'Car 54, Where Are You?': Finally on DVD, that's where...

A great sitcom finally restored to us, the first season of Car 54, Where Are You? is out on DVD this week. Car 54 (1961-63) was about two New York City policemen, Gunther Toody (Joe E. Ross, a former burlesque comic with an adamant joke-delivery style) and Francis Muldoon (Fred Gwynne, later better known on The Munsters).

Creator Nat Hiken used them as a variation on comedy teams such as Abbot and Costello or Laurel and Hardy — the tall/short, skinny/fat, smart/dumb paradigm. Toody’s catchphrase “Ooh! ooh!” became his trademark, while Gwynne played Muldoon as a sensitive, intelligent, rather lonely man. Together, they offered a portrait of men at work that was as closely observed as it was funny. Also, the theme song is one of the best in TV history.

Funny enough on their own, Ross and Gwynne were surrounded by a superb supporting cast that included Beatrice Pons as Toody’s sour wife, Emma, and Al Lewis (another future Munster) and Charlotte Rae (Diff’rent Strokes; The Facts of Life) as Officer Leo Schnauser and his wife, Sylvia.

This four-disc set has added value now for  its regular use of outdoor shooting: You get priceless glimpses of what New York City looked like in the early ’60s. (Consumer beware, however: Inexplicably, the episodes are out of airdate order in this collection. Go to any number of episode-guide sites for the proper order, if that sort of thing is important to you.)

Hiken had already created a comedy classic with his sitcom with Phil Silvers. Car 54, Where Are You? was his second great one.

Twitter: @kentucker

Comments (13 total) Add your comment
  • Sam Tomaino

    My copy is in the mail. I can’t wait to see this show again!

  • Jon Storm

    Charlotte Rae as Officer Schnauser? I don’t think so, Mr. So-Called Expert.

  • illyablue

    Read it again.The article states that Al Lewis plays Schnauser and Ms.Rae is his wife.

  • Allen

    So happy they are on DVD…hate the packaging..and that they aren’t in order by air date..

    • Mukhtiarali

      Ooh. I love Coldstone. Our closest one clsoed last year , but we have some Tim Hortons/Coldstone combos, so it’s all good. I love anything with mint ice cream!

  • mjkbk

    I wonder how many recent generations might listen to the theme song and ask, “What’s Idlewild? And Kruschev…..is that a brand of vodka?” ;-)

  • rh

    Toody’s wife’s name was Lucille–not Emma. When will the 2nd season shows be available?

  • Allen

    2nd season probably won’t be available till early 2012…(got my info from tvshowsondvd.com)

  • Bob Sklar

    Another website claims to have a clearance on a complete set of the two seasons. Are they on the level? Link: http://www.thetvshowlab.com/product.php?productid=3113630

  • Stephen Kelley

    Toody’s wifes name was Lucille

  • masraden

    wow very cool. . . i want to see it . .

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