A horse is a horse, of course, but to get six seasons out of a talking horse requires the magic that was Mister Ed. How did a series based on complete fantasy last so long? My Mother the Car didn’t have this long of a drive. Human voices coming out of strange places wasn’t a sure hit device. What’s was the magic? They cast the perfect voice for a telegenic horse. Allan “Rocky” Lane was a cowboy actor who fit perfectly on the tongue of the chestnut equine. When he chats away with Wilbur Post (Alan Young), you almost forget he’s a horse and not merely the wise buddy to the hapless fool. Mister Ed: Season One lets the first 26 episodes escape the barn.
“The First Meeting” brings together the horse and the architect. Wilbur and his wife Carol (Connie Hines) buy a ranch house that includes a horse stable. His plan is to use the building as his office. Things aren’t so simple. The old owners have left him a treat in the form of a horse. At first Wilbur wants to dump the animal, but he learns that this is a special horse. He talks. This should be a quick way to get rich. He imagines the fame and cash to be made by putting Mr. Ed on the Ed Sullivan Show. Unfortunately Mr. Ed only talks to Wilbur in face to face situations. Can he keep the horse and his sanity? “The Ventriloquist” lets us know that Mr. Ed is a bit of a troublemaker. Wilbur wants to build the nearby country club’s new clubhouse. Mr. Ed becomes a marriage counselor when he has to get Carol to remember she’s got to take care of Wilbur too in “Busy Wife.” Ed becomes quickly attached to the couple. “Kiddy Park” has him run away from his stable when Wilbur and Carol plan a vacation without their four legged friend. One of the fun elements of the show is that Mr. Ed answers the phone in the barn. People who can’t see him think he’s a real person.
“Sorority House” starts off innocent with Mr. Ed being used as a local school’s team mascot. However evil kids at a rival school kidnap him. “Ed the Lover” transforms the horse into a thespian for a Western play. (Is this how Trigger started?) “Ed the Witness” has Wilbur locked up in a Mexican jail. “Ed’s Mother” is a heartbreaking episode when he discovers her up for auction. The son wants to buy her freedom. “Ed the Songwriter” turns him into a singing sensation when he records a hit. What will happen when the record label discovers their new find has lips bigger than Mick Jagger’s trademarked face? “Little Boy” is a sweet tale of Mr. Ed helping a neighborhood kid look brave in front of his friends.
“The Mustache” lets Wilbur put on the facial hair in order to get a great gig. “The Other Woman” has Wilbur say another woman’s name while sleeping. Carol is upset at this muttering. Turns out it’s the name of a filly. Can he clear his name so she’ll believe it? “Ed Cries Wolf” lets Mr. Ed claim there’s a burglar in Wilbur’s house. What a mean trick from a smart horse. “The Contest” is not like the Seinfeld episode. Ed tutors Wilbur to win a trivia contest. “Pine Lake Lodge” once more has Wilbur and Carol head off for a vacation without him. He shall have his revenge at being left behind. “Wilbur Sells Ed” is a bit of a reverse. Ed wants to get sold to a guy who has a tempting filly. Can love tear them apart?
Here’s what I never quite understood about the show: How could Wilbur work in the same barn as Mr. Ed? While it seems cute on TV, a horse’s stall smells. No matter how fast you clean up the horse biscuits, the odor does linger. What happens if Wilbur’s taking a phone call while Mr. Ed takes one of those marathon pees? You can’t talk through that much of a bladder flowing. Maybe this show would be more believable if we discover Wilbur had lost his sense of smell in Korea. But how do clients come over to look at Wilbur’s drawings without gagging? That’s one of the mysteries that remain in Mister Ed: Season One.
“The First Meeting,” “The Ventriloquist,” “Busy Wife,” “Kiddy Park,” “Stable for Three,” “Sorority House,” “Ed the Lover,” “Pageant Show,” “The Aunt,” “The Missing Statue,” “Ed the Witness,” “Ed’s Mother,” “Ed the Tout,” “Ed the Songwriter,” “Ed the Stoolpigeon,” “Psychoanalyst Show,” “A Man for Velma,” “Ed’s New Shoes,” “Little Boy,” “Ed Agrees to Talk,” “The Mustache,” “The Other Woman,” “Ed Cries Wolf,” “The Contest,” “Pine Lake Lodge” and “Wilbur Sells Ed.”
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The black and white transfers look as shiny as Mr. Ed’s mane. The only bad thing is 8 of the episodes are presented in 22:00 syndicated versions instead of the 25:30 broadcast versions. The audio is mono. Not to be a nitpicker, but there are times when Mr. Ed’s words and lips don’t quite sync up. Hmmmm. The episodes are Closed Captioned.
Audio Commentary on “The First Meeting” with Alan Young and Connie Hines. They have quite a few tales from the show.
A Horse Tale (32:02) has Alan Young and Connie Hines give us more tales from the stable. Young points out Mister Ed was based on a book that was written years before the Francis the Talking Mule films. The horse and the mule did share a director in Arthur Lubin. The networks initially passed on the show, but the production company decided to offer it as a syndicated series. The indie success prompted CBS to lure Mister Ed into their barn.
Studebaker Commercial (0:35) has Wilbur and Mr. Ed discussing the latest model.
Mister Ed: Season One reminds of a time when we could believe a horse could jabber away. He’s a natural on the screen. He’s smarter than Trigger. Mister Ed was originally released on DVD in two greatest hits collection. Getting to watch the entire first season in order is much more entertaining than skipping around even with the snipped episodes. The bonus features with Alan Young and Connie Hines make this worth snagging for anyone who bought the earlier boxsets.
Shout! Factory presents Mister Ed: Season One Starring: Allan “Rocky” Lane, Alan Young and Connie Hines. Boxset contents: 26 episodes on 4 DVDs. Released on DVD: October. 6. Available at Amazon.com
Tags: Reviews, Shout! Factory