December 11, 2020

Around the dial

Do you remember the NBC prime-time soap Number 96? It was a sensation in Australia in 1972, where the night it premiered was known as "the night Australian TV lost its virginity" due to the copious amounts of sex (including full-frontal nudity) for which the show would become infamous. An American version of the series, also known as Number 96, premiered in 1980; NBC billed it as "The series they tried to ban in Australia!" but despite this, and even though I no longer lived in the World's Worst Town™, I have absolutely no memory of the series, which was much tamer than its Aussie counterpart. (Even so, you can bet the young viewers in the picture above wouldn't have been watching it at that age) Good thing Television.AU is here to rectify the gap in my knowledge. By the way, for those of you familiar with our Twin Cities TV listings, you might recognize that the ad for the American version used at Television.AU comes from the Minnesota State Edition of TV Guide. What do you know, even KCMT carried it!

At Comfort TV, David explains how those classic Christmas episodes are bringing him more pleasure than usual this year, and I know just what he means; I believe that it was in 2001 that WPIX brought back the Yule Log because it was comfort food for people after a traumatic year, and the same goes this year. Check out the episodes that are particularly meaningful to him.

Staying with the Yule theme, at Christmas TV History Joanna lists some of the best Christmas variety shows, including classic episodes available for streaming. This is a genre that really gives me pleasure each year, because so many of them contain the lavish Currier & Ives-type Christmas trappings that have come to define the holiday; they're also not afraid to point out the sacred nature of the day. 

Let's hope that Christmas doesn't make you want to give someone a whoopin', at least not the kind that Hondo gives. This week at The Horn Section, Hal reviews the 17th and final episode, "Hondo and the Rebel Hat," which proves you shouldn't mess with a man's hat.  

At Silver Scenes, the Metzinger Sisters provide a nice review of the career of character actor Joe Flynn, most memorable in McHale's Navy, but a standout in almost every part he plays. Like John Banner, Flynn was an actor who really knew how to steal a scene, and although Joey Bishop apparently didn't like that, there were plenty of more secure actors who profited by having him alongside.

I'm ashamed that although I've read a great deal about the British sci-fi character Quatermaas, I've only seen a part of one of the movies, which means I'm doing a gross disservice to the classic series. John goes in-depth on the 1955 The Quatermaas Xperiment, the beginning of adult science fiction on television, at this week's Cult TV Blog.

If you're like me—and by that, I mean that you have an appreciation for the Rat Pack—you'll want to check out Alain's Facebook page dedicated to Frank, Dean and Sammy. What better way to establish your credentials as a cool customer? In conjunction with this, you might want to check out the new book Deconstructing the Rat Pack: Joey, The Mob, and the Summit, by Richard A. Lertzman and Lon Davis, which has some in-depth info on Joey Bishop, including both of his television shows.   

And in case you missed it, my 2020 Holiday Gift Guide is up; be sure to take advantage of some great shopping ideas! TV  


  1. Thanks for including the link about Joe Flynn. It included the hoax about his "egg business", which I thought was pretty well done.

    1. Really well done. Always glad to see him get recognition.

  2. Thanks for the mention! Good spotting re the TV Guide! I literally only have 2 US TV Guides in my collection, this one from 1980 and one from 1965. By pure coincidence both are from the same market.

    1. Well, when you've gone through as many of those TV Guides as I have, you can recognize those numbers in an instant. For example, I'll always know the CBS affiliats as 3-3-4-8-12!

  3. Always a great read, Mitchell! Thanks for the recommendations.


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