1961, TV producer Leonard Stern (Get Smart) was having his
house remodeled. As he observed the construction workers building
a hood over his fireplace, he noticed they had sealed their
steel ladder inside. It took hours for the workers to deconstruct
the fireplace to retrieve the ladder. While watching otherwise
intelligent and talented men endeavor to hastily rectify their
incompetence, a light bulb lit up inside Stern's head.
With this incident in mind, Leonard Stern approached the
ABC television network. With classic TV credits such as Sgt.
Bilko, The Honeymooners and The Steve Allen
Show under his belt, Stern's new show was not a hard sell.
I'm Dickens He's Fenster, starring John Astin (The
Addams Family) and Marty Ingels (The Dick Van Dyke
Show) was ultimately given the green light for the 1962-63
Initially, the show was not a ratings bonanza. Playing opposite
stiff competition -- Route 66 on CBS and Sing Along with Mitch
on NBC -- and airing on a struggling network, D&F had
difficulty finding its audience. However, one audience was
finding the show and loving it-the television critics. Instead
of Singing Along with Mitch, newspaper and magazine scribes
from coast to coast were singing the praises of this hilarious
little show about two skillfully etched, hilariously delineated
construction workers named Dickens and Fenster.
One reason for their enthusiasm, and that of the show's relatively
small but loyal audience, was that the show wasn't simply
a series of slapsticky skits. While the emphasis was always
on comedy, almost every episode commented on issues such as
greed, mob mentality, conformity, and social inequality. But
unlike the title characters, the audience wasn't hit over
the head with the hammer of a preachy polemic every week.
Ironically, just as D&F was gaining popularity and winning
its time slot, ABC cancelled the series after only one season
of 32 episodes. Without enough episodes for syndication, unfortunately,
this little gem of a TV comedy show quickly faded from the
But now, through the miracle of the Digital Age, the 'condemned'
notice has been lifted. With the upcoming DVD release of the series in 2011,
a new generation will have the oppotunity to watch I'm Dickens
He's Fenster construct multiple stories containing tons
and tons of laughs!
Sign up for the I'm Dickens He's Fenster newsletter to receive updates on
the upcoming DVD release.
Your family and families everywhere, as well as
fans of classic TV series, will love these endearing characters,
whether greeting them as long-lost friends or meeting them
for the first time.
But a word of warning...just don't let them build your fireplace!