Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Paul Lynde & Alice Ghostly in Temperatures Rising (1972)

Obscurity factor: 9

This embattled sitcom had many plot and cast changes in its short two season run. It began with James Whitmore as the chief of surgery in a Washington DC hospital. When that didn't work, they brought in Paul Lynde and Sudie Bond and the setting became a private clinic owned by Bond and run by Lynde. For the last few episodes, it became a public hospital again and featured Lynde and Alice Ghostly as his sister, a nurse at the hospital. The only cast member to last the whole series was Cleavon Little. Part of the problem the series had was scheduling - it was up against the ratings powerhouse Maude. Another problem was that it didn't really fit in with the trend in television at the time. Several seasons earlier it might have had more success, but in the age of social consciousness comedies like All in the Family and Maude, this show seemed a trifle tone deaf.

Above is part one of the episode "Healer Man" which was from the last incarnation of the series featuring Ghostly. It was uploaded to YouTube by jknuttel.

Obscurity factor: 9 (very hard to find, not on DVD, available on YouTube)


  1. Well, this one definitely merits its 9.0 on the scale.

    I was a "Maude" man, so I know why I woud have never seen this show. I read "Center Square," the Paul Lynde biography, but I don't remember this show being mentioned. (Not saying it wasn't, but it obviously didn't "stick.")

    The opening credits music sounds like "The Odd Couple" theme played backwards. I suspect that the show was so low-budget that they found library music that felt "sitcom."

    I have to give a big thumbs up to Barbara Rucker, who managed to look very pretty (and probably brought her own make-up from home.)

  2. I remember enjoying it, but I did not see it that often, as we were a "Maude" household. I must have watched it during rerun season or if they moved it to another time slot. I liked the first cast that included Reva Rose and Joan Van Ark. I liked it when Paul Lynde came on, but missed the old cast members.

  3. I have never heard of this show, and we didn't watch "Maude" in our house, either. Not sure why I missed it, being that it was on the air almost two years. It's easy to see why it didn't survive - beyond the already dated style, and bad script, is a less-than-average production aesthetic. I realize that the print is quite bad, but still, the show looks cheap. (Of course, blank hospital walls don't make for good production values. That's why "ER" always had so much "stuff" everywhere.)

    Show "doctoring" was common in the 60s/70s - every season, one of the networks would mess with a new series (or old one), in an attempt to save it. But I suppose that it beats cancelling a show after a few episodes, as they do now.

    And the feel here is very William Asher-ish (the producer...a husband of Elizabeth Montgomery, and producer of "Bewitched"). Another of Asher's shows at the time, was "The Paul Lynde Show," which was floundering after one year. So, when the original version of this show wasn't working, Asher, in essence, combined the two. Maybe Lynde wishes his namesake show would have been held on to a little longer.

    Interesting IMDb note...after the fall of the revamped second season (1973), the show took a hiatus in January, to return in July, with revamp #2 (again with Lynde). The show that replaced it during the spring? "Happy Days"!

  4. Barbara Rucker's grin frightens me... more than a little.

  5. It's interesting to see Paul Lynde playing a somewhat sympathetic character. He usually played the thorn in someone's side. Even in his own sitcom he was a crotchety father figure...

  6. I actually remember Barbara Rucker from her role right after this series - "Sandy" on "As the World Turns." That soap was BIG in the 70s, and we'd watch it during the summer months, when out of school. She was married to Robert Urich from 68 - 74.

  7. I watched a few minutes of this episode, and plan to watch the rest later. I agree with the comment about Paul Lynde playing a somewhat sympathetic character. He and Alice Ghostley work very well together. There were some very funny lines, such as the one about how in that hospital a hamburger with everything on it means someone dropped it on the floor.

  8. Yes, the only line that I really laughed at.

  9. I posted the "Healer Man" episode some months ago. I remember the series fondly. I thought it was quite funny in its first season. Although the show was doing reasonably well the idiot executives at ABC decided (against the wishes of producer William Asher) to overall the show by replacing James Whitmore with Paul Lynde. They were attempting to make the show a bigger hit but that plan backfired badly.

    I really wish this show could be seen again. The first season had a fine cast; Cleavon Little was very funny and Nancy Fox was extremely cute and adorable.

  10. I read they were trying to combine the successful elements of two failing shows - Paul Lynde was liked but his eponymous sitcom wasn't, and this show was liked, but James Whitmore wasn't...