7 March 2018 | JordanThomasHall
"Occasional Wife" ran for one season on NBC from September 13, 1966 until May 9, 1967. The series was one of the first to forego the use of a laugh track. Its narration is by legendary sportscaster Vin Scully. "Occasional Wife" got off to a good start, tying at 18 in the Nielsen ratings with "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.". It began facing tougher competition from rival networks, dropping to 64 and was cancelled after 30 episodes.
The show centers around Peter Christopher (Michael Callan), a happy bachelor who is pressured to find a wife to please his family and to advance his career. His boss Max Brahms (Jack Collins) of Brahms Baby Food Company is a firm believer in family men. Peter enlists the help of a young hat check girl Greta Patterson (Patricia Harty), in exchange for paying for her art lessons and setting her up with an apartment two floors above his, to play the role of his wife whenever needed. The series rides this plot with the complications of hiding the fact they aren't married from their colleagues, friends and family.
Reflecting upon the series, after watching each episode, "Occasional Wife" is a rather farcical sitcom featuring an outlandish premise. Early on, I found many episodes struggled to maintain flow with plots feeling somewhat strained. As such, I think the series would have had much more success as a feature film expanding upon the pilot with elements of other episodes. The plot of hiding the "occasional wife" routine became overplayed in my eyes. As the series progressed, I feel the best episodes are those that doesn't depend on this premise.
Michael Callan and Patricia Harty developed a very comfortable chemistry (they married months after the series ended). However, their comedy style was more of that of a straight man, forcing the comedy to come from interactions with others. I like the casting of Jack Collins as Peter's pushy, family-first boss Mr. Brahms.
The series was at its best with the comedy of talented guest stars: John Astin in "I Do, We Don't", Dick Wilson in "One Plus One Equals Too Many", Don Penny in "My Occasional Brother's Keeper", etc.). Stuart Margolin's meek Bernie could engage the viewer and provide comedy. The series would have benefited greatly if he was a regular in some capacity. It was also fun to watch Jack Riley as Peter's snake-in-the-grass office rival, years before he became a treasured deadpan scene stealer in "The Bob Newhart Show".
Among subpar offerings, there are some good episodes in the series.