November 24, 2023

Around the dial

Wednesday was the 60th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and Garry Berman tells us about the effect it had on the world of comedy: the behind-the-scenes story of the British satire series That Was the Week That Was, and the scramble to prepare a tribute to JFK for the November 23 show; Neil Simon making a pitch for two of his comedies; and Vaughn Meader's career.

There were all sorts of unexpected television ramifications from that day, and the Broadcast Archives links to a piece by Michael Hayde on an "unfortunate" listing in TV Guide for December 4: a live program called "The Kennedy Awards," sponsored by the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, at which JFK was scheduled to appear. I'd not heard of this one before; it's a show that never took place.

Long before the politicians of the day, the Kennedys were intertwined with Hollywood, thanks to papa Joe's involvement. Find out more about that, as well as the Hollywood connections of the future president, in Maddy's interesting piece at Classic Film and TV Corner. 

At Drunk TV, Paul does exactly the kind of thing I love to do: look back at past holidays and see what was on TV. In this case, it's Thanksgiving 1971, and I can identify with it: studying the listings to plan out your day's viewing, watching the parades (which often seemed a vague letdown), the special movies and cartoons (with, yes, too many songs), and—for me, at least—the football, including one of the greatest college football games ever played. Not like that anymore, but we still have the memories.

Nothing to do with TV, but I agree 100%: at A Shroud of Thoughts, Terence opines on why it's too soon for Christmas, and why Christmas doesn't end on December 25, but is just getting started. As he says, "Everything has its own season. I want to celebrate Halloween, the Day of the Dead, and Thanksgiving before I get to Christmas."

However, television networks don't happen to see things that way; they've got their holiday programming all queued up, and Joanna is here, or at least at Christmas TV History, with a handy guide to where and when many of those shows and movies can be seen. I'll be the first to say many of these are not my cup of tea, but who am I to play Scrooge at this time of year? Tune in next Wednesday, and you'll find out.

At Comfort TV, David's journey through 1970s TV continues with Tuesday night, 1973. It's a night of favorites old and new: NBC's Police Story being the new, while ABC's Marcus Welby, M.D. and CBS's Maude and Hawaii Five-O being the old. A good night for television; even Hawkins, the single-season series starring Jimmy Stewart, wasn't bad. 

John takes a pause from his own travels through the '70s at Cult TV Blog to bring us The Organisation, ITV's 2005-06 supernatural series that takes the tropes of the classic Victorian ghost story and brings them to our time, along with a meditation on life and death and the afterlife. I like that kind of ambition in a series.

Hopefully today finds all of you still basking in the glow of a most happy Thanksgiving, and that if you dared to go out on Black Friday (is that still a thing in the stores, or is it all done online now?) you found everything you were looking for and returned safe and sound. TV  


  1. The 1971 Thanksgiving Drunk TV piece doesn't even mention the Nebraska-Oklahoma game. That seems like a glaring omission.

    1. I think he'd mentioned somewhere that there was no interest in football in the family (or something like that), so they didn't tune into any of the games. But you're right - that game's absolutely the first thing I think of when you bring up Thanksgiving 1971. There'll probably never be anything like it again.

    2. I wrote in the review, televised sports played no part in my television upbringing. Its not a "glaring omission" because I wasnt writing about your day watching TV then, or Mitch's day, or the nation as a whole. Just me. I dont care if the moon landing was that day--I was watching cartoons and movies.

    3. I can dig just what you're saying - many of the shows I watch today, shows from my youth like, say, "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." - are ones I missed when I was a kid, because I was always watching some football or baseball game, or something like that. You probably had a more well-rounded upbringing than I did! ;)


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!