February 28, 2022

What's on TV? Tuesday, March 3, 1964

Change is in the air with this week's Portland (Oregon) edition. Effective Sunday, KATU, Channel 2, becomes the new ABC affiliate, while KPTV, Channel 12, is now an independent. The moves are accompanied with plenty of advertising; today's pages include ads for Combat! and The Fugitive from KATU, "Now ABC in Portland," while KPTV introduces a new slate of programs, including Thriller, Strikes and Spares, and tonight's debut of the excellent British series The Human Jungle (which I mentioned on Saturday). In sports, the old saying is that "you can't tell the players without a scorecard"; in the case of television, you can't tell the shows without TV Guide. Ah, what a great ad that would have been.

February 26, 2022

This week in TV Guide: February 29, 1964

From 1963 through 1969, ABC broadcast a very good series of historial documentary specials under the umbrella title The Saga of Western Man, produced by author and ABC News correspondent John Secondari and his wife, Helen Jean Rogers. The series focused on the people and events that Secondari and Rogers felt had propelled the development of Western civilization—from the birth of Christ to the life of DaVinci to Columbus and the discovery of America.*

*I've often wondered why no one has ever made a series out of Will and Ariel Durant's 11-volume work, The Story of Civilization. Maybe this is as close as they'll ever come. 

On Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. PT, the topic is "1898"—the year that "marked America's emergency as a world power." It was a significant year indeed: the Indian wars had been concluded, the age of the oil, railroad and steel barons was upon us, and immigrants were providing low-cost labor. Perhaps most significant was the emergence of a figure who was to become larger than life on the American scene: Theodore Roosevelt.* As Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Roosevelt played a key role in the construction of what would be known as the Great White Fleet, famous for their 1907 tour around the world (at the command of none other than President Theodore Roosevelt); later in the year, Roosevelt would lead his Rough Riders against Spanish troops in Cuba. If you want to argue that this was a watershed year in American history—the birth of the modern America, if you will—then I won't disagree with you.

*Actor Sidney Blackmer, who played Roosevelt a dozen times in the movies, provides T.R.'s voice in various readings.

   The destruction of the Maine, which
   led to the Spanish-American War
You wouldn't have a series like The Saga of Western Man on network television today, for a variety of reasons besides the fact that none of the commercial networks would ever run a series of historical documentaries in primetime. For one thing, it couldn't be called "Man," for reasons I hardly need to explain. You couldn't treat Western civilization as something to be celebrated, either; we all know that the West is the source and summit of everything that's wrong with the world. And you couldn't talk of the United States as a world power, because it isn't one anymore; born in 1898, one could say that it died in 2021. If this country has become a laughingstock in the world, it's only because it has fallen so far. 

I wonder what Theodore Roosevelt, who believed in what one might call "Muscular Americanism," would think of all this. For that matter, what would John Secondari think of it?

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During the 60s, the Ed Sullivan Show and The Hollywood Palace were the premiere variety shows on television. Whenever they appear in TV Guide together, we'll match them up and see who has the best lineup..

Sullivan: Ed welcomes songstress Anita Bryant; comic Jack Carter; ventriliquist Rickie Layne and his little pal Velvet; and Julius Monk's "Baker's Dozen" revue.

Palace: Host Efrem Zimbalist Jr. shares some laughs with his old 77 Sunset Strip buddy Louis Quinn and introduces Kate Smith; the Great Wallendas, high-wire artists; Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Trigger and the Sons of the Pioneers; comedian Corbett Monica of The Joey Bishop Show; and Albert Rix and his trained Russian Bears.

First things first: as far as novelty acts go, I'll take trained bears over ventriliquists any day. Now, I always thought and still think Anita Bryant had a lovely voice, and Jack Carter can be very funny at times. But let's be real: Kate Smith and Roy Rogers and Dale Evans (with or without Trigger) are quality headliners. The Flying Wallendas were and may still be the most famous high-wire act in history (and were even moreso then, when they were only two years removed from their tragic accident in Detroit). With all that, Efrem Zimbalist and  Louis Quinn (who played Roscoe on Sunset Strip and must have been there for comic relief) are just icing on the cake. It's an easy call: The Palace takes the honors.

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Throughout the 60s and early 70s, TV Guide's weekly reviews were written by the witty and acerbic Cleveland Amory. Whenever we get the chance, we'll look at Cleve's latest take on the shows of the era. 

Bill Dana's character José Jiménez ("My name José Jiménez") debuted on The Steve Allen Show in 1959, and rode the contrails of the Mercury astronauts to stardom (he was a favorite of the flyboys, who found his astronaut skit hilarious); after appearing as a character in Make Room for Daddy, it's not a surprise that in 1963, at the height of his popularity, he was spun off into his own sitcom, which probably could have been called José Jiménez but instead carried the title The Bill Dana Show when it premiered on NBC.

As Cleveland Amory describes him, José  is "the little man fighting to better himself but convinced, due to his helpful nature, that every man was put on earth to better his fellow men." He works as a bellhop at the Park Central Hotel in New York; naturally, he is the nemesis of his boss (Jonathan Harris) and the house detective (Don Adams), and proves a frustration to his fellow bellhop Eddie (Gary Crosby), who was trying to keep José from being taken advantage of. 

Predictable, to be sure, and not terribly sophisticated, but not without its charms, according to Cleve. "[I]f slapstick is your dish," he writes, "you'll get plenty of it in this show and even if it's not, once in a while you'll get a genuinely funny splituation." Much of the humor comes from José's naivety and fractured English, such as when he decides to become a "financial typhoon" by buying stock in the hotel. During the shareholder's meeting, when the chairman rules him out of order, he replies, "No, I'm not. I had a physical last week." And when the chair finally recognizes him, José responds, "You do? I don't know you." Not everyone's cup of TV, Amory acknowledges, but how many people go to a hotel for the television anyway?

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Some interesting notes in the margins this week, so to speak. On NBC's Sunday afternoon newsmagazine, appropriately named Sunday and hosted by Today newscaster Frank Blair (3:00 p.m. PT), drama critic William K. Zinser reviews the "controversial Broadway play" The Deputy, written by German playwright Rolf Hochhuth, and the word "controversial" is something of an understatement. To this point in history, Pope Pius XII had generally been regarded, by Christian and Jew alike, as a moral and humanitarian hero of World War II; Hochhuth, instead, presented the pope as antisemetic, indifferent to the suffering of the Jews and sympathetic to Nazi Germany, which he saw as a geopolitical balance against the Soviet Union. 

Huchhuth's portrayal of Pius as the "heartless, money-grasping pontiff "who turned a blind eye to the Holocaust has become something of a cause celebre among the jejune literati, butressed by historical slanders such as Hitler's Pope by the liberal Catholic John Cornwall. We now know, for example, that the storyline was probably a product of General Ivan Agayants, chief of the KGB's disinformation department, as part of a Soviet campaign to discredit and defame Pius—a campaign that, it must be admitted, has been largely successful in popular culture. It's only been in the last few years that the pontiff's reputation has started to be rehabilitated, with the publication of several books corroborating Pius' efforts on behalf of the Jews. But, as they say, the smear story always appears on page one, while the retraction appears in the small print on page 70. 

In case you're wondering if I've actually read The Deputy, I have a copy in my library, which I used while researching my book The Collaborator. It's unorthodox, mildly interesting, and totally slanderous.

Speaking of politics, as we tangentially have been, on Thursday night ABC News Reports previews next Tuesday's New Hampshire presidential primary (10:30 p.m.). If you'd asked experts six months ago what to expect, they'd have said that the Democratic half of the equation would be pretty quiet, with an incumbent president running unopposed, while the Republican side could present fireworks and possibly a surprise winner. Well, they were right—and yet not at all in the way they thought. 

The incumbent Democrat does indeed win, but his name is Lyndon B. Johnson instead of John F. Kennedy, and that still takes a lot of getting used to, a little over three months after the fact. Meanwhile, although Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller are the principal Republicans, the winner is a total shock: not former Vice President Richard Nixon, or Michigan Governor George Romney, or Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton, or any of the other establishment figures. Instead, first place goes to a man who didn't campaign nor set foot in the state, and who's name isn't even on the ballot: Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., current U.S. ambassador to South Vietnam, and formerly a U.S. senator from Massachusetts and Nixon's running mate in 1960. The Lodge write-in campaign, driven by four friends "looking for something exciting to do," and run out of a small office in Concord, is one of the great stories in modern politics, made even moreso by comparison to the precise, poll-driven methods of today. You can read all about this remarkable story here

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On Monday, Leslie Uggams and Bob McGrath are among the soloists on Sing Along With Mitch (10:00 p.m., NBC). According to the TV Teletype, Sing Along may be headed for ABC next season, having been bumped out of its Monday night slot (in favor of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour); the network thinks it would make an ideal Saturday night companion to The Lawrence Welk Show. For whatever reason, the Miller-ABC merger never happens, and the slot following Welk winds up going to The Hollywood Palace.

KPTV, the former ABC affiliate in Portland, Oregon, is, as of March 1, an independent station (while former independent KATU is now tied to ABC). As a result of the switch, the station has a new lineup, including, on Tuesday, the British drama The Human Jungle (8:30 p.m.), starring Herbert Lom as psychiatrist Dr. Roger Corder. I've written about this series before and will again; it's an excellent, edgy series that illustrates how fragile and yet resiliant the human mind is, and anyone who knows Lom primarily from the Pink Panther movies will be in for a surprise.

The U.S.S. Thresher is very much in the news in March, 1964. The nuclear-powered submarine sank on April 10, 1963 during deep-diving tests off the Massachusetts coast, killing all 129 aboard. Wednesday, CBS Reports looks back at "The Legacy of the Thresher" (7:30 p.m.), including footage taken by the bathyscaphe Trieste shortly after the sinking. (Reports vary as to the cause of the accident; the details are in this fascinating Popular Mechanics artice.) Many years later, a secret mission, funded by the Navy and conducted by oceanographer Robert Ballard, used the submersible Alvin to gather data on the wreckage sits of the Thresher and another atomic submarine, the U.S.S. Scorpion. In return for Ballard's work, the Navy allowed him to continue to use the submersible for a project of his own, which the Navy then used as a cover story to keep the mission secret. Ballard's project: his search for the wreckage of the Titanic.

Perry Como has been a mainstay on television since 1948, and host of the Kraft Music Hall since 1959. But now, Mr. C is scaling back a bit, and beginning with this 1963-64 season, he's replaced the weekly grind with seven specials a year—arena shows set in different cities around the country. On Thursday,  Perry broadcasts from Municipal Auditorium in New Orleans, with his guests Mickey Rooney, Martha Raye, Al Hirt, and ballet dancer Jacques d'Amboise. (10:00 p.m., NBC)

Friday, it's part one of the two-part series finale of Route 66 (8:30 p.m., CBS), and Tod Stiles (Martin Milner), who's spent four years chasing girls without being caught, may have finally met his match: the eccentric members of the Tifin family are trying to marry off their niece as a condition of inheriting $5 million, and they think Tod would make the perfect groom. Their advantage: the bride-to-be is Barbara Eden. I ask you, who could pass up that opportunity?

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Finally, the starlet who's already a star: 18-year-old Zina Bethune, who plays student nurse Gail Lucas on the CBS series The Nurses. Zina's hardly a newcomer to the entertainment scene, pursuing dual careers in acting and dancing; at 6, she was appearing off-Broadway; at 7 she was in George Ballanchine's School of American Ballet and was a lead in The Nutcracker by the time she was 10, and in a TV production of Tennessee Williams' This Property is Condemned. She's a veteran of The Guiding Light and Young Doctor Malone, Broadway plays, movies, and TV guest apperances. In fact, as Alan Gill notes in this week's cover story, "she hasn't missed much—except the experience of being young."

Shirl Conway, who plays mentor Liz Thorpe—we're in the era of shows featuring an older mentor imparting wisdom to the young student, after all, and Conway is Dr. Gillsepie to Bethune's Dr. Kildare—says, "That kid is more worried at being 18 than I was at turning 47," and adds, "Oh, I'd like to see her run in the fields." Zina herself acknowledges that "I'm at the beginning of a road —a long, lonely road. Eventually, I'll get married. I want companionship." But she takes pride in her work; Conway says that this role "hasn't shown what she's got by a hell of a long shot. The kid's an actress."

The Nurses lasts on television for three seasons, until 1965; for the last season, it's known as The Doctors and the Nurses, and brings on Michael Tolan and Joseph Campanella as the titular doctors. It then winds up as a daytime soap for a couple of years on ABC, under its original title and with the same characters, but not played by the same actresses. So although she's no stranger to daytime drama, Zina doesn't make the transition. 

She does, however, go on to make her mark in many ways; her best-known role might be opposite Harvey Keitel in Martin Scorsese’s 1967 movie Who’s That Knocking at My Door. She founds her own dance company, Bethune Theatredanse, and choreographs more than 50 works. She becomes involved in animal rights, and she does marry, to actor Sean Feeley, with whom she is still married when she dies in 2012 as the result of a hit-and-run accident. TV  

February 25, 2022

Around the dial

The news right now is very, very bad, or very depressing, or (in all likelihood) both. And some probably think that looking at old television shows is a waste of time, when there are more important things to deal with. But I like to think that, as my friend David Hofstede says, this "comfort TV" can help give us a breather, even if it's just temporary. So let's take one right now.

In fact, we'll start at Comfort TV today, where David uses Rémi Brague's book Curing Mad Truths: Medieval Wisdom for the Modern Age (which I think I'll have to get) as the basis for looking back at how the era of classic TV provides us with some essential truths about our culture. Not only thought-provoking, but spot-on.

At bare•bones e-zine, Jack's Hitchcock Project continues with the second of Lewis Davidson's scripts for the show, the tenth-season story "Misadventure," a nasty little domestic drama starring Barry Nelson, Lola Albright and George Kennedy, and filled with more twists and turns than the Nürburgring.

Speaking of Hitchcock (I love these smooth transitions, as you know), Rick at Classic Film & TV Café is on the case with another installment of the Movie Quote Game; the subject, as if you didn't already know, is quotes from Hitchcock films. How well do you know them?

The Hitchcock shows, both 30- and 60-minute versions, exist in their entirety. John's current Cult TV feature focuses on shows that have only a very few surviving episodes, and this week his eyes fall on the Saturday Night Theater episode "A.D.A.M.," and the fear of technology—a prudent fear, I'd say.

In going through old TV Guides, one finds, in the early days of public broadcasting, the children's classics Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. But for a short time, there was also ZOOM, which we read about at the Broadcasting Archives.

Drunk TV takes us back to the 1970s, as Paul looks back at "a true gem," the 1979 TV-movie Breaking Up is Hard to Do, taking us behind the scenes in the world of formerly married men. Ted Bessell, Jeff Conaway, Robert Conrad, Billy Crystal, Tony Musante, and David Ogden Stiers star—you can't do much better than that.

That's it for the week; in the meantime, pray for peace. TV  

February 23, 2022

The Descent into Hell: "A Taste of Armageddon" (1967)

Someone once said that hindsight is 20/20.* Now, I don’t think that’s always true, but part of being a cultural archaeologist involves sifting through the detritus left by the past, searching for the clues that give us an idea of how the present came to be. Think of it as operating in the same way that an arson investigator goes about looking for evidence—always asking the question, What happened here? And how?

*In fact, the saying, “Most people's hindsight is 20-20" is generally attributed to humorist Richard Armour.

It’s especially true when it comes to the wreckage of a civilization. How could such a thing happen? We wonder. It’s an especially unsettling time, and try as we might to remain dispassionate, we can’t help phrasing the question in the first person, as if we’re looking in the mirror.

How did we allow this to happen?

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The Star Trek episode "A Taste of Armageddon" 3first aired on February 23, 1967, and it finds the crew of the Enterprise confronted with a confounding scenario: a war in which no shots are fired, but people still die. How can this be?

The planets Eminiar VII and Vendikar have been at war for five hundred years (and you thought the Hundred Year War between England and France was bad). During that time, millions of people have died, casualties of the back-and-forth attacks between the two planets. In fact, shortly after Kirk and company arrive on the surface, another fusion bomb attack occurs, with more deaths resulting. However, the crew has observed no explosions, seen no damage, witnessed no bloody and battered bodies. And then they learn the truth of the situation.

Yes, there was a real war, once upon a time, and there was death and destruction to accompany it. So much so, in fact, that the leaders of the two planets realized what Robert E. Lee had so famously said, that "It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it." But whereas the American Civil War ended thanks to the determination of Lee's adversary, Ulysses S. Grant, that the best way to end a war is to win it, the war between Eminiar VII and Vendikar took an entirely different tack.* Realizing that neither society can continue to absorb the material destruction caused by the conflict, and apparently resigned to the irreconcilability of their dispute, they opt to make things cleaner, more sanitary, more socially acceptable, by replacing actual battle with a computer simulation, one in which "Attacks are launched in concept [and] casualties established through statistical adjustment." 

*Probably because the woke teachers of the future, having cancelled Lee out of American history, never passed on his prescient observation to future generations.

Kirk takes matters into his own hands, again.
But there's a deadly twist to all this: once the statistical fatalities have been determined, those presumed to have been killed in the attack have 24 hours to show up at a disintegrator chamber to fulfill the terms of the agreement between the combatants. If either side reneges, the other is free to launch an actual attack, complete with all the horror that the leaders have decided is too messy. And there's a deadlier twist, one that provides the impetus for the story's resolution: Kirk and his landing party, as well as the Enterprise and her crew, have been counted among the fatalities, and are told to report to the disintegrator chamber to be killed.

The story, coming as it does in the midst of the Vietnam War, is obviously intended to serve as an allegory on how man has to find a way to settle conflicts peacefully. Therefore, it creates a pair of apparent absurdities: 1) what will the authorities do if you don't show up to be disintegrated? Kill you? and 2) wouldn't it just be easier to find a solution that both sides can live with, especially since they were apparently able to negotiate this crazy computer scheme?*

*Pete Seeger might have written a song called "Waste Deep in the Big Disintegrator" if he'd been in this future.

The answer to the second question is the moral of the story, that as Churchill once said, "Meeting jaw to jaw is better than war."* But what about that first point, that there seems to be little in the way of incentive to voluntarily give yourself up to death? What can the authorities do?

*Since Churchill was a dead white European male, his lesson was obviously never passed on to future generations, either.

Well, they can remind you that disintegration is a hell of a lot less painful than being shot with a phaser, and I think that's a point to this story that's underappreciated, that there is a risk-averse aspect to this future life, one that mirrors our current obsession with avoiding suffering at any cost. Isn't that what euthanasia is about, after all? Far better to simply slip away with a pill or an injection than to experience the pain of a cruel death.

Fortunately, Captain Kirk has always understood this kind of thing; several times throughout the series and subsequent movies, he's stressed the importance of pain and suffering, as well as the need to confront fear and uncertainty, as essential to the human experience. (He makes the point in the very next episode, "This Side of Paradise.") Besides, there's no way he and his crew are going to be subjected to this absurdity. Casting aside the Prime Directive, as he so often does, he and Spock destroy the Eminiar war computer, forcing the two sides to the bargaining table in order to avoid catastrophic bloodshed. Since there's no sequel, presumably the Federation-supplied negotiator, Ambassador Fox, is able to achieve such an agreement, enabling both sides to live happily ever after.

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How did we allow this to happen?

Anon 7, leader of Eminiar VII:
he knows better than you
Some people think there's an element of betrayal in that question, that we have somehow been betrayed by those in charge of preventing "this" from happening. And I'd agree with that. Those people in charge—and we're talking about authority figures, whether they're accountants, ministers, teachers, government leaders, even the president—they're put in a position of trust. We trust them to do the right thing by us, to protect our interests, to do what is best for the common welfare. We trust that the barber or the beautician is going to treat our hair in such a way that small children aren't going to run screaming when they see us coming. And when they don't—when the accountant embezzles from our retirement plan, when our children come home from school unable to read, what have you—then we feel betrayed by them. We trusted you, we say, and you didn't do what you were supposed to do. Not only do we say it, but in this day and age we say it loudly, and we say it publicly. 

But—and there's always a but. . .

Even the most trusted servant isn't given free reign over the household. You check up on him or her, make sure the bank account makes sense, count the silverware once in a while. It's nothing personal, but it's just something you do. You have an obligation to do it. And if that servant takes advantage of you because you didn't keep proper tabs—well, there's a segment of the population, and maybe there's a part of you as well, that's thinking, "You asked for it." Remember the saying, "Fool me once, fie on you. Fool me twice, fie on me." 

How did we allow this to happen?

Those trusted authority figures I mentioned—well, they are servants of a sort. They work for us. And therefore, they require some kind of oversight. From us. And if we allow them to run free, if we refuse to follow through on our obligation, then some of that blame falls on us. 

That can be an uncomfortable truth. It requires us to look in the mirror, and to study what we see. A lot of people would rather not do that. They'd prefer to pass the buck, to put the blame squarely on those authority figures, to say they're one hundred percent responsible for letting it happen. 

After all, How did they let it happen is a much easier question to ask than How did we let it happen.

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There is, though, something more to this story, more than the much-desired happy ending, something that allows us to come full circle to the observation that we started with. Namely, the apparent acquiescence of the people to go willingly, even unquestioningly, to their death—just because the government says so. 

How did we allow this to happen?

It can seem like a psychosis, a mass movement taking over supposedly normal people. We've even developed a word to describe them: sheeple, people who are docile, meekly submissive, easily swayed. One day things are like they've always been, and the next day they aren't. 

People are told they can't go out in public, and the sheeple go along. People are told they can't visit sick or dying relatives, and the sheeple go along. People are told to take an unproven vaccine, to violate the beliefs of their religion, and the sheelpe go along. 

Anyone who asks questions, who dares to disagree—well, they're threatened with having their bank accounts seized, their jobs lost, their children taken away, all for speaking their mind. They're mocked by others, they're beaten by police, they become targets of the last prejudice, Contrary opinions are not allowed, they're told. Resistance is unpatriotic, they're told. They're selfish, they're insurrectionists, they don't deserve to live, they're told.

People are told to go to a disintegrator chamber. And the sheeple go along.

How did we allow this to happen?

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Someone more perceptive than I am compared this to Hans Christian Andersen's fable of the Emperor's New Clothes. You know how that works: the emperor striding through his kingdom in a suit made of material so fine that only the very smart or very competent can see it. None of his subjects wants to be thought a fool, and so they all keep their mouths shut, even though they all know how ridiculous it is, until a child blurts out that this guy's only wearing his skivvies. Well, the Good Book does say that we must have the faith of a child, and that includes the faith to state the truth.

Thing is, there's that uncomfortable truth we talked about. And that keeps some people from speaking up about the emperor.

Some people think it's easier to just ignore what's going on, and maybe it won't affect them.

Some people prefer to keep their mouths shut and not get involved, in hopes that it just goes away. 

Some people believe the emperor must be right, because he is, after all, the emperor, and he knows best.

And some people like the idea that they're part of the elite, that they possess the intellect required to see the emperor's clothes. They're better than the peasants; they're among the privileged few. They get to tell everyone else what to do.

They're the ones who know how we got to this point, how we allowed this to happen.

And unless there's a Captain Kirk out there, there's no going back. TV  

February 21, 2022

What's on TV? Tuesday, February 27, 1962

I really enjoy these issues from the first couple of years of the 1960s. The shows are modern in a way that those of the 1950s weren't always, but not quite as mod as those of the late '60s. I like the black-and-white of the dramas, but NBC's colorcast shows are vivid in their brightness. And I like the local Twin Cities characters, so many of whom I would grow up with. Good times. But I'll tell you, that Science program for 7th graders on KTCA must be a hell of a show, the way they keep returning to it.  

February 19, 2022

This week in TV Guide: February 24, 1962

Troy Donahue, this week's cover boy, is nothing if not an accidental star, at least in name. His real name is Merle Johnson, and the way he came to be Troy Donahue is more interesting than many other aspects of his life. His agent, Henry Wilson, had the name "Troy" left over when one of his clients, Jimmy Ercolani, decided to keep his own first name while taking Wilson's suggestion for a new last name—he became James Darren. The name "Donahue" came from another Wilson client, Timothy Durgin, who had his first name changed to Rory, and chose "Calhoun" over "Donahue." So just think—we could be talking about Troy Calhoun here.

Anyway, Troy Donahue is Hollywood's current glamour boy, coming off the movie A Summer Place, which made him a household heartthrob, and currently starring in ABC's detective series Surfside 6. So what kind of guy is Troy? One of his movie costars, Suzanne Pleshette, was prepared to dislike him based on the publicity, but instead found him to be "a very unusual boy—gracious and considerate." I guess so, because the two of them were married in January 1964. Of course, they divorced in less than nine months.

There's some thought that Donahue is letting the fame get to his head; he's more demanding than he used to be, more outspoken, urging colleagues to mention in interviews how lousy their director was. He's late to the set and often comes unprepared, blowing his lines more times than anyone would like to admit. He's not an actor yet, but he's still learning.

And though he's got a very well-known name, and has a fairly long career, Troy Donahue never really does achieve the fame that seems to be his for the taking. He never achieves the long-running television series that, at the time, substitutes for movie stardom, he never has the defining role that makes him a genuine star, never gets the Oscar nomination that sometimes comes to the pretty boy that turns into an actor. He's never anything other than Troy Donahue—which is still a lot more than a lot of us ever achieve.

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After a career of ups and downs, Judy Garland is on top again. Her recent concert tours have been critical and popular successes, particularly her Carnegie Hall concert in April of 1961, which many have called "the greatest night in show business history," and resulted in a gold album and a Grammy for Album of the Year. She's been nominated for an Academy Award for her supporting role in Judgment at Nuremberg. And now she's returning to television for the first time in six years, with a deal in place for a new round of specials with CBS.

Her first, this Sunday (8:00 p.m. CT, CBS), is treated as a television event, and it isn't hurt by the appearance of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin as co-stars, and that it's produced and directed by Norman Jewison. The show's a smash—as you might expect with that kind of star power; it's also nominated for four Emmys—and it results in a deal for Garland to return in a weekly series, with Jewison later coming in as executive producer. The show only runs for one rocky season, and Garland returns to the stage and her final sad years. For Norman Jewison, though, the future is much brighter. Although his experience with the Garland show is hardly what one would call a success (as the second of the show's three executive producers, he only works on eight episodes), Tony Curtis suggests he start directing movies, which he does, amassing a brilliant portfolio that includes The Cincinnati Kid; The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming; The Thomas Crown Affair; Fiddler on the Roof, and his best-known movie, the Oscar-winning Best Picture In the Heat of the Night.

So this special is the start of a great career for Jewison. A pity that it wasn't able to turn things around for Judy Garland as well.

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Garland's Sunday special is not the only interesting programming on tap that day. In fact, Sunday might be the best TV day this week. 

In the sports world, CBS Sports Spectacular has the 1961 Formula One United States Grand Prix (1:30 p.m.), taped last October 8 at Watkins Glen, New York. That was fairly common back in the day, networks covering Formula One races weeks or even months after the fact. If race fans were really lucky, they might get to see the race only a week or two later on Wide World of Sports. (I'll admit, though, four months is a bit extreme.) Speaking of which, the U.S. Grand Prix was notable in that 1961 was the year that Phil Hill became the first and, to date, only American-born Formula 1 World Champion. Having the final Grand Prix of the year on his home turf should have been a tremendous personal as well as professional moment for him—but it wasn't. Hill had clinched the world title in the previous race, the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, when his Ferrari teammate and rival, Wolfgang von Trips, was killed in a horrible accident that also claimed the lives of 15 spectators. Out of respect for Trips, Ferrari withdrew all of their cars from the U.S. Grand Prix, including Hill. Instead of racing for the championship of his country, Hill got a drive around the circuit in a convertible. Phil Hill was a great champion (among other achievements, he won the 24 Hours of LeMans three times), and he deserved better than that. 

Meanwhile, NBC Opera Theatre is back with Italo Montemezzi's rarely performed The Love of Three Kings (2:00 p.m.), starring Phyllis Curtin and Giorgio Tozzi. (No video, but you can hear the audio of that broadcast here.) ABC's Issues and Answers (3:00 p.m.) features a face more familiar to viewers of CBS: Edward R. Murrow, appearing in his role as Director of the U.S. Information Agency, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Voice of America. And speaking of the Tiffany Network, Ed Sullivan comes to us tonight live from Miami Beach (7:00 p.m., CBS), with guests Lloyd Bridges; the singing and dancing Crosby Brothers; opera singer Patrice Munsel; comedian Jan Murray; singer Damita Jo; the Gimma Brothers, acrobats; and Brascia and Tybee, dance team.

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A look at the Teletype this week gives us a snapshot of the times. First, we see that Merv Griffin and Hugh Downs are two of the guest hosts who'll be filling in on Tonight during the interregnum between the departure of Jack Paar in March and the debut of Johnny Carson when his ABC contract expires in October. ABC's reporting a flood of requests for interviews with Carson, but they're pretending not to know whether they want to talk about Carson's upcoming gig with NBC, or his current ABC show Who Do You Trust? Yes, I'm sure everyone wanted to talk about that. Paar himself is gearing up for his once-a-week prime time show on NBC, to debut in the fall.

ABC's got a World War II drama in development, Combat, which would star Rick Jason, Vic Morrow and Shecky Greene. Unlike so many of the pilots we read about in this section, Combat not only debuts on ABC in the fall of 1962, it becomes one of the most successful war dramas on television, running for five seasons before leaving in 1967. Shecky Greene only lasts for the first season, but Rick Jason and Vic Morrow alternate as episode leads throughout the show's run.

Speaking of the war, Peter Brown, one of the stars of ABC's Lawman series, is said to be testing f or the role of JFK in the upcoming big screen adaptation of PT 109, the story of Kennedy's wartime exploits in the Pacific. The movie will indeed come out in June of the following year, while Kennedy is still alive and in office, but with Cliff Robertson in the starring role.

Finally, in April, Burt Lancaster is scheduled to host At This Very Moment, a "Cancer Control Month" special on ABC. I didn't know this, but April is still Cancer Control Month by presidential proclamation. I've mentioned how, prior to the telethon years, Jerry Lewis used to host a one-hour Muscular Dystrophy special, and this seems to have been the same type of show. I checked it out on IMDB and the guest list is impressive, so much so that I wonder how they all fit into an hour-long show: Harry Belafonte, Richard Chamberlain, Bobby Darin, Jimmy Durante, Connie Francis, Greer Garson, Charlton Heston, Bob Hope, Lena Horne, Rock Hudson—well, you get the picture. The cast is listed in alphabetical order, so I've only gotten about halfway through. The special includes taped remarks by President Kennedy and Vice President Johnson, and an archival message from Eleanor Roosevelt.

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Let's see what the rest of the week's highlights are.

Saturday:  Boxing is still prime-time box office, and ABC's got a good one this week: the lightweight championship fight between Joe Brown and Carlos Ortiz from Las Vegas (9:00 p.m.). Or at least that's what's in TV Guide, but for whatever reason—an injury, probably—the fight doesn't come off until April, when Ortiz ends Brown's five-year reign as champion. Since this was a special rather than a regularly-scheduled broadcast, I'm not sure what ABC wound up showing.

: The Breck Golden Showcase (9:00 p.m., CBS) presents "Saturday's Children," a play written by Maxwell Anderson and produced by Leland Hayward,* and starring Ralph Bellamy, Cliff Robertson, Inger Stevens, and Lee Grant.► At the same time, an NBC White Paper takes an inside look at "Red China," which would seem to be a relevant topic today.

*In addition to being a very successful Hollywood and Broadway producer (including South Pacific and The Sound of Music), Leland Hayward was also co-founder of Southwest Airlines, and father of actress Brooke Hayward.

Monday: According to the Teletype, the police drama 87th Precinct (9:00 p.m., NBC) has been renewed for another season; unfortunately, because it was unable to find a sponsor, that second season never came off. Too bad; the series, based on Ed McBain's series of hard-hitting 87th Precinct police procedurals, was very good, with a strong cast that included Robert Lansing, Ron Harper, Gregory Walcott and Norman Fell (and occasional appearances by Gena Rowlands as Lansing's deaf-mute wife).

Tuesday: Bob Hope's on with his third special of the season (8:00 p.m., NBC), and he has an interesting collection of guest stars: Jack Paar, the current (for now) host of Tonight: Steve Allen, the original host of Tonight, Joan Collins, who's co-starring with Bing and Bob this year in The Road to Hong Kong and looks painfully young; singer Joanie Sommers; and comedians Robert Strauss and Sid Melton. Sid's one of the co-stars on Danny Thomas' show, and coincidentally there happens to be an article on Thomas in this week's issue. On the other hand, you can watch the show that precedes Bob, The World of Sophia Loren.

Wednesday: Kraft Music Hall gives Perry Como the night off for Music Hall Goes West (8:00 p.m., NBC), hosted by country singer Rex Allen, with Jaye P. Morgan, the Sons of the Pioneers, Carl Ballentine (as the Great Ballentine), and Vic Schoen and his orchestra. Music Hall would have a recurring association with country music, hosting the Country Music Association Awards and devoting several shows to country, hosted by Eddy Arnold. At 9:00 p.m., Armstrong Circle Theater (CBS) has a docudrama on "Teen-Aged Junkies," a problem that's apparently going to be with us as long as drugs are. Or, if these two shows are too exciting for you, KTCA debuts a new series at 6:00 p.m., Aspects of Supervision.

: I've written before about how circuses are a dying breed, but that isn't the case back in 1962, when WTCN presents coverage of the opening night of the Zuhrah Shrine Circus (9:00 p.m.), taped earlier in the evening. This was a big deal when I was growing up; there were always special matinee performances for schoolchildren (the area around the Minneapolis Auditorium always looked like a used school bus lot), and it was a rare opportunity for me to see the grand Auditorium and Convention Center. Unlike Ringling Bros., though, the Zuhrah Shrine Circus continues in Minneapolis to this day, and I think that's a good thing.

Friday:  The best night of the work week is here, and it's a great night for music, with the Bell Telephone Hour presenting an hour of the songs of Irving Berlin (8:30 p.m, NBC). If that's not your cup of tea, there's a fine episode of Route 66 with guest star Ed Asner (7:30 p.m., CBS), a suspenseful episode of The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor (7:30 p.m., NBC), and an exciting episode of 77 Sunset Strip (8:00 p.m., ABC). Of course, you could always try out the return of KTCA's Efficient Reading at 6:30 p.m.

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Finally, while we've yet to welcome Cleveland Amory to the scene, the very able Gilbert Seldes is on hand to provide us with a review of ABC's hit medical series, Ben Casey. And Mr. Seldes proves himself able indeed as he describes, "on my honor," the following cases that came up in a single one-hour episode of Casey (and I quote):
  1. A woman who has been coming to the clinic for years with imaginary ailments.
  2. A tough kid, supposed to have swallowed a razor blade.
  3. A rather dear old man whose family is trying to get rid of him, alleging failing memory.
  4. A woman who, so far as I could gather, was sick.
  5. A dipsomaniac.
  6. A man who got an ice pick accidentally in his heart but survived two hours on the city's transit system.
  7. A girl in a state of shock—mute.
  8. A victim of a gang war.
Remember, this all happened in 60 minutes. But, says Seldes, "the individual fragments were sharp and effective," the cases were all presented to viewers in moments, and there was interaction between the characters, As for the elements that tied the story together—well, that's another story: there were "three lectures on medical ethics, two at least on race relations, and assorted lofty epigrams on life, society and fate." And lines such as, "These hands are for healing, not for violence," and "It's the verge of midnight—it could be the verge of a new life." They're only missing exclamation points to make it complete.

Maybe the story isn't very true to life. Most certainly the dialog from the doctors and nurses isn't. But the episode was exciting, which I suppose is what's important. And a tip to the writers: if the characters "shortened their sentences and spoke like human beings we could have three more episodes as good as the eight we got—in an hour!" TV  

February 18, 2022

Around the dial

Where should we start today? How about at Drunk TV, where Paul takes a look at the first season of the syndicated series Ripcord, of which I have fond memories from back in the day. I don't remember the stories so much, but the idea of guys jumping out of planes with parachutes was tremendously appealing. Remember the toy plastic skydivers they used to make with the flimsy parachutes attached to them? They never worked for me, either.

And then there's the sitcom Julia, which I remember but seldom ever watched. There's no question that it was a significant program in the television history of the 1960s, although, as Terence points out at A Shroud of Thoughts, it would be seen as fairly innocuous today. Still, it was, appropriately enough, a groundbreaking series.

At The Lucky Strike Papers, Andrew shares a heartfelt tribute to his father, who died on New Year's Day at the age of 100. For anyone who's read Andrew's book on his mother, the elegance of his writing will come as no surprise.

In that nostalgic mood? Over at The Hits Just Keep on Comin', JB looks back to February 15, 2003—what was in the news back then, and how it all looks in retrospect today. As with Andrew, there is a strong sense of remembering the warm embrace of the past, and I don't think it's coincidental. Aren't we all feeling a little bit—or maybe a bit more than a little—that way right now? Yup, back to the grind.

Once upon a time, and maybe once again in the near future, it was a big deal when a television show went to the Soviet Union. At Comfort TV, David recalls the Head of the Class episode "Mission to Moscow," which was just such an event when it aired in 1988.

At Cult TV Blog, John continues to look at orphaned episodes with 1964's comedy The Diary of a Nobody, a quasi-silent program (with only narration), directed by none other than Ken Russell. I always enjoy these links. 

It's time again for Love That Bob!, and at The Horn Section, Hal reviews the 1957 episode "Chuck at College," wherein we see Chuck (Dwayne Hickman) heading off to school, where he's expected to live up to (or is it down to?) the reputation of his famous Uncle Bob (Bob Cummings).

And finally, I'm back on Eventually Supertrain this week, where Dan and I have another pleasant chat on Search. And look at that who's on the cover of the TV Guide that Dan shares—why, it's none other than our intrepid heroes from World Sercurities! TV  

February 14, 2022

What's on TV? Tuesday, February 14, 1967

There isn't anything very Valentine-y about it, but I did hold out a couple of items from Saturday for use today. First, on Today has a very interesting pairing of guests: the young actress Lynn Redgrave, riding a high from Georgy Girl and now appearing on Broadway, and John T. Scopes. And if that name sounds kind of familiar, it should, as in the Monkey Trial. That's right: John T. Scopes was the schoolteacher who was hauled into court in Tennessee in 1925 for teaching the theory of evolution. His defense attorney was Clarence Darrow. Assisting the prosecution was William Jennings Bryan. And here Scopes is, the man at the center of it all, on television. Think about how remarkable that is.* Talk about history coming to life. 

*Scopes also appeared on To Tell the Truth in 1960, as a tie-in for the movie release Inherit the Wind. He was probably on Today promoting his memoirs, which would come out later in 1967.

Later, on The Mike Douglas Show (4:00 p.m., WCCO), one of the guests is Joseph Pilates. And that name ought to sound familiar as well; he only created the exercise regime that bears his name. Who could have guessed?

A couple of other interesting items in this Minnesota State Edition: the Pillsbury Bake-Off, live from Los Angeles and hosted by Art Linkletter; and Hall of Kings, a documentary look at 900-year-old Westminster Abbey, hosted by James Mason. And who's one of the actresses also appearing on the show? Why, it's none other than Lynn Redgrave.

February 12, 2022

This week in TV Guide: February 11, 1967

On Sunday February 12 (11:30 a.m. CT), NBC's Meet the Press presents a special one-hour edition with William Manchester, author of the controversial book The Death of a President, the authorized account of the assassination and funeral of John F. Kennedy. Manchester is to be quizzed by Alistair Cooke, whom we'll get to know better as host of Masterpiece Theatre but at this point is the American correspondent for The Guardian; Chuck Roberts, White House correspondent for Newsweek, who was in Dallas and flew back on Air Force One with President Johnson; Robert MacNeil of NBC, the network's man in Dallas who covered the assassination; and Meet the Press producer Lawrence Spivak. Edwin Newman is the moderator.

To understand why Manchester's book is so controversial, one has to step back in time to shortly after the funeral. The Kennedy family realized that books about the assassination would come out; they worried about how both the event itself and the family would be depicted. In an effort to control the story, they had commissioned Manchester, who had earlier written a flattering article about JFK, to write the book, and have exclusive access to family, friends, and political allies of the late president.

Once the manuscript had been produced, however, the family began to have second thoughts. There were concerns that Manchester had revealed too many personal glimpses into the family's life, that Manchester's prose was "overwrought," and that his unfavorable portrayal of Lyndon Johnson could prove troubling to Robert F. Kennedy's political ambitions. Jacqueline Kennedy had spoken frankly and personally with Manchester, but now feared the thought of those revelations in print.* Bobby Kennedy, who was fanatically loyal to Jackie, got into the middle of the dispute. An agreement for a four-part serialization in Look magazine was, RFK charged, a breach of the agreement that "the final text" was not to be published until approved by the two Kennedys. Manchester countered that Bobby had been in agreement that the book should be published as soon as it was finished, to avoid playing a part in the 1968 elections and also to counter the Warren Report critics, and that in fact Look was Kennedy's preferred magazine of choice. Lawyers were called, negotiations were conducted, Manchester himself almost suffered a nervous breakdown over the interference by the Kennedys and their Boston cronies. When Jackie went to court, Manchester went to Meet the Press to tell his side of the story.

*Mrs. Kennedy later admitted that she never actually thought the public would read the book, but that it “would be bound in black and put away on dark library shelves.

In the end, things were settled. As the family saw their popularity take a dive in the polls (people suspected the worst about their efforts to control the story, and that doesn't even take into account the conspiracy buffs already in full swing), Bobby decided he'd had enough; a drop in the polls is never welcome news for a politician. As Spivak says on Meet the Press, everyone involved "has been hurt or somehow damaged—you, Mrs. Kennedy, Senator Robert Kennedy, President Johnson and the book itself." The two parties settled out of court, with Manchester removing 1,600 words from the Look serialization and seven pages from the book—"less than one percent," according to Manchester. Look hits the newsstands at the end of January and immediately sells out; the book, published in April, becomes an instant bestseller. But, as Alistair Cooke would later note, "the dispute is already more famous than the book."

I've not been able to find any video of the program, but if you're interested, you can read the transcript of the sometimes-contentious interview here. And you don't even have to send ten cents to Merkle Press to do it.

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During the 60s, the Ed Sullivan Show and The Hollywood Palace were the premiere variety shows on television. Whenever they appear in TV Guide together, we'll match them up and see who has the best lineup.

Palace: Host Sammy Davis Jr. welcomes Mickey Rooney, Liberace, singer Kaye Stevens, comic Lee Tully, the acrobatic Mascots, and Mr. and Mrs. Bob Top, English high-pole roller skaters.

Sullivan: Scheduled guests: comic-actor Jack Gilford, who appears in a sketch with comedienne Nancy Walker; comics Joey Adams, Joan Rivers and Richard Pryor; singers Sally Ann Howes, Jerry Vale and Lola Falana; the rock 'n' rolling Young Rascals; dancer Peter Gennaro; and teh roller-skating team of Ravic and Babs.

Short and sweet. Sammy Davis Jr. If there hadn't been anyone else on the show, Palace still would have won. As it is, include Mickey Rooney and Liberace, and you've got it made. Palace dances to this week's title.

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Throughout the 60s and early 70s, TV Guide's weekly reviews were written by the witty and acerbic Cleveland Amory. Whenever we get the chance, we'll look at Cleve's latest take on the shows of the era. 

"Well, you can look if you want to," Cleveland Amory begins in his review of CBS's new sitcom Mr. Terrific, "but do me a favor, will you? Don't expect, along the [air] waves, any raves. For the fact is, Mr. Terrific, like its Siamese twin, Captain Nice, is not only not terrific, it's pretty terrible."

Mr. Terrific, for those of you unfamiliar with the title, is a superhero spoof starring Stephen Strimpell as Stanley Beamish, a mild-mannered gas station attendant who, with the help of a special pill, gains superhuman strength and the ability to fly, which he uses to help fight crime. The problem, according to Amory, is that despite his new superpowers, "he still remains basically the same stumblebum he always was." And since the pill apparently only works on him, the government has to make do with its imperfect hero. There wouldn't be much of a show otherwise, would there?

Speaking of strength, the show is not without its own, chief among them the "peerless performance" of John McGiver as the head of the government agency for which Stanley moonlights as Mr. Terrific; I'd expect no less from a pro like McGiver; there is, as Amory says, only one of him. But—and here we'll let Cleve's comments on the second episode serve for the entire series, "the individual shortcomings of the script, the acting and the directing were matched only by the innate tastelessness of the whole idea." In fact, the whole thing can be summed up by an acknowledgement from Harley, another government agent. "Stanley is accident prone. Even when he does something right, it's an accident." Concludes Amory, "The same might be said, at almost any moment, of this show."

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I don't think we've ever had the chance to look at dueling ice shows, have we?

First up, on Monday, is your 1967 Ice Capades (7:00 p.m., NBC), hosted by Jimmy Durante and featuring Jimmy Dean and the Supremes. The Ice Capades first appeared on NBC in 1965, and their annual show ran through 1970, with various hosts such as Arthur Godfrey, Lorne Greene and Florence Henderson. (These ice shows are something of a regular occurrence on NBC; later in the year, Ed Ames hosts a similar presentation of the Ice Follies.)

Not to be outdone, Milton Berle hosts Holiday on Ice (one of the Ice Follies' bitter competitors) Thursday night (9:00 p.m., ABC). Perhaps a little more glamour here; whereas Capades show was taped in Rochester, New York, Holiday on Ice comes to you from Paris. Berle ought to be a good MC for this; it's much like his hosting jobs on his other variety shows, and there are probably plenty of pretty girls in skimpy outfits for him to leer at.

Interestingly enough, the Ice Capades went out of business in the mid-90s, while in 1979 the Ice Follies merged with Holiday on Ice. There's no limit to themed ice shows out there even today, though.

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And now a brief pause for some culture, and I'm not talking about what you'd find in a petri dish, either.

On Monday, Gilligan's Island and the aforementioned Mr. Terrific are preempted for a musical rendition of Pinocchio by New York's Prince Street Players (6:30 p.m., CBS). This is just one of a number of productions of classic family stories that Prince Street Players did for CBS between 1965 and 1970, including Jack and the Beanstalk, The Emperor's New Clothes, and Aladdin. Fortunately, several of them exist on YouTube—including Pinocchio!

Wednesday, KTCA, the public broadcasting station, has An Age of Kings (7:00 p.m.), a continuing series of the Bard's historical plays. You'll see this pop up throughout the '60s, especially the early part of the decade—it was made by the BBC in 1960. Later the same evening, WTCN has The Wars of the Roses (8:30 p.m.), another BBC production of Shakespeare's first series of historical plays, made in 1965. I find it interesting that this was being shown on commercial, rather than public, television; possibly it was some kind of syndicated package similar to when Edward the King was broadcast in America in the mid-70s. 

Friday night, NET Opera Theatre (7:00 p.m., WDSE) presents Jack Beeson's opera Lizzie Borden, based on the ax murderess of the same name. The production is from the acclaimed world premiere staged by the New York City Opera in 1965, adapted for the television stage. The music is modern and at times atonal, and Beeson has taken liberties with the story for dramatic effect, but it makes for compelling viewing both as an opera and a television production. The broadcast is a prime example of the advantage to staging an opera in a television studio (as opposed to simply bringing in cameras to cover a live performance, as is done with the Metropolitan Opera's HD broadcasts), giving viewers camera angles and views that would be impossible to replicate in a live theater broadcast. Following the opera, there's a half-hour profile of composer Beeson, looking at his work methods and motivations.

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Some other selections from the week:

The Golden Globes are broadcast Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. on NBC, hosted by Andy Williams. You remember the Golden Globes, don't you? I know they've only been off television for one year, but memories are short, nowadays. Anyway, I wrote a while back about the Golden Globes and their colorful history; for a few years the awards were actually presented on Andy's variety show, but this year they get their own place in the sun. It's a short spotlight, though; the show still runs for only an hour, but that's plenty of time to give out a handful of awards, most of them to the movie A Man for All Seasons. You'll recall that this would have been during the period of time when winners were actually tipped off in advance that they were bringing home the award; it was often the only way to get them to attend the show. Today, the problems faced by the Hollywood Foreign Press Assocation, presenter of the Globes, are not so much because of being colorful, but colorless, shall we say.

One of the great Star Trek episodes of all time airs on Thursday (7:30 p.m., NBC)—"Space Seed." It introduces us to a ruthless dictator played by Ricardo Montalban, and without it we'd never have gotten this immortal scene.

OK, maybe it didn't last that long. . .

The cover story this week, by Leslie Raddatz, is on Steven Hill, the original head of the Mission: Impossible team. After decades of reruns with Peter Graves as Jim Phelps*, it can be a little surprising to remember that for the first season of Mission: Impossible, it was Hill's Dan Briggs who listened to the recordings at the beginning of each show and pulled the same pictures out of the dossier each time.

*Who is not a traitor to his country, no matter what Brian DePalma thinks.

Hill is very good in the role, with just the right amount of menace to suggest that, if things were to get tough, Dan Briggs could get even tougher. It doesn't work out, though, and the reasons are clear in the article. Hill is an observant Orthodox Jew who leaves the set on Fridays in order to get home before sundown, and does not work on Jewish holy days, and while his beliefs are respected, there's no doubt that it puts a crimp in shooting a complicated television series. Many times Briggs' visible role is limited to the beginning and end of the story, and there's at least one episode in which he isn't seen at all. His level of involvement in each week's mission is seldom as large as it becomes for Jim Phelps in future seasons. So it's one year and out for Steven Hill, but don't worry too much—Law & Order will be by in a couple of decades, and he'll get ten seasons out of that.

Our starlet of the week is "comely" Pat Moore, who is moving from a $60 per hour model to a bit player in television (a semi-regular on Hullabaloo and Perry Como, but with no speaking lines) and commercials (where, as is usual in commercials, her voice is dubbed). For her, the big time is simple: being able to talk.

In the TV Teletype, we're told that Batman producer Howie Horwitz is "looking for a Batgirl to 'fight evil' next fall. Batman won't know her real life identity and vice versa." Thanks to retrovision, we do know the identity of Batgirl, though—the lissome Yvonne Craig, who packs quite a kick.

And speaking of Batman. . .

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Dwight Whitney spends some quality time with Adam West, learning about what it's like being the star of the hottest television show around. His portrait of West paints a restless man who has already been married and divorced twice, an ambitious man who gave up a successful radio show in Honolulu (and his second wife) when Hollywood called, an actor who wants to be thought of in the same company with Marcello Mastroianni. Batman, Adam West says, "will make it possible for me to do what I want to do the way I want to do it." And that is? "Like be a big fat star."

Lest this sound too serious though, there's a wonderful bit at the beginning of the article that is pure West, speaking in that stiff, breathless staccato full of odd pauses, as campy and self-deprecating as we've come to see him in the years since Batman. The scene: West's dressing room trailer as he prepares for the day's shooting.

"It's hero time," says Adam West lightly, tugging the top of the tights up over the flat of his stomach and starting on the skintight tunic. "In a moment I will step from this humble dwelling and, to the plaudits of the crowd, plummet from a platform fully three and a half feet high."

The chant "We want Batman!" rises in shrill crescendo. "Ah, the adulation!" he continues, undulating like a Girl Scout in a tight girdle. "Oh, I love it, basking in the sincere warm smiles of the little children. What! You say Chief O'Hara isn't working today? Oh, I miss the Chief. The family's disintegrating—Robin off to college, Aunt Harriet drafted and being shipped to Vietnam. Oh, the heartbreak of it all. Here, give me that!"

His dresser hands him the tiny gray skullcap worn beneath the Batman helmet. West places it with exaggerated care. "I wonder if I should go out and bless the crowd? No, perhaps not." He jams the fiberglass-and-nylon helmet down over his ears. "Marvelous bit of haberdashery," he mumbles. "It's hot. The sound bounces. Can't hear. My nose pinches and gives me a cleft palate. Can't see. And I owe it all to that peerless Prince of Trivia, our producer Bill—'Bull'—Dozier, who refuses to supply me with a seeing-eye dog. Now off to give another Academy Award-winning performance."


"Sign my autograph, Batman, please!"

"Later, kids," says the Caped Crusader coolly. "Got to rescue Alfred from the clutches of that infernal scoundrel, The Archer."

"Aw, Batman, you couldn't hurt a flea!" says one.

"Yeah," replies Adam West amiably. "Disillusioning, isn't it?"

And that, my friends, makes this whole blog worth it. TV