From the December 11th, 1947 edition of the Canton Repository:
"THE TRIALS and Errors of Opie Cates," a new and so far unsponsored comedy program on ABC at 8:30 p.m. Mondays, has been constructed with considerable skill out of a lot of old lumber which has been sturdy enough in the past to support great many other programs. If show business had anything in common with architecture, it would be quite an impressive edifice. Unfortunately it hasn't and consequently it isn't.
Opie Cates, the hero of these trials and errors is a shy pumpkin from Arkansas whose innocence in all matters pertaining to civilized society provides the comedy sparks. For dramatic purposes, Mr. Cates has been moved out of Arkansas into an undefined city presumably closer to the main stream of American thought than Arkansas.
At any rate, Arkansas is discussed in rather slighting terms and held up to considerable scorn--a rather dangerous comic device since there are listeners in Arkansas too.
MR. CATES HAS A GIRL named Katherine Brown whom he worships from afar. Their conversation consists largely of long, painful silence broken occasionally by the most inappropriate observations from Mr. Cates, some of which, I must admit, are pretty funny.
Miss Brown's chief function is to squeal with glee or dismay or whatever other emotion is asked of her and she performs it fetchingly. At frequent intervals, she is also required to exclaim: "Mr. Cates--you're wonderful!" It's never very clear just what grounds she has for this statement.
Miss Brown's father, an apoplectic extrovert who doesn't like anything, particularly Opie Cates, is the hero's boss, which, of course, keeps him in fairly close contact with this particular object of his loathing. There are a couple of other characters but I don't think we need bother with them.
AS THE SHOW OPENS, Opie declares: "The dawgondest things happen to me." This is a remarkably candid statement of the program's general aims. The dawgondest things certainly happen to Mr. Cates. The plots move with the speed of the old Mack Sennett comedies but are far more complex in structure.
In one of them, for example, the climax occurred when Mr. Brown got stuck under the front porch in his nightgown, trying to catch a rabbit. At precisely the same moment, Opie, also in his nightgown, was discovered in a broom closet in the Brown home.
"This is hard to explain," Opie remarked as his girl opened the door to the broom closet. I'm afraid he's right. The Opie Cates show is situation comedy which, I suspect, is written backwards. The way I figure it the writers put Mr. Brown under the porch and Opie in the broom closet first and then try to figure out how they got there.
IT'S ONLY FAIR to explain that the situations, while they are hardly plausible, are fairly ingenious. In one of those things, Opie was attempting to win some sort of contest for his girl, Katherine, while her father was trying to round up sufficient votes to be elected assemblyman.
Somehow the rival political machine got the mistaken notion that Opie had 7,000 votes in his pocket for the assembly rather than for a contest of more frivolous nature. (You can't break these sentences down much farther than that and still keep the thread of plot well in hand).
This misunderstanding permitted them to unloose on Mr. Cates a temptress who apparently had studied the temptation racket under Pola Negri. At any rate, she employed a baroque and archaic approach which was historically accurate in every detail, if that's any recommendation.
TO BE FAIR to this program, it's much pleasanter than the foregoing makes it sound. No new ground is being broken here but the old soil is tilled with great competence.
The dialogue is amusing and Mr. Cates, who sounds like Stuart Erwin crossed with Bob Burns, has a lot of charm. It just seems a shame that so much hard work has gone into another comedy program about wide-eyed young men. There are already quite enough of them.