Teenage life is tough for those who dream of being the big man on campus, but are stuck with a low profile at school. Things get more complicated when that teenage boy finds true love with each walk down the high school’s hallways. Who is that kid going to turn to for real advice and encouragement in the pursuit of popularity and romance? Normal TV show protocol had the father dishing out the best advice around the dinner table. The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis changed the way teenagers were shown on TV. Dobie (Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine‘s Dwayne Hickman) was a girl happy teenage boy who wasn’t going to let his hormones be denied. Unlike other TV kids, he wasn’t buying that Father Knows Best mandate. His dad (Frank Faylen) ran a grocery store. He wasn’t going to cut his son good tips. Mom (Florida Friebus) sympathized, but what did she know about girls? This was going to be a hard and complicated time for Dobie. The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis: The Complete Series brings together all four seasons into one DVD set.
The series doesn’t play by the usual family sitcom rules. Dobie has no problem directly addressing the audience with his latest issue. The early episodes has him hanging out by a fake version of Rodin’s The Thinker statue. He wants the audience to be on his side cause the world’s against him. He does have one major friend in Maynard G. Krebs (Gilligan’s Island‘s Bob Denver). In the wake of the Beat writers, Maynard’s TV’s first serious Beatnik. He loves jazz, talking hip and not respecting “The Man.” He has a goatee and wears a dirty sweatshirt. He’s Dobie’s conscious that doesn’t want his pal to sell out for the wrong reasons. Dobie needs all the help he can get to avoid extremely dumb ideas. “Caper at the Bijou” hads him hatch an illegal scam to get rich. He’s got a mad crush on Thalia Menninger (Tuesday Weld). She doesn’t want a poor boy with personality. She likes a boy who can spend money on her. She craves Milton Armitage (Warren Beatty). He’s everything Dobie aspires to become. A rich popular boy who seems to have it all. Plus he’s future superstar Warren Beatty. Dobie talks her into going to the movies with him where he thinks he’s rigged the jackpot drawing with the help of Maynard. Can he go through with the scheme to prove he’s lucky and soon to be rich? Herbert Anderson plays the teacher in the first episode, but he doesn’t return to the classroom. He got called away for the role of Mr. Mitchell in Dennis the Menace. He’d be replaced by William Schallert who’d eventually become the dad on The Patty Duke Show.While Dobie goes for the cute girls, he meets his longtime gal pal Zelda in “Love Is a Science.” She thinks Dobie will eventually realize that she’s his league. But can he give up pursuing Tuesday Weld? Bob Denver almost becomes a forgotten actor in the series when he vanishes after half a dozen episodes. He’s replaced by his cousin played by Michael J. Pollard (Little Fauss and Big Halsy). This wasn’t the usual actor hold out routine. Denver had been drafted into the military. But he returned to the show in a few episodes after he was given a 4-F by Uncle Sam. Pollard left the show since they couldn’t have too many Beatniks on the payroll. Oddly enough Pollard would appear with Warren Beatty in Bonnie and Clyde.
While most sitcoms about teenage kids do their best to keep their aging stars in high school, Dobie grows up during season two when he graduates and joins the army. He can’t go it alone. Maynard also gets inducted, but he doesn’t want to shave off his cool beard. They get joined by Chatsworth Osborne, Jr. (Steve Franken), the new rich boy for season two. It’s almost like high school yet with uniforms. Season three has Dobie, Maynard and Chatsworth get a discharged. Instead of getting stuck with mundane real world jobs, they enlist in a local junior college. No need to push them into a full university. “The Marriage Counselor” has the most shocking turn of events. Dobie and Zelda are on the road to a wedding. Will it happen? The fourth season has more mixing of Dobie’s education along with odd schemes to keep him from truly having to enter the real world. Plus he’s falling in love with more women. The final episode “The Devil and Dobie Gillis” plays around with the plot of the first episode. It’s almost a full circle for Dobie.
The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis remains an entertaining show because Dobie is a teenager with true teenage troubles. What boy doesn’t have issues with money, popularity and women? He’s perfect at devising his schemes to finally get ahead. But do any of his goals really make him a better person? The series ends at the right time with the characters still youthful unlike the middle aged cast of Beverly Hills 90210. Maynard’s still cool after half a century. He’s a beatnik icon that today’s Brooklyn poseurs emulate with radical facial hair and dirty clothes. He reminds people that you need a goofy pal to keep you centered. There is so much to love about this series.
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The black and white transfers bring out the brightness in Dobie’s hair for the first season. The audio is mono. The levels are fine. Maynard’s beebop moments come through solidly.
Interview with Dwayne Hickman (13:00) lets the star talk about how Dobie transformed his career. Dwayne looks so youthful even as he pushing 80. They bleached his hair white for the first season. He didn’t like it.
Caper At the Bijou (29:51) is the original version of the pilot. Yvonne Craig (Batman‘s Batgirl) has a role. There’s an extra scene aimed at putting the show in context. Herbert Anderson announces he’ll be a regular character, but he was off to get pestered by Dennis. Ron Ely (Tarzan) went beyond Chip Cunningham on Happy Days. He’s introduced as Dobie’s older brother. We never see him again.
Three Episodes of Love That Bob! feature Dwayne as Bob Cummings’ nephew. The episodes include Bob Digs Rock and Roll,” “Bob Becomes A Stage Uncle” and “Bob Butters Beck: Beck Butters Bob.”
The Stu Erwin Show (26:10) is an obscure family series that had Sheila James as the daughter. Dwayne is a basketball player that she likes in “One of the Boys.”
Clip from “Coke Time Special” gives Maynard and Edd “Kookie” Byrnes a chance to teach Pat Boone how to speak hip. History has shown that lesson failed.
Color Dobie Sketch (6:55) appears to be from a Dinah Shore special in 1960. He’s in love with his teacher (Shore) and expresses it through song. George Burns has a cameo.
Scripts and Notes from the Max Schulman Vault are pdf files.
The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis: The Complete Series finally lets fans appreciate the weirdness of a teenager who constantly loses his heart. Bob Denver nearly steals the show with his beatnik delivery of Maynard. The bonus features showing the early work of Dwayne Hickman gives a sense of how he grew as a TV teenager.
Shout! Factory presents The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis: The Complete Series. Starring: Dwayne Hickman, Bob Denver, Sheila James, Warren Beatty and Tuesday Weld. Boxset Contents: 147 episodes on 21 DVDs. Released: July 2, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.