February 19, 2016

Around the dial

Lileks has an interesting column up today; not about classic television per se, since he's writing about American Crime, but it has a lot to do with how to watch TV, or at least how I watch it - looking at the writer's intent, archetypes vs. well-rounded characters, how to deliver a message without appearing to do so, and so on. Well worth reading - Lileks always is - and something to consider whether you're watching a show made in the '60s, or yesterday afternoon on someone's Apple. I go back to something Carl Reiner said a while back on one of those old Merv Griffin shows, about how if his kids could predict what was coming next, then the show was already too cliched for him. That's all I ask for in the shows I watch: if you're going to try and manipulate me, at least do it well enough that I can't see it coming.

I'd just read the title of Classic Film and TV Cafe's piece on the film of Shirley Jackson's famous story The Lottery, and I recalled that it had been grade school when I'd seen that, one of the special films they used to show us from time to time in the classroom. They were always good times because it meant you could let your mind relax for a little while, and the movie might even be somewhat entertaining. And then with Rick's first line about Encyclopedia Britannica Films, I knew that we'd all grown up in the same boat, so to speak. It's one of those universal experiences that all school kids of a certain age can identify with, just like Scholastic Book Services. Anyway, I remember how disturbing this movie was when I saw it, and Rick's review confirms it - does it match your memory as well?

In a couple of weeks I'll have an interview with Vote4BobCrane's Carol Ford, co-author of Bob Crane: A Definitive Biography. It's a great interview if I do say so myself - not because of any skill on my part, but because Carol's such a charming and delightful person, full of information you'll find as fascinating as I did. If you need any reason other than that to buy her book, she's letting us know that all the profits from the book will be going to charities in Bob Crane's memory.

It's been years since I thought about The Rich Little Show - I enjoyed watching him when I was younger; perhaps I remember him as more of a caricaturist than an impressionist, since he got the essence of his subject more than the actual sound (with a few exceptions). But as I say, I hadn't thought of that show for a long time, until David at Comfort TV brought back the memories in his latest installment of terrible shows he likes.

Andrew at The Lucky Strike Papers has a nice set of clips a television appearance his mother, Sue Bennett, made on local Boston TV in 1961. You probably remember reading about Andrew's book on his mother and how much I enjoyed that, and here he asks a question that I've often asked as well: whatever became of local TV programming?

Television's New Frontier: the 1960s is back with a look at the final season of a television show I'm currently watching (well, not at this moment, but you know what I mean) - Bat Masterson. I must admit that by this time I'm watching it more for star Gene Barry than for the show itself, but it - and this article - are still good fun.

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