January 12, 2018

Around the dial

Television Obscurities offers a remembrance of the "other" Van Dyke, Jerry, who died last week at age 86. Perhaps he was overshadowed by his brother Dick, but if any of us had had the career Jerry did, I suspect we would all be well-pleased with it.

And while we're on the subject of Van Dykes, we shouldn't overlook the death of Rose Marie just prior to the end of the year. She was 94, and had a fabulous career that ran the gamut from child star to a member of one of the great ensemble casts in the history of television. They're all gone now, save Carl Reiner.

Catching up on a loose end, Bob Sassone at Vulture writes about 10 great Christmas movies that aren't really about Christmas. I understand exactly what he means by that; We're No Angels, although it takes place on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and involves a little Christmas party, isn't really about Christmas (unless you count the deaths of two people who could make your life miserable as being Santa's gift to you). I do like the idea of someone naming Three Days of the Condor as their favorite Christmas movie!

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear looks back on a series getTV is currently showing (although you can get it on DVD as well), The Restless Gun, with John Payne. I mentioned an episode from this series here; it's a good series, not a great or even very good one, but it isn't bad either. Payne is, as always, engaging, though  I never saw in him (or in Jimmy Stewart, who originally played a similar role in the radio series The Six Shooter) the kind of world-weariness that ought to be present in a former gunfighter.

British TV Detectives gets around to one of my favorite of the genre, Inspector Morse, which ran for 12 seasons between 1987 and 2000. I always admired the dark, moody atmosphere found in many of the episodes, which often touched on more existential matters than found in today's proceedurals.

At Comfort TV, David takes a charming look at some of the things that populate television shows from 50 or so years ago, things we might not be familiar with today - like charm schools. David offers an elegant line, one I feel more and more: "every New Year takes us further away from the time when shows from the Comfort TV era were made – shows that reflected what life in America was like at that time." As I wrote once in another context, it's another country, not my own.

Come back to that country tomorrow; you'll find a new TV Guide waiting for you. TV  


  1. About the DVD SHOW cast, in addition to Carl Reiner, Dick Van Dyke himself and Larry Mathews are still with us, and may I hope all still be with us at the end of this year too.

  2. I've mentioned at other blogs that my favorite Christmas movie is Stalag 17; observance of the Holiday season runs throughout film, starting with vonScherbach's "hoping" that he could provide the POWs with a "white Christmas, chust like the ones you used to know ..."
    Later on, there's the dance party (that POW who sings "I Love You" is Ross Bagdasarian, pre-Chipmunk), and after that, the formal observance at the little Christmas tree, with the POWs all singing "O Come All Ye Faithful" ...
    ... and both of these scenes come after we learn that one of the POWs is a planted Nazi spy.
    Looking back, I suppose it's that "detective story" angle that always appealed to me, especially how it played out in the end.

    I have a number of collections of Christmas-themed detective/mystery/crime stories here at home, and Stalag 17 stands at the top of the list.

  3. Just to be clear, Condor isn't my favorite Christmas movie (those would be It's A Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street), but it's my favorite non-Christmas Christmas movie! :)


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!