August 4, 2017

Around the dial

No look around last week, so we've got plenty of catching up to do, starting with Fire Breathing Dimetroden Time's recollection of one of television's most charming and delightful mystery series, A&E's Nero Wolfe, starring Timothy Hutton and the late Maury Chaykin. It's on my top ten list and, unlike some programs, isn't apt to fall off; how right they are that this was the last show worth watching on A&E.

Speaking of Doctor Who - and yes, I'll probably keep sniping at it - at Steyn Online, the cultural critic Mark Steyn has this to say about the selection of Jodie Whittaker as the first female Doctor: "[M]y choice would have been a CGI Patrick Troughton, so what do I know? But I do regard this sort of thing as, to coin a phrase, cultural appropriation - in the sense that what our age mostly does is appropriate the cultural creations of greater talents and make them into something other." What that something other is - among other things, according to Steyn - is "making [the public's] most beloved characters something other than what they're beloved as." As always, read the whole thing.

The Broadcasting Archives at the University of Maryland linked to this article at Variety, one of the many tributes to June Foray, most famously the voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel, who died last week at 99. She played countless other voices, of course, including that same show's Natasha Fatale, but I think most of us will remember her as the plucky hero of Frostbite Falls, Minnesota, who helped fight for truth, justice, and the American way - or something like that.

At The Twilight Zone Vortex, it's the McCarthy-era story "Four O'Clock," an example of one of Rod Serling's more heavy-handed treatments that might actually have a far different meaning today if someone wanted to tackle an adaptation. As Jordan writes, a potentially provocative piece can't really hold up under all that weight, and it does waste the talent of an always interesting Theodore Bikel, but I wouldn't necessarily avoid watching it.

Remember Sugar Bear? David Hofstede does, and so do I. But I don't remember The Sugar Bears, the music group based on the cereal-plugging character - or at least I don't without the kind of prodding provided by this latest piece at Comfort TV. Who knew that two of the members involved in the writing and/or vocals were Mike Settle and Kim Carnes? It's kind of like finding out that Phil Collins was the voice of Alvin the chipmunk.

If you weren't following Joanna Wilson's wonderful Christmas in July over at Christmas TV History, now's your chance to catch up with this recap of a wonderful month of Christmas memories, including some from yours truly.

"It is like the final series of The Avengers on LSD, crossed with Adam Adamant, The Champions, and Department S." Now if that isn't enough to get your attention, I don't know what is. The series in question is The Secret Service, the final Supermarionation series from Gerry Anderson, and the subject of this week's piece at Cult TV Blog.

From The Land of Whatever, it's a real rarity that you'll want to listen to: the radio version of What's My Line? Of course, back in the '50s programs shared radio and television space all the time, but we don't think of WML? in that vein, probably for a very good reason: "Sign in, please." Listen in, and see how they work that out.

The Classic TV History Blog is back with "Freiberger's Last Word," which is not the title of an episode, but a very interesting behind the scenes look at how a line with roots from Star Trek found its way into an episode of Ironside, and what it all meant. I love reading about this kind of stuff!

Dave Garroway, the original host of Today, is an interesting, tragic figure in the history of early television, and at The Lucky Strike Papers, Andrew shares a clip from Garroway at Large, the Chicago-based program that launched Garroway on his path to stardom. It's interesting not just because of the look at early Garroway, but because it reminds us yet again of how in television's infancy, local stations were the birthing grounds for national stars. Of course, you have to have local programs to do that, and nowadays I suppose the internet performs that function.

At Television's New Frontier: the 1960s, the year is 1961, and the show is Laramie, the Western series starring Robert Fuller and John Smith. It's a series I've never really paid much mind to, other than acknowledging the fact that it was there, and through no fault of this writeup, my mind isn't much changed. TV  


  1. Hi Mitchell, while reading through your "Around the Dial" links today, the links reminded me of a comic I posted not too long ago where I discovered and odd thing (well, odd to me anyway) about the original "The Lone Ranger Show"

    1. Great information, and great timing, RJM - I'm using this in a piece next week!

  2. I did a double-take when I saw the paragraph about Garroway, and that's a lovely clip at the link. Faye Emerson and Dave Garroway had an excellent working relationship and she sometimes sat in as host of "Today" while Dave was on vacation. She also had a newspaper column in the 1950s and often had nifty anecdotes about working with Dave, or what guest-hosting "Today" was like.

    Shameless (but related) plug: An associate and I are in the research stages of writing a proper book-length biography of Garroway (in fact, I'm writing this while taking a few minutes from research chores), and last month launched a website for the project. You can visit us at - there's a lengthy biographical essay, a few photos of note, and on the "Wide Wide Blog" we're keeping a chronicle of the research process and the interesting things we're finding along the way. We're always looking for people who worked with Garroway or knew him and are willing to share their memories of him.

    Dave was an interesting man and the more we find in the archives the more fascinating he becomes, and we hope to tell his long-overdue story in as complete and as befitting a manner as we can.

    1. Hi Jodie, if I recall correctly, did you mention on Facebook that you planned to be at the Mid Atlantic Nostalgia Convention next month? If so, please let me know as I'm going to be there as well. I'd very much like to meet up and get a chance to talk to you about Garroway and your project, and perhaps do an interview for the blog. From what I know about him, he's a fascinating person, one of those people who should be far better known than he is, and I'm really glad to hear that someone's working on a biography of him. Let me know, would love to see you out there!

      I'll also mention your blog on my blog next week!


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