October 30, 2020

Around the dial

Tis the season for pumpkins and presidents, and at Comfort TV David talks about an episode that has both of them: 1968's "Secret Ballot" from That Girl, which portrays the excitement of casting one's first vote for president without having to broadcast a political message to the viewers. Radical.

Detouring into old-time radio for a moment, at A Shroud of Thougths, Terence offers a fine collection of classic Halloween-themed episodes, from Jack Benny and Fibber McGee to the Mercury Theatre's immortal presentation of "War of the Worlds." 

The Avengers has nothing to do with Halloween, or politicians, or anything else this week, other than fun. It's what John at Cult TV Blog calls the encapsulation of everything Avengers: "What the Butler Saw," from 1966. Sounds like just what we need right now.

At The Hits Just Keep on Comin', jb revisits some late-60s episodes from The Red Skelton Hour, courtesy of Amazon Prime (well, actually there isn't anything particularly courteous about it since we pay for the service, but I digress), and gives us a look behind the scenes at the famed comedian's style.

If you're looking for some podcast goodness, head on over to the Eventually Supertrain site, where Dan has some goodies for you: a Christmas (!) episode of Rockin' All Week With You with Christmas TV expert extraordinare Joanna Wilson, and the latest Eventually Supertrain

Finally, an email from Bill, one of our loyal readers, with a question about the March 20, 1960 episode of The Ed Sullivan Show, featuring acts from the International Circus show. Bill has an illustration by George Wachsteter promoting the issue; it has Ed and the two famous circus clowns, Emmett Kelly and Lindon. The illustration doesn't appear in the March 19, 1960 TV Guide, although Wachsteter's illustrations frequently appeared in the magazine. Wachsteter's work also appeared in the newspaper supplement Pictorial and TView magazine, but he hasn't found this illustration. Anyone heard of this magazine before? (I hadn't.) 

I'm grateful to Bill—for his readership, naturally, but also for writing and introducing me to more swell TV stuff. And does anyone (like Mike Doran) have any clues as to where the illustration might have appeared? TV  

October 28, 2020

The Great Pumpkin is comin' to town!


s I mentioned the other day, for the first time since its premiere in 1966, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown won't be airing on network television this year. I hope those of you without Apple+ have The Great Pumpkin on DVD, because it cdrtainly isn't Halloween without it.

The Great Pumpkin is probably second only to A Charlie Brown Christmas in terms of popularity, and it isn't surprising. It's a charming story, what with its sly satire on the Santa Claus mythos, Snoopy in his Sopwith Camel, and Charlie Brown's miserable trick-or-treating experience. It also generated quite a few tie-ins, including this: The Peanuts Book of Pumpkin Carols, published by Hallmark. Although I have to admit we've never had carolers coming around our neighborhood singing pumpkin carols, I wouldn't presume to speak for all neighborhoods; perhaps it's a local tradition where you live.

Here are a couple of my favorites—

Oh, you better not shriek,
You better not groan,
You better not howl,
You better not moan,
Great Pumpkin is comin’ to town!

He’s going to find out,
From folks that he meets,
Who deserves tricks,
And who deserves treats,
Great Pumpkin is comin’ to town!

He’ll search in every pumpkin patch,
Haunted houses far and near,
To see if you’ve been spreading gloom,
Or bringing lots of cheer.

So, you better not shriek,
You better not groan,
You better not howl,
You better not moan,
Great Pumpkin is comin’ to town!

I’m dreaming of the Great Pumpkin,
Just like I do this time each year.
When he brings nice toys,
To good girls and boys,
Who wait for him to appear.

I’m dreaming of the Great Pumpkin,
With every Pumpkin card I write.
May your jack-o-lanterns burn bright,
When the Great Pumpkin visits you tonight.

And here's my personal favorite; I've shared "Pumpkin Bells" before, but we all know you can never have too much of a good thing. 

Dashing through the streets,
In our costumes bright and gay,
To each house, we go,
Laughing all the way.
Halloween is here,
Making spirits bright,
What fun it is to trick-or-treat,
And sing Pumpkin carols tonight!

Oh, Pumpkin bells! Pumpkin bells!
Ringing loud and clear,
Oh what fun Great Pumpkin brings,
When Halloween is here!

Pumpkin bells! Pumpkin bells!
Ringing loud and clear,
Oh, what fun Great Pumpkin brings,
When Halloween is here!

You can see the complete list here. In the meantime, we'll be watching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown on Halloween night as we always do. I hope you'll join us, at least in spirit. After all, 'tis the night for spirits. TV  

October 26, 2020

What's on TV? Wednesday, October 25, 1967

Here we are in the middle of the week, and if you want to know what's happening, all you have to do is look up there at the listing for Kraft Music Hall; in the ad, it's called "The Phyllis Diller Experience," with Diller and Bob Hope trying to be hip with Sonny & Cher. Well, you've probably seen some of those painful Hope skits from his specials, where Bob's wearing a wig and trying to look like he's about 30. I don't know, maybe I've got it all wrong and it's one of the funniest shows of the year. Somehow, though, I doubt it. Anyway, there's plenty else to see in this Minnesota State Edition that, for once, has all the stations in play.

October 24, 2020

This week in TV Guide: October 21, 1967

News item: the second week of the 2020 NFL season sees seven plays lost for the season with knee injuries in what observers speculate could be "the league’s most catastrophic week for injuries in decades," continuing a trend that started last week.

As you know, one of the themes that runs through this look at TV Guides from the 1950s through the 70s is that there's very little that's really new. History either repeats itself, or it never changed in the first place. Given that sports, like everything else, is part of the human condition, it's not surprising that the same rules apply. And, as Joe King reports in one of this week's cover stories, a "secret NFL poll" reveals that as far back as 1967, officials were coming to the conclusion that "the game is becoming too dangerous for the players."

What's most interesting about this article is that, for a contemporary reader, it's easy to see how things have changed even as they've stayed the same. Take the subject of knee injuries, the dominant aspect of King's article. King presents an alarming list of players kayoed by injuries that occurred during the pre-season, which in 1967 consisted of six games. At any given time, the average NFL team enters a game missing 4.6 players due to injuries that occurred since the start of training camp, and a staggering 32 players (out of a 16-team league) missed at least 10 games (in a 14-game season) due to knee injuries. Says one doctor, the knee has become so vulnerable that "no protective device could be guaranteed to guard it." 

Now, it's true that knee injuries remain as common today as ever. At the same time, there can be no debate that the incredible advances in surgical procedures, including but not limited to arthroscopic surgeries, have made an incredible difference. It's not uncommon for a severe knee injury to cause a player to miss the rest of the season, but injuries far less severe than that used to end a player's career, or leave him a shadow of his former self. This is unquestionably progress of the best kind.

    Gale Sayers, carried off the field in 1968. (UPI)
Doctors aren't sure what's causing this epidemic of injuries, but they've dismissed the playing surface as a factor. For all teams except the Houston Oilers, that playing surface was natural grass, and the Oilers only played on artificial turf because of the Astrodome. Today, despite improvements to artificial playing fields, most players dread taking to the fake stuff. Several of the players cited as suffering season-ending injuries in our lead paragraph did so on the artificial surface at MetLife Stadium, home of the New York Jets and Giants. (And an outdoor stadium, by the way.) Despite player complaints over the last five decades, artificial turf remains a part of the game. The maintenance, you know.

And then there's the length of the season. One finding that the doctors did agree on is that most injuries occur during the pre-season and the first three weeks of the season, and then again in the last four weeks. They wonder: perhaps players start up too fast and wear down too quickly? The lack of a pre-season this year, due to the virus, could help explain the rash of early-season injuries, but the regular season, 12 games long as late as 1960, is now 16—and is soon to expand to 17. Not only that, but the playoffs, which once were limited to two teams, now consists of 14—meaning even more playoff games. The players understand this puts them at greater risk. The owners, presumably, know this as well. But, you know, money. They covet the revenue that comes from more games. 

It's possible, though, that the biggest difference between then and now is in the area of head injuries. Mark Duncan, the NFL's supervisor of officials, tells King that the protective equipment players wear is "the finest" in history, and it's constantly being improved. Says King, "The modern helmet, for instance, stems from military research and has virtually eliminated the head injury, so feared in the past." Well. I think it's safe to say that probably the single greatest concern when it comes to the health of football players today is the head injury. We now know, from scientific studies, that the head trauma sustained by football players at every level of the game, can be permanent; furthermore, it can often be years before the effects of repeated injuries becomes apparent, in the form of early dementia that can destroy a player's later years—that is, if it doesn't cause him to commit suicide. Let's face it: there's a big difference between shortening a player's career and shortening his lifespan. Would that it were a thing of the past.

Players have become so fast, so strong, so big, that what was once called a contact sport is now referred to as a collision sport, a sport of violence. Whereas players who used to play both offense and defense had to be taught their trade, the era of specialization means that players are often woefully inadequate when it comes to even fundamentals such as tackling; it's often easier—and more dangerous—to simply throw yourself at your opponent. And as the surge in head trauma continues, and as scientific studies point to how even the impact which a player sustains in practices can cause irreperable damage, more people begin to wonder if football can be saved. Not just professional football, but all the way down to the peewee level. 

King's conclusion, true for the time, crackles with bitterness when viewed through today's eyes. "Unless somebody finds a doctor in the house who can prescribe a cure for football's knee ailments, the high-riding pro game could be hurt." And that, my friend, is not all.

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Throughout the '60s and early '70s, TV Guide's weekly 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 shows of the day. (Graphic by Al Hirschfeld)

It isn't often that Cleveland Amory starts out on such a high note, but high he is, on NBC's new Western, The High Chaparral. The hour-long show opened with a special two-hour introduction, and it was clear from the start that creator David Dortort had put his all into it: "Extraordinary scenery, a generous cast, 14 plots, 82 sublopts and four full-fledged wars—one witgh the Apaches, another with the Mexicans, a third betwen a father and a son, and a fourth between a stepmother and a stepson." That may sound to you like a lot of fighting, but trust me—or Cleve, at least—this was something worth fighting for. The cast, led by Leif Erickson, Cameron Mitchell, Joan Caulfield, Linda Cristal, Frank Silvera, and Henry Darrow, was outstanding. Granted, Mark Slade "did a bit too much blubbering for us," but, as the son in the father-son round of fighting, that was the role he had to play. 

If that was all there was to this, we'd be able to wrap this review up pretty quick and mosey on to the next story, but, as we all know, life is seldom this straightforward. "What happened to The High Chaparral between the first two hour episode and the following one-hour one." Amory says, "shouldn't have." Yes, the magic is already gone. "John had turned on Victoria; Victoria had turned on John, her brother and Mrs. Cannon No. 1; Blue had turned on everybody; and if you didn't turn it off, we miss our guess." The third episode was better, but still nowhere near the quality of that introductory two-hours; says Amory, "it would have been thin for a half-hour show, let alone an hour." 

It's not surprising, given that the first episode is often the pilot that sells the series, that a show will start out with a bang (in this case, a literal one) and go downhill from there, but that doesn't make it any less discouraging. Often a series, given enough time, will go on to find its equilibrium, a point between the high of the first episode and the lows of the subsequent efforts. That may well be what happens with The High Chaparral, for it goes on to a four-season run, in an era when the TV Western was truly drying up. It would be interesting to see if Cleve takes another crack at it somewhere down the line, to get his second impressions. But even if it doesn't get a second chance to make a second impression on him, we'll be left with those 98 episodes, as well as one of the great TV themes of all time. It may not be Paris, but it isn't bad.

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It's a week of specials of every kind, many of them on ABC—must be a sweeps week or something. It begins on Sunday with Mia Farrow, this week's cover girl, in Johnny Belinda(8:00 p.m. CT, ABC), a remake of the 1948 movie that won a Best Actress Oscar for Jane Wyman. It's the first in what the network is calling a series of "Movie Night" TV dramas based on big-screen classics of the past and featuring stars of the present.* The role is a challenging one for Farrow, who had to learn sign language for the role of Belinda McDonald, a deaf mute with no speaking lines. Joining her is Barry Sullivan as her father, David Carradine as the drunken fisherman who rapes her, and Ian Bannen as her doctor. You can see how it come out here.

*Future installments include Of Mice and Men with George Segal and Nicol Williamson; Dial M. For Murder with Laurence Harvey, Diane Cilento and Hugh O'Brian; and The Diary of Anne Frank with Max Von Sydow and Diana Davila. ABC was fond of this kind of remake, as you'll see.

, and the emphasis is on documentaries, beginning with Coach Bryant: Alabama's Bear (7:30 p.m., ABC), an hour-long profile of Alabama's already-legendary football coach Bear Bryant. Chris Schenkel gives viewers a look at Bryant's coaching style (including an interview with former Alabama quarterback Joe Namath), and reviews last season, when Bryant's defending national champions finished the season as the nation's only unbeaten, untied team, only to finish third in the final polls. (That finish became a prime motivator for Bryant to integrate the team.) Then, followng a break for Peyton Place, it's an ABC News Special entitled "The Long Childhood of Timmy," a report on the life of a mentally retarted child, narrated by E.G. Marshall.

Tuesday is music night, starting with NBC's special presentation of The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night (6:30 p.m.). Judith Crist calls it a movie of "fantastic charm," with probing portraits of "four very likeable young men." Thanks to the movie's early start, you'll have time to check out ABC's revival of Armstrong Circle Theatre (8:30 p.m.), which originally ran from 1950 to 1957 on NBC and 1957 to 1963 on CBS, thus covering all the network bases. Unlike its earlier incarnation, however, this time it's just the umbrella title for a series of musical specials; previous presentations included Brigadoon and Carousel, both starring Robert Goulet, while this week it's Kismet, featuring an all-star cast that includes Jose Ferrer, Barbara Eden, Anna Maria Alberghetti, Hans Conreid and George Chakiris. Any resemblance between this series and the network's Movie Night is, I presume, entirely uncoincidental. 

ABC's specials continue on Wednesday with a real movie night, the TV premiere of 1956's The King and I (6:30 p.m.), with Yul Brynner in his Oscar-winning performance as the King of Siam, and Deborah Kerr as Anna, the English tutor to his 82 children, who isn't afraid to stand up to his majesty. Judith Crist hails Brynner's "greatest performance," describing it as "a creation of overpowering magnetism in the combination of complex intelligence and simple primitivism." The thought occurs to me that Yul Brynner, like James Cagney, played plenty of tough guys during his long career, but—like Cagney—found his greatest success, as well as his only Academy Award, for a musical. Interesting only to me, perhaps, but interesting nonetheless. And ABC isn't done yet; speaking of "overpowering magnetism," the movie is followed by With Love. . . Sophia, and the Sophia in question is, who else, Sophia Loren, taking viewers on a tour of her world. (And what a world it is!) Joining Sophia are Jonathan Winters (!), Peter Sellers, Marcello Mastroianni, and Tony Bennett; the music is by Leslie Bricusse.

it's CBS's turn to turn to specials. At 6:30 p.m. it's the second broadcast of one of television's most-loved cartoons, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Linus' eternal quest to see the mythical Halloween icon.* It's followed at 7:00 p.m. by a Don Knotts variety special, starring Don's old friend Andy Griffith, Juliet Prowse, Roger Wiliams, and the Kids Next Door (not this one, but the '60s singing group). ABC relies on its regular programming tonight, with a couple of special appearances: on Batman (6:30 p.m.), Milton Berle guests as Louie the Lilac, while F. Lee Bailey's guest on his interview program Good Company (9:30 p.m.) is the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. And let's not leave out NBC; Jack Kelly and Antoinette Bower are on Ironside (7:30 p.m.), and Dean Martin's guests are Donald O'Connor, Jonathan Winters (who survived his night with Sophia), Nancy Ames, and Flip Wilson. (9:00 p.m.)

*As I was writing this sentence, I saw that Great Pumpkin, as well as the rest of the Peanuts cartoons, including A Charlie Brown Christmas, will be shown on Apple+ instead of ABC. No network airings of the classics, in other wordsand it seems to me that if there was ever a year that these specials should be on broadcast TV, it's 2020. Death by a thousand cuts, one at a time, isn't it?

Dueling specials round out the week on Friday. At 9:00 p.m, an NBC News Special looks at a question that remains pertinent today: does America's legal system really provide equal justice for all? As writer-producer-director Bob Rogers puts it, "Some people in the U.S. can't afford lawyers—which means they can't afford their rights." Opposite that on ABC, John Davidson hosts an hour of variety from South Bend, Indiana, to celebrate homecoming week at Notre Dame. He's joined under the Golden Dome by Judy Colins, Spanky and Our Gang, George Carline, and the Notre Dame Glee Club. For more excitement, opt for The CBS Friday Night Movie, with Robert Mitchum, Elsa Martinelli, and Jack Hawkins involved in jungle adventure in Rampage. "Good guy Mitchum gets the girl" says Judith Crist, "but the four-legged animals on screen win the acting honors."

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In the Teletype, Joseph Finnigan reports that "Jack Webb signed Martin Milner (Route 66) and Kent McCord as co-stars for the new police-series pilot he's producing for NBC at Universal." Yep, Adam-12. Hollywood Palace is heading back to Saturday nights after ABC's abortive move to Tuesdays. (No Sullivan vs. The Palace this week, due to all those specials, but Ed's scheduled guests are the American Folk Ballet; the singing McGuire Sisters; England's Lulu ("To Sir, with Love"); and comedians Jackie Vernon, Tommy Cooper, Norm Crosby, and Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, so it was definitely a beatable lineup.) 

Don Quine in more recent years
We frequently look at profiles of the latest starlets, but turnabout, as Peter Marshall used to say on The Hollywood Squares, is fair play, so this week we'll see the latest l'enfant terrible of the small screen, Don Quine of The Virginian. Dwight Whitney describes him as "young, bright, short-fused and just unruly enough in a ding-a-ling sort of way to be catnip for the ladies in the mini-skirts." He's driven publicists crazy with his refusal to "play the game," fought with directors (literally, in one case), told off actors twice his age, and antagonized both crew and writers. Says one studio hand, "I think he thought he was at least as big a deal as Frank Sinatra." Executive producer Frank Price finally has to tell him to cool it, or else. "He said he got the message and was grateful."

One gets the impression that Quine is a man desperately searching for himself; at the time of the interview, he's just given up Reichian Therapy in favor of Transcendental Meditation and the Indian mystic Maharishi. He says he's calmer, but he's also split from his wife. And it sounds as if, success notwithstanding, he's still not sold on this acting business. "The studio is really very happy with me. I think I'll probably give up the Hollywood bag, split and go to Europe at the end of the season. There are just too many interesting things in the world not to." One of those interesting things is karate; after he does, in fact, kick the acting gig, he goes on to write the self-defense book American Karate, and serve as president of the Professional Karate Association. A (PKA) whose Kick of the 80’s weekly fight series on ESPN ran for close to a decade. As Sinatra might say, ain't that a kick in the head.

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Earlier, I mentioned ABC's "Movie Night" and their reboot of Armstrong Circle Theatre. Adapting classic movies for radio had been going on for years (often with members of the original cast), but it was not uncommon in the 1950s and '60s to see made-for-TV adaptations as well. Many of these were shot not the way we would think of them today, as TV-movies, but were done more in the manner of a play, and were captured on videotape rather than film. Even into the mid 1970s, when film had become the dominant medium, we can see networks attempting to give viewers more of what might be called a "theater experience" by shooting on tape instead of film.* To understand how such things work, it's useful, as well as fun, to go back to the spring of 1958, as recounted in Stephen Battaglio's terrific biography of David Susskind.

*Occasionally, these adaptations could prove disastrous, as in ABC's 1968 version of the 1944 classic Laura, starring George Sanders, Robert Stack, and . . . Lee Radziwill, also known as Jackie Kennedy's sisterThe Chicago Tribune, in one of the kinder reviews, called it "the worst drama" of the television season. 

Not long after MGM had run a giant ad in the trade publication Variety promoting their upcoming $12.5 million epic remake of Ben-Hur, Susskind and his buisness partner, Al Levy, ran a (much smaller) ad announcing that their company, Talent Associates, was in preproduction for a live television version of Ben-Hur. As anyone who's ever seen the movie knows, such an idea was utterly absurd; in addition to the famed chariot race, there's also a naval battle that would be the centerpiece of any other story, large groups of Roman soldiers marching through the streets of Judea, a leper colony, and the Crucifixion, accompanied by an earthquake. The logistics of staging such a spectacle on live television would be impossible.* Nonetheless, Susskind and Levy announced with straight faces, there it was, and MGM was livid at the prospect of their investment (upon which the survival of the studio might depend) being undercut.

*Although, it should be added, Kraft Television Theatre did sink the Titanic on live television in their adaptation of A Night to Remember, so perhaps it's forgivable that MGM bit on such a ridiculous story.

Inagine this in a television studio!

Quickly a meeting was arranged between an MGM executive and Susskind and Levy. What, they were asked, was Talent Associates up to?

"We think it's a great story," Levy deadpanned. "Live television has never seen anything like it."

And then the meaning of it all became clear. "How much do you want," the exeutive asked. "We don't want any money," Levy replied, pulling out of his pocket a list of MGM movie titles. What they wanted, in return for "dropping" the Ben-Hur idea, was the television rights to the listed movies. The deal was made, and Susskind subsequently announced that TA was shelving their live Ben-Hur, saying that "he could not with a clear conscience pursue a project that could be damaging to the studio." Over the years, Talent Associates did a lot of TV adaptations of MGM movies, for programs like DuPont Show of the Week and the original Armstrong Circle Theatre, and eventually even the press began to catch on.

It has nothing to do with TV Guide, perhaps, but as a look at how the sausage is made, you can't beat it. TV  

October 23, 2020

Around the dial

It's kind of a light week for TV blogging out there, which probably means that a lot of people out there have better things to do with their time than I do. Be that as it may, you all are teh beneficiaries from the combined wisdom that can be found Around the Dial.

Alfred Hyes is the latest screenwriter to receive the Hitchcock Project treatment from Jack at bare•bones e-zine. His first effort for Hitch is the eighth-season opener "A Piece of the Action," not to be confused with the Star Trek episode of the same name. Gig Young stars, with an early appearnce by Robert Redford.

It's another episode of "The Unshakeables" at Comfort TV, those episodes that just stay with you long after the show's over, and this week David looks at "Doomsday is Tomorrow," a 1977 episode of The Bionic Woman with a memorable payoff.

It was F Troop Friday last week at The Horn Section, but I'd already gone to press when it came out, so I'm making it up to Hal by making this F Troop Friday. It's "Honest Injun," from season one, when the series was in B&W, and it involves a fake gold mine and more.

I tried to watch the early '60s detective series Checkmate several years ago; I had a sampler set that gave me a handful of episodes, but it just didn't do it for me. Not enough Sebastian Cabot; Anthony George and Doug McClure just didn't do it for me, at least in this series. Anyway, it's the latest show at Television's New Frontier: The 1960s.

Here's a big shout-out and happy anniversary to Realweegiemidget, celebrating 5 years (and over 100,000 hits) as a film and TV review site, as well as host to a host of blogathons. Here's hoping there are more years ahead.

And finally, at Silver Screen, here's a 1956 British Pathé newsreel with a profile of Alban Adams, the inventor of the slot car. Nothing to do with television, but I've loved slot cars since I was a kid. Too bad we don't have room for a layout here. TV  

October 19, 2020

What's on TV? Sunday, October 18, 1953

After mentioning in Saturday's review that Sunday was probably the most interesting day in this TV week, I figured we might as well take a look at the entire day's schedule. And we're doing it with not one, but two Milwaukee channels added to the Chicago lineup. WTMJ has been joined by CBS affiliate WCAN, which began broadcasting just one month before, on September 6. As you can see, it doesn't have every CBS program on the schedule, but it will carry a very important one: according to the always-reliable Wikipedia, WCAN will be the only CBS affiliate in Wisconsin to air Edward R. Murrow's See It Now exposé of Wisconsin Senator Joseph R. McCarthy on March 9, 1954. Nothing so dramatic today, but a good lineup nonetheless.

October 17, 2020

This week in TV Guide: October 16, 1953

ne of these days I ought to start a feature called "You Can't Do That Anymore," and if I did, you can bet that almost every issue of TV Guide from this era would have a story that qualifies. Of course, the way things are going in this country, before long everything will belong in that category, but I digress. This week's entrant is the cover story on the winners of something called the "1953 T-Venus contest." Now, I had to study that headline* several times to figure out just what this meant; is a T-Venus some kind of female equivalent of a T-Rex? As it turns out, and you may have been quicker to figure this out than I was, the joke is that it's a combination of TV and Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. Ergo, TVenus! 

*Not the pictures, though. I didn't pay any attention to them.

Anyway, the purpose of the contest is to select six winners who will appear during the season on NBC's Colgate Comedy Hour, interacting with the hosts, holding title cards, and so on. The judges, including Jimmy Durante, Sam Fuller, and Groucho and Harpo Marx, had the arduous task of paring down 300 young lovelies to the final six over a period of two-and-one-half hours. Hardly seems like enough time to properly devote to the deliberations, but again I digress. The judges did their job, and the six winners were chosen. 

As you know from past experience, one of the questions we like to ask of stories like this is whether or not any of these young ladies amounted to anything. Not surprisingly, since the prize was appearing on the Colgate Comedy Hour, they all had careers of one sort or another. Suzanne Ames (far right on the cover) appeared in several movies, including Bells Are Ringing; Dona Cole (center) was in The Beast With a Million Eyes; Mary Ann Edwards was in Cowboy G-Men and Giant. And theAsn there's the young woman on the left. Recognize her? If not, try to imagine her with blond hair. Need more clues? She's from Kulm, North Dakota, hung out with the Rat Pack, was married to Burt Bacharach, and just celebrated her 89th birthday. That's right: Angie Dickinson. I'd say she had a pretty successful career, wouldn't you?

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Here's another entrant for that "You Can't Do That Anymore" category, from the New York TV Teletype:

I've not heard this story before. It's true that the NCAA ruled the television deal with an iron fist, not only to protect the live gate at local games, but to prevent any team from becoming a national power through multiple yearly appearances on TV. (Yes, Notre Dame, we're looking at you.) And it's also true that the United States Olympic Committee was very tough on amateurism back then; one athlete lost his eligibility because he appeared on a quiz show, and several Olympic athletes played college football. But this? As this article reminds us, college football was ruled by what was known as the "gentleman's agreement," in which "northern schools tacitly understood they would not use black players in games with southern schools." And Avery Brundage, longtime Olympic major domo, has long been linked to racial prejudices. So what do we make of this? Although I'm usually loathe to read ulterior motives into stories, I think that in this case, if you want to do just that, it's perfectly fine with me.

Staying on the college football beat for just a moment longer, here's something else you won't see nowadays, although there's nothing offensive in the least about it. Since televised college football is so controlled, "columnist" Wm. A. Que* writes that WMAQ radio (670 on your AM dial) plans a full season of Saturday afternoon college football games guaranteed to appeal to Midwesterners, featuring Notre Dame and teams from the Big Ten. It's a pretty good lineup; every one of these games would be on TV today. But it tells a lot about the power and sweep of radio that it's promoted in TV Guide.

*Wm. A. Que—WMAQ. Get it? I tell you, this issue is a laugh riot, isn't it?

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Rather than looking at the highlights throughout the week, let's stop and take a look at what's on Sunday, since it's a really interesting TV day. It begins Sunday afternoon as Alistair Cooke's Omnibus presents a monumental live adaptation of Shakespeare's King Lear (4:00 p.m. CT, CBS), with Orson Welles (in his television debut!) starring as Lear, Alan Badel as the Fool, and, in the role of Goneril, future Academy Award-winner Beatrice Straight. Welles was living in England at the time, and returned to America to do the broadcast. It was a difficult time in Welles's life; according to the always-reliable Wikipedia, "He was guarded by IRS agents, prohibited to leave his hotel room when not at the studio, prevented from making any purchases, and the entire sum (less expenses) he earned went to his tax bill." The performance survives today on video, something we should be grateful for. By the way, I've commented in the past on how thorough TV Guide's listings used to be; well, the description of Lear runs a column-and-a-half, and presents a synopsis of each of the play's four acts. 

Opposite Omnibus in the Sunday cultural ghetto is NBC's Hallmark Hall of Fame, presenting McCoy of Abilene, the story of Joe McCoy, the man who almost single-handedly built the great stockyards of the Midwest. The production is directed by Albert McCleery, one of the pioneers in early television, and a great innovator. One of his trademarks was a theater-in-the-round style of production, in which the stage was surrounded by black backgrounds, allowing him to position cameras for shots from any angle while they remained unseen by viewers. Very impressionistic, that. He did a lot of work on Hall of Fame, including the first two-hour American television production of Hamlet, shown earlier in 1953. 

Moving to latenight, here's something that would, I believe, have been a big deal in 1953: a movie that had been in theaters only last year! It's the British movie Wings of Danger, starring Zachary Scott, airing Sunday at 10:00 p.m. on WGN. Sabotage in the sky! Who could ask for anything more?

As we know, the movie industry wasn't exactly excited by the appearance of television; despite some whistling-in-the-dark talk about how TV was a fad, the studios knew that the new medium was a threat; all they had to do was look at how movie attendance plummeted on those nights when popular programs were on, such as Milton Berle's Texaco Star Theater. As early as 1948, though, a number of British films were sold to television, and I suspect Wings of Danger would have been part of a similar package. Why, one might argue, should studios be eagar to sell product to their competitors, when those competitors would promptly use said product against them? (Another, less commented-upon reason for studio reluctance probably had to do with the low price that networks were willing to offer, another reason why British movies might have been more prevalent.) Eventually that attitude would change, but TV Guides of the era are replete with moves from the 1930s, such as X Marks the Spot (1931), and Flying Fists (1937), which has the added appeal of being both old and British.

At any rate, with this as the standard, it's not hard to see why WGN would make such a point of showing a movie that was only a year old, whether it was any good or not. (I haven't seen it myself; any of you out there?) But times will change. By the fall of 1955, ABC will premiere Famous Film Festival, featuring British films from the 1940s and early 1950s, and in 1961 NBC debuts Saturday Night at the Movies, with post-1950 movies from Fox, many in color. That will issue in an era of movie dominance on TV for decades to come.

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Some quick looks at other items of note: Bill Cullen, known in game show circles as the host's host, is the subject of a warm profile this week, which seems appropriate since he's one of the warmest personalities on television. He's also refreshingly candid about his fame; talking about his spot as a permanent panel member on I've Got a Secret, he says, "Not for a minute will I deny that being a panel member is a soft job." Although there are certain things to keep in mind (like showing up at the studio on the right night, or paying attention to what questions the other panelists ask so he doesn't duplicate them), he concludes that "It's nice work."  

Steve Allen is the hipster's hipster, a man who writes, composes music, and still has time to appear on What's My Line? as well as his own late-night talk show on New York's NBC affiliate. Right now, his hipness rests on a retelling of "The Three Little Pigs" recorded by Al "Jazzbo" Collins. "Once in the land of Nitty Grittyville lived three little pigs . . . One was very cool, the other one was more on the commercial side and the third one was, beyond a shadow of doubt, as square as they come. One day as the three pigs were taking five, one of them chanced to pick up a copy of downbeat. 'Say, boys, I see where the Big Bad Wolf is playing a one-nighter in this area next week.' 'Oh-oh,' said the second little pig, 'that wolf is bad. That means it's panic time in Porky Park.' 'Oh,' said the square little pig, 'this is the most depressing news since Ronnie Reagan got out of show business.'" Although Allen's talents are still relatively untapped by television, don't worry: that local late-night show of his is about to morph into The Tonight Show.

And speaking of Tonight, CBS is working on a daytime musical show for their young comic, Jack Paar. It winds up as The Morning Show, CBS's answer to Today, which also spawned Dick Van Dyke and Walter Cronkite as hosts. He only worked the mornings for a year, but he'll wind up working nights before too long.

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Finally, since we started with Colgate Comedy Hour, it's approprite that we finish there as well. It seems that none of the rotating hosts on that show really get along very well with each other, and so you can imagine the fireworks that ensued when someone got the big idea to have them all on at the same time to celebrate the show's anniversary.

Staged or real? Only their agents know for sure.
The sparks started during the rehearsal. Since the time had to be divided evenly among the various parties, and given that it was unthinkable that any two of the acts could appear in the same skit, that meant each one was allocated exactly eight minutes. Before you knew it, Eddie Cantor was complaining that Bob Hope was taking too much time for his monologue. He'd been up on stage for eleven minutes already! Furthermore, Hope was just mumbling his lines, intent on keeping any of his colleagues from hearing (and stealing) his jokes. Next, it was time for Bud Abbott and Lou Costello; they, too, mimed their way through their act. This didn't sit too well with their bitter rivals, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis*, who sat in the otherwise empty theater carrying on a loud whispered conversation with some friends. Soon enough, someone asked—loud enough for the performers on stage to hear—"What's the matter with those two? They afraid you're going to steal their material?" After waiting a beat, Jerry replied, "What material?" When their turn came, Dean and Jerry threw their script out and proceeded to do a devastating take-off on the typical Abbott & Costello routines.

*Just think, if we included the intramural feuds between Abbott and Costello, and Martin and Lewis—you'd have more factions than the United Nations.

Like most good entertainers, the battling hosts saved their best performances for the live show. First, Hope ran over (again) with his monologue, forcing one of the other acts to bear the burdon. That fell to Martin & Lewis, who were in the closing slot. If that wasn't bad enough, Hope also spilled the beans that Dean and Jerry—whose appearance hadn't been publicized and was supposed to be a surprise—were actually backstage. The two were so furious that, according to our anonymous correspondent, they haven't spoken to Hope since. For his part, when asked where Lewis' dressing room was, Hope replied, "He doesn't have one. They keep him in a cage." In case you were wondering, Hope isn't back on Colgate this season, having been replaced by Jimmy Durante, whom everyone seems to like. And Donald O'Connor, the fourth host, "is still too young to stay mad at anyone."

Somehow or other, the show, which doesn't sound much like a comedy, managed to come off without any homicides on stage. That doesn't mean the bullets didn't keep flying, though. During a recent tour through London, both Abbott & Costello and Martin & Lewis played the Palladium within two weeks of each other. The reviews of Dean and Jerry were, by all accounts, pretty harsh. Bud and Lou, on the other hand, met with raves from critics and audiences alike, and took the opportunity to sprinkle their act with several "uncomplementary" references to their rivals.

The whole thing reminds me of a joke from an old Academy Awards broadcast: "Tonight we set aside petty differences, forget old feuds and start new ones." The man who said that was none other than Bob Hope himself. I guess knew what he was talking about, didn't he? TV  

October 16, 2020

Around the dial

Well, let's see what we have this week. I never played video games on our TV when I was growing up; we didn't have them yet, for one thing, and by the time they did come along, it was cooler to go to an arcade and play them. We still don't have anything like a Playstation; nowadays, it's easier to just use your phone. Perhaps I just don't have the imagination for it.

At Comfort TV, David gets in the Halloween spirit with a look back at the 1970 ABC telemovie Crowhaven Farm. What kind of movie is it? The plot involves Hope Lange and Paul Burke and an old farmhome they've inherited, and discover that the creepy handyman is played by John Carradine. As David says, "That is sign number two that this may not be a great place to relocate," and truer words have seldom been spoken.

Keeping in that Holloween spirit, Shadow & Substance delves into the famed first episode of The Twilight Zone, "Where Is Everybody?" which aired in October 1958, and a small scene which never made the final script.

Speaking of spooky holidays, Realweegiemidget reviews the 1972 TV movie Home for the Holidays, in which "The Morgan sisters return to the family home for Christmas, as their estranged father is worried his new wife is trying to kill him." And you think your family gatherings are bad.

Let's find something a little more relaxing. Ah yes, at Garroway at Large, Jodie tells the story of what at the time was the world's largest Venetian blind, 18 by 88 feet and weighing 248 pounds. It was used by NBC for the front window of the Garroway-era Today window to the world. Suddenly, our vertical blinds don't look so bad.

At The Lucky Strike Papers, Andrew talks about the evolution of the show from radio, where it had started in 1935, to television: a move which started with four experimental broadcasts, and led to the premiere, 70 years ago this month, of the television series.

Finally, one of the great baseball players of my youth, Whitey Ford, died last week, and Inner Toob commemorates the life of the Yankee giant as only that site can, looking at his television apperances in which he played himself. TV  

October 14, 2020

The politics of commercials

If you're like me, you've spent the last couple of months watching television with the remote close by your side, all the better to mute those interminable political commercials polluting the airwaves. It's not just that they're negative and ham-fisted; they lack style, panache, whatever that je ne sais quoi is that makes a moment memorable. . .

(Pauses to mute television.) 

Sorry about that; I can't even get away from them long enough to write this. Of course, if we're being honest, most commercials are like that nowadays. But, like other forms of advertising, it wasn't always this way. If political commercials weren't necessarily memorable, they were at least watchable, even to people who don't agree with the candidate in question. A few years ago I did a more extensive rundown of such commercials, but I thought I'd look back at some of my favorites, the ones that I admire for the way they were done. Whether or not I go along with them, or support the candidate, is not the point. In fact, I hope you'll appreciate that I'm not trying to be political here at all. . .

(Pauses to mute television, more angrily this time.) 

Now, where was I? Oh yes—watchable political commercials. As I said, this is a non-partisan issue, so much so that I'm not insuring both parties are represented equally. In fact, let's start off with one of the most innocuous commercials of all, a 1960 ad for John F. Kennedy. It's upbeat, just like the candidate.

Kennedy's successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, ran this ad in 1964. It's not so upbeat; in fact, it's perhaps one of the most devastating commercials of any kind ever shown. As far as being influential, it's right up there with the "1984" commercial by Apple, and like that one, it was only shown once. It is, of course, the "Daisy" commercial.

Richard Nixon's commercials in 1968 utilized voiceovers from his 1968 convention speech combined with an artful montage of images designed to drive home the point. They conclude with a brilliant slogan, "This time vote like your whole world depended on it." It not only conveys the importance of the election, it's a subtle reminder of 1960—and a chance to make amends.

Jimmy Carter was a virtual unknown prior to his 1976 campaign, even stumping the panel as the Mystery Guest on What's My Line? It was important for him not only to build name recognition, but to convince voters that his Democratic party wouldn't be like George McGovern's, and his leadership wouldn't be like Gerald Ford's.

The 1984 reelection campaign of Ronald Reagan had two of the most famous—and most effective—commercials: "The Bear in the Woods" and "Morning in America." Both present a convincing case for reelecting the man who'd brought America back, and kept America safe.

I'll end with what may be—no, why pussyfoot around—what is my favorite political commercial of all time. It's from the Israeli elections of five years ago, featuring PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

Now this is a commercial. It doesn't matter what you think of Bibi Netanyahu or his politics. It's original, it humanizes him, it has the potential to make undecided voters smile. Why in the world American candidates don't try something like this I'll never know.

(Pauses to mute television, very irritated.) 

As politics becomes ever more virtual and politicians ever more remote, it would behoove candidates today to create commercials that try to connect with voters in a human way. Of course, with politics also becoming ever more polarized, the odds of that may be somewhat remote. Which leaves our campaigns nasty and brutish, but, unfortunately, not short enough.

(Starts to mute television, then decides "The hell with it" and turns it off.) TV  

October 12, 2020

What's on TV? Tuesday, October 16, 1973

In case you were tuning in early today to find out whether or not I've solved the Blogger problem, you can see for yourself the results. A little extra work, but we spare no expense here for our readers, even if it's only the precious gift of time. Anyway, I suppose tonight's World Series game is the highlight for sports fans, but as I mentioned on Saturday, you might find two movies worth your while: Kim Novak and Tony Curtis in The Third Girl on the Left, and Peter Ustinov in Viva Max! Still, I'm sure you'll be able to find your favorites; today's listings are from the Philadelphia-New York metro area.

October 10, 2020

This week in TV Guide: October 13, 1973

When we ask the question "Does TV Go Too Far," keep in mind that we're looking at this from the perspective of 1973, Today, society has become so libertine that I'm not sure you can go too far on TV (or anywhere else for that matter), but despite Watergate, Vietnam, inflation, drugs, and disco, the 1970s are a more innocent time, and so we ask the question. 

The poll, commissioned by TV Guide and conducted by Opinion Research Corporation of Princeton, NJ and documented by Neil Hickey, tells us that Americans have definite opinions regarding what is called the "new permissiveness" on television. Among the conclusions suggested by the poll:

  • Almost 40 percent think TV is "a lot more open and frank than it should be."
  • Forty-one percent think there's too much sex, while nearly two-thirds think there's too much violence.
  • More than half are in favor of a review board "to screen TV shows for the purpose of keeping programs of 'questionable taste' off the air." 
Not surprisingly, as we've seen with similar TV Guide polls, the Northeast is more liberal than other parts of the country. People 60 and older were the most conservative on questions of sex, while 73 percent of those 18-29 saw no problem with it. Protestants were more concerned about it than Catholics, as were rural Americans vs. those in the city. Despite the fact that television nudity in the 1970s is pretty tame compared to today (when you can see actual nudity), 60 percent agree with the proposition that there's too much of it. A popular refrain you hear is that if you don't like what you see on TV, just turn it off; 40 percent said they'd done just that at one time or another, due to violence (35%), sex (27%), bad language (22%), offensive ethnic jokes (15%), or nudity (11%). 

The most troubling news for television executives, Hickey says, is 51 percent favor creation of a review board to keep certain programs off the air. (Now there's a propositon made for mischief if ever there was one.) Lest one think television is being singled out, a majority believe that such a board "ought to apply equally to newspapers, movies, books, radio and magazines." Frankly, this is troubling news period. There's no word here as to who they think should comprise this board, who selects the members, how long they serve, who decides what constitutes "questionable taste," or anything else. And if you don't think this could cause problems, ask yourself what's going on with Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media today.

The biggest takeway from this, aside from the apparent quaintness of American society back then, is that the divide everyone talks about today has pretty much always existed: urban vs rural, young vs. old, white-collar vs. blue-collar, and so on. And as we've seen during other times of high dudgeon, such as the revulsion against violence following the King and Kennedy assassinations, things don't seem to change much in the long term; if anything, they simply seem to continue their inexorable advancement. Perhaps the question isn't, after all, where one should draw the line. The real question is this: can one even be drawn?

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Throughout the 60s and early 70s, TV Guide's weekly 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. 

On first reading this week's review of the NBC sitcom Lotsa Luck, it's hard to tell what Cleveland Amory thinks of it. After repeated viewings, I've come to the conclusion that Amory likes it in spite of himself, or at least more than he'd want to admit. 

Lotsa Luck stars Dom DeLuise as Stanley Belmont, who works in the lost-and-found department at the bus depot and lives at home with his sister Olive, brother-in-law Arthur, and mother. As the latest Britcom to make the leap across the ocean (in the footsteps of All in the Family and Sanford & Son), Lotsa Luck, executive produced by Bill Persky and Sam Denhoff (whose other credits include the original Dick Van Dyke Show and That Girl) is, writes Cleve, long on humor but "short on taste. Any time they can work in deodorant humor or unattractive sex jokes, they will." Amory somewhat quaintly refers to this as "blue" humor*, and if you want an idea of what blue humor looks like in 1973, there's this storyline involving Olive that is "one long toilet joke" when Olive gets her foot stuck in the flush tank of the family toilet. (I don't want to even speculate on that.) 

*I wonder if the editors saved this review for this particular issue? 

It gets better, though, and Amory means this sincerely. By the time we get to an episode in which Stanley's mother tries to fix him up with a single librarian, the show is generating genuine laughs (despite some tastless jokes about death at the start of the episode). Dom DeLuise, says Amory, "can be hysterically funny, and without always being hysterical, either." (As anyone who's seen him on old Dean Martin shows can attest.) Despite this, Lotsa Luck pulls out of the depot after only 22 episodes, never to be seen again (until DVD). Perhaps, says Cleve, the producers [need] to get themselves a new taster."

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This week we get another three-way showdown between the premier music shows of the day: NBC's The Midnight Special, ABC's In Concert, and the syndicated Don Kirshner's Rock Concert. Who's better, who's best?

Kirshner: The Allman Brothers Band joins Wet Willie, the Marshall Tucker Band and Martin Mull.

Special: Rock music from War (hosts), Mott the Hoople, the New York Dolls, the Climax Blues Band and the Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and pop singer Danny O'Keefe.

In Concert: Rock, blues and a little bit of soul with Blood, Sweat & Tears, the Persuasions, savoy Brown, Roy Buchanan and Bobby Womack.

Perhaps Special would have been in the battle if Eric Burdon had been with them, but such is not the case, which means we're basically talking about a showdown between the Allman Brothers and Blood, Sweat & Tears. And in that case, we'll have to go with the Allmans, which means Kirshner rocks this week's lineup.

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The sporting highlight of the week has to be the World Series, which starts Saturday at 3:45 p.m. on NBC, as the defending champion Oakland A's take on the Cinderella New York Mets. The Mets barely finished over .500 during the regular season, but upset Cincinnati in a tempestuous National League Championship Series. It's the final World Series appearance by the great Willie Mays, and one of the most memorable images, not to mention one of the saddest, is that of the aging Say Hey Kid, one of the most graceful outfielders ever to play the game, tripping and falling in the outfield while trying to track down a fly ball by Deron Johnson in the ninth inning of Game Two. I could have pulled up a picture of that, but I don't have the heart; I'd much rather remember Willie for his 1954 catch of that line drive by Vic Wertz. Oh, by the way, the A's win the Series in seven games.

The Series may be the biggest event of the week, but it's by no means the only one. The annual showdown between Oklahoma and Texas, played at the Cotton Bowl during the State Fair of Texas, is ABC's college football game of the week (Saturday, 12:45 p.m.). This game usually has implications for the national championship, and this season is no exception. Oklahoma, undefeated and ranked #6, destroys #13 Texas 52-13 en route to a 10-0-1 record and a share of the national title. There's also the usual assortment of professional football on Sunday afternoon and Monday night.

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With the demise of Jerry Lewis's Labor Day telethon, the once-ubiquitous television fundraiser has pretty much been reduced to the occasional two- or three-hour special, usually following some kind of natural disaster. It wasn't always that way, though, and this week we see an example I wasn't aware of, for an organization I've never heard of. It's a New York City organization called the Association for the Help of Retarded Children (still existing today under the acronym AHRC), and their 1973 telethon, a star-studded affair airing on WOR in New York, runs for 19 hours, from 10:00 p.m. ET Saturday to 5:00 p.m. Sunday. Your hosts are Steve Allen and Jayne Meadows, and in addition to numerous appearances by Broadway stars, you'll see TV talent such as William Conrad, Buddy Ebsen, Carol Burnett, Sonny and Cher and more. 

Slotted against the start of the telethon is Griff (Saturday, 10:00 p.m., ABC), Lorne Greene's new dramatic vehicle, in whch he plays a former police officer turned private detective. Apparently viewers preferred that Greene do his travelling on horseback, as Griff lasts only 13 weeks, illustrating the difficulty a star faces when trying a change-of-pace after a long-running success. Perhaps the most notable aspect of the series, at least for me, is that the pilot didn't air until June of 1975, a year-and-a-half after the series itself was cancelled. (I wonder what they would have done had the movie been a hit?) According to the always-reliable Wikipedia, the pilot, which involves Griff going after criminals who killed his son, a plot identical to that of the Barnaby Jones pilot. Oh well; as Cleveland Amory could tell us (and has, frequently), a surplus of originality is not something one normally sees in the television business.

On Sunday, ABC's centerpiece movie is John and Mary (8:30 p.m.), a 1969 movie which Judith Crist calls an attempt "to cash in on Dustin Hoffman's hit in Midnight Cowboy and Mia Farrow's in Rosemary's Baby, and looks it." It's directed by Peter Yates, who was coming off his big hit in Bullitt. Would that the results were even partially as successful as any of those three movies; says Crist, it's so earnest in its attempt to connect with the "now" generation, it comes off as square. Enjoy the scenery and Hoffman's charm, and you might be able to make it all the way through. You might be better off taking a nap and staying up late for the debut of The Burt Reynolds Late Show (NBC, Saturday or Sunday following your late local news). the first of six scheduled late-night shows taking the place of the weekend Johnny Carson reruns. For the premiere episode, Burt goes to Leavenworth Penitentiary to bring some entertainment to the mostly forgotten men who inhabit a prison that makes Alcatraz look like "a seaside resort." In addition to a guest lineup that includes Dinah Shore, Jonathan Winters and Merle Haggard (himself a former resident of San Quenten), 33 of the prisoners will be chosen to perform on the program. (You can read more about Reynolds' show in this article at Television Obscurities.)

has a little something for everyone, beginning at 8:00 p.m. on CBS with a cartoon doubleheader. First it's a newish Peanuts cartoon, You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown, which sees Linus running for student body president. Perfect fodder for this time of year, as it was when it debuted nine days before last year's presidential election. Like so many of the newer Peanuts cartoons, though, it never becomes an institution. That's followed by a brand-new Dr. Seuss cartoon, Dr. Seuss on the Loose, three rhyming stories introduced by the Cat in the Hat. At 10:00 p.m., it's the Country Music Association Awards, also on CBS, live from Nashville and hosted by Johnny Cash. Imagine that: an awards show lasting only one hour. And at 1:00 a.m. on NBC, it's the debut of what TV Guide calls "a new-style talk show" called Tomorrow, hosted by Los Angeles newsman Tom Snyder. It's a show that truly wants to be different: "no monologue, no band, no studio audience, no big names for the most part," according to producer Rudy Tellez. I only got to see Tomorrow during the summer when I could stay up late; it's a pity we don't have any talk shows like this today.

Kim Novak makes her television debut Tuesday in the made-for-TV movie The Third Girl From the Left (8:30 p.m, ABC), co-starring Tony Curtis. That's up against the CBS movie Viva Max! (9:30 p.m, CBS), a very funny farce with Peter Ustinov as a modern-day Mexican general trying to retake the Alamo and being opposed by Jonathan Winters, Keenan Wynn and Harry Morgan. Wednesday features a rerun of Burt Reynolds' short-lived detective series Dan August (10:00 p.m., CBS), which originally ran in the 1970-71 season, before Reynolds shot to fame in Deliverance. The network's been running reruns this summer, capitalizing on his higher profile, as they will again in 1975, but for now this is the end of the rerun line; next week is the debut of a new cop series, Kojak. At the same time on ABC, Eric Braeden plays a man accused of the rape and murder of his fiancee's daughter, and only Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law can save him. His fiancee: Vera Miles. And a lackluster Thursday presents only one cant-miss show: Celebrity Bowling (Midnight, WTAF). Who could possibly pass up Dan Rowan and Michele Lee vs. John Astin and Ruth Buzzi?

On Friday night it's a special hour-long episode of Adam's Rib (9:00 p.m., ABC), the sitcom based on the 1949 movie starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, with Ken Howard and Blythe Danner taking over the roles. This could well have been the most memorable episode of the series: it's the same case that was tried in the 1949 movie. Meanwhile, Dean Martin's Comedy Hour (10:00 p.m, NBC) roasts Bette Davis as the celebrity of the week, with a cast of roasters including Henry Fonda, Howard Cosell, Vincent Price, Nipsey Russell and Tom T. Hall. 

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One of these days, we really ought to take all these TV Guide reviews and run them in chronological order, where we could put events in context and let them build up naturally, rather than just dealing with them at random. Take Watergate, for example. We've read debates about whether or not an impeachment trial should be televised, we've seen how the hearings have disrupted daytime viewing, and now we've worked our way backward to the infamous White House tapes, and whether or not President Nixon should release them. That's the topic on this week's episode of PBS's The Advocates (Sunday, 6:00 p.m.). Of course, we know how it turns out, because we've already skipped ahead to the end of the book, as it were. The same could be said for the coming of cable television, the evolution of technology, and the growth of sports. Yeah, maybe I'll get around to that someday after I run out of issues, since we know that by definition we're dealing with a finite supply. I've always sort of counted on running out of time (or interest) before that happens, though. In the meantime, I'll count on you to flip back and forth; after all, you're under no obligation to read them in the order I write them. The links are all there—just think of it as on-demand reading. TV