Monday, January 31, 2011

Review: A Day in the Life of Dennis Day

Dennis Day was perhaps the most-surprising star to come out of Hollywood in the 1940's - maybe in any era.

Day was noted for his voice (he recorded over 1000 songs) but once a part of the Jack Benny Show, it was obvious that Dennis could do more than sing - he could act and he was a master of both mimicry and other vocal attributes.

Dennis remained on the Benny show and got a show of his own and did them simultaneously for a few years. His own show, A Day in the Life of Dennis Day was a situation comedy that usually allowed Dennis to sing three songs during the program - and his mimicry and acting were all in full suite.

Playing a naive, young adult who never can seem to hold a job, Dennis did manage to have a girlfriend (Mildred) on the show.  What she saw in him, we'll never know. And what he saw in her - we'll never know either.  All she did was whine about wanting to get married.

Mildred's mother was domineering and a lot of the time the show revolved around Dennis avoiding/pleasing/tricking her.  She often played the foil to Dennis - but without much to laugh at.  The jokes/acting come off as "not funny."

Mildred's father was a wet noodle (Dink Trout) who was a lot like Dennis and cow-towed to any female's request and never spoke up for himself.  He really wasn't funny either.

When Dennis did have a job, the boss is usually played by radio ironman John Brown.

Dennis singing: He does this about 1/3rd of every show.
The show wasn't without controversy.  Once, believe-it-or-not, Day's music was "banned" in Boston because he sang one of the Irish songs a slightly different way than the faithful liked.   He went as far as to make note of this (in a humorous way) on his program.   Another time, several heavyweight comics (Fred Allen, Red Skelton and Bob Hope) were cut off by NBC for 20-30 second spans for what they were saying about the network one week.  Day followed up those programs by incorporating jokes about it the next time he was on the air.

The show is very sappy entertainment.  While Day is enormously talented (in line with Danny Kaye) the scripts are not very well done and once something gets going, there's a Day song thrown in to ruin all the fun.

While I will admit it is fun to listen to Dennis' imitations (he's spot on) the show does not revolve around these - as a matter of fact, they are usually a last minute thing.  And while I don't suggest the show should have been 'Dennis Day does Rich Little', I think more use of his talents could have been employed.  20 minutes of listening to Dennis be the character he was on the Jack Benny Show is a little too much.

If you enjoy the Irish tenor voice of Dennis Day, you will undoubtedly enjoy this show.  The humor and singing will placate you until it's time for something you really want to hear on your iPod. 

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