Eric Troup writes:
The Fibber McGee and Molly Show: The 1939/1940 Season
I’ve had this great Fibber and Molly set for quite a while now, and I’ve been meaning to write you and thank you for it for nearly as long, but life got in the way. This set is amazing–not only because of the quality of the restored recordings, but also because of the number of firsts which occurred in this season of the show.
First, the quality. One would think that by now, I’d have become so accustomed to the great quality of your work that it would cease to amaze me, and yet, that is simply not the case. Considering the age of these episodes, I listen to the orchestral numbers and marvel at the separation which can be heard among the instruments. Oh, of course, I don’t mean separation in a stereophonic sense, but rather, in the clarity of the sounds. I can hear the crispness of the saxophones, the brightness of the brass, the smoothness of the strings. To compare to my average listening experience with old-time radio programs, if I heard a similar song, I’d know there was a brass section, a saxophone section and a string section, but the sound would not be nearly so well-defined. And that’s just the music! Barring small sections where one can hear some scratching buried deep in the background (which in no way affects the listening experience, I assure you!), the actors’ dialogue shines through with a pristine clarity which far surpassed my admittedly high expectations. (Hey, don’t blame me if you set the bar so high as to raise my expectations to such a degree.) And my, how young Harlow Wilcox sounds in these recordings!
Okay, enough about the quality. What are the “firsts” listeners can look forward to herein? Let’s see …
The first appearance of a certain Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve. There are even a few instances in the early episodes of the set where Hal Perry makes an appearance as other small roles, before Gildy is “officially” introduced. By the end of 1941, he would have his own spin-off show.
The first occurrence of the hall closet being opened. One of the most famous bits of Fibber and Molly comedy, and it got its start right here in this season of the show.
And last, but in no way least, this season introduces us to the King’s Men, who, if I’m not mistaken, would stay with the show to the end of the Johnson’s Wax run. We don’t get to hear their traditional “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” piece yet, but we do get to hear plenty of examples of why these four men are among the most talented quartets of the era … at least, in this listener/reviewer’s opinion.
All of this is just a long-winded way of saying thank you for providing this complete season of shows, which is not only a great season of comedy, but also a real slice of Fibber and Molly history. I hope there are more season sets to come. You can be sure I wil be a proud purchaser!