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Eric at Just My Show alerts us to his interviews with Gary Sandy (WKRP in Cincinnati) and Paul Willson (Cheers, Curb Your Enthusiasm). If you haven't checked out this podcast, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how much Eric gets from his interviewees. Great Sunday morning listening!

Sunday, November 12, 2006 - 7:11am


The fine folks at Fox (the TV network, not the fake news channel) sent me another screener for the upcoming episode of Prison Break. They sent one last week so I watched the show for the first time -and enjoyed it quite a bit. Especially considering I'm jumping in during the second season and have no idea who the characters are. I couldn't wait to pop this episode in the DVD player to find out what happens next.

In last week's episode, some poor guy was chained to a radiator with the cops on the way to send him back to prison. How would he escape? A clue came with the package - a severed hand (plastic, of course) was clutching the DVD. Tasteless to be sure - but bound to end up as someone's Christmas present from me this year.

If you're already a fan of the show, there's a number you can call to get in touch with Theodore Bagwell, the guy chained to the heater - 1 310 369 5089.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006 - 11:40am


Bob Huggins writes: "I rewatched 'The Christmas Carol' to see if I could recognize any of the cast members. Robert Clarke, who did a lot of B-movies in the 1950s (remember 'The Hideous Sun Demon' ???), was the only cast member that I could recognize. However, I noticed the name of Jill Oppenheim, who has a small role as one of Bob Cratchit's daughters. Who is Jill Oppenheim you might ask? Turns out that Jill Oppenheim is the birth name for actress Jill St. John. She would have been about nine years old at the time of this production and, quite possibly, this may have been her first onscreen performance, though does list one other 1949 credit for her (but her credit for 'The Christmas Carol' does not appear at IMDB).
"Also, I forgot to mention that Dollar Tree had another Christmas TV Show DVD with holiday themed episodes from 'Ozzie & Harriet,' 'The Red Skelton Show,' ' Burns & Allen,' ' The Jack Benny Show,' and, perhaps the rarest, an episode from the long forgotten 'Ray Bolger Show.' There were also some DVDs with independently produced shorts for the Christmas season -- some live action, some animated -- that your readers might enjoy. It's amazing that a dollar can buy a little bit of television's past history."

Wednesday, November 8, 2006 - 8:10am


Everyone's looking for those rare, hard to find old-school TV Christmas specials - Bob Huggins tells us: "I came across an interesting dollar DVD this past weekend at Dollar Tree that includes a 1949 television production of Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol.' The title of the DVD was 'A Charles Dickens Christmas' or something along those lines. Anyhow, it's a pretty straightforward telling of the story and one of the earliest television productions that I'm aware of on DVD. Here's my write-up at the Public Domain Movie Data Base:
The Christmas Carol
'The Christmas Carol' is a 1949 production that was made for TV and featured Vincent Price as the narrator and Taylor Holmes as Scrooge. I couldn't determine if this was part of a series or if it was an independent production made for TV (I'm inclined to think it was the latter). The show appears with the 1935 theatrical film 'Scrooge' which has been a public domain perennial. I found this at Dollar Tree as part of the Allegro/Popflix collection of Christmas themed dollar DVDs. Along with the Fall 1949 episodes from 'The Lone Ranger,' this has to be one of the earliest television productions available on DVD. More information on 'The Christmas Carol (1949)' can be found at
- Regards, Bob Huggins

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 - 3:40pm


You know what I did this weekend? I re-encoded 500 video clips that somehow got corrupted, at least they look that way when they're played in the new Real Player 10. It took the entire weekend, from Friday until now (and I'm still not done) - tracking down, pulling and encoding all of those clips - by hand, mind you. It caused me to notice that digital video will really break down over the years. I've noticed that with .gifs - they start deteriorating at around five years and eventually turn to digital mush. The same thing is happening to video I captured five years ago.

Along the way, I re-discovered a few random clips I thought I would present for your pleasure:

John Wayne on TVHere is an unlikely trio: John Wayne, Tom Smothers and Red Skelton as colonial figures reading the words of Ben Franklin. No question, these words resonate as strongly today as ever. Wayne & Skelton were publicly very conservative, Tom Smothers an unabashed liberal. Yet all can agree on the message here - or at least we could 30 years back.

"For, when dissent becomes a crime, hope becomes despair. Dissent, but dissent honorably," Franklin wrote. "Speak out for what you believe in at least as loudly as you speak against the system. For gentlemen, if ours is a generation to say democracy will not administer to the people, let it be a conscious decision arrived at only after every opportunity for man to rule himself has failed."

Speaking of Tom Smothers, here's a short bit from one of the Smothers Brothers' first prime-time appearances, on the Bing Crosby Show.

Ida Lupino & Howard Duff photoIn a marvelous bit of type-casting, Ida Lupino and Howard Duff (married in real life) portrayed married movie stars in Mr. Adams & Eve; the maid was played by Olive Carey, seen in many classic John Wayne / John Ford movies including The Searchers. In this scene, pampered Eve decides to live what the 'typical woman' experiences in a day.

One of my favorite cartoons when I was a wee lad was - The Mighty Heroes - a spoof of the super hero team-ups that were popular in comic books at the time. Here's the rollicking theme song.

Hank TV ShowIn 1965 there was a charming sitcom called Hank starring Dick Kallman - about the first college drop-in. College drop-outs were a common theme in the culture in '65 but this show was about a clean cut guy who disguised himself as a student he knew was going to be absent that day. In this way, he could get a college education and continue to take care of his orphaned sister. Aaaaaaaw!

The theme song to Hank sported lyrics by Johnny Mercer:
He's up with the sun
And he's got the college ringin'
As he goes upon another swingin' day;
With jobs to be done or errands to run
He's A-Number one OK.
He'll dry-clean your clothes,
Be a butler or a porter
If it means another quarter in the bank.
He'll get his degree, his Phi Beta Key --
And get 'em both for free.
That's Hank!

Monday, November 6, 2006 - 8:40am - Billy Ingram


Bob BarkerBy now you've heard that Bob Barker is retiring. No more Price is Right as we know it. (Here's a sound capture from the very first week of The New (as it was called then) Price is Right.)

The question becomes - who will replace Bob Barker? Granted, he's hardly at his best these days, his 'senior moments' come more often now, but what he's accomplished is nothing short of amazing.

No doubt he's one of the best TV interviewers of all time with a quick wit (in his prime) and a connection to the audience borne out of decades and decades of daily TV shows like Price and Truth or Consequences.

However, I think I can suggest the perfect replacement for Bob Barker - Bob Barker.

Remember when Charles Schulz retired and stopped drawing the comic strip Peanuts? Rather that replace the artist - he WAS Peanuts - they began rerunning old strips from the classic years. Why not do the same for Price is Right?

CBS could mix it up, one week from 1975, one week from 1987, one week from 1999, and so on. I'm betting those broadcasts would be more enjoyable than whatever it will be when whoever takes over for Bob. The show is the video equivalent of comfort food for most of the audience anyway. Hey CBS - how about testing out this idea when the program goes into reruns?

(Why this won't really work - the show will lose it's attraction because people at home want to believe that one day they can get up on that stage, play those games and spin the big wheel. And it's always possible that they can - so long as the show is still in production.)

Wednesday, November 1, 2006 - 11:49am - Billy Ingram


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