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  • 'The Second Hundred Years' was an above-average sitcom, with a highly original premise that was far more plausible than anything involving a talking horse, a sentient car or a levitating nun. In the year 1900, 34-year-old Luke Carpenter left his wife and infant son Edwin and joined the Klondike gold rush (two years late), only to get himself quick-frozen in a glacier. Sixty-seven years on, the now elderly Edwin (splendid character actor Arthur O'Connell) has long since produced a son of his own: Ken, likewise now 34. That's the backstory.

    In the pilot episode, Edwin is contacted by an Air Force officer who informs him that the government have thawed out his dad Luke, alive and well. (Perhaps he Luke-warmed.) Luke Carpenter is now 101 years old, but physically only 34 ... and an exact lookalike for his grandson Ken. The rascally Luke and the buttoned-down Ken were both played by the underrated actor Monte Markham, who managed to play the lookalike roles so that they were clearly two different people ... with different accents, body language and personalities.

    When Luke and Ken were in the same scene (requiring actor Markham to be in two places at the same go), the photographic mattes for this effect were handled much more impressively than comparable sequences in other sitcoms from this same period, with two Patty Dukes or two Elizabeth Montgomerys trying to interact.

    After the initial set-up, most of the episodes of this short-lived series dealt with rootin'-tootin' Luke acclimating himself to this amazing new age. He leers at Karen Black in a miniskirt, and gazes in astonishment at a cowboy movie on television. ('By golly, there's a midget in that box!') When the cowboy actor draws a gun, Luke draws his own sidearm and shoots the TV. (Must be a great revolver, to survive 67 years in a glacier and still work perfectly ... and very considerate of the U.S. government to let him keep it.) More poignantly, Edwin had to deal with the arrival of a father he'd never known, whom he'd always resented for having abandoned him.

    The science-fictional premise of the pilot episode was maintained sporadically through the sitcom's brief run. In one episode, a cabal of evil scientists conspired to learn the secret of cryogenics by abducting Luke and freezing him again. By error, they snatched his identical grandson Ken instead ... and they were freezing *him* when rescue arrived.

    This series had a nice easy-going theme tune, in keeping with its main character's 19th-century origin. But it lacked scripts and direction on a level with the acting and the distinctive premise. There was a limp attempt to give Luke a clever catchphrase: "Not bad for a hunnerd an' one," Luke would boast each time he did something noteworthy.

    If only the writing had been better, this could have been one of the classic 1960s sitcoms. (With commercials for Birdseye Frozen Dinners.) Arthur O'Connell had a long and distinguished career as a character actor. A few years after this series was cancelled, O'Connell starred in a series of commercials for Crest toothpaste. He gleefully announced that he was paid so much money for these commercials that he saw no need to take any other roles, ever again.

    'The Second Hundred Years' is also the title of a Laurel & Hardy movie. That film and this TV series are not related, although they probably both took their title from the joke about the extremely old man. When asked to divulge the secret of his longevity, he replied: 'The first hundred years are the hardest.'
  • dclrkerr13 November 2006
    While most people I talk to don't remember this show, I remember it fondly. It was a pleasant, good clean fun type sitcom. The writers could have done so much more with this material. But unfortunately poor writing, not poor acting led to this programs demise. Monte Markham was underrated and extremely talented as both the elder Luke and his Grandson Ken. Arthur O'Connell played the "son & father" caught in the middle. Trying hard to hide the identity of his one hundred and one year old father who was the exact double for the young son.

    There were some pretty cute moments when Arthur O'Connell was trying to keep "Dad" from doing or saying something that would give away the secret. I seem to remember Luke masquerading as his grandson Ken to get out of the house and check out this "new" world.

    A delightful program. I would love to see this one season available on DVD. While the writing was mediocre, the interaction of the characters was always a joy.
  • denisestdennis30 September 2007
    I too have fond memories of watching this delightful show as a kid! It's a shame that no one seems to remember it! It's like The Time Tunnel or It's About Space--I must have been a pretty goofy little kid but I loved these shows and the actors on them and every time I see or hear Monte Markham, I ALWAYS think back to The Second Hundred Years--just like every time I hear about or see James Darren --I think back to The Time Tunnel!! Too bad about the writing as I always thought it was so cute how the Grandfather and the Grandson seemed to gang up against the Dad--but as I said I was a kid and really didn't understand formulaic TV back then!
  • Any time I see Arthur O'Connell in a movie I think of this series. As a kid of 13 when it played, I thought the story line to be interesting. I probably saw all the episodes, but after all these years, I can't recall anything other than the father's reaction to all the "modern" inventions since 1900. Today, I'm surprised it was only on for one season, as it seemed longer. But, I guess to one that's 13 years old, 1 year is a long time! I think today, with good writing, this would make an interesting movie. Hollywood is always taking ideas from old television. Why not this one? It might even seem like a fresh idea since not many know of the series to begin with.
  • I remember the promos for this show, which I believe was on the ABC network, being shown in the summer of 1967. I couldn't wait to see it!

    Some have commented on the poor scripts. I guess being a kid at the time, I wasn't very discerning when it came to script quality (but maybe my parents were, as they didn't particularly care for the show!). I can't really comment on the quality of the writing, but "It's About Time", and "The Second Hundred Years", were two big favourites from my childhood.

    Whether it was a couple of astronauts going back to live among cave people, or this show's post-civil-war prairie man suddenly living in "swinging" 1967, I found the "fish out of water" concept very appealing, and I guess, still do. I'm obviously not alone in this, as it continues to be a popular theme.

    Arthur O'Connell was great as the poor, exasperated guy who was always the "meat in the sandwich" between his young father and son. And Monte Markham was wonderful in his dual roles. He played "Luke" as a man possessed of folksy charm and naiveté, with a zest for life. Ken, on the other hand, was a stick-in-the-mud conservative, and Markham's contrast between the two characters was impressive.

    Like "It's About Time", this show disappeared too soon for my liking. I would love to see it again! Too many modern shows get their laughs by using "put-down" humour. This show didn't need to do that. It put its main character in funny situations, instead. I still remember Luke's incredulous reaction to seeing a woman in a miniskirt - and his elderly son simply said, "That's 1967!". We laughed at that because the way they did it, it was funny. And we weren't jaded, then.

    With the exception of seeing Don Rickels' routine on a variety show or fat jokes directed at Ralph Kramden, nasty insult-humour wasn't terribly common on TV back then. And when a put-down was used, it wasn't anywhere near in the same league as that which takes place on something like "The Drew Carey Show". I miss those days, when it didn't require being cruel and vicious to get a laugh.

    There may not be enough general interest to release a boxed-set of this show on DVD, but it would be great if someone would release some sort of anthology of past TV shows for each year. I'd like to see a scenario where we could buy DVDs containing at least one episode of shows that were shown in prime time for every year - in this case, "Prime Time 1967", for example.

    Then, we'd get to see our favourite long-lost shows again (like Michael Callan's "Occasional Wife"), even if only one episode! These shows have been long-buried, so I can't see license fees for them being horrendous.

    ADDENDUM: I finally got to see the pilot for this show again on YouTube! Yay!

    A couple of notes on it:

    1) Luke just "woke up" after years of suspended animation, so to him, decades-ago is like yesterday... However, he didn't seem to grieve for (or even inquire about) his wife!

    2) Luke can't seem to keep even the most menial jobs. He was hired to push a broom in a warehouse which stores bags of quick-setting cement. In an effort to keep the dust down, Luke sprays the bags with a hose - causing all the bags to set like (what else?) concrete. Offensive - for cryin' out loud, the ancient Romans knew that concrete is set with water. I'm sure a man in his 30s, even a travellin' prairie guy, would've known this, as concrete or mortar was used for lots of things, including wells in cities and private land. The writers made him look stupid.

    I still think the actors were great, though!
  • I saw Monte in a movie the other day and this show came to mind. I remembered the title and cast and I was like 12 when it aired. I wish I could watch it all again.
  • trishthompson24 December 2018
    I was a bit older than some of the other reviewers here when this show aired, but I really enjoyed watching it too. I fell about half way in love with Monte Markham and still don't understand why he never became a bigger star; he's a very good actor (maybe that's why - he's so good, it doesn't seem like he's acting!?). I too think of this show whenever I see either star elsewhere, and would love to see the show released on DVD; perhaps a compilation is shows that only lasted one season despite being very watchable. Firefly (a really all-around excellent show) didn't even last a full season but has been released on DVD. In any event, if you get a chance to watch The Second Hundred Years, do so; it's fun and funny, and family friendly.