The Bickersons Fight Back

Don Ameche & Frances Langford

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The Bickersons Fight Back Review

by Lindsay Planer

This is the second long-player to feature one of the most treasured classic radio programs to have made the transition onto television. The Bickersons Fight Back (1963) follows the antics of Philip Rapp's timeless and tetchy John & Blanche Bickerson, whose martial mayhem became legendary nearly two decades prior to this recording. The characters are respectively animated by Don Ameche & Frances Langford -- who were members of Edgar Bergen's ensemble cast on The Chase & Sanborn Hour radio program. It didn't take long before Ameche had garnered his own comedy/variety show for NBC Radio, where the Bickersons became household names as well as cultural icons. By the early '50s, the characters of John & Blanche switched mediums from radio into television on The Francis Langford-Don Ameche Show -- an hourlong daytime broadcast that initially aired on the burgeoning ABC network. The duo again teamed up in the early '60s for a series of long-players -- of which this is the second -- having already well established the cantankerous couple. While the seemingly canned audience laughter and applause stand out as notably antiquated, they don't come at the expense of the humorous barrage of one-liners, taunts, and innocently expelled jibes. Each of the four tracks are dubbed "rounds," appropriately enough since the Bickersons go head to head about a variety of contentious topics, such as Blanche's breakfast fare, which includes a two-foot rhubarb pie, powered eggs, and frog legs. Or John's loathing of his in-laws -- especially Blanche's glandularly challenged sister Clara. Other recurring themes are John's bourbon habit and insolent snoring, which almost gets them evicted on "Round IV." In 2003, Collectors' Choice Music issued a single-CD release corralling this album as well as its self-titled predecessor, The Bickersons (1962), much in the same way that Columbia Records originally repackaged these tracks on the double-LP set The Bickersons Rematch.

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