Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Spooky Reading

Oh, this is going to be fun!

Just in time for Halloween, I snagged a copy of Bryan Senn's A Year of Fear, a guide that suggests a scary movie for each day of the year. Today's choice just happens to be one of my favorite 50s creature features, the underrated The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1958). Each day's movie has an appropriate tie-in to the calendar, plus the author's commentary.

I should clarify that this is not one of my usual book reviews. I've only begun delving into Senn's book, and it may be months before I finish. Instead of reading it cover-to-cover, I will likely cart it around to waiting rooms, and anywhere else I find myself with some time to pass. Today it went along to my polling place. But I've read several of the author's books, and appreciated his knack for writing both knowledgeably and entertainingly about this genre.

I would say more, but right now I'm anxious to get back to the book. Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Theo's Driving the Bronco!

don't watch much contemporary TV, but I have been enjoying "The People v.s. O.J. Simpson. Who knew this 2016 miniseries would turn into such a classic TV reunion?

The Juice is being defended by a Sweathog (John Travolta, above), who's married to one of Charlie's Angels (Cheryl Ladd, also pictured). Also on the defense team are Ross from Friends, and the doctor from Northern Exposure. Theo from The Cosby Show drove the white Bronco, and Faye Resnick's ghostwriter was Andrew from Little House on the Prairie. 

I fully expect to see one of the Facts of Life girls before this is all over. Hey, is that Tootie as Juror #8?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

TV Time Machine: October 1966

It's still hard for me to accept (like many people growing older) that something which took place in 1966 was half a century ago. On the other hand, much has changed in fifty years. From the standpoint of the television industry, October 12, 1966 was a day in which some of the first Nielsen ratings of the new season were being evaluated.

Syndicated columnist Cynthia Lowry reported that ABC's war drama The Rat Patrol showed perhaps the greatest potential out of the gate, placing among TV's top ten shows. This was an especially impressive feat considering that it was in direct competition with a highly rated old favorite, The Lucy Show. Also doing well was Felony Squad, which followed The Rat Patrol on ABC's Monday night schedule. CBS' Family Affair, with a strong lead-in from The Andy Griffith Show, was shaping up as another popular hit.

Although based on only two weeks' worth of ratings, these early ratings were largely an accurate reflection of how the season would progress, with all three of these new shows going on to enjoy multi-season runs. Not quite so lucky was NBC's Occasional Wife, which also started strong but ultimately ran only one year. (See Lost Laughs of '50s and '60s Television for more on that show).

As for those shows at the other end of the ratings pile, Lowry cited The Milton Berle Show, NBC's sitcom Hey, Landlord!, and Burt Reynolds' cop drama Hawk as ones that were in for a struggle. Indeed, none would see a second season.

Still, the new shows of 1966 that debuted to poor ratings had a better shot at capturing viewers than they would today, when slow starters are often canceled after only two or three outings. So if you're enjoying some of the new shows of the 2016-17 season, watch them while you can. You never know.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Dana's Day

Happy birthday to writer/comedian Bill Dana, still kicking at the age of 92. Born October 5, 1924, Dana had his own TV sitcom, aptly titled The Bill Dana Show, from 1963 to 1965. In the late 80s and early 90s, fans of The Golden Girls knew him as Dorothy's goofy, lecherous Uncle Angelo.

You can read more about Dana and his career in Lost Laughs of '50s and '60s Television.