Plot: Dagwood Bumstead (Arthur Lake) is a husband, father, and hard worker, a man who wants to provide a good life for the ones he loves, as well as relax with a giant sandwich from time to time. At home, his wife Blondie (Pamela Britton) tends to make the decisions and when Dagwood resists, she always seem to know how to get her way and help support her husband at the same time. Add in their lively children and a kennel’s worth of dogs and their household is quite a place to be, where something or other is always going on. At work, Dagwood answers to his quirky boss Mr. Dithers (Florenz Ames) and is often dragged into Dithers’ schemes, both professional and personal in nature. Can Dagwood keep his sanity and balance the wild needs to his home and work lives?
Entertainment Value: This series is of course based on the newspaper comic strip of the same name and with Arthur Lake as Dagwood, the lead role was in good hands. After all, the actor had taken up the character numerous times before the series, in a number of feature films based on the comic. So with almost two decades of experience as Dagwood, there wasn’t a more fitting choice and of course, Lake is fun in the role and brings a lot of energy to the show. Blondie is typical in most ways for a 50s sitcom, with a wholesome, harmless approach that doesn’t push boundaries and just aims to provide some good, clean entertainment. The show is episodic, so you can watch in whatever order you’d like, as all the problems are solved by the episode’s close and little carries over between episodes. The stories are familiar, but are well told and with an emphasis on laughs, most of the episodes are fun to watch. Even the slower ones pack in some good jokes and the characters are quirky, which helps a lot. I think the stories with Dagwood and Dithers are often my personal favorites, but whatever the misadventure is, Blondie makes sure it offers a good laugh in the process. Of course, some might find this naive, wholesome kind of comedy to be dated or corny, but those who appreciate clean, classic comedies should have a great time with Blondie.
Blondie ran for just one season, with all 26 episodes broadcast in 1957, so it didn’t have an enduring presence on television. This had to be kind of a surprise, given that the movie series was so popular and in the end, there were more feature film based on Blondie than episodes of show. But I don’t think the show being cut short reflects the entertainment value, as the series is a brisk, fun watch, though perhaps it just blended in with similar shows at the time. As I said earlier, Arthur Lake is terrific as the upbeat, but often hapless Dagwood, getting into one problem after another, always likable and always fun to watch. He seems to work best with Florenz Ames as Dithers, as the two have such good chemistry, but he also plays off Pamela Britton’s Blondie as well, though the humor shifts a little in that dynamic. I was also thrilled to see Frank Nelson, though it was just a one time appearance. A good amount of recognizable folks stroll through in guest roles aside from Nelson, with Gregg Palmer as another highlight. I had a great time with Blondie and while it doesn’t break new ground for television of the period, it is well performed and delivers solid laughs. If you’re a fan of classic television or the Blondie comic, make sure to give this show a spin.
The Disc: ClassicFlix has released Blondie’s complete run of 26 episodes, spread over four discs. An extensive restoration effort was undertaken and that is obvious from the jump, as the show looks nearly brand new in this presentation, the kind of restoration that makes you pinch yourself. The image is super clean and clear, but never looks like it has been scrubbed too much, so detail remains solid and the visuals look natural, rather than overly smooth. The black & white visuals just shine here, in a tremendous restoration from ClassicFlix that fans will absolutely love.