September 1, 2017

Around the dial

I'm writing this introductory sentence on Tuesday, which means there's still time for it to change, but thankfully to this point nobody prominent in the television world has yet died, so there's hope we can still make it through the week without having to start by remembering someone, as we sadly seem to have done too many times in recent weeks. While we have the chance, let's get started.

I like this piece from Classic Film and TV Café on the five biggest movie stars of the '60s because it's such a snapshot of the times. Paul Newman: yes, he's no surprise, and neither is Sidney Poitier when you're reminded (think about Lilies of the Field, To Sir with Love, In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, and then you'll remember), and of course Sean Connery has to be there on the strength of the Bond franchise, but I think Hayley Mills and Doris Day serve as a reminder that the first half of the '60s really are much more like the last half of the '50s, a discussion we had back in the comments section a while back.

The Twilight Zone is famous, of course, for the quality of its writing, not only from Rod Serling, but the stable of writers he assembled, including Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont, George Clayton Johnson, and others. But, as The Twilight Zone Vortex reminds us, don't forget the tremendous performances that brought those stories to life - here's part one of the 20 greatest performances from the series.

Speaking of, Escape Clause - now there's an episode of The Twilight Zone that must be fun to describe to a six-year-old, and I think Fire Breathing Dimetrodon Time does an admirable job of it, especially when the little one sees what a mess David Wayne's gotten into with his deal with the Devil, not to mention a well-timed facepalm at the end. Don't know what I'm talking about? It's well worth checking out, particularly for the O. Henry conclusion - and the performances.

Once Upon a Screen returns with a classic Columbo investigation, "Etude in Black," featuring John Cassavetes, who gives perhaps the worst impression of a concert conductor I've ever seen in my entire life - I've seen babies waving their arms in their strollers who would've made more convincing conductors. However, the rest of Cassavetes' performance is terrific, including his interactions with his old friend Peter Falk, and the rest of the supporting cast, including Blythe Danner and Myrna Loy, is top notch.

It's not British, but Get Smart gets the coveted ranking of Stonking Good Television from Cult TV Blog. It has all the spy conventions of the time, and of course it's appropriate that they're all overdone, but living across the pond John wonders just how popular it was, since he hasn't read a lot about it. Our own Mike Doran fills in some of the blanks in the comments section.

We've written from time to time about The Defenders, and now it's time for some more extensive treatment from Television's New Frontier: the 1960s, which takes a close look at the series' first season. Whether or not this show is my cup of tea is beside the point; it's part of TV's history, and I wish the remainder of the series would come out in DVD for the many who've been delighted by its quality.

At Comfort TV, David takes a look back at the life and times of Ann Jillian, an actress who probably never quite got the credit she deserved, and continuing to reach people as a motivational speaker.

It may be too early for me to start watching Christmas shows, or even go into the Christmas section of Hobby Lobby, but that doesn't mean I'm not in the mood to appreciate a tour through part of Joanna Wilson's collection of Christmas books - you can see for yourself at Chrstmas TV History.

Finally for this week, a new entry in bare-bones e-zine's Hitchcock Project: the works of Francis and Marian Cockrell, beginning with the very first Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode, "Revenge," from October 2, 1955.

Early deadline this week, so if there more good ones come our way before the end of the week - and I wouldn't be surprised in the least if that happens - I'll just add them on to next week's exciting roundup! TV  


  1. Yeah it's too early for Christmas. I find it annoying to see Christmas stuff right after 'back-to-school'. Trees and decorations are already appearing - bleah.

  2. So you wrote that intro on Tuesday ...

    ... to lead off a column for Friday ...

    ... and in between those, Richard Anderson, who was in even more things than Ed Nelson, dies on Thursday ...

    I don't think I ever knew anybody who had premonitions in reverse before ...

  3. Thanks, Mitchell! Too bad about Oscar Goldman--I mean Richard Anderson.

  4. You do such an awesome job highlighting other classic TV posts of interest! Yes, the rest of THE DEFENDERS deserves to be released.

  5. Thanks, Mitchell! Hope you enjoyed the countdown.


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