April 8, 2015

On Stan Freberg, Top Gear, online sports and more

Since we didn't take a spin around the dial last week, I thought I'd make up for it today and look at some TV headlines.  Those of you who are regular readers might suspect that I'm doing this on a Wednesday because I have nothing else prepared.  To that, I'd simply respond that only my hairdresser knows for sure...

The brilliant satirist and all-around innovator Stan Freberg died yesterday, one of the most clever personalities on radio and television.  Like Ernie Kovacs, Freberg's sense of humor was often a little ahead of his time for audiences, but as my friend Tony Pizza commented, whatever humor you've seen here in the last few years was undoubtedly influenced by Freberg.  Here's one of his most famous parodies: the tale of St. George and the Dragonet.

Also passing this week was James Best, most remembered for The Dukes of Hazard but who did a lot more than that.  Comfort TV has an excellent remembrance of him, and Michael's TV Tray recalls a memorable turn he did on The Twilight Zone.

A couple of weeks ago I gave you a piece of my mind regarding the BBC and the sacking of Jeremy Clarkson, star of the corporation's (former?) hit Top Gear.  This article at Breitbart London reinforces my suspicion that there was an ideological bent to this decision, and underlines the decaying corruptness of the BBC.  If only UKIP had the votes to defund it altogether.

Here's an interesting article from World Soccer Talk - not a prediction, but an analysis of why it would make sense for Amazon to get into the bidding for television rights to the English Premier League or some other future sports contract.  When (not if) this eventually happens, it might well mean the death of cable TV - if you don't need it for sports, what do you need it for?

Speaking of which, I've spoken often of my admiration for NFL Films, particularly the genius of Ed and Steve Sabol (each of happy memory) - Classic TV Sports reports that NFL Films is coming up with another promising series, this one on historic NFL drafts.  Were I still a fan of the NFL, you can bet I'd be a sucker for this one.

You should always be reading Television Obscurities for the excellent weekly TV Guide series, but here's another good piece from yesterday commemorating the 88th anniversary of the first long distance television transmission.  What is it they say about the long journey beginning with a single step?  We've come a long way from that day 88 years ago, haven't we?

The TV Guide Historian gives us a look at a vintage ad for Felony Squad, starring Howard Duff and Ben Alexander.  I've read that it was being on this show that prevented Ben Alexander from joining Jack Webb on the reboot of Dragnet in the late '60s - wouldn't that have been great?   As a side note, did you know Webb was planning yet another comeback for Dragnet when he died, and that his partner would have been Kent McCord in his character from Adam-12?

Hopefully that should give me some time to come up with something you something to chew on until Friday, when I'll be back with more fun.  Until then, don't touch that dial - except to follow these links, of course. TV  


  1. People are dying today who have never died before ...

    Yesterday was bad enough - Stan Freberg and James Best the same day.
    Today, Wednesday morning, right out of the gate, Geoffrey Lewis and The Other Ray Charles.

    Perry Como's long-term choral director, mentioned more than a bit in your other posts, started calling himself "The Other" as a private joke, but ultimately billed himself that way.
    Interestingly enough, the two Mr. Charles actually appeared together on a Como show in the early '60s.
    After the former Ray Robinson performed (I think) "Georgia On My Mind", he was joined on stage by the former Charles Raymond Offerman, for a few minutes of awkward humor.
    The Good Old Days ...

    Geoffrey Lewis is known today mainly as Juliette Lewis's father.
    But for about twenty to thirty years preceding, he was an "Oh, that guy" actor, in innumerable TV spots and movies, quite a few of them with Clint Eastwood.
    Geoffrey Lewis also had a musical act - a band called Celestial Navigation, in front of which he would do recitations of his own creation. They appeared on some of the Smothers Brothers's comeback shows in the '80s/90s.

    Me - I'm just gettin' older every minute ...

    1. Update/Correction:

      The Other Ray Charles's birth name was Offenberg.

      In Making Matters Worse:

      Add another unexpected obit.
      Milton DeLugg, bandleader for Paul Winchell and Chuck Barris (and briefly in between, for Johnny Carson), 90.

      That's five in two days - and I'm not feeling so hot myself ...

      I'm currently restraining myself from the whole Top Gear business.
      As a lifelong non-driver, I've never seen this program (excuse me - programme), and so have no interest in the subject matter.
      Further, what little I know about United Kingdom politics tells me that they're even more toxic than our own.
      What I do know:
      The current British government is a coalition between the Conservative Party (the Tories) and the Liberal Democrats (the center party - whoops, the centre party - in GB), which latter broke with the Labour Party after years of alliance. Thus, everybody blames every else for everything, and everybody plays the victim - just like here in the USA, when you think about it ...
      As this applies to Top Gear and its fractious presenter, Mr. Clarkson, the trigger event appears to have been a fistfight between him and a show staffer, the cumulation of a number of such incidents.
      The item to which you linked ... well, it's from Breitbart, and fairly typical in that regard: misleading scare headline, inflammatory rhetoric, reader comments that veer between the simply semiliterate and the outrightly obscene.
      See, Mitch, this is why I usually avoid politics when I come here: I know that yours and mine aren't in alignment. I can live with that if you can.
      The Breitbarties, like their left-wing counterparts at Daily Kos (among many others), don't think that way. They prefer to draw blood (or bile). I happen to think that this sort of behavior ought not to be encouraged.

      So endeth the sermon (I hate doing that).
      Maybe next time we can get back to PHUNNE!

  2. UKIP isn't the answer to the BBC (or anything else for that matter); the answer is as simple as everyone watching classic TV on DVD & thus starving them out. Personally I've only ever voted Loony: it is the only forward-looking party & it's loony policies have a habit of coming to pass, as it's entry on Wikipedia indicates: Despite its satirical nature, some of the things that have featured in Loony manifestos have become law, such as being able to vote at 18, "passports for pets", and all-day pub openings. Similarly, the outcry following Alan Hope's appearance on the BBC's Nationwide current affairs programme after he was elected – during which he mentioned that butter and milk surpluses were being dumped down abandoned mine shafts under European Community rules to maintain prices (something the media of the day had failed to expose) – resulted in the distribution of such surpluses to the needy or charities instead.'


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!