June 30, 2018

This week in TV Guide: June 28, 1975

One more week of reruns. I hope you don't mind; this one is from five years ago, and as was the case last week, I'll have brand-new listings for Monday. I figure I've made about two thousand changes to the Electronic Mirror manuscript; at least it seems that way, based on the last couple of weeks. By next week at this time, I should be at the point where the final revisions won't interfere so much with the blogging. Of course, then it'll be time for me to start working on my presentation for MANC...

We've been spending some time lately in the dark years of the late 60s, and frankly I'm a little tired of it, so let's jump ahead a decade to the beginning of the Bicentennial year.  True, when we think of the American Revolution Bicentennial the date that comes to mind is July 4, 1976 - but it was a year-long celebration, which actually ended on that date.*  And we needed to celebrate - we were coming off from Watergate, "Whip Inflation Now" Buttons were in vogue - come to think of it, maybe the times weren't that much better than 1968 at that.

*It doesn't quite explain why the Rose Bowl chose to adorn the gridiron with an American shield and eagles on January 1, 1975 - I guess they really wanted to get a head start.

◊ ◊ ◊

I realize that 1975 is almost 40 years ago, but when viewed from the perspective of 50s and 60s TV, it most definitely was the future. The Western was dead, and the variety show was dying, and the era of live broadcasting was pretty much confined to sports and news. The networks had long since gone to an all-color schedule, so much so that TV Guide had stopped indicating which shows were colorcast, and now saved that distinction for old movies and occasional reruns in black and white. TV Guide itself had introduced a new, more modern typeset that was supposed to be sleeker, even as it lost something in character. And yet for all that, there’s still something familiar about this week’s listings, the past casting a shadow over the present.  In fact, they read something like the schedule for Me-TV, Antenna or Cozi.

This 1968 ad for WTCN shows that what's old is new again.
And that's the interesting thing - we consider those shows classics, we cheer their arrivals on DVD, and we debate the status of the ones that have yet to be released.  But in 1975, so many of them were still on TV, years after they'd disappeared from network schedules, and for old farts like me, we probably didn't think twice about them.

Channel 11 was the independent channel in the Twin Cities in 1975, so you'd expect they'd have a host of old reruns on their schedule, and they do.  Just look at their regular Monday through Friday lineup: (I've put an asterisk next to the shows that were in color; everything else was in B&W.)

10:00am - Father Knows Best
10:30am - The Andy Griffith Show
11:00am - The Lucy Show
12:30pm - That Girl
3:00pm - Petticoat Junction*
3:30pm - Bewitched
5:00pm - The Mickey Mouse Club
5:30pm - Star Trek*
6:30pm - The Andy Griffith Show
7:00pm - Ironside*
10:00pm - The F.B.I.*
11:00pm - Perry Mason
12:00am - Alfred Hitchcock Presents
12:30am - Alfred Hitchcock Presents

And that doesn't even count the weekends, which included shows like Gentle Ben, It Takes a Thief, Bracken's World and The Virginian.  Granted, several of these series were only a few years old, and they probably still would have been considered part of the TV landscape in the same way as we might look at Friends, Cheers or Seinfeld.  Still, it's entertaining to think about this, especially if you're a classic TV buff.  Think of what we could have done with a VCR back then!

The network affiliates have less room for old reruns, but they have their share as well, especially on the weekends.  Channel 4 (CBS) has The Saint, Channel 5 (NBC) offers a weekday afternoon block of Dick Van Dyke, The Mod Squad and Hogan's Heroes, and Channel 9 (ABC) runs The Name of the Game and The Untouchables.*

*The most interesting program in this lineup.  It's already been off the air over a decade, and during its original run it was considered one of the most violent programs on television; more about that in a minute.

Again, not to put too fine a point on this, but its quite interesting how many of these shows were on without any particular fanfare.  A decade later there was Nick at Night, and locally Channel 41, KXLI, would offer "TV Heaven," with nothing but old programs.  Today we love our classic TV networks; back then, they were just part of the programming day.

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Another thing we loved in the day was the local movie.  They're all over the place on this week in 1975 - Channel 4 with one in the afternoon (following CBS' game show block) and another following the 10pm news (CBS doesn't have a late night show at this point), Channel 9 with a late movie following ABC's Wide World of Entertainment, and Channel 11 with a 1pm matinee.  Only Channel 5, with Johnny Carson and Tom Snyder established in the late night hours, lacked a weekday local movie slot.

The weekends, though - that's where the movie payoff is.  All four stations have movies on Saturday night following the local news - Channel 4 has Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Channel 5 follows the Carson rerun* with a double feature - The Giant Claw and The Monolith Monsters, Channel 9 has the movie version of McHale's Navy, a 93 minute movie which they've managed to stretch into a 2½ hour timeslot, and Channel 11 has Guns at Batasi and Horrors of the Black Museum.  Channel 4 also has morning and late-night movies on Sunday, and they're joined in the overnight hours with movies on both Channel 9 and Channel 2, the PBS station.

*NBC showed "Best of" episodes of Carson prior to the introduction of Saturday Night Live.

Are there many local stations that show movies nowadays?  A few, here and there, but even though all of them broadcast 24 hours, they seem to have less and less time for movies.  Not that there aren't movies on television, of course - there are entire networks devoted to them, and film aficionados have gotten used to seeing their movies uninterrupted and uncut, which they seldom ever were on local television.  But in the timeslots that used to be devoted to movies, we now have sports, daytime talk shows, and infomercials.  Especially infomercials.  What else can I say about infomercials, except that they're a pox on the viewing landscape.

◊ ◊ ◊

The big show on TV this week, one that I remember vividly, is Tom Snyder's six-hour Tomorrow marathon ringing in the Bicentennial year.  Snyder had his share of freak guests, but Tomorrow was often a literate, intriguing program, which I was only able to watch during the summer since it wasn't on Fridays.  (The Midnight Special was.)  Beginning at midnight and running until 6am Friday morning, it's a wonderful glimpse at Americana - cities preparing for parades, a reenactment of the writing of "The Star-Spangled Banner," and experts offering their thoughts on America's future.  Snyder also gets very loopy without enough sleep.*

*Remind me to tell you sometime about his recreation of the sinking of the Titanic.

NBC has another 4th of July show on Thursday night, the Stars and Stripes Show from Oklahoma City, which they broadcast annually from 1972 to 1976.  This year's show features Bob Hope, Charley Pride, Anita Bryant, John Davidson and Juliet Prowse.  It likely wasn't much different from any musical comedy show of the day, and probably was yet another aging reminder of TV's past, with increasingly less and less relevance to today's viewer.

◊ ◊ ◊

There are some other interesting articles on TV's future, which I might get into at a later date.  But before we leave, one final note dealing with local movies.  Channel 9's Friday night feature is the 1964 version of The Killers, starring Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson and Ronald Reagan, which you might recall was intended to be the first-ever made-for-TV movie before it was deemed too violent and was released to theaters instead. It follows Channel 9's showing of The Untouchables.  Fascinating, isn't it? For all that talk we had last week about violence on TV, here we have the one-time most violent show on television, and a movie that was judged too violent for TV.

So what happened to all that hand-wringing over TV violence?  Did it just fade away?  Did our society become so much more violent that these programs actually paled in comparison?  Did people not care, since these were on late at night?  I wonder, of those people who wrote and campaigned against gratuitous TV violence, if any of them would have been surprised to see these on a local station, just seven years later? TV  

June 29, 2018

Around the dial

Ah, now here's an interesting one to start off the week: the first of two stories by John Cheever to be adapted for Alfred Hitchcock Presents. It's the sixth-season episode "The Five-Forty-Eight," and naturally it's the topic of Jack's latest at bare-bones e-zine.

I thought this was a very timely piece, a reminder of what the world was like in 1970 - Comfort TV reviews the Adam-12 episode "Elegy for a Pig," David's latest entry in a series he calls "The Unshakeables." It never hurts to put the times in historical perspective.

The great Harlan Ellison died yesterday (Thursday) at the age of 84; remembered, of course, for the Star Trek episode "City on the Edge of Forever," though I remember him as well for his comment that Doctor Who was the greatest sci-fi TV series ever. The Twilight Zone Vortex gives us another chance to remember him; Jordan's latest look at the Twilight Zone Magazine features the December 1981 edition, including an interview with Ellison on "The Art of Making Waves."

Every time I check out Made for TV Mayhem, I read about something else the fantastic Amanda is up to - books, liner notes, commentary tracks. You really know how to hurt a guy. Read the latest, very cool, developments here, and then take some time to look over the blog and find out the rest of the amazing story.

I'm always in the mood for the British perspective on things, and I think John makes some very perceptive comments at Cult TV Blog on The X-Files episode "Never Again." I like how he looks seriously at both the overt and underlying themes, as he's done throughout his series on the show.

Care to escape the bad news that seems to surround us? Take a few minutes to look at this terrific piece at The Federalist on the Mister Rogers documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor?  What a remarkable, remarkable man Fred Rogers was - and is, really, because as long as videos of his show still exist, and stories are told of his interactions with people, there will always be a part of him with us.

I would be remiss if I didn't stop off at Television's New Frontier: the 1960s, not just because it's always interesting, but because this week the topic is one of my favorite cartoons of all time, 1961's Top Cat, with a cast comprised of memorable voice talents.

Martin Grams has a very nice remembrance of Clint Walker, the gentle giant who was the star of the WB western series Cheyenne, and so many more things. Martin shares his own encounter with Walker, as well as a wonderful story about the time when...

At Garroway at Large, Jodie (can't wait to see you at MANC!) takes some time for part one of a well-deserved appreciation of Jack Lescoulie, the brilliant number two on Today. As she points out, he's all but forgotten today, but at one time was a very common sight on our television screens.

That should do it for now - back tomorrow! TV  

June 25, 2018

What's on TV? Thursday, June 27, 1968

This is a pretty good week - starting to see some of the summer replacements pop up, while Friday night features the first football game of the season (the old Coaches' All-America Game, feature players who'd been drafted and would be rookies this year). Many programs, especially on Saturday, are shows that had been "postponed from a previous date," preempted by the RFK assassination coverage. Thursday's listings, on the other hand, are pretty straightforward (with a couple of pleasant surprises), which is why I chose to highlight them for this week. They come from the Twin Cities edition, with appropriate pithy comments.

June 23, 2018

This week in TV Guide: June 22, 1968

At an hour when I should be watching television, or reading a TV Guide, I'm instead working on the third, and (hopefully) penultimate, draft of The Electronic Mirror. It is for that reason and none other that I ask your indulgence in allowing me to dip into the archives once again for a look at this issue, which I first wrote about five years ago. I think it still holds up pretty well.

The nation's still reeling from the assassination of RFK a little over two weeks ago, and television is no exception.

Periodically throughout its history, the medium's majordomos have engaged in bouts of soul-searching, and as television increased in cultural importance, it displayed something of a schizophrenic attitude regarding its responsibility to society.  In the aftermath of RFK, all eyes turned toward the effect that TV might have had on creating a climate of violence.*

*We're not here to debate Sirhan Sirhan's guilt, but it does bear saying that if he was guilty, then his motivation was not violence on TV, but a hatred of RFK for his support of Israel.  The rest of this discussion would seem, to me at least, to be a moot point: Sirhan would have committed the deed even if the most violent thing on TV was a fluffy white kitten.


The Doan Report asks the question: "Had television's violence-prone "action-adventure" drama contributed substantially to today's climate of solution-by-murder?"  People from all walks debate the issue, from historian (and Kennedy camp follower) Arthur Schlessinger to playwrite Arthur Miller to the President of the United States himself, who asked "whether 'the seeds of violence' had been nurtured by TV, movies and news media."  The Louisville Times refers to "America the Brutal," and points the finger at TV as "a root" of the evil, using a picture of Richard Boone as Paladin in Have Gun - Will Travel as evidence.*

*I know it's hard to believe, considering what one sees on TV nowadays, but at one time HGWT was considered one of the most violent programs on television.

New York Representative John Murphy condemns the networks, saying that "[n]ight after night one program after the other shows violence in great detail and in living color."  Miller, the playwright, says that the country was now at the stage where "any half-educated man in a good suit can make his fortune by concocting a television show whose brutality is photographed in sufficiently monstrous detail."

It's not just politicians and pundits raising cain, though, as a perusal of the Letters to the Editor section will show.  Casey Willis of Tucson complains that although there have been hundreds of gun killings in the U.S., "many of the most popular shows on TV have been based on firearms and violence," and suggests that TV "should search its own soul."  Mary Hendrickson of Hudson, NY adds that "I can censor my own children's programs, but what of the children whose parents don't know or care what is pounded into their impressionable little heads?"  TV has done a good job covering the recent tragedies; now, "do something to prevent them."  And P. Corcoran of the Bronx says that "TV is one of the worst offenders in this crime" of violence flooding the country, citing Mission: Impossible as one of the shows "warping our youngsters."*

*See my comments on HGWT above.

One of the ways the networks have responded to this outcry of public opinion has been to pull its series' most violent episodes off the air - at least for the short term,as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago.  NBC released a statement assuring the public that they "have established policies and procedures to guard against the depiction of violence fore its own sake," and CBS president Frank Stanton promised that the network  "would seek to 'de-emphasize' violence" on their programs.

And so the landscape changes, for a time, and kinder, gentler programming is now the fashion.  But for how long?  I suppose there's any number of studies that could isolate when the trend toward more violent fare resumed.  No matter how noble the intent might be, ultimately ratings (and the concurrent advertising dollars) rule, and the viewers cast the deciding votes.  The level of violence on television today is astounding; I can't imagine what the people, who were so aghast at 60s violence, would think of it.  One could argue that, having grown up in a so-called culture of violence, people are more inured to it, and less likely to be influenced by it.  And yet, things seldom change much: every time there's a school shooting or bombing or other act of violence, the cry arises once again.  Lately, it's been over the violence in video games.

For a long time, television has attempted to have it both ways, downplaying the influence its programs have on viewers' behavior while at the same time accepting ads designed to - influence viewers' behavior.  That's always seemed a bit disingenuous to me.  Of course the content of television programming affects viewers. Likewise, though, there can't be much doubt that the audience is receptive and willing.  It's a chicken-and-egg situation - does the problem lie with the programming, or the people watching it?

◊ ◊ ◊

One testimony to the effect of the assassination on television is the slew of shows bearing the legend "Postponed from an earlier date,"  the heaviest concentration of which appear on Saturday.  Although network coverage of the assassination and aftermath were nowhere near the 1963 levels, all three networks preempted virtually all of their Saturday programming for Kennedy's funeral and burial.  The intent was to return to regular programming at the start of prime time, but the funeral train was four-and-a-half hours late, and the entire slate wound up being wiped out.  The Prisoner, Hogan's Heroes, The Dating Game, Petticoat Junction, an ABC profile of land speed-record holder Craig Breedlove - all are victims of the accordion effect of postponements and rescheduling.

The Sunday chat shows reflect the political dynamic as well: Face the Nation features a showdown between Connecticut Senator Thomas Dodd (father of Chris) and NRA president Harold Glassen over the burning issue of gun control.  Presidential candidates Eugene McCarthy (Issues and Answers) and Nelson Rockefeller (Meet the Press) round out the day's guests, and I'm sure each of them touched on guns as well.

***

During the 60s, the Ed Sullivan Show and The Hollywood Palace were the premiere variety shows on television. Whenever they appear in TV Guide together, we'll match them up and see who has the best lineup..

Ed Sullivan: On this first in a series of reruns, CBS renames its Broadway theater in honor of Ed.  Guests: New York City mayor John Lindsay, Pearl Bailey, Alan King, Met baritone Robert Merrill, actress-dancer Gwen Verdon, comedians Wayne and Schuster, the Argentine singing group Los Nimos Cantores de Murialdo, and the Emerald Society pipe bands of New York's police and fire departments.

Hollywood Palace:  Guest host Sid Caesar dominates this hour of comedy and music.  Guests: Marlo Thomas, singers Sergio Franchi and Fran Jeffries, and the rocking Checkmates, Ltd.

It's rerun season, and interestingly enough, this particular show of Ed's has already appeared on our TV Guide review, back in December of 1967.  That time, I went with the Palace, partly because of John Lindsay's grandstanding appearance.  As I mentioned, CBS could just as well have had William Paley make the presentation instead of a hack politician.  This time, however, the decision goes the other way - no matter how good Sid Caesar might be, Marlo Thomas and the Checkmates are not going to edge out Pearl Bailey, Alan Kind and Robert Merrill.  Verdict:  Sullivan, the second time around.


◊ ◊ ◊

The summer months mean not only reruns, but summer replacement series.  For those of you not familiar with that concept, back in the day many programs, particularly variety shows, took the summer off and were replaced with short-run series, also often variety shows.  So for example, on CBS the Smothers Brothers' summer replacement is the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, which does well enough in the ratings to merit a return engagement the following January, where it would remain until January 1972.  Red Skelton's off as well, replaced by Showtime, a variety show with a different host each week; this week, it's country singer Eddy Arnold, who also hosts NBC's Kraft Music Hall on NBC the next night.

Speaking of NBC, Dean Martin never worked summers, and the fill-in was invariably called Dean Martin Presents... For the summer of '68 he presents the Golddiggers, with Frank Sinatra, Jr. and Joey Heatherton.  Jerry Lewis' replacement is Showcase '68, with Lloyd Thaxton.

Another trend in summer replacements for all three networks is the British import, though few of them are as radical a change as Jackie Gleason's fill-in - the mind-bending British series The Prisoner.  ABC pops in another British adventure series, Man in a Suitcase, in place of its Disney-wannabee Off to See the Wizard.  And Laugh-In's spot is taken by yet another spy/adventure series, The Champions.  All three of them are products of Lew Grade's ITC Entertainment, a mainstay of 60s TV.

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Here's a personal conundrum - Friday night features the first football game of the season, the late and unlamented Coaches' All-America Game, played in Atlanta.  It's actually the last game of the 1967 college season, since both teams are staffed by seniors about to join NFL training camps.*  Recognizable names?  Larry Csonka, who knocked 'em dead at Miami, and Ron Yary, an all-timer for Minnesota.

*This game, like the much-loved College All-Star Game that pitted college stars against the defending NFL champions, was a victim of increased concerns over injuries, and pro teams' desires to get their players in camp earlier.  It lasted, believe it or not, until 1976.

Ordinarily I would have been glued to the tube for this game (at that age, 8, I would watch anything that featured a scoreboard), but this year was different, for opposite ABC's coverage of the game was CBS' Friday night movie, A Night to Remember.  Longtime readers will recall that the story of the Titanic has been one of my lifelong passions, and so there's no question that this movie, a brilliant adaptation of Walter Lord's bestseller and the definitive Titanic movie, captured the evening in my book.  But then again, this kind of scheduling is why the DVR was invented.

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On the cover this week is Toni Helfer, who along with her husband Ralph train animals for Ivar Tors' series Daktari.  But we're going to wrap up this week's review with a look at another feature from the shiny section of the magazine.  It's a profile of William Shatner, who's hit it big with Star Trek, but he's still not happy.  He's a classically trained actor, a veteran of Shakespearean productions and high-class TV dramas, but as he said, "A plaque on the wall doesn't by baby food."  The man who wowed audiences as Henry V when he was 22 has found that success doesn't necessarily translate to happiness, nor does flying around the universe lead to professional satisfaction.  He's struggling in other ways as well.  His father died a year ago, he's now separated from his wife of 10 years, and he sees his life as "an empty pit."  He hungers for friends, but finds only fans.

He leaves us with a classic Shatner moment though, one that you can almost hear as you read it on the page. Addressing the National Conference of Christians and Jews, he tells the audience that "I'm a Jew, but I do not believe in your God...I do know we are all afraid of dying...we are all afraid of loneliness.  Those are universal truths.  Are you scared?  I'm scared...I love you...I need you."

The words of a transformed man, don't you think? TV  

June 22, 2018

Come see me at Mid-Atlantic

The lineup for this year's Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention is just about complete, and if you're in the Baltimore-Washington area or have the opportunity to come out for a long weekend, I invite you all to stop by for my talk on "TV Guide: America's Time Capsule" on the Convention's opening morning - Thursday, September 13, at 11:00 a.m. I'll also be available throughout the weekend to sign my upcoming book, The Electronic Mirror: An Opinionated Look at How Classic TV Helps Us Understand Who We Were and Who We Are (and Everything In-Between!). 

From the program:

Throughout the latter half of the 20th Century, there was no better barometer as to the cultural climate in America than the pages of TV Guide. During those days, the little, odd-shaped magazine was arguably the most influential publication in television, and those who think of it merely as something that told us what was on TV, something that could be read and then thrown away as soon as the week was finished, risk overlooking a treasure trove of information, a time capsule that helps us understand who we were then, who we are now, and how we got that way. Presented by TV historian Mitchell Hadley.

That's me! What a blast!

I'm also thrilled to see some other great presentations on tap for the weekend: my good friend (and occasional guest blogger here) Jodie Peeler, along with Kevin Doherty, will be on tap earlier that morning, kicking of the Convention at 9:00 a.m. with "Your Friends From Breakfast to Bedtime: NBC's Today, Home, and Tonight," and I'm going to make sure to step away from my table for an hour and catch what sounds like a fascinating talk. Meanwhile, Rick Goldschmidt, the official Rankin-Bass historian, is giving two presentations this year: at 10:00 a.m. on Friday he'll be talking about "The Making of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," and at 1:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon he'll be back with "The History of Rankin and Bass." Those should be two terrific presentations. Before I get too wrapped up in this, go to the link for the complete list of celebrities and presentations to get more details.

If you've read my pieces the last two years about MANC, you'll know what a great weekend it is (even without me!), and this could be the best lineup yet. I'd love to see you out there and autograph a copy of my book for you, or just have you in the audience on Thursday morning. Go ahead and treat yourself - you're worth it! TV  

June 20, 2018

When good comes from evil

L
ife, as I have remarked more than once, is at heart a human drama. And not just any drama, but one shrouded in mystery. Oftentimes, it seems as if the act of living provides us with more questions than answers, which is rarely satisfying to anyone; it is frequently that lack of answers that causes some people to conclude that there is no meaning to life at all, that it’s simply a matter of random chance that determines what happens to us. Why, we ask, do bad things happen to good people while good things happen to bad people? Why does God allow evil to exist in the world? It's a question that's shattered the faith of more than one person over the millennia, and continues to do so to this day - perhaps especially in this day.

Sometimes we find explanations to these kinds of questions difficult to come by, and often it's easier (and more effective) to illustrate a point than it is to explain it. Likewise, those illustrations will often come from unusual places; in this case, the classic Doctor Who episode "Genesis of the Daleks," which first aired in March, 1975. It is a brilliant science fiction story that deals, as sci-fi often does, with big issues thinly disguised in different wrappers. With "Genesis of the Daleks," we find as near as possible a perfect demonstration of the Christian explanation regarding the existence of evil, and what, in fact, it's good for.

"Genesis of the Daleks" begins with the Doctor (Tom Baker) being intercepted by a fellow Time Lord, who intends for the Doctor and his companions to take on a secret mission. As usual, the Doctor resents this interference by the Time Lords in his life, but his interest is piqued when he's told the subject of the mission: Daleks.

In short, the Time Lords plan to transport the Doctor, Sara Jane (Elisabeth Sladen) and Harry (Ian Marter) back to the planet Skaro at a time just before the creation of the Daleks. Once there, the Doctor's assignment is to prevent the Daleks from achieving their eventual domination and enslavement of the universe. To do this, he has three options: stop the creation of the Daleks before it can be completed; slow down their development if it cannot be stopped; or at the very least, determine what their weaknesses are, so that they can be better defended against.

As the story proceeds, the Doctor is left with a single choice: he can destroy the Dalek incubation room where the mutated creatures are being prepared for installation in their pepper-pot containers. Working quickly, he wires the room with explosives. And then arrives the moment we’ve waited for from the beginning of the story. The Doctor holds in his hands two wires: touch them together and the explosion will destroy the incubation room, destroying forever the Daleks and their reign of terror and death. And yet the Doctor hesitates.

“What are you waiting for?” Sarah Jane asks him. “You can’t doubt it.”

“Well, I do,” the Doctor replies. “You see, some things could be better with the Daleks. Many future worlds will become allies just because of their fear of the Daleks.” To Sarah Jane’s objection that this isn't how things work, the Doctor points out that the responsibility for this act rests on his shoulders – his soul, really, although he doesn't use that word – and no one else’s; he then poses a question of his own. “Listen, if someone who knew the future pointed out a child to you and told you that that child would grow up totally evil, to be a ruthless dictator who would destroy millions of lives, could you then kill that child?”* It’s true that, as the Doctor says, “Hundreds of millions of people, thousands of generations can live without fear, in peace, and never even know the word Dalek” if he simply touches the two wires together, and yet – does he have the right? It’s not like killing a bacteria, wiping out a disease; this is an intelligent life form. If the Doctor does it, he becomes a perpetrator of genocide, no different from the Daleks themselves.

*That is, of course, the same argument made by Ezra Lieberman, Ira Levin’s Nazi hunter in his novel The Boys from Brazil. Kill all the Hitler clones Mengele has created – all of whom happen to be young boys, by the way – and you’ll prevent one of them from growing up to become another Hitler. Lieberman, like the Doctor, is unable to do it, and for the same reasons.

Ultimately, the decision is taken out of the Doctor's hands, through yet another plot twist. As the story ends, one of the Daleks inadvertently sets off the explosion. Although the room has been destroyed, Daleks outside the room continue to live, and the best the Doctor can hope is that they've bought some additional time to prepare for them - perhaps a thousand years or so. The Doctor and his companions manage to escape Skaro with their lives, which under the circumstances may be the best they could hope for. And yet there’s no doubt they’ve failed in the mission on which the Time Lords sent them, to prevent the genesis of the Daleks.

Or have they? “Failed?” the Doctor asks. “No, not really. You see, I know that although the Daleks will create havoc and destruction for millions of years, I know also that out of their evil must come something good.”

This is one of the pivotal moments in the history of Doctor Who. We already knew how it would turn out; the BBC isn’t about to kill off the cash cow that is the Daleks. But in resolving the situation, the Doctor, who in all of his incarnations has witnessed first-hand more Dalek-caused death and destruction than it would ever be possible for anyone else to experience, who knows the millions of years of “havoc and destruction” that awaits because of the Daleks, still remains confident that good will ultimately emerge from even the worst of circumstances. It is a profound statement; in effect, an explanation for the existence of evil.*

*Two profound statements, in fact, the other being the sanctity of life – even Dalek life.

Granted, there’s an entire theology dealing with good and evil – Original Sin, free will and the like. But in some ways the simplest answer remains the best, and this is what the Doctor presents. Note the force of his statement - some good must come from the evil of the Daleks. Planets and nations will come together as a result of them, and perhaps it will foster understanding between different races and species. People who would otherwise remain apart will meet because of them, and some of them will marry and have children, and some of those children might, propelled by the threat from the Daleks, come up with inventions that will greatly benefit the brotherhood of man. One need only look in our own time at the many scientific achievements that resulted from the space program, which itself was a part of a Cold War being fought against dictators responsible for the deaths of many millions of people. You can create your own scenarios, but the point remains the same.

Ultimately, all that's required to understand the nature of good and evil is faith - faith that evil is not the end-all and the be-all. Indeed, the Doctor's refusal to commit genocide, even in what would appear to be a good cause, speaks to the importance of one remaining true to himself, regardless of the costs. Christians might think of this as the sanctification of the individual, the ability to reach into inner depths that might not otherwise be exposed save the existence of such a threat. For a program such as Doctor Who, one that frequently looks at religion with a cynical eye, the message that comes from "Genesis of the Daleks" is a surprisingly affirming one.

But then we really shouldn't be surprised. It's a point I've made more than once here, that inadvertent prophets can be found in the unlikeliest of places, It also reinforces another point: the truth is always the truth, no matter how you package or present it. Bishop Sheen probably couldn't have said it any better. TV  

June 18, 2018

What's on TV? Saturday, June 13, 1970

The listings this week give us a blend of old and new, which you can see right off the bat with the Saturday morning offerings. The familiar favorites, The Jetsons, Bugs Bunny, Underdog, and The Flintstones,* mingle with newer shows like Cattanooga Cats, The Banana Splits, and Here Comes the Grump. The Flintstones joins The Monkees and Jonny Quest as former prime-time programs moved to Saturday morning. And then there's Wacky Races and its two spinoffs, Dastardly and Muttley and Penelope Pitstop.

*Interesting, isn't it, how The Flintstones started off as an animated version of The Honeymooners, kind of a sophisticated adult cartoon, and winds up listed as a kids' show?

The prime-time lineups are all in color now (except for an occasional movie), and you'll notice that ABC's completely lost its affiliates following Lawrence Welk; of the three we have here, only one carries the Durante and the Lennons show. I wonder how many affiliates nationally took that show?

Enjoy. The listings are from the Minnesota State Edition.

June 16, 2018

This week in TV Guide: June 13, 1970

I feel as if I've given kind of short shrift to the programming part of this feature over the past couple of weeks, so this week we're just going to look inside the cover and see what's on. For all our forays into history and sociology and the like, this is still a TV website, after all.

Variety shows, for instance. After all, we have a variety show star - Johnny Cash - on the cover this week, and maybe later on we'll check out what William Price Fox has to say about him. For now, though, we'll be content looking at Wednesday night's show (ABC, 8:00 p.m.), which features guests Jimmie Rodgers, Jerry Lee Lewis (singing "Great Balls o' Fire," of course), and Vikki Carr. Cash's cast of regulars is almost as impressive as the guest list on any other show: June Carter, Carl Perkins, the Statler Brothers, and the Tennessee Three. I'm not a country music fan, and even I know that's a powerhouse lineup. Johnny is up against NBC's Kraft Music Hall, airing at the same time; it's "An Evening with Burt Bacharach," and the famed songwriter welcomes Dionne Warwick (who did mighty well by the Bacharach/David songbook), Joel Grey (a hit on Broadway for Cabaret), and French singer-guitarist Sacha Distel, and while that's good, I think Johnny's on the money this week.

This is a great TV night, depending on your tastes, and speaking of country music, CBS still has Hee Haw as part of their schedule, and at 6:30 p.m. Sonny James and Tammy Wynette join Buck Owens and Roy Clark and the regulars, including Grandpa Jones, Sheb Wolley, Jeannine Riley - practically the Grand Ole Opry right there in the studio. Country singers never did shy away from appearing on television when they had the chance; as rock music gets bigger and the stars appear on TV less often, shows like these will be where you can go to see the biggest names. Even NET gets into the act, with B.B. King on NET Jazz (7:00 p.m.). That's followed at 7:30 by Bob Cromie's long-running Book Beat, with philosopher Mortimer Adler discussing his new book, The Time of Our Lives, in which he argues for a moral and educational revolution in society if man is to truly achieve personal happiness. All I can say is that he picked a good time to discuss it.

Later in the evening - see, it really is packed, isn't it? - ABC follows Cash with Engelbert Humperdinck, their second British import, and while a lot of people see him as a Tom Jones-wannabee, he's got a credible lineup of his own, with Phil Silvers, Paul Anka, British music-hall star Millicent Martin, and singer Dana Vallery. That's not bad. I know what I would have been watching that night, though - WTCN, the independent station, has live boxing from Madison Square Garden in New York, a heavyweight bout between Jerry Quarry and Mac Foster. Foster comes into the fight as the #1 ranked contender, but Quarry knocks him out in the sixth round, earning him a shot at Muhammad Ali later in the year. (Quarry was the only boxer of the top ten heavyweights willing to give Ali a shot.) Boxing in prime time, which had been commonplace a dozen years ago, was a real rarity by 1970, generally only seen in syndicated broadcasts like this.

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And now, back to the beginning of the week. You'll recall that a couple of weeks ago I talked about the KQED Auction, the annual fundraising effort by the Bay Area's public television station. This Saturday, back home in the Twin Cities, it's the final night of KTCA's Action Auction, beginning at 6:00 and continuing "until all the merchandise is sold," including anything that hasn't already sold, plus items donated during the week. (If it's anything like the auctions I watched, it'll wrap up around 4:00 a.m. or so.) The proceeds from this year's auction will be used by Channel 2 to maintain a weekend broadcasting schedule. This is so clearly in the public interest that TV Guide even gives you the phone number to call if you want to place a bid.

Also this weekend: ABCs Wide World of Sports presents (live and tape) satellite coverage of the 24 Hours of LeMans, beginning at 4:00 p.m. Saturday and concluding at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Back in the late '60s, at the height of Ford's campaign to unseat Ferrari as the dominant force in the world's greatest race (via the famed Ford GT), ABC's live coverage included the race's start and finish, which would have been around 8:00 or so in the morning. (I know this because I got up to watch it.) This year, by contrast, the entire 24 hours will be shown on Velocity, in case you'd care to watch the whole thing.

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Sunday morning has been the traditional province of religious programming, but times have changed, as Edith Efron notes in her article on how "social concerns overwhelm spiritual ones in the networks' religious programming." This can be seen in, for instance, CBS's long-running Look Up and Live (9:00 a.m.), which this week features "The Secular Sisters," described as former nuns who recently started their own community, reflecting their "change from a religious order to a 'lay community of religious persons.'"

Efron cites socially conscious programs like these, dealing with the generation gap (see Insight, 11:00 a.m., KCMT, in which "a rebellious teen-ager turns hippie"; Lloyd Bochner plays the teen's dad) the need to communicate (on This is the Life, 11:00 a.m., WDSM, another teen "finds adjustment difficult when his older brother returns home from prison"), the changing role of the church (for example, Town Hall Meeting, 10:00 a.m. KSTP - "Is Mass Evangelism the Answer to the World's Conversion?"), and Navaho poetry (no description needed). The problem with programs like this, points out Efron, is that "the theme of the individual and his relationship to God and the supernatural has been strangely missing."

Networks are enthusiastic about this "living church" programming; CBS's Pamela Ilott says that "the times call" for this "revolutionary social action." ABC's Wiley Hance, producer of Directions, notes that religious programming has been moving to the left for some time. "Those in control have been liberals. And some of the youth groups we've had on these shows are real incendiary revolutionaires. We did one four-parter on the black church, in which one black minister just about advocated black revolution. He came out for hiding arms in churches."

Not everyone is impressed by this argument. Episcopal bishop Charles J. Kinsolving was outraged by a church grant to an organization whose director was jailed for violent assault. "I wonder how many people have to be shot, how many have to be tried, how many have to be pistol-whipped, how many have to be tried, how many sentences have to be given before a group is considered violent by the church."

Many times I write here about the ways in which television reflects the dramatic changes in society over the last half-century. Just as often, though, I note how the more things change, the more they stay the same, and this is one of those situations. Anyone who's read my series of pieces over at the other blog on the Church's dramatic lurch to the left under the reign of the current pope knows that what I've just described is almost exactly what we're seeing in religious programming today. Since we're all about TV here, I'm not going to take off on a sociopolitical/religious rant; I just want to note that if you want to know what's going on in mainstream religion today, just read this article. Even if it is almost 50 years old.

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Still on Sunday, at 9:00 p.m. NBC's episode of The Bold Ones features "The Lawyers" (Burl Ives, James Farentino, Joseph Campanella); this week, their client is Craig Stevens (whom I've liked ever since Peter Gunn), playing a gubernatorial candidate whose campaign hits the skids when he's charged with murder. Fernando Lamas directed the episode, which I assume is marvelous.

Monday it's time for another look at the burning issues of the day; NET Journal (8:00 p.m., NET) takes an absorbing but critical look at the United Nations and asks the question, "Who Speaks for Man?" (Of course, today that would have to be "Who Speaks for Humankind? but that's another story.) The world seems to be filled with warfare today - Vietnam, Biafra, Czechoslovakia, the Middle East - where's the UN in all this, and why is it impotent - if it is impotent?

On TuesdayMarcus Welby, M.D. (9:00 p.m., ABC) gets drawn into the world of LSD, with a young dropout who returns home struggling with the effects of his drug use, but with his antagonism toward his father intact. Longtime TV viewers will not be surprised to find that the father in question is played by Nehemiah Persoff. The other great social issue of the time is Vietnam, and that's the subject of 60 Minutes, which has yet to become a Sunday evening staple - it's a special, and it's on CBS opposite Welby. Mike Wallace talks to both draftees and career soldiers to get their impressions of Vietnam both before and after their tour. 60 Minutes isn't ignoring drugs, though; Wallace's co-host Harry Reasoner looks at the growing number of young Americans in European jails on drug charges.*

*Not-so-fun fact: Four months after this airs, a young American named Billy Hayes is arrested in Turkey on a drug charge. His experiences in a Turkish prison are the basis for his book Midnight Express, which is made into an Oscar-nominated movie.

I mentioned Tom Jones above; on Thursday night (8:00 p.m., ABC) Tom welcomes Victor Borge, British comic actor Harry Secombe, and singer-dancer Paula Kelly. At 9:00 p.m. Dean Martin, in one of his last shows before the summer break, has his daughter Deana, Elke Sommer, Frank Sinatra Jr., Charles Nelson Reilly, and Don Rice.

And on Friday there's this terrific double-feature on WDIO in Duluth at 10:35 p.m. The first movie is a real classic: The Magnificent Seven, with an all-star cast including Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen. What do you follow that up with? Curse of the Faceless Man, starring Richard Anderson. "In the ruins of the city of Pompeii, the body of a faceless stone man is discovered." Somehow I suspect there's more to it than that, but I suppose I'll just have to check it out sometime to find out. It is on YouTube, after all.

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There's a lot more to this issue of TV Guide, too. For example, Robert Higgins does a profile of CBS's morning news anchor, Joseph Benti. However, since I talked with Joseph Benti myself last week (he's 86 and sounds great), I think I'll save this until I write about our conversation, which should be in a couple of weeks.

Something else I write about from time to time is my upcoming book The Electronic Mirror, which develops the ideas I talk about here, about how television reflects (get it?) the cultural changes we've undergone. The book will be out shortly before I appear at the Mid Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in September, but it has to be done before that. Right now I'm in the process of reviewing the second draft, and in order to get this wrapped up, I'll be taking the next couple of Saturdays off, dipping back into the well to look at classic TV guide pieces from the past. As was the case last month, I'll have new listings on Monday (one reason why I reprint the old reviews, back from before I did the Monday feature), and I might throw in an encore piece somewhere along the line. One thing I won't do, however, is let the blog go dark - it, and you the readers, mean too much to me for that.

Speaking of those listings, we'll end this week with a few examples of something people have noticed on occasion - the habit that TV Guide has of abbreviating series titles, especially when they run a bit long. For instance; The Name of the Game becomes, according to TV Guide, Name/Game, similarly, Land of the Giants winds up as Land/Giants. (Oddly enough, Here Come the Brides gets printed in full.) Eddie's Father eliminates the Courtship, there's no Love in To Rome, Jeannie doesn't Dream, Voyage doesn't go to the Bottom of the Sea or anywhere else, and Disney's World isn't so Wonderful after all, apparently.

And that, my friends, is the kind of hard-hitting and insightful analysis you expect from this site. TV  

June 15, 2018

Around the dial

H




ey, Hondo's back! Actually, it's Hal at The Horn Section who's back, and this week he's telling us about the November, 1967 episode "Hondo and the Judas," and some very sloppy work on the show's storyline continuity. Man, I just hate it when things like that happen - I pick, pick, pick on it. Just ask my wife.

At Comfort TV, David has a really, really good piece on how television is no longer "something to talk about." I recommend you read the whole thing, because this is an article that speaks to me in so many ways, particularly the idea of television as a shared experience. As David says, "Such connections, such common threads, are beneficial for a culture." The fact that we no longer have them does say something, doesn't it?

I mentioned last week that we're at the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. In a week or two I'll have more to write on that, but in the meantime, Andrew of The Lucky Strike Papers writes about the busboy who comforted RFK in some of his last moments of consciousness.

I kid you not - just before typing this, I was reading an article discussing how Formula 1 is considering reducing the length of its races to attract more viewers. What does this have to do with television? Well, at Garroway at Large Jodie writes about an early review of Today by H. L. Phillips that includes the thought that no television show should run as long as two hours. Have we always had short attention spans?

Did you know that Rocky & Bullwinkle had been revived? If I did know that, I'd forgotten all about it - good thing Martin Grams is around to remind us. Here's his review of the Amazon-based series, which I think I may have to check out after I'm done here.

Finally, a shout-out to Television Obscurities, which celebrated its 15th anniversary over last weekend. That's more than twice as long as this blog has been around, all the while putting out informative articles on obscure programs, as well as a titanic year-long look at a single season of TV Guide. Let's hope there are many more years to come! TV  

June 13, 2018

In honor of the World Cup

The World Cup, the biggest sporting event in the world, kicks off tomorrow in Russia, and so I thought it only right to take this very, very funny look at soccer as seen through the eyes of Monty Python's Flying Circus. If you're a fan of either soccer or philosophy, then I think you'll appreciate the utter absurdity of this situation.


"Beckenbauer" is one of the great German soccer players of the era; I think you'll recognize the rest of the "players." TV  

June 11, 2018

What's on TV? Friday, June 12, 1959

After a couple of weeks in the 70s, we're back to 1959 this week. You won't see all the stations you may be used to looking at in the Minnesota State Edition - KCMT, the infamous Channel 7 from my days in the World's Worst Town™, hasn't been born yet. What it does do is give me a rare chance to show every station that's in the issue, which is kind of cool. A couple of things you might notice: check out Anita Bryant on American Bandstand - that's not the Bandstand I remember. And the week's guest singer on Jack Paar's Tonight is Betty Johnson; one of her big hits was "The Little Blue Man," who was played by none other than Jack's sidekick, Hugh Downs. Anyway, have a good time!

June 9, 2018

This week in TV Guide: June 6, 1959

So what does happen when a show lays an egg, besides some clucking from network executives? (A little TV humor there.*) The show in question is Music Theater, the stars are Bill Hayes and Florence Henderson, the network is NBC, and the producer is David Susskind.

*Very little.

The series, which was broadcast live from New York, ran for just six weeks, and brings to an end what had been a very good season for Susskind, whose DuPont Show of the Month had run off a string of hits. David, what happened?

"We made an attempt to integrate song and dance with dramatic structure," explains the producer. "This is an integration that has been successful in the theater ever since Oklahoma! But we couldn't get television audiences to look at it in sufficient numbers to make it worthwhile for our sponsor. [Oldsmobile] So I myself made the suggestion that we kill the show."

It's not surprising that Music Theater would fail to draw an audience; many innovative concepts do, at least at first. (Remember Cop Rock?) One gets the sense of Susskind's frustration talking about the show, how he had wanted something "fresh." He stops just short of blaming the audience for the show's failure, but adds that "the defeat of this program was a blow to all future efforts to get out of the rut contemporary television is in."

There's not much about the show online, other than this nice article that suggests Henderson and Hayes made a very inviting couple on the small screen. They both went on to great success, of course; Hayes as one half of the soap opera power-couple with his wife Susan Seaforth Hayes, Henderson as the iconic Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch. And I wouldn't feel too sorry for David Susskind, either. As this week's article points out, Music Theater was succeeded on NBC by a sitcom called Too Young to Go Steady, starring Donald Cook and Joan Bennett. It's sponsored by Oldsmobile, telecast live from New York, and produced by—David Susskind.

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Speaking of quality television, the intrepid critic F.DeB (and I know one of you out there will know who that actually is) looks at what daytime television has to offer. A hint as to his thoughts? The article's title: "The Torture Starts Early."

There's no better way to begin than with this anecdote from Sam Levenson's morning show: "I got a letter here from a fellow in jail. 'I been watching TV all day now for a week,' he writes. 'And until someone put me wise I thought it was part of my sentence." Thus begins DeB's odyssey through the morass that is daytime TV—"treacly soap operas" with worried-looking chaps exchanging worried words with equally worried-looking ladies, and "foolishness" like Beat the Clock, Pantomime Quiz, and Day in Court.

And then there's Bill Wendell, onetime announcer for Ernie Kovacs, future announcer for David Letterman, and currently host of Tic Tac Dough on NBC. The question: "Name the city in Ohio known as the rubber capital of the United States." The contestant's hopeful answer: "Baton Rouge?"*

*It's Akron, by the way.

Perhaps the one story that sums up DeB's feelings the most is this exchange on County Fair, hosted by Bert Parks, who was "grinning away like a gargoyle." To a contestant who allows as to how he likes to sing, Parks tells him "Well, that's fine, because this lady likes to throw pies. Stick your head through this hole. Every time you sing the lady will throw a pie at you." She never hit him once, of course. I don't think DeB saw any hits the entire day.

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If I'm being perfectly honest with you (which is something I try always to accomplish, or at least to strive for), I have to admit there's not a lot to cover this week, which makes it a perfect time to look at some of the ads for the week's shows.

This one for Highway Patrol, starring Oscar winner Broderick Crawford, means business, don't you think? Not just the two cars ("Roadblocks!"), but the gun. Seriously, chief, I was planning on watching it anyway! I'm not sure which show had more violence though, that or Roller Derby. (now on Channel 9!) No matter what iteration of Roller Derby seemed to be on over the years, it was always the same teams, like the San Francisco Bay Area Bombers.

And then there's Rendezvous, a British-American anthology production that ran for a couple of seasons in syndication. According to the always-reliable Wikipedia, the show had a pretty good list of guest stars— Patricia Neal, Peter O'Toole, Bert Lahr, Gary Merrill, Mel Ferrer, Donald Pleasence, Leslie Dwyer, Lois Maxwell, and Kim Hunter. Unfortunately, none of them are pictured in the ad, but then you can't have everything, can you?


This ad is for a local program, Town and Country, which aired for several seasons on KDAL, Channel 3 in Duluth. I've typed this listing so many times over the years, I don't think my muscle memory will ever fail: TOWN AND COUNTRY—Becker


Imagine the kind of excitement that the winner of this will get. Not only autographed photos of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, but a phone call from the King of the Cowboys himself! That had to be a thrill.



John Daly: the man who knows his news, and that's his line. ABC's evening news lacked the affiliate coverage of the other networks; WTCN, the ABC affiliate in Minneapolis-St. Paul, didn't carry it, for example. Too bad; I'd like to see what a Daly newscast looks like.


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In this era before universal Daylight Saving Time, it's interesting to see the various differences in programming, especially when it comes to live events like baseball. For example, CBS's Saturday Game of the Week between the Yankees and Indians begins at 12:45 p.m. Central time in Minneapolis, Duluth, and LaCrosse, Wisconsin. But if you're living in Mason City, Iowa, you see the game on KGLO at 11:45 a.m. It's got to be the difference between who's on Daylight Saving Time and who isn't; Mason City didn't spring ahead, and therefore they're still on Central Standard Time. That kind of thing had to be hard to keep track of, not only in television, but in life as well.

Speaking of KGLO, at 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Ken New interviews the newly crowned Miss North Iowa of 1959! A quick look at the Mason City Globe-Gazette tells us that 85 young women are seeking the title, so the winner has managed to survive some stiff competition. (As to whether or not it was worth preempting Badge 714 though, I 'm not sure.) I'm always hopeful that though a quick Google search, it will emerge that Miss North Iowa wound up being Miss America, or went on to a great career, or fame, or something of the sort. No such luck here, though, or if it did happen, there's no record of it online.

And on the late night beat, Betty Johnson is the guest singer for the entire week on NBC's Jack Paar Show. I would assume she must have sung "Little Blue Man," the blue man in question being played by none other than Jack's sidekick, Hugh Downs.

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Finally, the story of Bill Baird and his puppets. On Monday at 10:30 p.m., Channel 3 Extra presents a 15-minute puppet show by Bill and Cora Baird.

At first I wondered what the famed Baird Marionettes would be doing on a local TV program. By 1959 the Baird Marionettes had appeared all over the county from television to nightclubs, and Baird had been nominated for an Emmy for the television special “Art Carney Meets Peter and the Wolf.” There would later be a tour of the Soviet Union, performances at the New York World's Fair, and an appearance in The Sound of Music (the goatherd scene).

And yet here they are, on a 15-minute local program. Had it originally been a network filler? Could it have had anything to do with the Miss North Iowa pageant? And then: do the Bairds have some connection to Mason City? Stranger things have happened, and sure enough, according to the always-reliable Wikipedia, Bill Baird grew up in Mason City - who knew? Not only that, he maintained his roots there, and there's an exhibit of his puppets in one of the city's museums. He's pictured here with one of his more famous creations, Charlemane the Lion. Was Charlemane part of the show that Monday night? Were they at the Miss North Iowa pageant? I don't know the answers, but then I didn't know the Bairds were from Iowa either, which just goes to show that you learn something new every day if you're not careful. TV  

June 8, 2018

Around the dial

Afine roundup of classic TV bits and pieces awaits us, so let's get right to it.

We'll start at The Twilight Zone Vortex, where Jordan reviews the submarine drama "The Thirty Fathom Grave," one of the weaker of the frequently-weak hour-long TZ episodes. Ironic, since I just finished reading Erik Larson's book about the Lusitania, Dead Wake, which - of course - has a lot to do with submarines. It's a better story.

David at Comfort TV remembers the shapely, talented Arlene Martel, a familiar face from many a television show in the 60s, 70s and even 80s. Of course I remember her best from her several appearances as Tiger in Hogan's Heroes; my friend Carol Ford, who interviewed her for her bio of Bob Crane, remembers her as a lovely, very nice woman.

Another visit to the Hitchcock Project at bare-bones e-zine: this week, Jack reviews season seven's "You Can't Be a Little Girl All Your Life," written by Stanley Ellin. This is an episode I haven't yet seen, and against all odds I've managed to refrain from reading Jack's review. That may just be temporary, though - check back next week...

Ooh, combining Doctor Who and The Prisoner! That's the story at Inner Toob, and it's a very funny pictorial view of some of the Doctors inhabiting the world of Number Six. Go take a look - remember, a picture says a thousand words!

Cult TV Blog takes a second - and even third - look at the Roger Moore years of The Saint, and comes away with a new appreciation for his performance. John also notices some differences between Moore's B&W Saint and the color years.

Television's New Frontier: the 1960s looks at the 1961 season one of my favorite Westerns of the 1960s, Wanted: Dead or Alive. There are, as always, some fascinating tidbits about this show, and the actors in it - including the charismatic star, Steve McQueen.

This week was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Five years ago, I took a look at the coverage on television and especially radio, and how it evokes an earlier time. Yesterday I had a very pleasant conversation with Joseph Benti, the CBS anchorman who led that early-morning coverage on the network; I'll have that up in a couple of weeks.

Plus, a reminder that if you enjoy reading my essays on classic television, I'll be appearing at this year's Mid Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in Hunt Valley, Maryland on Thursday, September 13, at 11:00 a.m. discussing TV Guide as "America's Time Capsule." More on that later!

And more on TV Guide tomorrow! TV  

June 4, 2018

What's on TV? Wednesday, June 5, 1974

We're in the Bay Area this week, looking at the listings from San Francisco and Sacramento, with San Jose thrown in for good measure. What struck me as I was going through this was the list of celebrities appearing on this week's game shows. Hollywood Squares really has the B list this week, plus Dr. David Reuben (Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex*) - I can imagine what kind of questions Peter Marshall asked him. Nipsey Russell, the king of game shows, is on two this week, one on ABC and one on CBS. Celebrity Sweepstakes, a show I remember only by name, has a really varied cast - regular types like Joey Bishop and Buddy Hackett, plus Lois Nettleton and Luciana Paluzzi. Oh, and how about KPIX's Mike Douglas Show, with Don Meredith, NFL Films head Ed Sabol, Tiny Tim, Miss Universe Maria Margarita Moran, and a woman's football team. Why do I get the feeling SCTV booked these shows?

June 2, 2018

This week in TV Guide: June 1, 1974

The issue before the television house, in June 1974, is whether or not the impeachment of President Nixon, if it comes to that, should be televised.

Remember, we're still a long way from regular television coverage of the House and Senate. C-SPAN is just a gleam in Brian Lamb's eye; with the exception of the State of the Union and other major speeches, cameras have never been permitted in the hallowed halls of Congress. With an eye toward the ultimate in summer replacement series, TV Guide's Neil Hickey takes Congressional temperatures to see what the forecast is.

Hickey canvassed 135 members of the House; 78 favored full coverage, and another 10 leaned toward it, while the remainder opposed bringing in the cameras. Interestingly, there doesn't seem to be a partisan split on this issue - Illinois Democrat Dan Rostenkowski, who would wind up one of the most powerful men in the House, is strongly against it. "Every one of us in the House is 'political,' and that animal in all of us will surface if each is allowed an amount of time to make a televised speech." He fears that under these circumstances, members who didn't usually speak publicly would be forced into it, lest their constituents wonder why they were silent on the issue. On the other hand, future New York City mayor Ed Koch, then a member of the House, favors it: "We do - in democratic fashion - what the Russians and the Chinese, who have closed societies, do by revolution and killing." Republican representative Delbert Latta of Ohio, who also favors coverage, thinks the public will see through any attempt at grandstanding, but Pennsylvania Republican George Goodling thinks "no good" will come from televising the hearings. And Walter Fauntrov, a Democrat from the District of Columbia, worries that national television coverage might endanger the right to a fair trial later on; nevertheless, he feels the public's right to know supersedes these concerns, which he adds can be mitigated by safeguards. Future House Speaker Tip O'Neill opposes the cameras, but everyone knows the true answer lies with the current Speaker, Carl Albert of Oklahoma, and he's not talking.

It winds up a moot point, at least this time. Although the House Judiciary Committee votes to send the articles of impeachment to the full House, President Nixon resigns before things go any further. By the time of President Clinton's impeachment, cameras are already standard issue in Congress. It is fascinating, though, to see the representatives struggling with this question, caught up in the conflict between practical tradition and the march of technology. I can't imagine what a similar debate would be like today.

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Throughout the 60s and early 70s, TV Guide's reviews were written by the witty and acerbic Cleveland Amory. Whenever we get the chance, we'll look at Cleve's latest take on the series of the era. 

The television season comes to an end, and with it comes one of the industry's most coveted awards: The Amorys. In the midst of a humorous take on awards shows, Cleve dispenses his honors on the best of the television season.

Telly Savalas, star of Kojak, wins Best Actor in a Dramatic Show; Jean Marsh of Upstairs, Downstairs wins Best Actress in a Dramatic Show. The Supporting races each end in three-way ties: Supporting Actor is split between Gordon Jackson (Upstairs, Downstairs), John Alderton (Upstairs, Downstairs) and Ralph Waite (The Waltons), while Angela Badderly (Upstairs, Downstairs), Nicola Pagett (Upstairs, Downstairs) and Rachel Gurney (Upstairs, Downstairs) make the Supporting Actress race an intramural affair.

Caroll O'Connor of All in the Family and Mary Tyler Moore of - what else? - The Mary Tyler Moore Show - take home Best Actor and Actress in a Comedy; Ed Asner and Ted Knight demonstrate the power of MTM's supporting cast by dividing Supporting Actor, while on the Supporting Actress side there are no losers! Valerie Harper (MTM), Suzanne Pleshette (The Bob Newhart Show), Adrienne Barbeau (Maude) and Susan St. James (McMillan & Wife) share the honors. Oh, and Karl Malden and Michael Douglas of The Streets of San Francisco win best Support of Each Other. Walter Cronkite is Best Newscaster, and William F. Buckley Jr. is both Best Interviewer and Best Interviewee. Finally, the shows: Kojak is Best New Drama, Good Times is Best New Comedy, and Calucci's Dept. is Best New Comedy to be Canceled.

An Editor's Note at the end tells us that "The Amory Awards to not necessarily reflect the views of TV Guide, but the editors will defend to the death, or thereabouts, Mr. Amory's right to bestow them." Freedom of the Press still lives! Well, sort of.

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Yes, this is a very special week. Not only do we have all three of the major rock music programs of the time - Don Kirshner's Rock Concert, The Midnight Special, and In Concert, but thanks to the multiple stations carrying Kirshner, we actually have two editions to compare to Special and Concert. Let's not waste any time - we'll get right to it!

Kirshner #1 (KRCR, Redding): The Mark-Almond band, Dave Mason and Jessie Colin Young are the guests. Also a taped segment featuring the late Jim Croce. Highlights: "The Neighborhood Man" (Mark-Almond), "Baby...Please" (Mason), "Song for Juli (Young).

Kirshner #2 (KOVR, Sacramento): The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt and Jackson Browne team up on "Take It Easy." Other highlights: "Silver Threads and Golden Needles" (Ronstadt), "James Dean" (Eagles, Browne).

Midnight Special: The Kinks are this week's hosts, with the Electric Light Orchestra, Buddy Miles, and rock artists Suzi Quatro and Alan Price. Highlights: "You Really Got Me" (Kinks), "Showdown" (ELO), "Life is What You Make It" (Miles), "Glycerine Queen" (Quatro).

In Concert: Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Black Oak Arkansas, from the California Jam. Highlights: "Lucky Man," "Karn Evil 9 Impressions 1 and 3" (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), "Hot 'n' Nasty," "Dixie" (Black Oak Arkansas).

What a feast of choices, hmm? I admit that I'm not a fan of anyone on Kirshner #2, but they're all big name, and if you like them, it's a spectacular show. In Concert would probably have been better if they'd had Emerson, Lake and Palmer for the whole 90 minutes. Midnight Special has a very strong cast, from the Kinks through to Suzi Quatro. But we'll give the edge this week to Kirshner #1, with hits from top to bottom, and you can't go wrong with Mark-Almond as your lead act. I wonder if we'll run across a matchup like this again?

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We're in the Bay Area this week, and one of the highlights has to be KQED, 20th annual Auction, which begins Saturday and runs throughout the week. Several PBS stations throughout the nation staged fundraisers like this in the 70s, including KTCA in the Twin Cities. These were tremendously fun affairs to watch - Action Auction, our local event, was once held in the Garden Court at Southdale, the nation's first indoor mall, and for several years after that was broadcast from the State Fairgrounds; representatives from all the local stations took part as guest auctioneers, selling routine items as well as vacations, cars, and popcorn wagons. KQED has a fine collection of prizes this year: a guest role as an extra on The Streets of San Francisco, cruises to Hawaii, South America and Alaska, and an antique Persian rug. This article relates the colorful history of KQED's auction which, like that of KTCA's, has long since faded into the ether of television history.

Care for a little sports? Baseball season is in full swing (I've probably used that phrase before, but what the hey?), although when you're on Pacific Time, you have to get used to different start times. For example, NBC's Game of the Week features the Dodgers and Cubs from Chicago, with the first pitch being thrown at 11:15 a.m. CBS's golf coverage this week is the Kemper Open, live from Charlotte, N.C., starting at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday and 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, with Bob Menne as the first-time winner. ABC's Wild World of Sports is on tape, so it can air at its regular time of 5:00 p.m. - this week it's the Mason-Dixon 500, from Dover, Delaware, held on May 19; Cale Yarborough takes the checkered flag. On Sunday, CBS Sports Spectacular carries the Kennedy Memorial Games track and field meet, taped yesterday in Berkeley.

An interesting course on Summer Semester, airing Saturday at 6:30 a.m. on CBS. It's on "The American Presidency," which is certainly a relevant topic about now. Political scientist Dr. Robert Remini is the lecturer; when I saw the topic I thought it might be someone I'd read in college, but no such luck. Later on Saturday morning, CBS goes from the sublime (relatively speaking) to the ridiculous (without question): the animated movie "The Ghost of the Red Baron," featuring an animated Three Stooges joining forces with Scooby Doo and the gang. Really? Really?

This week's movies: Judith Crist is rightfully impressed with the network prime-time premiere of "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" (Thursday, 9:00 p.m., CBS) with an Oscar-winning performance from Maggie Smith. She also likes "The World of Henry Orient" (Wednesday, 9:00 p.m., NBC) with Peter Sellers, Angela Lansbury, Paula Prentiss, Tom Bosley, and more.

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Finally, for those of us who are fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000, a real treat: Friday night's late-nite sci-fi schlock. At 11:00 p.m. on Channel 44, it's the classic American International movie "The Amazing Colossal Man," with Glenn Langan as the plutonium-transformed 70-foot tall madman. Meanwhile, at 11:30 p.m. on Channels 12 and 40, it's "Moon Zero Two," a Hammer Films flick with James Olson as a space ferry pilot and Catherine Schell as a woman looking for her missing brother. All that's missing now are the silhouettes, but you can't have everything. TV