October 3, 2018

TV Jibe: You have to have your priorities

1 comment:

  1. This Just In!:

    Today (Wednesday) I took delivery on Television's Lost Classics: Volume Two - Four Rare Pilots, from VCI.
    I think I mentioned this here back when I ordered it from Amazon; It took a month longer than expected, but definitely worth the wait.
    Here are the contents:
    - The premiere episode of Racket Squad, as broadcast on CBS in 1951.
    This program includes the original commercials, starting with Johnny's "Call for Philip Morris!!!".
    Considering that the subject matter here is confidence games and their apprehension, it does send a message of sorts to us in the 21st Century, to see series star Reed Hadley speaking deep admiration for his cigarettes, even as he denounces con artists : "Remember - it could happen to YOU!"
    - Cool & Lam, from 1958.
    This is Erle Stanley Gardner's second series try, in the wake of Perry Mason; a private-eye show about a big old broad who runs a detective agency with a short tough guy (played somewhat for laughs).
    Bertha Cool is Benay Venuta, who was once known as "the road-company Ethel Merman".
    Donald Lam is Billy Pearson, a former jockey who won big money on the $64,000 Question and Challenge, answering questions about vintage art; this in its turn led to CBS putting him on a 'development deal', which led to a guest shot on Perry Mason - and that's where Erle Stanley Gardner saw "... the perfect choice to play Donald Lam."
    I already had this on a dollar-store DVD, but the VCI guys did a major job of digital restoration, making this version almost like-new.
    - The first sort-of pilot for a tv Life Of Riley, produced on a shoestring by the show's creator, Irving Brecher.
    Brecher couldn't get the radio Riley, William Bendix, who was busy with movies for Paramount; to make his TV film, he cast Lon Chaney Jr.
    NBC expressed interest, but they didn't want Chaney, who had "reliability issues", and that's why the first Riley season starred Jackie Gleason - but that's another story …
    The Chaney pilot hasn't been seen since it was filmed, circa 1949 (I don't think they were even calling them 'pilots' back then); there's a scrolled 'foreword' in which Brecher explains that he personally supervised the filming to show possible buyers what a Riley TV show would look like (and how much better it could look with a sponsor/network budget).
    - Last, but far from least, the show I got this DVD for:
    The long-lost Nero Wolfe pilot from 1959, produced for CBS, with Kurt Kasznar as Wolfe and William Shatner as Archie.
    This was the one that was announced as a sure thing for CBS's Monday night slate, until Rex Stout personally spiked the project.
    I haven't watched the whole thing all the way through yet (I skimmed all the entries briefly, to make sure they were all there), but I think I know what the problem was: A half-hour simply isn't long enough to do a proper mystery story (the same was true for Cool & Lam). Beyond that, I plan to take a closer look at this pilot, and particular at the Viennese Kasznar as the Montenegrin Wolfe.
    - Also, there's an old favorite "extra": A CBS blooper reel from 1963, which now includes a long-lost clip of Red Skelton, Jack Albertson, and an unrehearsed cow.

    I pass this along for your information; you can find this on Amazon at a discount (and you really ought to see this stuff for yourself).


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!