June 7, 2024

Around the dial

William Russell died this week, just short of 100 years of age, and with him died one of the last links to the beginnings of Doctor Who. We were introduced to him in the very first episode of Who, airing on November 23, 1963 (albeit delayed from its scheduled start time due to the JFK assassination coverage); he played schoolteacher Ian Chesterton, one of the Doctor's original companions (along with Jacqueline Hill as fellow teacher Barbara Wright and Carole Ann Ford as Susan, the Doctor's granddaughter). Having previously starred in the television series Sir Lancelot (one of the first British imports to American television), it was thought that the young, virile actor could provide the physical action to compliment the older William Hartnell's more cerebral Doctor. He remained on the show for the first two series, and history will record that he was the first person to utter the phrase "Doctor Who." 

We just started rewatching the first season last month, and my wife asked me if he was still living; at that point, he was, and there was something comforting about that, as if the original series was still alive and well. In a sense, he never really left the show; there were references to him throughout the years, he reprised his role as Ian for bridging sequences on a video release of a Hartnell story that was only partially intact; he returned once more for a cameo appearance in 2022 (along with several other former Doctors and companions) in the episode "The Power of the Doctor," aired as part of a celebration commemorating the centenary of the BBC. 

To say that he was fondly remembered by Doctor Who fans is an understatement; I think many of us hold him in the same regard as we do the actors who played the title role. It seemed as if he would go on forever, just like the Doctor, and I suppose that he will, for as long as video continues to exist. Among the many, many tributes on line this week is this typically quirky one from Inner Toob. The finest one, though, is probably the affection with which generations of fans, many of whom weren't even born when Ian Chesterton made his first appearance, continue to have for him. That, I suspect, won't end either.

On the personal side, here are links to my two latest appearances on the Dan Schneider Video Interview. Dan and I discuss Lucille Ball and Mary Tyler Moore, and somehow I was able to stumble through each of them without making a complete fool of myself. I'll have more on what it feels like to be a podcast guest in the near future.

June 1 was National Game Show Day (although I've yet to see the Congressional resolution proclaiming it), and Travalanche commemorated the day with a nifty, comprehensive list of links to all kinds of things game show-related.

The first of two Avengers-related posts comes from The View from the Junkyard, where Roger and Mike match wits with "Invasion of the Earthmen," an episode clearly intended to parody Star Trek, even though that show wouldn't be seen in the UK for another six months.

Keeping with The Avengers, at Cult TV Blog John looks at "The Joker," a Mrs. Peel episode that is actually a remake of the third-series episode "Don't Look Behind You," which featured Mrs. Gale. This wasn't uncommon on The Avengers, so you get the chance to compare and contrast styles.

Martin Grams regales us with some photographs from The Green Hornet television series, which have apparently never been published. The Green Hornet isn't a great series; it never really decided whether to play it straight or camp it up a la Batman, but it was great fun to watch all the same. 

Terence's great blog A Shroud of Thoughts turned 20 this week (!), and to mark the occasion he's linked to the best posts of the past 20 years. I've been at this awhile, but I'm a piker compared to Terence, so let's hope he's up for 20 more years! TV  

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