January 19, 2024

Around the dial

We begin this week at The Guardian, where David Chase says that with the introduction of commercials to formerly commercial-free streaming services, the "era of complex and ambitious TV is over." I'm of two minds about this, since I'm sure many of my favorite programs from the era of classic television would fall outside of Chase's definition of "quality"; nonetheless, it's hard not to agree with his assessment, at least as it's applied to today's television. The money quote: "That means above all that TV shows, as they always have, will be directed towards advertising executives and not toward the public. You can thus expect the same tired old action driven sludge procedurals like NCIS or Blue Bloods and mindless situation comedies starring Tim Allen." I don't think that's a fair criticism of Tim Allen (although I've never been a fan of his shows per se, or any contemporary sitcoms for that matter), but even the quality shows of the Golden Age had to fight interference by advertisers and network executives, so what goes around, comes around.

If you're a fan of MST3K, you know what it's like when Tom Servo gets so overwhelmed by something that his head explodes? That's kind of the state that John finds himself in at Cult TV Blog, in trying to reconcile his Prisoner theory that Number 6 is a plant with the most recent episode he looks at, "The Schizoid Man." Read along and see what you think.

At Comfort TV, David continues his series on his 50 favorite classic TV characters with Lindsay Wagner as Jaime Sommers, the Bionic Woman. An Emmy winner for Outstanding Lead Actress, her portrayal of a superhero shines on multiple levels, making her a popular character during the show's lifetime and warmly remembered in the years since.

The View from the Junkyard returns to the world of The Avengers, as Roger and Mike compare notes on "Dead Man's Treasure," an adventure that combines murder and auto racing in a most charming, entertaining way. Think Wacky Races or The Great Race, and add the patented Avengers twist, and—well, you're on the way. 

It doesn't have anything to do with television—not really, anyway—but Andrew's piece at The Lucky Strike Papers on how certain dates just stand out in our memories strikes home with me. They can be happy memories (your birthday, or, in my case, a date like December 24), or they can be less so (November 22), but they become shorthand for something of great importance to us.

Travalanche pays tribute to Joyce Randolph, the last surviving member (by 20 years!) of the original Honeymooners cast, who died last week aged 99. Although she played other roles after Trixie Norton, fans always remembered her; her death means that those living from the Golden Age continue to grow smaller and smaller.

At A Shroud of Thoughts, Terence looks back on the 50th anniversary of Happy Days, which premiered on ABC in 1974. Now, you'll recall that this is when I was exiled in the World's Worst Town™, so I wasn't there, so to speak, at the start; although I was always aware of it, it was never a show that I got into, but there's no question it's a part of television history. TV  

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