November 26, 2021

Around the dial

Happy day-after-Thanksgiving to you all, and hopefully you've recovered from yesterday's tryptophan coma (which, as we all know, is just an urban legend). Classic television, of course, does not take time off for holidays, so we're back with a reduced, but still potent, trip around the dial.

We begin with Drunk TV (which is how some of you might feel today) and a look at the infamous 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special, which Paul assures us is "what today's world needs." Find out what's behind his thinking at this very special post.

At Cult TV Blog, John brings us to the insane humor of The Goodies, the 1970s Pythonesque comedy which John calls "stonking good television." We really are going to have to have a conversation someday about what I should be watching with my region-free DVD player.

RealWeegieMidget takes a look at "Cop Out," a first-season episode from Hart to Hart, with the late Markie Post in a guest-starring role. At MANC a few years ago I got to see Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers, who were as charming and witty as they are on TV. Just think: wealthy, good-looking, and smart: Nick and Nora Charles live!

Once Upon a Screen celebrates its tenth anniversary this week, and Aurora takes a look back at some of the blog's hits from the last decade. Take some time to read the highlights, and follow the links to read a lot of terrific writing.

As I'm writing this, I'm also watching Miracle on 34th Street, the greatest Christmas movie ever, which starts with the memorable image of a drunk Santa, portrayed by Percy Helton. At A Shroud of Thought, Terence takes a closer look at Helton's filmography, one loaded with noir and other dark roles.

And speaking of noir, don't miss The Last Drive In and 31 flavors of noir that are sure to draw you in. It may be the most wonderful time of the year, after all, but that doesn't mean everything needs to be merry and bright. TV  


  1. Did The Goodies ever air on US TV? Despite it being devised as a 'grown up' comedy in the UK, in Australia it was mostly watched by children as it was usually scheduled in the after school or early evening hours. Perhaps some editing was employed to make it suitable for younger viewers or maybe it just relied on the adult humour flying over the kids' heads. Either way, it was one of my childhood favourites.

    1. For Television.AU:

      Seasons Greetings from Chicago!

      In the wake of Monty Python, the BBC made much of their comedy output available for syndication in the USA, mainly (but not always) through Time-Life.
      One such show was The Goodies, which was picked up briefly by WTTW-Channel 11, the PBS station here in Chicago.
      As I might have mentioned here before, Ch.11 had a British block running on Sunday nights starting at 8 pm with Doctor Who, which ran in feature form (all episodes combined into a long show), followed by Brit comedy shows like Monty Python, Dave Allen At Large, The Two Ronnies, and several other series that had shorter inventories: The Goodies fell into this category.
      I believe that Channel 11's decision to run the Britcoms in late-night slots may have been based on their extensive use of Cockney rhyming slang, as well as other slang terms of GB, which most of the station brass didn't quite understand (the few who did weren't sharing, perhaps in the belief that they were getting away with something).
      This was the situation in Chicago; how other US stations may have handled The Goodies - well, readers in those towns can tell you more, should they choose to do so.

      Anyway, best to you Down Under from those of us Up Over!

  2. Second message to Australia (since the first one apparently didn't get through):

    When Benny Hill had his breakthrough in the USA, there was a mild rush to sell British comedians over here; Time-Life was at the forefront of this move, targeting the Public Broadcasting System as a prime customer.
    I can only tell you about Chicago, where Channel 11, the PBS station, became a British TV colony on Sunday nights for several years.
    Ch11 would start in prime time (8 pm or thereabouts) with Doctor Who, where the serials (Tom Baker period) were edited into two-hour "features".
    Who would be followed by Monty Python, repeating endlessly for multiple runs for more than a decade.
    After Python, Ch11 would run Dave Allen At Large - again, multiple runs for years - followed by a rotation of other British comedy shows: mainly The Two Ronnies, occasionally spelled by other shows, including The Goodies, which didn't quite catch on here (owing mainly to a short episode count).
    Ch 11 tended to run British shows in late hours, because the management felt that Chicagoans might not comprehend the racier British expressions (Cockney rhyming slang was a particular concern, especially since it was felt that certain employees seemed to think that they were getting away with something).
    It's a more complicated story than I'm making it out here, but I did want to answer Television.AU's query about The Goodies in America; I can only speak for Chicago, but there you are ...


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!