January 8, 2021

Around the dial

The glum-looking woman up there looks as if she's been watching TV the last couple of days. At the risk of sounding like one of those "I never watch television" elitist snobs I'm always refuting, I have to admit that aside from sports, I haven't watched anything on "live" television for the last two or three months (aside from a couple of the nostalgia channels); we've been sticking to DVDs and the Roku, and we've been perfectly content to do so. It's not that I'm unaware of what's going on; it's precisely because I'm aware that I avoid it. I don't travel downtown because I value my physical health, and I don't watch live TV (especially the news) because I value my mental health. I know what you're thinking, though—that was a lost cause long ago. And you're probably right.

We'll start with a question from a reader, and I always try hard to get answers in cases like this, because you're trusting me to know what I'm talking about, and I don't take that trust lightly. Henry asks if we have any contact information for Mr. Av Westin, former host of Public Broadcasting Laboratory and producer for ABC News. "Mr. Westin will be invaluable to my upcoming podcast project about Mr. Joseph Louw, a South African journalist famed for photographing the immediate aftermath of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. Mr. Westin worked with Mr. Louw on some projects for the Public Broadcasting Laboratory in 1967." How about it—any ideas out there?

And now, let's look at what's new. Thursday, January 7 was Epiphany for those who follow the traditional calendar (the one that says the day after the 12 Days of Christmas is actually, you know, January 6), and this insightful article at The New Criterion points out that the story of the Three Kings "burst afresh into American culture" thanks to the new medium of television and the 1951 broadcast of Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors.

Due to last Friday's preemption, I've got a couple of Jack's Hitchcock-related stories to catch up with over at bare-bones e-zine: an interesting look at the similarities between the noir classic Kiss Me Deadly and the Alfred Hitchcock Presents first-season story "The Hidden Thing" (was Hitch influenced by the film?) and this look at William Fay's first contribution to Alfred Hitchcock Presents, the fourth-season story "The Crooked Road," which I found very satisfying when I originally saw it.

At The Horn Section, Hal's Maverick Monday feature is on the entertaining Jack Kelly story "A Tale of Three Cities," from 1959. Tomorrow's TV Guide feature leads off with one of the all-time great Maverick episodes, and I'm sure Hal's got something to say about it. (In fact, I know he does, because I've read it.)

I have to admit that I don't know much about the English city of Bolton other than the Wanderers (it's a soccer team if you didn't know), so I'm always glad to learn something new, especially if it's funny and involves the Daleks. Thanks to John at Cult TV Blog, we now know that there's something the Daleks fear even more than Doctor Who.

One of life's simpler pleasures is George Peppard's 1970s series Banacek, in which Peppard plays an impossibly smooth, suave freelance insurance investigator (Johnny Dollar, eat your heart out!) who specializes in locked-door type mysteries in return for an obscene fee. At Classic Film and TV Café, Rick lists the five best Banacek episodes, but there really isn't a bad one in the whole series.

It's true that 2020 was a pretty bad year, but since 2021 shapes up to be even worse (and don't think it will end there), there's no good reason to not review the year from a classic TV perspective, and that's just what David does at this week's Comfort TV.  

And on that bombshell, we'll say goodbye until tomorrow. TV  


  1. January 6 was Wednesday, not Thursday, this week.

    If you want to hear Jack Kelly in another line of work, so to say, take a listen to him hosting the original SALE OF THE CENTURY early in its run in October 1969:


    1. Well, that's embarrassing - fixed. Good to see that clip!

  2. I don’t understand the bummer perspective on 2021. Why can’t it be better ?

    1. Take your pick: apostacy in the Church, control of the left-wing technocrats, increases in censorship, threats to religious freedom, organized violence in cities everywhere, the dehumanization of man. I could go on, but this really isn't the forum to do so; nonetheless, I think a number of things I've written here over the last year explain my feelings. YMMV, of course.


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!