jump to navigation

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.
add a comment

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.
add a comment

I Want This Channel Back March 15, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Movies, Television.
add a comment

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.
add a comment

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.
add a comment

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.
add a comment

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.
add a comment

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

TV Was Better Then February 17, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Television.
add a comment

Wait, so is YoYo the SECRET LOVE CHILD of Steve Austin & Jamie Summers? I must have missed that very special episode.

Or are Holmes & Yoyo the opposing candidates in the Presidential debate to follow?

Not sure who I’d vote for. Is Hello Larry running as a third party candidate? America should have a choice.

The Genius Of Old School Comedy December 31, 2012

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1960s, Television.
Tags: , , , ,
1 comment so far

Car 54

So what does Wagstaff do over Christmas vacation?

Well, along with going through dozens of old movies & television shows of the horror/scifi variety for an upcoming class (yeah, yeah… blog entries forthcoming), I also grabbed some other DVDs from the vaults and wound up taking breaks from the ’60s spy shows & Vincent Price movies to watch the entire first season of Car 54, Where Are You? which I just discovered is available on disc. Season 2 came out this past year, and while the packaging isn’t great and the episodes aren’t in order, the video/audio quality is pristine and the shows are complete.

Car 54, along with Sgt. Bilko, comprise Nat Hiken’s amazing two-fer as a pair of entries in the funniest TV series EVAH contest.

And, of course, both shows are nearly impossible to find on the air, despite hundreds of cable channels & several channels devoted entirely to running old library material. But unfortunately, Antenna TV and TV Land do not run either of these two.

What struck me this time through, rewatching stuff I hadn’t seen since the late ’80s when Nick At Nite ran them, is how overtly Jewish Car 54 is – the line delivery, cadences of nearly every character, the comic confusion set-ups and payoffs… are all straight from the Yiddish theater/Eddie Cantor/borscht belt traditions. It’s not only Officer Schnauzer and his wife (Al Lewis & Charlotte Rae) whose entire schtick comes from self-deprecating Jew whining – that schtick permeates the entire show, and not only because of its Bronx neighborhood setting.

Much like Homer Simpson, Gunther Toody’s stupidity never gets old comically. Joe E. Ross began on Bilko as Sgt. Ritzik, forever the stooge for Phil Silvers’ con jobs, so the transition into playing the dumb-as-a-bag-0f-hammers cop alongside the smarter and nebbishly shy Muldoon (Fred Gwynne) was easy. Best friends in the show, the two actors couldn’t have been different off-screen – Gwynne, the Harvard grad Broadway stage actor & talented illustrator, Ross the vulgar nightclub comic who married 8 strippers from the parade of them through his dressing room, at least according to this immensely entertaining article.

It’s nice to see a sitcom devoted only to comedy – no messages, no lessons learned, no 1980s era moment of shit…. just characters who play off each other well, who don’t know they’re funny, and who wind up in situations where their mistakes & confusion lead to entertaining chaos playing off human imperfection. And above all, none of my current pet peeve against present-day comedy – none of the “too cool for the room” snark annoyingly ubiquitous in the comedy world. This was a different generation, and while a lot of the material is dated, most of it still works beautifully. Funny is funny.

Highly recommended, and if you’ve never seen it, it’s a must. Each season had 30 episodes – and to quote Colonel Potter, “not a bum in the lot.”

Now I think I’ll go back and watch some Bilkos as well!

God’ll Get You For That, Wagstaff November 20, 2012

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1970s, Television.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

Thanks to the absence of baseball & a reshuffling of the Antenna TV schedule, my dinner-preparing 5pm hour is now populated by reruns of Maude. The only other programming choice at that time is Bill O’Reilly, and I guess if I want someone spouting polemics interspersed with one-liners, I’ll go with Bea Arthur since she has more hair.

Maude was regularly watched by my family back in the day, along with most of the other forward ‘n’ edgy sitcoms of the ’70s, like All In The Family, M*A*S*H, as well as the ones that hold up far better artistically to the present day, like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Odd Couple, The Bob Newhart Show, and Barney Miller.

Well, the first several seasons of M*A*S*H hold up. But that’s a l o n g blog post for a later time.

Along with possible musings on how well WKRP & Soap have held up. Antenna TV is a marvelous fountain of time travel.

Anyway, I’d forgotten how much shouting took place on Maude. It seems every episode features people arguing & fighting, and not over politics or issues of the day like we got on All In The Family during its first few seasons, until along came baby Joey & Meathead moved next door and what was essentially a late 1960s show became a mid 1970s one on a cultural level. Same deal with M*A*S*H, really.

Maude’s arguments & shoutfests, however, reflect interestingly on the changing morality of the ’70s much more than All In The Family or other Norman Lear polemicoms of the era ever did, except perhaps for One Day At A Time, which depicted permissive parenting at an entirely new & maudlin level. Maude & Walter’s affluent upper-middle class existence features very lax, open-minded attitudes towards adultery and divorce in numerous episodes, and pushed the envelope the furthest in the first-season “Maude’s Dilemma” two parter where, pre Roe v. Wade, Maude discovers she’s pregnant at age 47 and decides to get an abortion (thankfully off-camera, although the prospect of casting someone like Foster Brooks or Professor Irwin Corey as the wacky abortionist was clearly a wasted opportunity).

You can’t really top that one, but Maude would try – Walter’s alcoholism would lead to an episode where he confronts his drinking problem after punching Maude in the face (with HILARIOUS consequences! Well… maybe not) or if you want something REALLY funny, there’s Walter’s suicide attempt after his business goes bad. Or his near-fatal heart attack. Or the series of episodes opening Season 4 where Maude & Walter’s marriage nearly breaks up over her decision to run for State Senate against Walter’s wishes.

That’s right… I grew up in an era when this was considered comedy. Jack Benny, George Burns, Phil Silvers, Don Adams…. PIKERS! None of them ever got abortions or attempted suicide, although Frank Nelson as the cop trying to talk Jack Benny off a window ledge would have been hysterical, as well as Gracie Allen forgetting why she went to the abortionist once the operation got going.

Listen to my comedy gold!!! Someone, give me a series!!! Network people must be reading this blog! C’mon!

Anyway, I’m fascinated daily as I refresh my memory with the run of Maude. A lot of episodes I remembered as very funny as a kid are so-so upon recent viewings, although as the series goes, they stand out. I categorize these as the “farce” episodes, the ones without the messages and with plotlines built purely around the characters’ foibles and interactions, as well as some ridiculous situation. (In other words, what sitcoms ought to be instead of lectures or morality plays).  I remembered episodes like “Speed Trap” and “Arthur’s Medical Convention,” both stories where Walter & Arthur find themselves in trouble & hijinks while out of town, as being a lot funnier than they were upon a recent viewing. “Walter’s Stigma” was another I remembered fondly, where Walter is mistakenly arrested for flashing, but only the first half of it still had any solid laughs. On the other hand, the 6th season premiere, “Maude’s Guilt Trip,” still my favorite episode of the series, holds up very well – a wonderful back &  forth of selfishness and false morality as Maude secretly & guiltily delights over the prospect of her hateful Aunt Tinky getting killed in a plane crash while on her way to visit. Another episode that held up was the “Rashomon” style “The Case Of The Broken Punch Bowl,” especially since it gave the cast so many different comic ways to play the same scenes. And I still like “Maude Meets The Duke” even if it doesn’t give guest star John Wayne enough to do.

What makes the show watchable to me? Easily the performers – Bea Arthur & Bill Macy are both great. The line delivery & timing is always sharp, and their sense of stage presence is clear – Arthur’s broadway manner in carrying herself and Macy’s burlesque comedian vibe. (Evidently he had this in real life, according to a great story from Artie Lange – in the late ’90s, Macy did a guest shot on the Norm McDonald show and when introduced to costar Nikki Cox said “Nikki COX? Well I’m Bill Pussy!” and evidently she was not amused. I still am.) Conrad Bain & Rue McClanahan are both good – McClanahan plays the innocent well (it’s the reason she got to play the slut later on Golden Girls), and Bain delivers his self-effacing material along the lines of Larry Linville on M*A*S*H, only not as silly.

And Adrienne Barbeau has the best body in the history of television. No contest.

AHA! THAT’S why I’m watching! “Adrienne Barbeau? Well, I’m Professor Pussy!”

Yeah, I know. God’ll get me for that.