Best of Route 66

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Bob Hug, May 23, 2007.

  1. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    Season 4 two cents con'd
    11. "a long way from st. louie" The highlight from this episode might have to be Jessica Walter and her jazz quintet of beautiful women stranded in Toronto engaged in a catfight with five strippers while Grandpa Munster (Al Lewis) runs for cover. But as far as Silly-phant matches go, file this contender under the extreme featherweight class. It has its whimsical charms. There's a twist party in a hotel room. A helicopter blowing the newspapers off five sleeping beauties in a Canadian football stadium. And what has to be a record seven passengers riding in the Corvette for one scene. But that's about it. The only thing that could have saved it would be the sweet irony if the tune Jessica Walter's band struck up at the end was "Misty" (as in "Play Misty for Me").
    One Corvette sagging under the weight of ten bosoms and two bozos.
     
  2. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    12. "come home greta inger gruenschaffen" Also known as 'come back and play another kooky character a few episodes after you played celia brahms, ms. tammy grimes.' Here she's some kind of physical education guru to the Buffalo Chapter of the League of Physical Revelation (bear with me), who's run away from fellow physical disciple Chad Everett to a Vermont ski lodge. Her physical fitness philosophy has something to do with 'think to the muscle.' And that's exactly what Tod and Linc are up to as they rev up the testosterone and chase her around... 'thinking to the muscle.'
    Tod tries to appeal to her aesthetic, and Linc tries to compete with her athletic. Everyone looks like they're having a lot of fun. Wish I could say the same. The story by Joel Carpenter is so thin, I found myself watching the LED clock on my BD player creep inexorably by, and as many times as the characters ran in and out of a helicopter with spinning blades, all I kept thinking of was, 'gee, I hope they don't raise their hands and wave at each other.' Yep, that's how bored I was.
    The only explanation: Carpenter was the public relations agent for the Mt. Snow Lodge in Vermont who okayed and scripted this shameless exhibition of the facilities off season. There's swimming, ice skating, ski lifts, mountain walking, tennis, Octoberfest beer drinking, Japanese steam baths and, right, helicopter rides. Too bad their isn't any real conflict, drama, humor or reason for this episode to exist. "go away, greta."
    One Corvette with no muscle or thought under the hood.
     
  3. Bob Gu

    Bob Gu Supporting Actor

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    Hi Wayne, I thought you and other Route 66 fans might be interested in this:
    Martin Milner and George Maharis, with the Corvette, appeared as guests and commercial spokes-persons for Chevy on a 1961 episode of The Chevy Show on NBC.
    This episode was hosted by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, and Maharis even sings solo, kind of like Sinatra. The episode is an extra on the DVD of the Rogers movie "Springtime in the Sierras" published by a company called Film Chest.
    It's a 59 minute black and white print with original Chevy commercials of a color NBC broadcast, so we miss out on seeing the Corvette in color. I was surprised to see the cross-promotion with Chevy sponsored shows on other networks. In addition to Route 66, the My Three Sons logo was shown, onscreen, and also mentioned as a Chevy sponsored show.
    See the USA in a Chevrolet!
     
  4. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    Thanks, Bob. That would be interesting to check out. It would have been great to see it in color, and for a show from 1961. We didn't even have a color set until 1965.
    Between the sponsor Chevrolet and the hotels that obviously either put up the crews for free or chipped in, this show appears mostly subsidized. It's funny how we resist commercials and skip them through the DVR today, but they were such an integral part of the shows back in those days from Milton Berle's dancing cigarette packs to Efrem Zimbalist Jr. driving a Ford, etc. It was in your face back then, but we've gotten more subliminal. Except of course for the fact that every computer laptop in every show now seems to be an Apple with a glowing logo.
     
  5. Stephen Bowie

    Stephen Bowie Stunt Coordinator

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    "Joel Carpenter" was, in fact, the great Arnpld Manoff, perhaps having an off day.
    The use of Tammy Grimes in two episodes so close together makes me wonder if, in the second, she was a last-minute replacement for someone who dropped out at the last minute. If I'm right, it'd be interesting to dig through the archives and find out who was the original Greta Inger.
     
  6. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    I'd put another name on this script, too, if I was Arnold Manoff. But I do suspect that he was somehow 'prompted' to promote the facilities at the sponsor hotel resort, because I've never seen an episode so vigorously incorporate everything to do at a resort with so thin a justification. And if Tammy was a last minute fill-in, she had to be a real trooper to jump in on all those physical activities. Too bad it wasn't 'Inger' Stevens.
     
  7. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    Season 4 two cents con'd
    13. "93 per cent in smiling" I love kids as much as the next father bamboozled into overpaying his 15 year-old for good grades and simple house chores so he can buy a super-charged liquid-cooled computer gaming rig. But I don't tune in Route 66 to see a story featuring them almost exclusively. In this case, a young brother and sister team who kidnap their baby brother to try and find a better home for him than the one with their loser father quarreling with their submissive mother in a trailer camp outside Niagara, New York.
    If I wanted an "Afternoon Special," I'd get in a time machine and go back to the 70's and watch one on ABC. Or I'd put in the ultimate kid point-of-view classic film from the same time period, "To Kill A Mockingbird." And... oh, nevermind, it's a good script by the ever reliable (and multi-Emmy-winning) Alvin Sargent, the actor kids are terrific, Albert Salmi turns in another solid performance (and does drunk great), and our boys watch from the bleachers drinking obvious Budweisers with the label blocked out with electrical tape. What's not to like? And don't blink or you'll miss a cameo by Edith Bunker (Jean Stapleton).
    Two Corvettes with "Peeping Toms who drive too fast."
     
  8. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    14. "child of a night." Holy Heavy Melodrama (and I mean that in the best possible sense)! Pull over Tennessee Williams, Mr. Silliphant just cruised into Savannah. My jaw is still hanging low. Where in the world did this 48-minute masterpiece come from? The whole things gets off to a fire and rain start with a plane crashing in the woods in the middle of a rainstorm and our boys hearing the final dying words of a man who fled the crash in flames. He had a one-night stand 26 years ago with a waitress in Savannah and she got pregnant and he never called her back or looked her up, and can you give this $38,000 to the kid she had and gave away? Sounds soapy. Plays unbelieveably awesome with actors like Sylvia Sydney and Chester Morris performing as if they were on the Broadway stage on a Saturday night delivering Tony-worthy monologues. Even Glen Corbett gives his best acting moment of the series so far.
    Sixty-sixers, it doesn't get any better than this. You can't believe you just watched a simple television episode from 1963. That you just watched a perfect drama of classic human tragedy played out with champion roadster actors (and yes that's a punk young Daniel Travanti from Hill Street Blues) firing on all cylinders with more poignant, harsh, real, brilliant, gutwrenching lines than you could find in - well, you can't find stuff this raw or eloquent hardly anywhere in this zombie comic world. And some great story twists (though we were expecting the chick scam artist). I'm staggered. And yes, I'm sober. This Stanley had no 'Stella' (Artois, that is). Just a mind-blowing experience of what the art of television can do when it cares.
    Four Corvettes dancing through a morning shower.
     
  9. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    15. "is it true there are poxies at the bottom of landfair lake?" Is this the longest and most arcane title in Route 66 history? Did the 'Drifter' (Geoffrey Horne) from one of my favorite and weird episodes of The Outer Limits ("The Guests") wander into this episode with the same clothing directly from his Actor's Studio class? Is that the longest monologue ever delivered in a Route 66 episode in the fourth act (I clocked it at 14 minutes)? Will Denton's Gas Food and Lodging in Clauson outside Savannah, Georgia, ever get their brand new neon sign up without Horne's slightly looney local ever pulling it down again as a defiant act against civilization outside small towns? How much did Horne slip scriptwriter Alvin Sargeant to write him television's longest and most Emmy-baiting monologue? Why am I still asking questions about this one note one-man band showcase for Horne? When does this little town turn into a wavering brain and disappear with the alien blob that brought it and 'Drifter' along?
    Two Corvettes spinning their wheels.
     
  10. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    16. "like this, it means father... like this - bitter... like this - tiger" I take it back. If you count ellipses, this just might be the longest title. In case you're wondering, they're talking about the Chinese expression FU, which obviously has more than one meaning in Chinese, and none of them are close to what those two letters mean in American. How did we get to Linc Case explaining Chinese? This episode has him encountering a soldier he knew from Vietnam whose act of cowardice cost the lives of two of Linc's friends. But Silliphant is never content to approach a story like this in any conventional sense. And Linc is about to have his Jesus moment in this episode, which is quite a meditation on the real meaning of courage and forgiveness. "You try pulling a man down with hate and the only person you pull down is yourself." We still haven't learned that one, brothers.
    Larry Blyden plays the 'coward' and does a hell of a job. I remember seeing his turn in a Twilight Zone episode and thinking, geez, this guy's a pretty serious actor. Little did I know. The man was a serious cat in theater and won a Tony award. But most of us will just remember him as the breezy game show host on What's My Line? He died at age 49 in a car accident in Morocco. And he was a Marine, which has a poignant irony for this story. I know I use this line a lot, but who else but Stilliphant could be dealing with the subject of PTSD and the 'hell' in Vietnam... in 1963? Listen to Blyden as the character of questionable cowardice describe his pivotal experience there, and you'll hide your face in the mud right along with him. Too bad the Secretary of State at the time McNamara wasn't listening. He didn't make his confession on what a disastrous mistake he made until the 2003 documentary "The Fog of War."
    Three Corvettes saluting.
     
  11. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    Or what to watch while you DVR the NBC Olympic coverage so you can skip all the Progressive Insurance commercials.
    17. "kiss the monster - make him sleep" James Coburn! Is there any actor cooler (with the exception of the 'Cooler King' himself, Steve McQueen)? Even when he's playing the over-protective, emotionally-inert, control-freak brother of another disturbed woman. But Silliphant's women are kooky in an endearing way. Stanley Greenberg's version here is just annoyingly and self-indulgently self-destructive. But I guess that's the point by the time you get to the end of this Minneapolis episode, which is good because I didn't want to dislike Coburn. Notice how he always has the same wardrobe wherever he goes: The crisp shirt with the sleeves casually rolled up. The white pants with the thin black belt. This guy was Esquire style before Esquire had style. In Like Flint. The President's Analyst. And bicycling through Spain as one of the only three prisoners to actually escape in The Great Escape. And then there was that Magnificent Seven knife thing. Raise your hand if you spent some prime time in your youth wanting to BE James Coburn.
    The 'case' of Linc is anything but cool here. He gets hung up on the girl with the big brother problem long enough to discover big brother isn't the problem. And we meet Mrs. Case, his mom, visiting from Texas. Turns out Linc has some serious dad issues. Greenberg gives mom a good Sillphant-esque line that relates to those issues: "It's easier to make war on an enemy than to make peace with yourself." Watch Linc finally make peace with his dad. Damn you, Glen Corbett, you finally made me tear up. I think you even squirted one out yourself. Get back in the Corvette, you earned your passage.
    Three Corvettes, but one's just for Our Man Flint.
     
  12. Hollywoodaholic

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    18. "cries of persons close to one" Then came Michael Parks. I always wanted to know why his acting technique was Mumble 101. I used to think it was a product of the Actors Studio James Dean edition, but maybe he's just punch drunk like the uneducated and wallowing-in-his-own-misery boxer making the circuit with a woman who loves him but whom he barely acknowledges as she follows and picks up the pieces. No one can touch Rod Serling in tales of the messed up boxer category, but Howard Rodman gamely (but lamely) puts his typewriter in the ring. And somehow we just knew Linc was going to end up there, too, filling in to guarantee the payday. What we didn't expect was to see a very young James Farentino (R.I.P., recently) as the other boxer trying to make nice before trying to knock Linc's block off. Buz would have taken both in the first round.
    There's really not too much else to recommend this episode. The moment early on when the Corvette was driving on the beach I could smell the saltwater and knew they had entered my neck of Florida in Daytona. Obviously it's off season, or those Voyager Motel balconeys would have been full of frat boys with kegs falling off. There's a big melee in the boxing ring which is amusing. There's a scene at a very early architecture car hop Steak N' Shake. And there's Parks doing his moping and mumbling thing. Surprisingly, in his more recent appearances (Kevin Smith's "Red State"), he enunciates and speaks quite clearly. It's nice to see he got over that concussion.
    One and a half Corvettes stuck in the sand.
     
  13. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    19. "who in his right mind needs a nice girl?" I must admit I've never seen a hostage situation in a bookmobile before. I'll grant scriptwriter Joel Carpenter that. But this is basically a two person play about the dangerous bum who intrigues the local girl who's never had much excitement in her life (she's a librarian for Poe's sake!). I've only seen that story a hundred times, and perhaps none better than William Holden and Kim Novak in William Inge's "Picnic." Here we have Lee Philips and Lois Smith both doing very admirable acting jobs between the bookshelves, but when you find yourself craning your neck to read the titles on the shelf (there's H. G. Wells!) instead of being swept away with the storyline, you've got trouble in Island City, Daytona Beach.
    Tod and Linc are once again reduced to the Greek Chorus, only popping in to provide a brief respite from the Lee and Lois show. The most disturbing sight in the entire epsidoe is the bum driving the beautiful 1963 Corvette along the beach spraying up seawater, which we all know will corrode that chrome and underbody faster than snowplow salt on an icy Detroit roadway. The ending is entirely predictable not only because of the cliched storyline, but if you know anything about Florida cops' distinctive lack of restraint, anyone in the vicinity better duck fast.
    Two Corvettes rusting in saltwater.
     
  14. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    20. "this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you" St. Augustine. Silliphant. Soupy Sales. We just hit the location, writer, and tone trifecta. The big question coming out of everyone's pie hole has to be, "Is there a pie fight?" Yes there is and you don't have to get one of those green pieces of paper out of your mom's purse or your dad's wallet and send it in to enjoy it. What's more, it's even properly motivated. That's right, it makes complete sense within the scene and the story. And what a story. The kind that would make Billy Wilder light a respectful cigar. Soupy plays a millionaire former Yale classmate of Tod's who collects malingering beautiful women (golddiggers) who need surgery as his hobby, and he pays Linc a thousand dollars to pretend he's Tod's bodyguard to make three such women (Lee Meriwether, included) think Tod is a millionare and shift their targets to him. It's the kind of plot you expect Tony Curtis to trip over a brassiere right into, but here you have Soupy in the same outfit Tony wears (the yachtsman, not the dress) in "Some Like It Hot" doing the honors, and Martin Milner looking like he's having more fun than he's had since... well, probably since there was an epsiode that actually featured him or Glenn Corbett getting in more than a cameo appearance in their own show.
    "I'm just looking for a happy marriage," innocent, non-gold digging Dori tells her scheming matchmaker mother. "Baby, ALL marriages are happy. It's the living together afterward that's impossible," her mother snaps back.
    "There are two types of calamities in this world," Tod tells Linc, "When misfortune happens to you, or when good fortune happens to someone else."
    Billy Wilder's cigar just exploded unexpectantly in his face, and we just had the good fortune to get 46 minutes of television that live up to his standard and put a big smile on ours.
    Three and a half cream pie Corvettes inviting calamity.
     
  15. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    21. "follow the white dove with the broken wing" Poof, we're back to overly serious territory. And the only thing more lame than a dove with a broken wing is this script. Alvin Sargeant has done some good work, but he's not even trying here. A troubled, misfit high school teenager accidentally kills a local cop and holds Link and Tod hostage with the cop's gun for the rest of the episode while a gang of letter sweater jocks hunt him down. Recast this story today and you've got Columbine or Aurora. That's the most dramatic thing to take away from this piece. Cast Lee Kinsolving as the outcast kid and you've got another 20 minutes of soliliquy that is almost interchangeable with the Geoffrey Horne one a few episodes back. No one understands you, we get it. Your assignment is to reread "Catcher in the Rye" and remember that EVERY teenager feels that way.
    There are so many things wrong with this episode besides a pace that would make a slug impatient. Linc is supposed to be a former Green Beret, but he does nothing to disarm the kid when squeezed up against him in the Corvette, yet later tries to disarm him by throwing a cable at him from across a warehouse room. The kid is hiding in a warehouse district of St. Augustine, but flees the jock hoarde by running onto the wide open beach. They'll never spot him there. The hip jazzy 'youth' music is mixed way up in the audio track, but you have to strain to hear any of the dialogue. And I was wondering when we were ever going to see the number one tourist attraction in St. Augustine - the old Spanish Fort. There's a completely pointless scene of the jocks running in and around it searching for the fugitive. Oh well, the Chamber of Commerce is happy. I just wish WE could be with the penultimate episode of this landmark series. Bring back Soupy Sales and plant a pie on it, we're just about done.
    One sad and lonely misunderstood Corvette.
     
  16. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    Season 4 two cents finito
    22-23. "where there's a will, there's a way" End of the road. And who can blame Stirling Silliphant for ending with a light-hearted farce instead of a heavy drama? The man's entitled. A hundred and sixteen episodes later and he probably scripted 75% of them. Potboilers. Mysteries. Slapstick (Buster Keaton!). Monsters (Boris!). Character studies. Tragedies. Broken hearts. Heroin junkies. Killers. The damaged and the damned and the deranged. Disturbed women. Kooky women (we'll always miss you, Vicki). Boozehounds. Hardhats. Trailer trash. Sad sacks. Ex-cons. The poor but noble. The rich unhappy. Dreamers. Mermaids. Americans. We met a lot of them.
    In this episode we meet four siblings in Tampa with different accents hoping to inherit the bulk of fortune from their deceased brother's will. Somewhere around Minneapolis, the brother met a young Tod Stiles and decided that's the guy for his beautiful daughter (Barbara Eden). So if they get married, each of the siblings get $100k, but one of them ends up with $4 million after two weeks and at the discretion of the friend and executor, Chill Wills (always a treat). Roger Carmel (Russian), Patrick O'Neal (English), Alex Viespi (Spanish), and Nina Foch (French) mug it up. There's more ham going around than Octoberfest in the Black Forest. Watch Martin Milner and Glenn Corbett get in on the fun playing nearsighted German investors and Cuban revolutionaries. I think Silliphant just threw in every current 1964 socio-cultural motif he previously left out of the Route 66 stew. The bizarre combination can't possibly deliver a completely satisfying dish, of course, but there are some tasty moments.
    (Eden as Margo): I've never dated a man under 40 before. What could we possibly have to talk about?
    Tod (with a lascivious grin): A man under 40 doesn't need to talk.
    Nina Foch and Chill Wills have a wonderful scene together where her French accent finally reveals a Florida cracker.
    The Corvette almost gets shanghaied to Moscow and fake Muscovite Carmel, upon returning it to Tod exlpains, "Nikita could never be seen in it or he'd be taken for a Capitalist tool. And he'd never let anyone else drive it, anyway."
    Tod marries Barbara Eden and they get ready to head for Houston in the Vette (maybe they'll stop at Cape Canaveral and say hi to Captain Nelson on their way out of Florida). Linc says he'll see them back in Texas. Hey, if that's a spoiler, forgive me that, but it needed to be cleared up.
    And the last shot, appropriately, is Linc walking away from the Corvette as the camera holds on the true star of the show... the gleaming American vessel that gave us a tour of this wonderful country full of fractured, beautiful freaks, dreamers and mermaids. I think I just spotted one on the floor of the Democratic National Convention. You had your shot at marrying one, Tod, but you just didn't believe enough. Oh, well, that amendment probably didn't make the platform, anyway.
    Thanks for indulging me my two cents on this priceless series. I hope you took these critiques as they were intended - a labor of love for a show (and particularly a writer) I totally revere. I went in with a clear eye and an attitude that nostalgia is never enough - the story has to be worthwhile to visit again; life's just too short. And for most of these 116 episodes (particularly the first three seasons), this magnificent vehicle was firing on all eight cylinders.
    Four Corvettes saluting Silliphant's brilliant travelogue through America.
     
  17. hypnohighball

    hypnohighball Stunt Coordinator

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    I enjoyed reading those, thanks for posting them!
     
  18. Stephen Bowie

    Stephen Bowie Stunt Coordinator

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    Indeed, Wayne, your remarks captured the spirit of Silliphant and numbered among the reasons I still drop in here occasionally. Well done.
     
  19. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    Thanks for your comment, John, and thanks Stephen, it means a lot coming from someone who has provided such fascinating and extensive background information on this show for us fans to enjoy.
    I'd also like to throw a shout out to the infamous Bob Hug for starting this Route 66 thread, which I've tried to do my little part in keeping up with the number views on the threads for Mannix and The Fugitive (though we'll never catch Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea for reasons I cannot fathom...) Fathom... get it. Oh, nevermind.
     
  20. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    Just found these columns by Michael Ventura that so perfectly describe the value and meaning of Route 66 , and thought I'd share his (and Stirling Silliphant's) poetic words, which speak to a reason why this show resonated for so many of us... the spirit of restlessness, of questioning, and of adventure.

    http://www.austinchronicle.com/columns/2012-06-01/letters-at-3am-ever-ride-the-waves-in-oklahoma/

    Also this...

    http://www.austinchronicle.com/columns/2012-06-15/letters-at-3am-suppose-i-said-i-was-the-queen-of-spain/

    And this...

    http://www.austinchronicle.com/columns/2012-06-29/letters-at-3am-i-have-heard-the-mermaids-singing/


    Enjoy (for those still restless).
     

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