TV BLOG - 178
TV BLOG - 160
This isn't safe for work, not by a long shot, Paul Mooney talks about white movies and the Lassie TV show from one of his older comedy CDs. In 2006, Mooney swore off using the 'N' word, which I think is a good thing. I never understood why that word had to come back in the first place. Incidentally, NBC was the first network to ban the word, back in the 1940s, and was the first to bring it back with regularity in Sanford & Son.
Just for some balance try Old Jews Telling Jokes - more jokes follow, one after the other, if you like.
Thursday, March 11, 2010 9:32am
THIS 'N' THAT
TVparty-er Ken Reid is up for Best Comic in Boston - go vote for him here, spread the love!
Troubled ex-teen star Corey Haim is dead, presumably of a drug overdose. "I feel like with myself I ruined myself to the point where I wasn't functional enough to work for anybody, even myself," Haim related on ABC's Nightline in 2007. Sad story.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010 11:56am
A BETTER CLASSIC TV NETWORK
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.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010 12:45pm
Now, I despise that whole Gosselin mess, I never understood why anyone could possibly care a whit about those people - but have you read Playgirl is offering Jon Gosselin $20,000 to pose nude? It's a ridiculously low number, hell I wouldn't even do it for 20 large. But the magazine threw in a potential bonus: "For every inch more than four, we'll give him an additional $10,000." THAT deal I'll take! I could use $20,000.43.
That news producer accused of blackmailing David Letterman who was somewhat vindicated in this month's Vanity Fair? He just pleaded guilty.
Three of Michael Jackson's bodyguards are telling tales about his life of "stress, paranoia and pain" but it sounds like a PR move for the Jackson estate to me.
Became a Facebook fan of Flexitoon Presents "Sandy Becker's Christmas Carol."
Tuesday, March 9, 2010 11:30am
ANOTHER CLASSIC TV PASSING
Monday, March 8, 2010 10:42am
THE GOLDBERGS ON DVD
I've really been looking forward to this one - all known surviving episodes of The Goldbergs (71 in all) have been collected into a deluxe package that includes 12 radio episodes and a booklet with two fantastic essays relating to the importance of the show and writer/creator/ producer/star Gertrude Berg.
A massive hit on radio since 1921, Gertrude Berg enthusiastically embraced TV at a time when most radio stars were extremely reluctant to make the jump. As a result, in 1950 Gertrude Berg won the first ever Emmy for Best Actress in a TV Series for her portrayal of Molly Goldberg. Success and a long run were assured until the actor that played Molly's husband Jake (Philip Loeb) was named as a Communist during the McCarthy witch hunts of the fifties. Ratings quickly started to erode because of the bad publicity while Gertrude Berg, virtually the only woman with any power in show business at that time, stood by her co-star - and went down with him when CBS cancelled her now controversial show.
The Goldbergs bounced from networks to syndication but was never able to get the spark back. This collection is mostly made up of those last ditch efforts, most of the original run with Loeb no longer exists as they were broadcast live, only a 5 kinescopes survive. You can read more about The Goldbergs here.
The Goldbergs harkens back to the dialect humor of the vaudeville days, where performers exaggerated 'foreign' accents for comical effect. With most dialectical comedy the scenarios and jokes are overly broad, not so here. There isn't even a studio audience, although every other aspect of the production is structured like a theatrical play.
Despite the fact that she made millions from this franchise, somehow Gertrude Berg kept the common man touch, her comedy is rooted in everyday activities and relationships. The humor here is subtle, and I mean suuuuuuuubtle. It has a lot more in common with modern comedies like The Royal Tannebaums or Little Miss Sunshine than it does with the vaudeville Catskills type of Jewish humor.
That might be one reason why The Goldbergs had such a hard time on television - in 1949 TV was so new people would sit in rapt attention to what was on the screen, paying close attention to the proceeding just as they did with network radio programs. After a few years of Milton Berle and Your Show of Shows, where the humor was more fast-paced and the laugh tracks rang out, suddenly The Goldbergs were too antiquated for the nifty-fifties, modern world. It's also true that ethnic shows (Amos 'n' Andy, Life With Luigi) fell rapidly out of favor as the white bread sitcoms like Ozzie & Harriet ruled the roost for the next couple of decades.
This led to the last Goldbergs incarnation, a 1955 syndicated show (at first called The Goldbergs, later Molly) that took the characters previously existing in a world of New York City tenements and neighbors so close you could converse out the kitchen window to a life in the sunny suburbs.
This format change was insisted on by the syndicator, an attempt to make The Goldbergs more like Father Knows Best - but 'Jewish Mother Knows Best' never really caught on despite being a darn fine show. To Berg's credit the series retained its old world charm, the characters didn't change significantly just the circumstances. And there was still no soundtrack. The 1955 version of The Goldbergs is a straight up 1950's sitcom and Gertrude Berg commands the screen with every bit of the verve and liveliness that made Lucy and Eve Arden so popular.
This re-invented series is a joy to watch as Molly confronts a whole new world inhabited by situations and folks she's not used to dealing with. In the poignantly funny second episode Molly goes around trying to make friends in the neighborhood but instead gets everyone riled up with her overly-friendly ways. There's generally no hilarity in these programs, no Lucy-stomping-grapes moments, but it's a pleasant time wallowing in the past none the less.
All 38 episodes of the syndicated series exist, and in wonderful condition because they were shot on film, and they're all found in this DVD collection.
Also included, and this is what I wanted to watch most, is the pilot episode of Mrs. G Goes To College, Gertrude Berg's attempt at a comeback on CBS in 1961. That show co-starred Sir Sedwick Hardwick - sadly college sitcoms never were able to take hold on TV, no matter how good they were (see also: Hank). This ended the queen of all media's TV career.
The Goldbergs is a remarkable look back at the 1950s via Berg's 1930's sensibility; a tremendous achievement when you consider every storyline was written by Ms. Berg herself, along with her son Cherney.
The only drawback - TV on DVD buyers that are used to hefty discounts from Amazon or Wal-Mart will have to get used to paying full price for Shout! Factory exclusives. My Two Dads Season 2, the animated C.O.P.S., and The Bill Cosby Show Season 2 are also being released in this exclusive manner.
Monday, March 8, 2010 8:16am
HONORING THE LEGENDS
I've professed my deep and abiding love for the afternoon talk shows of the 1970s where you could see the legends of show business in the most informal setting possible. Here's Moe Howard on The Mike Douglas Show talking about his early days in vaudeville and his career as the head Stooge.
Larry Fine of the Three Stooges granted a rare video interview in 1973 when he was residing at the Motion Picture Country Home. Embedding is disabled but it's worth a look.
Friday, March 5, 2010 5:45am
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