December 22, 2017

Around the dial

(That's not me there, by the way. Just wanted to make that clear up front.)

It's Christmas week, perhaps the best week of the year (along with Thanksgiving week), and Christmas plays a role in our look at the classic TV blogosphere. I think you'll have a better time than our friend up there is having.

First, the sad news that the legendary broadcaster Dick Enberg died yesterday at the age of 82. My first exposure to Enberg came in the game that he called the most historically significant he ever covered: the Houston -UCLA "Game of the Century" in 1968 that changed the face of college basketball forever. I wrote about that game here; suffice it to say that while we've become accustomed to this kind of hype today, college basketball had never seen a game like this before. Enberg did the play-by-play on that game, and many other college basketball games through the years, first for TVS and then for NBC. He was the announcer for the California Angels and San Diego Padres, he did football, tennis and the Olympics, hosted game shows, and was one of those Big Game voices that I'm often writing about. His work over the years will remain a shining memory for sports fans everywhere.

I usually get my Twilight Zone information from The Twilight Zone Vortex, but this week Fire-Breathing Dimetrodon Time has a great recap on showing their six-year-old son the classic shocker "The Invaders." This episode has a great payoff; I wish I could remember the first time I saw it, to see if it packed that kind of punch for me.

Ah, Hal's back at The Horn Section with another installment of "F Troop Friday." This week: "Johnny Eagle Eye," a very funny episode that we saw at the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in September. It has the usual combination of silliness, satire, and Bilko-like deviousness that we've come to know and love from Fort Courage.

As part of the "What a Character!" blogathon, The Last Drive-In has a piece on one of my favorite character actors, Martin Balsam. He was one of those actors who was terrific in both movies and television, and early next month I'll be writing about an episode of Naked City in which he was utterly compelling.

At Comfort TV, David uses classic TV appearances by a couple of characters named "Charlie" to illustrate how television can capture the deeper meaning of Christmas. I haven't seen either of these episodes, but their message is something we could use a little more of in real life nowadays. Likewise, Classic Television Showbiz pulls out a Christmas episode from the short-lived World War II sitcom Roll Out.

If, like me, you bemoan the deterioration of Hallmark movies from the superior quality of the '50s-'60s Hall of Fame to the sentimental treacle that the company pumps out on an assembly line basis, you'll enjoy this piece by Hans Fiene at The Federalist on how the latest Hallmark Christmas movie dares to be different!

The latest episode in Jack's Hitchcock Project at bare-bones e-zine is "Conversation Over a Corpse," written by Marian Cockrell and Norman Daniels, featuring Ray Collins in a very good turn. For those who only recognize Collins as Lt. Tragg in Perry Mason, I can guarantee you'll enjoy seeing him in a new light.

Finally, if you haven't done so yet, there's still time to watch a version of A Christmas Carol this weekend, but which one?  At Vox, former AV Club writer Todd VanDerWerff, whose writing I've always admired even when I haven't agreed with it, might be able to help you out with that - he takes a serious look at the 15 best portrayals of Ebenezer Scrooge.

You should make it back here tomorrow, but with everything that's going on this weekend, I'll understand if I don't see you here until early next week. In that case, my best wishes to you for a Merry Christmas!  TV 


  1. Much as I hate to self-plug, I did want to share this before Christmas Day itself, as those of you who will be watching "A Christmas Story" might enjoy a strange but true parallel in our newest entry:

    Whatever you celebrate, make it a great one, y'all.

  2. You've never seen The Donna Reed Show Christmas episode? Coal in your stocking this year, no question about it.

  3. Thanks for the shout out! Every time I watch "Johnny Eagle Eye" or any other first season F TROOP classic I wonder why I haven't binge watched the entire season recently.

  4. Thanks, Mitchell! Merry Christmas to you and your wife.


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!