“Hello Davey, it’s your Mother.”
Sometimes, they come back. And sometimes they come back as the thing they loved most when they were alive. Case in point: fictional TV-land car lover Agnes Crabtree passed away in 1947, and when she came back years later, she came back as a disembodied voice that emanated from a car. A 1928 Porter, to be precise. And there, folks, is the sitcom premise of My Mother The Car.
It could be worse, you know—it could have been that Agnes liked shoes, or fancy cheese, and seeing Jerry Van Dyke talk to any of those things would have been downright uncomfortable. Television devotees love to bash this NBC curiosity, but in its defense, there were plenty of show premises that forced a viewer to scratch his head in the mid-1960’s. Martians, witches, ghosts, angels, and a slew of talking animals turned up on the small screen. So why not a talking car?
When it was time to buy a new car, his family wanted a practical station wagon, but lawyer Dave Crabtree (Van Dyke) couldn’t help himself—there was just something about that old Porter at the used car lot. And when he got in and turned on the radio, he figured out why—the voice of his late mother was transmitting from the radio. When he tried to convince his family that the car wasn’t just a car, they thought he was absolutely nuts, because of course his car/mother only talked when the others weren’t around. Maggie Pierce played Dave’s long-suffering wife Barbara, and the bad guy (because what ‘dead mom is talking from the car again’ sitcom is complete without one?) was automobile aficionado Mancini, who just had to have that Porter for his collection.
Plenty of TV pundits are surprised that My Mother the Car lasted a whole season—which meant more than thirty episodes back in those days. But NBC put it in a timeslot where the other networks were running adult dramas, and the goal was to nab the attention of the younger viewers. Suffice it to say, when there’s a show about a mother who is reincarnated as a voice in her grown son’s fixer-upper jalopy, attention definitely is garnered, for better or worse.
USA / NBC – United Artists – Cottage Industries / 30×25 minute episodes / Broadcast 14 September 1965 – 6 September 1966
Jerry Van Dyke as Dave Crabtree
Maggie Pierce as Barbara Crabtree
Cindy Eilbacher as Cindy Crabtree
Randy Whipple as Randy Crabtree
Avery Schreiber as Captain Manzini
Ann Sothern as Voice of Gladys, Dave’s mother
and this just in
Cahill U.S. Marshal (Warner 1973, John Wayne, George Kennedy)
John Wayne plays US Marshal J. D. Cahill, so wrapped up in work he neglects his motherless sons Billy (Clay...
Dakota Incident (Republic 1956, Dale Robertson, Linda Darnell)
Dale Robertson plays bank robber John Banner, who decides to go straight. Pitching up in small town Christian Flats, he...
Invitation to a Gunfighter (UA 1964, Yul Brynner, George Segal)
Richard Wilson’s western Invitation to a Gunfighter stars George Segal as Matt Weaver, returning home to Pecos, New Mexico after...
Reindeer Games (2000, Ben Affleck, Charlize Theron)
In crime thriller Reindeer Games, car thief Rudy Duncan (Ben Affleck) shares his penitentiary cell with Nick (James Frain), a...
Daddy Nostalgia (1990, Dirk Bogarde, Jane Birkin)
Bertrand Tavernier, one of France’s most esteemed filmmakers, directed Dirk Bogarde in his last film role as Tony Russell, an...
Ariana Grande at the BBC airs Thurs 1 Nov on BBC-1
BBC Music presents Ariana Grande At The BBC: a world-exclusive entertainment show on BBC One hosted by Davina McCall. The...
The First: Separation Series Premiere Thurs 1 Nov on Channel 4
From Oscar, Emmy, Golden Globe and BAFTA-nominated Beau Willimon (House of Cards, Mary Queen of Scots) comes The First, a...
The Lakes With Paul Rose Episode 3 airs Fri 2 Nov on BBC-2
In this week’s programme, adventurer and Lake District resident Paul Rose explores Coniston and follows in the footsteps of the...
Fixer, The (1968, Alan Bates, Dirk Bogarde)
In pre-revolutionary Russia, Yakov Bok (Alan Bates), a ‘fixer,’ or handyman, moves to Kiev from the shtetl and is unjustly...
Justine TCF 1968, Dirk Bogarde, Anouk Aimée
In the low key drama Justine, based on the The Alexandra Quartet of novels by Lawrence Durrell, we are in...
Sam Whiskey (UA 1969, Burt Reynolds, Angie Dickinson)
In Sam Whiskey Burt Reynolds plays an adventurer lured by a robber’s widow (Angie Dickinson) into returning stolen gold to...