At the end of the 40's Buster was one of the first of the great stars to appear regularly on TV. Although his starring career in movies was long past, he made a big hit with early TV audiences and was even given two local TV series which were quite successful but were very expensive to produce.
In the episode I've seen of The Buster Keaton Show, apparently the only one to survive, Buster has decided to get fit and has hired a trainer for the purpose.
Obviously the episode requires a bit of set up and story line so there's a lengthy scene with some actors setting up a story before Buster appears. The story is that BK (as they call him) has decided to get fit and wants a trainer to get him into shape. Then they introduce the trainer who tells us about his girl and how he's worried about her talking to other men.
Since most TV at this was live it's not surprising that the actors seem quite intimidated and one guy stumbles over several lines. This material, written by Buster's old collaborator Clyde Bruckman is pretty laboured and unnecessary and it made me uncertain as to whether I was going to like the show or not. All this changes when Buster enters and the others leave him to it.
We're then treated to two 10 minute virtual solo's from Buster as he proceeds from one form of exercise to the next, managing to bungle each in inventive and hilarious ways. He also gets to show off his talents with a basket ball, performing a series of increasingly surreal and improbable tricks, Even netting it whilst lying on his back. You can see Buster gets a big kick out of the live audience and his delight is quite infectious. Although it's half a century ago watching the Great Man do his thing in real time is a considerable pleasure. Inevitably buster gets himself in trouble as he accidentally conks a female who comes into the gym, knocking her out.
As he tries to revive her, Buster hauls and throws the girl around like a rag doll in a scene reminiscent of putting the drunk to bed in "Spite Marriage" Then his trainer walks in and of course it turns out the girl is his wife.
Suspecting Buster of canoodling the scene is set for an all to real boxing session, but Buster miraculously wins.
At 55 Buster is still amazingly able to take the falls and you just know none of the stunts are faked in this. As in his films Buster has the uncanny ability to make all the falls and entanglements in the ropes seem completely spontaneous and natural, showing as always that he never needed words to be funny.