June 16, 2023

Around the dial

I think we'll start this week with Cult TV Lounge, and a look at the Lost in Space TV tie-in novel written by Dave van Arnam and Ron Archer in 1967, while the show was still on the air. It contains three interrelated stories, and as you'll see, it takes quite a different tone from the series itself.

At The Lucky Strike Papers, my friend Andrew Lee Fielding gives a very nice credit to me by way of mentioning Peace, my friend Jodie's new Dave Garroway biography. If you've not ordered Peace yet, you should. And if you've not read Andrew's wonderful book The Lucky Strike Papers, you should; I reviewed that here.

The emphasis on TV books continues at A Shroud of Thoughts with Terence's review of the book Popeye the Sailor: The 1960s TV Cartoons, by Fred M. Grandenetti. If you're around my age, you'll have fond memories of these cartoons, which often showed up on local kids' shows (at least in my experience), and Mr. Grandenetti makes the case that these cartoons deserve more respect than they've gotten.

At bare-bones e-zine, Jack's Hitchcock Project takes him to the third teleplay from Halsted Welles, the seventh-season episode "Strange Miracle," with David Opatoshu and Miriam Colon. It's a neat little story that has a devilish—or, actually, a quite angelic—twist at the end. I'm looking forward to seeing this one.

Robert celebrates 20 years of his site Television Obscurities this week, and let me take the opportunity to credit his fine work over those 20 years in bringing so much of obscure television to light; I've often consulted it in researching things you read about here, and I never fail to come away from it knowing more than I did beforehand.

At Those Were the Days, a look at the June 15, 1963 issue of TV Guide, and the cover story on the series Combat!, with its two stars, Vic Morrow and Rick Jason, sharing a rare (for that show) lighthearted moment. If you've never watched Combat!, you should; it's one of the best, most intense, dramas of its time—not a show about war as much as it is about men in a war.

It seems as if I'm always focusing on The Avengers over at The View from the Junkyard, so this week I thought I'd link to Roger's look at "Columbo Cries Wolf," the first 1990s episode of the revived series, and one that presents us with a format and a story quite unlike anything we've eseen before. Does it work? That's for you to decide.

Remember the clever puns used on The Flintsones whenever a contemporary figure appeared in Bedrock? David does, and at Comfort TV he recalls one of the best-known and most-loved examples, that of Ann Margrock, alias Ann-Margret, and the sweet lullaby she sings to baby Pebbles. It's the essence of what comfort TV is all about.

At Cult TV Blog, John continues his series on TV episodes related to the circus, with "From Out of the Rain," from the Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood. The episode itself is reminiscent of the 1970s series Saphire and Steel, and while it's not a particularly popular episode of the series, John suggests it's well-worth checking out.

Finally, at the Broadcast Archives, a look at futurist Hugo Gernsbank (afther whom the science fiction Hugos are named) displaying, among other things, what might be the world's first portable television set, called "teleyeglasses"—so small that you actually wear it. Talk about total immersion!  TV  


  1. About that Lost In Space tie-in novel:
    I've been looking things up (my favorite pastime).
    This novel is based on an early episode from Season One, "The Hungry Sea", which was cobbled together from a part of the pilot film (by one writer) and a revision that incorporated Dr. Smith, who was an added starter (by another writer).
    The two writers who did the novelization apparently didn't work together; one guy had the pilot script, while the second guy had the revision, and had to somehow blend the two (#2 used a pseudonym).
    As to why the book was published somewhat late in the Lost In Space run: most likely, this was office politics (20th-Fox TV, Pyramid Books, or both; things like this happened a lot in those days).
    Irwin Allen was still trying to decide whether to keep Dr. Smith villainous or make him comic relief; this figured in the tone changes in the show you're referring to - and most likely, Writer #2 had no direct say in any of this (paperback tie-ins were always done for hire back then).
    It's a lot more complicated than I'm making it here (I wasn't a Lost In Space fan myself, so much of what I've written here is semi-educated guesswork), and almost everybody involved directly is long gone, so there you are ...


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