July 30, 2016

This week in TV Guide: July 26, 1975

We're back this week with another in our summer series of second looks, this time at the issue of July 26, 1975. As always when we do this, all the material you're reading is brand new - no duplication from last time. (You can read the first look here.)

◊ ◊ ◊

Periodically, we read about the specter of cable television looming over the network horizon. It goes by many names, depending on when the article's written; it's referred to as "Pay-TV," "CATV," and "pay-cable" in this article alone, but it all amounts to the same thing, and just about every time we read about it, we're assured that it's the next big thing, that it is - as the cover says - "ready to take off."

In this case, the phrase "take-off" can be taken literally, as the big game-changer may well be "a satellite-fed national pay-TV network," primarily financed by Time Inc., which just happens to be the owner of a fledgling cable channel named Home Box Office. Until recently HBO had a national audience of about 115,000 subscribers, gathered in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, where the signal is transmitted via microwave and land lines. However, once Teleprompter Corp., the nation's largest cable system, joined Time in the satellite investment, nearly 200,000 more homes were added. And once HBO starts beaming the signal via an RCA-leased satellite to dishes in Florida - well, you can see where this is headed. Time is nothing if not ambitious - they plan 24 of these earth stations, which will enable HBO to be delivered to over 80 systems in 21 states, comprising some 870,000 homes. Although TeleMation and Paramount are also talking about getting into the satellite and microwave networking business, "most cable experts see no HBO competition in sight."

There's some discussion in this article (written by Richard K. Doan, whose Doan Report is a reliable TV Guide look at what's new in the industry) as to why the growth in cable hasn't happened earlier; the recession is cited as a factor, drying up venture capital, but even so there are already 10 million homes hooked up to cable. It's also interesting that, at least in the beginning, a sort of ala carte delivery method exists, with many customers paying a basic service fee of $5 or $6 per month, and anywhere from $5 to $9 for the pay channel. In a few years, however, this is expected to be replaced by a pay-per-view system (they got that wrong, at least when it comes to day-to-day watching). Everyone agrees that uncut movies are the big attraction for cable; pornography, interestingly enough, isn't seen as much of a factor, and HBO doesn't air R-rated movies until after 9:00 p.m. "It's the convenience of watching at home" that makes the difference, according to Bob Weisberg of TeleMation, who adds that the key audience is between 30 and 50 and rarely goes out to movies, but will pay to watch one at home.

Don't overlook the obstacles to growth, however. The FCC has ruled that cable can't "siphon" off movies between three and ten years old, and networks are pushing studios into even more restrictive exclusivity deals. There are also network fears that a prime sporting event, such as the World Series or Super Bowl, might eventually wind up on cable. For all that, though, one expert forecasts as many as two million homes might have cable by 1980*, a "haunting possibility" that pay-TV could grow into a "massive box office."

*In fact the number was actually closer to 16 million; by 1990 the number was 51,700,000. I wonder if any of the experts saw that coming?

◊ ◊ ◊

I remember how much of a treat Monday Night Baseball was, back in the summer of 1975. It wasn't really called "Monday Night Baseball" back then; Monday Night Football wasn't yet as iconic a brand as it is today. But in the days before the aforementioned cable networks started to bring us 15 or so games a week, before teams started to broadcast virtually all of their games on their local cable affiliates, you were lucky to see three or four games a week. There was the Saturday Game of the Week, of course, and if you had a team to call your own (as we did in Minnesota, though in the mid-'70s few of us would admit it), you might get two or tree more games if your team was on a road trip. But glimpses of teams from the other league (the National, in our case) were few and far between, which made an additional national TV game a treat.

The Monday night broadcast started in 1967, when NBC broadcast three specials a year, but by 1973 that number had swelled to 15. This 1975 season marks the last year of NBC's Monday night telecasts; next year the games would move to ABC, as part of the new TV deal that included alternate-year broadcasts of the All-Star Game, League Championship Series and World Series. This may have been good news for ABC, but it was bad news for me, because our single channel in The World's Worst Town™ chose to carry The John Davidson Show and Monday Night at the Movies instead. It wasn't a very good trade.

This season, the game is preceded by the 15-minute Baseball World of Joe Garagiola, a show that was both insightful and witty. Tonight, Joe talks about the minor league Portland Mavericks, a team that features Ball Four author Jim Bouton in the midst of his comeback after five years in retirement. The main game, following at 7:15 p.m. (CT) pits the Milwaukee Brewers and Boston Red Sox, back when Milwaukee was in the American League (where they belong). The secondary game, in case of rain (it was also broadcast in the cities of the two teams playing in the main game) has the San Francisco Giants and Cincinnati Reds. Those were the days - I can't remember the last time baseball was a feature prime-time program for me.

◊ ◊ ◊

This year we're seeing various limited-run summer series popping up on the networks. For example, on Wednesday night ABC premieres a six-week variety series hosted by Jim Stafford. Meanwhile, Gladys Knight & the Pips wind up a four-week stint on NBC Thursday nights; next week it will be Ben Vereen's turn to fill the time slot for another four weeks.

However, perhaps the oddest show of the summer debuts its five-week run on ABC Thursday night (up against Gladys Knight). It's Almost Anything Goes, I mentioned this briefly back when I did this issue the first time, but I think it bears a little more extrapolation.

Almost Anything Goes comes to television during what might be thought of as the British invasion of American TV (All in the Family, Sanford and Son, Lotsa Luck and Beacon Hill, among others); the British version was called It's a Knockout which was, itself, a takeoff on the French series Intervilles.* As I wrote back in 2012, it can be seen as a forerunner to shows such as Wipeout, but that alone sells the show short. As the synopsis from "The Screening Room" says, "shooting greased beach balls through a hoop while balancing on a tilted, greased platform" is "Silly? Definitely - but also old-fashioned slapstick fun."

*Fun fact, and one of the reasons you come to this site week after week: Both the American and British versions were part of the overall franchise umbrella, called "Jeux Sans Frontières," or "Games Without Frontiers." It's the inspiration for Peter Gabriel's hit song of the same name, which not only contains the words "Jeux Sans Frontières" in the chorus, but also contains the line "It's a knockout." You can thank the always-reliable Wikipedia for this.

The show pits six-member teams from small towns across America; this week's participants are the Burrillville (RI) Indians, the Webster (MA) Broncos, and the Putnam (CT) Clippers. The following three weeks will feature additional three-way battles, with the four champions meeting in the final episode to decide the championship. In that contest, Putnam - tonight's winner - takes on Boulder City (NV), Canton (IL), and Marianna (FL). (Boulder City wins the title, in case you've ever wondered about that.) The announcers for this wild concept are Charlie Jones - whose other work includes AFL football, the World Track & Field Championships, the Olympics, and the college football National Championship Game - and Lynn Shackleford, who for several years announces Lakers games with Chick Hearn. Dick Whittington (not this one, but this one) is what today we would refer to as the sideline reporter.

Almost Anything Goes is actually successful enough that it will be back for a second season; Jones and Shackleford return as well, but Whittington will be replaced by this guy.

◊ ◊ ◊

Another program we looked at last time out was Catholics, which airs as the Friday night movie on CBS. It's up against the College All-Star Game on ABC, but I remarked back then that "I'd love to see that program today." Well. . .

◊ ◊ ◊

Saturdays nowadays are a television wasteland, as I've mentioned more than once. In 1975, CBS didn't feel the same way. The prime time lineup is their killer sitcom schedule, with All in the Family, The Jeffersons, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and The Bob Newhart Show. In the 9:00 p.m. slot, however, the network has chosen to show a prestige property, the six-hour miniseries Moses the Lawgiver (appropriately enough, given our earlier mention of the British invasion, an import from the British distributor ITC), starring Burt Lancaster in his television debut.* As I recall, this was something of a big deal back then; unimaginable, now, that a network would show it on a Saturday night. Cable, though - maybe.

*Fun fact: Just as Charlton Heston's son Fraser played the infant Moses in The Ten Commandments, Burt Lancaster's son Bill plays the infant Moses in Moses the Lawgiver.

◊ ◊ ◊

Finally, let's spend a few minutes with Andy Rooney.

Rooney's in this week's issue twice; on Monday night, CBS replays his whimsical look at the vagaries of the Federal bureaucracy, "Mr. Rooney Goes to Washington." If you want to know what's wrong with the government, look no further than this statistic: "every week [the Government Printing Office] covers a forest of paper with an ocean of ink," while at the same time the Pentagon Disposal Office destroys secret papers at the rate of 10 to 14 tons of pulp a day. What man giveth, man taketh away, I guess.

More interesting, though, is Rooney's appearance in this week's Letters to the Editor section. It's not that Rooney has written a letter to TV Guide; his contribution was an article from June 28th's issue commemorating the beginning of the Bicentennial year. Apparently, in that article, Rooney wrote that there had been no women heroes in American history. Let's just say a number of readers took issue with his contention.

Linda Bilodeau of Windsor Locks, CT, suggests the names of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Eleanor Roosevelt as candidates, while Rose Joyner of Celina, OH offered Harriet Tubman, Amelia Earhart, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Sybil Ludington. Mrs. J.R. Rogers of Massilion, OH nominated Revolutionary War figures Deborah Sampson and Molly Pitcher, and Betty Zane, whose exploits were chronicled by her great-grandnephew, Zane Grey. Lenora Brennan of Brooklyn mentions Sojourner Truth, Mary Cassatt and Jane Addams, and says that "Rooney's attitude, in writing off 200 years of American women, is offensive." And out of date, I say; 200 years out of date. TV  

July 29, 2016

Around the dial

As usual, a good cross-section of commentary on classic television this week; please click on the links and let my fellow bloggers know you read and appreciate them!

A really interesting piece over at Comfort TV, where David takes a look at series in which characters were recast after the pilot was shot. Would Sharon Tate have been any good on Petticoat Junction? Read on and find out.

British TV Detectives reviews Dalgliesh, the 1980's-'90 staple on Mystery!. I always thought Adam Dalgliesh was just a little too sensitive for my taste, but even so, it was a classic of fine performances and tight stories.

Lincoln X-ray Ida explores a fourth season episode of Adam-12, "The Radical," a crossover with the short-lived Robert Conrad series The D.A.. I swear, Bob Conrad seems to have had as many short-run series as McLean Stevenson, didn't he?

I was never a fan of Lost in Space, although I can remember seeing a few episodes of it when it was originally on. (Of course, back then I didn't go for Star Trek, either.) However, Classic Film and TV Cafe discusses the show's first episode, a few minutes of which I happened to see two or three weeks ago on MeTV, and I have to say the B&W, combined with the slightly more serious tone, made for a pretty good introduction.

At Television's New Frontier: The 1960s, a look at the Ziv-produced Ripcord, one of the staples of Saturday programming in the pages of TV Guide. I was fascinated with this program when I was a kid; I bought the plastic jumper with the parachute that would never work right, and then was sucker enough to buy another one to see if it was any different.

On Wednesday I posted about how political commercials on TV have always been nasty and negative; at The Lucky Strike Papers Andrew shares a piece from a historian about advances in technology, in the 1960s, which affected the coverage of political conventions.

And at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, Ivan gives us the latest update on his health situation. Go to Ivan's blog and wish him the best; you're in our thoughts and prayers! TV  

July 27, 2016

The negative campaign

There's a section in The Image Empire, volume three of Erik Barnouw’s seminal History of Broadcasting in the United States, that should be of interest to anyone with an opinion on negative advertising in politics.

The negative ad, of course, is nothing new. During the election of 1884, to give just one example, Grover Cleveland was rumored to have been the father an illegitimate child. Hence the campaign chant, “Ma, Ma, where's my Pa?” (See above)  Multiply this by a thousand, and you get the idea of an American political scene that has always been rough and tumble.*

*I've mentioned this before, but one of the great lines from the play (and movie) 1776 comes when Stephen Hopkins says to his friend Ben Franklin, "I want y'to see some cards I've gon 'n' had printed up that ought t'save everybody here a whole lot of time 'n' effort, considering the epidemic of bad disposition that's been going around lately. "Dear sir: You are without any doubt a rogue, a rascal, a villain, a thief, a scoundrel, and a mean, dirty, stinking, sniveling, sneaking, pimping, pocket-picking, thrice double-damned, no good son-of-a-bitch" - and y'sign y'r name. What do y'think?" To which Franklin replies, "I'll take a dozen right now!"

Early campaign commercials were, I think, little more than an extension of product advertising, i.e. selling a candidate instead of a new brand of detergent.  The commercials themselves were fairly straightforward: candidates presenting themselves and their positions to the voters.

The televised debates of 1960 would demonstrate the power of TV to shape the campaign, as would JFK's accessibility to the camera through TV appearances and documentaries.  His assassination in 1963 further showed television as the new backyard fence, the gathering spot for American conversation.  It was inevitable that political advertising would evolve from the simple candidate-facing-the-camera commercials of the past. Here's an example of the former, a 1952 commercial by Dwight Eisenhower.

The 1964 campaign, according to Barnouw, represented the turning point in that development. Whereas these prior television commercials

had been built around the candidate[, t]he principal Doyle Dane Bernbach [the ad agency for the Democratic Party] spots were not. This may have been partly a matter of necessity; the nomination of Johnson, though a foregone conclusion, did not take place until the end of August, more than a month after the Goldwater nomination. Meanwhile the Doyle Dane Bernbach spots dealt – without mentioning him – with Goldwater.

Barnouw mentions two LBJ commercials in particular. The best known – perhaps the most famous ever made – was the “Daisy” commercial that showed a little girl picking the petals off a daisy, which morphed into a countdown to a nuclear blast.

The implication was obvious: that Goldwater was a mad bomber intent on nuking North Vietnam, China, Russia – any Communist country that happened to get in the way – accompanied, doubtlessly, by the deaths of millions of small children like the little girl with her daisy.

There was a second LBJ commercial, however, which I hadn’t previously heard of, which also packed a punch:

In another spot a girl was seen eating an ice-cream cone. There was the ticking of a Geiger counter. A motherly voice was meanwhile explaining about Strontium 90, a radioactive fallout product found to concentrate itself in milk. Again a viewer was reminded of Goldwater’s apparently casual attitude toward nuclear “devices” and perhaps his opposition to the test-ban treaty. 

Each of these commercials aired only once – the “Daisy” commercial, in particular, received so much free publicity through the news media that there seemed no reason to pay to have them shown again. They had made their point.*

*A third commercial, which was never shown, “subtly” connects Goldwater with the KKK. I think the Democrats were right to not air this one; it might even be considered over the top today, although I can't be positive. Watch it and see what you think.

It’s perhaps an indication of how naïve we were then, or how cynical we are now, that these commercials were considered unusual, even dirty play, by many. Goldwater himself protested that “[t]he homes of America are horrified and the intelligence of Americans is insulted by weird television advertising by which this administration threatens the end of the world unless all-wise Lyndon is given the nation for his very own.” In retrospect we might suggest that Goldwater, who as a candidate was often his worst enemy, was horrified primarily by the effectiveness of the spots.

There were other examples, less dramatic but no less effective: after a negative Goldwater reference to Social Security during the New Hampshire primary, Doyle Dane produced “a spot in which two hands were seen tearing up a Social Security card.” One can surely see the genesis of the Paul Ryan-pushing-granny’s-wheelchair-off-the-cliff commercial in this kind of advertising.

I don’t want to suggest that this kind of campaigning was limited to the Democrats. The Republicans countered with a long-form spot that attempted to suggest that Democrats, and LBJ in particular, were responsible for a “moral decay” enveloping the country. “The decay was depicted through glimpses of topless dancers, pornographic magazines, marquees of nudist films – and rioting.” The film, Barnouw claimed, “associated sexual emancipation and the rise of nudism with Negro protest movements; all were considered aspects of the breakdown of ‘law and order.’” Barnouw’s suggestion that this phrase, “law and order,’ was intended as a coded appeal to segregationists, is one that I don’t particularly agree with; nevertheless, there could be no question that the Republicans were responding to the Democrats in kind. The chairman of the Democratic Party, John Bailey, called it “the ‘sickest’ program in the history of television campaigning,” which I find a bit dubious,* but there’s no doubt that a new form of tele-campaigning was born. You can see that one below. (Goldwater didn't ban it as much as disown it; it's true that he prevented it from being shown again, but that was after it already aired.)

*Pot calling kettle…

I’m not taking sides here on the issue of negative campaigning. Certainly there are a lot of people who are sick to death of it; by the same token, most polls clearly show its effectiveness. When people stop responding positively to them, presumably, candidates will stop showing them.

What I’m really after here is a bit of historical perspective. What we see and hear today in the last days of this election campaign is nothing new and should hardly be surprising, for it represents a most natural evolution, for better or worse, of a political discourse that has been around since the beginning of the Republic, oftentimes in a form that was particularly nasty and personal. There is no question that negative ads have come to dominate the airwaves in a way which might have been unthinkable back in 1964 – and yet anyone looking at the effectiveness of the LBJ ads would have said that such a trend was inevitable. In fact, if we define the television era for campaign purposes as having starting in 1948, one could suggest that TV advertising had a relatively long period (12 years, to 1964) in which negative ads were not the dominant forms.

We may not much like it, but then we don’t much like poverty either – and yet, as Jesus reminds us, “the poor you will always have.” Negative campaigning would appear to be the same.

Portions of this were originally published October 10, 2012.

July 25, 2016

What's on TV? Monday, July 23, 1956

If you hadn't already noticed by reading Saturday's piece, the stations this week have some very interesting call letters. There's WLW-D in Dayton, WLW-C in Columbus, and WLW-T in Cincinnati, for example. I think it's safe to assume all three are owned by the same company, which in fact was the case. They were owned by the Crosley Broadcasting Company, the same Crosley that made the radios, and the same Crosley after whom Cincinnati's Crosley Field was named. In fact, two of the three still have the same call letters, except for having dropped the hyphen. The only one to change is WLWC, which is now known as WCMH, although WLWD is now Channel 20 instead of Channel 2.

If you haven't figured out by now that we're in Southern Ohio, we are. So let's get started.

July 23, 2016

This week in TV Guide: July 21, 1956

On the cover this week are Bill Lundigan and Mary Costa, the commercial spokespersons for the Chrysler Corporation, currently sponsors of the shows Climax! and Shower of Stars. Remember, this is a time when the sponsor, not the network, wields the most clout; many times, the sponsor buys the airtime and then puts a show in that spot. This would change following the Quiz Show Scandal, but for now sponsors loom large, and there are few gigs better-paying or offering more visibility than serving as the face of the product on its commercials.

In less than two years, Bill Lundigan - ex-Marine, ex-radio announcer, ex-movie star - has logged over 100,000 miles traveling on behalf of Chrysler, and has met more than a half-million people. He and Costa, who often travel as a team, have appeared at "auto shows, dealer conventions, company dances, board meetings and other institutions designed to move the merchandise." All this has made him so well-known, so familiar to viewers, that when he goes on vacation, Chrysler has to explain to the public that he'd be back soon.

Before you start thinking this is a step down for Lundigan and Costa, keep in mind this is essentially the same job that Ronald Reagan performed for General Electric, touring the country for the company, speaking to employees and appearing at civic events. That wound up working out pretty well for him, didn't it? Interestingly, this article notes that although Lundigan's price for a starring role has tripled since he started working for Chrysler, he's only done one movie - a training film for auto salesmen, natch - in the last two years. "So far," he says, "I haven't been in Hollywood long enough ot make a picture."

Later, Bill Lundigan goes on to star in the single-season science-fiction show Men into Space, one of the first shows to take a fairly realistic look at space travel. Mary Costa would sing at the Metropolitan Opera and appear on countless variety shows over the years, but might be best known as the voice of Princess Aurora in Disney's Sleeping Beauty. And we know what happened to Ronald Reagan.

◊ ◊ ◊

This week, on the aforementioned Climax, a story of danger in the Orient - "The Man Who Lost His Head," with a very strong cast: Debra Paget* (The Ten Commandments), John Ericson (Honey West), Sir Cedric Hardwicke, and Peter Lorre. That's followed, on NBC, by Ford Theatre, with Edward G. Robinson in "A Set of Values." And on CBS, it's Four Star Playhouse, this week featuring Dick Powell in "Success Story." A very big lineup of stars, indeed.

*Who will be appearing at the Mid Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in September. I'll be there; will you?

◊ ◊ ◊

On Sunday, CBS's You Are There presents "The Fight at the O.K. Corral," reported by Walter Cronkite and staff. You Are There was a great way of introducing people, especially young viewers, into historical events by covering them as if they were occurring today, with analysis, interviews, and the like.

The cast includes Robert Bray, John Larch, and John Anderson as the Earps, DeForest Kelley as Ike Clanton, and Arthur Rease and Ernest Baldwin as the McLowrys. When I read this to my wife, she immediately commented, "So 'Spectre of the Gun' wasn't DeForest Kelley's first trip to the OK Corral!" No, it wasn't - but talk about missed opportunities! In that classic Star Trek episode, Bones plays not Ike Clanton, but Tom McLowry. Kirk has to play Ike, leader of the Clantons, I suppose - but still, wouldn't it have been great for Kelley to revisit the same role in a different show twelve years later? Quick quiz: how many actors have played the same historical character in multiple series?

◊ ◊ ◊

I think we did this once before, but for those late to the party, one of Ed Sullivan's first great on-air challenges came from Steve Allen, who left Tonight to take over an NBC variety show opposite Ed.* Steve was able to assemble a pretty good lineup week-in and week-out, which he combined with his stock cast and regular bits to produce an entertaining series. It didn't run as long as Ed's, of course, but then Allen said his goal was never to conquer Ed, but to coexist with him, which he did for three seasons. Let's see who gets the best of the contest this week.

*Replacing the Colgate Comedy Hour.

Sullivan: Ed's guests include: the Ames Brothers, singing quartet; veteran song-and-dance man Ted Lewis; T.C. Jones, impersonator now performing in the Broadway musical "New Faces"; operatic soprano Elaine Malbin; comedian Larry Daniels; and the Fredonis, acrobatic team.

Allen: Comedienne Judy Holliday, comic Buddy Hackett and the singing Four Lads are Steve's guests tonight. In a special remote from Birdland, a jazz spot in New York City, we see Count Basie and his band perform.

Well. Ted Lewis was very well-known in his day; after all, you don't get the moniker "Mr. Entertainment" for nothing. And of course the best-known of the Ames brothers was Ed, who went on to great fame as a solo singing act and as an actor in Daniel Boone, and even greater fame as a tomahawk thrower on The Tonight Show. But let's get real: Judy Holliday was an Academy Award winner, Buddy Hackett had a great stand-up career, and Count Basie! I think that's more than enough to give Allen the edge this week.

◊ ◊ ◊

In sports, this week's programming consists mostly of baseball and boxing (nothing earth-shattering), so the real action is off the field. ABC will be covering the College All-Star football game, pitting the NFL champion Cleveland Browns against a team of the year's best college all-stars, on August 10. Meanwhile, NBC has locked up the television rights to both the World Series and the baseball All-Star Game for another five years, with Gillette paying $3.25 million per year for radio and TV rights.* Next year, NBC adds its Saturday Game of the Week to its TV coverage. Finally, CBS will introduce the National Hockey League to network television for the first time, televising 10 Saturday afternoon games from January through March of next season.

*With most proceeds going to the Baseball Players Pension Fund. Times have changed, as we say so often.

We also learn from the TV Teletype that "TV has arrived." Proof is that Budd Schulberg is doing a "TV exposé story" for the big screen, starring Andy Griffith. The name of that movie? A Face in the Crowd, of course.

◊ ◊ ◊

In other news, I've long lamented the disappearance of cultural programming from television, and another case in point is this week's Producers' Showcase, in color at 7:00 pm on NBC. It's "Rosalinda," an adaptation of Johann Strauss's operetta Die Fledermaus, starring the great Cyril Ritchard, Jean Fenn, and Lois Hunt. Now, I admit that Fledermaus isn't particularly my cup of tea, especially when it's done at the Metropolitan Opera, but I think it's great in a light opera setting, as it is here. And, of course, anything with Ritchard (Captain Hook in Peter Pan) is worth watching.

Another worthy show is Fred Waring's 40th anniversary show, at 10:00 pm on NBC. Unless you're into the Time-Life type of Christmas albums, you probably don't know much, if anything, about Fred Waring*, but in the years before and after World War II, Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians was one of the most popular singing groups in America, in the fashion (though not the style) of Mitch Miller and Ray Coniff. Here's a sample:

*Fun fact: Fred Warning was also the George Foreman of his time, investing in and promoting a very popular kitchen gadget: the Waring Blender.

Again, I'm not sure I'd say this was my style, and I don't know that anyone would go for this kind of music today, but that's not the point - the point is that television today is poorer for not having musical programs such as this. Unless you count the screaming divas on shows like The Voice. Whih I don't.

◊ ◊ ◊

Finally, every once in a while we'll run across an issue that gives us more information about movie programs that have an overall title - you know, like NBC's Saturday Night at the Movies. Some of these may have been local programs, while others were syndicated packages, but whatever the reason, many of these programs have wonderful titles - as we see this week.

For example, there's Family Playhouse, which airs on both WLW-T (Cincinnati) and WLW-D (Dayton). I'll admit this one is kind of confusing, seeing as how they air at 11:15 pm and 11:30 pm respectively, a time when most of the family tends to be in bed. A more neutral title, not to mention one that just makes you feel happy, is Bluebird Theater, on WLW-C in Columbus at 11:15 pm. Armchair Theater, at 10:45 pm on WBNS in Columbus, is pretty descriptive: unless you're already in bed, that's probably where you're watching the movie. But then you should be watching Home Theater, at 11:20 pm.

Some titles are more descriptive: on weekdays at 4:30 pm, WKRC in Cincinnati has Ladies' Home Theater - try getting a title like that on the air today. WTVN in Columbus has Midday Movie at 12:30 pm - very descriptive, even if midday is technically noon - which is when WCPO in Cincinnati has Movie Matinee. Seems things would have worked better if they'd just switched titles. WTVN has Early Home Theater at 9:30 pm, which really isn't all that early, unless you compare it to Evening Theater on WHIO in Dayton at 11:50 pm - more like night than evening.

Then there are the programs that have a number in them, such as Theater Five, but you never know if the number in the title refers to the channel number or the time of day. Thus, we're understandably thrown for a brief loop when WLW-C, Channel 4, has Theater Five on at five. At least WBNS, also known as Channel 10, covers its bases with Channel Ten Theater, Saturday night at 10:30 pm. If only they could have moved the start time up by a half hour, there wouldn't be any confusion at all.

Finally, there's truth in advertising. Hollywood Theater, on WCPO, isn't from Hollywood at all, or at least not on Tuesday night: the feature is Genghis Khan, made in the Philippines. And Million Dollar Theater, which appears in one form or another in many markets but here happens to be on WKRC, begs the question as to whether these movies are really worth a million.

Great titles, huh? Do you remember any from your area? TV  

July 22, 2016

Around the dial

Another Friday, another tour of the classic TV blogosphere. Let's see what we can come up with this week!

Ever think of worms as being dangerous? After you read The Last Drive-In's life lesson from Barney Fife, you won't be able to stop thinking about it.

Another episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents on tap at bare-bones e-zine - this time it's the ironic "Touché," from the show's fourth season, with a twist ending you'll appreciate. 

Ah, Truffaut. I've only seen his films on television, which is why it's appropriate to include this panel discussion on the famed director, courtesy of Classic Film and TV Cafe.

I remember "The Midnight Sun," a classic Twilight Zone episode, from the first time I saw it in syndication. The title, the sense of foreboding - it all worked, as recapped by The Twilight Zone Vortex.

Speaking of the sun as we were, Heat of the Sun is a 1998 Brit detective series that's the latest to undergo the microscope at British TV Detectives.

And speaking of British TV, Cult TV Blog has been silent for a bit, but this post explains it all, and I can't blame him a bit - doesn't that look more fun than blogging?

The DVD release of the seminal 1960s legal drama The Defenders has been hailed by many, and Classic TV History Blog has a very good description of the acclaimed series. I have my copy of course, but I call this a "keep the package" moment - will the show's liberal slant obscure its excellent writing and acting? Time will tell.

I've missed Classic Television Showbiz' long form interviews, many of which were (I suspect) part of his research for his book on comedy, but he's back with a continuation of his interview with the comic Jack Carter.

What do you think? Should I invest in the DVD of The Time Tunnel someday? And would this review of a tie-in novel based on the series, found at Television Obscurities, help me make up my mind? TV  

July 18, 2016

What's on TV? Thursday, July 22, 1965

As I mentioned on Saturday, the last time we looked at this TV Guide, I hadn't yet started this feature, so now we have a chance to see what shows were on air. Ironically, this is the issue that immediately followed last week's, but because we're looking at the Minnesota state edition rather than upstate New York, it seems a totally different environment.

July 16, 2016

This week in TV Guide: July 17, 1965

It's that time of the year again, when we begin our irregular series of encore presentations - in other words, reruns of past TV Guide reviews. This usually happens when I don't have an issue for a particular week, but fear not, for at It's About TV, we do reruns with a twist: while the issues are duplicates, the content you read here is all new, filled with material that didn't appear the first time we looked the issue over.

In addition, these issues have all been selected from the years prior to the start of the Monday "What's on TV" feature, which means we've never taken a look at any of the daily listings. So if you think you've read this because you recognize the cover, think again - I promise everything you read here will be brand new content.

By the way, as you've seen in the last few weeks, I'm always happy to accept loans of your own issues if you have one you'd like me to write up. I can tell you that right now I have upcoming openings for July 30 and August 27. In the meantime, let's see what this week's all about. And if you'd like to see what I did with this issue last time, you can read it here.

◊ ◊ ◊

During the 60s, the Ed Sullivan Show and The Hollywood Palace were the premiere variety shows on television. Whenever they appear in TV Guide together, we'll match them up and see who has the best lineup..

Sullivan: Ed welcomes musical-comedy star Sammy Davis Jr.; comedian Jackie Vernon; rock 'n' rollers Peter and Gordon; Alice and Ellen Kessler, singing and dancing twins; singer-comedienne Kaye Stevens; British comedian Charlie Drake; Trio Hoganas, high-wire artists; and Brizio and his clown act.

Palace: Host Maurice Chevalier introduces Jane Powell; Rowan and Martin; Tim Conway of McHale's Navy: the singing Collins Kids; the Andre Tahon Puppets; Dutch comedian Dave Parker, who does an imitation of Charles Chaplin; and the Stanecks' teeterboard act.

Yes, believe it or not, when we first looked at this issue, the "Sullivan vs. The Palace" feature was nowhere to be seen.* I have to think it started not long after this, though.

*As a matter of fact, although that initial post was good, there really wasn't much of anything to see - no pictures except for the cover, stories that flowed one into another instead of standing on their own, and a fairly short length. We ought to do better than that this time.

At any rate, each show this week is a repeat, and the guest list for each starts off strongly, with Sammy Davis Jr., Jackie "Frosty the Snowman" Vernon, Peter and Gordon, and Kaye Stevens on Ed, and Maurice Chevalier, Jane Powell, Rowan and Martin, and Tim Conway on Palace. Now it's true that Conway isn't nearly as funny when he doesn't have Harvey Korman around, and I'm not sure how Rowan and Martin sound when they aren't able to bet their sweet bippies, but despite the fact Sammy Davis Jr. is one of my favorite entertainers, I don't see him being able to tip the balance. I give a very slight edge to Palace, but your mileage (and judgment) may vary.

◊ ◊ ◊

By the way, last week I kind of mimicked this format when I compared Hullabaloo to Shindig! and that seemed to go over well, so we'll take a quick look at them again this week. 

Michael Landon is the host of Hullabaloo on NBC Tuesday night (in color!), and his guests are Ian and Sylvia, Linda Bennett, Dionne Warwick, Peter and Gordon, the Vibrations, Cannibal and the HEadhunters, the D Men and Deedee Warwick, while from London Brian Epstein introduces Joe Brown and his Bruvvers. Meanwhile, the following night on ABC, Shindig! (in glorious black-and-white) features host Jimmy O'Neill with Gary Lewis and the Playboys; the Sir Douglas Quintet; Gene Pitney; Sonny and Cher; the Righteous Brothers; Jody Miller; the Chiffons; Billy Preston; and Bruce Scott.

If that isn't enough, there's Where the Action Is, ABC's Monday-Friday afternoon music show (sample lineup from Tuesday: The Newbeats, Steve Alaimo, Paul Revere and the Raiders), and of course Saturdays wouldn't be the same without American Bandstand, which this week presents Duane Eddy and the vocal team of April Stevens and Nino Tempo.*

*Anyone named "Tempo" ought to be able to carry a beat, right?

◊ ◊ ◊

Last week we looked at the issue that was, in fact, from last week: July 10, 1965, so it's funny to see some of those same shows on elsewhere this week. For example, WDSM, Channel 6 in Duluth, Minnesota, is normally an NBC affiliate, but because the area lacks an ABC affiliate we occasionally see that network's programs pop up a week or so later. One instance is Tuesday night, when the same 12 O'Clock High episode that aired in the rest of the country last week makes its way to Channel 6. It features Earl Holliman as a flyer who doesn't care whether he lives or dies, and therefore he finds himself in quite a pickle when he falls in love after he's volunteered for a dangerous experiment. We also get last week's episode of Wide World of Sports, the one that featured the conclusion of the British Open and the Firecracker 400 NASCAR race. I thought those looked familiar. 

◊ ◊ ◊

We all know that documentaries are a hard sell on television; always have been, which is why the frustration over the education content of TV has existed almost from the beginning. As long as TV remains a medium that runs on ad revenue, which in turn is generated by ratings, thus shall be the case. 

However, in the early '60s ABC tried to make a go of it, and during the 1964-65 season, ABC coupled the aforementioned 12 O'Clock High with the documentary series F.D.R. to create a 90 minute block of Friday night programming that was guaranteed to appeal to military veterans and others for whom both the war and its wartime leader were fresh memories. If ever a documentary series was going to succeed, it would probably be here.*

*As you can tell from the Close-Up at left, the Minneapolis ABC affiliate KMSP didn't carry the series, opting instead for Death Valley Days.

This Friday, F.D.R. closes out its 27 episodes with "Going Home," which appropriately covers the events surrounding Franklin Roosevelt's death and funeral, including the train carrying the dead president's body from Warm Springs, Georgia to Washington, D.C. and then to Hyde Park, New York for burial at the family home. It's a thoughtful, well-done series (to the surprise of those who think the format begins and ends with Ken Burns), with tonight's script written by radio legend Norman Corwin, narrated by actor Arthur Kennedy, and featuring the voice of Charlton Heston as FDR.*

*The producers of F.D.R. were also responsible for the previous year's ABC documentary Winston Churchill: The Valiant Years, narrated by Gary Merrill, music by Richard Rodgers, and Richard Burton as the voice of Churchill.

◊ ◊ ◊

Interesting quote of the week, coming from the jazz singer Nancy Wilson, who's coming off of performances on the Academy Awards show, The Hollywood Palace, Burke's Law, and a Bob Hope show where the host says of her, "She has broken more records than Jack Nicklaus, but I like the way she swings better." She's had success in Hollywood, in the record business (winning last year's Grammy for best R&B female vocal performance), and she's taken place in the march for civil rights in Birmingham. She says, "I'm not a professional Negro. I'm a human being first - an American second - and a Negro third, and I'm not the least bit unhappy about it." I wonder if that's a sentiment prevalent in the industry today?

◊ ◊ ◊

Agnes Moorhead is best known as the brittle Endora in Bewitched, but as Dwight Whitney's profile shows, there's a lot more to this Hollywood veteran than that. She started out as a child ballerina for the St. Louis Municipal Opera, became a member of Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre, acted in Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons and was blacklisted for a time by Hollywood for fear of retribution from William Randolph Hearst, received four Academy Award nominations during a long film career, and had great success on the stage, most recently with Sorry, Wrong Number. So how does she do it?

According to Dwight Whitney's story, the secret is to have "the strength of an Amazon, the guile of a general, and the hide of a crocodile." She is a woman of strong feelings: of the current Broadway hit Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, she says "It doesn't teach anything. It is neurotic, sordid." Tennessee Williams is a great talent, but "He nourishes it, then pours fertilizer over it." Today's actors are only interested in quick success; they don't want to learn anything or improve themselves, and "just don't love what they're doing anymore."

Abour her co-star Elizabeth Montgomery, her praise is qualified: "'She has a quality,' Agnes says unemotionally. 'Charm, warmth, intelligence. Of course, you know she plays herself. When I was an ingénue, we were always characterizing.'" Her relationship with Montgomery is "respectful," even if her opinion of TV isn't quite there. For instance, it wasn't her decision to go into television; "I did the pilot sort of while I wasn't looking," she says, and adds that "I was convinced it wouldn't sell."

Yet here she is, a popular character on a popular program, one that will run until 1972. "This is not," she says, "an era of convictions." Not like a feature movie, no time to relax, all talk about ratings and time slots and advertiser appeal. "What it is is TV."

◊ ◊ ◊

Now here's something I would pay cash money, as we say in Texas, to hear. According to "For the Record," the great Stan Freberg is composing singing radio commercials for , , , the United Presbyterian Church. A sample lyric:

Doesn't it get a little lonely sometimes,
out on that limb, without Him?

Why try it alone?
The blessings you lose may be your own.

The piece notes that Freberg is son of a Baptist minister, and is donating his services. "You have to tread very carefully in this area," Freberg says, "But the Presbyterians are willing to experiment. They're enthusiastic."

However, as it turns out, I don't have to pay a dime for them, aside from my monthly internet bill. Thanks to YouTube, we can hear them right now!

Freberg talks about bringing them to television, but I wasn't able to find out any record (no pun intended) of that happening. Nonetheless, one wonders whether or not something like this might be worth a try today? It certainly couldn't hurt the Presbyterians, whose numbers in the United States have dropped precipitously - from 4.25 million in 1965 to 1.67 million in 2014. Coincidentally, the last year in which in increase in membership was recorded was 1965 - the same year these commercials were made.

Or is it a coincidence? TV  

July 15, 2016

Around the dial

It's another good week around the dial of the classic TV blogosphere, so let's get right to it and see what else you ought to be reading - besides It's About TV, of course.

At The Twilight Zone Vortex, an excellent review of the powerful 1961 episode "Deaths-head Revisited," starring Oscar Beregi and Joseph Schildkraut. I found particularly illuminating Brian's discussion of how the episode acts as an allegory for the then-current war crimes trial of Adolf Eichmann.

Lincoln X-ray Ida looks at the season four Adam-12 episode "The Grandmothers," in which our police drama is interspersed with discussions of potholders and home remedies for headaches. I was never the great fan of that show that Keely is, but the warm relationship between officers Jim and Pete (not unlike that of Friday and Smith/Gannon in Dragnet) was always one of the show's highlights.

Faded Signals looks back at Good Morning America, along with its ABC morning show predecessor, A.M. America. It wasn't a big hit and disappeared after a year, but I watched it whenever I could (naturally, it wasn't on in The World's Worst Town), and it retains a soft spot in my memory. Fun fact: according to Bob Crane biographer Carol M. Ford, Crane was offered (and turned down) the role as host of GMA prior to David Hartman accepting it.

I overlooked this when it first appeared, but at TVParty!, Bobby Darin's guitarist T.K. Kellman shares his memories of the singer and his variety show. I always liked Darin, and I'm probably one of the few who actually thought the biopic made by Kevin Spacey was pretty good, even though it fell short of what it could have been.

It seems that invariably when I dump on contemporary American police procedurals, I cite as an example a British series such as Inspector Lewis, which accomplishes the challenging task of being elegant, grim and mysterious all at the same time. British TV Detectives puts the show under the microscope this week.

Wednesday, July 13 would have been Bob Crane's 88th birthday (can that be possible?), and Vote For Bob Crane takes a moment to remember the man and the many details of his life that most people don't know.

Television's New Frontier: the 1960s is back with another in-depth look at a show of the era - Wagon Train, circa 1961, a transition season that sees John McIntire take over for the late Ward Bond, while Robert Horton rides into the sunset. See how the show deals with such changes.

Ever wondered "why do I remember that show?" Classic Film and TV Cafe has, and tells us about seven (more) TV series that he remembers, although he's not quite sure why. Anyone else have some?

Finally, "Christmas in July" continues at Christmas TV History, with a reminiscence by yours truly. Check it out, as well as all of the many other contributions by readers of that fine blog. TV  

July 13, 2016

Is "perfect harmony" just a pipe dream?

It's doubtful even a Coke could bring the world together today.

On September 30, 1963, ABC debuted an episode of The Outer Limits entitled "The Architects of Fear," starring Robert Culp. The story concerns "a group of scientists who try and instigate world peace by creating an imaginary alien threat, which they hope Mankind will unify against." Culp plays one of the scientists, who, by drawing the short straw, agrees to undergo injections and operations that will transform him into a grotesque alien creature. (I suppose now they'd just contact George Lucas and have him whip up an intelligent alien, but that's beside the point.)

Robert Culp, transforming to an alien.
Coming at a time just two months before the assassination of John F. Kennedy, a time when cold war tensions were running high, when the struggle for civil rights was bursting into flames, there was every reason to be pessimistic about the future, and to see the need for drastic action. Of course, as usually happens in stories like this, things go awry; the spaceship, which is supposed to land outside the UN building, instead goes off course, and Culp winds up being fatally shot by farmers wife. There are several effective, not to mention disturbing, scenes in the show, including the physical and mental transformation of Culp into the alien, and a powerful final scene - a brief reunion between the dying scientist/alien and his wife, one that demonstrates that love has a power that can transcend even death.

Once upon a time the Mad Men of the early '70s told us that buying and sharing a Coke could "teach the world to sing in perfect harmony." Today, it seems as if this country has reached a point where serious people ask if the various rifts now existing can ever be overcome, if there is anything that can transcend the bitterness and hatred that appears to have split us along almost every fault line one can imagine - religious, political, ideological, racial, socio-economic, sexual, what have you. (Have I left anything out?)* We seem to be operating with no common definitions, no agreed-upon standards, not only disagreeing about the nature of good and evil but whether or not they even exist, and having contempt for those who disagree. At a time like this, considering the events of the last week or so, it seems like a good occasion to take a brief, unscientific look at how television has answered this question.

*Even Coca-Cola and other soft drinks are divisive nowdays, thanks to the desire of the health police to cure Americans of their obesity.

I use the term "unscientific" advisedly, because in fact the main instigators in such scenarios are often scientists, who fall into two main categories: the benign scientists, who react in a way similar to what we see in this episode, by creating a man-made threat which they hope will bring the world together, usually against the threat of nuclear war between the superpowers. The other scenario we see often casts the scientists as less benign, as elitists who feel their superior knowledge and ability entitles them to make unilateral decisions in the name of "peace," decisions which often involve breaking a few eggs, so to speak, in the service of a greater good.

You can see these scenarios play out usually in science fiction, in various TV series such as Doctor Who and Star Trek, or on shows like MST3K in which the cheesier sci-fi movies on the subject can be seen. What runs through both of these versions is this: the elitist scientists know best, certainly better than the population at large, and their machinations usually fail. When you do see people come together to fight a common threat, it's usually in a situation such as The War of the Worlds, where there actually is a threat to the world from an outside force. Even here though, the scientists - in this case Gene Barry - are reduced to "praying for a miracle" rather than using their own knowledge to exploit the situation. The lesson here is that if we want to take our cue on how to overcome our national divide from television, we're in big trouble.

I'm being partly facetious here, but it does bring up the question as to what precisely would bring people together, whether even a common threat would be perceived as such, or - in the immortal words of The Simpsons newscaster Kent Brockman - a sizable number would welcome their new insect overlords. Probably a good number would see them as an improvement over what we have today.

If this is true, if there is no assassination or tragedy or threat that would bring most people together - and off the top of my head, I can't think of one - then it portends dire consequences for the nation. It means we'd probably be looking at a scenario similar to that portrayed in the TV series Revolution, that of the country splitting into several separate and distinct nations.

This is the outcome I personally think is more likely than the others, but the process through which this is achieved is by no means guaranteed to be a peaceful one. We might well be looking at North and South: Book 4, for all any of us know.

The point to all this is not to put this blog in the position of taking sides, or to have its readers take sides. It's merely to look back at the - what? Naivety? - of those scientists in September 1963. Yes, their concerns were primarily international rather than just about the United States, but today we'd see the idea that the world, or the country, could actually be unified by a common threat as laughable, Utopian, far-fetched. And, perhaps in a way, charming. Would that it were that easy - of all the differences that TV has shown between then and now, this one might be the most stark.

Perhaps The War of the Worlds had it right, that praying for a miracle is all that is left. You probably couldn't show that on TV, though.

July 11, 2016

What's on TV? Friday, July 16, 1965

oday I'm pleased to hand the commentary reigns over to Jon Hobden. As you'll recall from Saturday, Jon is the lender of this week's issue, and since this comes from the area in which he grew up, I thought he would be well-qualified to give us local color and insight into today's listings. Take it away, Jon!

July 9, 2016

This week in TV Guide: July 10, 1965

This week's TV Guide comes to you courtesy of reader Jon Hobden, who graciously provided this issue on loan from his collection so we could take a look at two of the most popular families on television: the Munsters and the Kings.

First up is Fred Gwynne, also known as Herman Munster on CBS's The Munsters, and before that Officer Muldoon for two seasons on Car 54, Where Are You? For his latest series, it takes Gwynne two hours in the makeup chair to ready the Frankenstein's monster look for which he's famous, and some days he has to drink a gallon of water to make it through the day in the heavy, suffocating costume that adds ten pounds and five inches to his lanky frame.

But while he's the first one to admit complaining and grumbling about the makeup and the time spent in the chair, he is also grateful to be wearing it. "Maybe it's just as simple as a little girl putting things on her face," he says. "Once the makeup is on, you're already playing a role. You don't have to fight much to get into it." Sometimes, though, it requires a little more than makeup: last Thanksgiving he appeared in costume along with Al Lewis (Grandpa) in the Munster Koach during Macy's parade. He was suitably prepared for the cold with a bottle of whisky in a paper bag, from which he would surreptitiously take slugs during the parade. "I had to get bombed so I could say hello to the little kiddies for 40 blocks. By the time time I got to Macy's at 34th Street, I wanted to adopt every child. That was my last parade. Four years is too much."

Fred Gwynne's an interesting man: a graduate of Groton, a painter and cartoonist, and for several years a copywriter for the J. Walter Thompson ad agency (his big client was Ford). Today, however, he's probably best known for one word, uttered in the movie My Cousin Vinny, in which he played Judge Haller. That word is "yute," and while Joe Pesci is the one who said it, I dare you to ever hear it without thinking of Fred Gwynne.

◊ ◊ ◊

Considerably larger than the Munster family, which consists of only five members, is the real-life King family, now numbering some 40 members, 35 of whom appear on ABC Saturday nights on The King Family Show.

It all started back in the big band era with the six King Sisters (Yvonne, Alyce, Donna, Luise, Maxine, and Marilyn). The sisters ended the act after World War II, but soon they were back at it, first on NBC with a local series, and more recently with their current series.* The family has now expanded to include not only the Sisters, but the King Cousins, whose most famous member will be Tina Cole, aka Robbie Douglas' wife on My Three Sons.

*After a 1964 appearance on The Hollywood Palace, ABC was reportedly deluged with over 53,000 letters. Well, wouldn't that convince you to give them their own series?

The King Family will continue to provide wholesome entertainment through two different incarnations of their variety show until 1969*, with syndicated holiday specials into the early '70s. The last of the original King Sisters, Marilyn, dies in 2013. They weren't my particular cup of tea, although their Christmas specials are lots of fun, but if you liked its Saturday night partner The Lawrence Welk Show, you'd love The King Family Show.

*The original incarnation ran through 1966; the half-hour version, spotlighting the Cousins, went on the air in 1969 as the replacement for the infamous Turn-On.

◊ ◊ ◊

During the 60s, the Ed Sullivan Show and The Hollywood Palace were the premiere variety shows on television. Whenever they appear in TV Guide together, we'll match them up and see who has the best lineup..

Sullivan: Ed welcomes Rex Harrison, the rock 'n' rolling Dave Clark Five, singer Dolores Gray, folk singer Leon Bibb, singer-impressionist Marilyn Michaels, comedians Alan King and Richard Hearne, and Rolando, a balancing artist.

Palace: Song-and-dance man Donald O'Connor introduces another singer-dancer, Dorothy Provine; tenor Sergio Franchi; comic Shecky Greene; the Haslevs, trampolinists; songstress Morgana King; Victor Julian's dog act; the Martin Granger Puppets; and song impressionist Marilyn Michaels.

This week's shows are both reruns, so we can be certain of the guest lineup. The shows pretty much cancel each other out: Dolores Grey and Morgana King, Alan King and Shecky Greene, Rex Harrison and Donald O'Connor, and Marilyn Michaels and Marilyn Michaels. (Beat) Ed has just a little less of the vaudeville shtick than Palace though, and on that basis I'm giving a very slight edge to Sullivan.

◊ ◊ ◊

This week Cleveland Amory is back, and his subject is a big one: Walt Disney. But don't take my word for it: "Frankly, reviewing Walt Disney is like reviewing the Grand Canyon. Including, we might add, the concessions. For Walt is nothing if not commercial. Everything he does seems to be made into a movie and at least one television show - often several - plus an inordinate number of repeats - until, honestly, watching a Disney show you actually lose all track of time. You know you've seen it, but whether as a movie, a television program, a nursery rhyme, you just can't be sure." You can be sure, however, that unlike today's Disney, what Walt produced was family-oriented, often educational, almost always entertaining. Or as Amory describes them, almost always good and, more often than not, great."

The output produced by Disney falls into four general categories: cartoons, which first made the Disney name but now account for less than other categories; adventure stories; historical programs; and nature shows. That's quite an output for one man, and while the nature programs often seem contrived and occasionally brutal, animal rights activist Amory praises them for "making individual animals not only famous but also lovable." Amory's only criticism, a mild one, is that the TV episodes are often stretched out for three and four parts, when they could easily be wrapped up in two, but it's a small quibble.

Today we know the name Disney as a brand, but it's important to remember that back in 1965 Walt Disney was still very much alive, and very much the boss of his own company. In introducing a recent episode, Disney described Robin Hood as "a mystery man, half truth, half legend." Says Amory in conclusion, "Half truth and half legend is a part too - or maybe even Parts 3 and 4 - of Mr. Disney's appeal, and his appeal too is ageless. For young and for old, ans well as  we hope, forever." What Walt Disney would think of his company today, we can only wonder.

◊ ◊ ◊

While we're in the habit of comparing shows, as we were a minute ago, let's take a look at a couple of the better-known music shows of the time, NBC's Hullabaloo and ABC's Shindig! Both shows showcase the latest in pop music along with folk and rock 'n' roll, and clips from performances on the shows can often be seen on those Time-Life type infomercials for British Invasion and swinging '60s collections.

Hullabaloo airs at 10:00 p.m. (ET), and this week guest host (there was no permanent host) Dean Jones welcomes Leslie Uggams, Gene Pitney, the Astronauts, the Moody Blues, the Youngfolk, and Shani Wallace. Shindig!, on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. and hosted by Jimmy O'Neill, counters with Sammy Jackson, Shelley Fabares, the Beau Brummels, Ian Whitcomb, Bobby Sherman, Terry Black, Billy Preston, and Kelly Garrett.

Here's a clip of the Beau Brummels singing "Just a Little"from that Shindig episode.

And here's another of their TV appearances, so to speak, on - The Flintstones.

Incidentally, according to the TV Teletype, Issues and Answers will be taking an in-depth look at "the new pop music-and-dance craze" on an episode later in the month. And on July 21, one of Shindig!'s special guests will be Patty Duke.

◊ ◊ ◊

While we're at it, how about a look at sports? ABC's Wide World of Sports has a couple of headline events on Saturday: the final round of the British Open golf championship, taped Friday at Royal Birkdale, and the Firecracker 400 stock car race, taped July 4 at Daytona.  In the golf, Peter Thomson wins his fifth Open Championship, with American Tony Lema, the defending champion, finishing in a tie for fifth and former winner Arnold Palmer finishing in 16; meanwhile, A.J. Foyt wins his second consecutive Firecracker 400, with Buddy Baker finishing second. Here's how it looked:

On Tuesday, the sports world focuses on Bloomington, Minnesota, home of the Minnesota Twins, for the 36th Major League Baseball All-Star Game, live on NBC at 1:45 p.m., with Jack Buck and Joe Garagiola behind the mics. Nineteen future Hall of Famers are on the rosters of the two leagues, 13 for the Nationals alone. The Nats jump out to an early lead thanks to a home run by one of those future Hall of Famers, Willie Mays, and hold on to win the game, 6-5.

◊ ◊ ◊

Finally, how about a little fashion? This week our star is Jessica Walter, most recently seen as Phyllis Koster, wife to William Shatner's prosecutor David Koster on the single-season CBS legal drama For the People, but here Walter proves she has quite the ability to show off the latest in '60s fashion. Groovy, huh? (Hey David, this should fit in to your Groovy TV Summer, right?)