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  


  1. Semi-irrelevant:
    I just listened to Eventually Supertrain #121.

    Permit me to clarify your story about Tommy Noonan.

    One of Joanne Dru's husbands was the great movie heavy John Ireland - who was the older half-brother of Tommy Noonan.
    It was at the Ireland/Dru wedding that Noonan first met Dru's brother, Pierre LaCock, aka Peter Marshall; the two men hit it off, became performing partners, and the rest was almost history ...
    ... you see, there were a bunch of two-man comedy teams in the wake of Martin & Lewis, and there was a pretty large shuffle that Noonan & Marshall got lost in.
    They did bits in a bunch of B-movies, night clubs and TV variety shows, and even managed a movie deal for themselves, which went nowhere; ultimately they split professionally, but remained friends.
    Tommy Noonan went solo as an actor: on Perry Mason, he played the title role in "The Case Of The Crying Comedian" - the defendant of the week (he was pretty good in this).
    One of Noonan's last roles before his death was on Batman, playing an insulting phone-in talk show host patterned after Joe Pyne. (Footnote available on request.)

    By the way, the reason I'm sending this to you directly is because for unknown reasons, Dan Budnic has apparently barred me from his site.
    At least, Dan has never seen fit to explain to me why he doesn't put up comments that I send him; Last time, I identified the mortician/cosmetologist from "Mr. R.I.N.G." on Kolchak, apparently to no avail.
    Obviously, there's been a misunderstanding of some sort, and I would like to straighten it out, but one-way traffic is hard to work around in these parts ...

    Anyway, that's why you're getting this instead of Dan; if Ellery Queen should come up again, you might pass along what I wrote to you a few weeks back (it seems to be a false alarm, but maybe you each might get an essay out of it somewhere down the line ...).


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!