5 June 2005 | cus2a
Nostalgic but baffling
I just recently purchased a DVD containing three episodes of Mr. and Mrs. North I wanted to see because I was 8 or 10 when this show was popular and I wanted to see how much things have changed. Well, of course, they've changed enormously! The writing, directing and acting reminded me of some early Saturday morning theatrical serial dramas I've reviewed in recent years. I now remember that anyone in Hollywood with any success in movies didn't want to be associated with TV in any way whatsoever, unless it was Edward R. Morrow's interviews or Ed Sullivan's variety show. I can see why. The individual lines for each role, moment by moment, only sounded remotely like they were in the same story, as if the script had been cut-and-pasted like a ransom note made in the last hour before a deadline. As a writer, that was what offended me the most.
But as person I was offended by obvious gender roles. Barabara Britton was of course very charming and beautiful in the role of the only person in the cast with any real brains whatsoever, but Richard Denning's role - as well as any other man for that matter - was that of ignoring or discounting absolutely anything his wife or any other woman had to say. The men were also written to look and sound like idiots. In the mid-fifties, according to my history teachers, no one was trying to make social commentary or anything deep on TV because of the paranoia of the McCarthy Era. So, I'm forced to believe these observations are simply of clichéd, predominating, formula ideas that were over-used in TV and movies both during that time. It's fascinating to me that these gender attitudes were considered normal and healthy - even funny - in their time, but today only serve to make the men look stupid. If these were the prevailing attitudes, why was the stupid little woman written as the only real sleuth? These flash-backs are nostalgic but annoying.