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Bad Ideas In Television: The Second Hundred Years

November 26, 2009

A crotchety old man discovers that his father, long believed lost in the Arctic, has been found frozen in a glacier and is still alive … and hasn’t aged. Now the two of them — and the third generation, a posh young businessman — must learn to adjust to their changed reality.

There’s a bit of high-concept science fiction there, but this was a sitcom, so the whole idea was played for broad, hard-earned laughs. The show was The Second Hundred Years — Dad is 100 years old, but looks 30, get it? — and aired in 1967. It struggled from day 1, and didn’t do well, which you will understand if you start watching it.

I can see how it could have worked. Arthur O’Connell mugs to the camera on a regular basis, something that can be annoying but works for him somehow. And Monte Markham — a familiar face, a well-known character actor — does pretty well playing both the old prospector and the young slickster. But the idea of it is just so stupid, and you can see the actors wondering what they’re doing. For this kind of silliness to work, the cast has to buy into it, and that wasn’t happening here.

But you have to admit — it’s a neat idea, and would do well to be revisited at some point.

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