July 31, 2020

Around the dial

Heads-up: sometime next week. you'll be able to hear me on Love 98.5FM in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, chatting about classic television with David Hendrickson. It's the first of what we're hoping will be a weekly 10-minute-or-so segment on the station; in this initial episode, David and I talk about various television and streaming services that air classic TV shows, and some titles that the casual TV viewer might not be aware of. (Apropos of this piece from a couple of weeks ago.) I'll have more details on the date and time as well as how you can listen, so keep an eye here, as well on my Facebook and Twitter feeds, and thanks to David for the invitation to appear with him! Now, let's see what the rest of you have to say.

At bare•bones e-zine, Jack continues the Hitchcock Project with Harold Swinton's 1959 adaptation of the famous Ambrose Bierce story "An Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge." Some of you may have seen a French adaptation that aired on The Twilight Zone some years later, but as Jack points out, the "outstanding" Swinton version is well worth your time.

On Wednesday I presented an appreciation of Regis Phlbin, who died last week; this week at Bob Crane: Life and Legacy, Carol presents a 1965 episode of Bob Crane's radio show that includes, around the 51:00 mark, Bob's interview with Regis and LA broadcaster Michael Jackson. Good fun; check it out.

In addition to Regis Philbin, classic television fans lost three more familiar faces over the last week, with the deaths of John Saxon, Olivia de Havilland and Jacqueline Scott. I remember John Saxon best from his years on The Bold Ones, although everyone will have their favorite memories; Terence recalls him in-depth at A Shroud of Thoughts. Terence also summarizes the magnificent career of Olivia de Havilland, including her Best Actress Oscar for The Heiress; The Last Drive-In has a pictoral recollection of her as well. And you can read more here on the life and times of Jacqueline Scott, who will always be remembered for her appearances as Dr. Richard Kimble's loyal sister on The Fugitive. Our commenter Mike Doran mentions her here.

We haven't looked at television across the pond lately, so it's time to stop in at Cult TV Blog, where John looks back at Chance in a Million, starring Simon Callow, a man to whom very strange things happen, with future Oscar nominee Brenda Blethyn as his girlfriend.

And at Garroway at Large, Jodie shares a story about one of the prized items in Dave Garroway's collection of odds and ends: an original Norden bombsight, famed for its use by American bombers during World War II. Sounds like perfect vision to me. TV  

July 29, 2020

Regis Philbin, R.I.P.

It seems somehow fitting that Hugh Downs and Regis Philbin would die within a month of each other, for I can't think of two men who've logged more facetime on television than them. Indeed, it's hardly a surprise that Philbin holds the Guinness world record for most hours on television in the history of the medium, nor that the man who'd held the record previously was Downs.

Like Hugh Downs, who came to national prominence as Jack Paar's sidekick on The Tonight Show, Regis Philbin made his network debut as sidekick for Joey Bishop; and just as Downs had to deal with Paar's famous walkout, Philbin was confronted with Bishop's announcement that, because he and ABC could not come to turms, he was walking off the show. Hugh Downs rose to that occasion, and so did Regis Philbin. The two men had long runs on morning television: Downs on Today and Philbin on Live with Regis and [fill in the name]; and they both hosted popular game shows (Concentration by Downs, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? by Philbin). And if that was all there was to Regis Philbin's television career, if all we had to do was compare him to Hugh Downs, that would be pretty good.

But doing so would miss the essence of Regis, the way he connected with an audience, the way his warmth came through your set and into your home. I've often commented on how television is the most personal of communications media, and those who appear on it become guests in your living room, and few personified that more that he did. He wore his life on his sleeve, with the knack for making people feel as if they knew him, what with his self-deprecating humor and stories about his personal life. He was trustworthy, genuine, real—and if you mentioned that to him, he might well have laughed and then repeated the old line about how if you can fake sincerity, you can do anything. I'm not saying that there weren't people who didn't like him, just that he made it very difficult to do so.

Two things stand out. First: when his longtime co-host Kathie Lee Gifford left Live, viewer surveys showed that the most popular choice to replace her was nobody, that people would be perfectly happy to have Regis do the show solo, or perhaps with his wife Joy. Second: during the initial run of Millionaire, when the show took the nation by storm, Regis started a trend by appearing each night in a monochromatic suit, shirt and tie. It was a look that I very much favored myself, and it hardly surprised me that he could pull it off, and that it would become a fashion statement.

He might have seemed an unlikely television hero, but like the best of them—like Hugh Downs, for example—you either have it or you don't; and Regis Philben most definiately had it. Class, style, charisma, warmth—whatever it might have been, there it was. It's missing more and more from a television landscape that depends on anger, hostility, stridency, instead of the things that for so often defined what it meant to be a guest in someone else's home. I'm not saying that there will never be another Regis Philbin, because that would be not only foolish but presumptious. I'm just saying that it will be difficult to find another one, and in that I presume you'll agree. TV  

July 27, 2020

What's on TV? Friday, July 24, 1953

There's not much to report today; I mentioned the addition of the Milwaukee listing for WTMJ on Saturday, and appropriately enough I've listed it after all the Chicago stations, just as it was in the issue. Besides, when you have the following, you don't need anything more. It's the description for Double Crossed Fool, the movie at 3:00 p.m. on WBKB: "Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito run into American sailors when they go to an island to make a treaty with the native chief."* According to the always-reliable Wikipedia, it's also known as That Natzy Nuisance, and it's a sequel to The Devil with Hitler. It's a comedy, in case you hadn't guessed, and while it sounds as if it should star the Three Stooges, it doesn't. I'll let you take it from there.

*"Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito walk into a bar. . ."

There's a note preceding the Milwaukee listings that they're in Central Standard Time. Now, we've discussed the checkered history of Daylight Saving Time before, and I don't pretend to know what things were like then in Chicago, but it might well be that Chicago is observing DST; hence, the mention that Milwaukee is not. But life is confusing enough as it is without having to figure this out as well.

July 25, 2020

This week in TV Guide: July 24, 1953

I hope you've been enjoying this series of TV Guides from 1953 Chicago. I know they're a little different from what we're generally used to here, and it can be challenging to write about them. These early issues lack the features we've come to know and appreciate over the years, and the focus at this point remains that of a local publication. And then there's the simple fact that there just aren't as many shows on the air, nor as many channels, as we're accustomed to seeing. Nonetheless, I've had fun looking at them as part of the evolutionary process that has brought us to where we are today, and there's always the chance of finding some gem hidden within the pages. If you have any suggestions as to how I can do a better job of writing about them, though, please feel free to contribute your ideas. "Stop writing" is not, sadly, one of the options.

t  t  t

Well, look at who's on the cover. Groucho! And he's either pulling our leg, or he's undergone something of a change during the six years he's been doing You Bet Your Life on radio and television. Oh, he's still the wisecracking fast-talker we've come to know and love from all these years; what's changed is the way he looks at people, specifically the contestants on his show. "My estimation of people has risen in the past six years," he says. "There are a lot of wonderful people in the world, and this job has given me a chance to meet them." To critics who accuse him of making fun of those contestants to get laughs, Groucho bristles. "I don't insult the people on my show, I spoof them," he says indignantly. "Others who did insult contestants have failed. You Bet Your Life wouldn't be a hit, if I did. There's a big difference between kidding and ridicule." (I wonder what Groucho would make of today's P.C.-induced chill on comedy?) "I find that they enjoy the fun of the shows, whether they win or not, and they like a lot of spoofing."

Marx enjoys the second career that television has afforded him. "Next to robbing a bank, it's about the easiest of all," he says of hosting You Bet Your Life. "But this is the culmination of years of hard knocks, believe me. Maybe I've earned this kind of job." He still remembers his struggle to make it in show business, starting in 1906 when he was 11. It's been a nomadic life, working the vaudeville circuit before making it big in Hollywood. But now he lives comfortably in Beverly Hills, spends time with old friends and his children, and hosting his weekly show. And after 40 years, he's learned to be unflappable, even when confronted with his sometimes colorful contestants, including a woman with two husbands named Bodovnic (must be something in the water), triplet sisters from Russia, and an Irish janitor working in a synagogue. "I've never been stumped yet," he says. "I guess those years of trouping do something for you.

t  t  t

What was that I said earlier about hidden gems? Try out this week's starlet, a young woman hoping to make her name someday as the famous daughter of a famous father, but "if she does, it won't be because she tied herself to her father's shirt-tales." The father is Robert Montgomery, film and television star; his daughter is 20-year-old Elizabeth.

Dad's given her some breaks, including signing her as a member of his stock company of actors for his Robert Montgomery Presents summer series. But as far as her career goes, "Any time she wants to discuss her career with me, I'm available. But the decisions are hers." He's given her the benefit of his long experience in the business, though, by helping her in such areas as choosing publicity photos; when he saw one that he deemed "unflattering," he insisted that "Liz rip up the copy and have the negative in the network publicity files destroyed." It's no wonder he acted as President Eisenhower's television advisor.

Liz got the itch to act from watching her father. "I grew up with Dad's acting, which probably raised my hopes of becoming an actress. But I think I'd have wanted that even if Dad had never acted." She's studied with the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and her goal is to follow in his footsteps as a Hollywood star (meaning movies), but she's determined to establish her acting chops first on television and Broadway, and, like her father, prefers comedy. Aside from one appearance on Robert Montgomery Presents, she's done no TV to this point, but that will change this summer, of course. And the elder Montgomery will be on hand, producing the series. No favoritism, though; "She'll have to prove herself."

Well, of course, she does. The mention of her preferring comedy is a prophetic one, given her eight seasons in Bewitched, which was at the time the most successful show in ABC's history and remains one of TV's most beloved sitcoms. She did branch into drama, as we know, with some hard-hitting TV movies, including A Case of Rape, that were as far from the Samantha Stephens role as you can get. And let's not forget her title as "Queen of Password," bestowed on her by none other than Allen Ludden himself. So I think it's probably safe to say that for many people today, Robert Montgomery is remembered as the famous father of a famous daughter.

t  t  t

Television is, at heart, a medium of illusion, filled with dreams that sometimes come true and sometimes. . . well, a case in point is Bob Hope's season opener, scheduled for October 20 on NBC. He'll be doing the show from the Ohio Sesquicentennial (that's 150 years for those of you in the World's Worst Town™), and according to Dan Jenkins at the Hollywood Teletype, he's "trying to get such guests as Tyrone Power, Doris Day, Ted Lewis—and even Clark Gable." Big names indeed. As it turns out, however, a quick Google tells us that he wound up with Gloria DeHaven, Phil Harris and Ohio Governor Frank J. Lausche. I guess it just goes to show that hope springs eternal, Hope doesn't always come true.

What has the week got to offer us? Well, we've had a format tweak in the listings since we last visited 1953. Now, the weekday morning programs—Friday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday—are listed collectively. We learn, for example, that on the Paul Fogarty exercise show (9:00 a.m., WGN), the week's schedule includes:

Fri: For a trim ankle and a firm arch.
Mon: Grace and balance hints.
Tues: The "Cleopatra" exercise, for bust and shoulders.
Wed: A smaller, firmer waistline.
Thurs: Thigh and calf exercises.

It's good to know these things; I hate surprises.

One thing I've never been able to get used to is a description of what's on tap in a soap opera. There's a serial on NBC called The Bennetts (10:15 a.m.), a 15-minute affair that, quite frankly, sounds gripping. Check out the plotlines for the next week, if you can stand all the excitement:

Fri: In order to save one friend, Wayne Bennett comes close to losing another.
Mon: The end of the trial indicates it might not be the end of the case.
Tues: An artist gets a commission and a lawyer gets a tip.
Wed: A loan turns out to be a down payment on trouble.
Thurs: Wayne Bennett doesn't like his son's new friend.

This kind of format could be found, in one form or another, into the early '60s, and made a comeback in the last days of TV Guide, when the grid system was dominant.

Something else new for this market: a completely separate program section for WTMJ in Milwaukee. Most of it is simply a repetition of listings from Chicagoland, but it helps keep the two markets separate; we wouldn't want to confuse people by showing them stations they didn't get. I guess early television was more complicated than we thought.

Ethnic comedy was very popular in the 1950s, when cities were more likely to have distinct enclaves where people of various nationalities lived. The Goldbergs (Friday, 7:00 p.m., NBC), which started live as a popular radio comedy, is a prominent example. It's reviewed as the "Program of the Week," and though it's been off the air for almost a year, it follows the same formula which has made the show so successful (with some cast changes, including Robert H. Harris in place of Philip Loeb, who was blacklisted after accusations of being a communist). Most of the credit to Gertrude Berg, who not only plays Molly, the matriarch of the family, but also produces and writes the series. The series has come under criticism from some quarters, "asserting that the show tends to perpetuate the stereotype of the people about whom Mrs. Berg writes." The same charge has been leveled against other shows, Amos 'n' Andy and Life with Luigi, for example; those shows were about, respectively, blacks and Italians, while The Goldbergs looks at the Jews. As is the case with other ethnic shows, The Goldbergs presents its humor within the context of a family trying to assimilate into American society without losing its cultural heritage. "Mrs. Berg treats the characters so sympathetically that the show actually should help, not hinder, the fight against bigotry and intolerance." It should, although I doubt it would be acceptable on television today. Frankly, I've never found ethnic humor all that funny, including The Goldbergs, but that's just me; I certainly don't see it as offensive.

Other things I noticed: The Saturday night fight on ABC (8:00 p.m.) is a welterweight bout between Carmen Basilio and Billy Graham (don't worry, it's not that Billy Graham; his show is on Sunday, natch), while the five-minute news break each morning on WBBM is anchored by one of my favorites, Frank Reynolds, on his way to stardom. Speaking of anchors, if you think it strange that John Daly did the evening news on ABC while hosting What's My Line? on CBS, we also have Douglas Edwards, CBS news anchor, hosting Masquerade Party (Monday, 8:30 p.m.). At least it's on the same network. And, of course, there's Mike Wallace hosting the panel show I'll Buy That, which comes on right after Frank Reynolds (10:05 a.m.), long before becoming television's most feared interviewer. Hey, wake me when Norah O'Donnell hosts Wheel of Fortune.

t  t  t

Geez, everyone's a critic.
Finally, Merrill Panitt's "As We See It" has a story we quite liked, about a man named Richard Gaughan who lives in New York. Mr. Gaughan is apparently a somewhat excitable young man, and it seems that recently he broke into a CBS rehearsal, stabbed a cameraman, and broke a water pitcher over an actor's head. His reason: "He doesn't like television." Panitt doesn't mention for which show the personnel were rehearsing, which could, I suppose, be considered a mitigating circumstance; were I on the jury, I could been convinced to convict on a lesser charge or, even acquit altogether.

The reason we're reading about this is to contrast Gaughan's reaction with that of "the highly intellectual" Bernard DeVoto, who spent 24 hours watching television, and then wrote about his thoughts on the medium. "It turned out that the time was well invested," Panitt writes, "for he sold the story of his situation to Harper's and Reader's Digest." It turns out that DeVoto is just as unimpressed with television as the unfortunate Gaughan, "who at least wasn't capitalizing on his dislike of the medium" for profit. Of the 24 hours he deigned to watch, he liked Dinah Shore, Kate Smith, and a speech by Charles E. Wilson. As for the rest of it, "he belabored TV drama in general, mysteries in particular, and commercials of all types." Notes Panitt, "Like other stuffy critics, he feels TV owes him the best in programming but the companies that pay for them shouldn't bother him." DeVoto couldn't fairly judge the programming by sitting in front of a TV for 24 hours, and he had to be biased to even attempt such a "stunt." With an attitude like that, it's obvious the man was a communist.

Panitt saves his savaging best for last. While Gaughan was confined to a mental hospital for his physical brand of critiquing, "Bernard DeVoto continues to be locked in by his own reasoning and unreasonable approach to a dynamic, promising new medium. As for the commercials, even dreamy, ivory tower types should know that the man who pays the piper is entitled to call the tune." Come to think of it, even the communists understood TV better than DeVoto. TV  

July 24, 2020

Around the dial

henever we're browsing through an antique store, I always stop whenever I see one of the many board games that were based on television shows of the 1960s and '70s, and there were a lot of them, including shows that you would never think could be reimagined as a game. David looks at a few of them in the latest entry at Comfort TV.

Although David doesn't mention it, I believe there was a Charlie's Angels board game as well, which is a nice lead-in to Realweegiemidget's review of the 1980 Angels episode "Toni's Boys," a backdoor pilot starring Barbara Stanwyck as a female Charlie with a trio of males ("with dodgy haircuts") trying to protect our heroines from a killer.

Jodie is taking some well-earned time off at Garroway at Large, but I thought I'd link to it this week just for that picture. They look how I feel.

It's been awhile since we've seen a Maverick Monday at The Horn Section, but this week Hal takes a gander at "Two Tickets to Ten Strike," a 1959 Bret episode (and no, it has nothing to do with bowling, although if it had, I wouldn't have been surprised) featuring guest appearances by Connie Stevens and Adam West, which alone makes it worthwhile.

It might be too late to play if you're trying to win, but if you want to compete for the fun of the game, I'd suggest checking out the July edition of the Movie -TV Connection Game at Classic Film & TV Café, where Rick always has some dandy pairings.

The frequent forays into Westerns over at Television's New Frontier: the 1960s is a reminder of how prevalent that genre still was as we transitioned into a new decade, and this week it's a look at The Rifleman 1962, including attempts to introduce a romantic interest for Chuck Connors' Lucas McCain.

One of my favorite movies of last year was Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and one of my favorite aspects of that movie was the "alternate reality" populated by Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio). In a wonderful piece at A Shroud of Thoughts, Terence takes a closer look at some of the shows populating that realityTV  

July 20, 2020

What's on TV? Friday, July 27, 1973

There's not much to add here that I didn't discuss on Saturday. You see above the notice about the Watergate hearings; there were none scheduled for this Friday, and none were held, leaving the night open for the College All-Star Game at 8:30 p.m. What interests me is this movie at midnight on KMSP: War Hunt. "In Korea, Pvt. Raymond Endore wins the high regard of his captain for his one-man night patrols—killing silently with a stiletto—but the new man in the squad thinks Endore's killer instinct has grown to psychotic proportions." It sounds like a cross between Seven and The Manchurian Candidate, doesn't it? John Saxon is Endore, his captain is Charles Aidman, and Robert Redford plays the "new man." Additionally, the movie features Sydney Pollack, Gavin McLeod and Tom Skerritt, and, as a truck driver, Francis Ford Coppola. Better throw Apocalypse Now in that mix for good measure. The listings are from the Minnesota State Edition.

July 18, 2020

This week in TV Guide: July 21, 1973

The year is 1967, and you're a Navy flier in Vietnam. While flying a mission on May 18 of that year, you're shot down over North Vietnam and taken prisoner. For nearly six years, until March 4, 1973, you're shuttled from prison to prison, including the infamous "Hanoi Hilton." During that time, you've missed Laugh-In, the Smothers Brothers, and Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. You didn't see the end of The Fugitive, Peyton Place or The Ed Sullivan Show. You've never seen Monday Night Football or Big Bird. Even though it's only (!) been six years, you have, in essence, missed an entire generation of American pop culture. This is the world that Lt. Robert Naughton returned to when he was released from North Vietnam custody, and this week he tells Clifford Terry how television has changed during his time as a POW.

He never saw television during those six years, but he and his fellow prisoners talked about it. "I must give it credit for providing us with a lot of entertainment," he says. "We'd discuss the shows we had seen in order to pass the time and cheer each other up." In doing so, he says, "[T]hat's when I awakened to its lack of depth. If I tried to tell the guys the story of a certain episode, I'd realize there really wasn't any. Nor any message." As he thought of the shows he'd once considered his favorites, such as The Andy Griffith Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show, he came to the same conclusion. "My feeling now is that you can be entertained and at the same time have your intellect stimulated."

What might surprise you—or not, when you think about it—is that Naughton doesn't see much of any change in television now from how he remembered it. "only the names of the prime-time shows are different. I saw The Doris Day Show and Sanford and Son, and got a few laughs out of them, but I couldn't watch to the end." He'd always enjoyed Dean Martin, but after seeing a recent show, "I'm sorry to say it was a kind of nothing." As for the #1 show in America, All in the Family, "I thought it was funny, but someone who doesn't do any analyzing may think, 'Oh, everyone's laughing, that must be the way to live.' I couldn't see any subtlety to it. And kids might pick up some of the words, the bigotry."

He enjoys Alistair Cooke's America ("If that could represent the over-all quality, television would be above reproach"), and thinks shows such as Face the Nation and Meet the Press are great, but that it's "almost criminal" that they're stuck on Sunday mornings or afternoons. He's impressed with public television and its capacity to educate young people. As a matter of fact, television's ability to educate as well as enlighten is a big point with him; he points out how more and more people get their news not from newspapers but TV. "The communications media have a real obligation to the country—especially television, because of the fast pace of American life." He enjoys newsmen who present their opinions as well as the news, from Eric Sevareid and Harry Reasoner to Paul Harvey, and he stresses the need of news programs to subject politicians to public scrutiny. "Of course," he cautions, "if it ever should come to the point of slanting the news, then it should be stopped. I heard a lot of slanted news in North Vietnam in the last few years—propaganda that was directed to about the 6th- or 7th-grade level. No subtlety at all."

Naughton greeted by high-schoolers in the Philippines
following his release
Not surprisingly, the subject of Hogan's Heroes comes up. "I think they begin [the show] from the point where the prisoners already have been beaten up; they assume everyone knows that a POW is tortured—just by the fact that he is a POW. The program misrepresented what I went through, but the fact that a person is able to laugh at the situation is very true." As Reader's Digest always said, laughter is the best medicine; "A sense of humor got us through quite a bit. We called it 'sick prison humor'." He likes TV's new candidness, as long as it's "handled intelligently and not used as an excuse to make bawdy jokes" He appreciates talk shows such as Dick Cavett's, which isn't afraid to discuss issues frankly and honestly.

In terms of this discussion, one of the things he appreciates most of all is freedom,; radio programs in North Vietnam were broadcast over loudspeakers in the streets, "so you listen whether you want to or not. Here, you can always walk up and turn off the radio or TV. That's one of the freedoms I've come to appreciate: the right to quit." To have the freedom to watch TV or not; that is a great thing. One of the understandings that Robert Naughton came to in prison was the importance, the value, of time. "I thought a good deal about how much time I had watched television—unproductive programs. I more or less made a resolution that I wasn't going to become glued to the TV screen."

t  t  t

TV's two definitive 70s-era rock music shows, NBC's The Midnight Special and ABC's In Concert, faced off on Friday nights.  Midnight Special was a weekly show, airing after Johnny Carson, while In Concert was an every-other week part of Wide World of Entertainment.  Whenever the two slug it out, we'll be there to give you the winner.

Funny thing about Channel 9, the then-ABC affiliate in MSP. Throughout the sixties and seventies, Channel 9 would show a movie in place of the network’s Friday late-night offering, showing the pre-empted program instead on Sunday after the late local news. Has to do with revenue from those commercials, I know, but it’s still an interesting quirk in KMSP’s programming.*

*They also frequently delayed the Monday through Thursday offering, particularly during the Les Crane and Joey Bishop eras, until after their 10:30 movie.

So even though there wasn’t a Midnight Special-In Concert clash scheduled for this week, we’ll have one anyway, using Channel 9’s Sunday night’s broadcast of last Friday’s episode. Talk about luck!

In Concert: The Guess Who, B.B. King and Melanie perform in this rock concert taped at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Produced by Dick Clark Teleshows, Inc.

Midnight Special: Hostess Dionne Warwicke, with Johnny Mathis, Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, folk singer Leo Kottke, rock group Malo and pop singer Bud Brisbois.

Dionne Warwicke was in her “e” phase in 1973*, and was also making the talk show rounds. Just before this Midnight Special appearance, she’s appearing with guest host Jerry Lewis on the Tonight Show, and—at least on the Special—she’s going with what made her famous: the songs of Burt Bacharach, including 1968’s hit “I Say a Little Prayer.” Johnny Mathis follows with one of his hits, “Killing Me Softly with Her Song.” Throw in the pre-Gambler Kenny Rogers and singer Leo Kottke (later a frequent guest on radio’s Prairie Home Companion), and you have the kind of eclectic music mix that was a hallmark of top-40 radio, and is virtually non-existent nowadays.

*From the always-reliable Wikipedia: Warwick, for years an aficionado of psychic phenomena, was advised by astrologer Linda Goodman in 1971 to add a small "e" to her last name, making Warwick ‘WARWICKe’ for good luck and to recognize her married name and her spouse, actor and drummer William ‘Bill’ Elliott. Goodman convinced Warwick that the extra small ‘e’ would add a vibration needed to balance her last name and bring her even more good fortune in her marriage and her professional life. Unfortunately, Goodman proved to be mistaken about this. The extra ‘e,’ according to Dionne, "was the worst thing I could have done in retrospect, and in 1975 I finally got rid of that damn ‘’e” and became “Dionne Warwick“ again.’” You’d think she would have known that would happen, don’t you?

Meanwhile, In Concert features some hits of its own: The Guess Who’s “American Woman,” B.B. King’s “The Thrill Is Gone,” and Melanie’s “What Have They Done to My Song, Ma?” So who’s the winner this week? I’m afraid I’m going to show my age here, but if you can’t share it with your friends, who can you share it with? Midnight Special, on style points alone.

t  t  t

If it’s July, it must be football season, right? This Friday night the gridiron greats return with coverage of the College All-Star Game from Soldier Field in Chicago (8:30 p.m, CT, ABC), pitting the NFL champion Miami Dolphins (coming off their undefeated season) against a team featuring future pro stars Bert Jones, Otis Armstrong and John Matuszak. Melvin Durslag’s preview article discusses the history of the game, which started in 1934 as a benefit for the Chicago Tribune Charities.*

*The game was started by Tribune sports editor Arch Ward, who was also responsible for major league baseball’s All-Star Game.

One of the problems the game faces (which helped end the game in the mid '70s) is a growing reluctance of NFL teams to allow their newly drafted stars to participate, due to both a concern about injuries and the amount of training camp the rookies will miss. This helps explain why the game’s usually a rout, and this year’s edition is expected to be no different, but the All Stars, coached by USC’s legendary John McKay, give the Fins all they can handle, and more. In the fourth quarter, buoyed by a strong defense led by Matuszak, the Stars trail the Dolphins only by 7-3, before Miami running back Larry Csonka scores the clinching touchdown in a surprisingly tough 14-3 victory.

And speaking of baseball’s All-Star Game, that’s this week as well. Before the days of cable TV and regularly scheduled interleague play, the All-Star Game really was must-see TV. For many of us living in Minnesota, it was one of the rare times we got to see National League players, whom we’d otherwise only see on the Saturday game of the week.

This year’s game is Tuesday night in Kansas City (7:00 p.m., NBC), with the Nationals (the league, not the team, which won't be around for another thirty years or so) routing the Americans 7-1 for their 10th win in the last 11 years. They aren't kidding about this being an all-star game, either; the Nats featured nine future Hall of Famers, including Johnny Bench, Hank Aaron, Joe Morgan, Ron Santo, Tom Seaver, Don Sutton, Billy Williams, Willie Mays and Willie Stargell—plus that pesky Pete Rose character. The Americans countered with nine of their own: Carlton Fisk, Rod Carew, Brooks Robinson, Reggie Jackson, Carl Yastrzemski, Nolan Ryan, Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers and Bert Blyleven. I wonder—will this year’s game do as well?

t  t  t

What with so many regular series in summer reruns, we’ve been focusing the last few weeks on summer replacement shows. Ready for some more? Saturday night, Jack Burns and Avery Schreiber star in The Burns and Schreiber Comedy Hour (8:00 p.m., ABC), in place of the cancelled Julie Andrews show, with guests Ed McMahon, Teresa Graves and the Muledeer and Moondogg Medicine Show. On Thursday night NBC has Helen Reddy sitting in for Flip Wilson at 8:00 p.m., with fellow feminist Gloria Steinem, B.B. King, the New Seekers, Albert Brooks and the Modern Jazz Quartet; that's followed at 9:00 p.m. by the premiere of Dean Martin Presents Music Country, this week starring Johnny Cash, Mac Davis, Loretta Lynn, Marty Robbins and a cast of thousands.

There are plenty of movies to choose from this week, including the summertime staple, failed pilots for series that never came to pass. Two such as I Love a Mystery, an unsold pilot from 1966 with Ida Lupino (Monday, 8:00 p.m., NBC) and Crime Club (Tuesday, 8:30 p.m., CBS), which is only a year old, starring Lloyd Bridges, Barbara Rush, Paul Burke, Cloris Leachman, Martin Sheen, Victor Buono and William Devane. Great cast; I wonder why it didn't sell.

There is one kind of summer program not seen anymore, at least in Minneapolis: the twin Aquatennial parades. When I was a kid, the Minneapolis Aquatennial was the biggest summer festival around (it even featured as the backdrop for an episode of Route 66), and the two parades—the Grande Day Parade on Saturday and the Torchlight Parade on Wednesday—were major events. WCCO preempts its regular programming Saturday afternoon for the Grand Day parade starting at 2:30 p.m., featuring a pair of celebrity grand marshals, Larry Linville from M*A*S*H* and evangelist Billy Graham, and an appearance by Colonel Sanders. Keeping with the “Seas of Antiquity,” there are also a number of representatives from Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon and Greece.

*No coincidence that a CBS star would appear on a parade being televised by a CBS affiliate, right?

KSTP does the honors for the Torchlight parade, beginning at 8:30 p.m. (preempting Madigan and Search) with grand marshal Simcha Dimitz, Israeli Ambassador to the United States, along with the Israeli consul general, and another appearance by Colonel Sanders. Although the floats are the same ones from the Saturday parade (now with lights attached), I wonder if all of the Arab representatives still participated, considering the company they’d be keeping? After all, the Yom Kippur War is less than three months away.

t  t  t

Since we’re talking about old TV, here’s something interesting—a program about TV shows that were already considered old in 1973. That’s not too meta for you, is it?

Eric Sevareid interviewing Rachel Carson
It’s CBS News Retrospective, airing Sunday afternoons at 5:00 p.m., in which the network dips into its vaults to rebroadcast some of its most acclaimed and influential CBS Reports documentaries from the fifties and sixties. This week it’s the 1963 documentary “The Silent Spring of Rachel Carson,” the landmark program that first shown the spotlight on ecology and the environment, specifically the uses of DDT and other pesticides, and the effects they had on birds, fish and the soil. Carson’s assertions were controversial then, and they remain controversial today.

Thanks to being in the Twin Cities for the summer (after the first of six years in the World's Worst Town™), I was able to see this limited-run series, which included several documentaries by Edward R. Murrow. This was advocacy television at its finest (in terms of quality, that is, not necessarily ideology), and these programs were great examples of a type of television journalism that’s pretty much nonexistent today. And I can’t help but wonder about the method behind CBS airing these shows at this particular time. Could it be that the Tiffany Network was reminding viewers of their great news tradition, in order to bolster the division’s credibility during the continuing coverage of the Watergate hearings? Or is that too cynical a thought?

Speaking of which, we’re reminded at the start of the programming section (as well as several times throughout the week) that regular programming stands to be preempted for those Senate Watergate hearings. The nation has just been stunned the previous week by former presidential aide Alexander Butterfield’s casual comment that there was tape recording going on in the Oval Office. On Monday, July 23, special prosecutor Archibald Cox will demand that the White House turn over transcripts of those taped conversations, which President Nixon will refuse to do, citing Executive Privilege.

What’s interesting is that even at this point, roughly a year before Nixon will be forced to resign, the public is still divided over the issue. While 50% believe former aide John Dean’s accusations that Nixon is covering up the affair, they’re also split evenly (38%-37%) as to whom they would believe if Nixon denies the charge. Ah, politics.

t  t  t

We'll wrap things up with our cover story. Back in the days before the internet, Americans relied on television to give them the information they couldn’t get from their doctors. And what better “virtual” physicians to have than the kindly Marcus Welby and the dedicated Joe Gannon? Muriel Davidson’s cover story shares real-life incidents of lives being saved because of what viewers had seen on their favorite medical shows. A boy in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, administers mouth-to-mouth and heart massage on his asthmatic brother because he’d seen it done on Marcus Welby, M.D.; a man in Springfield, Missouri watching Welby self-diagnoses himself with a bleeding ulcer (he was right); a woman living in Los Angeles sees a man on Medical Center suffering from slurred speech, numb hands, and difficulty seeing – symptoms identical to hers. She tells her doctor she thinks she has M.S., because that’s what the character on Medical Center had. The skeptical doctor runs the tests, which confirm her suspicions. It’s not all WebMD-type diagnoses, though; another Welby episode tells the story of a brain-damaged boy who’s been labeled “slow”—the sensitivity and compassion of the episode produced thousands of letters of commendation.

Doctors caution people not to rely on fictional television stories in place of actual medical care, and point to patients having cancelled scheduled needed surgeries after seeing a Bold Ones episode about an unscrupulous doctor performing unnecessary surgery for profit. The producers of the shows say that their purpose is not to replace doctors, but to provide awareness education for viewers, pointing out potential health concerns or de-stigmatizing others, such as sexually-transmitted diseases.

Ultimately, the money line in the story points to the growing role of television in American society, and its power—at the time—to unify. Says a mother of a child suffering from a similar brain-damaged syndrome, who used the Welby episode to educate teachers and classmates on his condition, “It’s a miracle what can be done when people no longer are alone.” Words for thought, eh? TV  

July 17, 2020

Around the dial

Now, this is my idea of shopping. Mind you, I actually do like to shop; it's just that—well, isn't it true that everything's better with TV? I suppose it depends on what kind of TV, though. For example, what does NBC's new streaming service Peacock have to offer? Over at Classic Film & TV Café, Rick takes a closer look and decides there not much to see for fans of the classics.

One of the series they do have, though, is Alfred Hitchcock Presents, which means you'll be able to watch the episode "Coyote Moon," the third script for the show by Harold Swanton, as detailed by Jack at bare•bones e-zine.

At Comfort TV, David tells us about ten more forgotton shows he'd like to watch, shows such as Please Don't Eat the Daisies and Marlo and the Magic Movie Machine. Unfortunately, Peacock isn't going to help us any here.

Carol Ford and Linda Groundwater appeared earlier this week on Gary and Keith Leavitt's radio program Gary Leavitt and Friends on WMEX in Boston. You can read all about it, as well as hear the interview, at Bob Crane: Life & Legacy.

That interview coincided with Bob Crane's birthday, which was July 13. Also born on that date, thirteen years earlier, was Dave Garroway, and Jodie celebrates his birthday (as well as the birthday of her blog) at Garroway at Large. I wonder if they knew each other?

At The Hits Just Keep On Comin', JB has a nice look at the "Bring Back Howdy Doody" movement that saw Buffalo Bob Smith on tour, resulting in the album Buffalo Bob Smith Live at Bill Graham’s Fillmore East. Does this take the prize as the most unlikely thing you'll see all year? TV  

July 15, 2020

Running out of TV? Nonsense!

Last week, Alison Herman had a story at The Ringer with the panic headline "We're Going to Run Out of TV" (exclamation point optional). Obviously, what she's referring to is the lack of new television due to the virus. "[A] drought is upon us," she says.

Nonsense! In reality, there's no lack of television out there; between DVD, YouTube, and other sources, there's more TV available than any sane person could watch in a lifetime. Of course, throughout these ten years we've established that sane people do not run this website; even so, there's still a substantial number of TV shows just waiting for viewers to discover them.

And that's the problem: when it comes to television, too many people people limit the scope of their investigation to what's new, what's now, what's dope. Maybe, just maybe, they could be persuaded to look back as far as ten years. And you might as well forget about anything in black-and-white; I'm sure there are plenty of college-age types who refuse to believe there was ever such a thing.

It's their loss. Herman's story reminded me of this piece from 2014, when we got to take a look at what happens when someone is willing to expand their horizons a little bit. After six years, it's just as true as ever.

t  t  t

In a perceptive article at the AV Club, Brandon Nowalk writes about discovering a brand new world, one he scarcely knew existed:*

Late one night a couple of years ago, I stumbled upon an exciting new channel out in the back alleys of my cable package. That’s when I first laid eyes on Peter Gunn, which was exotic even apart from its shadowy look and circus-murder hook. I was bewitched from the moment the carnival barker interrupts the mystery of a stranger draping a reticulated python around a woman in the shadows. And that was just the beginning. Practically the entire programming schedule was new to me—a shaggy case-of-the-week PI show, a small-town drama in the middle of its 13th season, a horror anthology grasping at Val Lewton.

*The articles to which Nowalk links are well worth reading as well.

In addition to Peter Gunn, the shows Nowalk was watching were The Rockford FilesGunsmoke, and Thriller—all shows new to Nowalk.  I know that may be hard for us to believe, steeped as we are in the minutiae of old television, but Nowalk was enchanted by the revelation, which is something that should make all of us happy.  Describing MeTV, the station on which all these shows appeared, Nowalk writes that "its lineup of reruns manages to rival the best slates of the 21st century."

Nowalk refers to this lack of familiarity with the shows of the past "television's cultural amnesia."

When television fans lose their familiarity with classic television, every little formal discrepancy—from black-and-white to a multi-camera format to more obviously stylized performance—leads to perceptions that older TV is dated. And that, in turn, leads to blanket dismissals.

It's reasonable to assume that we all have a bias toward the television of our own time, which is why today's viewers call Breaking Bad "the best drama television has ever had to offer"—which it might well be, but it's pretty hard to make that claim stick by ignoring the first sixty or so years of television's history. "Don’t we lose more than we gain by constantly promoting the new and hip at the expense of the old and unfamiliar?"

In addition to losing our knowledge of television's past, though, we run the risk of losing touch of our own cultural past.  I often point out how the shows of yesterday offer us a window to the world of yesterday—one which is only approximated in period shows such as Mad Men.  I suppose this isn't a real surprise, given that these kids nowadays think history started about ten minutes ago.  But looking at the shows from the 50s and 60s introduces us to a world of wonder, in which walking on the moon was a fantastic dream; a world of apprehension, in which the threat of nuclear annihilation was a real and present danger; a world of comfort, in which the two-parent family was the norm, and neighbors looked out for each other.  We look at the stereotypes of women and minorities and see how things have changed, we see cars and fashions and marvel how technology has evolved.  We see the small towns and byways of America in the 60s, and wonder at how completely different the country has become.  We see travelogues of distant lands, and dream of travel beyond our own homes.

This is our world—the world that has been shaped by generations past.  When we lose touch of it, we lose touch of ourselves.  It's part of the magic of classic television—the magic of memory.  It's like looking through a family scrapbook, where we can watch ourselves grow, and grow old.  When we suffer from amnesia, when we lose touch with our roots, we are the poorer for it, for as Nowalk writes in conclusion, "To the untraveled viewer, the horizon is endless. I highly recommend exploring." TV 

July 13, 2020

What's on TV? Wednesday, July 14, 1971

In Saturday's article about Sesame Street, I mentioned how about 20% of the stations showing the program were commercial, not educational. We can see that in today's listings, where three commercial stations have it on; all three are CBS affiliates, and all three air Sesame Street immediately prior to Captain Kangaroo. That's seems like good scheduling to me; Children's Television Workshop urged stations to view the two shows as complimentary, rather than competitive. You can also tell, from the call letters and the common programming, the shared ownership of the KX family of stations: KXMD, KXMB, KXMC and KXJB. (There's also KXMA in Dickinson, which isn't in this issue.)  WDAY and WDAZ also have common ownership; not a surprise when you're talking about such a vast area as North Dakota, with a relatively small population. That's the edition we're looking at this week, in case you hadn't noticed.

July 11, 2020

This week in TV Guide: July 10, 1971

Indulge me for a moment in a personal reminiscence. It was the summer of 1971, the year before we moved to the World's Worst Town™, and we were on vacation at a lake resort in Alexandria, Minnesota. We were often in the area during the summer, considering Alex was only about an hour from the town of infamy, and while I have nothing against the place other than KCMT, that doesn't mean I'm in any hurry to go back. But I digress.

I was going through television withdrawal, since our cabin didn't have one, and I was particularly suffering since Tuesday night was the baseball All-Star Game, the Midsummer Classic, played that year in Detroit. (Tuesday, 7:00 p.m. CT, NBC) We were in the dining room of the resort, between dinner and dessert; I heard a shout from the lounge, where there was a TV tuned to the game, and rushed in to see what the fuss was about. (To this day I marvel at how patient my mother and grandparents were with me.)

"What happened?" I asked a man who was watching the game.

"Jackson just hit one off the light tower," he replied.

I'd missed Reggie Jackson's home run, but caught the replay. It was a titanic shot off the light standard on top of the roof of the right field stands at Tiger Stadium, traveling so high that the camera was unable to follow its flight all the way up. (It's been estimated the blast would have gone well over 500 feet had the tower not gotten in the way, and was reportedly still going up at the time.) It was instantly one of the most famous home runs in All-Star Game history, and remains so to this day.

It was an immensely entertaining game, with the American League ending a long losing streak by beating the National League 6-4, with all ten runs scored on home runs. The rosters of the two teams included 25 future Hall of Famers (including both managers), an astounding amount of talent.

The only way it could have been any better would have been if I could have seen it all.

t  t  t

There was, at least, one good thing to come out of my six years in the WWT: Sesame Street.

By the mid-1970s, I'd become so desperate to watch something—anything—besides the bilge on KCMT that I'd taken to watching the show in the afternoons after coming home from high school, courtesy of KWCM in Appleton, the only station other than KCMT that we could get without an antenna. I was, of course, much too old to be part of the show's target audience, so I watched in the detached way that adults did, enjoying the sly humor included for the benefit of parents forced to watch with their kids, jokes that preschoolers would never get.

*Sample: Ernie (to Bert's brother Bart): "I'm aghast!" Bart: "No, I'm aghast—you live here!" 

But all that is in the future; let us return to 1971, when the occasion for Cookie Monster's cover appearance is the second anniversary of Sesame Street's premiere, as Max Gunther takes a measure of the show's first two years. It's difficult to appreciate exactly how revolutionary Sesame Street has been since its premiere, but to fully understand, one has to go back to the state of American education in the years preceding its debut. "Sesame Street began," Gunther points out, "because many people in this country were worried about what happens to poor kids—the so-called 'culturally deprived'—when they start school." They lack the exposure to books and magazines that other children have; thus, "they come into kindergarten or first grade with an often cruel handicap." Letters and words are unfamiliar to them, they don't understand what the teacher's talking about, they fall further behind, and may give up in frustration, winding up on the mean streets of the ghetto. The Head Start program, which was meant to address the situation, fell short. The cost of various early education proposals was often prohibitive. It was then that Joan Cooney suggested television. After all, almost every kid has access to one, and TV has long been adept at selling products. Couldn't it also sell education?

The show has had its share of critics. A Cornell psychologist complains that Sesame Street is part of a dream world, with "no racial tensions; nobody ever gets mad; no sharp words are spoken." How, he wonders, does this prepare children for real life? A school principal says that the show "makes no demands on the kids. Real school and real life aren't like that. If a problem is troubling you, you can't just switch it off and walk away." The show has ten times as many fans, though, who point at dramatic increases in test scores among disadvantaged children who watch Sesame Street often. And Susan, one of the show's humans who was previously a housewife, is now a nurse; "Women's lib has a thing about housewives."

The producers envision Sesame Street as a show continuously evolving to better serve the needs of its young viewers. The research chief of Children's Television Workshop constantly tests kids' reactions, incorporating the findings into future shows; for instance, they've discovered that children are not, as one might suspect, bored by seeing the same thing several times in one broadcast; repetition, therefore, is a key aspect to successful learning. They also tend to remember things when they're able to say or sing it along with the performer on-screen. And fully 20% of the stations showing the program are commercial stations in areas that don't yet have educational television; although CTW won't allow advertising during the show, many station executives know that kids watching Sesame Street will probably leave the TV tuned to the same channel afterward, allowing them to charge a premium for that show. In other cases, corporations and civic groups have bought the time to air the show. And a second show, The Electric Company, is planned for this fall; its target will be 7- 10-year-olds.

Within all this good news, the cloud on the horizon, as always, is funding. Congress will do its best, and new licensing deals will help. "I think we've started something big," Cooney says; her Congressional ally, Sen. John Tunney, agrees. "People are only beginning to understand what early schooling can accomplish." And even I was able to learn something; thanks to Sesame Street, I can at least count to 20 in Spanish.

t  t  t

You know that I try to be as positive as possible, but the truth is that we've got a case of the summer blahs this week. A couple of movies stand out, and we'll get to them, but between summer replacements and repeats, there's just not a lot to fly at the top of the flagpole. It doesn't mean we can't find a few highlights, though. For instance. . .

I had just started to get an appreciation for golf in 1971, so when I say that the All-Star Game was the big sporting event of the week, it's more a matter of personal opinion. Other eyes are looking toward England, where the 100th British Open, the world's oldest golf tournament, is being contested at Royal Birkdale, with ABC providing same-day coverage of the final round on Wide World of Sports (Saturday, 4:00 p.m.) Lee Trevino, in his greatest season, wins a thrilling duel with Lu Liang-Huan and Tony Jacklin to take his first of two consecutive British Opens; it's also his second consecutive major, having bested Jack Nicklaus in a playoff to win the U.S. Open the previous month. Later that night, NBC's Saturday Night at the Movies presents the touching movie A Patch of Blue (7:30 p.m.), starring Sidney Poitier, Elizabeth Hartman, Shelley Winters (who won an Oscar) and Wallace Ford in what Judith Crist calls "a quartet of brilliant performances" that "make the sentimental melodrama memorable." Sunday belongs to PBS, first with the return of Evening at Pops (7:00 p.m.), tonight featuring an all-Tchaikovsky hour with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops. That's followed at 8:00 by Masterpiece Theatre and part one of one of its most famous stories, The First Churchills, with John Neville and Susan Hampshire.

Sticking with PBS, Lorne Greene, Dan Blocker and Michael Landon teach the difference between near and far on Monday's Sesame Street (4:30 p.m.). Turning to the networks, Dave Garroway returns to network television after a nine-year absence with CBS Newcomers (9:00 p.m.), a weekly talent show with professional entertainers from night clubs and theaters around the country. You can read more about that at Jodie's Dave Garroway blog here and here. If you're not in the mood for Tuesday's All-Star Game, ABC has a rare prime time network showing of a classic movie, with 1939's Made for Each Other, starring James Stewart and Carole Lombard. It's classic soap opera as well, Judith Crist says, but with Stewart and Lombard "at the height of their romantic appeal," the mush is "not only palatable but well worth savoring." If you think we've had it bad with the coronavirus, just look at the staff of Medical Center Wednesday (8:00 p.m., CBS)—they're looking for a missing radium implant that could contaminate the entire hospital. Over at NBC, the Kraft Music Hall (8:00 p.m.) has moved across the pond for the summer, with British comedian Des O'Connor and Connie Stevens doing the honors; this week, their special guest is Phyllis Diller.

Thursday, NBC Action Playhouse (6:30 p.m.) has a rerun from 1966 (see what I mean by a weak week?), Massacre at Fort Phil Kearny, a drama about the military inquest into the deaths of 81 U.S. soldiers massacred by Sioux warriors in 1866. It's got a good cast, though, with Richard Egan, Robert Fuller, Carroll O'Connor and Robert Pine. A Tom Jones special (6:30 p.m.) highlights ABC's night, with Nicol Williamson, Tom Paxton and Lulu. Future Oscar winner Joel Grey (he wins next year for Cabaret) plays a jockey suspected of throwing races on Ironside (7:30 p.m., NBC), with former Tarzan Ron Ely, future Paramount CEO Sherry Lansing, and Dana Elcar. Later, Johnny Cash is the honoree on This Is Your Life (9:30 p.m., KTHI). And we'll bring the week to an end with Friday's summer replacement series It Was a Very Good Year (8:30 p.m., ABC); the year is 1939, which was an extraordinary year: the German invasions of Czechoslovakia and Poland, Picasso's extraordinary antiwar painting "Guernica," the movies The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind, the opening of the legendary New York World's Fair, and the retirement of Lou Gehrig.

t  t  t

And speaking of Tom Jones. . .

It's not unusual to see Tom featuring in an ad like this, but it's also interesting to see the wide variety of names and styles that were big in 1971: Led Zeppelin; Dean Martin; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; Glenn Miller; Mantovani; Loretta Lynn; Emerson, Lake & Palmer; the Bee Gees; Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, and more. It's quite a slice of musical life—if you can't find anything there, I imagine you just don't like music. Ads like this were common in TV Guide; most of the time you could find them in the center section where the paper was stiffer, but this one was on the last two pages of the issue. And you can appreciate the latest in technology: records, cassettes, and 8-track!

June and Allan Jefferys' humorous article about being the first family on the block to have a VCR is about technology as well. Being able to show movies without commercial interruption makes the Jefferys a very popular family, and it isn't long before they're hosting movie nights for their friends, complete with popcorn and theater seating! It kind of predicts the home theater experience of today, albeit on a much smaller scale. It reminds me of something else though, of how technology used to bring people together in social situations. Having the first VCR on the block wasn't any different from having the first TV, or a radio that could bring in stations from other parts of the country—it became an occasion for having friends over, getting to know your neighbors, just like playing cards or having dessert on the porch. Bars installed TVs and saw their business explode. Nowadays the neighborhoods are virtual, and technology is accused of isolating people, of pushing them apart instead of bringing them together. But things could be a lot worse than our own virtual community here.

t  t  t

Finally, a word from our friend, the Cookie Monster:

Who says there's no class on TV anymore?  TV