Me? On Tee-Vee?

 Lights! Camera! Action!

By Jeff Salter

I would NEVER be on what is termed “reality” TV — where I believe (generally) untalented people are placed in preposterous situations (that viewers are supposed to believe are “real”) and then fed lines of dialog. To me these represent the death of whatever was (once upon a time) good about network television programming.

If I were a key figure in a television show, what kind of program would it be? That’s our theme this week and my answer appeared like a bolt of lightning.

Remember that old 1950s TV series where the bewildered husband monitors all the craziness around him and his household and then makes wry comments to the audience? Yeah, the Burns and Allen Show.

Here’s a link to a 1952 episode:

After a lengthy commercial and an opening scene between Gracie and Blanche, George appears (to address the audience) at about the 5:19 mark.

Here’s a link to their pilot episode in 1950, but it has a very slow, long (UN-funny) intro. Doesn’t really get started until about the 5:21 mark.

Evidently George had to explain to TV viewers how this video format show would differ from their popular radio shows.

And here’s some extensive info about the Burns and Allen team, including some nice detail about their TV series:

I share these with you so you can get a grasp of how George Burns broke the “fourth wall” by stepping aside to address the audience, but remaining in character. It fascinated me even as a kid, long before I realized how unusual it was. Later in the series, George would view a scene (typically occurring with Gracie in their home) on the TV set in his upstairs study… and then comment on it to the audience.

Here’s a snip about that fourth wall:

Sometimes I feel like George… staying in the character of me (Jeff) but stepping aside from the craziness and breaking that fourth wall to address the audience.

So… if I were ever in a TV show, I think it would be similar to Burns & Allen — though hopefully not as grainy and presumably not in B&W.


What kind of TV show would YOU likely be featured in? Got a title for it?


About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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18 Responses to Me? On Tee-Vee?

  1. jbrayweber says:

    I despise reality TV. But if I had to be on one, it would have to be a game show…where I win…lots of tax-free money. And maybe a boat. And an all-expense paid trip to tour Italy. We’ll call it, Jennifer’s Wheel of Fortune.


  2. Oh,Jeff, that would be PERFECT for you! I can see you handling it, ala George Burns! What a great talent he was.
    I agree about reality shows. There is no way anyone is going to act naturally when they know there is a camera on them. And the more I hear of the phoniness, the more I wonder why in heck anyone watches them. Once the conversations starts on one,I am out of the room,(at least,mentally).
    I getter get cracking on something for tomorrow.


    • jeff7salter says:

      Definitely agree that Geo Burns was a fantastic comedian. All the more interesting to me that he repeatedly credited — at least publicly — Gracie as the comic of that duo.
      The wiki article was fascinating. I did not realize, for ex., that when they first began working together, Gracie was the “straight man”.


  3. LIsa Orchard says:

    Great post Jeff! If I had to choose a TV show for me it would probably be one of those human drama shows or a true crime show. I like both of those types! 🙂


  4. I’ve never seen that! Somehow, it does seem perfect for you!


    • jeff7salter says:

      some of their shows were truly hilarious, but some were fairly ordinary. The best ones were when she went shopping.


  5. Shea Ford says:

    I read this and meant to comment earlier but totally got distracted. I watched and loved the Burns and Allen episode. But then, it was over and other suggested shows popped on the screen. I was intrigued by a show titled, “What’s My Line?” I’d never seen that one before. Love. It. I laughed so hard! And honestly I think that would be a show for me to be on. I would be a panelist asking all the questions trying to figure out what people do or who they were. 🙂


    • jeff7salter says:

      I used to watch that show! I was always amazed when one (or more) of the panel could guess the line of work by the few questions they’d get to ask. And I even remember a few times when one of the panel would recuse him/her self because they apparently already knew the contestant.


  6. Iris B says:

    I couldn’t agree more with you re the reality shows … and there are just thousands ! I mean, really, do we have to watch what can go wrong with tattoos? Or snoop in peoples private lives? Ridiculous. Over the summer we don’t have the telly on much, so it’s okay, but It’s frustrating to having to control what the girls can watch at a “family time tv hour”
    As for Burns & Allen – Never heard of them but then again, that was way before my time. Hubby knows about the program, but never seen it either. Will check the links over the weekend when I feel a bit better.


    • jeff7salter says:

      total agreement, Iris. My only hope is that American TV programming will finally realize they’ve passed the saturation point on “reality” TV and go back to normal scripted series in the genres we’re accustomed to: drama, detective, comedy, etc. Of course, my personal favorites are documentaries and for those I really love the History Channel.


  7. pjharjo says:

    Hey! I watched the first link you provided for the Burns & Allen show. I was funny! this is the first time I’ve ever seen the show! Too bad programming has gotten to be so bad. Comedians don’t seem to think they can be funny any more without being obscene and obnoxious! I like he good old days of TV (that happened before me, of course) 😉 With your great sense of humor, I see no problem with you being in a show like George and Gracie! When can I watch the first episode??


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