My Mother the Car

NBC (ended 1966)


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My Mother the Car
out of 10
User Rating
216 votes

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Show Summary

For almost fifty years, My Mother the Car has remained a punchline, easily the most infamous of all the "What idiot thought THIS was a good idea?" sitcoms to hit the air. Just how did a comedy about the spirit of a man's dead mother inhabiting an old automobile get on TV?

In hindsight, it had to happen. During the 1960s, the network schedules were overrun with comedies based on completely unrealistic and usually lame-brained premises. There was a talking horse (Mr. Ed), a Martian being passed off as an uncle (My Favorite Martian), a genie servant to an astronaut (I Dream of Jeannie), a playboy with a robot girlfriend (My Living Doll), an average American family made up of movie monsters (The Munsters), another family of creepy oddballs (The Addams Family), and the most unrealistic family of weirdos of them all, the Nelsons (The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet). In this context, it's not such a leap for a woman planted six feet under to possess (or repossess) a car.

The premise, in a nutshell, is that Dave Crabtree is a lawyer whose momma takes a break from pushing up daisies to return and take over the body of a 1928 Porter. She talks to him through the radio speaker. His wife is Barbara and his two young kids are Randy and Cindy. The wealthy, evil Captain Manzini is always trying to get his hands on Dave's car to complete his automobile collection.

As with anything, it's the execution of the idea that matters most. A show such as Bewitched demonstrates how charm, a great cast, and the right "touch" can turn an unbelievable premise into an entertaining series. MMTC, on the other hand, was extremely pedestrian. Despite the lurid hook, it was a rather lame undertaking. None of the characters on the series had any actual character or personality; they were just "types." The only thing that could be said about Dave Crabtree (Jerry Van Dyke), the dutiful son is that he was a trusting and dull dullard. His wife and kids were as generic and forgettable as they come. His arch nemesis, Captain Manzini, would have been more at home as a villain on Batman, but only on the weeks the writers decided he should be.

The 1928 Porter, as seen in the series, did not exist. A 1924 Ford T-tub hot rod, built by Norman Grabowski, was modified to turn it into the car seen on the series. A second "effects car" was built by George Barris for the scenes requiring the car to seemingly drive itself, move its headlights, and the like.

Despite a universal lambasting by the critics and lousy ratings, MMTC was kept on the air by NBC for a full season opposite Rawhide on CBS and Combat on ABC. It probably is remembered today thanks to Johnny Carson, who made it a frequent punchline for years to come.

-In 2002, TV Guide named My Mother the Car the second worst show of all time. It was beat only by The Jerry Springer Show.
-Ann Sothern, the voice of Mother, readily admitted to the press that she took the job because it was easy money, calling it radio acting with a TV paycheck It is said she soon regretted having done the series.


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    It Seemed Like a Good Idea: My Mother the Car

    Much ink has been spilled about the notorious Jerry van Dyke vehicle (sorry), My Mother the Car. Having not been alive during its initial 30-episode run in 1965, I didn't get around to seeing it until a few years…

  • Jerry Van Dyke

    Jerry Van Dyke

    Dave Crabtree

    Maggie Pierce

    Maggie Pierce

    Barbara Crabtree

    Ann Sothern

    Ann Sothern

    Gladys Crabtree, Mother (voice only)

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    No results found.
    • Summed up perfectly in a Get Smart episode

      At the end of a Get Smart episode, Max had shot the bad guy. He rushed over to the wounded man and told him an ambulance was on the way. The man said, "Don't bother. I'm a goner. Just do me one favor before I go". Max asked what the favor was and the man said, "Tell me My Mother the Car is coming back on TV". Max looked confused and asked why. The man replied, "Then I won't mind going so much".

      That said, I was about 10 years old when it was on, and I liked it. But I was the only one in a family of 6 who did, and we only had one TV.moreless
    • What's the difference

      Been watching the first 7 episodes on Hulu. I don't think it's a bad show in context. Mr Ed a talking Horse My favorite Martian a Martian I dream of Jeanie Bewitched, what's the difference. It was kind of successful with the younger set. In the context of the type of show it was it was well done. Martians Talking horses, Jeanies in a bottle. Compared to the stuff they call sitcoms today, this is much better.moreless
    • Undeserving of all the abuse.

      I don't know if it's really deserving of the rating I gave it, but I did it to counter the low ratings it does not deserve. Granted, MMTC was not the Citizen Kane of TV sitcoms, but perhaps it was the Three Stooges of sitcoms. It is not intended to be taken seriously. People who deride it so don't seem to be able to grasp that. Compare it with some of the more "sophisticated" sitcoms of today, with plots like a main character accidentally discovering his father doing "the private thing", or discovering that his father has breasts (thus the "Bro-zierre"). Ah! How exquisite!

      Give it a little credit. It was mainly for children, which is why it should not be judged by the same standards as, say, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. I believe it would have survived at least another season if the use of demographics as a ratings method had been employed in the 1960s. Advertizers of children's products would have saved the day. Maybe the NBC execs should have rescheduled it to Saturday mornings instead of cancelling it. It represented a time of innocence on TV that seemed to die with the 60s.moreless
    • Pleasantly Surprsed!

      I'm watching this series for the first time after hearing for years what a mistake it was that Jerry chose this. As it turns out, I like this show very much and am in tune to the sincerety between husband and wife... and gotta love the dog! And as there have been so many other truly silly shows that "made it", I am amazed what a bad rap this one got. I would think Jerry should be proud of this one, inspite of what others may say. I, for one, am revelling in the watching of every single episode, in order, and wish I could relay to Mr. Van Dyke himself, what a pleasure it is to watch him with this truly enjoyable cast, in this surprisingly pleasurable series. Also, I should mention that considering it was one of the very last parts that Maggie Pierce (Barbara Crabtree) played in, I am very glad to have been introduced to her in a role that played so well off of, and along with, Jerry Van Dyke The two played husband and wife as well as Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore ever did. The chemistry was definitely there. Add the precious pooch, the cute & talented kids, the awesome car (the vehicle, as well as Ann Southern), along with the fun guest casts, and you've got yourself what SHOULD HAVE been a hit, and what I believe would have been a hit at any other time. In my opinion, this series is a definite thumbs UP and benefit to the library of television series everywhere!moreless
    • Perhaps this show was so ahead of it's time, no one got it. Let's see what other show had a talking car, oh yes his name was KIT.

      I actually remember My Mother The Car, when it came out. I was about 12 years old. The shows premise a guys mother's spirit comes back in an antique car to look after him was actually quite interesting, and the fact that the car spoke was a bit like "Mr Ed" which I also liked at the time. Now you have to remember this was 1966 and people were no where as sophisticated as they are now (am I kidding myself) so the Idea of a woman's spirit inhabiting a car was just over people's heads. Now, we have Ghost Whisper and Jericho and Heroe's and back them we had I Love Lucy, The Beverly Hillbilly's, Ed Sullivan, Jackie Gleason, TV was very different. I defend the show and the concept, for the time it was quite good. And besides the next show to portray a talking car became a sensation and a very popular show, Knight Rider.moreless
    • © 2009 MGM Entertainment

    More Info About This Show




    suburban life, supernatural forces, Sitcoms, the middle class, 60s