April 28, 2017

Around the dial

We start off the week with a twofer from the ubiquitous Martin Grams, talking about a pair of books that have flown under the radar. Creeds, Codes and Cowboy Commandments, by Matthew McKenzie, is just what the subtitle says, rules to live by from TV's B-Western Heroes. It's really a shocking example of how far our culture has come from the '50s, when these cowboy heroes were on TV screens throughout the nation with lessons such as this one from the Roy Rogers Safety Club: "Love God and go to Sunday School regularly." As one of Martin's friends remarked to him, "We had real heroes then. People to look up to and aspire, and every story taught a moral." That book is coupled with Flickering Shadows by Ed Hulse, which tells you everything you wanted to know about the film short, television pilot, and movie series The Shadow. If you haven't heard it on OTR, The Shadow is a pretty cool series about the mysterious crime fighter Lamont Cranston, and like the first book, it sounds well worth your time. Martin points out that many of these self-published or small-press books have a very difficult time promoting their existence (tell me about it!), and it's through word-of-mouth like this that people find out about books that they otherwise might have overlooked.

Speaking of books, Classic Film and TV Café reviews what looks like a very interesting book on some of the seminal movies of the 1970s, Opening Wednesday at a Theater or Drive-In Near You (and boy, do I remember that phrase from my childhood) by Charles Taylor. And if you go to that site, you'll notice a link to Jeff's newest blog, The International TV Blog, yet another source for quality television from other countries (a topic we'll return to in a moment).

Classic Television Showbiz is back with an episode and a couple of clippings from a 1968 syndicated variety show I hadn't been aware of, Here Come the Stars. As explained in this piece from The Land of Whatever, Here Come the Stars was a series of celebrity roasts (prefiguring those of Dean Martin), hosted by Hollywood's Toastmaster General, George Jessel. Speaking of The Land of Whatever, I discovered it quite by accident while Googling for some info on Here Come the Stars, and it just goes to show you that for as many interesting blogs as you think are out there, there are probably 100 times that number that you've never heard of. That's one reason why I share these pieces with you every week, and I hope that if you like them you'll do likewise with your friends. Here's the most recent one from Whatever: a 1974 commercial for Bold detergent featuring Laugh-In's Jo Anne Worley.

After what seems like too long a gap, The Classic TV History Blog is back with a primer on '60s videotaped dramas from British television. As you probably know from my frequent links to Cult TV Blog, it's a genre that I particularly like, and now that I have my region-free Blu Ray player, I'm free to indulge in some of these more obscure (to us) series. These series are completely new to me, and as my wife is wont to say, "A day when you don't learn anything is a wasted day." I'm surely not wasting this one!

I don't have the import DVDs of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, but in anticipation of the time when I do, I haven't watched that many of the episodes that have aired over time on MeTV. Don't want to spoil the surprise, you know. I can't resist the bare-bones e-zine articles about them, though, especially when it's an episode that I actually have seen - as is the case with the darkly ironic episode "The Gentleman Caller," starring a very nasty Roddy McDowell.

Although The Flintstones was always on when I was a kid and I watched it often, I was never that big a fan of it, and perhaps that's why I'm not as knowledgeable about it's history as I might be. Sure, I knew it was a spoof of The Honeymooners, and I remember the characters like Dash Riprock, Perry Masonry, and Ann-Margrock. But there's a lot in this interesting piece by Television's New Frontier: the 1960s that I didn't know, including how long it took for The Flintstones to refine some of the familiar aspects that we take for granted today, and how the show's popularity peaked very early in its run. As I say, interesting.

Television Obscurities lives up to its name with a piece on the long-running (1949-1955) ABC kids' show, Super Circus. Like so many of these, it's a show that's new to me; unlike many of them, there's actually some video footage of the program!

I do hope this keeps you busy for awhile, and I'll keep you busier tomorrow. TV  


  1. Thanks, Mitchell. I have the series in DVDs I bought from another collector. Someday I may spring for the import DVDs but then I'd also need a player to play them!

  2. Dash Riprock was Elly May's on and off movie star boyfriend on "The Beverly Hillbillies". Real name: Homer Noodleman.


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