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Before 'Saved by the Bell' There Was 'Mister Peepers'

5 Oct, 2005 By: Brendan Howard

One of the earliest sitcoms in TV history is coming to DVD from S'More Entertainment. A four-disc set of episodes from “Mister Peepers” streets Oct. 18 for $39.99.

The show aired from 1952 to 1955 and starred Wally Cox as a nerdy school teacher whose travails included abuse from students and gym teachers, not to mention a love affair with, and eventual marriage to, the good-hearted school nurse.

“I can't think of another show where the main character was so nerdy,” S'More Entertainment president Arny Schorr said. “And there weren't a lot of sitcoms when this came out. [Most TV comedy shows] were skits and Milton Berle.”

Cox, though, always said he was nothing like Peepers, whom he referred to as “Mr. Goodboy,” according to Schorr's research.

“It was sort of the role that typecast Cox,” Schorr said. “Everything you saw him in afterward, he played this meek, mild-mannered character.”

It doesn't help that Cox went on to voice the mild-mannered animated superhero Underdog from 1964 to 1973. His short stature, small frame and high-pitched voice made him perfect for the roles, but he had a wild side: His lifelong friend was Marlon Brando, and they shared a love of motorcycles.

Talking about Cox in an interview included on the DVDs, Dom Deluise remarked that the different-looking duo of friends even talked alike.

The set's other extras include a “Mister Peepers” family tree, which traces stars who appeared on the show (such as an uncredited Walter Matthau as a bullying gym teacher), as well as a bio, a photo gallery, a clip from a “Laugh-In” episode in which Cox appeared and a show trivia section.

The first 26 episodes plus the pilot are included, all preserved and newly restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive. St. Clair Entertainment is distributing the set.

Future S'more releases of classic TV shows will include Dom Deluise's 1973 sitcom “Lotsa Luck” and 1967's “Good Morning, World,” on which Goldie Hawn was discovered by the producers of “Laugh-In.”

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