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Long before television comedies like Freaks and Geeks, Awkward, and Boy Meets World mined the major embarrassments and minor triumphs of teenage life for comic material, the cult series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis addressed the subject in smart, sardonic, and frequently hilarious ways over the course of a four-season run (1959-1963) that is compiled in its entirety in this impressive 21-disc set. Created by humorist Max Shulman, Dobie Gillis starred Dwayne Hickman as the titular hero, who flew against the accepted Hollywood portrayal of American teens (honest, upstanding young citizens) by virtue of his chief interests: girls, cars, and money, and nothing else. As a result, Dobie was largely written off by the show’s adults, including his perpetually aggravated father, Herbert (Frank Faylen–“I’ve gotta kill that boy!”), which allowed him more time to concoct ill-considered schemes with his beatnik best friend, Maynard G. Krebs (Bob Denver). Said schemes, which were often directed to the audience in fourth-wall-breaking monologues, frequently revolved around Dobie’s pursuit of various girls (hence the “many loves”), including Tuesday Weld’s lovely but vain Thalia Menninger in the show’s first season and guest stars like Ellen Burstyn (billed as Ellen McRae), Marlo Thomas, Barbara Bain, and Yvonne (Batgirl) Craig. However, the one constant female presence in Dobie’s life was the unflappable Zelda Gilroy (Sheila James), whose unwavering belief in their inevitable romance frequently left him sputtering in Jack Benny-esque fits of apoplexy. On paper, Dobie Gillis reads like any other period sitcom, but the series distinguished itself–and ultimately earned its enduring cult following–through its breezy pace and terrific performances by a talented cast–which included recurring turns by Warren Beatty as Thalia’s male counterpart, Milton Armitage, Steve Franken as his absurdly tony cousin, Chatsworth Osbourne Jr., as well as veteran character actors like Faylen, Florida Friebus (as Dobie’s mom), William Schallert, and Raymond (The Beverly Hillbillies) Bailey–and dialogue that bristled with charm, wit, and a healthy dose of disregard for the formality of both the adult world and mainstream TV tropes. And it’s that antiestablishment streak, which informed everything from free-thinking Maynard to Zelda’s forthright honesty and determination, that not only informed generations of subsequent TV series (from the aforementioned programs to Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?) but also endeared the series to young audiences (including one of the 20th century’s great iconoclasts, Frank Zappa, who was reportedly a fan) who, in turn, preserved its cult status for decades.
Actors: Dwayne Hickman, Bob Denver, Frank Faylen, Florida Friebus Directors: Rod Amateau Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, Full Screen, PAL, Widescreen, Closed-captioned Language: English Region: Region 4 Number of discs: 21 Rated: NR Not Rated Studio: Shout! Factory DVD Release Date: July 2, 2013 Run Time: 3600 minutes
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