The Continental (TV series)
|Country of origin||United States|
|Original release||January 22 – April 17, 1952|
The Continental is a 1952 CBS television series starring Renzo Cesana in the title role. The 15-minute program was shown on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:15pm, at the end of the night's prime time schedule.
The series used a subjective camera, as Cesana spoke directly to women in the viewing audience in a suave manner, with each episode a different romantic rendezvous, accompanied by lounge music played by Eddie Baxter on an electronic organ. Occasionally, Cesana would recite the lyrics to a song.
In an era when advertisers and advertising agencies played major roles in program creation and sponsorship, the show began as a syndicated 15-minute radio show created, written and produced by agency owner Cesana on Los Angeles station KHJ in February 1951. It directly followed The Lonesome Gal, a nationally syndicated radio show in which host Jean King played records and spoke in a soothing monologue to male listeners. The Continental failed to attract an audience and was soon cancelled. Cesana convinced television station KNBH to air a video version, which went on the air twice weekly beginning in June 1951. The show was picked up briefly by the CBS network, where it debuted on January 22, 1952, and ended on April 17, 1952.
Pop culture references
Despite the fact that the show was short-lived, The Continental has been satirized and referenced in the years following its cancellation:
- Issue #14 of Mad featured a parody, "The Countynental", by Harvey Kurtzman and Jack Davis.
- The 1954 Pepé Le Pew cartoon The Cat's Bah has a beginning similar to The Continental format (with a female interviewer who is never shown but whose presence is implied).
- Comedian Red Skelton performed a parody titled "The Transcontinental"
- Comedian Jerry Lewis mocked The Continental while also doing an impersonation of Marlon Brando on The Colgate Comedy Hour.
- The 1956 Popeye cartoon Parlez Vous Woo has Bluto pretending to be "The International", the suave television personality whom Olive Oyl prefers to stay home to watch rather than go out on a date with Popeye.
- The best-known reference is the recurring Saturday Night Live satire with actor/frequent host Christopher Walken as the title character in The Continental, a sketch series remarkably similar to the Mad version.
- Yahoo! Sports soccer blog Dirty Tackle has a recurring series in which Bulgarian player Dimitar Berbatov is... The Continental.
- The opening of the Season 8 episode "Mr Monk and the Critic" of Monk appears to pay homage to this format.
- On the comedy/variety program The Uncle Floyd Show, host Floyd Vivino frequently performed a parody skit as "Ricardo Romantico".
Cesana obtained a recording contract with Capitol Records during the run of The Continental, although he confessed to Time magazine, "I'm the only Italian living who can't sing." Recordings by Renzo Cesana, in which he recites song lyrics to musical accompaniment, appear as unnamed tracks at the end of several CDs in the Capitol Records Ultra-Lounge series, always unmentioned in the liner notes. Among them are "Violets for Your Furs" and "Walk the Lonesome Night."
- Landon, John W. (September 1985). "Biographical Dictionary of Theatre Organists". Theatre Organ. 27 (5): 39. ISSN 0040-5531.
- "Pitching Woo for Shampoo", Billboard, February 10, 1951, p. 4.
- "The Continental" (review), Billboard, March 24, 1951, p. 8.
- Mark Barron, "On the Air" (column), Indiana Evening Gazette (Indiana, Pennsylvania), July 8, 1953, p. 18.
- "Dynamic Pix, Zucker Enter Distrib Field", Billboard, January 23, 1954, p. 5.