October 9, 2015

Around the dial

Major League Baseball's playoffs started this week, and Classic TV Sports has a review of  television's coverage of the first years of the League Championship Series. I'm just old enough to remember the days before playoffs, when there were only ten teams in each league, and the pennant winners went straight to the World Series. Sadly, in today's bloated playoff landscape, the '70s now look like the good old days.

Martin Grams has a behind-the-scenes look at the making of one of The Twilight Zone's most memorable episodes—1960's "The Eye of the Beholder."  Besides having one of the great shock endings in the history of the series (or in all of television, for that matter), there's great insight into how the episode came to be—and why some people might know its title as "The Private World of Darkness."

In the context of discussing the series of debates between William F. Buckley Jr. and Gore Vidal that ABC aired during the Republican and Democratic conventions, Terry Teachout at About Last Night Terry Teachout touches on how television (and American culture) have changed in nearly 50 years. Here's the money quote, which puts this (and so much of what I write about) in context:

On the other hand, we’re as far away in time from The Louvre and the Buckley-Vidal debates as the 1968 nominating conventions were from the presidencies of Woodrow Wilson and Warren G. Harding. To put it another way, we’re as far away in time from The Carol Burnett Show as that program (which I did watch as a boy, devotedly) was from Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid, which was at least as important to American comedy in 1921 as Burnett’s series was in 1968.

My review of The Merv Griffin Show on Wednesday put me in mind to write more about talk shows, and Kliph Nesteroff has the answer. Here's Jerry Lewis from June 1962, hosting The Tonight Show during the interim between the departure of Jack Paar and the arrival of Johnny Carson. It's said that Jerry's well-received hosting gig led to ABC giving him his own two-hour Saturday night show, which unfortunately remains one of the bigger debacles in television history.

I love the quizzes at Classic Film and TV Cafe, even though I'm not usually sharp enough (or timely enough) to get in on the fun. This week, it's another edition of The Movie-TV Connection Game, in which we try to figure out what connects a pair or trio of celebrities. Why don't you give it a try and see how your luck goes?

Sean Collins' piece at Grantland doesn't deal with classic TV per se, but his analysis of why Space Ghost Coast to Coast might be television's most influential show does hearken back to the original Space Ghost, which aired on CBS Saturday mornings from 1966-68. It's the right time period that I might well have watched it, but aside from a few vague memories, the '90s reboot that Collins writes about is much more familiar to me.

And 'tis the season: Amanda at Made for TV Mayhem highlights some of the classic made for TV movies apropos for Halloween viewing. I would not be a bit surprised if some of these flicks can be found in one of my old TV Guides.

Ewing tacos? Michael's TV Tray makes me hungry, and it isn't even National Taco Day anymore!(Of course, that's a title that no self-respecting Texan, native or not, could ever pass up.)

That's it for today; apologies for the lateness of this post. Remember, tomorrow is TV Guide day. Be here—aloha. TV  

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