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JohnHopper

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But I didn't know they stopped location shooting at some point. Is it at the very start of season 3? If so, then I probably don't need to get that season.

Season 3 features original locations and good episodes: see “Home to Judgment”.
 

Jeff Flugel

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But I didn't know they stopped location shooting at some point. Is it at the very start of season 3? If so, then I probably don't need to get that season.
There is plenty of location shooting in season 3 of I Spy...just not as much of the foreign variety as the producers wanted. For the first block of episodes produced for S3, they filmed in Marrakesh, Morocco for the first three episodes, then eight more were shot in Greece. Series producer Sheldon Leonard and production manager Leon Chooluck tried to shoot some episodes in China, but were turned down flat by the Chinese government. They then visited Russia and even began to scout some locations there, but governmental interference made the situation untenable, and so they returned to California for the next production block, but these episodes still feature extensive location filming, including around Lake Arrowhead, San Francisco, and of course, Los Angeles. For the final block of episodes, the production returned to Mexico for the last eight episodes, including a few shot in Acapulco. (Info courtesy of I Spy: A History and Episode Guide to the Groundbreaking Television Series, by Marc Cushman and Linda J. LaRosa.)

The show does, as you say, mix this great on-location footage with interiors shot back on soundstages, which doesn't always mesh, but considering the standards of TV production of the time, I Spy (like Route 66) was way ahead of the game when it came to actually filming where the episode stories are set. So I'd say you're safe buying S3. It also has its share of good-to-great episodes, including "Home to Judgment" (or as I like to call it, "I Spy does Straw Dogs), written by Robert Culp. That one's a standout, for sure.
 
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Desslar

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Season 3 features original locations and good episodes: see “Home to Judgment”.

There is plenty of location shooting in season 3 of I Spy...just not as much of the foreign variety as the producers wanted. For the first block of episodes produced for S3, they filmed in Marrakesh, Morocco for the first three episodes, then eight more were shot in Greece. Series producer Sheldon Leonard and production manager Leon Chooluck tried to shoot some episodes in China, but were turned down flat by the Chinese government. They then visited Russia and even began to scout some locations there, but governmental interference made the situation untenable, and so they returned to California for the next production block, but these episodes still feature extensive location filming, including around Lake Arrowhead, San Francisco, and of course, Los Angeles. For the final block of episodes, the production returned to Mexico for the last eight episodes, including a few shot in Acapulco. (Info courtesy of I Spy: A History and Episode Guide to the Groundbreaking Television Series, by Marc Cushman and Linda J. LaRosa.)

The show does, as you say, mix this great on-location footage with interiors shot back on soundstages, which doesn't always mesh, but considering the standards of TV production of the time, I Spy (like Route 66) was way ahead of the game when it came to actually filming where the episode stories are set. So I'd say you're safe buying S3. It also has its share of good-to-great episodes, including "Home to Judgment" (or as I like to call it, "I Spy does Straw Dogs), written by Robert Culp. That one's a standout, for sure.

Thanks for the background. I will hunt for season 3 as well then. You're right, the location shooting for Route 66 and I Spy was not only ahead of tis time, I'm not sure it's been matched since then. I can't think of any shows after that (except for the mid-70s trucking show Movin' On) that regularly shot in new cities, especially overseas. I suppose Hart to Hart did it occasionally.

I would also mention Naked City, which I think is still the reigning heavyweight champion of location shooting. They not only shot ALL over New York City, but, at least as far as I could tell from season 1, they rarely used sets. Pretty much everything was shot exactly where the story was unfolding. It's extremely impressive.
 
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jayembee

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Never could get into I love Lucy
As a kid, I loved it. Very wacky, very funny. And, of course, it was always promoted as if every episode was at the level of the chocolate factory one. When it came out on DVD, I'd bought a few of the season sets before getting around to watching it, and found that it wasn't really as good as I remembered it. A little of it goes a long way.
 

Desslar

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As a kid, I loved it. Very wacky, very funny. And, of course, it was always promoted as if every episode was at the level of the chocolate factory one. When it came out on DVD, I'd bought a few of the season sets before getting around to watching it, and found that it wasn't really as good as I remembered it. A little of it goes a long way.
As a kid, I had a negative impression of I Love Lucy without ever really having seen it. It would air at 9:00 AM on the local UHF station, right after the morning cartoon block ended. In my mind it had 3 strikes against it:
1) Its start meant the end of cartoons for the morning
2) The intro music and black and white presentation made it seem painfully ancient
3) The title (and again music) led me to believe it was some kind of saccharine soap opera

So I would quickly change the channel before the intro ended.

I finally got around to watching a few episodes in the streaming era, and it's not bad. Don't like it as much as The Honeymooners, but I guess it would be one of the better 50s comedies? Not really sure what are considered to be the best of the best 50s comedy shows.
 

jayembee

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As a kid, I had a negative impression of I Love Lucy without ever really having seen it. It would air at 9:00 AM on the local UHF station, right after the morning cartoon block ended. In my mind it had 3 strikes against it:
1) Its start meant the end of cartoons for the morning
2) The intro music and black and white presentation made it seem painfully ancient
3) The title (and again music) led me to believe it was some kind of saccharine soap opera

So I would quickly change the channel before the intro ended.

I finally got around to watching a few episodes in the streaming era, and it's not bad. Don't like it as much as The Honeymooners, but I guess it would be one of the better 50s comedies? Not really sure what are considered to be the best of the best 50s comedy shows.
I suppose it depends on when one was a kid. I was born in 1953, so I was a bit too young to see it when it first aired, but I saw reruns of it constantly growing up.

I don't recall seeing too many 50s sitcoms; I'm more familiar with the 60s ones. The Honeymooners still holds up for me. Second to that for me would be The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show. Third would probably be Life of Riley, though it's been ages since I've seen it, so I can't really judge how well it holds up. And that's the William Bendix version; I've still never seen any episodes from the Jackie Gleason version. And then there's The Amos 'n' Andy Show, which I really enjoyed as a kid. I have about a couple dozen episodes from illicit sources. It's been a while since I've watched them. It's not quite as good as I remembered it, but it's not awful, either (and doesn't deserve the baggage it's saddled with).

There were a number of other 50s sitcoms I watched as a kid, like Our Miss Brooks and The Real McCoys that I enjoyed back in the day, but I've never felt a great desire to revisit them. For one, there's just too many things to watch as it is, and for two, as I've gotten older, I've become more focused on dramas than sitcoms.
 

TJPC

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I watched those plus "I Married Joan" and "My Little Margie". I completely ODed on Westerns and "Combat" type shows however. They were on every channel, and my father loved them and watched them all, along with anything having to do with WW II. I started with him, but can't stomach them today at all. Any excerpt on TV has me running for the remote.
 

Flashgear

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As for The FBI, I wonder if anyone has watched the entire run and can recommend the best season (s). The few episodes I have seen have been confined to conversations on bland sets with blander acting. That's not too surprising for the early seasons in the mid-60s when many shows were like that, but I wonder if they later upped their game to compete with the action and exterior shooting of rivals like Hawaii Five-O and Mannix.
The FBI is an expensive series to collect in the pricey Warner Archive DVD sets. So, I wouldn't blame anybody for that hesitation. I have seasons one to eight so far, and will pick up the final season soon. I've surprised myself, as I thought I'd stop at season four, but every season (usually of 26 hour episodes) features about 3 to 4 absolutely crackerjack action episodes featuring eye-popping stunts and chase scenes all over L.A., Long Beach, Ventura, Palm Springs, Augua Dulce, Apple Valley, Lone Pine, San Bernardino National Forrest, Lake Tahoe, etc., I just watched an episode in season three filmed at the pretty tourist town of Julian California (The Legend of John Rim, with Tom Skerritt, Wayne Rogers and Katherine Justice)...another with Carol Lynley and Peter Duel with a great chase scene at Long Beach performing arts center, another action-packed chase episode with Henry Silva and Lynda Day at UCLA medical center...And you can't beat the line-up of superb QM guest stars throughout the whole series! Of course, I have an appreciation for good ol' Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as well, here of course playing a buttoned-down G-Man and quite a departure from the freedom he had as 'Stu Bailey' in the enjoyable 77 Sunset Strip. Yes, the show is formulaic, but a lot of our favorite shows are likewise! If you're looking for just one affordable season, I might suggest season three. But you really can't go wrong with any of them. Luckily, most of the QM catalogue, with the immortal Fugitive foremost among them, has been released commercially on DVD.
FBI 8.JPG

FBI 77.JPG

FBI 88.JPG

FBI 100.JPG

I would also mention Naked City, which I think is still the reigning heavyweight champion of location shooting. They not only shot ALL over New York City, but, at least as far as I could tell from season 1, they rarely used sets. Pretty much everything was shot exactly where the story was unfolding. It's extremely impressive.
Naked City, like it's sister show Route 66, can't be beat for fearless location filming...on top of the Queensboro bridge, the roof of Riverside Church overlooking Grant's Tomb, the Execution Rocks lighthouse, the Bronx overlooking Yankee Stadium outfield, Staten Island, Governor's Island...they filmed at all those places and many more!

I took these screen caps of James Shigeta on top of the Queensboro bridge for Naked City season three's The Contract...
Contract 9.JPG

Contract 14.JPG

Contract 23.JPG
 
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JohnHopper

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And now, after Mission: Impossible—that I adore—, let’s focus on another series produced at Desilu.

Star Trek
I discovered that show on re-run in the late 1982 and really didn’t like it because it was flat, uneven, cheap, camp, hip 60’s and very talky and lacked of action. I associated that show as actor delivering endless speeches or behaving as stage actors. I tended to skip it. I should have appreciated it but the lack of means made it limited and static. Back then, I was a diehard Space: 1999 member which had a strong cinematic structure.

I re-discovered it in the late 80’s and decided to watch it seriously and entirely and I realized there used to be two unsold pilots before that I found interesting. Then I got interested in the leading troika and the first season in particular but still some scripts didn’t hold up well but I watched it for the 60’s flavor as a fantasy. Anyway, I noticed some fine episodes here and there. Oddly enough, Star Trek and U.F.O. were stamped with that heavy Pop music tapestry. I also revisited Logan’s Run that had that Star Trek production values (sets, costumes, sfx).

STAR TREK as Mission Impossible


STAR TREK - The City On The Edge Of Forever [Mission Impossible Intro] SE01-EP28
 

ScottRE

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And now, after Mission: Impossible—that I adore—, let’s focus on another series produced at Desilu.

Star Trek
I discovered that show on re-run in the late 1982 and really didn’t like it because it was flat, uneven, cheap, camp, hip 60’s and very talky and lacked of action. I associated that show as actor delivering endless speeches or behaving as stage actors. I tended to skip it. I should have appreciated it but the lack of means made it limited and static.
As a lifelong Trek fan, my mouth is hanging open. I can only imagine your caught it during a run of the third season where the seris could be exactly those things. In the first two seasons they really did make it a point to have most of the episodes an action adventure SF show. As a kid, I found it thrilling, which is why I stuck with it for 50 years and counting.

What's funny is that you said you were a die hard Space:1999 fan (as am I). The first year of that show is very talky and low velocity. It does have incredible visuals, but they only did action seldomly until the second year.
 
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Sega

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Now that's my problem show. Several times I've had friends try to sit me down and watch (classic) Doctor Who and it just never did anything for me. I'd like to say it was the cheesy effects/production, but there was another BBC series from roughly the same time, Moonbase 3, which has pretty much the same level of effects, and I love that. The 2005 revival I ignored until I got caught by Torchwood, and ended up getting sucked into DW. Still can't get into the classic show, though. My wife, though, is a big fan -- Pertwee is her favorite classic Doctor.
I have Space 1999 on Blu-Ray. Well worth a watch.
Got it on Blu-Ray. With a snow globe. From Shout.
 

Sega

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Got it on Blu-Ray. With a snow globe. From Shout.
I went way over on things. Started with the VHS Tapes.
Have all kinds of them still. And two players. Then went with the LaserDisc.
Still have all kinds of them. And two players. Then came the DVD's/Blu-Rays. Have all kinds of them. (4) players.
And (2) (4K) players. With Her, the Dogs. And all this stuff.
I just don't know what's next?
 

Desslar

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I don't recall seeing too many 50s sitcoms; I'm more familiar with the 60s ones. The Honeymooners still holds up for me. Second to that for me would be The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show. Third would probably be Life of Riley, though it's been ages since I've seen it, so I can't really judge how well it holds up. And that's the William Bendix version; I've still never seen any episodes from the Jackie Gleason version. And then there's The Amos 'n' Andy Show, which I really enjoyed as a kid. I have about a couple dozen episodes from illicit sources. It's been a while since I've watched them. It's not quite as good as I remembered it, but it's not awful, either (and doesn't deserve the baggage it's saddled with).

There were a number of other 50s sitcoms I watched as a kid, like Our Miss Brooks and The Real McCoys that I enjoyed back in the day, but I've never felt a great desire to revisit them. For one, there's just too many things to watch as it is, and for two, as I've gotten older, I've become more focused on dramas than sitcoms.

Thanks! My knowledge of 50s-early 60s sitcoms is woefully weak. I do really like The Honeymooners, and saw a couple episodes of I Love Lucy and Car 54, Where Are You? that were kinda funny, but that's about all I've got. I have a big soft spot for Leave it to Beaver because it was on a lot in syndication when I was a kid, but I never thought it was really laugh out loud funny.


The FBI is an expensive series to collect in the pricey Warner Archive DVD sets. So, I wouldn't blame anybody for that hesitation. I have seasons one to eight so far, and will pick up the final season soon. I've surprised myself, as I thought I'd stop at season four, but every season (usually of 26 hour episodes) features about 3 to 4 absolutely crackerjack action episodes featuring eye-popping stunts and chase scenes all over L.A., Long Beach, Ventura, Palm Springs, Augua Dulce, Apple Valley, Lone Pine, San Bernardino National Forrest, Lake Tahoe, etc., I just watched an episode in season three filmed at the pretty tourist town of Julian California (The Legend of John Rim, with Tom Skerritt, Wayne Rogers and Katherine Justice)...another with Carol Lynley and Peter Duel with a great chase scene at Long Beach performing arts center, another action-packed chase episode with Henry Silva and Lynda Day at UCLA medical center...And you can't beat the line-up of superb QM guest stars throughout the whole series! Of course, I have an appreciation for good ol' Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as well, here of course playing a buttoned-down G-Man and quite a departure from the freedom he had as 'Stu Bailey' in the enjoyable 77 Sunset Strip. Yes, the show is formulaic, but a lot of our favorite shows are likewise! If you're looking for just one affordable season, I might suggest season three. But you really can't go wrong with any of them. Luckily, most of the QM catalogue, with the immortal Fugitive foremost among them, has been released commercially on DVD.

Naked City, like it's sister show Route 66, can't be beat for fearless location filming...on top of the Queensboro bridge, the roof of Riverside Church overlooking Grant's Tomb, the Execution Rocks lighthouse, the Bronx overlooking Yankee Stadium outfield, Staten Island, Governor's Island...they filmed at all those places and many more!

Thanks so much for the helpful overview of The FBI. Based on your recommendation I will start hunting down the season sets, starting from 3 if I can find it.

"Fearless location filming" - I like that description. I think it applies not only to the physical danger of some shoots, but also more generally to directors and actors being willing to go to out of the way places to get the shot (and producers being willing to fund it) How many actors today would be willing to drive all over the country Route 66 style? And what studio would pay for it?

It's funny you mentioned the Queensboro bridge, because I just watched an episode of McCloud that ends with a shootout on the bridge. Although brief, it was very cool to see. I am surprised that a TV show would have the clout to shut down a major bridge in NYC for filming.
 

Desslar

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Man, when I got that snow globe and saw it didn't even resemble the promo pictures, I sent it back. They kindly refunded me for the cost of the globe.
LOL, that's some nerve. I should try sending the creepy Bugs Bunny figurine with the black, dead eyes from the recent Blu Ray collection back to WB for a refund.
 

SFMike

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I find The Big Valley to be unwatchable tripe now like a lot of the westerns from this period. The awful sets with its silver chafing dishes and 1880's costumes that all look like the characters were sewn into them. i.e. skin tight jeans on everyone. And of course the bane of the hour long westerns where it seemed they had a half hour script and padded it with the characters chasing each other interminably around to stretch out time due to the lack of plot. I remember one where Audra seemed to hang on the edge of a cliff for what seemed like 15 mins while the plot just was stopped dead in its tracks. They are even more painful to watch now.

When The Warner Archives were on TV I re-watched so many Hawaiian Eye and Surfside Six episodes as were available and found them still very entertaining. One of the reasons was instead of padding these hour shows with useless filler they would usually include a musical number and those made each episode special. Another excellent Warner Brothers Archive show that I really enjoyed was The Eleventh Hour starring Wendell Corey, Jack Ging and Ralph Bellamy which was a medical drama series about psychiatry. The series was really well written and seemed to guest star all the rising stars they could find in 1962. The acting talent of Corey and Bellamy gave the series a gravatas that other shows of the period didn't have. Sadly they only put the first season on the archive but it was very well written and acted.
 

bmasters9

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And of course the bane of the hour long westerns where it seemed they had a half hour script and padded it with the characters chasing each other interminably around to stretch out time due to the lack of plot. I remember one where Audra seemed to hang on the edge of a cliff for what seemed like 15 mins while the plot just was stopped dead in its tracks. They are even more painful to watch now.

Not only that, but I think all this is why I don't think I'll ever want Bonanza or Gunsmoke on DVD (influential Westerns though they were for the Peacock Network and Tiffany Network respectively); I don't think I'd want to be seeing episodes where it takes near to an hour for something to happen (where much, or most, of the hour is filler).
 
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BobO'Link

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Those half hour episodes of Gunsmoke are quite good. I was never much of a fan of the series yet purchased the S1-S4 Megapak set from WM when it first became available (IIRC for ~$25 which cemented the purchase) - in spite of having recently purchasing the stand-alone S1 (for $10) to test the waters. When I finally watched those seasons I was quite surprised at just how good most of those episodes are. I also purchased the S5-S7 Megapak (this one was in the $40 range - still a bargain compared to purchasing the seasons separately). I found I didn't much care for the hour length episodes as they truly feel padded solely for "character development" type material. I'd still purchase further seasons *if* they become available at similar bargain prices but otherwise feel no need/desire to own them at all. I'll stick with those early half hour masterpieces.
 

Desslar

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I am not a huge fan of the western genre in general. There are a few western films that I love, but it has to be something truly exceptional or unusual to hold my attention (Once Upon a Time in the West for example). Run of the mill westerns put me to sleep in no time.

Although I've only sampled a few shows so far, everything I have seen from the 50s-70s TV westerns suggests to me that they are very much run of the mill, languidly ticking western cliches on their checklists. I really tune out when the story is almost completely centered around the same few small sets and western main street facades that a dozen other shows probably reused later in the week. At least the Lone Ranger seemed to spend a fair amount of time roaming through the wilderness having adventures - I wish shows had more of that and much less hanging out in town.

Is there one show that really stands head and shoulders above the rest? I've heard Maverick is tops for lighthearted fun. What about serious shows?
 

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