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A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE...
Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 06/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having viewed the first volume of Topper, the television series, I looked forward to viewing volume two. This was a television series of which I am quite fond. It followed on the heels of the success of the Topper films that were made for the silver screen. The television series was also a hit and ran for several years during the nineteen fifties. I am not surprised at its success, given the quality of some of the writing. A number of the episodes were written by Stephen Sondheim, who later went on to greater fame and fortune. Mr. Sondheim's involvement in the television series was something of which I was previously unaware until I viewed the first volume of Topper, the television series.
While the television series is based upon the characters in Thorne Smith's best selling novel of the same names, it is not an actual adaptation of the book. Basically it takes the characters of the book and reformulates them to fit nineteen fifties sensibilities. In the series, Cosmo Topper (Leo G. Carroll) is vice-president of a bank. He is married to the sweet but dim Henrietta (Lee Patrick). They live in a house that they bought from the estate of an unfortunate young couple, George and Marion Kirby (Robert Sterling and Anne Jeffreys), who died in a skiing accident after being swept away by an avalanche. Their St. Bernard, Neil, who was unable to rescue them, also died with them. To Cosmo's surprise, his house is haunted by their ghosts and that of their alcohol imbibing St. Bernard. The problem is that only he can see or hear them. This allows for a lot of funny episodes, as the Kirbys tend to complicate Cosmo's life.
As does the first, this volume offers four episodes of the adventures of Topper. In one, the Kirbys believe that Cosmo is on a secret diplomatic mission, and they feel it is up to them to make sure nothing happens to him while he is on board a train. In the second episode, Cosmo's banking business takes him and Henrietta out West, but, unbeknownst to Cosmo, the Kirbys have meddled in his plans. In the third episode, the Kirbys play a trick on Cosmo, leading him to believe that he has won the Irish Sweepstakes and turning his world an its heels. In the fourth episode, Marion Kirby decides that she is no longer married to George. After all, marriage vows last until "death do us part." She reasons that since they are dead, they are no longer married, causing George to court her anew and inadvertently causing marital problems for Cosmo and Henrietta.
The role of Topper was perfectly cast, as Leo G. Carroll makes a delightful Topper. Lee Patrick is darling as his well-meaning, sweet and silly wife. Anne Jeffreys is terrific as the beautiful Marion Kirby, and Robert Sterling is great as her freewheeling husband. Of course, our cocktail loving St. Bernard is wonderfully portrayed by Buck. Kathleen Freeman is perfect as the Toppers' maid, Katie. All of them contributed to the success of this series. While some of the special effects of the series look hokey and amateurish in comparison to the special effects wizardry of today, for an early television series during the Golden Age of Television this was pretty heady stuff. I only wish that some television honcho would consider a remake of this wonderful television series.
In terms of the quality of the DVD, well, once again one gets what one pays for, as the quality of the DVD itself is simply dreadful. This DVD seems to have been made from an old, dirty print and not remastered or cleaned up in any way, shape, or form. At times, there is some very distracting background noise and some intermittent, although brief, issues with the audio. Moreover, the visuals are somewhat grainy, at best. Still, notwithstanding these issues, I would buy this DVD again in a heartbeat, simply because I love this series. While the quality of the DVD rates about a one, the substantive content of the DVD rates a high five."