22 March 2006 | aczilla-1
Proof That True Comedy Is No Longer Appreciated
A plush mansion, an aged ex-boxer/butler, a nerdy walking day planner, a beautiful IQ-challenged southern belle, and a nosy kid neighbor. This would have been the perfect equation for an 80s sitcom, but Madame's Place took it a step further with its star... a puppet masquerading as a bawdy old movie star with a naughty sense of humor.
Wayland Flowers was the premiere puppet comedian for adults in the late 70s/early 80s and became one of the first victims in a long chain of comedian-turned-sitcom-star. Fortunately his brand of humor was dumbed down only by removing Madame's foul-mouthing nature; many of the show's jokes were naughty but subtle enough. Unfortunately Flowers wasn't given complete control over the course of his show like comedians demand in advance today (for all the good it does most of them). A multitude of writers, a handful of comedian guest stars, and no shortage of scripts centered around the home life and talk show of an old movie star couldn't keep Madame's Place open for more than one season, but its failure is more likely attributed to offering golden age era comedy to a modern age crowd.
Madame's Place covered all of the bases from an abandoned baby on the doorstep to an outrageous fortune teller (played by a much thinner Edie McClurg... quite a striking difference from her typecast characters on "Small Wonder" and "Cheech & Chong's Next Movie"), to almost marrying a con man, to a sleazy tabloid TV producer tarnishing Madame's image for his ratings. It fought valiantly against the has-been mentality with guests like Debbie Reynolds and Foster Brooks, all of whom engaged in their classic routines, but alas, only die-hard Flowers fans kept it going as long as it did. Its greatest crime, however, probably was causing Corey Feldman to hit puberty several years early. His kid neighbor character was almost always on screen drooling over a scantily-clad Judy Landers, but I could think of few other beauties of the 80s more worth the honor. Nevertheless, I was 4 when this show first aired and watched it simply because I was a puppet fanatic. I couldn't appreciate it for its full value until I saw it later.
Despite its flaws with one too many segues to unknown (and often unfunny) comedian guests on Madame's talk show as well as a few too many stories that took more than one episode to pan out while fighting to keep the audience's attention, Madame's Place was more than a few good laughs for a sitcom of its time and went as far as it could with what the censors would allow (which was a lot more than is allowed today). If you can appreciate the nostalgic roots of comedy from the early 20th century, then you are guaranteed to appreciate Madame's Place, and any chance you get to see it for yourself should be taken.