The Danny Kaye show starred singer/comedian Danny Kaye and premiered in January 1945. It remained on the air until 1946 and was sponsored by Past Blue Ribbon Beer.
Kaye was a talented performer, and the show was good whenever he was given an opportunity to sing, to do zany skits, or do things that suited Danny Kaye’s talents. Yet, the show didn’t often let Kaye do that in its first season.
The first seventeen episode January-May season had the series as half a good musical/variety show and half a lame sitcom about making the show.
The series featured Eve Arden and Lionel Stander as Kaye’s sidekicks. Arden was a few years away from stardom with Our Miss Brooks, and Stander could be fun in the right role. However, they’re not given much to work with.
The first season has some groan-inducing and tedious moments, but it’s more than made up for by the hilarious moments and Kaye’s crazy singing.
The second season that began in the fall of 1945 saw some big production changes that made the show better with a focus on Kaye interacting with guest stars, and with Butterfly McQueen becoming the show’s main comedic regular for about one scene a week.
Unfortunately, while most of the first season is in circulation, the second season is scarce. Two of the available episodes are shows for which Kaye was absent during a USO tour and had Frank Sinatra and Jack Benny filling in. While they both did fine, they were essentially doing their own thing.
However, those episodes we do have with Kaye show a much-improved series. There’s one episode from January 25, 1946 where Kaye is his own guest star. The episode for March 1, 1946 with Orson Welles as the guest star is my favorite as Welles critiques and analyzes the song Kaye sings at the start of each episode. The Carmen Miranda episode (February 15, 1946) is also really fun as well. The Arthur Treacher episode (May 24, 1946) is kind of ho-hum, but still these four episodes suggest that Kaye’s second season was a good improvement on the first one.
Overall, these episodes are worth listening if you’re a Kaye fan. If you do start at the beginning and are disappointed by the weaker parts of the first season, check out what survives of Season 2 for a better experience.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
The Danny Kaye show is available for free download here.