November 13, 2020

Around the dial


Let's start off the week at Television's New Frontier: The 1960s, with a look at The Jack Benny Program in 1962. The Benny show, in both its radio and TV incarnations, was frequently hilarious, in no small part because Jack Benny was a generous performer who felt it didn't matter whether or not he had the best lines, as long as they got a laugh. This is a very good glimpse at some of the show's great storylines and guests. 

The comic strip Blondie not only spawned nearly 30 big-screen movies, but a couple of television series as well; while I recall the version from the late 1960s, I don't know that I've ever seen the 50s edition that starred Arthur Lake, who also played Dagwood in the movies, and Pamela Britton. Good thing Television Obscurities is around to rectify a gap in my education.

I only saw Alex Trebek in person once; it was at the Minnesota State Fair back in the 1990s, and he was at the KARE 11 booth (Channel 11 showed Jeopardy in the Twin Cities). When his segment was over, he didn't want to leave; he chose to stick around even after the show to make sure as many people as wanted autographs got them. I was always impressed with that, just as I'm impressed with Terence's write-up of the good man's career at A Shroud of Thoughts following his death this week after a long and courageous fight against cancer.

At Shadow & Substance, Paul has a plug for an appearance that he and Steven Jay Rubin had on Pop Culture Man Arlen Schumer's Night Light Radio, as they discussed TZ and how often its stories seem to serve as a reminder—or warning—for today's times. (For those of you who missed it, I wrote about one of those instances here.)

Speaking of audio, Ed Robertson's latest TV Confidential podcast has a conversation with Liliana Tandon, who wrote and starrs in the Christmas movie A Ring for Christmas, a new romantic comedy that also features Lorraine Bracco and Michael Gross. I had the immense pleasure of talking with Ed last week myself, and you can look for my appearance on TV Confidential in late November or December; stay tuned for all the details.

One of my favorite sayings is "Words Mean Things," which I suppose isn't surprising to hear coming from a writer, but it's true; when asked why he was fond of using polysyllabic words so often, William F. Buckley Jr. said, "Because they say what I wish to say." (Well, actually he said, "I Am Lapidary But Not Eristic.") Anyway, at Garroway at Large, Jodie discusses the power of words, and how they still can pack a punch.

No Hitchcock Project from Jack this week; it's an every-other-week feature. But not to say Hitch is gone completely, because at Classic Film & TV Café, Rick looks at the second season of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, currently streaming on Peacock (I wish they had more shows like that in their library, but they do have the Premier League, which is something), and highlights some of the best episodes.

Finally, and appropriately enough, we go to David at Comfort TV, where the topic is five classic shows with great final seasons. It's something that shouldn't be taken for granted, considerng how many series over the years have left with a whimper, not a bang. As for what those five shows are—well, you're just going to have to read it for yourself. TV  

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