19 February 2003 | F Gwynplaine MacIntyre
Not with a Bing, but a whimper...
I have a standing rule: you can expect a sitcom to be pretty dire if the star of the show plays a character who has the same first name as the star. So far, this rule has proven to be true far more often than it hasn't been. (Got that, Lucy?) 'The Bing Crosby Show' was a sitcom starring Bing Crosby as a guy named (wait for it) Bing ... which is implausible enough on its own, but made more so by the fact that the Bing character in this tv series is NOT in show business!
Bing Crosby plays Bing Collins, a former crooner who gave up show-biz stardom for the easy-going life as a professor at a community college, teaching electrical engineering! It seems unlikely that a crooner would ever have had time to learn electrical engineering ... although, in real life, Bing Crosby financed the research to develop electronic recording tape. Professor Collins's wife Janice (played by the cult actress Beverly Garland) dislikes the dull existence of a campus wife, and she wants Bing to go back into show-biz, which she always found more glamorous. For Mrs Collins, the campus life is not a college bowl of Bing cherries.
The Collinses have two daughters: the older is a typical TV teenager, whilst the younger daughter is a genius. This is the most original aspect of 'The Bing Crosby Show', as in Television-Land the rules state that child geniuses on sitcoms are always little boys, not girls.
In every episode, somebody would have some sort of problem which only wise old Bing could sort out. After putting everything to rights, Bing would warble a tune whilst everybody else sat about admiring Bing's tonsils. There's no more boo-hooing when Bing starts buh-booing.
I'm deeply a fan of Bing Crosby, and this low-budget sitcom is enjoyable because of the sheer strength of Bing's talent and presence. But he's done much better work elsewhere. The camera work is quite good: typically, for a Desilu production of this period. And Bing's suits are nice. Not much else happening here, though.