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First Person Point of View (P.O.V.)

THE DREW CAREY SHOW/ABC/1995-2004 (Mr. Bell) - Hidden from view but very prominent was the character Mr. Hawthorne Bell, a high-level executive at Winfred-Louder Department Store in Cleveland, Ohio. Mr. Bell communicated via telephone (voice-over by Kevin Pollack) or through the door of his office. When scenes required Mr. Bell's presence, everything was shown from his viewpoint or his face was obscured. Mr. Bell was later fired and replaced by a very visible Mr. Nigel Wick when the store was purchased by a Dutch firm.

FIRST PERSON SINGULAR/NBC/1952-53 (Camera as actor) - Gulf Oil Corporation sponsored this live dramatic anthology which featured a subjective camera technique where the main action was seen through the eyes of the camera. All the actors talked to the camera as if it were a live actor thus insuring viewer participation. The series was also known as GULF PLAYHOUSE: 1ST PERSON. TRIVIA NOTE: The subjective camera technique was first developed by Fred Coe for the feature film Lady in the Lake (1946) and later used in the sci-fi film It Came from Outer Space (1953) where the audience saw Earth through the eyes of an alien invader. See also - THE PLAINCLOTHESMAN

THE JACKIE GLEASON SHOW/CBS/1952-70 (Mr. Dunahee) - One of the many characters created by comedian Jackie Gleason on his comedy variety series was that of "Joe the Bartender," a portly saloon keeper who chewed the fat with his customers. One of his regulars was Mr. Dunahee, a never seen or heard but always acknowledged patron. At the beginning of the sketch the camera (as Mr. Dunahee) would push its way through the bar's swinging doors where it always found Joe the bartender singing the tune of "My Gal Sal." After the customary greeting, Joe poured Mr. Dunahee a beer. Joe would always stick his finger in the beer to stop the head of foam from streaming over the top of the glass. Though never seen, Mr. Dunahee was the catalyst for the bar room chitchat to follow, where Joe would respond to supposed statements from Mr. Dunahee and philosophize about the news in The American Scene Magazine that he read in between customers. Crazy Guggenheim (Frank Fontaine), the bar's resident zany often came to visit with Joe and Mr. Dunahee and usually sang them a song accompanied by the music from the juke box. At the close of the sketch, Mr. Dunahee (the camera pulled away from the bar) would leave the saloon (his beer glass close to empty) and Joe would again begin to sing "My Gal Sal." TRIVIA NOTE: Jimmy Proces' bar in Brooklyn, the neighborhood bar from Jackie Gleason's childhood, inspired the Joe the bartender skits. The name of Mr. Dunahee was inspired by the name of Jackie Gleason's apartment superintendent when he was a child in New York City.

LIKELY SUSPECTS/FOX/1992-93 - (Unseen Home Viewer) - This who-done-it featured a wisecracking police detective named Marshak (Sam McMurray) who talks straight into the camera as if the unseen TV audience were his rookie new partner (who never spoke). Like the earlier police shows THE PLAINCLOTHESMAN/DUM/1949-54 and ROCKY KING, INSIDE DETECTIVE/DUM/1950-54 the TV camera took on a personality and everything was seen through its eyes. Detective Harry Spinoza (Jason Schombing) helped Marshak and his rookie partner (you) follow up clues for each case.

M*A*S*H/CBS/1972-83 (Soldier's P.O.V) - Writers Ken Levine & David Isaac's scripted an episode entitled "Point of View" where the story was told entirely through the eyes of a soldier (who was never seen) from the time he was wounded in the throat through all the stages of his treatment at the 4077th until the time he was able to whisper "Thanks" to the medical staff. The camera lens only saw what the soldier saw allowing the viewing audience the experience of participating in what it was like to be a hospital patient in a strange environment miles from the safety of home.

THE PLAINCLOTHESMAN/DUM/1949-54 (The Lieutenant) - Ken Lynch starred as a New York homicide detective known only as "The Lieutenant" who was never seen on the show (only heard) via a special filming technique (first person point of view) first used by director Robert Montgomery in the Philip Marlowe movie yarn The Lady in the Lake (1946). The show's premise was simple. The camera and its lens became the eyes of the actor. Whatever he saw, we saw. As if stepping inside the mind of the lead character, the audience became an intimate participator to the actions that followed. If our hero glanced down to check out a clue during his investigation the camera moved in the same direction to mimic a person's head pivoting. If the Lieutenant was asked a question, the camera would nod up and down for "Yes" or side to side for "No." And if a gun was fired at our hero or a punch thrust into his (and the audience's) direction, the camera would duck. Despite the fact that Ken Lynch was unseen, and unnamed he surely wasn't unappreciated. The series had a healthy five year run. With the exception of a flashback scene in a 1952 episode or an occasionally glimpse in a mirror, the Lieutenant remained faceless to viewing audience. Assisting the Lieutenant was his sidekick Sgt. Brady (Jack Orrison) who accompanied him on their many murder investigations. Ken Lynch resurfaced years later as a very visible Sgt. Grover, a regular on the police drama MCCLOUD/NBC/1970-77.

VERN (Unseen Neighbor) - The long-suffering next-door neighbor of Ernest P. Worrell (Jim Varney) in commercials produced by the Carden-Cherry advertising agency during the 1980s. Vern was never seen or heard only spoken to by the TV pitchman Ernest P. Worrell whose broad teasing grin, rubbery face and large ears protruding from beneath his trademark baseball cap would pop into Vern's home unannounced, usually when Vern was eating breakfast or taking a bath with his rubber ducky. The commercial's format was simple. Ernest sang the praises of the sponsors products and good ol' Vern just listened. speaking with a hillbilly drawl, Erenst began his sales pitch by saying "Hey, Vern!" and ended the 30 seconds spots with his imbecilic "Know whut I Mean?" In essence, the whole commercial was seen through the eyes of Vern the unseen neighbor. Vern & Ernest were the stars of more than 2000 regional commercials which were made for about $7,000-10,000 each. The characters were created by ad man John Cherry. See also ADVERTISING MASCOTS: "Ernest P. Worrell"


 

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