March 18, 2016

Around the dial

Bare-bones e-zine has another of its Hitchcock writeups, this one on the witty (and not terribly scary) episode "The Diplomatic Corpse," which should be watched if for no other reason than the delightful performance by Peter Lorre as a detective who, sadly, would seem quite at-home in today's typical mass of bureaucratic red tape.

Lincoln X-ray Ida follows suit with a review of the third season Adam-12 episode "Blackmail." When I lived in The World's Worst Town™, Adam-12 was shown at 6:30 CT on Saturdays, in the local access period, because KCMT would regularly preempt it in its normal time period. I can't remember at the moment, but they were probably showing either Lawrence Welk or Marcus Welby, M.D., and so they would bump Adam-12 to another date and time. Oh well.

Silver Screens reminds me of a show I didn't know anything about, the 1964 British series Robinson Crusoe, starring Robert Hoffman. It did air in syndication in the United States in 1964, but I don't remember it, nor do I recall having run across it in my TV listings, although one of you eagle-eyed readers out there will probably remind me that I'm wrong about that. I am almost, but not quite, ashamed to admit I've never read Robinson Crusoe; it was never assigned reading during the years I was in school, and I've not looked it up on my own. I don't know if I've missed anything or not.

Recap Retro (love that name!) has a review of "The Wind from the South," a 1955 episode of The United States Steel Hour, one of the great dramatic anthology series I wrote about not that long ago. It stars Julie Harris, who frequently appeared on Golden Age-era TV in prestigious dramas and, as the piece says, had sterling careers both on TV and in the legitimate theater. Bonus mention to the little-known Merv Griffin, who sings the title song! As I mention in the comments section there, we really do need the unique genre called live television - it's a completely different type of performance.

Whenever we're tempted to forget that TV did not start in the 1950s, let alone emerge fully-grown in color and on cable, it's good to find something such as what TV Obscurities offers this week: the television listings for WCBW for the the week of September 7, 1941. Yes, before Pearl Harbor. They were listed in The New York Times, which means this wasn't exactly something that had escaped public notice. I forget this too often myself; I wonder what the evolution of television - and TV programming - would have been had not World War II intervened?

From a couple of weeks ago, Bob Sassone has a brief piece on the levels to which today's television coverage of the presidential race have sunk. I suppose it's a kind of chicken-and-egg scenario; does television simply present to us the candidates as they are, crude, superficial and all - or have the candidates learned what sells, and simply groomed their message in such a way guaranteed to get the most exposure? If you'll pardon the in-context pun. I can indeed imagine Cronkite spinning in his grave.

Again from a few days back, The AV Club lists for us the 19 essential books about television. Now, I consider myself fairly well-read as far as TV goes, and yet I only own three of these books, although I have read one or two of them from the library. For the most part these books either focus on shows I'm not interested in, or concentrate on a period of time outside my areas of interest. It's also an incomplete list as far as I'm concerned; for example, I agree with the books by Kisseloff, Zicree and Brooks & Marsh, and I think Barnouw is essential, if occasionally dated, but I would also include Steven A. Stark's excellent Glued to the Set (as you know, since I refer to it often) and Stephen Battaglio's superior biography of David Susskind, just for starters. Any suggestions out there?

That skims the surface for this week; you'll have to check the sidebar for more fun. And check back here tomorrow - it's TV Guide day, you know.

1 comment:

Keep those cards and letters coming in!