Already well established as the maverick animation house responible for Rocky and Bullwinkle, Jay Ward Productions decided to apply their outlandish satiric wit to live-action material -- in this case, vintage silent film footage which had fallen into the public domain. Ward\'s writers pored over thousands of feet of such film, looking for bits and sequences that they could take out of context and use to illustrate new gag routines, few of which had anything to do with the original films\' story lines. By mixing the re-edited bits of footage (sometimes from dozens of different films within the same comedy segment) and then adding music, sound effects, occasional dialogue and narration, entirely new comic collages were created. Hans Conried made the perfect arch host for this Mad Magazine approach to TV comedy -- and remember that allof this happened decades before Mad Movies or Mystery Science Theatre 3000. What ulimately killed this bold syndication experiment was largely overwork. It took an incredible number of bleary-eyed man hours to seek out just the right footage to illustrate each gag idea, let alone write the routines, edit them, score them and assemble the complicated sound tracks. Eventually the small staff was simply overtaxed. (Producing each episode, as you can imagine, was a technical nightmare in 1963; made harder by the small studio\'s tiny budget and less than state-of-the-art equipment.) With the young staff under enormous time pressure, the quality of the scripts declined and individual gags got repeated. Seen today, the padding -- espcially in the last episodes -- really shows. The worst was a succession of scripted on-camera \"interviews\" with B list celebrities, nearly all of which simply do not work. And, of course, all the then-topical jokes (of which there were blessedly few) fall flat today. Enough first-rate evergreen material, however, does survive to assemble a really great \"best of\" TV special or single disc DVD. There is currently available a multi-disc DVD box set containing all 26 episodes -- warts and all.
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