August 25, 2017

Around the dial

As you might expect, a number of pieces this week are devoted to the memory of Jerry Lewis, who died Sunday. As I said on Facebook, his death was more than just the end of an era - he was the last of an era. Back in the day, when I had a little more time than I do this week, I would have written extensively about him, because he was certainly a visible presence in my life. As a kid I was a big fan of his; loved the slapstick, the yelling about, movies like The Disorderly Orderly. As I grew older I also grew to admire him greatly for his humanitarian work with Muscular Dystrophy, and came to appreciate his technical innovations as a director. I though his recognition by the Academy with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award was long overdue. In a way, he outlived the culture that most appreciated him and his brand of humor, but that can be said of many of us, who feel ourselves to be strangers in our own land nowadays. You can argue over whether or not the French were right that he was a great comedian (I think they're more right than wrong), but I don't think you can argue that he was a great man.

Captain Video is back with the two-part comic book adventures of Jerry as he meets the new Wonder Woman! The comic book adventures of Jerry and Dean Martin ran from 1952 to 1957, and then with Jerry alone until 1971! Here's Part 1, followed by Part 2.

At The Ringer, K. Austin Collins looks at Jerry's brilliant, complex record as a director, and how this private man often bared his soul in the most public of places - on the movie screen.

Finally, at A Shroud of Thoughts, Terence Towles Canote offers a very well-written obituary on Jerry, concluding with words that resound with me. "For decades it has been a bit of a running joke that Jerry Lewis was wildly popular in France, but the truth is he was wildly popular across the world. He was responsible for making many people laugh and his films are still very popular to this day. Only a very few comedic actors ever had the kind of success that Jerry Lewis had. I seriously doubt we will see too many reach the heights that he did in the future."

In honor of Monday's total solar eclipse, Faded Signals offered excerpts of KGW's coverage of the 1979 eclipse as seen in Portland, Oregon, as well as a link to how that eclipse was covered. I remember that one well, as well as the previous one, which I think was either in the early '70s or late '60s and may not have been a total one. One of the benefits of being old is that you can say, "When you've seen one eclipse, you've seen them all."

The Horn Section leads us on another merry chase through Crazy Like a Fox with the episode "Motor Homicide," the series' take on the familiar "I tell you, I did see a dead body!" story that every series gets around to sooner or later. The success or failure of such an episode depends, of course, on the writing and acting, and in this case while the script often fails to deliver, the performances do their best to carry the load.

Cult TV Blog returns with a look back at his personal rehabilitation of Tales of the Unexpected, which was "terribly sophisticated and really attention-grabbing" for a child, but "incredibly dreary" if you try to watch the entire series as an adult. Instead, if you have the option, opt for the "best episodes" set, and you will find yourself with a series that, more often than not, has the power to "terrify and horrify.

Keeping in that horror trend, I've enjoyed listening to Lights Out on the Sirius OTR station when we've taken a road trip; programs like that make for very effective radio. If done right, they can also make for enthralling television, and Television Obscurities tells about the first attempt to bring Lights Out to TV - not the 1949-52 series that some of you may be familiar with, but four live specials done in the summer and fall of 1946 on WNBT.

At Comfort TV, David looks at two episodes of two popular sitcoms and provides us all with words to live by when someone starts to notice that our words look familiar - perhaps a little too familiar. "It's not a rip-off - it's an homage."

Classic Film and TV CafĂ© reviews the five best episodes of the Rod Serling-Lloyd Bridges 1960s Western series The Loner. It's an intriguing series; I've read that Serling himself was disappointed with it due to the various compromises he had to make (sponsors, star, network), going so far as to wish sometimes that the week would skip over Saturdays (the day it was aired) so there wouldn't be any Loner. Despite that, there are a number of thought-provoking episodes, as you can see here.

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