August 21, 2015

Around the dial

I'd been hoping for more from the new Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie, although I don't know why; very few of the TV-to-movie translations have done justice to their small-screen brethren.  Based on the commercials and the early reviews, I'd already decided to give it a pass, and my opinion was confirmed based on this insightful AV Club piece by Sarah Kurchak, which not only explains what the movie gets wrong, but also gives us some perspective on why David McCallum will always be Illya Kuryakin, no matter how many years NCIS runs.  For U.N.C.L.E. fans, it's a reminder of (or a lesson on) just how provocative, how groundbreaking, Kuryakin's character really was.

Cult TV Blog has another typically good article, this one returning to a favorite stomping grounds (for us both), The Prisoner, and how various episodes - in this case, A, B and C - give us echos of South African apartheid.  There's a particularly good line here - "it seems that it is possible to see almost anything referred to in The Prisoner is you try hard enough" - that, for me, sums up both the greatness of The Prisoner, and the pleasure I get in writing about television and culture.  Because things like cultural indicators do show up when you look for them, and the excitement is often in seeing how the thread plays out.

David Hofstede has a wonderfully wry piece at Comfort TV on The Lawrence Welk Show, both echoing my own memories of the show ("I grew up with the series, but like many in my generation it was against my will."), and providing an intriguing explanation for why the show has always been popular, and why, no matter when it was on, it always seemed to be old-fashioned.  The money quote:

From my current perspective the 1970s seem like a kinder, gentler time. But many seniors back then were convinced the world was going to hell. The popular music of the day was like a foreign language to them, and the nightly news brought stories of Vietnam War protests and Watergate and gas shortages and American hostages held in Iran, while a feckless government had no answer for what Ted Koppel called “terrorism in the Middle East.”

That's the definition of Comfort TV.  What series from today would you choose to fit that bill?

Classic television fans will remember Will Jordan from his many variety show appearances.  He was a terrific impressionist, especially of Ed Sullivan, and he's also a very interesting interview subject.  Kliph Nesteroff has been giving us excerpts of his interviews with Jordan for some time over at Classic Television Showbiz, and the latest installment is no exception.  I particularly enjoyed reading Jordan's perceptive perspectives (try saying that five times fast!) on other stars from the era.  I hope you'll read this one, and then go back to look at previous segments.

This week's Classic TV Guide at Television Obscurities is from August 21, 1965, and I'll really miss this series when it's concluded.  It's been a great way to follow an entire television season, and it does such a good job of demonstrating TV Guide's look and feel.  I love the story about Volkswagen executives listening to a pitch to advertise on the WWII drama Twelve O'Clock High, just at the moment when our heroes bomb a German factory.

Perhaps shorter than usual, but the long-form articles should give you more than enough to read until tomorrow, when I'll be back when a TV Guide of my own.

1 comment:

  1. "That's the definition of Comfort TV. What series from today would you choose to fit that bill?"
    I'd pick The Goldbergs. For starters, it's one of only 2 current shows I watch, so the field of choices is not large. But more importantly, it does whisk me away to a happier time, the 1980's (and it does so with near perfection), and it is consistently, hilariously funny. It hasn't failed yet to put me in a better mood.

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