August 16, 2016

Whew! It’s probably hot where you are, too. How about a little light entertainment to get us through the dog days?

Twenty-five years ago this summer, CBS aired Morton & Hayes. The show was created by Rob Reiner and primarily directed by his This Is Spinal Tap cohort Christopher Guest. The premise: each week Reiner, as himself, would introduce a newly-restored black-and-white two-reeler starring Chick Morton (Kevin Pollak) and Eddie Hayes (Bob Amaral), once one of the top comedy teams of the 1930s and ‘40s.

As you might imagine given the subject matter of Design for Dying, Morton & Hayes was required viewing for us. The series meticulously recreated the feel of those vintage comedies, including the jump cuts, shoddy effects, and awful, awful jokes. Pollak and Amaral, more Abbott & Costello than Hope & Crosby, tackled every genre, playing silly shamuses in one episode and ripping off King Kong in another. “Society Saps” even boasts its own ‘40s novelty dance – everybody do “The Cold Potato” – and features the fabulous Allison Janney in one of her first appearances, her pronunciation of “Pago Pago” to die for. Other famous faces turn up, like Catherine O’Hara, Joe Flaherty and Courtney Cox. Some of our favorite bits were the wrap-ups, with Reiner offering bogus Hollywood history like a sex scandal during one of Chick’s war bond tours.

Big name talents tackling an original premise in a clear labor of love? Naturally Morton & Hayes only lasted six weeks, ending its run on August 28, 1991. Unless, like us, you lived where the final episode never aired. We already faced a void knowing the show wasn’t coming back. But to miss that farewell outing ...

You’d think that, given its Spinal Tap pedigree, Morton & Hayes would have surfaced on video at some point in the last quarter-century. You’d be wrong. It vanished without a trace.

But, miracle of miracles, some kind soul known only as Tripjack has placed Morton & Hayes in its entirety on YouTube – including “Home Buddies,” the show we were certain we’d never get to see. (With the return of Allison Janney!) We’re still pining for a full bells-and-whistles DVD, but for now this will do just fine.

Here, in the style of Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, is “The Bride of Mummula,” in which Chick and Eddie face down an original monster who’s “part mummy and mostly Dracula.” With Penelope Ann Miller and Michael McKean doing his best Vincent Price. Watch one, then watch ‘em all.

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