Old TV: Mister Ed

January 14, 2011

When I used to watch episodes of Mister Ed on TV as a girl, I had no idea they had originally been broadcast back when I was a small child or even a baby – and earlier.

This afternoon, I was looking online to find out what events had taken place the day I was born. Apparently, not very much – in the East–West Pro Bowl, the West won 31–30; and the Council of ministers of the European Common Market agreed to organize common farm markets and to move to the second stage of the community.

Among the items my search turned up was the name of an episode of the second season of Mister Ed, “Ed’s Bed,” which aired on Sunday, January 14, 1962. Curious, I looked for more information about it, and found myself watching a preview of the episode (for $1.99 I could have watched the entire episode).

I had forgotten just how much I enjoyed the show, and how wonderfully the voice for Mister Ed fit the character. I found out that the episodes were available on Hulu, and thought watching the one that aired the day I was born would be a fitting and fun way to celebrate my birthday.

Once I mentioned the idea of watching it on Hulu to my husband (over a delicious Chinese dinner), he brought it up on his computer – starting more sensibly with the first episode. I didn’t recognize it at all, and didn’t remember Wilbur ever having tried to convince anyone else he had a talking horse. It was fun to see how the Posts met both Mister Ed and their neighbors the Addisons.

I also noticed things that I had never noticed as a child – for instance, how much more formally people were dressed, Wilbur in a suit and Carol in a dress, even when there was no special occasion. There was the expectation that Carol would do all the shopping and cooking and cleaning, and Wilbur would simply sit down for breakfast in the morning assuming Carol would have it ready for him. The wives would want to spend money, and the husbands would have the final say on the matter (unless they could be manipulated into letting their wives have their own way).

At least on the last point, I imagine the show exaggerated for comic effect. But such things wouldn’t have been funny unless they represented reality to a significant extent. I knew that such things had changed over the course of my lifetime, but seeing those fifty-year-old episodes made such a stark contrast to the attitudes and behavior I am used to today.

Al enjoyed watching the episodes as much as I did, and it was fun to share them with him. After four episodes I insisted it was bedtime, but I look forward to watching more with him this weekend.