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

Jack P

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Well, most of those shows were written by middle-aged white Jewish guys who took a stab at the counter culture based on everything but first hand experience. It hardly ever felt authentic. I mean, what did Harve Bennett really know about the youth culture? Or Herb Solow and Bob Justman? Or Jack fricking Webb? Fred Freiberger certainly didn't get it right. The I Dream of Jeannie hippie episodes were just ridiculous but at least they were mocking them, so they didn't have to get it right. The Lost in Space guys were, too. Whenever Hawaii Five-O had a youth culture focused episode, it was usually pretty hamfisted.

I gotta say, Batman's Louie the Lilac was the nadir of the TV take on the youth movement.
I wouldn't dispute much of that though it can also be said that the same group of writers were usually just as ignorant whenever it came to depicting people of leanings more conservative then themselves. In addition, I've noticed how whenever they depict members of the clergy, they are always either Catholic or collar-wearing Episcopalians because these writers have no grasp for the more traditional Middle American form of Protestantism that constituted a greater majority of the worshiping population (they only go by what they've seen in more urban environments which were typically more Catholic or "High Church" back in the day). And if a clergyman is married, get set for the requisite "his wife dies and this leads to a loss of faith" episode which despite the fact they usually end well, over time becomes an overused cliche ("Dr. Kildare's" great Christmas episode with Dan O'Herlihy is the only one that does this effectively and powerfully. Three years later they revisited the same theme with Peter Falk and it was a far less compelling tale).
 

MatthewA

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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.
It's funny how a show could get canceled then with better ratings than a show considered a hit now. There's just so much stuff out there today that you literally can't watch it all and still have a life. There just aren't enough hours in the day.
 
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Jeff Flugel

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The last of my classic TV Halloween-themed viewing:

The Twilight Zone
3.2 "The Arrival"
3.11 "Still Valley"
3.12 "The Jungle"
3.19 "The Hunt"
Though many episodes edge more into fantasy or science fiction than outright horror, The Twilight Zone was one of the shows that frequently scared me a youngster. I find the majority of them still highly effective and atmospheric, and a handful remain pretty spooky even today.

"The Arrival" has an intriguing premise, but the resolution sadly drops the ball. When a plane arrives at an airport with no pilots, passengers or luggage, a hard-nosed FAA investigator (Harold J. Stone) is called in to solve the mystery. With a better ending, this could have been something special. The next three are much better.

In "Still Valley," Rod Serling adapts the Manly Wade Wellman Civil War-era short story "The Valley Was Still." A Confederate scout (nicely played by Gary Merrill) on a recon mission discovers that a troop of Union soldiers invading a small valley town have been magically frozen in place by the sole remaining inhabitant, a dying old warlock (Vaughn Taylor). The old man gives the scout his book of spells, to use them to turn the tide of the war in the Confederacy's favor...but to do so will involve making a pact with Satan. Interesting little morality play with occult overtones.



In "The Jungle," an executive (John Dehner, in his second of three appearances on the show) recently returned to New York City from a hydroelectric dam project in Africa, sneers at his wife's terror over a witch doctor's curse placed upon them. He soon finds out that these superstitions might have a lot more bite than he expects. Some really creepy moments in this one, as Dehner has to walk back home through deserted nighttime city streets while seemingly stalked by some dark force. In one effective scene, the phone in a out-of-order phone booth suddenly rings, and when Dehner picks it up, he hears the screeches and calls of jungle wildlife coming out of the receiver. This one's written by horror specialist and frequent TZ scribe, Charles Beaumont, and it's a dandy.



Things switch back to a more rural setting in the gentle fantasy "The Hunt," which features Arthur Hunnicutt playing a folksy old feller who ignores the protestations of his wife (Jeanette McDonald) and heads out for an overnight hunt with his faithful hound, Rip. As usual, Rod Serling's iconic opening narration really sets the scene:

"An old man and a hound-dog named Rip, off for an evening's pleasure in quest of raccoon. Usually, these evenings end with one tired old man, one battle-scarred hound dog, and one or more extremely dead raccoons, but as you may suspect, that will not be the case tonight. These hunters won't be coming home from the hill. They're headed for the backwoods—of The Twilight Zone."

I enjoyed this one a lot, writer Earl Hamner's first produced script for the series. Marc Scott Zicree is fairly dismissive of this episode in his wonderful book, The Twilight Zone Companion, and is especially critical of Hunnicutt's performance. I disagree, and find his work, and the episode overall, a charming little fantasy.



I watched these on the Image DVD sets, and the show's signature stylish, moody black-and-white cinematography looked pristine in all episodes. This was always a uniformly nice-looking, well-produced and well-acted show, and when the writing was up to snuff, which it often was, this was IMO the best anthology show ever made.

The Midnight Hour (1985 TV Movie)



First time viewing of this TV movie, which seems to be very fondly remembered by many '80s and '90s kids who caught it in repeats on Lifetime. A group of teens (including Shari Belafonte, Peter DeLuise and Levar Burton) living in a New England town with a history of witchcraft, read out a spell in a graveyard on Halloween night and unleash hordes of the undead - including werewolves, vampires, zombies and assorted ghouls. It's up to the shy boy of the gang, Phil (Lee Montgomery) and Sandy, the ghost of a 1950s cheerleader (the super adorable Jonna Lee) to undo the spell before the whole town is consumed. The horror is pretty toothless, even by TV movie standards, and there's just too much going on, too many little subplots that don't really go anywhere in the 90 minute runtime, so the overall story feels a bit diffuse. We also somehow wander into Michael Jackson "Thriller" music video territory as Shari Belafonte croons a forgettable dance tune at one point for no real reason that I could think of. All that said, the time-crossed ghostly romance angle is cute and the general seasonal vibe enjoyable. Adding to the fun are some cool creature make-ups, lots of neat '80s Halloween party trappings, and a wall-to-wall soundtrack of cool tunes (featuring artists such Creedence Clearwater Revival, Wilson Picket, Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs, The Smiths, Del Shannon, Three Dog Night, The Guess Who, and Bobby Vee) hosted by Wolfman Jack - the latter of which will likely keep this flick from ever seeing the light of day on Blu-Ray (the Anchor Bay 2001 DVD being long OOP). We also get brief appearances by Kevin McCarthy, Dick Van Patten and Kurtwood Smith.

My main takeaway from this was sympathy for poor old Phil, who was about to get to third base or beyond in the backseat of his sweet convertible with hot-to-trot Sandy, but gets interrupted by a werewolf clawing through the top. Don't you just hate it when that happens?


 
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JohnHopper

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The last of my classic TV Halloween-themed viewing:

The Twilight Zone
3.2 "The Arrival"
3.11 "Still Valley"
3.12 "The Jungle"
3.19 "The Hunt"

Unfortunately, by season 3, The Twilight Zone started to decay. Needless to mention the next season (4).
Anyway, there were two fistfuls of good episodes during that season.
 
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ClassicTVMan1981X

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Last week:

I watched my new copy of Wally Gator (Hanna-Barbera/Warner Archive) to continue where my old copy broke down...

Disc 1:
13. Which is Which Witch? (11/26/62)
14. Pen-Striped Suit (12/3/62)
15. Ship-Shape Escape (12/10/62)
16. Semi Seminole (12/17/62)
17. Little Red Riding Gator (12/24/62)
18. Ice Cube Boob (12/31/62)
19. The Forest's Prime Evil (1/7/63)
20. Snooper Snowzer (1/14/63)
21. Unconscious Conscience (1/21/63)
22. Gator-Baiter (1/28/63)
23. False Alarm (2/4/63)
24. Phantom Alligator (2/11/63)
25. Puddle Hopper (2/18/63)
26. Baby Chase (2/25/63)

Disc 2:
27. Gosh Zilla (3/4/63)
28. Camera Shy Guy (3/11/63)
29. Rebel Rabble (3/18/63)
30. No More Mower (3/25/63)
31. Knight Nut (4/1/63)
32. Ape Scrape (4/8/63)
33. Gator-Imitator (4/15/63)
34. Safe at Home (4/22/63)
35. Balloon Buffoon (4/29/63)
36. Rassle Dazzle (5/6/63)
37. Sea Sick Pals (5/13/63)
38. Accidentally on Purpose (5/20/63)
39. Whistle Stopper (5/27/63)
40. Birthday Grievings (6/3/63)
41. Medicine Avenue (6/10/63)
42. Marshall Wally (6/17/63)
43. One Round Trip (6/24/63)
44. Gopher Broke (7/1/63)
45. Gladiator Gator (7/8/63)
46. Bubble Trouble (7/15/63)
47. Ice Charades (7/22/63)
48. Creature Feature (7/29/63)
49. Squatter's Rights (8/5/63)
50. The Big Drip (8/12/63)
51. Gourmet Gator (8/19/63)
52. Carpet Bragger (8/26/63)

~Ben
 

ScottRE

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I finally rediscovered St. Elsewhere over on Amazon Prime. There are ads (and they are repetitive) but at least Prime sticks them at the commercial breaks not all of them. While the prints show their age, they at least include the commercial bumpers, which are a nice treat.

This was easily my favorite hospital drama and it’s addictive. They knew exactly how to get you to want to see the next episode. I rarely binge older shows, but I blew an entire Sunday watching this series. This show is funny, gripping and heartbreaking. There are so many layers to it and a TON of foreshowing. This series is one of those that actually benefits from repeat visits when you see, say, Dr. Westphall vigorously defending Peter White when he’s up on charges knowing he would just as vehemently hate him after his character goes darker.

The cast is so rich. And the list actors who would go on to greater fame is impressive: Denzel Washington, Alfre Woodard, Bruce Greenwood, David Morse, Howie Mandell and so on. Thsenior actors were also the heart and soul of the series: Ed Flanders, Norman Lloyd (over 100 now!) and William Daniels are so enjoyable to watch.

When I was a teen within g it every week, I never wanted the episode to end. I get that feeling every time I revisit. This is my third time around for this one. What a show!
 

MatthewA

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The days when a network would take a chance on an out-of-the-box show like that are over because it would be more likely to end up on cable or streaming.
 
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Jack P

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"The Arrival" has an intriguing premise, but the resolution sadly drops the ball. When a plane arrives at an airport with no pilots, passengers or luggage, a hard-nosed FAA investigator (Harold J. Stone) is called in to solve the mystery. With a better ending, this could have been something special. The next three are much better.
"The Arrival" is done in by the fact it doesn't play fair with the viewer because Stone isn't there when the plane arrives, so therefore the twist ending makes no sense whatsoever.
 
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Jack P

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Thanks to official releases and off-air recordings I got to do a little "recreating" of things that aired between February 18 and February 24, 1978 across several genres.

February 18, 1978 (Saturday)
-ABC Wide World Of Sports, Daytona 500 Qualifying Races. Condensed half hour coverage of the "Twin 125" qualifying races for the 500 which had taken place earlier in the week and were getting their usual light treatment on ABC. The coming decade would see auto racing coverage move away from the old 60s style to doing things live and uncut. A.J. Foyt wins the first qualifying race, the last time he won a NASCAR event.

-Love Boat, S1. Stories involves Harry Morgan cheating the crew at gin rummy to try to get the money needed to pay for the cruise. A dork tries ineptly to romance Georgia Engel. Robert Urich and Diana Canova are newlyweds who find themselves fighting after being exposed to the constant fights of long-time married Robert Mandan and Audrey Meadows. (Love Boat offered a unique way for those who were already regulars on current TV shows to slip away for guest shots that were less demanding than doing a full-blown guest shot on another show).

-Fantasy Island, S1. Story #1 is Lauren Tewes as an amnesiac who may or may not be an heiress while Story #2 is a silly "Parent Trap" knockoff of two kids whose fantasy is to find a way for their divorced parents to get together again and throw over their one-note fiancees. Frankly, given how so much of "Fantasy Island" is devoted to the theme of "be careful what you wish for", it would have been refreshingly different for the kids to *not* have succeeded! Much as I enjoy the show as comfort food TV, this was one time where the schmaltz was too thick.

On You Tube you can literally find NBC's counterprogramming from that night against these shows with original ads. A TV movie, "The Ghost of Flight #401" starring Ernest Borgnine. It's a fictionalized telling of the 1972 Eastern Airlines crash in the Everglades (with the name of the airline changed of course) and the rumors of the ghost of the flight engineer (Borgnine) showing up on planes with salvaged parts from the crashed airliner later on. The TV-movie is not particularly engaging and if the copy on YT didn't have the original ads I doubt I would have given it a look. TV-movies like this certainly show why ABC found a winning formula with Love Boat/Fantasy Island on Saturday nights! Later that fall, ABC would do their own fictionalized TV-movie about the disaster, the superior "Crash".

February 19, 1978 (Sunday)
-1978 Daytona 500 (ABC). ABC had carried this race since 1961 but only on a delayed basis, and this year their approach followed that in that the first 300 miles of the race you could only see updates during their coverage of the silly "Superstars" competition and then they would come on live at 3 PM for the remainder of the race. Consequently TV viewers miss seeing live two big crashes one, which takes out Richard Petty and two others, and then later a more serious wreck where A.J. Foyt flips upside down (and their cameras missed that even for replays). Bobby Allison wins. The Daytona people had finally had enough of this second-rate coverage by ABC that starting in 1979, CBS began airing the race live from start to finish and that broadcast would have the memorable last lap accident. ABC's stubborn refusal to get with the times and break out of the 1960s way of doing race coverage would hinder them greatly in the 80s.

-Project UFO-"The Washington D.C. Incident" (NBC). The debut episode of this new series from a copy with original commercials. This was Jack Webb's next to last show to make it to the air and the first after ending his association with Universal. The show took more of a strait-laced non-conspiratorial approach to the subject of investigating UFO sightings with strait-laced Air Force investigators Jake Gatlin (William Jordan) and Harry FItz (Caskey Swaim) doing the work. The crude model/FX work and silly costumed aliens tended more to be the witnesses perception of what they thought they saw but in the first season would tend to have a potential explanation, though one that was not necessarily completely satisfying. While those weaned on X-Files would find this approach dull, I think to its credit the show tried to be fair-minded and over the course of its first season would mix things up to leave us guessing on what could or couldn't be explained. When the show returned for a second season (lasting only 13 episodes) there were shake-ups. Jordan left the show after clashing with Jack Webb and was replaced by Ed Winter (Colonel Flagg of MASH) who was too high-strung and less personable than Jordan's Gatlin (and after playing a schizoid officer on MASH it was hard to take him seriously playing an officer "straight" in contrast to his other dramatic work where the MASH connection isn't a hindrance). In addition the show took a hard lean toward "They're always aliens" by having a convenient last act witness upset Winter's "straight" explanation of things which made the show even more predictably dull. I still enjoy most of the first season shows with Jordan for a nice variant on the usual Webb formula, though Jordan's concerns that not enough was given about the investigators backstories was a valid point.

February 20, 1978 (Monday)
-Tonight Show (NBC). Steve Martin guest hosting. Guests include Kenny Rogers, Steve Allen and Elke Sommer. The latter two are cases of how as the years went by some guests fell in the category of those who generally wouldn't get booked on nights when Johnny was on.

February 22, 1978 (Wednesday)
-Tonight Show (NBC). Antenna rerun. Guests are Goldie Hawn, Buck Henry, Dennis Dugan. Goldie had taken a year off to have a child and was just getting back into the swing of things. Buck Henry says that "Heaven Can Wait" will be released in June. Dugan is there to plug the fact that he has a two hour "Rockford Files" coming up as private eye Richie Brockelman, and that NBC will be giving him a five week series starting in March. The spinoff never went beyond those five episodes. He mentions that he'd done a two hour pilot as the character two years earlier and only now was it getting to this phase which shows again how some potential series concepts can linger in development for a couple years before they finally get a crack. I remember Dugan most as the guy Cybill Shepherd impulsively marries on "Moonlighting" and how that drove me away from the show forever.

February 24, 1978 (Friday)
-$20,000 Pyramid (ABC). I had an off-air recording of this courtesy of a friend who knew one of the contestants that appeared on this show and had it taped. Lucky he did since the production company, Bob Stewart Productions, didn't start saving shows until June 1978! Anne Meara and Nipsey Russell guest. Anne gives a shout to her little boy Benjy (whatever happened to him?) :) I always enjoy watching Pyramid when it was still a New York show because it has a different ambience and tone compared to its 80s California version.

Just a mini-sampling of a week in TV across the genres!
 

Rustifer

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Episode Commentary
The Twilight Zone
"A Hundred Yards Over the Rim" (S2E23)

Jeff's great post of spooky Twilight Zone episodes got my brain gears creaking in remembrance of some of my favorite ones. If there's such a thing as ear worms for music, can there be something similar for stuff one ponders (thought worms?) If so, this particular TZ episode would fall at the top of my list. I've seen it three or four times and would never miss an opportunity to catch it again. Beautifully written and neatly ingenious, the story has resonated with me for years.

Christian Horn (Cliff Robertson) is leading a ragtag wagon train across the desert stretches of New Mexico after leaving Ohio to escape the relentless election ads. In 1847, there's only so much of James Polk one can take. The journey is not going smooth for Christian as his young son is finding desert climate sucks and is suffering greatly with a virus. Christian, frantic with worry, halts the wagon train and walks up a sand ridge to see if there's water on the other side. Hauling along his trusty musket in case of running into a crazed rabbit, he peeks over the rim and spots a frozen black river--or what we know today as a highway. Lined with telephone poles and electrical towers, to say Christian is confused is nothing compared to him nearly getting run down by a huge snorting dinosaur, or what we call a semi truck. The poor man nearly soils himself with dizzying fear. Christian has unknowingly crossed over into 1961, a heady year featuring John F. Kennedy and Chubby Checker.

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WTF...gas at 15 cents a gallon?? Can't shake that Gomez Addams no matter what; Amazon Prime delivery slows down for no one

Dazed but undaunted, Christian gingerly crosses the highway only to find Joe's Airflight Cafe and Gas Station, or what we know today as a convenience mart. The joint is run by a kindly couple Joe (John Crawford) and Mary Lou (Evans Evans). Joe invites Christian inside to what may as well been the Smithsonian Institute to him--wonders such as a jukebox, formica countertops, chrome napkin holders and cold water...in a glass! Christian is dumbfounded, probably due to the Neil Sedaka song playing on the jukebox.--"Cumma cumma down doobie doo down down" is a language not common to wagon trains in the 19th century.

Mary Lou and Joe are just as confused since rarely have they ever met anyone as dumb as ear wax to current events that Christian seems to be. The fact that he's still sternly clutching his Davy Crockett rifle is a bit unnerving to them. "That's sure an oldie", offers Joe. "It's been used a lot", Christian emphasizes. He wonders how soon Indians will be attacking the diner since they're particularly fond of grilled cheese sandwiches, whereas Mary Lou is more concerned in teaching him the mechanics of a toilet. Sooner or later the man's gotta eliminate. Confusion continues to reign, but eventually Christian is able to leave with a handful of antibiotic pills to take back to his son and cure his virus. It works, and the boy eventually grows up to become a famous epidemiologist, or what we call today as Anthony Fauci.

Sure, I kinda made fun of this episode--but I really do think it's one of Twilight Zone's best and brightest--well worth a look-see.
 
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JohnHopper

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Episode Commentary
The Twilight Zone
"A Hundred Yards Over the Rim" (S2E23)

It's one of the best season 2 episodes. Not only the performance of actor Cliff Robertson is excellent but the inspired film-making of Buzz Kulik and the music score by Fred Steiner is perfectly suited for that story and highly atmospheric.
There are so many fine elements to highlight and discuss.
 

JohnHopper

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It's one of the best season 2 episodes. Not only the performance of actor Cliff Robertson is excellent but the inspired film-making of Buzz Kulik and the music score by Fred Steiner is perfectly suited for that story and highly atmospheric.
There are so many fine elements to highlight and discuss.

One odd historical and existential detail I enjoy is the confrontation of two types of cowboys:
settler Christian Horn (the real one with authentic clothings) and gas station Joe (the bogus one with a Golden Age outfit).

hundred-yards_over_rim06.jpg
 

Jeff Flugel

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87th Precinct - 1.3 “Lady Killer”
In the middle of a heat wave, a young boy comes into the precinct and leaves a letter on Det. Kling’s desk. Whoever wrote the note claims that he will kill “the lady” at 8pm that night. Who wrote the letter, and who is the lady? Detectives Kling (Ron Harper), Carella (Robert Lansing), Havilland (Gregory Walcott) and Meyer (Norman Fell, droll as always) work tirelessly to try and prevent the crime. Very good episode based off the Ed McBain novel, with a nice little twist on just who “the lady” is. Also with Vito Scotti, Marian Collier and Barbara Parkins.

Due South – 1.3 “Diefenbaker’s Day Off”
A rare Canadian-produced show that earned a network spot in the U.S. (on CBS) for a few seasons. Entertaining fish-out-of-water cop show with honest, unfailingly polite and highly competent Mountie Benton Fraser (Paul Gross) fighting crime and spreading good vibes around the seedy streets of Chicago, along with his excitable police detective pal Ray Vecchio (David Marciano). In this one, Fraser is asked by a young girl in his (borderline tenement) apartment building to help out her dad, an ex-boxer involved in an insurance scam. A sexy local reporter (Madolyn Smith Osborne) is also nosing around the case, and at first suspects Fraser is part of the crime ring. Meanwhile, Fraser’s pet wolf Diefenbaker, ignoring Fraser’s orders, spends his days running around outside evading the dog catcher. A busy but typically fun episode. Paul Gross is extremely charming as the Dudley Do-Right-like hero. The writers seem to be setting up Ms. Osborne's character as a recurring love interest for Fraser, but not only did the actress not return, this was her very last acting role, after a brief but interesting career, including appearances in Urban Cowboy, All of Me, 2010 and Funny Farm.




The Westerner – 1.12 “Hand on the Gun”
Watched this one twice – once on its own, and once more to listen to the commentary track with Sam Peckinpah experts Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons, David Weddel and the late, great Nick Redman. This short-lived 30-minute western series created by Peckinpah is a real gem, written with a sharp eye for humanity and realism. This is a particularly fine episode, skillfully directed by Peckinpah himself. Dave Blassingame (Brian Keith) is rounding up mustangs with his amigo Oresquote (Michael Ansara, on excellent, world-weary form here), when a seemingly friendly Easterner approaches camp looking for work. Trouble is the dude (Ben Cooper) is a hot young buck itching to become a gunslinger like the kind he’s read about in dime novels. He’s in for a rude awakening. The ending of this one is fantastic. I highly recommend grabbing this series on DVD while it’s still quite affordable. Shout Factory did a great job on the set, which not only includes all 13 episodes (plus the backdoor pilot episode, “Trouble at Tres Cruces” from Zane Grey Theatre), but also commentary tracks by the aforementioned gents on several episodes.




The Equalizer – 1.6 “The Confirmation Day”
McCall helps out schlubby Burt Young, who is mixed up with some nasty gangsters, led by smiling old barracuda mob boss Joseph Wiseman. The first season of this show has been quite strong - until now. This one’s just OK, marred by some pretty ropey acting by the supporting cast. I’m becoming more and more convinced that Burt Young is just not a good actor, but more of a one-note, scruffy mumbler. He’s effective enough in Rocky, but that’s about it as far as I’m concerned. Luckily, Edward Woodward is a class act and holds this one together. Here’s hoping the quality ticks back up in the next episode…

Colt .45 – 3.10 “Calamity”
Found a so-so looking copy of this rare WB western series on YouTube. Puckish blonde Calamity Jane (Dodie Heath) helps Christopher Colt (Wayde Preston) escort a stagecoach bearing a lady doctor (Joan Taylor) and a case of smallpox vaccine to disease-ridden Tombstone through hostile stock footage Indian territory. King Kong’s Robert Armstrong is along for the ride. I generally don’t have a lot of time these days for movies or TV episodes where a handful of cowboys mow down dozens of Indians without receiving hardly a scratch in return, so this might not be the best episode of the series to have started with...but beggars can't be choosers, as it's the only episode I've been able to scrape up. It sure would be nice to see this show get a release from Warner Archive some day (not that I'm holding my breath on that one…) Wayde Preston doesn’t say much but makes for a good, ramrod-straight leading man with a decent amount of charisma. The print here seems mostly complete, missing the usual “From Warner Brothers Studios…” announcement at the beginning...but it does have the mid-episode commercial bumpers and end credits (complete with catchy theme song).

Trackdown – 1.25 “The Pueblo Kid”
A cherub-faced Michael Landon (in the first of two appearances in the series, a year or so before making it big on Bonanza) guest stars as the titular outlaw, whose return to his hometown causes trouble for Marshal Hoby Gilman (Robert Culp), who’s been holding the fort until the local sheriff recovers from an illness. Turns out that the Kid’s reputation is a bluff; he’s no killer, but an old rival (George Brenlin) who fancies himself quick with a gun is itching for a showdown. Culp brings his usual edgy cool to the lead role; it’s a real pity that rumored plans for this series to make it’s way out onto DVD seem to have fallen through. Ellen Corby has a few scenes as the editor of the local newspaper, and Gail Kobe also shows up in a briefly recurring role as Hoby’s love interest.

Shotgun Slade – 1.28 “A Flower for Jenny”
Some kind soul uploaded a bunch of episodes of this 30-minute Revue western onto YouTube. The gimmick of this one was that, although it took place in the wild west, it plays like a film noir detective drama, replete with jazzy soundtrack, femmes fatale and whodunnit plots. Big, stony-faced slab of beef Scott Brady stars as Slade, a shotgun-toting private dick who, in this outing, is hired by famous singer Jenny DuPree (Diane Foster) to find out who’s been sending her threatening letters implying she will die soon. Once we meet Jenny, we realize why she might have a long list of enemies wishing her dead…she’s a real piece of work. Suspects include her ex-husband, her former lover, her browbeaten piano accompanist and...well, pretty much anyone who’s ever met her. Lots of action and snappy banter keep things moving at a nice clip. Neat show, and Brady (the brother of notorious Hollywood tough guy, Lawrence Tierney) makes for a fine, gruff lead. Ms. Foster co-starred in a number of big screen westerns, too, including The Kentuckian, The Violent Men and Night Passage. She does good work here, as does Monica Lewis, who plays a saloon singer gal pal of Slade’s.


 
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JohnHopper

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John Hopper
The Westerner – 1.12 “Hand on the Gun”
Watched this one twice – once on its own, and once more to listen to the commentary track with Sam Peckinpah experts Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons, David Weddel and the late, great Nick Redman. This short-lived 30-minute western series created by Peckinpah is a real gem, written with a sharp eye for humanity and realism. This is a particularly fine episode, skillfully directed by Peckinpah himself. Dave Blassingame (Brian Keith) is rounding up mustangs with his amigo Oresquote (Michael Ansara, on excellent, world-weary form here), when a seemingly friendly Easterner approaches camp looking for work. Trouble is the dude (Ben Cooper) is a hot young buck itching to become a gunslinger like the kind he’s read about in dime novels. He’s in for a rude awakening. The ending of this one is fantastic. I highly recommend grabbing this series on DVD will it’s still quite affordable. Shout Factory did a great job on the set, which not only includes all 13 episodes (plus the backdoor pilot episode, “Trouble at Tres Cruces” from Zane Grey Theatre), but commentary tracks by the aforementioned gents on several episodes.

I enjoy that western series and I agree with you concerning your comments on the series.
 

JohnHopper

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Because of the Holmes & Yoyo thread, I watched two episodes ("Funny Money", "Yoyo Takes a Bride") of that loony cop series.
I had a good laugh.
“The Bunco Squad. The Bunco Squad. The Bunco Squad.”
 
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BobO'Link

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Horror month is over so it's back to classic TV...

So far this month I've watched S4 of That Girl and S1 of Mister Ed.

That Girl continues the travails of cute-as-a-button Ann Marie (Marlo Thomas) as she struggles to make it as an Actress in New York. I felt like this season somewhat made her more dependent on her boyfriend, Donald, than in previous seasons, contrary to what Ms. Thomas wanted in the series (an independent woman who's making it on her own in the big city). In spite of that, it's still a fun little trifle with, mostly, generic type scripts/plots. One is the requisite location episode, this time in Las Vegas, where Donald turns into a chronic gambler and apparently marries a girl, who's not Ann, after getting drunk - a rather standard and cliche' type 2-part episode. I'm rather curious about S5 as I've read she and Donald "get married" in the last episode of the season and show. I also don't recall ever watching that season.

Mister Ed's S1 was a repeat as I'd purchased the first 2 seasons as singles when they came out but sprung for the complete series box set when I got it for a very good price. I'd watched that one before the box set purchase so... it's a rewatch (my grandkids got the S1/S2 dupes). I loved this show as a kid and it's still quite fun. Of course as an adult I wonder how Ed's speaking ability goes undiscovered and that no one ever seems to hear Wilbur talking to Ed when walking up on his office in the barn, but also ignore them as that's part of the show's charm. Episodes are quite clever with only a few bordering on cliche' type stories. Of course you wonder just why Wilbur apparently spends so much time outside work in the barn with his horse when he has such a cute wife in the house.

On the last disc of Mister Ed S1 there's an video with Alan Young (Wilbur) and Connie Hines (Carol, Wilbur's wife) talking about the show and its production. I normally don't watch these bonus features but did this time. It was quite interesting. I discovered that Mister Ed actually pre-dates the Francis the Talking Mule movie series as the TV series is based on a series of short stories about Mister Ed which were published well before the Francis movies. The director of the TV series, Arthur Lubin, also directed the Francis movies (and was instrumental in bringing both to the screen). And that the horse who played Mister Ed actually learned to respond and "talk" to Wilbur on his own, without using the early trick and prompts from his trainer. Both actors spoke quite highly of the horse and his toilet manners (never, ever, "went" on the set).

Mr. Young also commented in that video that The Beverly Hillbillies were a spin off of Mister Ed. OK... I've never heard, or read, that before - but several actors from that future series made appearances in Mister Ed. Donna Douglas (Elly May Clampett) made 2 appearances in S1 and has a 3rd in S2. Nancy Kulp (Jane Hathaway) made a S1 appearance, Raymond Baily (Milburn Drysdale) made a S2 appearance (as a banker, no less), and Filmways Television produced both shows. Outside those rather tenuous connections I've not seen anything that points to The Beverly Hillbillies being a spin-off. No other principal actors, Irene Ryan (Granny), Buddy Ebsen (Jed), or Max Baer Jr. (Jethro), made appearances in Mister Ed. Just to be sure, I'm currently watching S2 as it's the season that aired the year before The Beverly Hillbillies premiered so if there really is a spin-off show it'd have to be that season.
 

Rustifer

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Episode Commentary
Bewitched
"Darrin, Take This Witch, Samantha" (S1E1)

Do you remember your first? No, not that first. I mean more like the first pair of hightop Converse sneakers you begged your mom to buy in order to be like all the other kids. Or your first solo as driver of the family Chevy sedan. Or your first apartment, furnished with items long since confined to the back of your parents' basement just in case you finally decided to move out of the house. Or better yet, when in September of 1964, you tuned in to ABC to watch the very first episode of Bewitched--the TV sitcom version of Paramount's 1942 I Married a Witch with Frederick March and Veronica Lake. Oh sure, Bewitch's Dick York (Darrin) or Elizabeth Montgomery (Samantha) didn't flaunt a cache of any public recognition as actors--but both were well suited for their roles. Darrin aptly portrayed a "regular" guy, whereas Samantha earmarked all the housewifey characteristics so prevalent in 1960's depictions--albeit having significant supernatural powers beyond that of, say, June Cleaver. Let's watch the first episode again...

The open sequence, narrated by none other than Jose Ferrer, follows Darrin and Sam quickly falling in love, making out like teenagers behind a barn and eventually getting married. The narrative ends by impassively informing us that Darrin has unknowingly married a wiggly-nose witch. On their wedding night, Sam is adorning herself in a nightgown that even my grandmother would have considered overtly prudish--a shame since there's so much of Sam worth revealing. As she prepares herself for Darrin's inevitable animalistic honeymoon advances, her termagant mother (Agnes Moorehead in her 97th year of acting) magically materializes. She's vehemently opposed to her daughter marrying a "mortal", much less a Madison Avenue huckster. It's a theme that will plod through the entire run of the series--that Darrin is a bumpkin dork while Sam is a Goddess of Sorcery and worthy of so much more.

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Darrin makes a mental note to introduce Sam to a Victoria Secrets catalog; Endora represents the size of mortals'...uh...manhood;
Darrin attempts to force feed Sam a platter of oysters


In short order, Sam reveals to an unbelieving Darrin that she's a witch. He counters with "I have an Aunt who thinks she's a lighthouse, and every time it rains she climbs to the top of the garage to warn sailors." To prove her sorcery, she makes his non-functioning cigarette lighter suddenly flare up. Really? There isn't a single one of us who couldn't have thought up a jillion better examples to make Darrin literally load his shorts in awe, e.g.--turn into Sophia Loren, or materialize a treasure chest of gold doubloons or make Methodist sermons more interesting. It isn't until she conjures up a Manhattan cocktail to appear in his hand that he finally believes her. That would do it for me as well.

Indeed, there's now a period of adjustment for Darrin to absorb his wife's mystical prowess even as she vows never to use her abilities again. Fat chance the show's producers were going to roll with that premise. Darrin eventually breaks the fourth wall, looks into the camera and says "So my wife's a witch--every man has to make some adjustment..." Oh, Darrin--you have no idea...

Notes:
Elizabeth Montgomery's access to the plum role of Samantha may have been magic, but more likely that she was married to the show's producer William Asher.

Darrin's former girlfriend Sheila is played by Nancy Kovack, whose sexual quotient made Samantha look like a New Jersey toll booth worker.

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Darrin had no need to refill his Viagra Rx while dating Sheila...
 
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BobO'Link

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...make Methodist sermons more interesting.
When in HS I dated the local Methodist Minister's oldest daughter. I never heard him deliver a sermon as "we" were Baptist and while dating her was OK there was *no way* dad would let me go to church there. I've often wondered if his sermons were as dry as those at the Baptist church... :D
 
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Rustifer

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When in HS I dated the local Methodist Minister's oldest daughter. I never heard him deliver a sermon as "we" were Baptist and while dating her was OK there was *no way* dad would let me go to church there. I've often wondered if his sermons were as dry as those at the Baptist church... :D
What a coincidence, Howie! I, too, dated the daughter of a Methodist minister many years ago-- who would drag me to church whenever she could (thus the source of my reference).
However--as I fondly remember--once outside those church walls, she was anything but holy...
Amen.
 

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