‘My Mother The Car’ Was A ’60s Sitcom That Was As Weird As It Was Whimsical

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The ’60s marked a significant transformation in the entertainment landscape, particularly within sitcoms. This era witnessed a notable evolution as television shows reflected the changing societal norms and evolving tastes of the time. During this period, iconic shows like The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, and Get Smart swiftly captured the hearts of viewers and became cult classics.

However, amid the successes of most of these shows, a particular one, My Mother the Car, created by Allan Burns and Chris Hayward, stands out as a remarkable anomaly. It holds a distinct place in the annals of time, not for its triumphs but as a colossal failure that defied the conventions of its era.

‘My Mother the Car’ defied conventional norms in the entertainment industry

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MY MOTHER THE CAR, Jerry Van Dyke, 1965-66

My Mother the Car aired briefly from September 14, 1965, to April 5, 1966. The storyline follows attorney David Crabtree, portrayed by Jerry Van Dyke, who acquires a rundown 1928 Porter touring car. The unexpected twist unfolds as David realizes that the spirit of his late mother, voiced by actress Ann Sothern, resides within the vintage vehicle. The deceased mother communicates with David through unconventional means, such as the car’s horn, radio, and assorted sounds.

One intriguing aspect of the show lies in its pioneering use of a talking car, a concept predating later favorites like Knight Rider by several years. The series’ creators fully embraced this discovery’s absurdity, leveraging it to craft comedic scenarios.

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MY MOTHER THE CAR, Jerry Van Dyke, 1965-66

The sitcom received harsh criticisms from viewers

The series garnered a diverse reception, as some viewers embraced its unconventional humor and distinct premise, while others deemed the concept excessively eccentric for their liking. Valley News Ernie Kreiling, while giving her review, expressed her distaste for the show. “Wild, off-beat ideas aren’t necessarily bad; occult comedy is popular these days, and it boasts a proud lineage back at least to Topper,” she wrote. “But the ideas alone don’t make a program. Execution is the key, and for My Mother the Car, it’s the only answer. The fact that it is based on galloping Oedipus problems alone doesn’t bother me, but the fact that it is simply stupid is inexcusable.”

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MY MOTHER THE CAR, Jerry Van Dyke, 1965-66

Also, in an interview with Television Academy, co-creator Burns addressed criticism directed at the ’60s sitcom. He explained that although they intended to deliver a highly entertaining experience, the audience had divergent opinions. “Chris Hayward and I came up with what turned out to be the worst idea for a series in the in the history of the world, our idea was that Martian and Bewitched and all these things were so popular, so why don’t we do something that makes fun of them? So we wrote the script and somebody must have thought it was funny, but, boy, the critics sure didn’t,” he admitted to the media outlet.

“I probably spent the rest of my life living that show down. I promise you, we meant for it to be a satire and it turned out to be the worst of all the shows we thought we were satirizing.”

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