What did you watch this week in classic TV on DVD(or Blu)?

The Obsolete Man

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Streaming plus the explosion in genre based cable channels has fragmented the audience to a point that "communal TV" is practically dead. I can't tell you how long it's been since I've heard co-workers talking about a network TV show, or any TV show for that matter. The last "communal" show where almost my entire department (9 - with 7 of us watching by the end) were discussing episodes was Game of Thrones - and that wasn't on broadcast TV. As soon as that ended, so did our conversations about TV shows.
The Internet and media fragmentation has killed virtually any chance of anything becoming a cultural phenomena and being ingrained into the public consciousness anymore.

So nothing from this era will likely be remembered as much as even a flop from 30 years ago like Cop Rock.
 

Jack P

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Yeah it was on CBS until 2000 and then ABC grabbed it. But my memories were of the CBS special presentations and the music and graphic will always mean “Charlie Brown” to me, even tho it was used whenever they had a special.
The music for that interestingly was culled from a cue in the original pilot film for "Hawaii Five-O".
 

Jack P

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Here's how an actress marathon gets started out of the blue with no pre-planning.

First, I was watching several episodes of "The Time Tunnel" to research a fanfic project. These were all the episodes that involved aliens or going into the distant future.

Time Tunnel-"Visitors From Beyond The Stars"
Time Tunnel-"Chase Through Time" (Robert Duvall guest)
Time Tunnel-"The Kidnappers"
Time Tunnel-"Raiders From Outer Space"

And upon completing those that got me to watching the two bonus items in the DVD set, the failed 2002 reimagining pilot (which IMO fails miserably by giving us a female "Toni Newman" but then making this Doug Phillips someone who now has a wife and children because of the changes, which means the premise of the show wasn't going to give us any underlying romantic tension. The Doug character here should have been someone who learns at the end of the episode that he lost a family as a result of the "240" just like "Toni")

The second bonus item is the failed 1976 pilot film "Time Travelers" with Sam Groom and Tom Hallick going back in time to the Chicago fire and Groom falls in love with Trish Stewart. Remembering her as a daytime soap actress from a week on "Match Game" in the 70s I then decided to go through what I had for an impromptu Trish Stewart marathon which as you can see resulted in a LOT of Quinn Martin!

The FBI, S8-"Sweet Evil" (Just a small part; This is primarily an episode for another QM favorite, Jo Ann Harris)
Barnaby Jones, S4-"Blood Relations" (She plays the client looking for her mother who gave her up for adoption)

She did three QM shows in the 76-77 season and each time got "special guest star" billing!

Barnaby Jones, S5-"Copy-Cat Killing"
The Streets Of San Francisco, S5-"Who Killed Helen French?"
Most Wanted-"The Insider"

And wrapped up with:

Barnaby Jones, S7-"Temptation" (the biggest guest star turn for John Carter's Lieutenant Biddle)
The Love Boat, S4-"Not Tonight, Jack!" (She must fend off the advances of Patrick Wayne)

Her career ended in the mid-80s.
 

Rustifer

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Episode Commentary
Leave It To Beaver
"Larry's Club" (S3E22)

When I was growing up, I don't recall belonging to any club originated by neighborhood kids--mostly because there weren't any clubs. It could be that none of us had the organizational skills to make it to breakfast on time, much less start a club. Or that none of us had enough friends to constitute a membership of any significance. But mostly a club required a clubhouse, which needed to have a level of standalone anonymity that surpassed what can be had in your mom's laundry room. The Little Rascals always had a cool clubhouse--with a secret entrance and password, ingenious pulleys to move stuff around, a workable stage for impromptu skits, furniture made from barrels and other forms of junk. As Midwest suburban kids, we had none of that. We had no fun.

For the entrance fee of 25 cents, Beaver (Jerry Mathers) joins the "Bloody Five" club--a moniker which would suggest a gang of pre-pubescent ax-wielding adolescents. A forerunner of the Sons of Anarchy, as it were. Beaver suggests the club also include his BFF, Larry Mondello (Rusty Stevens)--which is soundly rejected by the other members. Apparently, Larry doesn't meet the standards of the Bloody Five's charter, i.e. he's a dork.
"What's the use of having a club if you can't keep other guys out?" opines Whitey (Stanley Fafara), a card-carrying member.

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Beaver joins a club; He and Larry agree to disagree; June asks Wally why he spends so much time in the shower

Larry soon learns of his exclusion and is nearly prostrate with grief. In retaliation, he confronts Beaver with the news that he himself is now a member of the super-secret "Fiends"--a club consisting solely of himself. However, Larry weaves a tale of huge membership, club graveyard meetings, velvet masks, special armbands and no cover charges at select strip clubs. Beaver, never the driest towel on the rack, buys into all this hogwash and decides to get "unswore" from the Bloody Five in hopes of joining the Fiends. He submits his resignation in writing, for its well known that kids' clubs require verifiable documentation of severance. Beaver is suddenly persona non grata to the Bloody Five and is labeled a "creep", second only to the rank of leper.

Larry is understandably reluctant to let Beaver into his non-existent club. But Beaver is insistent--so Larry has to hastily devise a club to a blindfolded Beaver--who isn't fooled for a second that Larry's club is a sham. They part company in a fit of pissiness. Beaver's dissolution now requires the understanding and wisdom of a father. Ward (Hugh Beaumont) tells his son a weird tale about castles and invaders--a vague reference to the invalidity of clubs. Beaver sees the light.

Ward is so proud of his manly handling of the situation that he rewards himself a night at one of the Bloody Five's strip clubs.
 
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Rustifer

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I can't tell you the last time I actually watched a TV show which was aired one of the "Big Three" as it aired. There are precious few I actively collect and none of them are watched by anyone else I know (outside some of you here).
So true, Howie. I miss standing around the office water cooler and discussing things like the weight tolerance of Hoss's horse on Bonanza.
I think maybe Two and a Half Men came closest to a current day network show with wide enough viewership to whip up day-after discussions. Charlie Sheen's off-set crackhead antics didn't hurt.
 

ScottRE

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Here's how an actress marathon gets started out of the blue with no pre-planning.

First, I was watching several episodes of "The Time Tunnel" to research a fanfic project. These were all the episodes that involved aliens or going into the distant future.

Time Tunnel-"Visitors From Beyond The Stars"
Time Tunnel-"Chase Through Time" (Robert Duvall guest)
Time Tunnel-"The Kidnappers"
Time Tunnel-"Raiders From Outer Space"

And upon completing those that got me to watching the two bonus items in the DVD set, the failed 2002 reimagining pilot (which IMO fails miserably by giving us a female "Toni Newman" but then making this Doug Phillips someone who now has a wife and children because of the changes, which means the premise of the show wasn't going to give us any underlying romantic tension. The Doug character here should have been someone who learns at the end of the episode that he lost a family as a result of the "240" just like "Toni")

The second bonus item is the failed 1976 pilot film "Time Travelers" with Sam Groom and Tom Hallick going back in time to the Chicago fire and Groom falls in love with Trish Stewart. Remembering her as a daytime soap actress from a week on "Match Game" in the 70s I then decided to go through what I had for an impromptu Trish Stewart marathon which as you can see resulted in a LOT of Quinn Martin!

The FBI, S8-"Sweet Evil" (Just a small part; This is primarily an episode for another QM favorite, Jo Ann Harris)
Barnaby Jones, S4-"Blood Relations" (She plays the client looking for her mother who gave her up for adoption)

She did three QM shows in the 76-77 season and each time got "special guest star" billing!

Barnaby Jones, S5-"Copy-Cat Killing"
The Streets Of San Francisco, S5-"Who Killed Helen French?"
Most Wanted-"The Insider"

And wrapped up with:

Barnaby Jones, S7-"Temptation" (the biggest guest star turn for John Carter's Lieutenant Biddle)
The Love Boat, S4-"Not Tonight, Jack!" (She must fend off the advances of Patrick Wayne)

Her career ended in the mid-80s.
The Time Tunnel is my second favorite of the Irwin Allen 60’s sci-fi quartet behind Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and before Lost in Space. The alien/future episodes are great, if ridiculous, fun.

Time Tunnel-"Visitors From Beyond The Stars"

This is my least favorite of the four, but feels like the inspiration for Cowboys vs Aliens.

Time Tunnel-"Chase Through Time" (Robert Duvall guest)

This is my favorite of the four. A great era spanning yarn with action from start to finish. Duvall was obviously slumming here, but he still put in a fine, nervous performance. The weakness in this show was always the two leads. Robert Colbert is bland as milk and James Darren isn’t much better. Their characters were, by and large, interchangeable, although Doug seemed to be more the downbeat voice of doom.

Time Tunnel-"The Kidnappers"

A really nice idea (so nice Voyage reused it the following year) with really quaint notions of future computer technology – like the metal computer punch card that actually worked in the time tunnel’s system. Michael Ansara seems a little bored but he’s still an arresting sight in all silver makeup. At least Lee M. gets decent screen time even if she’s been demoted from scientist to technician. There are some very sweet hints that Doug and Ann are more than friends. I understand this was an idea by the actors slipped in unnoticed by Irwin Allen. Ann’s interaction is markedly different toward Doug than Tony. It’s really a nice touch and humanizes the characters, something they needed badly. Because Irwin’s leads were always cardboard archetypes, the actors had to provide the dimension. They did well here.

Time Tunnel-"Raiders From Outer Space"

This one is the most fun romp of the four. It’s one of the few times the movie stock footage is glaringly obvious as it had to be converted from Cinemascope. When I watched this with an old friend who had never seen the show before, he said, “I felt like I was watching a sci-fi show and someone kept changing the channel to an old movie.” John Crawford is hilarious is this stereotypical British soldier who is dumbfounded by everything he sees. There’s a great example of the teamwork between Tony and Doug with their “double punch” to knock out an alien guard. Introduced in “The Ghost of Nero,” apparently this was Darren’s idea. According to Colbert (whose stories should be taken with a grain of salt), Darren loved the fights on Batman and wanted to incorporate a signature move. Colbert felt it was corny, but I love that stuff. I’m always Team Darren with this show.

The remake was awful, it felt like “Time Tunnel SG-1.” I loved the concept of being lost in time rather than choosing eras and travelling. The Time Travelers was a lot of fun. The one magical moment in SF history when Irwin Allen and Rod Serling collaborated. I’m surprised the universe didn’t explode.
 

Jack P

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Technically it wasn't a true "collaboration" since Allen had apparently bought an unused Serling story (he was already dead by this point) and then had it adapted for his new would-be format. I was struck most by the contrast between the elaborate thousand story underground complex premise of the original requiring thousands and thousands of personnel to the basement operation with just four people in "Time Travelers". :)

I noticed that hidden underlying romantic suggestion between Ann and Doug in "Kidnappers" too. Smart to work it in! But I couldn't help but ask at the end, why, if Doug and Tony are able to ward off the aliens, don't they just wait to see if they can get back just like Ann using the alien's device instead of switching them (and insuring they stay "lost")?!
 

ScottRE

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Technically it wasn't a true "collaboration" since Allen had apparently bought an unused Serling story (he was already dead by this point) and then had it adapted for his new would-be format.
Hey, don't burst my bubble! Rod Serling's name is still on an IA production.

I noticed that hidden underlying romantic suggestion between Ann and Doug in "Kidnappers" too. Smart to work it in! But I couldn't help but ask at the end, why, if Doug and Tony are able to ward off the aliens, don't they just wait to see if they can get back just like Ann using the alien's device instead of switching them (and insuring they stay "lost")?!
"Don't get logical with me!" - Irwin Allen.

By this point in the series, they kinda gave up reasons why they stayed lost...
 
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Jack P

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That over the long-haul is the big problem with the "lost" premise and Irwin I think recognized that himself given how the "Time Travelers" premise is not a "lost" one either. "Quantum Leap" made it work only because it was a character driven program.

Irwin's falling into a template rut was his biggest flaw. It's the reason why his shows suffer from a creative stagnation problem after starting out with strong pilots, opening episodes. ("Swiss Family Robinson" though didn't even give us a strong pilot exploring the how they got there, they just dumped everyone on the island and used a quickie narration to set up the premise). It's also what deluded him into thinking "Beyond The Poseidon Adventure" was a viable idea for a film.
 
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ScottRE

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With a tiny bit of format forethought, they could have rescue proofed them. In regards to The Kidnappers, honestly the alien’s time travel device exploded so it was useless. The guys only had seconds before being converted into mindless statues by the drones after that, so that actually was fine. In general, it took too much energy to bring them both back and bringing one back never set well with them. When they did, there was always something getting gin the way, like a “time warp” or something.

One point that critic Jon Abbott brought up in his book was that whenever the boys arrived in the late 70’s, he questioned why they didn’t just say “hey close enough” and spend a relaxing weekend catching up on the news. Considering the suddenness of their departures, it would have been interesting to learn that often the tunnel itself was pulling them out of time’s they didn’t belong in.
 
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JohnHopper

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Time Tunnel-"Chase Through Time" (Robert Duvall guest)

This is my favorite of the four. A great era spanning yarn with action from start to finish. Duvall was obviously slumming here, but he still put in a fine, nervous performance. The weakness in this show was always the two leads. Robert Colbert is bland as milk and James Darren isn’t much better. Their characters were, by and large, interchangeable, although Doug seemed to be more the downbeat voice of doom.

It's easily the best of the four in terms of writing and dynamics. Besides it has a saboteur leaning that make it a departure from the series' format and an alternate time machine that we already see in “Secret Weapon”.
A previous episode (“One Way to the Moon”) has a two-faced insider that also make the story engrossing and ambiguous.
The template of the menacing silver aliens was a Fifties (Golden Age) concept which was dated back in 1966.
It actually took its roots from the alien character of Klaatu in The Day The Earth Stood Still.
Voyage had one fine alien traveler a la Klaatu: “The Sky is Falling”.
 
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Wiseguy

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I watched Maude 90% for the attributes of Ms. Barbeau. I also like it better than All in the Family but a little bit of Maude goes a loooooooooooooooooooooooong way. Hmm... could that be why Walter was an alcoholic?
One of the things I liked about Maude and, in my opinion, one of the big differences between Maude and All in the Family was that things actually happened to the characters on Maude and they actually did things. Maude had an abortion, Maude had a facelift, Maude ran for political office, Maude and Walter separated (for more than one episode), Walter was an alcoholic, Walter went broke, Walter tried to commit suicide, Walter had a heart attack, Maude saw a psychiatrist, Maude had manic depression, etc.

There are some exceptions, of course, but basically on All in the Family Archie almost lost his job, Gloria almost had a baby (the first season), Gloria almost got raped, Edith almost got raped. In later years, Gloria finally did have a baby and Archie bought the bar but those were more changes in premise because they were running out of ideas, then just a storyline.
 
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Rustifer

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Episode Commentary
Father Knows Best
"Lawn Party" (S3E20)

Teenagers are pesky, no matter what era. In the 1950's, garage parties were big--my older brother had a few of these mixed couple gatherings. With a portable record player, a stack of 45s, a few streamers, a semi-clean garage and your parents blessing--a fete could burst out. However, invariably some kids would be caught...gulp...smoking cigarettes--or planting M-80's in the toilet--or caught feeling up Peggy Sue behind the tool rack. Thus parents would have to shut down the shindig and send everyone home. The next party request would be met with severe skepticism.
Fast forward a few decades--My sons threw parties in our basement. Neither my wife or I would dare venture down into that den of Satanism for fear of being blinded by the sheer corruption of acceptable values. I'm pretty sure there was burning of weed, consumption of sloe gin and perhaps a conception or two. Teenagers were never too keen on upholding the standards of responsible social mores.

Bud (Billy Gray) solicits the permission of his parents (Robert Young, Jane Wyatt) to throw a lawn party on Saturday. Both Jim and Margaret are reluctant to serve as chaperones since Saturday night is usually when Margaret would wear her bustier, garter belt and spike heels while Jim would don a rubber gerbil mask. What happened next would be unmentionable.

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Margaret wonders why Jim is feeling her up; Bud and the boys compare "easy" girls; Margaret and Betty discuss boys' icky parts

As teenagers are wont to do, Bud expects his parents to do all the planning and work--hanging lights, making wooden booths, baking beans, whipping up potato salad, laying in a supply of ribbed condoms, etc. Jim puts his foot down and demands that Bud conscribes some of his guests' parents to pitch in. As expected, each of the parents have excuses as to their inability to participate--pending renal dialysis, uncontrollable anal leakage, battery acid burns, Ebola--you know, the usual cop-outs. Jim and Margaret are apoplectic. There's just not enough time or help to organize this get-together. It's time to shut it down, call it quits, cut the losses, go dark. By cancelling the party, Bud's social status is about to be ripped to shreds.

At the last moment, some of the parents have second thoughts and show up to lend their help in a concerted neighborhood effort. It just warms one's heart. Apparently, Margaret's baked beans are not to be missed. Nor is Jim's liquor cabinet.
 
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Rustifer

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Episode Commentary
Who's The Boss?
"Briefless Encounter" (S1E2)

Once again I'm going to venture a bit outside of what I consider my comfy "classic" TV era. This 80's sitcom squeezes through my firewall mainly because I find Tony Danza a pretty likeable guy who capably fulfilled his two biggest TV roles acting as a character named...wait for it...Tony. He just looks like somebody who should be named Tony. After skyrocketing to national prominence as part of the incredibly successful ensemble of Taxi--he achieved his own series Who's The Boss?, which lasted 8 seasons and nearly 200 episodes. That's staying power. Plus, it was fun to be introduced to a young Alyssa Milano, who played Tony's daughter Samantha and would later develop (!) into a top male fantasy and eventually an effective political activist. An interesting life arc.

In this series second episode, Tony's boss Angela (Judith Light) assigns him the task of cleaning her bedroom and bath--a chore he's avoided for fear of violating her "personal" space. "You don't want me washing your unmentionables, do you ?" he gasps.
"Tony, I'm an executive in one of the largest ad agencies in the world. They expect me to show up in clean underwear", she explains.
I could never quite settle on whether Judith Light was pretty or just horsey. Maybe pretty horsey? She did have great 80's big hair.

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Oopsie; Let's talk about what you saw, buster; One good nakedness deserves another...

Angela is supposed to be out for the evening, so Tony decides to take a bubble bath in her giant tub--as you would expect most macho Italian guys would aspire to. Unbeknownst to him, Angela has returned home early and is already in the bathtub. As surely anticipated in a sitcom environment, Tony walks in on a perfectly naked Angela. That's right--nude...from head to tortellini. Of course this stirs up a dust storm of embarrassment and pique between them, and throws a wrench into Tony's date with a high falutin' female college professor who happens to get entangled in their argument.

The 80's set bound sitcoms were inexhaustible on happily displaying sexual innuendos--unfortunately about 20 years later after the 60's romcoms had already amply explored that territory (think: Doris Day/Rock Hudson/James Garner/Cary Grant et al). Lots of bluster and fuss about sex, modesty and morality, even though the real world was humping like bunnies on steroids.

Angela demands retribution. "So because I saw you naked, I'm grounded?" Tony asks. Ruffled feathers eventually get smoothed. The comedy is entirely predictable--but Danza's boyish charm pulls it off. He's good people.
 
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Flashgear

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Mod Squad S3E10, A Time For Hyacinths (Dec.1, 1970) D: Robert Michael Lewis. W: Margaret Armen.

In another thread about favorite Halloween TV episodes, Jeff happened to mention this eerie episode guest starring the great Vincent Price. Really, a fabulous story also featuring another two of our all-time favorite television MVP's...Charles McGraw and Warren Stevens!...I decided to revisit this episode, seeing it again for the first time in nearly 50 years. I remember watching Mod Squad first run as a teenager, and don't particularly remember it being among my favorites as a series. I definitely didn't see myself being part of the so-called 'counter culture'...we were far too conservative for that, and besides, having a very personal family investment in how Vietnam veterans were being (mis)treated by the counter culture anti-war movement of those days angered me greatly. Despite all that, I definitely had a liking for the 'Hippie' chick as long as she wasn't too political. ha. ha...

Surprise, surprise, after watching a good size sampling of the Mod Squad, it proved to be a much better show than I remembered. Compelling storylines, good action, great guest stars and familiar faces, often terrific scenery and streetscapes, and great chemistry between the leads of this show...Peggy Lipton, Clarence Williams III, Michael Cole and Tige Andrews...

In A Time For Hyacinths, a depressed and emotionally exhausted Julie Barnes (Peggy Lipton), one third of the counter-culture undercover cops that are the 'Mod Squad', desperately needs a respite from the all-too cruel realities of fighting crime in the mean streets of L.A. Her partners, Linc (Clarence Williams III) and Pete (Michael Cole) take her up the coast to a beach house that she has rented for her solitary weekend refuge from Castor (Charles McGraw), a local artist... A sad eyed Julie is under the orders of her therapist and popping pills of some anti-depressant nature. After Linc and Pete depart, and after putting away her groceries and settling in, Julie begins to fall asleep in front of the television while watching the late-night movie...(my screen caps from the VEI complete series DVD set)...
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Julie awakens during a thunderstorm some hours later...while getting a drink from the fridge she's startled to see a shadowy figure of a man out on the deck, drenched in the rain and illuminated by lighting...realizing that he has frightened the young stranger, he introduces himself as 'John Wells', a neighbor who lives nearby who came by to borrow some firewood from his friend Castor...
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'John Wells' turns out to be anything but threatening...the jovial warmth of a kind old man soon becomes evident to Julie, and she asks him to share a bottle of wine over some old (in his case, very old) stories...
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Having spent a few joyous hours together in the warmth of gentle conversation and laughter, Wells departs at dawn...telling Julie that he will be at her beck and call if she simply rings the porch bell to summon him...completely at ease and reinvigorated by his comforting company, Julie greets the new day with renewed spirits...
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Later in broad daylight, they walk together on the beach...if you were thinking he might be a Vampire, this should dispel those notions, ha, ha...but the 14 year old me was thinking along these lines already...I mean, I didn't know what to expect from this guy...in between of doing things like Here's Lucy and Love American Style, he was also turning out stuff like Scream and Scream Again and The Abominable Dr. Phibes...
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They encounter the artist Castor, a somewhat strange character himself, who sketches and paints obsessively every day on the beach...Julie and Wells jokingly pose for him...
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Now things take a dark turn...soon after telling Wells that she has told her friends on the phone about him, he informs her "you shouldn't have done that, Julie"...and much to her horror, she witnesses him walking into the sea, apparently to his death by drowning...Linc, Pete and Captain Greer (Tige Andrews) hurry to her side while the beach patrol search for Wells' body...knowing of Julie's recent emotional torment, and finding no evidence of Wells existence at his beachside cottage, (which looks like it has been abandoned for a very long time), Captain Greer begins to wonder if the mystery man ever existed at all...
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Continued next post...
 
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Flashgear

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Mod Squad, A Time For Hyacinths, cont'd...

Julie, trying to prove that the mysterious Wells actually existed, leads Captain Greer, Linc and Pete back to the old cottage...finding it dirty and abandoned, but with a familiar painting still there...Julie is confused in finding that the painting has been magically altered...the footsteps in the sand that were previously there are now gone...
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Remembering the sketch that Castor had made the previous day, Julie is shocked to see that Wells has also disappeared from that picture! She now begins to doubt her own sanity...
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Greer, Linc and Pete are staying over at the beach house...Julie is startled yet again by the actor who appears on the late show movie!
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The clips used here are from His Kind of Woman (RKO 1951, starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell, Marjorie Reynolds, Raymond Burr...and a much younger Charles McGraw and Vincent Price!)
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Back at Police HQ, Captain Greer discovers that the mysterious Wells is actually an actor named Wentworth who was reported drowned offshore in 1951!
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Back at the beach house, Julie is shocked to get a phone call from Wentworth himself...very much alive but in hiding...he tells Julie that he only came back to rescue his daughter, Diana Wentworth (Cynthia Hull), now a famous actress at the same movie studio where he worked all those many years ago...and that his daughter's life is in danger from an old enemy...producer Howard Haines (Warren Stevens), who is engaged to the much younger actress!
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Wentworth shares a secret with the evil Haines...he once witnessed the producer killing another young starlet many years before!
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Julie searches the beach for Wells/Wentworth and finds him hiding in a cave...but Haines is in hot pursuit in a bid to keep his secrets, murder and all...
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At Wentworth's urging, Julie flees the cave as the two men struggle...and a gun shot rings out...Linc and Pete have arrived just in time...
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I'll leave it to you to figure out the rest...not a tough task, as you likely would know what happens to bad guys in a story like this...but Wentworth is another matter...having disappeared a second time and apparently for good, was he a real man or a ghost, beckoned forth into this world by his imperiled daughter and the evil deeds of an old enemy? He will not answer the porch bell, ever again...
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As they are leaving, Julie bids goodbye to the enigmatic Castor...he has overpainted the beach scene again...this time with the footprints leading away into the sands, as Julie first saw it...
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Castor gives Julie the painting as a memento...along with a slight but kind smile...the mystery is perhaps better left as it is, afterall...
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Julie is left to ponder the lovely poem read to her by the mystery man, from the ancient Rubaiyat of Omar Khayam...If thy mortal goods thou are bereft, And from thy slender store two loaves alone to thee are left, sell one, and with the dole, buy Hyacinths to feed thy soul...
 
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Jeff Flugel

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Jeff Flugel
Mod Squad, A Time For Hyacinths

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Thank you so much for doing one of your splendid photo essays on this Mod Squad episode, Randall! I've long been curious to see this particular episode. Judging by your screen caps, the quality of the transfers used for Season 3 continue on the high standard of the first two seasons. Thanks for all those nice shots of the lovely, sad-eyed Peggy Lipton...and a ghostly Vincent Price?! If that doesn't say Halloween, then I don't know what does...
 

MatthewA

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The Jeffersons: “George’s Family Tree” (1/25/1975): When Mother Jefferson invites herself to dinner, Louise gets as tired of hearing George’s “ladder of success” stories as she is of dinner with her mother-in-law. As the Willises come by with a housewarming present, an African statue, George detests it while Tom is less than impressed with Louise’s attempt to make a Rob Roy. Mr. Bentley brings a bag of fruit and stays for an Alka-Seltzer on his way to a party at the Russian Embassy. As he remembers his prominent family history, the Willises remember theirs. Mother Jefferson mentions some very prominent members of their family, but George wants nothing to do with it. Louise points out how his father used to tell them about his Ashanti heritage. After Mr. Bentley’s party, he comes back to the Jeffersons’ apartment to tell him the good news he heard from an African doctor who was also there: George’s ancestors were kings. This changes his attitude. He even thinks of changing his name to Ashanti Dagomba Ali, and he tells Lionel to tell the Willises to come down so he can gloat about his newfound royal heritage. Until Lionel does some research of his own and finds they were quite a bit lower on the social totem pole. Still played by Mike Evans, Lionel gets more of a role here than he would get in later episodes when the unrelated non-lookalike Damon Evans took over. Even upon his return to the role at the end of the 1970s, by which time Norman Lear had become a backseat driver in his own company where sitcoms seemed to be concerned, that would prove to be short-lived as well. At least they had managed to compensate with a colorful menagerie of supporting characters.

Foreshadowing Alert: Louise mentions rum and Coca-Cola, not knowing that the latter would later own the production company.

Trivia: “Russian Embassy” was also the name of a Diff’rent Strokes episode.

More Trivia: Perry Grant and Dick Bensfield, who wrote this episode, later wrote for One Day at a Time, Hello Larry, and 227.

Still the Beaver (3/19/1983): Despite their present-day ubiquity, reboots are nothing new by any means. Thanks to the relative paucity of successful new sitcoms in the later years of the 1970s, the 1980s were full of reboots of varying success and quality. The attempts to bring Leave it to Beaver back started unofficially in 1977 when Tony Dow played Wally Cleaver in the courtroom scene of Kentucky Fried Movie, which helped its filmmakers cast Barbara Billingsley* for the now-iconic scene as the jive lady in Airplane! three years later. When Hugh Beaumont died in 1982, Universal got as many surviving cast members as they could to pay tribute with this reunion movie, which establishes Ward Cleaver as already having died in 1977. Aired on CBS, the network that aired the show’s first season, the movie spawned a cable series for five years.

What has become of the Beaver since we last saw him 20 years ago? A lot, actually; he grew up (sort of), graduated from college, got a job, got married, and had two sons: Corey (Corey Feldman, then co-starring in the syndicated Madame’s Place) and Oliver (John Snee). But he loses them all when his wife Kimberly (Joanna Gleason, late of Hello Larry**, another show about a divorced dad that didn’t last so long), whose father got him the job and a company car, wants out of the marriage and wants to “find herself”. Beaver tells Wally, now a lawyer, that he wants custody of their sons. Wally advises him against it. Kimberly makes the point moot when she tells him she is going to vet school in Italy because no American one would take her. But he wants them to have the kind of idealized childhood he had in Mayfield, so they all move back there with Grandma June, who is not so sure she wants to live there anymore and is contemplating moving to a condo.

Not much has changed in Mayfield except that one of Oliver’s friends is an African-American boy named Marcus (Damon Hines, later replaced on the series by Vaughn Jelks). As the boys have trouble adjusting to life in Mayfield, one made no less difficult by being friends with Eddie Haskell, Jr. (Eric Osmond, Ken Osmond’s real-life son; the character was later renamed Freddie because nothing could legally stop them from doing so), Beaver recalls the times when his life wasn’t all that swell either; through clips of the original series that they had the good sense not to colorize, he recalls how his father showed him how to deal with life’s struggles. But how is he supposed to earn a living? Enter Clarence “Lumpy” Rutherford, whose father Fred (Richard Deacon in his last appearance as the character; he died a year later right before the revival series began and was recast therein with Larry D. Mann, better known as the voice of Yukon Cornelius in 1964’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) hires him at his company.

Meanwhile, as Eddie Haskell, now a contractor, tries to stiff them on the house he’s building for them by cutting corners and still finishing late, Wally and his wife Mary Ellen (Janice Kent, also of Kentucky Fried Movie) are still trying to have their first child. While their efforts are ultimately successful, producing a baby boy named Ward, the subsequent Disney Channel/Superstation WTBS series negated that; a seven-year-old daughter named Kelly (Kaleena Kiff, Love Sidney) replaced him while they had another baby boy named Kevin during their WTBS run as The New Leave it to Beaver. Corey Feldman chose to do movies instead, specifically The Goonies and The Lost Boys, so his character became a tall, dark-haired middle-schooler named Kipp (Kipp Marcus), and they just made his real name Ward.

Canadian-born Director Steven Hilliard Stern, whose first film was 1971’s B.S. I Love You, a 20th Century-Fox release, directed Disney’s The Devil and Max Devlin. Richard Deacon had worked for Disney in the 1960s in such films as That Darn Cat, Blackbeard’s Ghost, The Gnome-Mobile, and The One and Only Genuine Original Family Band as well as playing Uncle Archie in the Annette serial from the original Mickey Mouse Club. Jerry Mathers’ little brother Jimmy also co-starred in the Sherman Brothers’ first all-live-action musical, Summer Magic, whose director, James Neilson, directed one episode of Leave it to Beaver in 1958, while another one of the Shermans' Disney musicals, The Happiest Millionaire, was directed by Norman Tokar, who directed 93 episodes between 1957 and 1960. Under those circumstances, it’s no coincidence where the eventual sequel series would end up at first. Even if it couldn't quite match the original, at least it felt like less of a cash grab than The Munsters Today.

Music rights has kept this off home video: among the selections heard are "Hello, Mary Lou" and "Chances Are" for starters.

LA Law: “Book of Renovation: Chapter 1” (10/7/1993): The eighth and final season begins. As the firm adds Stuart, Ann, and Daniel as partners, Ann gets a shorter haircut, the office undergoes renovation, and Arnie starts looking for a new car, they look for new associates. Arnie gets tired of it until he meets their latest interview, Jane Halliday (Alexandra Powers), whose background is a bit more straight-laced than they are used to. Stuart introduces everyone to his cousin Eli (Alan Rosenberg, later of Cybill); his first case is representing Sandy Morrison (Max Perlich), who is very tight-lipped about the murder he is accused of. The victim’s widower, Jonah Burgee (Jeff Perry), reaches out to Sandy’s parents (Elliott Gould, Carroll Baker). Ann prosecutes a sexual discrimination case filed by a lawyer named Judith Kincaid (Pippa Peartree) who filed it after the firm she worked for, Owen, Pierce, McIntyre, and Reynolds denied her a partnership because they thought she was, in their words, “too butch” and not deferent enough to her male co-workers. The firm denies the charge of sexism, but Ann remains unconvinced, so she calls Sylvia Reiner (Millie Slavin), another woman to who works for the firm as an associate, to the stand. Stuart reconnects with Denise Tannello (Debi Mazar, Meet Wally Sparks), who is replacing Roxanne. She’s a native New Yorker who left the Big Apple for LA and is in love with it.

From the “Hey Rocky!” Department: Denise makes her entry in front of a statue of Bullwinkle J. Moose.

LA Law: “Leap of Faith” (10/14/1993): After a confession he believes is false and not made in his right mind, Eli is still trying to get Sandy to enter a plea. Jane Halliday joins the firm and represents a gulf war veteran suing the government for his getting sick from the effects of chemical poisoning from breathing in the smoke of oil fires during Desert Storm. Jonathan represents the American Buying Network against the husband (Ned Eisenberg) of a shopper (Connie Ray) who spent too much money there — often calling them 50 times a day — to the point where they are bankrupt. Eli asks a private detective named Jinx Baldasseri (Elizabeth Peña) to investigate the husband of the murder victim. They find that Mr. Burgee has been having an affair with a woman named Pamela Riesenfeldt (Mimi Craven). Meanwhile, Eli’s parents discover how he lives.

From the “By the Power Vested in Me” Department: Elizabeth Peña was on the other side of the law in a 1987 ABC sitcom called I Married Dora about an American man who married his El Salvadoran housekeeper to keep her in the country, an act that was and is against US law.

LA Law: “How Much Is That Bentley In The Window?” (10/21/1993): As Mr. Burgee starts to get more cryptic, Eli suspects his guilt more and more. Daniel is dissatisfied with the way the remodeling is going, so he goes to the design center with Lauren Chase (Joan Severance) to get ideas. Arnie represents Jessica Wilton (Belinda Montgomery) divorcing her rich husband Matthew Wilton (Leon Russom) and trying to get out of the pre-nuptial agreement she signed before they married. He spent the whole marriage treating everything like a business expense. A police officer (Mike Genovese) testifies and claims Sandy is guilty. Arnie apologizes for making a move on Jane during the interview process while still getting turned down for a dinner date. Then, he notices Denise. Mr. Morrison takes the stand, then Sandy does, too. When Arnie subpoenas Mr. Wilton, Stuart finds evidence of improprieties that he can use to leverage a better settlement for Mrs. Wilton. Look for Jared Martin (Dusty Farlow from Dallas) as an attorney.

Music: “Also Sprach Zarathustra”. The actual musical score has gotten more rock-oriented this season.

LA Law: “Foreign Co-Respondent” (10/28/1993): Douglas mediates a dispute between a married couple (Pat Cooper, Miriam Flynn) and a travel agent (Martin Mull, Fernwood 2 Night) for taking them to dangerous places. Leland invites Eli to join the firm as a partner, then invites him to a men’s club to discuss it. When Leland offers to nominate Eli for membership, he has doubts that they admit Jews. Tommy prosecutes the case of a Chinese ship whose immigrant passengers, one of whom is played by a young Lucy Liu, got sick while some even died when the captain (George Kee Cheung) allegedly pocketed food and medicine money for himself. Douglas and Leland admonish Daniel for letting the remodeling go over budget, but Daniel defends the quality of Lauren’s work.

LA Law: “The Green Green Grass of Home” (11/4/1993): Denise gets to know Benny while looking for office supplies on sale, and a casting director named Rose asks her to read for an upcoming film with Harvey Keitel. She shows up at 20th Century Fox studios on West Pico Blvd in Beverly Hills. Daniel has a case of a family suing a school cop (Dan Martin) after a little girl (Noley Thornton) brought pot her father (John Bedford Lloyd) grew to school; the father got arrested and the girl was forced into a foster home. Prop 215, the first step towards cannabis legalization in CA, was three years away. Stuart meets with a friend named Barry Glassman (Richard Masur) who admits he is actually Jay Ellison, who has been on the run from the law since the late 1960s after supplying the Black Panthers with a getaway car for a prison escapee. He wants Stuart to broker a plea deal with the US attorney, John Shale (Frederick Coffin). When Stuart tries to broker a deal, the feds don’t even give him a chance to turn himself in before arresting him. Leland wants to give the case to Eli, but Jonathan gets it after lobbying for it. Rosalie visits Benny at the office, but he admits he’s not as serious as she is about things.

*As I am writing this, Disney is involved in a lawsuit over Muppet Babies from one of the show's original creators.
**What a coincidence; when One Day at a Time moved to Universal City Studios from Metromedia Square, Ann Romano got another husband!
 
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Rustifer

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I remember watching Mod Squad first run as a teenager, and don't particularly remember it being among my favorites as a series.
With you on that, Randall. I never got too far into the series as it was too hard for me to buy into an effective police squad of flower children. I'm not sure if watching it now would change my mind. Too era topical.
I think what irritated me most was Clarence Williams III, who relentlessly depicted a level of seriousness on equal terms of terminal rectal cancer. Downer, man. The older Clarence got much more interesting as a character actor in many subsequent roles.

I'm hoping that both Peggy Lipton and Susan Dey made some extra bucks by standing in for one another when needed.

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