31 October 2005 | theowinthrop
Mr. McGiver's Only Lead Role Sit-Com
1964, in retrospect, was a dismal television year, and among the numerous failures was this sitcom. It is notable only because it was the only time that that fine comic character actor John McGiver had the lead in a television show. McGiver was Walter Burnley, the head of a department store's returns department (hence the title). He was constantly facing pressure from his boss Owen Sharp (Russell Collins) regarding the rules and regulations of the department store - basically it was a battle of who was really running the department. McGiver normally was the winner of these struggles.
I can't recall the episodes too well today - the show was not that great, though McGiver and the cast did what they could do. One episode was interesting and remains in my mind. Mickey Manners played Joe Foley, one of the clumsy staff in McGiver's department. In one episode he was in an amateur production of Romeo and Juliet in the lead role. But he could not get a hang on the Shakespearean language and poetry. McGiver tries to train him how to appreciate Shakespeare, but he can't get through. Then, he gets an idea. Manners knows how to mouth the lines. McGiver reads the role of Romeo out of sight of the audience while Manners acts it. As McGiver had a clear, marvelous speaking voice, it suddenly became apparent that had he looked handsomer than he did he might have had a career in such plays. Only at the end, when Manners is about to take his poison, does he (rather than McGiver) say the last line of Romeo. It was an interesting episode, and (to me) remains the most memorable episode of that show.