Monday, January 5, 2015

Mr. and Mrs. Hennesey

The happy Henneseys: Jackie Cooper and Abby Dalton.
Rhoda Morgenstern's marriage to Joe Gerard, only a few episodes into her popular spinoff show Rhoda, is often cited as an example of the dangers of giving viewers what they want. Even CBS executive Fred Silverman, who pushed for the wedding, later admitted that the decision had been a mistake, one that hurt the show's longevity. Happily married Rhoda was much less interesting than the scrappy single woman she'd previously been, and the show petered out sooner than it otherwise might have.

Writers and producers of CBS' Hennesey, in the early 1960s, were more cautious. However, as noted in Lost Laughs of '50s and '60s Television, the wedding of Lt. 'Chick' Hennesey (played by Jackie Cooper) to his longtime girlfriend, Lt. Martha Hale (Abby Dalton), did ultimately take place, in the show's third-season finale. Star and co-producer Cooper told reporters they had received many viewer letters asking for this happy ending.

It's worth noting, though, that the wedding episode also proved to be the series finale, when CBS canceled Hennesey after a three-year run. Had Cooper's show, to use a term not then in vogue, "jumped the shark"? Was the wedding a last-ditch effort to raise the ratings of a show that was on its way out? Just to be on the safe side, if you're a popular sitcom character, the next time you attend a wedding, try not to catch that bouquet. It might be hazardous to your health.

No comments:

Post a Comment