One of the most compelling forms of fiction is the Legal Drama. As a subgenre of Crime Drama, the Legal Drama departs from the Detective Story or Police Procedural Drama by focusing not on the crime or the criminals, but on the court system where Justice is ultimately decided. Legal Drama employs the taut rules of the courtroom, the formality of hearings where life and death are at stake, and the dignity and tradition of the legal profession.
They fairly scream to be made fun of!
That is exactly what the clowns of OTR, our favorite radio comedians, set out to do in our Legal Comedies Collection. The laugh merchants are up to their old tricks when the face off with Lady Justice. It's the traditions of the Legal Profession versus the the Clowns of the Airwaves, who knows how the outcome will be adjudicated.
In “Courtroom Catastrophe”, Amos 'n' Andy's friend Kingfish is being sued for calling a man “a crook, a loafer, a swindler and a bum!” Kingfish is only exercising his rights to free speech! His lawyer, (paid by hawking Sapphire's engagement ring for $15) advises that the only way get out of the suit is to scare the opposing attorney into dropping the case. In “Andy versus Abigail Simpson Brown” Andy is sued for acting in bad faith in regards to his engagement to Abigail.
There is little surprise that Charlie McCarthy would wind up in court sooner or later. When Humphrey Bogart shows up on the Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy Show to pitch for the Third War Loan, he finds out that Charlie has bought a jail in a War Bond Auction. Bogie helps Charlie make a profit by becoming a celebrity prisoner. Edgar and Charlie visit The Fred Allen Show so that Charlie can sue Fred, claiming to have been led astray by Fred who “swindled” him at an audition. Things are going Charlie's way until the judge realizes that he knows Fred from the old neighborhood...
On Fibber McGee and Molly, Fibber somehow found his share of trouble with the law. On Mar 26, 1946, Bullets Brannigan breaks out of the local jail, and takes refuge at 79 Wistful Vista. McGee explains that only a sap would get stuck on jury duty, but he is willing to do his part for the civic good when a case worthy of his attention comes along, like the one on Mar 2, 1948.
How could The Great Gildersleeve have legal problems? After all, his best friend is a judge. Maybe it is because he is embroiled in Summerfield city politics, but legal trouble just seems to find Gildy. Like when the town reservoir was low, as Water Commissioner Gildy authorizes the payment of $500 in city funds... to a rainmaker! In a later episode we ask: Does it count as legal problems if Aunt Hattie has a thing Judge Hooker?
On The Life Of Riley, even a war plant worker like Chester Riley has run ins with the law when he takes on the Mayor over the appointment of the city dog catcher. In “Riley, Crime Buster”, our hero gets involved in neighborhood betterment, but will the neighborhood survive?
Our favorite teacher, Our Miss Brooks,is involved in a traffic accident, and then has to convince Principal Conklin to let her off for the afternoon so she can go to traffic court.
The American Legal system is an old and noble institution, but it can be bit confusing to a foreign point of view. In Life With Luigi, our hero gets involved with the courts when he is a witness to a traffic accident. In another letter home, Luigi tells his momma about election day, imagine his confusion when he finds out that so many people feel they have more important things to do than vote.
The court system can be efficient. Jack Benny proves it when he runs his rehearsal like a courtroom when the cast does their version of “I Stand Condemned”. At the end of March, 1948, Jack “borrows” Ronald Coleman's Oscar, only to be robbed on his way home (and gets to do one of his most famous gags, the “your money or your life” bit.) Jack spends the next few weeks asking his guests if he can borrow their Oscars. In “Murder At The Racquet Club”, Jack plays a Captain at the Palm Springs Police Department investigating a murder when none other than Frank Sinatra shows up- and blows his first line!
Justice may be blind, but we can see the scales jingling and hear Justice snickering behind her blindfold while she listens to the Legal Comedies Collection.