August 22, 2013

Around the dial

Since I neglected putting anything up last Thursday, you get a bonus post this week! Three (Tu-W-Th) for the price of, let's see - how much are you paying to read this site again?

I've remarked before my fondness for The Onion's AV Club, which I think contains some of the most literate television writing around.* This week, in their continuing series "A Very Special Episode," the Roundtable looks at the very special, and very disturbing, episode of Diff'rent Strokes dealing with child sexual predators. We're starting out here with two strikes against the show already; I never liked either Diff'rent Strokes or Gary Coleman, and in general, my Pavlovian reaction to "very special episodes" is to go to the bathroom and empty the contents of my stomach. The AV gang, however, give a balanced, nuanced reaction to this surreal two-parter, which might result in your giving it more credit than you would have thought. Or not.

*Don't ask me why a writer of such talent and knowledge as yours truly isn't writing for the AV Club; ask them.

At Comfort TV, David tells us why he won’t be watching the Emmys this year. I won’t, either, and like David this wasn’t always the case. I used to recognize all the shows and stars up for Emmys, even if I didnt watch them, and I can recall being introduced to Hill Street Blues through its big first-season Emmy win, when it was struggling for its very survival. There was something about the way the house orchestra played the familiar Hill Street theme that lent it a dignity, if not gravitas, that convinced me it was worth trying out. That tryout didn't last long, just a season or two, but had it not been for the Emmys I wouldn't have tried it at all. Same thing happened to me with the Oscars - I take no pleasure in being nausiated by them, and the fact that they do saddens me.

Staying on the movie theme, TerryB at Classic Film and TV CafĂ© shares with us his opinion on the best James Bond themes. Hard to argue with his choices, and I agree with him as well that On Her Majesty’s Secret Service deserves a special mention – it’s not exactly a song, since there are no lyrics, but it’s as exciting an instrumental as any of them. One pet peeve – Live and Let Die, though it has a well-deserved place on the list, also has one of the most atrocious grammatical screw-ups you'll ever find in a set of lyrics: "...this ever-changing world in which we live in." You don't need to use the word "in" twice! Cole Porter would never have made that mistake.

A number of readers have asked me where I've found the old TV Guides I feature each Saturday. Well, some of them actually belonged to me from the very beginning - I subscribed to TV Guide for over 30 years, before the content became too banal for me to put up with, and our family had bought it at the grocery store checkout line for years before that. The rest of them have come from an assortment of antique stores, flea markets, and ebay. It's getting harder and harder to find the older issues (pre-1980) in the stores or markets, though that's where most of my collection has come from; if you're looking for a specific issue, I'd try ebay first. And speaking of memorabilia, Hollywood Memorabilia is one of the better sites out there if you're looking for authentic collectibles and other items of interest. It's a site certainly worth putting on your shopping list.

Finally, I'm a bit late on this one, but my piece yesterday about the devolution of the evening news pointed me in the direction of TVParty! and Billy's post recalling the debacle that was the Hughes Rudd-Sally Quinn version of the CBS Morning News. For all that, Billy makes the same observation that I made regarding the 1968 ABC Evening News, that there's a depth and seriousness to the stories that would be unthinkable in regular newscasts today. When I was growing up, the CBS Morning News was not shown on Channel 4, the CBS affiliate in Minneapolis, but on Channel 9, the ABC affiliate. Channel 4 instead broadcast a block of local kids shows as a lead-in to Captain Kangaroo; even after those shows disappeared, Channel 4 was still slow to come to the party on the morning news. CBS had some fine newsmen anchoring the morning news over the years, from Joe Benti to John Hart to Hughes Rudd and Bruce Morton, who would succeed Quinn as Rudd's partner in 1974, and I always enjoyed its hard-news alternative to NBC's Today. No matter which channel it aired on.
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That's it for this week; see you back here on Saturday with another great TV Guide!

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