Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Three Stooges On MeTV

Starting Saturday, June 1, at 6 PM EST, the MeTV network will be showing Three Stooges shorts weekly throughout the summer. MeTV has announced that the shorts will be uncut, and each one of the Saturday showings will have a different theme. The presentation of the shorts will last an hour.

Anyone who really knows me understands how much I love the Three Stooges. I've literally been a fan of them for most of my entire life, and I own every single Three Stooges short subject that they made for Columbia on DVD. I know what's going to happen in every Stooges short, and they still make me laugh no matter what.

So why is it such a big deal that MeTV is going to start showing the Stooges every week, when I can watch them whenever I want?? I think it has to do with personal nostalgia. One of my favorite things as a kid was watching the Stooges on TV. They've always given me a good feeling, and it's great to know that in the 21st Century a national TV network can still be willing to show them every week and at a viable viewing time.

MeTV is basically the descendant of the old Channel 32 in Chicago, when it was still an independent station. In the 1980s Channel 32 showed not only the Three Stooges, but all sorts of classic TV shows such as the original STAR TREK, BATMAN, THE MONKEES, and many others. Ch. 32 also was the home of the legendary Svengoolie, when he was known as the Son of Svengoolie. And....the channel also showed White Sox games! There's no doubt that the Eighties version of Channel 32 had (and still has) a major impact on my life. It was my refuge from a world that I didn't fit into.

It appears that MeTV will be showing only two Stooges shorts for each hour. As a kid I remember that stations could fit in about three Stooges shorts an hour (the comedies have an average running time of around 16-18 minutes). Of course it all has to do with how many commercials a station needs to cram in, and every regular MeTV viewer knows how much they love those ads for reverse mortgages and the heartbreak of mesothelioma. Having only two shorts an hour, even if they are uncut, means plenty of commercials--but that doesn't really bother me. The fact that MeTV is going to show uncut Stooges material might fend off all those folks who constantly complain how movies shown by Svengoolie are slightly edited.

What I find ironic about the Stooges being shown on a national TV station in 2019 is that many of the viewers would probably never go out of their way to watch a black and white movie. I'm convinced that the Stooges have been watched by more people than any other movie comedians, past or present. The Stooges have a vast mainstream following, and many of their fans are not what I would call film buffs. As a matter of fact there's a number of film buffs who can't stand the Stooges--these folks believe the trio are not as brilliant as, say, Charlie Chaplin, or Laurel & Hardy, or Buster Keaton. There's a lot of snobbery involved in how certain film geeks look down on the Stooges--if ordinary people who are not interested in cinema history love the boys, how enjoyable can they be??

I find this attitude to be rather silly. Film buffs should appreciate the fact that any movie productions made in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, such as the Stooges shorts, are still being viewed today. The Three Stooges were certainly a gateway drug for me to the wider world of classic movies, and I'm sure they were for other people as well.

The power of the Three Stooges cannot be underestimated. The fact that a series of low-budget short films, made over 60+ years ago, can still be popular, and still be shown regularly on national television, is quite remarkable.

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