September 2, 2014

Around the dial - post-vacation edition

One of the great things about technology is that it enables you, in a way, to be in two places at the same time.  I was on vacation last week, but you might not have known it since new pieces continued to pop up on the blog.  Way back in the earlier days of Blogger, when I started the other blog, you weren't able to do that, at least not easily.  On a trip to Boston, I recall, I had to rely on a friend to go into the blog and publish a piece that I'd written but wasn't able to postdate.

The point of all this is that one area that did fall short last week was our look around the classic TV blogosphere.  There would have been no end of dirty looks, not only from my wife but our hosts, had I excused myself to take an hour or so and compose a series of links.  Yes, loyal readers, even though I would do anything for you, I wouldn't do that.*

*I did, however, stop in an antique store and pick up a couple of additions to the TV Guide collection, which (owing to the dates) you'll probably be reading about next year.  So don't say I didn't get you something while I was on vacation.

With that, I've decided to move the look around the dial from Thursday to Tuesday, so let's see what's new and exciting out there.

Comfort TV gives us part two of a look at what happens when TV stars sing.*  There's a high potential for disaster with these kinds of projects, but not always - for every Star Trek and Laverne & Shirley, there's a David Soul (Starsky and Hutch) or Rick Springfield (General Hospital) producing #1 hits.  Now, I'll admit that I was drawn to this piece by the infamous Hogan's Heroes album, but David points out that it's actually pretty good - I'd kind of like to check it out.

*And yes, David, I did check out the cover of Cheryl Ladd's album.  Several times.

Keeping with the music theme, to people who laud John Williams' movie music I usually have one answer: listen to John Barry.  Barry's probably most famous for his James Bond soundtracks, but as  Classic Film and TV Cafe reminds us,  there were some other pretty memorable pieces out there as well.  A personal note regarding Barry's distinctive sound: many years ago I was forced to go to Dances With Wolves, a movie I generally hated.  There was one thing about it that resonated with me, though - the music.  Before I'd even known that Barry wrote it (I'd probably snoozed through the credits), I remarked to my wife how similar some of the music was to the Bond movie You Only Live Twice.  No wonder - Barry was responsible for them both.

One of the shows that keeps popping up in my old TV Guides is Love That Bob!, aka The Bob Cummings Show.  I've never seen an episode of it, which is due more to laziness than anything since I could find it online anytime, but thanks to The Horn Section I don't have to!  Seriously, Hal gives us a very good flavor for the show with his look at the 1958 episode "Bob Goes Birdwatching," and it encourages me to give it a try.  I've always liked Bob Cummings, oddly enough not for comedy but for his dramatic roles: a memorable turn in The Twilight Zone's second season opener "King Nine Will Not Return," and his equally memorable appearance in Studio One's "Twelve Angry Men." This was the original production of the play, not the movie version starring Henry Fonda that followed.  Cummings plays the Fonda role, and I have to tell you that I prefer Bob to Hank.  That won't get me shot, will it?

Let's segue to another bit about comedians playing serious roles.  Ever heard of the series Cain's Hundred?  It's a crime series from 1961-62 that starred Mark Richman, but despite a pretty good cast of writers and directors it only lasted that one season.  Kliph at Classic Television Showbiz gives us an episode from that show, featuring a most unlikely guest star - Don Rickles.  But then I'm reminded of something I read once - probably from Kliph himself - that Rickles was actually quite good in dramatic roles, respected by his peers for his acting ability.

Stephen Bowie at The Classic TV History Blog has a nice piece up on every male classic television buff's crush, Susan Oliver.  Seems there's a new documentary out on Oliver's career, called The Green Girl, and according to Stephen it's pretty good.  The title, of course, refers to her famous role in the Star Trek episode "The Menagerie," but there was a great deal more to her career than that.  Very good stuff.

Something very interesting starting this month at Television Obscurities - a week-by-week look at TV Guide throughout the entire 1964-65 season.  I don't think there's much of an overlap with what I do here; for one thing, I don't have an entire season's worth of TV Guides for any season, and for another, I think I'm probably looking for different things in these TV Guides.  Not better, just different.  Should be fun reading!

Finally, I can't remember whether or not I've mentioned this before, and I don't quite have the time to look back and check, but a recent addition to the links list on the sidebar is RerunCentury, which has a great storehouse of links to streaming episodes of classic television.  A lot of these shows can be hard to trackdown online if you don't know where to look, and Bob Poulsen's done us all a favor by putting this site together.

Oh, and as Columbo would say, one more thing.  It's About TV! is on Facebook, which I hope you'll like and follow.  When you have a minute - either on FB or by commenting here - please take the opportunity to let me know if there's anything you'd like to read about, any topics or shows or time periods that you'd like me to pay more attention to.  Although I get a great deal of personal pleasure from writing about classic television, this blog exists primarily for its readers.  True, much of this material also serves as a rough draft for a future book project or two, but then just think - you'll all appear in the acknowledgements page as well! TV  


  1. Great blog... and you know what else I do love. The collection of TV dials on your posts. Appropriately retro. And American ones were subtly different to ours (in Australia) too.

    1. Well, the different dials help keep me on my toes! :) Sad thing is, I remember quite a lot of them from personal experience. Tell me a bit about the differences with yours.

    2. Our VHF dial initially went only from 1 to 10. By the early 1960s this was soon found to be insufficient so they revised the plan to include 3 new channel positions: 0, 5A and 11. This meant that any older sets needing to receive these new channels had to have their tuners converted (for a nominal fee). Usually it just meant assigning an unused channel on the dial to pick up one of the new channels.

      UHF wasn't proposed in Australia until the mid 70s and by then push button tuners were becoming the fashion but a lot of sets still had rotary dials but the UHF dials (channels 28 to 69) was like a radio dial where you had to "tune in" to a channel rather than just flick between channels. They certainly didn't have every channel (or 2nd channel) number on the dial like yours above.

    3. Channel 5A - I would have liked to see that. I think I've already seen shows on Channel 0.

    4. 5A was used mostly in rural areas and mostly for the national broadcaster ABC. But there was one small-town commercial station with channel 5A. Here is their sign-on/sign-off from 1994.

      With TV now fully digital there's no longer any TV signals below Channel 6, and in regional areas almost all TV is UHF now.


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