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  • I regret that I have only seen a fraction of the episodes of THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW. But those that I have seen confirms the show's reputation as an authentic television classic. Consider the star, Phil Silvers as Sgt. Ernie Bilko. Was there a more lovable conniver? His joy in his scheming was so droll and endearing one couldn't help but root for him. Yet Bilko never wanted to hurt anyone and whenever he learned any plan could hurt someone, he wouldn't go through with it. Silvers' ruefulness at such moments was as delightful as his ecstasy.

    Silvers was backed by a delightful supporting cast. Particularly memorable were Maurice Gosfeld as the innocent Private Duane Doberman and Paul Ford as Bilko's flustered superior Colonel John Hall. Joe E. Ross got his big break as the gruff but lovable Sgt. Rupert Ritzik. Producer Nat Hiken would later team up Ross with Fred Gwynne in the police sitcom CAR 54 WHERE ARE YOU? And what hilarious, inventive scripts that so deftly served those performers. I'm no prude but I consider such riotous episodes like "The Trial of Harry Speakup" and "The Face on the Recruiting Poster" proof that writers don't have to stoop to raunchiness to generate laughs. The problem with today's television sitcoms is that they often indulge in gratuitous filth.

    With so many old sitcoms coming out on DVD today, isn't it about time for DVD episode guides of THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW? Why should DVD users be denied access to, from what episodes I've seen, a wonderful show? Such a treasure does not deserve oblivion.
  • It is my opinion that THE PHILS SILVERS SHOW (aka YOU'LL NEVER GET RICH) remains the single most underrated sitcom in television history and that Phil Silvers remains the most underrated comedian in that medium. This is really saying something because the series has indeed received great acclaim over the years. Even so, Silvers is just not given his proper due for creating the Bilko character. As for the jewels in the supporting cast--they are simply terrific in this Nat Hiken creation that surely stands shoulder to shoulder with Jackie Gleason's THE HONEYMOONERS as perhaps the greatest sitcom ever on television.

    Silvers did not just play Ernie Bilko--he WAS Ernie Bilko! The character of the scheme-driven, gambling-addicted army sergeant forever duping the lovable Col. Hall (Paul Ford) while manipulating his platoon for his personal aggrandizement, is so fast-paced, fresh, and funny that one wonders if BILKO ought not be a stage play.

    The supporting cast--can you name a greater one? Buried among Sgt. Bilko's seemingly nondescript platoon lackeys is Herbie Faye. Faye was a friend of Silvers and a walking encyclopedia of burlesque gags and sketches years before BILKO was an idea; he knew every trick of the comedy trade and taught many of them to Silvers. And Doberman (Maurice Gosselton), the baby-faced, childlike man who is a classic as Bilko's all-around simpleton and dupe, is in a category all his own.

    Harvey Lembeck and Allan Melvin play Bilko's two platoon confidantes; there is Joey Ross (CAR 54 WHERE ARE YOU?) as Sgt. Ritzik, a fine comedian in his own right who just cannot seem to ever get one over on Bilko; and Elizabeth Frazer pops up now and then as Ernie's girlfriend. As for Paul Ford? Was there ever a better foil for the top banana than Colonel Hall? One has to consider Ralph Cramden's Ed Norton (Art Carney) or Eve Arden's Mr. Conklin (Gale Gordon), to come up with one that works as well. Hall is just perfect as the base commander who unwittingly plays into Sgt. Bilko's hands time and time again. What a riot to watch the colonel melt under Bilko's patronizing devotion for Hall only to see the colonel walk straight into Ernie Bilko's net.

    But it is Phil Silvers, his facial expressions, his bugle-call barking of orders, his complete manipulation of everyone on the base, and his wild schemes to make money that never seem to get old no matter how much you watch the episodes on video.

    Why isn't THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW on TV LAND or the other nostalgia stations? Even the younger set who never saw the show will undoubtedly like it. And those of us who grew up in the 1950's watching it will love it all over again.

    Trivia: Phil Silvers appeared in a number of films, including musicals such as COVER GIRL and SUMMER STOCK starring Gene Kelly...He did a lot of work after BILKO (probably best known for his role in THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES and for his work in IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD), but he never even remotely approached the greatness of BILKO...Silvers was an addictive gambler and found himself in the midst of a Beverly Hills Fryer's Club card scandal in the 1960's...Silvers appeared in the film version of A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON MY WAY TO THE FORUM in the 1960's with Zero Mostel, though severely bothered by cataracts...He was also hydrophobic and his daughter Laurie tells the touching story of her dad fighting his terror of water in the backyard pool at night trying to overcome his fears so he could swim in the pool with his four young girls...

    Dennis Caracciolo
  • On the Collector's Edition DVD, there are 18 episodes from the Bilko television series, a series that won numerous Emmy awards and sure entertained me, my family and friends in the mid-to-late '50s. Silvers starred as the con man of the Army, a sergeant whose love of money and thrill of gambling or pulling some con job seemed to supersede everything else in his life. Yet, as shallow as he often appeared, inside was a compassionate person with a heart (although they wasn't always evident!).

    Almost all of Ernie Bilko's schemes worked for awhile but failed in the end, but he was never deterred. He would just look up to the heavens, say "Why me? Why? Why!" and go on to the next scheme the following week.

    It wasn't always humorous to see him lying, cheating, conniving, giving false praise to old ladies like Colonel Hall's wife and friends, pulling rank on hapless new recruits, etc., but most of the time it was because we knew it wasn't done maliciously. Almost all of his stunts were designed with one purpose: to gain money, although sometimes he gave it back when his conscience got the best of him.

    The cast surrounding Phil Silvers also was outstanding. The names of the characters live on forever in the mind's of Bilko fans like me. I didn't need to watch this DVD to remember names like "Col. John Hall and his wife Nell, Duane Doberman, Rocco Barbella, Rupert Ridzik, Francis Grover, Fielding Zimmerman, Dino Paparelli, Joan Hogan, Henshaw, Fender, Kadowski and others.

    To be honest, I didn't find the show 50 years later to be as funny as I had remembered it, but what is? I had such fond memories that I probably elevated it too high on the pedestal. Still, this DVD provided many hours of nostalgia and laughs and when it was over, I was sad to see it end. I just hope they put out another edition on DVD.
  • In the massive and essential "Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy" the editor Mark Lewisohn includes his personal Top 20 Sitcoms of all time on British TV. His Number One is not a British production, but it is a show that has been part of the BBC schedules for nearly 50 years, and is an important element of British television heritage.

    "The Phil Silvers Show" - or "Bilko" as it is usually known - has been and remains a sitcom with a unique feature that makes it Number One (or close to that) for lovers of good comedy. That feature is Phil Silvers, who was a comedy performer of undeniable genius. He dominates every moment that he is on that small screen, and even then he is complemented by wonderful performances by a host of other regular characters - Colonel Hall, Doberman, Ritzic, and the rest.

    To celebrate 50 years since this historic show began on US TV, a new DVD box-set has been produced. On the three discs there are 21 complete episodes, plus some great extras, including the original pilot show never shown on British TV, revealing commentaries by Dick Van Dyke and other members of the cast, and other Phil Silvers appearances and interviews. A must-have for the DVD collections of all comedy lovers.
  • Sargent Ernie Bilko is one of the few American comedy TV characters that I can say is a pure joy to watch, and Phil Silvers plays him to the max, never have a I seen such delivery of quick fire lines that are presented in these classic comedy shows, thank god it's on British TV quite a lot, so I have managed to record most of the episodes, watching these wonderful shows has taken me out of many depressions and put a smile back on my face, I hope that Americans appreciate him, i think that it should be compulsary viewing to all people who need a lift of spirits, God bless you Phil.
  • As time goes on comedies come and go, some stand up to the test of time and some do not. Both the Brits and the Americans have made their share of funny shows: 'Fawlty Towers', 'Frasier', 'Cheers','The Office' etc, but if one show deserves to be the 'daddy' of all comedies then i think 'The Phil Silvers Show' is it! Just even thinking of Sgt Ernie Bilko makes me smile! Mr Silvers played this character to the max along with the rest of the cast. It still pops up from time to time on British t.v., usually at about 2 'o' clock in the morning or something! But if i'm still up and about i will always watch it, with a beer or two, and laugh my a*s off at the funniest comedy character ever created!
  • A great testament to the talents of Phil Silvers. With its complex plotlines and quickfire dialogue it's still a treat to watch Silvers's monumental character when you can find it somewhere in the BBC schedules. The most said line in the whole series must be "but, Sarge!" as Bilko launches into another diabolical and, ultimately, flawed scheme to make money and dodge work. And Col Hall's stunned looks, "what is he up to?" are a joy.

    It must also contain the best adlib in TV history. Bilko has to hide a chimp in camp (don't ask!)and the chimp accidently gets enlisted. To avoid even further embarrassment, the US Army decides to court martial the chimp to get him discharged. Bilko defends him. In the middle of a monologue from Silvers, the chimp, obviously impossible to rehearse, gets off a chair and picks up a nearby phone. After a pause, Silvers says, "he's calling for another lawyer".
  • This show has been running almost non stop on British TV since the fifties, and so it should. Its one of the funniest shows to have come out of the USA and has probably influenced more British comedians than anything else. Made in the days when a real audience actually laughed in the right places, at a razor sharp cast who appeared to love what they were doing.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Phil Silvers was a great comedian and by that I mean his characters were for the most part snidely, largely unsympathetic characters who had very little scruples. Here are all those traits wrapped into one person, Sgt. Bilko.

    Forget the 90's movie version with Steve Martin. The real Bilko is Phil Silvers and to think that this show came out in the 50's is a little astonishing. 50's sitcom were mostly about families and happy families at that. Bilko is not a happy fella even though he tries very hard to be. He is a con man who worries that he will get caught every minute of the day. That was the essence of the show. Bilko comes up with a grand scheme but there are always something that comes up to prevent him getting the thing he wants the most of all: All the money in the world.

    What makes this show so different from other 50's sitcoms is that Bilko is not a hero and he knows it. He is not self confident and he doesn't seem to have any real friends, just the ass kissers that follow him around all the time to get in on one of his schemes.

    When you look at sitcoms today, they have been sliding towards the level they had with the bad ones of the 50's. Family shows with a moral. That's too bad but this one is surprisingly fresh even after so many years. Too bad that you can't find an actor who would be able to play the character. Phil Silvers is the one and only Bilko. Bravo!
  • Furb31 January 2004
    George Kennedy, in addition to doing a bit part(s) as an MP was in the Army and was assigned as the Technical Advisor to the show. Phil Silvers told the story that one day George told him he was getting out of the army and was thinking of trying acting. Phil encouraged him, and, of course, George went on to win an Acadamy Award for Cool Hand Luke.
  • This is listed as one of the 50 funniest sitcom episodes, and it should be. Unfortunately, there seems to be one scene missing from the current version.

    The premise of the show is that there will be an attempt to set a record for inducting civilians into the army. A monkey gets mixed up in the proceedings and is sworn in a Private Harry Speakup, so named when one of the cadre says, "Name," without looking up and another say, "Hurry, speakup!"

    The missing scene is a podiatrist, looking at feet of the inductees behind a screen on a raised platform. Seeing the monkey's feet, he rubs his eyes and says something about eyestrain and, "Next!" This scene was deleted, probably because it's over-the-top, but the podiatrist reappears in the final scenes and says, "I knew something was wrong" and that makes no sense without the cut scene.

    What makes it such a good comedy is that it is non-stop surprises and twists including the court-martial where Bilko as Harry's defender shoots down all of the army's reasons for discharging Harry.

    It's up there with "Who's on first?" and Curly Howard's "Take your hat off." Neither of which runs anywhere near as long as the Court-Martial Of Harry Speakup.
  • smfarnsworth5 January 2007
    Probably the greatest comedy programme EVER, bar none. Seinfeld comes close, Fraiser was great, The Office is class, Everybody Loves Raymond tried, Black Adder was funny - but Bilko (NOT the movie) is head and shoulders above every other comedy ever made.

    Ask a Bilko fan to name their favourite episode - it's impossible. They never produced a weak, weakish, so-so, OK episode. Every episode is comedy gold.

    It's outrageous that the entire catalogue has not been made available. Paramount should just get it released NOW - and not in chunks like this. They should do a series at a time.
  • Like everyone else in those days in the 1950s, i never ever missed the weekly episode of the 'Phil Silvers Show' on television. I recently purchased the 3 disc -18 episodes- set of the 5Oth anniversary of the show, here in South Africa. It was as funny as ever. Sadly, most of that excellent cast have passed on now, but a youthful Dick Van Dyke is in one of the episodes and Alan Melvin -Corporal Henshaw- narrated throughout. It brought back so many memories and sheer joy to watch these episodes of Sgt Bilko, that i sent away to the United Kingdom via e bay, for the full 142 episodes. They have just arrived in the post. OK, some episodes are showing a little wear but overall they are going to provide me with a lot of enjoyment in the days ahead. The comedy of Phil Silvers will never age as far as i am concerned. One thing that i will never ever understand is why they canceled the show after only four seasons when it was top of the ratings. But, perhaps that is why it has remained a classic for fifty years and will continue to do so for the next fifty and more.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Finally! The complete first season of "The Phil Silvers' Show", often known just as "Sgt. Bilko", has been released on DVD.

    Silvers was a comedic genius who perfected the personae as the quick witted fast talking con man, yet one with a good heart. Steve Martin is very talented and did a good job in the movie version, but he just did not reach Silvers' height.

    Add to that a great supporting cast, and you have a great classic. Paul Ford plays Bilko's nemesis, Colonel Hall. He has a talent for delivering his lines for their greatest effect. For instance, in the episode where a chimp accidentally gets inducted into the army, he delivers possibly the funniest line, about no one ever remembering him for being at the top of his class at West Point or for all his medals of valor -- but remembering him as the man who opened up the military to the animal kingdom! The expression on his face is a howl!

    Then, there are familiar faces like Allan Melvin (Sgt. Hacker from Gomer Pyle) and Harvey Lembeck (Eric Von Zipper).

    In the first season, it becomes obvious that the series hit its stride very early. Just one great episode after another.

    Do you want to know how to turn an incorrigible hoodlum into a model soldier? Bilko does, just involve him in an insane plan to rob Fort Knox! Or, how do you get a pretty debutante to want the homeliest man in the platoon? Or, why does a sergeant have his own private telephone when the commanding officer has to share his with 14 others? Or can one get busted and get his stripes back in 6 hours?

    To sum up, this show is a great example of TV from its golden age. It has almost become a lost classic. Hopefully, the season one release will renew interest. The series certainly deserves it.

    UPDATE: A few months ago, I bought the entire series on DVD, even though I already had season 1. Though season one was duplicated, it was worth it. The series maintains the laughs throughout every season. Not many sitcoms can claim such consistency.

    Though I am a fan of "I Love Lucy" and "Seinfeld", the "Phil Silvers Show" outshines both of them.

    Some highlights of the seasons two through four: Bilko finagling a promotion for Col. Hall, Bilko taking the advice of a psychiatrist and reforming his ways -- only no one in the camp can get any sleep worrying what he is up to, and Bilko getting back at a reporter from a scandal sheet which is trashing the army (after selling him mess hall menus and laundry lists as classified information, Bilko convinces the reporter that the platoon is part of a revolutionary cell dedicated to overthrowing the government, and with Col. Hall as the leader! Achtung!)

    Once again, I highly recommend this series to anyone who loves comedy. It is a classic!
  • Phil Silvers featured in the show now universally known as 'Bilko', after the character he played, a wisecracking, gambling sergeant in the US Army. A long-running situation comedy from the early years of television, it still stands up as exceptionally funny today.

    Over 143 episodes, Sgt Ernest Bilko plotted, schemed, and stumbled over his lines (this was live television, after all). The pauses and the ad libs add to the genius of this series, viewed five decades later. It also made a star of Silvers, who up to this point had been a comedian, actor, and singer (he was Gene Kelly's pal in 'Cover Girl', for example) - although following Bilko, he never really found a suitable starring role again.

    In 1996, a misguided attempt to bring Bilko to the big screen, starring Steve Martin, failed, possibly because the character really could only be played by one man. Original episodes still air regularly over the world, and a collection of episodes (sadly only a fraction of the ones available) were released on DVD for the 50th anniversary of the show.
  • With World War II ending just 10 years before, THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW, alias YOU'LL NEVER GET RICH, alias SGT. BILKO found a ready family audience in the young "Boomers" and their Depression/WWII parents.

    Therefore, we had a nation full of Mothers and Fathers roughly aged mid 30's to late 40's who together with their "Boomer" offspring , found that material relating to the "War" (or the Military in general) and the 1930's seemed to be favourite topics of 1950-60's TV Series. Hence we saw the great successes of shows like COMBAT, NAVY LOG, and THE UNTOUCHABLES.

    It was during these years that the "Service Comedy" became a staple for the sitcom. This format of being on the inside of the Armed Forces, no doubt has its genealogy traceable back to eras far before any electronic media of TV, Radio or the Movies. Indeed, we can no doubt find the embryonic beginnings of the Service Comedy among the works of Mr. W. Shakespeare and company.

    As for our own research, we believe the direct Ancestor or "Missing Link" between the Service Comedy Feature Film and the Service TV Sitcom "evolved" over at Hal Roach Studios' "Laugh Factory". "Streamliner" was his name for his approximately 55 minute film. This put them in between feature and a 2 or 3 Reeler (short subject).

    During his period that Roach Studios gave us t of the World the "Streamliner" Series of Eight SGT. DOUBLEDAY Movies (1941-52). The comedies featured the misadventures of Sgt. Dorian "Dodo" Doubleday (Mr. Tracy) and everybody's Screen Sergeant, Joe Sawyer as Sgt. William Ames. The two made a splendid film comedy team; with their whole often hilarious interplay's being the friction between the two.

    On the one hand, Sgt. Ames (Mr. Sawyer), was the gruff, self made Army career-man and Blue Collar type. College man, Sgt. Doubleday (Tracy), on the other hand, was the "90 Day Wonder" type. His character was representative of those called-up in 1940's first ever Peace Time Draft in U.S. History. It was guys like this who got promoted from PFC to Corporal and Sergeant on the Fast Track. This of course created animosity with the veteran career men as represented by Sgt. Ames (still Joe Sawyer).

    So, this brings us to the 1950's and the Golden Age of Television. During this time and up to 1958 and the dawn of Videotape, a series was either on film (regular or Kinescoped) or it was live. And pre-dating BILKO by three months (June '55 to September '55) was Bud Yorkin's THE SOLDIERS on NBC. The Series which was most likely slotted as one of those old Summer Replacement series, a status from which it never would matriculate to the higher level of Regular Series University. (Too bad; as it had shown a sort of adult humor promise. No, Schultz, I didn't mean 'Blue Humor.')

    So it was after this we were inundated with the likes of McHALE'S NAVY, BROADSIDE (a female version of McHale), ENSIGN O'TOOLE, NO TIME FOR SERGEANTS (Broadway, Movie & TV), GOMER PYLE, U.S.M.C. and even F TROOP. Oh, yeah, by the way, we almost forgot THE PHIL SILVERS' SHOW.

    SERGEANT BILKO hit the CBS TV Network 1n September of 1955 and remained a staple until 1959. Its main feature was in giving the Army's Enlisted Men, Non Coms and Officers foibles, equal to or far surpassing everyone in Civilian Life. In the fictional Kansas locale of Fort Baxter, the Motor Pool Platoon is run by con-man and old War War II Veteran Master Sergeant Ernest Bilko (Phil Silvers). He runs the motor pool in whatever time he can squeeze-in between hatching whatever get rich schemes that his always grifting little head can conceive.

    The now middle-aged Ernie Bilko also sees himself as quite a Ladies' Man and many of the weekly episodes involve his on base girlfriend, some visiting beauty or even both.

    Some of our favourite episodes in volved: a.the Platoon's getting a Chimpanzee through an Army physical, Bilko's being audited by Uncle Sugar and the Sgt.'s getting to see himself as others do vs. what he thinks of himself.

    Aiding and abetting in this was a great, if somewhat elderly players doing the men of Bilko's Motor Pool Platoon as well as others in the Fort Baxter Command. Starting from the top we have the C.O., Colonel Hall (outstanding Paul Ford), Sergeant Grover (Signal Corps, Jimmy Little*) and Mess Sergeant Rupert Ritzy ( hilarious Joe E. Ross), Cpl. Barbella (Harvey Lembeck), Cpl. Henshaw (Allan Melvin), Pvt.'s Duane Doberman** (Maurice Gosfield), Dino Paparelli (Billy Sands), Pvt. Gander, Cpl. Fender (Herbie Faye) and others.

    As an example of a truly strange anecdote of the BILKO Show; they were assigned a young Officer by the Army Brass as Technical Adviser. The Captain was asked to do an on-camera appearance as an M.P., which he reprised several more times. The Captain's name was George Kennedy! Ya gotta start somewhere, Schultz!

    NOTE: * Mr. Nat Hiken had great admiration for the Old Time Vaudeville & Burlesque Comedians. He proved so by casting guys like Jimmy Little and Joe E. Ross (both former Burlesque Comics) in not only the SGT.BILKO Series, but also in CAR 54, WHERE ARE YOU?

    NOTE: ** In a most unusual of merchandising, National Comics Publications (aka Superman/DC) not only published a SGT. BILKO Comic Book; but also spun-off a second title, SGT. BILKO'S PRIVATE DOBERMAN!
  • I had just watched the fine blu ray re-issue of 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' (the superior 1951 version)and hearing Gort the robot utter those immortal words 'Klaatu barada nikto' I recalled the episode of the Phil Silvers Show where Sergeant Bilko persuades the hapless Doberman to pose as an alien, wandering about the camp muttering the same phrase.

    Fortunately I had recorded the show when it was last aired in the UK by the BBC, back in 1997, although I hadn't watched it since. However, that space alien Doberman episode proved so hilarious that I watched another the next day, and another each day after that, until I had viewed all ninety shows in my collection. Not once did my interest flag.

    To say that the program is consistently amusing and inventive is a gross understatement. In my opinion it is the best TV comedy of all time and just as funny now as it was in the mid to late 1950s when it first aired.

    Much of that is down to the superb cast: comic genius Phil Silvers, that lugubrious master of deadpan Paul Ford (Colonel Hall), the all too easily duped Sergeants Grover and Ritzik (personal favorites of mine) and of course the platoon members, all wonderful comic turns in their own right.

    The other great plus for the show is that it was recorded on film, so the picture looks as good today as it did at the time of original transmission, when I can remember my late father chuckling at Bilko on our little 17 inch screen TV. (By contrast, the best BBC comedy of the period, Hancock's Half Hour, was performed live and cine-recorded from a 405 line TV screen during transmission, so surviving recordings are of relatively poor quality.)

    Finally, I must pay tribute to the writers of the show, among them a young Neil Simon. Many of the comic situations they employed are still a staple of TV comedy today and were no doubt also in use on the vaudeville stage in the decades before television became the dominant form of entertainment.
  • rmestl27 January 2011
    "Bilko" remains one of the funniest shows ever aired on TV. Other reviewers have nicely captured the essence of the show, with one exception. Bilko pokes fun at every human foible, but without malice and nastiness. The show has a respect and love for us humans, warts and all.

    I have to agree that the "monkey joins the Army show" is the best, but my favorite remains the episode that commences with COL Hall being passed over for promotion to Brigadier again. After he receives the notice he places a call to Washington to complain, and as he waits for his call to go through he practices a tough response to the superior officer with whom he will speak. However, when the call is finally placed all Hall can say is "COL Hall speaking, sir" in the meekest of subordinate tones.

    Angry at himself for his meekness Hall roars off to Washington to complain in person, and a worried Mrs. Hall and the base chaplain send Bilko after Hall to rescue him.

    The next scene will resonate with anyone who has served in the military. Hall arrives at the general's office (which is filled with people waiting to see the general), and a rude secretary tells Hall he will have to wait a few days to get in.

    Bilko arrives, sizes up the situation, and through his usual fast talking wangles a golf game for "Jack Hall, the tiger of New Guinea" with pro Jimmy Demaret and, unknown to Hall, President Eisenhower.

    After the game, Hall, totally beatified, enters the clubhouse, sees Bilko (who asks about his game) and can only reply: "he called me Jack." In the next scene, Hall returns to the general's office and, Ike obviously having phoned ahead, the general rushes out of his office, embraces Hall while yelling "it's Jack Hall" a the top of his lungs.

    Hall returns home to Ft. Baxter with his star, but then he removes it, telling his crew that accepting the star would have meant leaving the base for another, and he couldn't face leaving his team, so he remained a colonel.

    All this in the space of 25 minutes! Truly a wondrous show. Enjoy.
  • adamski1775 July 2006
    The depth and sheer ingenuity of the jokes and comedy on display in this riotous programme is simply hilarious.

    The fast-thinking, quick, clever and irrepressibly lovable character of st. Bilko is the funniest thing i can think of.

    The stories are simple but carefully provide sufficient platform in each episode for mr. Silvers to perform his comedic hijinx.

    His is the most endearing, lovable, hilarious and witty character i have ever witnessed in a comedy and i can watch episodes of this fabulous show time and time again without ever managing to stifle my giggles.
  • SanteeFats3 February 2013
    Warning: Spoilers
    I am watching the entire series, have gone through over 120 of the 142 episodes. I think it is pretty good stuff. Bilko is a conniving schemer who is always trying to scam a way to make money. Poker, raffles, plots, schemes, etc. you name it he will try it. There are the episodes where he has a spark of humanity and after taking his mark gives it back one way or another. No matter how hard he cons Bilko never really gets ahead and wins. No army reality here though. The colonel knows Bilko inside and out but still can't seem to stop him. In the real army of course Bilko would have been been busted down and in the brig many times, but then the whole show would not have worked would it?
  • If I had to pick a show that had more funny people on it I would be hard pressed to name any other show but the Phil Silvers Show. Not even the great Stanley Kramer comedy for the big screen It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World had a better laugh quotient to the cast than the Phil Silvers Show which ran for five years.

    Talk about characters this show created so many great characters all under the direction of creator Nat Hiken. One thing about the army it is a great leveler of class. Especially the peace time Cold War army of the Eisenhower years where a draft was in force and all kinds of people got in there. You could never create a show like this today.

    Phil Silvers on the big screen had a so so career. He was not really suited for it. He played small roles and in small doses he was fine. I wrote a review for the Jean Arthur/John Wayne comedy A Lady Takes A Chance where Silvers played a tour bus driver. His character like Sergeant Ernie Bilko here was 'on' all the time. That does not work in film, I would have killed Silvers before the bus trip was over or I would have had to stand in line to do it.

    But as Bilko in a half hour format, sergeant in charge of the motor pool at Camp Caldwell and consummate con man Silvers was perfectly within his element. And the regulars, the soldiers under his command and others at the camp were in support of him. Allan Melvin and Harvey Lembeck were his chief aides, both corporals. They're a pair of funny guys themselves. And who could forget Maurice Gosfield as the ultimate schnook Private Doberman, unmercifully conned week after week by the sergeant he was devoted to. Another guy who was conned was Joe E. Ross as Sergeant Ridzik of the mess hall. Food is always a valuable commodity in any con game.

    Presiding over this was the Fifties most famous slow burn Paul Ford as Colonel Hall, camp commandant. Before he was cast as the colonel, Ford was a good dramatic actor in such things as All The King's Men and Lust For Gold in serious parts. Nat Hiken saw something in Ford, a comic gift like Edgar Kennedy and even after the show ended Ford for the rest of his life was cast in parts to show off his fabulous slow burn technique.

    People like Dick Van Dyke guest starred here, even Bing Crosby did an episode, he toured with Silvers on USO tours during World War II.

    Even though Silvers in my opinion never quite reached the heights as he did in this TV series, he leaves a lasting comedy legacy with the Phil Silvers Show. Even though he was the unquestioned star all of his ensemble came in for their share of laughs. It was a great ensemble of classic comedians, rarely duplicated anywhere.
  • "The Phil Silvers Show" aka "Bilko" is, without a shadow of doubt, one of the funniest TV sitcoms of all time & its principal star Phil Silvers was a comic genius if ever there was one. It remains just as funny today as when it first aired around 60 years ago. There are two good reasons why. Firstly it was brilliantly scripted & second was the main man himself. It also had some great characters like Colonel Hall (Paul Ford) & Private Dauberman (Maurice Gosfield). Quite a number of comics got their careers started guesting on the show. Among them were Alan Alda (later of "MASH" fame) & Dick Van Dyke. Just about everyone who was anyone in Hollywood at the time also made at least one guest appearance too. It is currently being shown in the UK on the ForcesTV channel & this "Bilko" fan hopes it will continue to do so.
  • Other reviews have highlighted many of the superb elements of writing, casting, direction, acting etc that made "Bilko" an outstanding comedy success that is as funny now as almost 60 years ago when it was first broadcast.

    One element is rarely mentioned, which has helped Bilko to have a timeless appeal... it appeals to all ages, and is completely lacking in "off colour" gags or any obscenities. Was this realistic? Of course not, in an almost all male Army camp in any country or at any time period. But the strict rules of US television in the 1950s meant that nothing in the slightest bit "doubtful" was permitted; everyone knew this, the writers and the actors, and so Bilko was 100% clean.

    What a contrast with so many "comedy" shows and performers of the 21st century... whose work is scattered with expletives etc that make them unsuitable for family viewing...and in some cases any viewing at all. We can all be grateful that 1950s US television had these strict rules.. which has permitted Bilko to entertain millions worldwide, and which will continue... hopefully for many decades to come.
  • I've been watching this show every time it gets on TV for another go 'round and now that it's not on TV where I'm at, I'm watching it on youTube! Phil Silver's Sgt. Bilko is one of the absolute genius comic persona of a fictitious character of all time! Actually, I don't know if the director or the writers had anything to do with the way he portrays the character. But I am assuming he did all the phony smiling, and facial expressions with just the material he was given. And boy, did he translate it into an unforgettable character. Sort of like what Ed O'Neill did with Al Bundy, except Sgt. Bilko is more defined, what a genius of a character!!!
  • Easily enjoyed as a singular episode or as a season. Every episode is entertaining. While the show has clearly aged it has a classic style an humour that most people should be able to relate too.