The Mothers-in-Law: The Complete Series
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It's a funny family feud from Desi Arnaz and the writers of I Love Lucy
Set in the swinging late 1960s, THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW centers on the laugh-filled misadventures of longtime neighbors in suburban Los Angeles who become related to each other when their children suddenly get married.
Legendary actress Eve Arden (Our Miss Brooks, Grease) stars as Eve Hubbard, the sophisticated wife of straight-laced lawyer Herbert Hubbard (Herb Rudley). Veteran comedienne Kaye Ballard plays Kaye Buell, the outspoken wife of bombastic television writer Roger Buell (Roger C. Carmel and Richard Deacon). To the dismay of their hapless husbands, the strong-willed mothers are determined to meddle in the lives of newlyweds Jerry (Jerry Fogel) and Suzie Hubbard (Deborah Walley).
The Mothers-in-Law is one of those "You had to be there" shows, best appreciated by those who dimly but fondly remember this short-lived series. This was Desi Arnaz's last TV series as a producer. As a swan song, it's more "We're Having a Baby, My Baby and Me" than "Cuban Pete," but for a show that was hopelessly square even back in 1967 (as witness the cringe-worthy episode featuring the one-hit wonder band the Seeds, who perform said one hit, "Pushin' Too Hard"), it rates as a found treasure thanks to the crack timing and expert clowning of its stars. Show biz troupers Eve Arden and Kaye Ballard star as reserved and sophisticated Eve Hubbard and histrionic and overly emotional Kaye Buell. They are neighbors with an odd-couple friendship whose lives become further bound when their children, Eve's daughter Susie (Deborah Walley) and Kaye's son Jerry (Jerry Fogel), get married and move in to the Hubbards' garage. Arnaz did not attempt to reinvent the wheel with The Mothers-in-Law. Created and written primarily by I Love Lucy scribes Bob Carroll Jr. and Madelyn Davis, the series takes several pages from the Lucy playbook. Arden and Ballard have a Lucy-Ethel chemistry. Arnaz, who directed many of the episodes, deftly stages the ladies' slapstick shenanigans. And just as Lucy never stopped plotting to get into husband Ricky's act, so do Eve and Kaye insist on meddling in their children's lives, much to the eye-rolling annoyance of their long-suffering husbands (Herbert Rudley and Roger C. Carmel). Several episodes also manage to work in comical production numbers to showcase the cast's talents. Fan-favorite episodes include those in which Arnaz guest stars as matador Raphael Del Gado from Barcelona. Other memorable guest stars include Don Rickles, Ozzie Nelson, Paul Lynde, and a pre-All in the Family Rob Reiner. Despite being sandwiched between Disney's The Wonderful World of Color and Bonanza, The Mothers-in-Law was not a ratings smash. In season 2, Carmel left the show in a salary dispute and was replaced Darrin-style with Richard Deacon, and not even the addition of grandchildren to the family mix could save the series. The extras on this eight-disc set are impressive. Baby boomers will get a nostalgic kick out of seeing the NBC peacock unfurl its feathers in "living color," as well as period commercials. There is a newly filmed interview with the gracious Ms. Ballard, the original unaired pilot featuring Kay Cole as Susie, two failed Arnaz series pilots for The Carol Channing Show and Lands End, and solo variety show performance clips featuring Arden and Ballard. Unlike the intrusive Mrs. Hubbard and Mrs. Buell, TV buffs should welcome The Mothers-in-Law into their homes. --Donald Liebenson
Original unaired pilot
Cast sponsor commercials
Network promotional spots
Behind the scenes footage including dress rehearsal
Script for unproduced episode of The Mothers-In-Law
Desi Arnaz Productions pilots: The Carol Channing Show & Land's End
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This sitcom was the complete project of Desi Arnaz after he resigned as President from Desilu Studios in 1963, which followed his divorce from Lucy. He put together this show along with the same writers from I Love Lucy- Bob Carroll Jr. and Madelyn Davis. By the time he had scripts and the cast it was ready for it's premiere in 1967. Desi produced, directed and even guest starred in The Mothers-In-Law.
Even though the show was placed right in the middle of NBC's top shows, Bonanza and The Wonderful World Of Disney, the shows ratings were very unimpressive. NBC wanted to cancel the show after this first dismal year, but Desi talked NBC to give them a second chance on a second season, with no pay raises for anyone in the show. NBC agreed to this and all the cast agreed with no raises except for Roger C. Carmel who played Roger Buell- Kaye Ballard's husband. Even when Desi pleaded with him to accept his same pay for the second year of $2,000.00 a week with residuals, Roger refused. Roger's ungratefulness to Desi Arnaz got around the studios and he had a hard time finding work for years. After this second year did even worse on the ratings, the show was cancelled.
This show was actually quite cute and had the same premise as I Love Lucy, 2 couples who quarrel, with the addition, that they meddle into their childrens lives. The young couple were cute as well played by Deborah Walley and Jerry Fogel. On the second season the couple have twins- a girl and boy to add to the storyline. Desi guest starred as Raphael Del Gado, a matador from Barcelona, Spain in both seasons and had guest stars in the first season of Rob Reiner, Larry Storch, Alan Reed (voice of Fred Flintstone), Desi Arnaz Jr. (played Tommy), Joe Besser (3 Stooges) and on the last show of the first season The Seeds (Pushin' Too Hard). Trying to pick the ratings up on Season 2, Desi even had more guest stars: Jeanette Nolan, Paul Lynde, Desi again guest starred with Desi Jr., John Byner, Mel Blanc, Ozzie Nelson, Alice Ghostly, Jimmy Durante, Terri Garr, Don Rickles, Marni Nixon (opera star- she did all of Audrey Hepburn's singing in My Fair Lady) and Mary Jane Croft.
I personally saw the show back in the sixties and thought it was cute- probably more fifties I Love Lucy style, and perhaps that's why it failed in the ratings in the late sixties. We were all watching Laugh In, the Smothers Brothers, Peyton Place, That Girl, Lost In Space, Man From UNCLE- the times were changing into more space, spys, mod, music and politics. I have to say, I'm really excited to have this old treasured sitcom on dvd with lots of bonus materials. It will be wonderful to enjoy this show in a different time!
The cast from Season 1 and 2 were the same with the exception of Roger C. Carmel quitting after season 1 and being replaced by Richard Deacon as Roger Buell in Season 2. I have to give a big THANK YOU MPI for bringing out more great rare shows that are pristinely cleaned up and loaded with bonus materials, that will be such a joy to see again!
Eve Arden........Eve Hubbard
Herbert Rudley...Herb Hubbard
Deborah Walley...Suzie Hubbard Buell
Kaye Ballard.....Kaye Buell
Roger C. Carmel..Roger Buell (Season 1)
Richard Deacon...Roger Buell (Season 2)
Jerry Fogel......Jerry Buell
SHORT CAST BIOS:
EVE ARDEN: 1908-1990,at age 82 died of cancer and heart disease; survived by 4 children from second husband. Best known as high school teacher in OUR MISS BROOKS and as Rydell High School principal in GREASE and GREASE 2.
HERBERT RUDLEY: 1910-2006,at age 96 died of natural causes. Best known as Herb Hubbard in MIL and as psychiatrist, Dr. Twombey in The Beverly Hillbillies.
DEBORAH WALLEY: 1943-2001, at age 57 died from throat cancer; survived by 3 sons. Best known as her role as Gidget and other sixties beach movies.
KAYE BALLARD: 1925-present, never married yet and breast cancer survivor. Best known as Kaye Buell in MIL and as Italian restaurant owner and landlord to Doris Day in The Doris Day Show.
ROGER C. CARMEL: 1932-1986, at age 54 died from congestive heart failure. Best known as the flamboyant criminal Harry Mudd on Star Trek.
RICHARD DEACON: 1921-1984, at age 63 died from heart disease. Best known as Mel Cooley on the Dick Van Dyke Show, also was a gourmet chef with several cookbooks.
JERRY FOGEL: 1936-present. Best known as Jerry Buell in MIL and as Bill Donahue in White Shadow, but I know him best as the director's assistant Ernie when they are shooting a commercial in the very first episode of THAT GIRL.
Season 1 Episodes:
1. (09-10-67) ON AGAIN, OFF AGAIN, LOHENGRIN- The Hubbards and Buells can't agree on their children's wedding plans.
2. (09-17-67) EVERBODY GOES ON A HONEYMOON- The Hubbards and Buells almost ruin their children's honeymoon when they show up at the resort.
3. (09-24-67) ALL FALL DOWN- Kaye goes skiing and both Kaye and Eve end up with broken legs.
4. (10-01-67) A NIGHT TO FORGET- Eve and Kaye accidentally get locked inside a store together for a night until it opens the next day. (Desi Arnaz guest stars)
5. (10-08-67) THE NEWLYWEDS MOVE IN- Suzie and Jerry move in to the apartment in Suzie's parents garage and Eve and Kaye promise not to bud into their lives.
6. (10-15-67) THE CAREER GIRLS- Eve and Kaye both try out for parts in a show. (Rob Reiner guest stars)
7. (10-22-67) WHO'S AFRAID OF ELIZABETH TAYLOR?- When both Herb and Roger admit they would like to have dinner with the beautiful Elizabeth Taylor, both Eve and Kaye throw them out of their houses.
8. (10-29-67) MY SON, THE ACTOR- Jerry gets help from both his parents and in-laws in getting a part in the school play.
9. (11-05-67) HOW DO YOU MOONLIGHT A MEATBALL?- To help Jerry pay off Suzie's ring, Kaye sells her famous spaghetti and meatballs with Eve's help on the college campus.
10. (11-12-67) I THOUGHT HE'D NEVER LEAVE- The Hubbards have a fugitive hiding out at their home. (Larry Storch guest stars)
11. (11-19-67) THE GREAT BICYCLE RACE- The Buells and Hubbards both enter a cycling race.
12. (11-26-67) THROUGH THE LURKING GLASS- The entire family show up in costumes when Roger is arrested, to try and rescue him. (Alan Reed (best known for his voice of Fred Flintstone) guest stars)
13. (12-03-67) DIVORCE-MOTHER-IN-LAW STYLE- To teach their intruding mothers a lesson, Suzie and Jerry pretend they are going to divorce.
14. (12-10-67) THE NOT COLD ENOUGH WAR- When Eve is getting a new refrigerator, she makes a big mistake by giving her old refrigerator to Kaye.
15. (12-17-67) YOU CHALLENGE ME TO WHAT?- After Herb and Roger have a fight, Roger challenges Herb to a duel.
16. (12-31-67) EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE A WRITER- When Kaye and Eve decide to try and write a television script, they find out that the exact story was probably written by another writer.
17. (01-07-68) THE KIDS MOVE OUT- Eve and Kaye's constant meddling and interfering in their children's lives, cause Jerry and Suzie to move.
18. (01-14-68) THE HOMBRE WHO CAME TO DINNER-PART 1- The Hubbards bullfighting friend Raphael Del Gado from Spain comes to visit and stays longer than they'd like. (Desi Arnaz guest stars)
19. (01-21-68) THE HOMBRE WHO CAME TO DINNER-PART 2- Both the Hubbards and Buells get to visit Mexico. (Desi Arnaz and Desi Arnaz Jr. (as Tommy) guest star)
20. (01-28-68) DON'T GIVE UP THE SLOOP- The Buells and Hubbards both won a boat in a game show and have a fight over ownership.
21. (02-04-68) I'D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT WE'RE NOT SPEAKING- When the Buells and Hubbards stop speaking to each other, Jerry and Suzie sign them up for group therapy sessions.
22. (02-11-68) HERB'S LITTLE HELPERS- When Herb's secretary is sick, Eve takes her place.
23. (02-25-68) BYE, BYE BLACKMAILER- Roger pays back a loan, by Eve lending Kaye Herb's money, without telling Herb it's his own money he's getting back.
24. (03-03-68) THE WIG STORY- When Kaye wears a blonde wig she borrowed from Eve, she thinks Roger has fallen in love with the wig.
25. (03-10-68) IT'S ONLY MONEY- When eating out at a fancy restaurant, Roger says they'll split the bill, even though Roger and his wife Kaye ordered the more expensive dishes, making Herb want to get even.
26. (03-17-68) I HAVEN'T GOT A SECRET- Roger finally has his scripts considered for a television series and when he asks wife Kaye to keep mum about it, she just can't keep a secret.
27. (03-24-68) JERRY'S NIGHT OUT WITH THE BOYS- When Suzie doesn't want Jerry spending a night to play poker every week with his buddies, all 4 parents take sides in the argument.
28. (03-31-68) THE LONG, LONG WEEKEND- During a visit to their cabin in the mountains, the Buells and Hubbards get trapped in a snowstorm.
29. (04-07-68) JEALOUSY MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER- When Herb gets an unexpected visit from a former girlfriend, Eve gets very jealous.
30. (04-28-68) HOW NOT TO MANAGE A ROCK GROUP- A new rock group called The Warts catches the interest of the Hubbards and Buells, who decide they'd like to invest money into the group. (Joe Besser (3 Stooges) and The Seeds guest star-they are known for their hit- Pushin' Too Hard)
Season 2 Episodes:
1. (09-15-68) HERE COMES THE BRIDE, AGAIN- When Kaye's grandmother comes for a visit all the way from Italy, Jerry and Suzie renew their wedding vows to please Jerry's great grandmother. (Jeanette Nolan guest stars)
2. (09-22-68) THE MATCH GAME- To help Jerry keep his job at a computer dating service, the Buells and Hubbards come up with a plan. (Paul Lynde guest stars)
3. (09-29-68) A LITTLE PREGNANCY GOES A LONG WAY- Somehow, Eve and Kaye get the idea that Herb and Roger are planning to take them on a cruise to Hawaii.
4. (10-06-68) LOVE THY NEIGHBOR, IF YOU CAN'T GET HIM TO MOVE- The Buells remember how they first bought the house next to the Hubbards.
5. (10-13-68) I DIDN'T RAISE MYSELF TO BE A GRANDMOTHER- When Kaye and Eve take a good look at what they've done in their life, they realize they need to do more to improve themselves.
6. (10-20-68) EVEN MOTHERS-IN LAW HAVE MOTHERS-IN-LAW- Both Roger's mother and Herb's mother come for a visit.
7. (10-27-68) THE MATADOR MAKES A MOVIE- The Hubbards and Buells friend Raphael Del Gado is making a movie and the 2 couples will do anything to get a role in the film. (Desi Arnaz and Desi Arnaz Jr. guest star)
8. (11-10-68) IT'S A DOG'S LIFE- Eve gives Jerry and Suzie a puppy not knowing that Kaye is also giving them a puppy as a gift. (John Byner guest stars)
9. (11-24-68) THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY IS THE HARDEST- The Hubbards and Buells hide money in one of Jerry's jacket pockets as a surprise gift and not knowing, Suzie gives the jacket away.
10. ( 12-01-68) THE BIRTH OF EVERYTHING BUT THE BLUES- When Suzie needs extra money, she takes a babysitting job taking care of animals. (Mel Blanc guest stars)
11. (12-08-68) NOME, SCHNOME, I'D RATHER HAVE IT AT HOME- The In Laws are shocked when Jerry and Suzie want to move to Alaska.
12. (12-15-68) HAIL, HAIL, THE GANG'S STILL HERE- When Eve and Herb are tired of seeing Kaye and Roger, they try hiding- only under their bed.
13. (12-22-68) DIDN'T YOU USED TO BE OZZIE SNICK?- An unexpected visit from Kaye's old bandleader boyfriend surprises everyone. (Ozzie Nelson guest stars)
14. (01-05-69) MAKE ROOM FOR BABY- When the Buells and Hubbards decide another room is needed for Suzie and Jerry's apartment for the newly expected baby, they decide to add on another room and to save money, they decide to do the work themselves.
15. (01-12-69) HAVEN'T YOU HAD THAT BABY YET?- When Suzie goes into labor, Kaye and Eve misplace her on the way to the hospital.
16. (01-19-69) AND BABY MAKES FOUR- The Buells and Hubbards can't decide what to name the new little twins. (Alice Ghostly guest stars)
17. (01-26-69) NANNY GO HOME- The new nanny won't let Kaye and Eve constantly visit the new twins, so they scheme how to get rid of her. (Jeanette Nolan guest stars)
18. (02-02-69) DOUBLE TROUBLE IN THE NURSERY- When Jerry and Suzie need to spend a quiet weekend alone without the twins, Kaye and Eve offer to watch the babies.
19. (02-09-69) VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY IN-LAWS- When a cereal contest comes up, Eve and Kaye try to win it for the twins college fund.
20. (02-23-69) GUESS WHO'S COMING FOREVER?- When Jerry and Suzie move to a bigger home for the babies, Kaye and Eve rent out their old apartment to a black man.
21. (03-02-69) EVERY IN-LAW WANTS TO GET INTO THE ACT- When Jerry gets the flu and can't do his nightclub act, the Hubbards and Buells want to replace him on stage. (Jimmy Durante guest stars)
22. ( 03-16-69) TWO ON THE ISLE- When 2 theatre tickets arrive in the mail, the Hubbards and Buells fight over who will get them. (Terri Garr guest stars)
23. (03-23-69) TAKE HER, HE'S MINE- Roger has a new secretary that Kaye is extremely jealous of.
24. (03-30-69) SHOW BUSINESS IS NO BUSINESS- When Don Rickles is doing a benefit show at the lodge, Eve and Kaye do their best in competing to see who will get to be his partner in the show. (Don Rickles guest stars)
25. (04-06-69) THE CHARGE OF THE WIFE BRIGADE- Eve and Kaye need jobs to pay off their department store bills.
26. (04-13-69) THE NOT SO GRAND OPERA- Both Eve and Kaye want the lead role in an opera production for their club. (Marni Nixon and Mary Jane Croft guest star)
Reviewers here note that the two starring actresses were under-appreciated...and I feel that the Producer/Director Desi was vastly under appreciated as an actor, as a musician. Hard to rate him as a Director, as such a rating would be based upon comparison with other TV directors: the only ones who come to mind (1960s sitcoms) would be Reiner, Henning, and a few others...here the Director gets the most out of the script (which is generally first rate for the genre, though, obviously badly dated even for 1967-1969) and it appears he let the free spirit Kaye Ballard..run free at times..to the delight of the studio audience. She was fabulous, apparently ad-libbing in "old World Italian"! She outshines Arden, throughout, who is a bit "theatrical", almost mechanical at times, like Roger C. Carmel, the first-season husband of Ballard.
I did not recall Deborah Walley in this show (I have just associated her with the Elvis picture SPINOUT - she did a pretty good job as El's girl drummer; and James Brown's SKI PARTY, etc. Now, I gotta "IMDb" her! :)
I find Roger C. Carmel and his gut very annoying and the dude playing the milquetoast son-in-law, very flat. (not his waistline but his performance..to be fair, let's say, his "assignment"). By the second season, his character was taken by Dick Van Dyke Show veteran, Richard Deacon.
Have not seen the final season as yet, but I feel a 3.5* rating is fair.
It's easy to throw "dated" at this show...but it applies. Imagine ..or should I say...recall watching this stuff (as clever and entertaining as much of it still is)...and then the 10 o'clock news with a report of the weekly death toll in Vietnam. Very soon, shows like ALL IN THE FAMILY and BARNEY MILLER, etc., would make this look ancient. But there's something about watching an old, old sitcom that makes one realize that will all the "progress" on TV, all the sophistication, the "good old family values" (at least on the tube) are sorely, sadly missed. No more "heart". No one "cares".
Fun note for Historians: Original I LOVE LUCY writers do most of the scripting, and for me, THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW is, minute-to-minute, funnier! (case-in-point: the above-mentioned Arnaz guest shots and an episode called "I'd Tell You I Love You But We're Not Speaking").