May 26, 2023

Around the dial

This week I'm starting with an extended quote from my friend John at Cult TV Blog, who makes a point that I think is worth repeatng. 

There is something spectacularly contrary about the cult TV world. The TV stations wipe all their shows (for Reasons) thinking that we won't ever want to watch them again and we spend decades on the internet locating reel to reel off-air recordings and wipe-shaming the BBC into remaking the shows that they made in the first place. We damn well WILL see those shows again even if it's on an odd reel that somehow made its way to Cape Town—it's almost as if the cult TV world *prefers* TV which has been wiped.

He goes on to point out how missing episodes of Doctor Who have been reconstructed, and missing episodes of The Avengers are recreated through the Big Finish audios. I'm sure that if more of this would happen (especially in the United States), at some point, television networks would find they've spent more money on recreations than it would have cost to preserve the shows in the first place. Very interesting! Anyway, the prompt for this meditation is Hancock's Half Hour, a series from 1959 that's benefitted from the desire to put things back the way they were.

At Comfort TV, David has a very nice mention of yours truly and the blog as a preface to an essay that really cuts to the heart of what comfort TV is and why it's so important these days. It is a nice compliment to his most recent book, When Television Brought Us Together (and if you don't have this book, why?), and it reminds us that no matter what else happens, our memories are one thing they can't take away from us. 

The Broadcasting Archives links to A Word from Our Sponsor for a terrific series of graphics on the general topic, "What is the future of television?" I've linked to the first one, but be sure to click on the home page and look at them all—you'll thank me for it. 

And from Garroway at Large, the news we've been waiting for these last few years: Jodie's book Peace: The Wide, Wide World of Dave Garroway, Television's Original Master Communicator is now a reality! We talked about this way back in 2017, and I couldn't be prouder of her!

At Silver Scenes, a link to an article at ReMind magazine on iconic TV houses that are now being demolished. Which leads me back to David's piece earlier—pretty soon, it seems as if all we will be left with are memories. That's why all of us feel it's important to keep the institutional memory of classic TV alive. If we won't do it, who will?

If you read Wednesday's piece, you'll know that I've been adding a fair number of British programs to our viewing schedule, but Cult TV Lounge looks at one that I haven't yet seen: The Professionals, the late 1970s show that provides a very violent (and prophetic?) look at a counter-terrorist squad that pretty much makes its own law.

Martin Grams has a new book out: Maverick: A History of the Television Series, written with Linda Alexander and Steven Thompson. I'll be getting back to that series before too long, but if the book is as spectacular as the picture on the cover, then it ought to be a winner.

At Shadow & Substance, Paul looks at a less-than-memorable episode of The Twilight Zone: the third season comedy "Cavender is Coming," which starred Carol Burnett and was originally intended as a pilot. Serling wasn't happy with it, and penned an elegant apology to Carol, along with a promise that if he got a second chance (which he didn't), he'd make it up to her.

On the occasion of Leslie Uggams's 80th birthday, Travalanche flashes back to her 1969 variety series The Leslie Uggams Show, a quick fill-in for the cancelled Smothers Brothers, and takes a look at her career and influence.

It's time for another look at The Avengers at The View from the Junkyard, and this week Roger and Mike compare notes on "Two's a Crowd," a fourth-season episode that, as Roger says, is something unusual at this point in the series: "a straight-up spy story."

Speaking of The Avengers, here's a nifty site that you should definitely check out: Alan Hayes's The Avengers Declassified. It's a very good looking site, and the information in it is even better! If you're a fan of Steed and Mrs. Peel (or Mrs. Gale, or Tara King, or David Keel, or Venus Smith), you're going to want to spend a lot of time here. And if you're not a fan, who should be!

Finally, I know that some of you don't read the Saturday material until Monday, so for those of you in the United States, have a safe and restful Memorial Day, and remember what the day is all about. TV  


  1. Thanks for an honorific mention! Still holding out for the episode of Adam Adamant Lives with the tube train full of skeletons, to be found.

  2. Mitchell, you'll probably be happy to know that I have your and David's books to keep me company on a long (almost 7 hour) flight to Alaska today. I don't have any excuse to put off reading some great material anymore. :)


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!