November 25, 2016

TV Jibe: Isn't it hard watching TV that way?


  1. This might be off-topic ...

    Over the past couple of days - twice on Wednesday, once yesterday - I tried to put a comment on the Wednesday post about the Michael Shayne TV series.
    Basically, it was the same comment each time, phrased differently; all told it (they?) was one of my better efforts - informative, chatty, all that stuff.
    Each time, I previewed the comment, to check for spelling errors and such.
    After checking, I hit the Publish button.
    Each time, the comment was published - in regular type and everything.
    After that, I went on to do other things at other places.
    Later in the day, I returned here to see if there had been any response.
    On each of the three occasions, the published comment was nowhere to be found.
    Late Wednesday (actually early Thursday), as a control, I went back to an earlier post and added a comment that I'd apparently forgotten to add at that time.
    That comment was published, and when I checked back later early Thursday, that comment was still up.
    That was when I decided to make the third attempt to get through - and that comment disappeared, as the earlier ones had.
    This appears to be originating at your end.
    There was a lot of good stuff in the Halliday comment, and I'd really like you to get it.
    So now I have to -
    (a) publish this one here;
    (b) come back later tonight to see if it's still here;
    (c) - well, from there on, it's in your court.

    It's 7:26 pm, CST.
    I'll try again around 11 pm.
    After that ...

    1. It is now The Next Day:

      I see that this comment is still standing. Hooray for me.

      I'm going to put my Brett Halliday comment here, just in case.

      - 'Brett Halliday' was the pen name of Davis Dresser, an old hand from the days of pulp magazines.
      The writers of those days thought of themselves as working men, producing a product for their customers.
      When Dresser/'Halliday' achieved enough success to get into bok publication, the other media came calling, boosting his recognition and his income.
      Movies, radio, comics (newspapers and magazines), mystery digests (one of which bore the "Mike Shayne" name) - all made 'Brett Halliday' a celebrity of his time, long before Four Star TV made its offer (and it wasn't the first one).
      Davis Dresser created a 'Brett Halliday' persona for publicity consumption, and played it willingly for years.
      His appearance in the pitch at the end of the Shayne pilot is a good example of this.
      So is an article that he wrote (or at least signed) for TV Guide, appearing in the October 8-14, 1960 issue (maybe you have it - Arthur Godfrey is on the cover).
      So how did 'Brett Halliday' really feel?
      Well, from the evidence, Davis Dresser was just fine with the whole thing - at least at the beginning.

      Michael Shayne aired on NBC Friday night at 10/9 Central time.
      Its competition on CBS was Twilight Zone (in its second season) and Eyewitness To History (CBS News documentaries - think an early take on what would become 60 Minutes).
      On ABC, The Detectives with Robert Taylor, and The Law And Mr. Jones with James Whitmore - both Four Star productions, as was Michael Shayne (I'm guessing that Dick Powell didn't care for this situation at all).
      There aren't any accounts of the ratings; all these shows were clumped up in the middle of the overall list.
      Twilight Zone and Eyewitness eked out renewals, The Detectives moved to NBC, where it expanded to an hour, and Law and Mr. Jones, after a brief hiatus, came back to ABC as a midseason replacement.
      Michael Shayne played out its string and was gone.

      The 1962 novel came out long after the cancellation was done.
      Davis Dresser had long since given over his operation to his ghosts, who were mainly old cronies from the pulp days.
      Many of these guys had had their own experiences with Hollywood, as had Dresser with 20th-Fox and radio. The war stories must have been something to hear.
      Since Shayne the series only ran the one season, we may be looking at sour grapes here. Had the show been more successful, this novel might well have read differently ...

      So now, Saturday 26 November 2016, 3:12 pm CST. -
      - let's see if this gets through.

    2. Since yesterday, I've done a little more research about Michael Shayne and 'Brett Halliday'/Davis Dresser.

      - Dresser was a pioneer in the proprietary aspects of his work; starting in the '50s, he and his then wife owned his hardcover publisher, Torquil & Co., which put out new Shayne novels long after he'd ceased to write them himself.

      - Dresser also (mostly) owned Mike Shayne's Mystery Magazine, which featured a new Shayne novella each month for years, extending beyond not only Dresser's retiring from being 'Halliday' circa '58, but even a decade beyond Dresser's own passing in 1977.
      The magazine had a stable of talented mystery writers appearing each month, many of whom got to be "Halliday for a day" doing the new novellas.

      - What this all boils down to is that 'Brett Halliday' was Davis Dresser's business, much as "Murder Is My (Mike Shayne's) Business".
      Selling the TV series to sponsors was part of the game, and Dresser/'Halliday' knew that, and went along.

      - Hello to Paul Duca, who did manage to get through to the original post, where I couldn't.

    3. I got one more (however belatedly):

      Up above, where I mentioned that the Four Star Shayne wasn't the first TV attempt?

      Yesterday (30 November), I took delivery on a "collectors edition" DVD set (OK, bootleg) of 17 episodes of the '60 Michael Shayne series.
      They aren't restored, and they look pretty bad, but you take the cards you're dealt.
      But this set also includes a pilot film made in 1958; a half-hour produced and directed by and starring Mark Stevens, who'd just come off another long-running series, Big Town (which he'd similarly controlled).
      I don't know how much control, if any, that Davis Dresser/'Brett Halliday' had in this pilot, or would have had in the series.
      The credited screenwriter of this pilot was Steve Fisher, another old pulp hand, and a long-term friend of Dresser's, so there's that.
      Anyway, this pilot didn't sell, and after a year passed, Four Star was brought in to make an hour-long show, which did.
      And there you have it.

      As long as I'm here, let me spread the word about my friend Max Allan Collins, whom I've mentioned here on occasion.
      This week, the Mystery Writers of America announced that my friend MAC will recieve the Grand Master Award, a lifetime achievement honor and the highest one that you can get in the MWA.
      So all hail Max, Barb (his wife and collaborator), Nate and Abby (his son and daughter-in-law) and Sam (new grandson), and all the rest of us who knew how good Max always was, going back to the '70s and '80s.

      ... and now I'll see if you (or anyone else) are actually reading any of these ...


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!