Monday, February 20, 2012
The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, which premiered on 12 October 1950, was one of the first comedy series to make the successful transition from radio to television. Similar to the format of the radio program in which George Burns and Gracie Allen played themselves, the CBS domestic comedy was set in their home, the first television series to depict the home life of a working show business couple.
The half-hour series was broadcast live for the first two seasons. The first six episodes were broadcast from New York, but the show soon moved to Hollywood, making it only the third CBS series to emanate from the West Coast (after The Ed Wynn Show and The Alan Young Show). On Burns' insistence, the show was broadcast on alternate weeks in order to provide sufficient time for rehearsals and alleviate some of the pressures of live broadcasts. During its bi-weekly period, the series alternated with the anthology series Starlight Theater and, later, with Star of the Family. After two seasons of live performances, the series switched to a weekly filmed broadcast. Although not filmed before a studio audience, the final filmed product was previewed to an audience and their reactions recorded. At a time when many series relied on mechanically reproduced ("canned") laughter, Burns claimed that his series only "'sweetened' the laughter when a joke went flat and there was no way of eliminating it from the film. Even then we never added more than a gentle chuckle."