June 4, 2021

Around the dial

At Vulture, there's a very interesting article from last year by Kathryn VanArendonk on how the average police procedural forces you to see things from the police point of view, with everyone else retreating into the background. I'm linking to it now for a couple of reasons: first, because there's what might be called a follow-up article that she wrote last week; and second, because I've written a couple of articles of a similar bent myself (here, for example). It's a delicate topic, because it can easily devolve into political polemics, but the procedural by definition tends to idealize the authority held by the police, and in such a way that makes it very easy to side with them—you know, the "If you're innocent, you've got nothing to worry about" cop, or as VanArendonk writes, the "plays-outside-the-rules kind of cop, often making unilateral decisions about when to ignore the law in favor of what he sees as justice." That bothers me,a not because I'm anti-police, but because it avoids asking the serious questions that not only make for good television, but for a healthy society as well. I'm not sold on everything she says; far from it, which is why I may well return to this topic in the next few weeks (without delving into full-blown wokeness), but it makes for a good read for you right now.

Here's something a little less controversial: at bare•bones e-zine, Jack says farewell to William Fay's Hitchcock contributions with the ninth-season episode "Good Bye, George," a nasty little story starring Robert Culp, Patricia Hardy, and Stubby Kaye. Jack's write-up is every bit as good as the episode itself.

The great Gavin MacLeod died last week, sparking a tremendous outpouring of affection and appreciation from his many, many fans and colleagues. At Comfort TV, David takes stock of his many memorable moments from a slew of shows over the years. The Flaming Nose recalls an interview done with him back in 2009. And at A Shroud of Thoughts, Terence looks all the way back to MacLeod's career on the stage. Quite a life, wouldn't you say? (Terence also has remembrances of two other faces familiar to classic TV viewers: Arlene Golonka and Robert Hogan.)

At Television Obscurities, Robert takes a long look back at the 1974-75 drama Lucas Tanner, which starred the pre-Good Morning America David Hartman as a professional baseball player and sportswriter who turned schoolteacher after the death of his wife and young son. 

Martin Grams has a terrific interview with Garry Berman, author and pop culture expert. It does precisely what a good interview should do: make you wish you knew that person, and make you want to read what he has to say. 

And at The Hits Just Keep on Comin', jb looks at a serious question, one that I've asked myself more than once: "Why do I still think about this stuff? Why don’t I just let it go? Isn’t it a little silly for a guy my age to spend so much time remembering stuff that happened when he was 16 or 18 or 22?" The answer (thanks in part to one of my favorite writers, Nick Hornby): because it's the stuff that defines him. I cannot think of a better way to put it, or to say it. TV  


  1. This fall (2021), there's supposed to be a spin-off of the "Law & Order" franchise titled "Law & Order: For The Defense", which is supposed to ficus more on the suspects and their defense attorneys than police and prosecutors.


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!