A BETTER CLASSIC TV NETWORK
Chris Hoskins writes: Thank you, thank you, thank you for your brilliant website- the only one of its kind that is made for people like me. You know, the ones who couldn't wait for the TV Guide's Fall Preview edition to come out. And remember what an event September was when all the networks unleashed every new show within one week? Today, shows are rolled out haphazardly and with seemly little passion.
One question, though. Don't you think we are losing our nostalgic TV history. Cable networks like TV Land sold their souls long ago by rebranding Gen X favorites like "Different Strokes" as classics. And while we can wait for a "Mannix: Season One" DVD to come down from the heavens where in the world can one ever see Quinn Martins' "The F.B.I" or any rebroadcast of obscure curio like "Madigan" starring Richard Widmark. You Tube can be a wonderful repository but its sketchy.
Here is a prime frustrating example. Recently when Jeff Bridges won his oscar, I looked up the filmography of his dad, Lloyd Bridges. We all remember "Sea Hunt," of course, but what of a two part TV-Movie made in the late 70's called "The Critical List." I fondly remember this slickly produced NBC medical drama that co-starred Robert Wagner. So will I ever see it again? Possibly never. That's a shame.
We need a Turner Classic Movie channel for TV (since you dropped that torch, TV Land). A place where the full run of the 1950's "Dragnet" or "Burns and Allen" can be viewed and appreciated in their Black and White brilliance. A place where the old "ABC Movie of the Week" can be celebrated for its innovations.
I wholeheartedly agree! It might surprise some of you to know that I haven't had cable or satellite TV in almost a decade. I just got tired of moving around the channels and finding nothing of interest to watch. Oh sure, the first 6 months it's a cornucopia of amazing programming, but then you notice it's the same shows you've been watching shuffled around. How many times can you rake the coals of World War II; how many crime shows and documentaries can you watch before you just don't care anymore?
Having 100 channels of nothing-to-watch beamed into my home is as wasteful as having a catered dinner for 30 people for my lunch. I Netflix instead, assuring me of a steady stream of stuff I want to watch when I'm ready to relax. That and the DVDs sent for review keep me reasonably happy but Chris is right - I can't imagine why there hasn't been a network for those of us who want to watch some of the quality entertainment we grew up on.
The more obscure stuff - sure, everyone's glad we can watch MTM or Bob Newhart or even a hacked to pieces Carol Burnett Show. But there's so much more out there. A Sunday afternoon schedule that includes Insight, Sea Hunt, Whirlybirds, Ripcord, and, yes, even Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, Ted Mack's Amateur Hour, and Bowling for Dollars would be a treat. You can't tell me the broadcast rights for those shows are going to come to much.
Think of all the great short-lived sitcoms and pilots that could fill up a day. It's About Time, Run Buddy Run, and Camp Runamuck are at least as good as Get Smart or I Dream of Jeanie. How much fun would it be to watch those regional wrestling shows of the 1970s? Or Andy Griffith's two failed series, Headmaster and The New Andy Griffith Show?
In the '50s, '60s and '70s just about every major star tried their luck at a television series; Bette Davis had a number of pilots, Henry Fonda had three series that I can think of off the top of my head. Dramas like The Richard Boone Show (which I haven't seen but sounds interesting), and T.H.E. Cat deserve a new life. Tired of Bonanza and Gunsmoke? How about Dirty Sally, Hondo, The Cowboys, or The Young Rebels reruns?
Then again, who owns what, what still survives, and music rights are part of the problem. We'll never see unadulterated episodes of The Andy Williams Show or The Jack Paar Program because of music and performance rights issues but can't there be some way to make those shows available in something other than a 'best-of' package?
It's complications like that had CBS saying recently that they won't release The Jack Benny Program, there's no clear ruling on who owns the rights to what. And don't even bring up the Batman TV series hopelessly mired in a number of issues, one of which is the Dozier family's belief they are owed a lot of money for reruns on the Sci-Fi network a decade ago.
Still, I hold out hope one day for a new channel - why not the TVparty network - where programming is decided on in a manner other than what might test well with a demographic group I have nothing in common with.
- Billy Ingram
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