Watch HOOFS AND GOOFS in the link above
The Joe Besser era has finally cast itself upon us! Finally! While this short itself, well, sucks, it is also hands down the most interesting short we have discussed in a while. A new Stooge, new footage, new script, it's all.....new.
OK, so what do we learn this week? I don't know about you, but my lesson is this - established solo comedians with unique personas do not belong as third Stooges. Yes, Curly and Shemp had unique personas too, but their unique personas were developed while working with Moe and Larry. Besser? He already had his act down pat, and he wasn't about to change to be a third Stooge. He had solo Columbia shorts, he was Stinky, he had other roles and he created a memorable persona doing so. This persona had a child like quality, and when literally being a child, like when he was Stinky, and annoying another man child in Lou Costello, the results are brilliant. Stinky was a petulant semi-bully child who would cry to the adult (Bud Abbott) to get his way. A third Stooge should be childish, but also needs to be bullied by Moe, and that's what Besser refuses to do. Moe needs a third Stooge to bully, to mangle, and without one, he is neutered.
Take the part in the bathroom where Besser gives Moe a tap and the "not so hard" routine. A nice start, but that scene cried out for a Moe retaliation. Sadly, the joke ends there. Curly and Shemp would have had some brilliant drawn out reactions with Moe (think the pencil scene in MOVIE MANIACS as an example). Long drawn out Stooging is what we yearn for, and instead Besser is a solo act.
Solo act, this film has a few of them. Besser at the beginning especially is completely separate from Moe and Larry, Benny Rubin is his own schtick, with a hapless Moe at times acting as a straight man, and the horse is its own character. The other characters, and the saving grace, are the few brief reactions of Moe and Larry interacting, giving us a small taste of Stooging from years gone by.
HOOFS AND GOOFS is one of the weaker Besser entries, things mostly get better from here on out...I said mostly. As obvious as it was the writers had no clue what to do with Joe as a third Stooge, at least this is interesting. These next 16 weeks should be one heck of a ride.