Saturday, December 22, 2018

Radio Greats: Roswell's a Guest for Christmas (The Life of Riley)

The Life of Riley is a formula sitcom whose formula has become common: a comedy centered on a well-meaning but bumbling father of a family. It was one of the most successful pioneers of this particular comedy formula, however; William Bendix's Chester A. Riley, with his endless malapropisms delivered with perfect seriousness, and his catchphrase, "What a revoltin' development this is!" became a very well known figure. The radio series ran from 1944 to 1951, and inspired a 1949 film (and, as was common, a radio adaptation of the film on Lux Radio Theater) and two television series.

"Roswell's a Guest for Christmas" is a solid Christmas episode. Roswell, the son of Riley's boss at the factory, is suddenly staying for Christmas -- although his father has not told him yet, his mother is in the hospital and it's uncertain whether she will make it. He doesn't want to be there, and he is intolerably self-important even on his best days. Nobody likes him. But Christmas is Christmas, and everybody has to find a way to get through while not sacrificing the Christmas spirit.

You can listen to "Roswell's a Guest for Christmas" at the Internet Archive (#29).

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