8 February 2019 | JordanThomasHall
Dissecting "Peter Loves Mary"
"Peter Loves Mary" follows the lives of nightclub entertainers Peter Lindsey and Mary Wheeler (real-life married couple Peter Lind Hayes and Mary Healy) who have moved to the Oakdell, Connecticut suburbs from New York City. Joining their misadventures are housekeeper Wilma (Bea Benaderet, "Petticoat Junction") and children Steve (Gil Smith) and Leslie (Merry Martin). The series ran for one season on NBC.
Reflecting upon the series after reviewing each episode, "Peter Loves Mary" never found a groove. It shows that familiarity doesn't always breed success. The leads really were lifelong husband and wife performers. They did have a boy and a girl and they did live in the New York suburbs. They were playing their actual lives. Yet, ironically, throughout the series it struggled to find an identity. The first two episodes were good and revolved around Peter's reluctance to accept living in the suburbs. Then suddenly the concept is instantly dropped and it seems from then on no one quite knew what to do with the scripts. Storylines were poorly developed. Occasional attempts to be a zany sitcom missed by being too unrealistic without the comedy to offset it. I found many so contrived they were hard to watch. Yet, some episodes surprised with being well developed with genuine laughs. There was an unusual stretch where episodes were either decidedly good or decidedly bad.
The kids never clicked and often went on an extended period of being non-existent. Not everyone can enjoy Peter Lind Hayes' droll style of comedy. It's maybe so relaxed at times that it's missed by some. The best laughs came with Howard Smith's character Horace who developed into a good source of comedy for the series when given lines to work with. Not surprisingly, some of the best and sharpest episodes involve him. However, he emphasized a somewhat frustrating recurring theme in the series in that no one seems to consult anyone before rushing into something on their behalf. Viewers know what gold Bea Benaderet can be, but unfortunately she wasn't given much on this series. Beyond the bad, there are a number of good episodes (namely "The Suburbanites", "The Best Women", and "The Aptitude Test") offering a silver lining.