August 18, 2017

Around the dial

A while back Lileks made an observation; I'm not going to go back and look it up now, but the gist of it was about when you find watching a favorite show has become a chore, an obligation, rather than something you want to do. At Comfort TV, David is thinking along similar lines when he looks at the legacy of Norman Lear and asks whether classic TV always serves as comfort TV. For him, it doesn't; furthermore, to say that just because a program is edgy and controversial means it is also substantial and important - well, it reminds me of Dick Cavett's rejoinder to Ashley Montagu, which has been quoted variously but amounts to "Do not assume that because I am frivolous that I am shallow, any more than I assume that because you are grave that you are profound.”

At The Horn Section, Hal returns to Crazy Like a Fox with "Some Day My Prints Will Come" from 1985, with guest star Norman Fell, and isn't it a treat to see two old pros like Fell and series star Jack Warden. I can appreciate there's a lot of good young talent out there nowadays, but I really do miss the added excellence of veterans and character actors in today's series.

Martin Grams, reviews Chuck Harter's book on Mr. Novak, one of the acclaimed TV series of the 1960s, a show that's been heard about more than seen and probably will stay that way due to music rights. But, as Martin says, until that day comes along, this book is probably the next best thing.

The Land of Whatever picks up the story of yet another attempt to reboot The Munsters. Now, I don't want to suggest that every attempt to reboot a classic television series has been an abject failure, but it's true that you can probably count the number of successes on one hand (Battlestar Galactica, although perhaps I could think of others if I spent more time on it), and it really does begin to feel as if they're the exceptions that prove the rule, doesn't it?

The Twilight Zone Vortex looks at Volume 1, Number 3 of The Twilight Zone Magazine, and this issue ought to look familiar to me, because I owned this very copy! I'm quite sure at the time I had no idea who Stephen King was (ah, ignorance is bliss, isn't it?), and while I recall parts of the interview with Robert Bloch and portions of Marc Scott Zicree's episode guide, I could be thinking more of the latter's Twilight Zone book. Otherwise, I'm afraid the rest of the issue's a blank with me. Dumb kid.

Continuing at bare-bones e-zine is a look at Charles Beaumont's work with the Hitchcock TV series; this week, Beaumont's second and final contribution, "The Long Silence," from The Alfred Hitchcock Hour in 1963. Since I haven't seen this episode, I've wised up and didn't read what I'm sure is Jack's typically excellent summary; instead, I'm bookmarking it to read after I've purchased the DVD set to play in my region-free player. See, I'm not always a dumb kid.

Although it's not about television, I have to link to Ivan's piece at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, "The appalling thing about fascism is that you've got to use fascist methods to get rid of it," because it's made me curious enough to want to purchase the movie in question, It Happened Here, the "what-if" story that proceeds from the assumption that England was defeated at Dunkirk in 1940. Watch Christopher Nolan's movie to see how close that came to happening, follow up with this, and take it from there.

At Christmas TV History, Joanna has some great stories from her trip to the Detroit Festival of Books. I always love going to events like that, and it's always invigorating to see crowds of people looking at the written word. Reassuring to see there are still a few of us dinosaurs left, and a few fans of Christmas at that.

And another reminder - if you're going to be at the Mid Atlantic Nostalgia Convention, let me know - love to see you there! TV  


  1. Thanks, Mitchell. My wife and I will be at the Mid Atlantic Nostalgia Convention Friday and Saturday! I am especially interested in the Rod Serling seminar Friday evening.

    1. As we are. Let's get in touch closer to the date - perhaps we can meet up before or after the Friday evening seminar. Would be terrific to get to meet you in person!


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