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Television Review : Silly, Shameless Humor in CBS' 'Dobie Gillis' Redux

February 20, 1988|DON SHIRLEY

The title, "Bring Me the Head of Dobie Gillis " (Channels 2 and 8, Sunday at 9 p.m.) is a tip-off to the tone of this reunion for the cast of "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis," the CBS sitcom from the late '50s and early '60s.

This is no valentine to the comforts of small-town Americana. Instead, this small town's placid Midwestern facade has been invaded by raucous doses of Borscht Belt humor and big city cynicism.

Much of the humor is just plain silly, but some of it is shamelessly funny. And the cynicism--well, what can you say about a scene in which the upstanding townspeople consider killing Dobie in order to earn the prize money posted by Thalia Menninger?

Thalia, you may recall, was the teen dream who always scorned Dobie. Played then by Tuesday Weld, Thalia preferred Warren Beatty's Milton to Dwayne Hickman's Dobie. But now, the wealthiest widow in the world, Thalia returns to haunt Dobie. This time, she's played by a snarling Connie Stevens, and she has decided she wants Dobie after all.

Dead or alive.

In the meantime, Dobie has married the tenacious Zelda, still played by Sheila James. They have a teen-age son (Scott Grimes) who's re-running many of his father's adventures--with a few changes: The girl who pursues him is more sexually aggressive than Zelda was, and his best friend is a dumb jock instead of the premature hippie Maynard G. Krebs.

The real Krebs is back, though, still played by Bob Denver, still saying some of the darndest things, still going into shock at the mention of "work." William Schallert and Steve Franken have also returned as a teacher and town snob, respectively.

No, executive producer/director Stanley Z. Cherry couldn't lure Warren Beatty back, but Hickman's Dobie continues to sit before the statue of "The Thinker," pondering his fate.

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