December 8, 2023

Around the dial

Norman Lear died this week, aged 101, with a resume that includes All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Maude, Sanford and Son, Mary Hartman, One Day at a Time, and others. That's more than enough to ensure his place in television history, and at A Shroud of Thoughts, Terence looks back on his career.

At Cult TV Blog, John takes on another Brit series that I've actually seen: Sapphire and Steel, starring Joanna Lumley and David McCallum as, what? Supernatural investigators, I suppose, although it's a little to explain without having seen it. Anyway, this week it's Assignment 6 Part 1, and for once even the investigators seem puzzled about why they're there.

Sticking with British TV, Cult TV Lounge (not to be confused with the above) continues to explore the color (colour?) episodes of The Saint. Did you find yourself having a preference for the series in black-and-white, or are you just fine with it moving into the color era? Check out some of these episodes.

Maddy celebrates the first anniversary of Classic Film and TV Corner with an update on her health and her latest projects; be sure to keep this blog on your reading list.

At Reelweegiemidget, it's a summary of a blogathon I'd have enjoyed being part of, but I just didn't have the time: a tribute to the films of Hammer and Amicus, featuring  some fun horror flicks, with stars like Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Judy Matheson, Charles Gray, Joan Collins and Britt Ekland. I've linked to the first installment, but be sure to check out the links running through the week.

Paul returns to NBC's 1970s Best Seller series at Drunk TV, with the third of the miniseries to be shown under the umbrella title: Seventh Avenue, starring Steven Keats and a cast of dozens. It's a hard-to-find series; find out from Paul whether or not the effort to track it down was worth it.

One of Roger's complaints in his Avengers reviews at The View from the Junkyard is that the writers often prioritize silliness over the plot itself. Such is not the case in this week's episode, "Something Nasty in the Nursery," with Steed and Peel and killer nannies and hypnosis; who could ask for more?

The subject of Les Crane came up in my most recent podcast, and so it's appropriate to look at this post from Travalenche on the man whose star shone brightly momentarily with his eponymous late-night talk show, and should be better-remembered today than he is.

And speaking of which, my latest video conversation with Dan Schneider is now available; we're talking about the television of my favorite decade, the fabulous and terrible Sixties; let me know what you think! TV  


  1. Perhaps its a little premature to say anything negative about Norman Lear, and I say this as a rather progressive liberal on many issues. Loved All in the Family and Sanford and Son when I was young, but I find as I age, I really have no desire to watch his sitcoms anymore.
    Having grown up in a dysfunctional household with lots of screaming, fighting and insults, I can tell you from firsthand experience there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING funny about it. I realize conflict is an element in all comedies, but Lear's comedies now seem loud, cruel and preachy.
    And I really think his influence on popular culture was a double-edged sword. We all get he wanted to lampoon racism, yet to this day many bigots view Archie Bunker as a hero. Oddly the Brits had the same problem Alf Garrett, the British Archie.
    He wanted to educate his audiences on the issues of day. But did he handle those issues with respect and seriousness? No, he made proclamations and shouted down opposing opinions.
    Nobody is ever convinced of anything through arguments, they only dig in deeper and find new reasons for their opinions, no matter how irrational. All one needs do is look at our current societal divide to see that.
    There is a difference between education and agitation.

    1. Don't think it's premature at all, or inappropriate. I think you can acknowledge the impact he made on television without, perforce, being a fan of his shows. I think you make some good points.

    2. That's why I said it was a double-edged sword.
      He brought to TV comedy more adult topics, opening the gate as it were. But it also ushered in an era (which we are still in) of sophomoric comedy. He wanted to see how far he could push the envelope.
      In the clip show during the seventh (?) season he replayed the scene and the controversy surrounding an episode in which Archie changes Joey's diaper (his little winky was showing). He freeze-framed the scene and said, paraphrasing from memory, "that's what it's all about, right there." So, his idea of a great leap forward is the ability to show a penis on TV?
      Don't get me wrong, All in the Family is an important part of TV history. Many of the episodes are beautifully written and performed. But it was the talents of Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapelton that made it that way.
      Not Norman Lear.


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