May 24, 2019

Around the dial

Acouple of non-classic TV pieces that I include here to start off the week, because I think they have meaning when studying the scholarship of classic television. First, at The Federalist, Ben Domenech has an interesting article on how the conclusion to Game of Thrones sums up what he calls "Life in the Hollow Golden Age of Television." The money quote: "The appeal of Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Justified, Deadwood, and The Sopranos is obvious. But are shows likes Game of Thrones really what we want history to record what we were doing when the debt ballooned and fertility collapsed? As China’s elites took over the world, America’s elites were really spending their time arguing about a show with a dragon named Drogon?" Nero fiddles, and Rome burns...

Next, at The Ringer, Miles Surrey points out how streaming (and binge-watching) has changed television viewing habits forever, leading to what could be called "No Country for Old-Fashioned Network TV Shows." As I think I've pointed out before, we don't binge-watch; we usually take in our series viewing one week at a time, which I guess makes us old-fashioned (or just old, I'm not sure which). But I'm not sure Surrey's pointing out anything new; back in the day, we all lived in fear that our favorite show might be cancelled before its time. And back then, most series did not feature a final episode that wrapped everything up. That's just the way things were, and for every series like The Fugitive, that profits from a last episode, or Hogan's Heroes, which should have had one, there are at least a couple hundred that simply didn't need one. Perry Mason, for instance; the last episode of that series simply implied that Perry, Della and Paul were going to go on as they always had. And I think that's just fine.

At Comfort TV, David offers a warm reflection on the three TV stars who've passed in the last couple of weeks: Peggy Lipton, Doris Day and Tim Conway, and what they meant. "I'm glad I was there to see them," is the theme of his piece, which is actually kind of poignant, and I know exactly what he means. With some stars and some shows, it's just a privilege to have been around when they were originally on. After all, that's really what comfort TV is, isn't it?

At The Twilight Zone Vortex Jordan takes us once again to the world of Twilight Zone Magazine. It's April 1982, the first anniversary of the inaugural issue, and one of the highlights is a story of the party given at the home of author Marc Scott Zicree to celebrate the completion of The Twilight Zone Companion, a book which I've found immensely entertaining and informative. There's a whole lot more you'll want to read, though.

"A Jury of Her Peers" is the latest in the Hitchcock Project by Jack at bare-bones e-zine. It's a 1961 episode that I haven't yet seen, so I'm not going to get much further into reading it other than to offer Jack's judgment that the James P. Cavanagh-scripted episode is "stunning, a great adaptation that improves upon its source with a brilliant script, outstanding direction, and superb acting all working together to spellbinding effect."

At The Lucky Strike Papers, Andrew posts a picture of his lovely and charming mother, Sue Bennett, from the late '80s/early '90s. If you've read his delightful book of the same name, you'll know that she was one of the singers on Your Hit Parade; she died 18 years ago this month.

You'll want to be sure to read the latest in Television Obscurities's TV Guide rundown from 1989, but while you're there check out the broadcast listings for experimental NBC station W2XBS in December, 1940. We probably should keep this in mind the next time we complain about all the channels we get, with nothing to watch. TV  


  1. Thanks, Mitchell! Happy Memorial Day.

  2. Speaking of series endings that spoke to reality, consider Hill St Blues. Because an urban police station never shuts down, the last scene was of the regular cast walking out after their shift with a burly unrecognized Sgt answering the phone and gruffly saying, "Hill Street Station" in honor of the original name of the show. Life continues....


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!