November 17, 2023

Around the dial

Xt bare•bones e-zine, Jack's Hitchcock Project leads off this week, with "Safe Conduct," Andrew Solt's first teleplay for the show. It's a Cold War thriller from the first season, starring Claire Trevor, Jacques Bergerac, and Werner Klemperer, and Jack's point about it helping if you know something about the political climate of the time shows how important context can be when it comes to television.

There's a "When I was your age" joke about how for people of a certain age, the TV remote control was their son or daughter getting up and changing the channel for them. In fact, however, the wireless remote control goes back to the mid-1950s, as we can see from a Zenith ad for the Flash-Matic, courtesy of the Broadcast Archives.

John's still in the 1970s at Cult TV Blog, and today he's looking at Special Branch, the domestic espionage series that ran on British television between 1969 and 1974. The show can be viewed as having had two distinct versions, each running for two series and having the same premise, but completely different casts and sets. I've seen episodes from the original version; worth checking out.

At The View from the Junkyard, Mike's review of Star Trek: The Animated Series brings him (and us) to "Mudd's Passion," the third appearance (including the original series) of Harcourt Fenton "Harry" Mudd, the comic relief scoundrel. It's a great episode, but Mike does wonder if it was appropriate for Saturday mornings. If you've seen it, what do you think?

Travalanche pays tribute to Gordon Lightfoot's legendary ballad "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," which has absolutely nothing to do with television, classic or otherwise, but gives me an excuse to talk about Tommy Mischke, a Twin Cities radio host who once interviewed an expert on the wreck by singing all the questions to the tune of the song. Don't believe me? Listen for yourself.

Television's New Frontier: The 1960s moves to the 1962 season of The Bullwinkle Show, one of the funniest, cleverest, and most subversive shows, animated or otherwise, ever to air on television. Perhaps the show had peaked by 1962, which comprised the end of Season 3, all of Season 4, and the beginning of Season 5, but I think it was still going great guns anyway.

Rick Goldschmidt is the official Rankin/Bass historian, and this week he talks about all the problems with the recent Rankin/Bass Christmas Blu-ray and DVD releases, and why you should stay away from them—far away. You have to wonder: just how difficult would it have been to get this right in the first place? And it isn't as if this is the first time something like this has happened.

At A Shroud of Thoughts, Terence pays tribute to Robert Butler, the director responsible for the pilots for both Star Trek, Lois & Clark, and Hill Street Blues, co-created Remington Steele, and directed—well, just about every television show you can think of in a career that stretched from the the 1950s to 2009, including the first episodes of Hogan's Heroes, Batman, Moonlighting, and others. What a career!

And speaking of losses, Ken Squier, the longtime voice of NASCAR on television, died Wednesday night at 88. I've spoken often of "big-game" announcers in sports, and when it comes to auto racing, Squier certainly belongs in that group; his warm voice and good humor, combined with a genuine love of the sport, landed him in the NASCAR Hall of Fame and won a place for him in the hearts of racing fans. As Ryan McGee points out in this tribute at, he was the consummate storyteller in a sport full of great stories. TV  


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!