TV BLOG - 178
TV BLOG - 160
REAGAN & DEAN
There was also an episode where James Dean and Ronald Reagan actually appeared together in a drama called 'The Dark, Dark Hours', where Dean played a home intruder and Reagan the father who must protect his family. This was a live broadcast. Here are the highlights from that show broadcast on CBS Sunday, December 12, 1954 - Dean had filmed his breakout hit East of Eden but it had not yet been released.
James Dean died a year later and Ronald Reagan paid tribute to him on the show. From Wikipedia: On March 17, 2010, General Electric presented Reagan's widow Nancy Reagan with video copies of all 208 episodes of General Electric Theater, to be donated to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Wouldn't that make an awsome DVD release?
Today in BestofTVblog: Who's not dead? The latest entertainment news.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010 8:19am
BABY ROSE MARIE
Exploiting children's sexuality isn't a new thing, they had Baby Rose Marie singing some pretty suggestive songs - like 'Playmate, Come Out and Play with Me' which unfortunately isn't on You Tube.
Today in BestofTVblog: The latest entertainment news.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010 6:01am
SEARCHING FOR THE NEXT BATMAN
William Dozier, Batman's producer, was naturally tapped to create new series based on comics. His shallow interpretation of the Caped Crusader was perfect for the times and for the medium's desire for colorful graphics and fast action, color TV was new after all. The first season or so of Batman was brilliant; visually stimulating, stylistically zany, reasonably corny, and the program reinforced American values, albeit in a slightly sardonic way.
Early TV scripts were crafted around actual comic book storylines but as soon as Dozier and his writers veered away from the source material the production slid into silly self-parody. They didn't have a clue what made the characters - or the show - click in the first place.
The thinly constructed villains Dozier and company created without help from the comics - Louis the Lilac, The Archer, The Siren, The Minstrel, Lola Lasagne, Lord Pfogg & Lady Peasoup, Colonel Gumm among others - were instantly forgettable unless a great actor like Tallulah Bankhead (The Black Widow) or Shelley Winters (Ma Parker) inhabited the role.
Dozier and ABC had high hopes for The Green Hornet in the fall of 1966, they even introduced the heroes in a 2 part story arc on Batman. The Green Hornet & Kato were immensely popular on radio for two decades but the new hour-long TV drama failed to click; it had none of the humor of Batman and very little excitement to offer.
Dozier hoped to replicate Batman's success by going back to the wellspring, DC comics, and developed Wonder Woman as a 1967 fall hopeful utilizing many of the same creative personnel from the Batman series.
They went with a ridiculous sitcom approach - in Wonder Woman: Who's Afraid of Diana Prince? our heroine was your typical American super-powered housewife, think Samantha Stevens with a tiara. Oddly, Wonder Woman was played by two different people - a homely gal in the role of Diana Prince (Ellie Wood Walker of The New Interns) and a beautiful woman (Linda Harrison) after she morphed into the Amazonian Princess.
Dick Tracy was another venerable comic strip character that, on the surface, might have seemed a natural for TV in 1967 - a 14 year run on radio, 3 1930's movies serials, 4 feature films in the 1940s, colorful villains, futuristic gadgets. But the Depression-era detective was an anachronism by the time this pilot was filmed. The Ventures provided the theme song for Dick Tracy, undoubtedly the worst tune I've heard from them.
Li'l Abner got the live-action treatment in 1966 with a script written (supposedly) by creator Al Capp himself, a terrific producer and director (Howard Leeds and Coby Ruskin), and a ho-hum cast that included Sammy Jackson (Li'l Abner), Jeannine Riley (Daisy Mae), Judy Canova (Mammy Yokum), and Jerry Lester (Pappy Yokum).
There were a few other ink to screen attempts before and after these; Archie and his pals failed to make the 1964 schedule with a live action series pilot that was no better or worse than anything else on TV at the time. A lame version of Tarzan ran for 2 years on NBC starting in 1966.
And there was Batgirl in 1967. ABC and Dozier shot a pilot for a half-hour series which mimicked the Batman series in every way, including sharing supporting cast members. The pilot's script was based on the character's debut in Detective comics #359 but the show, where the Dynamic Daredoll battles the Killer Moth, was never broadcast.
The network ultimately decided that, instead of a spin-off, Batgirl should join the Dynamic Duo to hopefully bolster their sagging bat-ratings. Bits of the pilot were incorporated into Batman's first third season episode sans the Killer Moth plotline. This third wheel approach didn't work. The comic book superhero bubble had burst anyway; Batman was bounced from the airwaves in 1968.
If America wasn't interested in guys and gals in long johns and loincloths, were they turned off by four-color adaptations altogether? Blondie began appearing in the nation's newspapers in 1930, Chic Young's strip spawned a long-running movie series (two or three a year) from the late-1930s until 1950 and a radio program that ran concurrently. A TV series that lasted a year was broadcast in 1957.
In 1968, despite the failure of every comics-related production since Batman, CBS welcomed Blondie to their fall schedule. The cast was spot on, the writing and art direction accurately reflected the hokey, middle-class-dream sensibility of the comics but whatever it was that had Americans turning the pages to read the strip was lost in the video translation. The show was dropped mid-season and so, for a while, was the idea of anthropomorphizing lines on paper.
Did you know: Batman, Robin and Batgirl were reunited in a PSA for the Department of Labor that aired in the early-1970s? Yvonne Craig, and Burt Ward reprised their roles, with Dick Gautier doing his best Adam West imitation.
Sunday, April 25, 2010 9:06am
GREAT COMEDY BITS
Growing up in the South I heard Andy Griffith's 'What It Was Was Football' many times; it was recorded in 1953 but was such a hoot it remained popular for decades on morning radio.
Flip Wilson's 'Ugly Baby' routine absolutely killed on the Tonight show in the 1960s; he told it again on other shows. The impact it had on his career was enormous, suddenly everyone was talking about Flip Wilson. This was during a time when the most respected comedians told funny stories instead of rattling off jokes.
One of the great storytellers to come out of the 1960s was Bill Cosby, his comedy albums sold in the millions and with good reason, they're all a scream. This bit, 'Noah,' is a perfect example of Cosby's brash, masterful storytelling skills. It's easy to see how the Saturday Night Live style of comedy a decade later came directly from Cosby's wry, confrontational absurdism.
- Entertainment News in BestofTVblog: like what TV rock star was again rushed to the hospital - and what does the Cartoon Network's Looney Tunes redesign look like?
Saturday, April 24, 2010 8:45am
YOU WON'T FIND THIS ON YOU TUBE
One forgotten 4 episode series from Blye & Einstein was Joey & Dad, a 1975 Sunday night summer replacement (for Cher) that attempted to recreate the Sonny and Cher show in a post-Sonny & Cher world - by taking sexy, multi-talented Joey Heatherton and pairing her with her father, who was known in the local NYC market as the loveable kiddie show host The Merry Mailman.
Joey Heatherton was also familiar to TV audiences, on a national scale, for her appearances on the Tonight show, the Dean Martin, Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas shows, and for her alluring ads for the Serta's Perfect Sleeper line.
To give you an idea of the talent packed into this little lady, check out this number from the very first episode of The Dean Martin Show - 'I've Got Your Number'.
Instead of marital sparring, the focus of Joey & Dad was on the generation gap; other than that, it was a straight ahead S&C clone. The show not only failed to get picked up, Cher blamed the program for her series falling in the ratings when she returned in the fall.
Here's the opening to one of those Joey & Dad shows, from a cassette tape I made by holding the recorder up to the TV in 1975. Although it's pleasing enough and mildly funny, with dialogue like that it's not hard to see why the variety show became an endangered species in the 1970s.
One bizarre low point was the 'dead parrot' routine lifted from Monty Python and performed nearly verbatim by Pat Paulsen and Sherman Hemsley. I had that around here somewhere...
On BestofTVblog today - the top rated shows of last week, TV news, and what television star has fessed up to a drug problem that destroyed his family and career?
Friday, April 23, 2010 8:15am
Could Elmo help your kids eat their broccoli? That's the idea - when the Sesame Workshop did a study asking kids to choose between broccoli and a chocolate bar 78% chose the sweet. (I'm surprised it wasn't higher.) When an Elmo sticker was placed on the broccoli and an unknown sticker on the chocolate the kids were evenly split - 50% chose the broccoli The Atkins Foundation will do a follow up study.
Rescue Me returns June 29 followed by a new comedy starring comedian Louis C.K.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone really wanted to make the 200th episode of South Park a television event - so they decided to depict the Muslim prophet Muhammad. Again. The last time they tried it in 2006 they were censored by Comedy Central who apparently didn't realize Muhammad had already been seen in a 2001 South Park episode. As a result Parker & Stone have received a death "warning" from a radical web site. That has to suck.
Sad to hear about Marie Osmond's son's suicide - one of my past co-workers was her assistant in the 1980s when she was mostly doing the dolls and my friend had nothing but nice things to say about her.
Income is up 44% for Netflix.
You know all of those Hitler parodies on You Tube, I've had them here before, where a scene from Downfall is used to supposedly show Hitler ranting about the iPhone or whatever? Constantin Film owns the copyright and demanded that the videos come down.
CBS is developing a daytime panel show ala The View that will focus on moms, Sara Gilbert (Roseanne) and Julie Chen are confirmed hosts. And ABC is considering a talk show with Tori Spelling - what?!? Seems The View may move to syndication when Oprah finishes her run, there's more money there.
A new big-budget 3-D Disney version of The Wizard of Oz with Robert Downey, Jr. in the title role may be coming.
Heather Locklear was cited for hit and run - was William Shatner hanging on to the hood of the car?
Thursday, April 22, 2010 7:09am
TWIN CITIES EVENT TONIGHT!
Also scheduled to appear are: Miss Betty of Romper Room, Daryl Laub (Skipper Daryl and T.N. Tatters), Mary Davies (Carmen the Nurse), Don Stolz (Towser & Tallulah), Allan Lotsberg (Willie Ketchem), and others. I'll be there, too, selling and signing copies of my book, What a Card! The Story of Clellan Card and Axel and His Dog, in the lobby. They'll be showing a slightly different group of clips from last September, and Mary Davies is also slated to sing!
Thursday, April 22, 2010 6:01am
LOST IN SPACE REDUX
There was really no reason for CBS to cancel the show in 1968, ratings were as strong as they'd ever been, but it was clear that producer Irwin Allen and his stable of writers were running out of ideas. The storylines they were preparing for season 4 would likely have pleased no one anyway but when CBS told Allen the budget would have to be cut 15% that was the end.
Thirty years after cancellation a wonderful documentary, Lost in Space Forever, reunited Will Robinson, Dr. Smith and the Robot onboard a replica of the Jupiter 2; it's just a few minutes but it's probably the finest recreation of a TV series I've ever seen. This is what happens when you get people to participate who truly love and understand what the original series was all about. What a concept, huh?
It's remarkable to see how the actors - Mumy, Jonathan Harris, and Bill May in the Robot suit (with Dick Tufeld providing the voice) - jump right back into their characters so easily. Jonathan Harris passed away five years later, just before filming was to start for a two-hour TV movie entitled Lost In Space: The Journey Back Home with the entire surviving cast (according to Wikipedia anyway).
Did you know there was a 2004 pilot for a proposed WB series that ultimately didn't sell called The Robinsons: Lost in Space directed by John Woo? The entire episode is on You Tube, here's a link to it, embedding is disabled.
That's not the first time a Lost in Space sequel was attempted - in 1973 Hanna-Barbera gave it a go with an animated pilot for a Saturday morning series. The characters were all different, only Dr. Smith reprised his role, although the Robot (called Robon here) looked somewhat like the LIS mechanical man. This hour-long cartoon aired on the Saturday Superstar Movie.
I love this comment someone left on You Tube about the show: "The Jupiter 2 became lost because Dr Smith installed Windows Vista service pack 2 onto the craft's computer system."
Today on Best of TV Blog - Winston Cigarette ads starring the cast of The Beverly Hillbillies.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010 7:07am
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