July 10, 2015

Around the dial: Sinatra, Steed, Benny, Hitch & more!

I was going to lead off things today with Television's New Frontier: the 1960s' very good article on 87th Precinct, a show I think perhaps I liked a little more than he did, but then along came today's piece on The Jack Benny Program, and I've had to change my mind.  Both articles provide a wealth of information on their respective shows, with bits of detail and episode descriptions that give a real flavor for them.  If I didn't have them already, this would make me want to go out and get them - that's how good they are.

Speaking of research, Cult TV Blog has a terrific piece on the books in John Steed's library.  It's the kind of detail that I go for; as I mentioned to him, little bits like this can either confirm what you already know about a character or give you a totally new appreciation of his depth.  In this case, would anyone be surprised that Steed would have these books around?

The series Hondo came from the last years of the TV Western, so I don't have a memory of it - my interest in the genre, such as it is, has come mostly from watching them in reruns rather than at the time they aired - so The Horn Section's Hal's write-up on the episode "Hondo and the Singing Wire" is valuable for anyone considering whether or not to invest in the series on DVD.

I enjoy the Hitchcock Project pieces at bare-bones e-zine, and this week's look at "The Black Curtain," another from the output of author Cornell Woolrich.  Again, I haven't seen nearly as much of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour as I have the series' half-hour episodes, but I really like Jack's opening line, which sets the tone for the rest of the article: "Cornell Woolrich's 1941 novel, The Black Curtain, is two-thirds of a great thriller. The version aired in 1962 on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour is half of a good television show."  I always find it particularly interesting when a series attempts to adapt a novel into a one-hour episode.

The Flaming Nose has a great review of the HBO documentary Sinatra: All or Nothing at All, made to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Sinatra's birth.  Watching Sinatra's TV specials from the mid-60s is always a treat, particularly the "A Man and His Music" series: no skits, only top-quality guest stars, and - best of all - the Chairman himself singing his best.  By the end of the '60s, the drop in quality of popular music makes some of the attempts by singers such as Sinatra a bit painful to watch, but still - it's Frank!  If you've got HBO, watch this, and record it for anyone who doesn't have it.

At Made for TV Mayhem, Amanda reviews the 1984 TV pic Invitation to Hell.  Do I really need to say anything more?

David at Comfort TV has another entry in his "Museum of Comfort TV": Freddie the Flute from H.R. Pufnstuf.  I confess that Pufnstuf was not a favorite of mine, although I did watch it, but I have absolutely no recollection of Freddie.  Did I just space out, or have I somehow blocked the horrid memory from my mind forever?

Television Obscurities has another great TV Guide review, from July 10, 1965.  Fred Gwynne (as Herman Munster) is on the cover, with an article inside on Sports Network Incorporated (SNI, which probably merits a piece on its own here), and one by the superb John Gregory Dunne, whose house was used as a location for an episode of Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater.  Dunne mentions the effect it had on neighbors and wife - his wife, of course, was the prolific writer Joan Didion.

A great week, was it not?  Be back here tomorrow, and I'll see if I can live up to it all. TV  

1 comment:

  1. The Hondo TV series isn't out on DVD yet, but it seems pretty certain that Warner Archive will have it out eventually. It is streaming at Warner Archive Instant. Maybe I'll have my episode guide finished by the time the DVD is released. :)


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