As anyone who’s read the Oh The Humanity! reviews of The Karate Dog and Show Dogs will know I’ve a terrible fondness for anything with live action talking animals, and if I had my deranged way every single show ever made would feature one. That’s just another reason why I should be locked away in a psychiatric hospital and the key not just thrown away but buried deeply where no one could ever accidentally find it, but for once this is an example of a series with a talking animal that I didn’t love to pieces.
A remake of the much loved sixties sitcom, one day Wilbur (David Alan Basche) discovers that his horse Mr Ed (voiced by Sherman Hemsley) can talk, though he never does so in front of his wife Carol (Sherilyn Fenn) or his daughter, and hijinks ensue. There’s a vague sublot about Wilbur’s daughter being inappropriately dressed and all kinds of frisky, but otherwise not a lot really happens as this is mostly about establishing the characters and the idea that a horse is very chatty.
The problem is the decision to make Mr Ed what can only be described as “sassy”, for instance when discussing Wilbur’s fifteen year old daughter’s sexual urges Mr Ed suggests “You the man of the house, now you snap a muzzle on that kid, chop off her head and make her ugly and stick her in a room until she’s twenty one”. Which isn’t that enlightened of our neighing hero, nor particularly funny.
Mr Ed’s a bit of a shit elsewhere too, at one point he casually refers to his past career as a police horse in New York saying “You haven’t lived until you’ve trampled a peace loving hippy” and then later when pretending to be a fifteen year old to put off the daughter’s new boyfriend the horse says “Why don’t you get out of those clothes, and smear that peanut butter I left out all over your hot body…Just do it bitch!”. Meanwhile Sherilyn Fenn is wasted in a supporting role and though Basche gets the odd vaguely funny line he’s mostly the straight man to the pervy horse.
If this was more subversive and Mr Ed was supposed to be a weirdly horny and unlikeable character with un-PC views then maybe, just maybe in the right hands it could have been amusing to see. But this is about as broad a mainstream sitcom as you can get, almost a “Married…With Horses” kind of situation and if there’s a lazy, dodgy joke then it’s all but guaranteed it’ll be made, and so despite my love for the genre it was no bad thing that this didn’t get past the pilot stage.
You can watch Mr Ed (2004) on youtube here.