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Wonderful Behind The Scenes TV Stories From Prolific Director Ralph Senensky May 6, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, Blogroll, Television.
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I’d forgotten that Don Rickles once played a villain on The Wild Wild West, and rewatched that episode today. And then in looking up some stuff about it online, hoping to find perhaps links to outtakes and blooper reels where he became Don Rickles and commented on the mystical evil magician dialogue he’d been given or on Robert Conrad and Ross Martin, I came across this behind-the-scenes story on the filming of the episode written by its director, Ralph Senensky.

Senensky directed TONS of television from the 1960s thru the 1980s, logging episodes of so many of yours & my favorite shows that’s there’s too many to mention here – and it turns out he’s been blogging for years on his memories of them, and has a fantastic website containing all that material, organized by show and episode.

This site is a GOLD MINE! Senensky writes beautifully about what working in television was like back in the days of my favorite old reruns. He brings to life assorted names you’d see on numerous credits of numerous shows – Gene Coon or Quinn Martin and so forth – as well as including interesting stories dealing with both the technical limits & possibilities of the industry all those years ago.  His entries on specific episodes (and check out that sidebar menu for the sheer volume of ’em) include scans of script pages with rewrites & director cues…. amazing stuff, especially for photographic memory geeks like me who can replay the episode in my mind while I’m reading.

And not just the Star Treks he did, either. I can do a lot of the others because ALL I DO IS WATCH TV.

For anyone interested in TV history, or just the old shows & stars & writers you follow in your little nerd-heart-of-hearts, this stuff is indispensable. I can’t believe I didn’t know about it until now.

To quote Spock: “Fascinating.”

Oh, and Rickles? He didn’t disappoint…. Senensky tells us that inbetween takes, he went the full Vegas act on everyone, even making Billy Barty jokes about Conrad’s height. Rickles remains my fuckin’ hero.

And it looks like Ralph Senensky celebrated his 95th birthday a week ago. Happy Birthday, Director!

 

 

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My Brown University Jeopardy Bro April 20, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Television.
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Dhruv Gaur, a freshman at my alma mater of Brown University, won this year’s Jeopardy College Championship.

FUCK YEAH, BRUNONIA!

Congrats, kid! You’re the first thing in FAR too many years to make me proud of my college instead of embarrassed for it.

He won $100,000, which ought to cover nearly a whole semester of classes these days.

I Watched Every Episode March 24, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1980s, Television.
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Franz & Jurasik were brilliant together.

It “wasn’t tea with the freakin’ queen,” but it was entertaining.

If A Threesome With Bea Arthur Is A Crime, We All Want To Be Guilty March 20, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1970s, Television.
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God’ll get you for that, Wagstaff.

Get Out Of The Car, Cut Off Your Slauson March 16, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in General, Television.
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I Want This Channel Back March 15, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Movies, Television.
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Every Saturday afternoon from the old Channel 56 outta Boston.

Amazing how many clips in that montage I immediately recognize, and how many are from films I’ve seen. Gawd.

Groovy March 12, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in General, Television.
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CHiPs does roller disco

The best line up of stars until Robert Evans’ community service “Get High On Yourself,” I would say.

You Need To See Vincent Price As An Evil Puppeteer Who Turns People Into Puppets March 1, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1960s, Television.
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Arguably the stupidest episode of “Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea,” which is saying something.

And that something is that it’s GREAT!

Enjoy some silly TV from yesteryear.

In case yer curious: I came across this while searching out old Walter Pidgeon material. He starred in the film the series was based on, and the surfin’ went from there.

It Would Have Been….Glorious February 27, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, Television.
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They added a new channel to my satellite, another one of the “let’s run everything in the library” old TV rerun stations.

In other words, something else I’ll be wasting time on. This one runs EVERY version of Star Trek EVERY GOD DAMN NIGHT!!!

They even run the Star Trek Saturday morning cartoon on Sunday nights! The animation is Space Ghost Coast To Coast level, but the scripts are pretty good, and lots of ’em are by original series writers.

“Heroes And Idols” also runs a ton of old cop shows and westerns, albeit during the day when I WORK FOR A LIVING, FELLA. But it’s nice to sporadically watch old reruns of Hill Street Blues again. The show manages to hold up & give me ’80s nostalgia all at once.

“Family Entertainment TV” is another one I found. They run Hart To Hart & TJ Hooker up the wazoo, along with Maude reruns, but they also run Barney Miller & Peter Gunn.

“MeTV” rounds out the pack, maintaining my Rifleman and Hawaii 5-0 interest. They’re putting all of their better sitcoms, now relegated to a late-night Sunday junkyard, into the vault, alas. I’m hoping they rotate stuff they own like Dick Van Dyke, all the MTM ’70s shows, Bilko, The Honeymooners, Get Smart and The Odd Couple into their prime time slate and finally put Andy Griffith and Hogan’s Heroes to bed for a while.

Yes, this is what I spend my time thinking about.

I’d like to see them add Antenna TV and Decades to pretty much take care of all the other old crap I like being put back on, although for the life of me, I have no idea who owns “Burke’s Law,” a marvelous bit of 1960s Madmen-era silly detective cool that’d actually make a great pairing with Peter Gunn. The episodes posted on youtube will have to suffice.

I realize we’re living in what can be accurately called a new golden age of TV, with upper-end shows like The Americans, Game of Thrones, Curb Your Enthusiasm and so forth being produced with cinematic quality, and writing/character development far superior than most feature films.

But I’ll never get tired of watching those old shows. They retain their honor and glory. Just ask Commander Kor. (Or wait a few years for him to be Baltar.)

Let’s Hear It For Cris Shapan February 25, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, Art, Movies, Music, Television.
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Perhaps while surfing online,  you’ve come across some amazingly campy magazine cover, or album cover, maybe it was a pulp book from a long-ago celeb and couldn’t believe it existed…

Well, that’s because it probably doesn’t, except in the work of graphic artist Cris Shapan.

I highly recommend following Shapan’s Facebook Page where he regularly posts this stuff, as well as his Funny Or Die page.

The style of humor reminds me a lot of Drew Friedman, who loves to pick out his favorite childhood celebrities and illustrate them all too realistically in bizarre settings. Check out “Jimmy Durante Boffs Young Starlets” for example.

I’m surprised he doesn’t maintain some sort of regular website containing all this stuff, it looks like he’s content to use Facebook. My other theory is that this guy clearly gets his jollies posting this stuff & then kicking back to watch people repost it thinking it’s real. Shapan’s handle on the recognizable & realistic graphic designs of the stuff he’s goofing on from yesteryear is amazing. The colors, fonts, details of wear & tear, etc. are absolutely wonderful. Look at the wax paper lighting effects on that Avery Schreiber bubble gum pack (I wish I had one of those!) giving it real texture and depth. Great stuff.

Nice to see he gets work in Hollywood, hopefully they’l let him apply his comedy genius somewhere.

“They don’t write like that anymore…” – Greg Kihn