the show, please have a look at this marvelous site. For the classic farewell song, click here.

Animal Film Stars

Some of them already existed in books before they made us fall in love with them on screen. Others were turned into a franchise, creating a longing to have a pet out of the ordinary: a dolphin, 101 Dalmatians or a talking horse. I’m talking about animal film stars of course!

When I look back, I fondly remember Lassie, Black Beauty, Fury and Flipper. They all starred in their own shows and movies. So did Mr. Ed. Rin Tin Tin may still be the most famous one of them all, at least when it comes to vintage gems, as well as all the darling characters Disney has created or adapted over the years. On the animation side, who doesn’t remember The Lady and the Tramp or Bambi whose story probably broke every kid’s heart. And then there’s Mickey Mouse and Minnie along with Donald Duck and Daisy, as well as Bugs Bunny or Sylvester and Tweety.

Animal film stars have long come in all shapes and sizes. They have been humanized and enriched our lives by being our best friends and companions, teaching us lessons about relationships and nature. They have also been an animated mirror to our human condition. And their popularity has not really ceased from Rin Tin Tin‘s first appearance almost a hundred years ago to Boomer and Hart to Hart‘s Freeway in the 80s, to Free Willy in the 90s and Bolt today.

Animals still open our hearts on screen, make us cry and create that wish deep inside to adopt them. Animals, like children, also still steal the show and outshine the most decent of actors. And like none of their human colleagues they make us laugh about the silliest things.