Wednesday, January 26, 2011

One of the best: Halls of Ivy

A couple of years ago, I ran across Halls of Ivy and listened to a few episodes.  I really didn't like it then; it came across as a 'soap opera' to me and one with moral overtones.  While the show was in the comedy genre, I could find nothing funny about it.  Basically, I just didn't like the show and moved on.

About six weeks ago, a friend from a forum made the show sound so good (and I trust his judgment about old time radio) that I was persuaded to give the show another go.

30 episodes later, I am very happy I decided to listen to it again.  This second stab at the show makes me realize how totally wrong I was about the first go-round and how right my friend was about the show.

The Halls of Ivy is a show about a husband and wife (William "Toddy" and Victoria "Vickie" Hall.)  Toddy is the president of Ivy University, a college somewhere in the United States, while Vickie is a dramatics teacher at the school.

My memory of the show the first time revealed that the show was "heavy" and carried a moral message.  I realize now that I misunderstood the show; for though the show can be dead serious about issues such as racism, cheating, stealing, ethics and the usual problems associated with college students at that age (except sex, of course) the show is really about the love of Toddy and Vickie.

After all, Toddy and Vickie were Ronald and Benita Colman in real life and there is a chemistry there that you rarely feel on radio.  As a matter of fact, I can't think of another husband-wife couple on radio who come anywhere near it.

School problems are just a buffering peripheral to the message of love, understanding and admiration for husband and wife.

Each episode includes a flashback of Toddy's younger days when he found himself falling hopelessly in love with Vickie while on sabbatical in England and she was a rising English stage star.  These are well-acted scenes - as is the show in whole.

While this may sound a bit corny or mushy, I assure you, it's not.  This may not be a show for the 20-ish year old single male, I'll grant you, but it is a show most can appreciate for it's well-acted, well written value.

Written by Don Quinn (he was the main writer for Fibber McGee and Molly) you might expect a show full of clever puns and word jokes; instead The Halls of Ivy is warm, intelligent humor - the humor of life.


  1. Your description captured exactly how I feel about the show. Glad you like it.

  2. My appreciation for the show grows with every listen.

    Now if I can just "turn you on" to Milton Berle...

  3. The Milton Berle thing is a tough one. I remember way to vividly the tv show. I hated it. Because of that, even though I never listened to his radio show, it is tough to do. But, sometime I will try one.

  4. I've only seen clips from the MB TV so I can't comment - all I can tell you is that it's funny. I'm hoping you will try 2 to 3 episodes...

  5. I came across your blog while searching for OTR stuff.
    I love Halls of Ivy, and I completely agree about how the show's true focus is not on moral lessons, but on Vickie and Toddy's love.
    Me being a student and also having a professor for my father really makes me relate to this radio, and I'm in the middle of ransacking radio databases and devouring each episode.

  6. Yuuki, glad you have found Halls of Ivy and really like it. As I told Jimbo I did not care for it initially. You are right on about the true love between Toddy and Vikki. Most shows relect this with their remembering their encounters back in England and their love. The love is carried on with their current lives at Ivy College. Also right on about no other show reflects the true love of two people as this show does. It carries this theme from show to show, but, it also carries the other elements of cheating, stealing, greed and all that moral stuff which we need to remind our selves of. This is truly a great show. Only wish the quality of the sound would be better, but, you can not get a better show. Glad you are into it now too! Keep us posted on how you feel about this show or any other for the matter. Thanks for commenting and continue to do so.

  7. Yuuki, thank you for taking the time to comment on the blog. And I visited your site and see you mentioned the blog here - I appreciate that!

    I find that The Halls of Ivy is a very deep show and my respect and love for the show just keeps growing. It is so different than the show I once thought it was.

    I can't imagine the show just "sitting there" without people listening to it. It's a show that needs attention. And hopefully, someone else will read this and find their way in the Halls of Ivy.

  8. Thank you for your response, Jimbo and Blackie. (I like that show too, by the way)
    I've just started listening to old time radio, so I don't know what show has how much attention, but I certainly do feel that it is worthy of it. I will keep posting about it in my blog, and if I ever come across another person who likes old time radio and doesn't know about Halls of Ivy, I'll be sure to recommend it to them.

  9. Yuuki, I am glad to have you stop by and I hope you be a regular part of the blog now.

  10. Yuuki, there are a lot of good otr shows. For suggestions you check the interveiws on this blog and some of Jimbo's favorites as he lists his top 50. I would guess you would like most of them. Maybe not all of them, as people differ in their likes and dislikes.

  11. Blackie, Jimbo, thank you for your advice. I will definitely go check them out. And you can count on me to increase traffic to this blog.

  12. I just listened to another Halls of Ivy last night. This is where Toddy had to either vote for an art structure that he considered would not fit the campus, but, the college would get a new gym. Believe it or not, but, the story related back to the Towers of London and the tradition around it and what he had to consider for Ivy. Love story, yet, integrity involved in this story. I wish I could remember each story, but, out of sight out of mind. Sometimes my memory stinks.

  13. Hey, do you guys ever think that the beer commericials just do not fit this show? Maybe wine, but beer? If I sit and think about it, it just seems to get worse. But, at least they did have a sponsor.

  14. I have often thought the same things. Duffy's Tavern - sure but Halls of Ivy?

    I guess it really makes no difference - although you think of Halls of Ivy as a family show.

  15. I sought out episodes of HALLS OF IVY simply because they were written by the brilliant Don Quinn -- and yeah, I think I was underwhelmed at first, but then ... wow. What a warm, witty, and often insightful show it is. And I agree completely that (a) it's really about the ongoing romance of Toddy and Vicki, and (b) the Colmans are pitch-perfect throughout. I'm a University professor myself so I'm sure part of the appeal is that it's partly about college life ... but mostly I love the clever writing and the cheerful optimism of the life the Halls are living. Thanks for the review and to everyone who's commented.


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