Lum and Abner was an American radio comedy that aired from 1931 to 1954note with a hiatus that lasted from April 1950 until February 1953. It was created by Chester Lauck and Norris "Tuffy" Goff, who also played the main characters (Lauck played Lum; Goff played Abner). The series initially took the form of a comedic soap opera. It was set in the ficitional town of Pine Ridge, Arkansas where the titular Lum and Abner operated the Jot Em Down Store. Plots consisted of various adventures they and other Pine Ridge citizens had in the course of living their day-to-day lives. This could range from trying (and failing) to open up a new bakery to saving the town from hostile visitors.In addition to the radio show, seven Lum and Abner movies were released in theaters, the first one in 1940 and the final one in 1956.Although it boasts a rather large fan base, the series never caught on with the general public the way Jack Benny and other radio shows did and is in desperate need of more love. That said, the show is (by all appearances) in the public domain and most of the episodes can be listened to for free here.
This Work Contains Examples of:
Abandoned Mine: Lum and Abner are trapped in one of these during one 1945 story arc. They're rescued.
Ambition Is Evil: Lum and his various schemes to improve business and become famous.
Ascended Extra: Dick Huddleston, another Pine Ridge resident, became the new narrator during the final year of the show's run.
Becoming the Mask: Diogenes claims this to be the case. The fact that he leaves the town of Pine Ridge a check for $10,000 indicates that he was telling the truth. Lum and Abner believe him regardless.
Every Character at one point or another: "Wonderful World!"
The Narrator (at the start of every episode): "Let's see what's going on down in Pine Ridge. Well...(Narrator then summarizes what happened in the previous epiode and describes the opening scene for the current episode)."
Cedric (during a brief arc in the 40s): "Prune bread! That's what I like!"
Abner (when happy or excited): "Well good for you!" (or some variation)
Abner (when sad): "Bless their heart. Bless their little heart."
Cedric (to everyone, regardless of gender): "Yes, mom."
Grandpappy Spears: "Accordin' to the almanac."
Mousey: "It's just like a mother to me."
Lum: "I'm wore to a frazzle. Wore to a fra-zzle!"
Grandpappy Spears: "Spaven-legged," "Knock-kneed," "Pigeon-toed," "Monkey's uncle." (Often used in combination; on at least one occasion used all together: "Well, I'll be a spaven-legged, knock-kneed, pigeon-toed son of a monkey's uncle.")
Squire Skimp: "Gentlemen, gentlemen. How are my old friends today?"
Lum: "He ought to be bored for the simples." No, we don't know what it means, either.
December-December Romance: Lum and his various love interests over the series, for the most part, none of them were ever played seriously, a notable exception being his fling with Geraldine in The Bashful Bachelor.
Enemy Mine: Whenever Squire does something nice, it's usually because he either has to or because he and the boys simply have a common goal.
Grand Finale: Lum and Abner accidentally wind up adrift in the Ouachita River in the penultimate episode; the final episode begins with them thinking about all the little things about Pine Ridge that they took for granted; the tone is one of finality, and it honestly seems like a set-up for a Sudden Downer Ending. Then, just as Abner is giving into despair that they're going to die, they are both rescued by a search party made up of the supporting cast, even Squire Skimp.
Long Runner: Aired (with a short hiatus from 1940-41 and a longer one from 1950-53) from 1931 to 1954.
Man of a Thousand Voices: Lauck and Goff played pretty much all the recurring characters other than Doc Withers and Phinneas Peabody. This occasionally led to episodes where Lauck would call one of Goff's other characters Abner by mistake.
Minimalist Cast: Zig-Zagged. The show would go for long stints without having anyone other than the 7 main characters actually appear in the show itself, but this trope was never a 100 % constant. In fact, from 1948 through 1950, this trope was averted entirely.
Rambling Old Man Monologue: Ben Withers, to the point where he would get everyone else so confused that they would lose track of topic as well.
Grandpappy Spears, especially when he was talking about his friend Arlo Wormley.
Recycled Script: Occasionally Lauck and Goff would recycle plots and scripts years after they were first broadcast. For instance, the story arc where Lum and Abner open a movie theater was used in 1935 and again in 1944, and the radio station plot line was used in 1945 and 1953 (with slight variations).
Shipper on Deck: The townspeople do this for Lum during 1943 when a phony mystic inadventantly predicts that two single women in the town will each be proposed to by a man matching Lum's physical description. Sadly for Lum, he considers each woman to be an Abhorrent Admirer.
Ship-to-Ship Combat: In-universe, see "Shipper on Deck" above. It gets worse after Abner makes the idiotic decision to turn it into a voting contest in an effort to raise money for the war effort.
Spared by the Adaptation: In The Bashful Bachelor, The Widow Abernathy's husband is revealed to still be alive, having merely run off instead.
Story Arc: Until 1948, the series had very few standalone episodes.
Sudden Downer Ending: Subverted in the final episode; it has a very melancholy and even sad opening and set-up; however, it not only gives the boys a Happy Ending, but an ultimately light-hearted one as well.
Talking to Himself: This one is a given considering they only had four regular actors and more than four regular characters.
It was even more prevalent in the pre-1940 shows, when there was just Lauck and Goff. Occasionally one would go on vacation, leaving the other to play several roles in essentially a one-man show.
That Makes Me Feel Angry: Played for laughs with Mousey. Initially, this was the only way that he ever conveyed emotions.
Don't forget Cedric and his peanut butter. Chunk style.
The Unseen: Pretty much everybody other than the 7 main characters. This was averted when the show was retooled into a half-hour sitcom in 1948 and voice actors were hired to portray the other Pine Ridge residents. Naturally, the movies averted this trope too.
Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: Mousey. In his debut year alone (1942), he worked as a night watchman, a delivery boy, a grocery store clerk, a professional boxer, a private detective, and a travel agent among other things and tried to get job as a school teacher.