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Wally Cox and Patricia Benoit, 1954.
|Created by||David Swift|
|Written by||Robert Alan Aurthur
|Directed by||Hal Keith
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||127 (102 surviving)|
|Executive producer(s)||David Swift|
|Running time||30 mins.|
|Original release||July 3, 1952– June 12, 1955|
Wally Cox starred as Robinson J. Peepers, Jefferson City's junior high school science teacher. Others in the cast included Tony Randall as history teacher Harvey Weskit; Georgann Johnson as Harvey's wife, Marge; Patricia Benoit as county nurse Nancy Remington, later married to Peepers; Marion Lorne as often confused English teacher Mrs. Gurney; Jack Warden as athletic coach Frank Whip and Ernest Truex and Sylvia Field as Nancy's parents.
The series was an early situation comedy that featured some physical humor as well as humorous situations. In one show, Peepers is playing basketball by himself and somehow gets stuck in the basket. There is no one available to help him out of the basket. This dilemma means that he is unable to serve as speaker at Mrs. Gurney's flower club that evening as promised, nor at a chess match that Mr. Gurney wants him to participate in. Peepers's solution is to have both the chess match and the flower club meeting take place in the gymnasium, where he talks about potting soil to the ladies and wins the chess game against another high school's champion from his perch in the basket.
Running jokes tended to involve Peepers coping with misbehaving inanimate objects and with acutely embarrassing moments. In a typical moment, Peepers sees a hopscotch grid chalked on a sidewalk and, thinking himself alone, plays the game with abandon, only to discover that his girlfriend Nancy has been silently watching the entire time.
The actors in the series lent appeal to the show. The principal's dithering wife, Mrs. Gurney, played by the incomparable Marion Lorne, is kind and gracious but absentminded. In one episode, Peepers injures his finger with a hammer, and Mrs. Gurney solicitously bandages up his finger to at least five times its actual size. When she leaves the room, he points out to Nancy that she has actually bandaged the wrong finger. Tony Randall's role as Harvey Weskit is that of the handsome ladies' man who befriends Peepers. The confident and popular Weskit is a foil to the timid, bespectacled Peepers, and their friendship is incongruous. In one episode, Weskit points out a packet of unopened love letters that women have sent him, complaining that he is always getting them. He begins to look inside Peepers' locker to see the stack of similar letters he expects to find there, and Peepers quickly closes the locker door, commenting that he has to keep the door closed so that they won't all fall out. Patricia Benoit as Nancy Remington is Peepers' "love at first sight," although she seems unaware of his attraction to her at first. Peepers' bumbling attempts to approach her add charm and humor to the plot and leave the viewer waiting for their next encounter to see whether any progress will occur with their relationship. The episode in which Peepers married Nancy was, for 1954, a blockbuster ratings event, but it also marked the beginning of the series' slide in popularity.
Wally Cox was somewhat typecast by the role of the mild-mannered Peepers, but continued on to a long career in movies and television. He later starred in a comedy/adventure series, The Adventures of Hiram Holliday, and is remembered as the voice of the cartoon superhero Underdog. He is best remembered by game show fans as a regular panelist on The Hollywood Squares from 1966 until his death in 1973. He also wrote and published a novel, Mr. Peepers (1955), based on scripts from the televised adventures of the character.
Reportedly 102 of the 127 episode Kinescopes of Mister Peepers survive.
In 2005, the first 26 episodes of Mister Peepers, which had been preserved by the UCLA Film and Television Archive, were released on DVD by S'more Entertainment. In November 2008, the second boxed set of Mister Peepers was released by S'more Entertainment. The tagline at the bottom of the box reads: "America's Favorite Science Teacher, Underdog and All-Round Nice Guy." The Underdog comment 'coyly' references Cox's later role as the voice of the title character in the Underdog cartoon.
Mister Peepers began as a summer replacement series in 1952 for the Ford Motor Company on Thursday nights. After becoming popular, it returned to the airwaves in late October of that same year to replace a floundering new Sunday evening sitcom named Doc Corkle by its sponsor, the Reynolds Metals Company. The first DVD set, titled simply Mr. Peepers, contains the 1952 summer episodes as well as those from October 1952 to March 1953 partway through the first season. The "Mister Peepers - Season 2" DVD sets picks up chronologically where the first left off, containing episodes from the remainder of the first season and part of the second season, from March 1953 to November 1953.
Awards and nominations
|1953||Nominated||Emmy Award||Best Situation Comedy|
|1954||Nominated||Emmy Award||Best Situation Comedy|
|Nominated||Emmy Award||Best Series Supporting Actress||Marion Lorne|
|Nominated||Emmy Award||Best Series Supporting Actor||Tony Randall|
|Nominated||Emmy Award||Best Male Star of Regular Series||Wally Cox|
|1955||Nominated||Emmy Award||Best Written Comedy Material||James Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum|
|Nominated||Emmy Award||Best Supporting Actress in a Regular Series||Marion Lorne|
|Nominated||Emmy Award||Best Situation Comedy Series|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mister Peepers.|