June 28, 2024

Around the dial

You know how some videos have warnings at the beginning advising viewers that they contain flashing lights or loud noises, or something else that might trigger a seizure or some other reaction? I probably need to have a similar warning letting readers know that "The following article contains political asides that might cause an adverse reaction in readers holding a contrary viewpoint." 

With the exception of my "Descent Into Hell" series, I rarely dip into ideological politics, but as the author, editor, and all-around master of this blog, I reserve the right to express an opinion now and then. I don't do it to antagonize; as a long-time politico, I've always enjoyed discussing politics, especially with those of the opposite persuasion. It's a cliché to say that some of my best friends are on the opposite side politically, but I love a good discussion, and I have great respect for those who feel the same way, no matter which side they support. (Some of them are fellow classic TV bloggers, which just goes to show that love for good television overcomes all.)

Now, for the reason I'm bringing all this up. If you read the comments, you're probably aware that I got one last Friday from someone styling him/herself as "Guardian" challenging me to define "woke," a word I'd used in relation to Doctor Who. It was a provocative question, far more provocative than it would appear, because some time before, Guardian had excoriated me for having opinions that were allegedly "MAGA." I told him (let's assume he's male, to save time) that the ironic thing about this is that I'm not even a supporter of Donald Trump. I'm not a supporter of Joe Biden either; make of that what you will. 

At any rate, this leads me to an article by Pedro Gonzalez at Chronicles on X's new animated sitcom, The New Norm Show, billed as the first anti-woke sitcom, and why anti-woke comedy isn't funny. I link to this not to prove a political point, but to demonstrate why so many of us have such an affinity for vintage television shows: politics, regardless of what side of the aisle it comes from, is rarely a good match with entertainment.

On a more conventional note, Jack's Hitchcock Project at barebones e-zine turns to the tenth-season episode "The Trap," the only Hitchcock contribution from Lee Kalcheim. It's an excellent example of how someone can successfully adapt a six-page short story into a one-hour teleplay, and it's worth watching.

At Garroway at Large, Jodie shares her latest addition to her ever-expanding Garroway library: the book Todaymanship, or: The Art of Watching Garroway Between 7 and 9 a.m., a slim volume, complete with illustrations, written to appeal to potential advertisers. It looks like a fun little gem; perhaps when we're done with the garden, I'll have a little disposable income to pick up some goodies like this.

Hal is back with another excursion into Love That Bob! at The Horn Section; this time, it's the 1958 episode "Bob Digs Rock n' Roll," in which Chuck (Dwayne Hickman) finds, to his misfortune, that rock is what makes the girls go wild.

John looks at the first series of the police drama Whitechapel at Cult TV Blog. A drama rather than simply a "procedural," the 2009 series investigates a single crime (a Jack the Ripper copycat) against the background of relationships among the relationships of the investigating officers.

At Comfort TV, David once again reminds us of the importance of viewing classic television programs in their proper context rather than applying today's shifting standards. Case in point: Sally Field's 1960s sitcom Gidget, and the idea that the older men Gidget is often interested in are just "creepy" predators. Speaking as someone who's often worn the badge of "cynic," it's unfortunate how people can apply this cynicism and suspicion to shows that meant to suggest no such thing.

Gill wraps up a delightful two-part interview with Morgan Brittany, who played Katherine Wentworth on Dallas, at Realweegiemidget. It's a fun and insightful look at her memories of working on the famed soap. 

As you know, Perry Mason has always been among my favorites, so I greatly enjoyed Garry Berman's look at the show's "entertaining imperfections." He's right on all counts; sometimes these traits, seen in virtually every episode, can be irritating, but they're almost always entertaining.

Finally, at A Shroud of Thoughts, Terence reports on the decision by Paramount to close the MTV News website and erase more than 30 years worth of material. I've commented on this in the past, and I'll do so again here: does any institution treat its history more carelessly than television? I think I've demonstrated many times the vital role that television plays in understanding and interpreting American history over the past 75 or so years, and yet the industry itself seems not to know, or not to care, about it. To paraphrase someone or another, television is much too important to be left to the people running it. TV  


  1. The ability to tick off both sides of the current political tribes is more common than not.

  2. On a side note, I can now comment again.

  3. The article on the new "anti-woke" comedy only reinforces what I have repeatedly pointed out about modern humor.
    Somebody recently said, "all comedy involves suffering". That's not true.
    The essence of humor is joy.
    The problem is modern comedy has forgotten that. Since the 1970s, starting with Norman Lear, American "comedy" can only be characterized by one word: anger. David's mention on his Comfort TV blog of the reaction to an old 60s sitcom illustrates that. Our society lacks joy. Instead, we have sorrow. Instead of comfort, we have suffering. Instead of happiness, we have anger. Gone are the optimistic comedies of an earlier era, replaced by pessimism and darkness.
    I find as I get older, what I desire is joy, not sorrow or suffering. I would rather wander across the pond with Roy Clarke's gentle comedies. Last of the Summer Wine (sort of England's answer to Mayberry) being the first. I would rather look North to Canada and Steve Smith's Red Green Show.
    I've never been a fan of the Andy Griffith Show, but I know why people like it.
    There is an underlying joy in all these shows.
    I have found no modern equivalent in the US. And sadly, the UK and Canada have gone the same route.
    Humor, like joy, has to come from within.
    What you laugh at reveals what is truly inside you.

  4. Thanks, Mitchell! Happy 4th of July!

  5. Thanks for sharing, and looking forward to you joining my blogathon too!


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!