Entertainment » Television

Mister Ed: Season One

by Phil Hall
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Oct 6, 2009
Mister Ed: Season One

Mister Ed is, in many ways, typical of the 1960s brand of sitcom: pleasantly amusing but never truly laugh-out-loud hilarious. There is a cute gimmick to sell the show - in this case, a sassy talking horse - but when viewed today, it appears there isn't all that much to the show beyond its gimmick.

This first season of episodes sets up its premise very quickly: architect Wilbur Post and his wife Carol buy a house that comes with a barn. The barn's occupant is the eponymous equine, who only talks to Wilbur. After trying (and failing) to convince his wife and neighbors that the horse can talk, Wilbur winds up with something of a double life: conversing with Mister Ed about his various troubles while dealing with the nuttiness of his regular existence.

While the horse (voiced by uncredited old-time Western actor Rocky Lane) gets a disproportionate share of the funny lines despite a relatively limited amount of screen time, the real scene stealers here are supporting actors Larry Keating as the urbane neighbor Addison and Edna Skinner as his high-maintenance wife Kay. Alan Young's Wilbur and Connie Hines' Carol are charming, but too often they are simply reacting to their castmates.

Viewing the show today, there is another 1960s aspect that doesn't travel well: the show has a fairly misogynist streak, with women being portrayed in various degrees of emotional excess. Admittedly, the series is meant to be taken in a degree of farce, but the constant reinforcement of women as emotionally needy and overly demanding is not particularly funny.

Nonetheless, one doesn't revisit Mister Ed in search of yesteryear's sociology - the concept of a wise-cracking talking horse provides enough charm to overcome the series' creaky points.

Phil Hall is the author of "The Greatest Bad Movies of All Time

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