August 25, 2023

Around the dial

When it comes to classic television, I've long since given up on anything of substance coming from Rolling Stone; its latest is a list of "TV's Worst Decisions." At Comfort TV, David reviews those choices that pertain to our favorite genre, and makes some much-needed recommendations of his own. I might add one of the more egregious moments in TV history: the Heidi Game from 1968. 

At bare-bones e-zine, Jack begins a new chapter in his Hitchcock Project with Alan Gordon's "Very Moral Theft," an affecting sixth-season episode starring Walter Matthau and Betty Field. It's another reminder that Matthau was a very good dramatic actor, and one wonders what kind of a career he would have had had he not goine into more comedic roles.

John takes a break from his X-Files and the American Dream series at Cult TV Blog to look at some of the other programs he's been watching: Monty Python's Flying Circus; Murder, She Wrote; Max Headroom; and The Monkees. I like a man with eclectic tastes in television—probably one reason why we get along well! 

The title of The Avengers episode "How to Murder" seems to portend the answer to a practical question, one I'm sure many of us have wondered about from time to time. Alas, the answer we get from Roger and Mike at The View from the Junkyard suggests that this episode is a below-average one, but we're always free to watch and decide for ourselves.

Travalanche resurrects an unusual effort by Rankin-Bass from 1970: The Mad, Mad, Mad Comedians, which the advertisement describes as "Cartoon recreations of famous comics doing your favorite routines." Animated renditions of famous entertainment personalities are nothing new, but to have an entire hour's worth, with voices by Groucho Marx, George Burns, Jack Benny, George Jessel, Henny Youngman, and Jack E. Leonard, amoung others, is intriguing to say the least.

Did you know that in 1993 NBC planned to resurrect the NBC Mystery Movie, with Raymond Burr as Perry Mason, plus vehicles starring Larry Hagman, Louis Gosset Jr., and Kenny Rogers? You can learn about it in a pair of pieces (1) (2) at Those Were the Days, highlighting the Rogers element, which was called "MacShayne." I wonder if the title was supposed to be a nod to the old Mystery Movie, with McCloud, McMillian, and (briefly) McCoy?

Thankfully, we no longer live in Minnesota, although I still have a fondness for the memories of growng up there. One of those memories was the kids' show Cap'n Ken, which would later morph into Grandpa Ken; while it's not the most famous of the kids' shows that aired back then, it ran from 1960 to 1973, and this piece at Minnesota Kidvid reminds me of what a big part these local programs played in a child's life, and shows what kids are missing today.

Speaking of kids's shows from the past, the Broadcast Archives links to an article at Slate about the 1970s PBS show ZOOM, which at one time had more viewers than Sesame Street. I knew that Zoom was popular, but I had no idea just how popular; this comment was brought to you by the word "surprised."

Martin Grams has a new book out (where does he get the time?)—Clayton Moore and the Legend of the Lone Ranger 1970-1984, written with Terry Salomonson, which focuses on the controversy surround actor Clayton Moore and the making of of the 1981 movie The Legend of the Lone Ranger (which starred Klinton Spilsbury as the Lone Ranger and Twin Peaks' Michael Horse as Tonto). If you thought you knew the background regarding the controversial movie, you might be surprised.

Now here's a story from Andrew at The Lucky Strike Papers about another program I hadn't been much familiar with: Trash or Treasure, which aired on DuMont in 1952-1953 and was, according to Andrew, a progenitor to Antiques Roadshow. (Proving that it really is true that what's old is new again.) There's also a brief sidelight concerning the show's announcer, Bill Wendell, who would go on to work with Kovacs and Letterman. Good stuff. TV  


  1. I guess this shows my age, but I agree totally with your opinion on the Heidi game. This was a horrible decision, yet RS (lmao) thinks that ending Freaks and Geeks was not only worse, but the worst decision of all time.

  2. Thanks, Mitchell! In "Very Moral Theft," Matthau has a serious role but I couldn't help laughing at some of his line deliveries.


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!