Fernwood Tonight (TV Series 1977) Poster

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A little, forgotten treasure
barahona20 July 2000
I was never a big fan of 'Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman' but this hilarious spinoff of that show (a local talk show from the 'MH, MH' setting of Fernwood, Ohio) featured Martin Mull as smug host Barth Gimble and Fred Willard as his empty headed sidekick.The show rather mercilessly skewered small town America, its prejudices and foibles. One show for example featured a Jewish man whose car broke down in Fernwood and was featured as a guest in a segment called "Talk to a Jew".(One old lady: "Barth, I can't believe someone as sweet as this young man murdered Our Lord").It only lasted one season and for some bizarre reason the next year, the show moved its setting to Hollywood and became 'Hollywood 2Night" but without the small town setting the show's point was lost.

Extra props to the late, great Frank DeVol(veteran tv/movie composer of the 'My Three Sons" theme) as the eternally basset hound faced show's band leader Happy Kyne and His Mirthmakers, who also owned Fernwood's finest fast food joint the "Bun

'n' Run"
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Strange and delightful
charles_220 March 2003
"Fernwood 2 Night" was a strange and delightful summer series from the mind of Norman "All In The Family" Lear. I never got addicted to its associated series, "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" but I really enjoyed watching this talk show spoof. Taped at the fictitious WZAZ-TV studios (Channel 6, Fernwood, Ohio), every night was a parade of peculiar - and often talentless - guests. Occasionally the Mirthmakers would go on strike, leaving poor Happy Kine, the woe-be-gone-faced bandleader, to play the show's signature theme, solo, on a clarinet. I could have it mixed up with "America 2 Night" (the series that followed the next summer), but "Fernwood 2 Night" also had special features such as "Rocket 2 Stardom" (that showcased new "talent"), and "Bury The Hatchet" (which allowed those with grudges to settle them on the air).

This show was a predecessor to the later wildly popular "Larry Sanders Show" on HBO and Comedy Central's "Primetime Glick", two other send-ups of the talk show circuit. In many respects, though, "Fernwood 2 Night" was a classic. I certainly hope the entire series is made available on DVD sometime.
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Thicke On Greatness
animal_8_515 March 2006
In the fall of 1977, this program became one of the brightest TV memories in my young life. Ranks right up there with Monty Python and SCTV. I too hope it emerges one day on DVD. It once made me laugh so hard, I rolled around on the floor and wet my pants. Not the coolest thing to do in front of your college roommates.

The show wasn't so much a jab at small-town life, as a satire of cheesy small-town TV stations. Channel 6 - WZAZ, could as easily have been Channel 8 - CKNX, Wingham, Canada (the local station I grew up watching). I am sure Kirkland Lake's own Alan Thicke used one of his local stations as F2N's model (Probably CFCL-Timmins, CKSO-Sudbury, or both). One episode, interrupted for a news bulletin about a three-alarm blaze, promised "film at 11 pm tomorrow night". Anyone in North America who had access to these small-but-mighty TV stations could easily relate.

I can still remember the first episode I watched, wondering what the heck I had stumbled onto. To my knowledge, nothing like this had ever been attempted on TV before. What an incredibly well-crafted concept Fernwood 2-Nite was! A testament to Lear, the writers, performers and crew alike. The only projects since that have come close are the Chris Guest/Eugene Levy "mockumentaries" (starring F2N's own Fred Willard). I remark at how some recent Canadian comedy TV series scripted their shows the way Fernwood 2-Nite did: Train 48, Trailer Park Boys, Puppets Who Kill and Liocracy. Some of these shows are quite hilarious, so the formula is clearly versatile.

The brilliant characters on F2N took on lives of their own. To mention only a couple seems unfair to the other talented legions. Therefore, let's take Happy Kyne and the Mirthmakers (...please)! Bandleader/Bun-N-Run proprietor Kyne (Frank De Vol....remember "Music by De Vol?"), and his band of mediocre minstrels. They were so bad, they were great! Remember their renditions of popular disco hits? 'Disco Duck', backed up by the manic drummer was classic. As qualified by host Barth Gimble(Martin Mull), "They give new meaning to the word adequate."

Once the show started having 'real' celebrities as guests, the show began to change direction. Fernwood 2-Nite gave way to America 2-Nite, which remained funny, but had lost all that small-town charm. With the explosion of cable and specialty TV in the 80s and 90s, the era of those wonderful small-town TV stations was also over. Like all good things, we probably didn't really realize how special they were until they were no longer.
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One of the best things to come out of the '70s.
Doug-13525 April 2001
Other than Monty Python, I can't think of too many shows where I would actually hurt from laughing so hard, but this was one of those shows.

I think there were a lot of elements that made this show so great: all the characters were wonderful, and I like how they were so earnest in the way they went about doing their show in the small town of Fernwood Ohio, the guests who happened along and got their 15 minutes of fame momentarily, the non-PC way Barth and Jerry conversed about pretty much any topic or person, and of course, Happy Kyne and the Merthmakers.

I'd like to see the shows again to see if they were all as good as I remember.
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obrien-321 October 2000
One of my favorite features on Fernwood Tonight was the guests. One was a scientist researching the effects of polyester using white rats. He held up a rat dressed in a tiny polyester leisure suit, and a control rat dressed in tweed. He reported that, not only did the rats in tweed get less cancer, they got more girls.
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mikecpa8 February 2006
I have been waiting unsuccessfully for many years for the issuance of VHS/DVDs of Fernwood2Nite/America2Nite, an incredibly funny series of "late night" type television shows spoofing Johnny Carson's Tonight Show as well as other similar programs. On TV in the late 70s in its 2 incarnations, the Norman Lear venture had a life of perhaps 60 episodes. It starred Martin Mull as the talk show host, Barth Gimble and Fred Willard as his dim-witted sidekick, Jerry Hubbard. They took pokes at all sorts of people, things and sacred cows. They took on South Park type stereotypes (dullards, racism, religions, and the like) 20 years earlier. The band leader, accomplished songwriter and orchestra leader, Frank DeVol was an unbelievably deadpanned performer, and owner of the "Taco & Run" restaurant. Over the years, I have sent letters to Norman Lear, Martin and Fred, asking what became of the series, will it ever be released to video, etc., without a single reply. It's good to know that there are other viewers who enjoyed this tremendously funny (most of the time) series of late night television shows. It is a shame that this comedy series a
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Alan Thicke Rocks
editboy_02 November 2004
I can tell you this for a fact. Lear wanted to do an improv show and went to Alan Thicke who said "You can't do that". Lear fired him. Thicke went into an office wrote the first week of what we know as Fernwood 2Nite. Thicke went to Lear and said "this is the only way I know how to do a show, they can improv around it". Lear hired him back. What he called "Kirkland Lake 2Nite".

I always thought of Mr. Thicke as a dull, regular performer. Knowing that he conceived and wrote this piece of brilliance puts him (in my mind) in the same league as Monty Python, KITH, Gary Shandling. Imagine the guy who played the Dad on Growing pains, actually has such a twisted and hilarious sense of humour.

Truly Thicke is an unsung genius.
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A piece of Ohio, no matter how you slice it.
ianoflccc4 February 2003
"Fernwood 2-Night", a spinoff of "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman", was set in Fernwood, Ohio, and its three stars all had ties to Northeast Ohio--Martin Mull (Barth Gimble) grew up in North Ridgeville, Fred Willard (Jerry Hubbard) was born and raised in Shaker Heights, and Frank DeVol (Happy Kyne) grew up in Canton. So without a doubt, there was a strong tie to Ohio with a show set in Ohio. Oh, BTW, it's funny. I remember seeing it on Nick at Nite around 1990, and during the first half of the decade, it was one of only two sources from which I remembered Martin Mull; the other one, of course, was the Red Roof Inn commercials.

Anyway, it's a funny show, lampooning "The Tonight Show", among others. Both sidekicks had standard opening spiels ("And now, your host and mine, Mr. Barth Gimble!", and "And now, Heeeeeeeeeeere's Johnny!"), and they even had still images for the bumpers a la Carson! If you have a chance, check it out. You'll enjoy it, like I did, and you don't have to be an Ohioan to enjoy it!
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Fernwood 2nite
jeane54113 March 2006
Definitely a show before it's time. I really wish somehow they would do reruns. Of course, the content may not be 'politically correct' but that is what I have always admired about Norman Lear, and Lorne Michaels too. They run on the edge and beyond and that is what makes their comedy so entertaining.

Sometimes some of the best shows don't remain. I was not a fan of Mary Hartman Mary Hartman but loved Fernwood 2nite. I remember the dead pan-ness of Martin Mull and the always over exuberant Fred Willard. This show is probably what put Martin Mull on the map?

Last poster said Norman Lear is deceased.

Norman Lear is very much alive!
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Hey, Vern
jpsemprini9 August 2001
Jim Varney, if I remember correctly, was featured on Fernwood 2Nite, as the inventor of a battery powered car (with several hundred C or D cells. He just couldn't keep replacing them fast enough. And I also have fond memories of Kenneth Mars with his chinodonic device, used to push his protruding chin back closer into his face.
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Fernwood Tonight
lar9730 April 2009
I absolutely rolled on the floor with laughter at this show. Martin Mull and Fred Willard were the perfect choices to play the hosts of "Fernwood Tonight". During those days, Johnny Carson was so popular and it was hilarious to see the hosts of "Fernwood Tonight" act as if their show was just as popular on a small town scale. I would love to see this series come out on DVD. It's a shame that this type of humorous show is no longer....there is too much nudity,sex and violence on TV these days. I miss just laughing at something silly! It would be so much fun to reminisce and watch this show. After all these years, I've never forgotten it. So many other shows seemed to be released on DVD right away, PLEASE release "Fernwood Tonight" to DVD!
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A fairly enjoyable show Warning: Spoilers
I, honestly, have never liked this show. That is not to say it isn't good, however; the humor merely never has appealed to me.

So, let's join Jerry Hubbard and Barth Gimble (starring Fred Willard and Martin Mull), in the town of Fernwood, Ohio. And, with them, is a mildly insane cast.

Happy Kyne and the Mirthmakers is the band that plays the songs as the show rolls on. Happy sometimes appears as a guest himself, telling absurd stories of his childhood.

Also comes Barth Gimble's father, with an unteachable dog, Louie. Louie is an astonishingly limp dog, that is almost certain to impress the viewers just because of how limp he can become.

In comes an amazing cast of characters, each with a little quirk that guarantees they are all at least SLIGHTLY insane. Vegitarians, salesmen, patriotic trumpet-players, acrobats, a hula-hooper, dancers, and women who want nothing more to please their husbands in very odd ways make up very entertaining characters, led by Barth Gimble and his quick wit, and his vaguely dense partner Jerry Hubbard.

They all come on as though it were a talk show, and when their turn is done, they sit on a couch, or, in some cases, wait in the rafters waiting for firefighters to get them down! While it may not appeal to everyone (myself included), it has a zany bunch of actors and actresses that are, at the very least, watchable.

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Offbeat and Hilarious 1977 Time Capsule
mrb198020 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
People who read my reviews know that I generally despise 1970s television. From stupid sitcoms to paint-by-the-numbers cop/PI shows, the 1970s represented a vast wasteland to me. Once in a great while, something really different and good would come along, and "Fernwood 2Night" was one of those rare "somethings".

The premise was a typical talk show but the location was the fictional town of Fernwood, Ohio. Insufferably self-righteous Barth Gimble (Martin Mull) and his impossibly clueless sidekick Jerry Hubbard (Fred Willard) interviewed many small-town characters over the summer of 1977. "Happy" Kyne (the deadpan Frank DeVol) and the Mirthmakers provided the show's often strange music. The humor was dry and sharp, Mull and Willard were perfect for their roles, and the writing was very, very good. Like most good shows, the viewer had to pay attention in order to really appreciate the offbeat humor, and doing so paid off handsomely. I looked forward to every 30-minute episode at 10:30 each night and I had to pay close attention, since VCRs were not yet in general use.

In 1978 the show was moved to California, renamed "America 2Night" and featured numerous celebrity guest stars, which to me really diminished its appeal. What's astonishing is that Mull is now 70 and Willard is 80...but to me their finest hours were way back in 1977. Catch an old episode if you are feeling nostalgic or if you really need a laugh.

PS--If you're looking for this show, please be advised to seek out the original 1977 shows. The early 1990s Nick at Nite rerun episodes were cut by about 20% to cram in more commercials. Despicable but true.
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Please Bring this to DVD - Please!!!
qormi2 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Barth Gimble, Jerry Hubbard, Happy Kyne - this show left me crying with laughter every time I watched it. I remember switching this on late at night - it was the perfect sendup of talk shows. Barth Gimble as the cheesiest host imaginable - wearing long-sleeve Hawaiian shirts with his sportcoats. Jerry Hubbard in his asinine best, constantly displaying his lack of an IQ, was the perfect sidekick. Happy Kyne, the sad sack leader of the studio band , "The Mirthmakers" had about as much mirth in him as a funeral director.

The guests were an assortment of people who were patently insane. The guy with the obvious toupee, which would fall off each time he was a guest; the slick infomercial sales guy; the constant flow of losers as guests made me go into convulsive laughter. Above all, the subtle sick looks Garth directed at Jerry or one of the delusional guests would again make me crack up. There are funny shows and there are shows that make you gasp for air as you double over in laughter spasms. Fernwood 2 Nite was the ultimate . Watch it on YouTube.
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Fernwood Tonite
johnbaggett6 July 2008
This was one of the funniest shows ever on TV in my opinion. I wish TV Land or Comedy Central would show reruns of this show. I found DVD sets on Ebay and Ioffer but they are copies made from taping them on a VCR when they were on in the 70's. I also hope that someone will make both Fernwood and America Tonight available in a DVD collection. This show was truly a classic. My son who was 2 years old when this series hit, watches it with me from DVD copies that I purchased and he thinks this is one on the funniest shows ever. PLEASE BRING THIS SERIES BACK! I wish someone would get Martin Mull and Fred Willard back for a reunion. While we'd all miss Happy Kline, it would be an awesome show.
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Happy Kine was a nice surprise
trw61422 February 2008
Martin Mull and Fred Willard made the perfect comedy team for this satire of talk shows and small-town TV. I loved every episode! Having worked in small-town radio for several years, this series really rang true. But for me, the real treat was 'Happy Kine,' the band director (aka Frank De Vol). If you have access to any cable or satellite music channels, check out the 'Easy Listening' channel, and you'll find plenty of music by De Vol, his professional name when he was doing serious music. That's right, 'Happy Kine' was a major player in the 'long hair' and elevator music fields in the 50's and 60's. He also scored many motion pictures and TV shows. Look him up in Wikipedia. You'll be surprised!
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Best Talk Show Satire ever
danfennelly-201-989241 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This has to be the funniest show that no one watched. At least that what it seemed to me when I tried to describe this to my friends and co-workers at the time. From regular guests William W.D. "Bud" Prize (Kenneth Mars) to Fannie Flagg to Tom Waits it was hilarious. Kenneth Mars and his "Chinodontist routines" on how he was trying to fix his lantern jaw , Fannie Flagg having relations with aliens ("they shined a blue light on my private parts.."). Tom Waits at the wedding of Tony Roletti and his "Almost Lovely" bride. Waits comment before playing "the Piano's been drinking" - "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy".

The first year they had a bit where one of the guests was a Jew who was stopped by police driving through Fernwood. Of course they had to bring him on the show. Jerry's first question was "What's Barbara Streisand really like?" or something like that. Martin Mullen and Fred Willard were hilarious and I'm sure mostly improvised. Great show. I'm sure a little dated now but I'd sure like to get a DVD of this.
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