April 21, 2017

Around the dial

As usual, we have some very good articles to read this week. I'm constantly impressed by the high quality of writing out there, and the thoughtfulness (not to mention creativity) displayed by so many of these authors. That's why I like to do this roundup every week, and believe me when I say I just scratch the surface - there are just as many good ones that I don't write about; if I did, I wouldn't have time to do much else!

The Broadcasting Archives at the University of Maryland has some great info (and pictures) on Joey Bishop’s talk show from the late ‘60s. As I’ve mentioned before, contrary to what most people think today, Bishop really did give Carson a run, until Johnny put the strongarm on guests to keep them from appearing on the Bishop show.

Network is one of those movies (like A Man For All Seasons) that I didn’t really “get” the first time around, but I’ve come to appreciate both of them since. In Network’s case, it’s a razor-sharp satire of the television industry, witty while still managing to make its devastating points. Realweegiemidget takes a closer look at the movie, which I don’t think could be done today – not because TV doesn’t deserve satirizing, but because too much of what happens in Paddy Chayefsky’s Oscar-winning script seems too plausible!

Silver Scenes has a fantastic list of Easter- and other religious-themed movies for the season; even though Easter has passed, there’s always next year – and after all, a movie like Ben-Hur is good for any time of the year!

Back in the day, the Twilight Zone episode "The Fugitive" always made me a bit uneasy. The idea of a young alien king, in the guise of old-timer J. Pat O'Malley, befriending a young girl who suffers at the hands of an abusive aunt - well, that part is OK, but then whisking her to his home planet where she'll grow up to be his bride, that struck me as a bit creepy. The Twilight Zone Vortex doesn't mention that particular apprehension, but their review of the episode leaves little doubt that it's not one of the series' better endeavors.

I ask you: how could you possibly pass up a title like "None of This Crap Works"? If I had a dollar for every time I've said that, I'd be a rich man. At Comfort TV, David uses the phrase to describe his frustrations with streaming video, internet problems - all crap that doesn't work. (Come to think if it, this really does sound like me.) That may be what we're left with, though, if the classic TV DVD market continues to dry up. (David also makes some very interesting observations about the series he struggled to stream, Netflix's 13 Reasons Why.

Cult TV Blog takes me back to an Avengers episode that people either love or hate - "Small Game for Big Hunters." John and I see eye-to-eye on this - we think it's a good episode, and it stands as a reminder once again of why it's important to take a show in the context of the times from which it comes, and to look at that show in terms of what it can tell the viewer about those times.

That should do it for the time being; I'll try and keep up with everyone with my own efforts tomorrow. TV  


  1. To comment briefly on the Twilight Zone episode The Fugitive I would just like to say this. It was the penultimate fairy tale brought into "modern" (i.e. early 60's) time. It included a wicked stepmother, a handsome prince (in disguise), and a little girl who just wanted to be loved. Sound familiar?

    Remember the hero in the episode is "in disguise". We only see what he really looks like at the very end. Also, we cannot and should not judge this episode by the standard of 21st century TV viewers. By today's standards such an episode might be considered glorifying certain...unacceptable behaviors. But the late 50's and 60's were as noted on this site several times more innocent. We didn't think about such things. We didn't want to believe such things happened on a regular basis. Those were more innocent times and the shows we watched reflected that.

    To conclude, I will reiterate. Let's not judge a TV show/episode based on our modern understanding of the world around us. Rather, look at the context of the times the show was made in.

    George Everson

    1. Thanks for the comment, George. That's basically how I approached it when writing the essay. Many reviewers have criticized Beaumont for this very reason. I will admit that watching this episode today definitely conjures up unsettling imagery for me, especially as a parent. But, being familiar with Beaumont's work and background, I am fairly confident that he was drawing from his own troubled childhood and simply writing a story about a neglected and abused child who dreams of a hero who will take her away from the misery. I contemplated touching on the subject briefly but I feel it has been discussed often enough. Viewers can form their own opinions. If they are put off by the relationship between the two main characters then they will not return to the episode for a second viewing--and they won't be missing much for it has a variety of flaws. Personally I agree with you and see it as simply the product of a far more innocent time. Thanks for the feedback!

      And thanks for mentioning the post, Mitchell!

    2. Nobody seems to remember this ...

      When Twilight Zone was in first-run ('59-'64), it aired mostly on Friday nights; here in the Midwest, at 9 pm.
      A lot of us who were kids back then (I was born in 1950) were fans of the show; parents like ours would use TZ as a top-of-the-weekend treat, if we'd been good all week (or at least that day).
      I dare say that Rod Serling and his crew knew this, and occasionally tossed in a TZ show that was aimed directly at the kids who might be watching.
      "The Fugitive" falls into this category, I think; J.Pat O'Malley had a following among kids from Spin & Marty on the Mickey Mouse Club, for starters.
      We knew Nancy Kulp from her many sitcoms, most notably Love That Bob!
      Kids in New York City surely recognized one of the planetary cops as Paul Tripp, aka Mr. I. Magination.
      And then there was Susan Gordon, one of the best - and least cloying - kid actors, then or ever.
      I still her classic questioning of O'Malley on why he was on the run:
      "Did you rob a bank?
      Kill somebody?
      Then you must be a Communist!"

      Those were the days ...


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