Wednesday, November 27, 2013

R.I.P. Jane Kean

Her friend, actor Michael Townsend Wright, reports the passing of Jane Kean yesterday. She was MY Trixie Norton on THE HONEYMOONERS, the color musical series that I grew up with in the sixties. As you watch MR MAGOO'S CHRISTMAS CAROL this year, think of her. (She voiced Scrooge's lost love) 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Out of the Inkwell-1962

Producer Hal Seeger revived the Fleischer Brothers' Koko the Clown in a series of early sixties made for TV cartoons that I sorta kinda barely remember I think. I know I had an understanding of who Koko was long before such books as Leonard Maltin's OF MICE AND MAGIC and even have some drawings of a Koko-like clown left over from high school days. Since the originals were then rarely revived on TV or even in theaters, where else would I have known him from?

That's Larry Storch voicing Koko AND the villain by the way, uncredited and hard to believe but confirmed by Larry himself! There are a couple lines where I definitely hear Larry but if you hadn't told me, I never would have guessed it.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Christmas in Connecticut-1992

Somehow I missed this TV remake of the holiday classic CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT when it aired in 1992 but it caught my attention this year when I noticed it was directed by...Arnold Schwarzenegger???!!!

And it's good! Kris Kristofferson's bland performance comes nowhere near that of his vivacious  co-star, Dyan Cannon, but hers is as good as anything she did back in her seventies heyday and the two do look good together. Tony Curtis is also quite fun and manic. Other co-stars include Jimmy Workman (Pugsley in the 2 ADDAMS FAMILY movies), Richard (SHAFT) Roundtree...

...and Cincinnati TV legend Bob Braun (known nationally for his Craftmatic bed TV commercials which I'm led to believe are STILL running 12 years past his death!).

It's not the original but as remakes go, it offers much updated holiday fun. Catch it if you see it this season.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The NBC Mystery Movie

One--or two...or more... depending on how you look at it-- of my favorite TV series in the seventies was the NBC MYSTERY MOVIE. This was what became known as  a wheel series, offering a different series each week in rotation in a 90 minute or sometimes 2 hour movie format. The most famous, of course, was COLUMBO with Peter Falk's unique characterization of the ramshackle genius detective spinning off from an earlier TV movie and running off and on in various formats for more than 3 decades.

My favorite though was McCLOUD. It started off on another rotating series but moved to the Mystery Movie and became a staple through the decade. Dennis Weaver finally finds his niche as a fish out of water cowboy detective in Manhattan. Loosely inspired by Clint Eastwood's COOGAN'S BLUFF.

Nick and Nora Charles got an update in the form of San Francisco Police Commissioner and Sally McMillan, stars of MCMILLAN AND WIFE. Although much, much younger than star Rock Hudson, Susan St. James offered sexy, zany byplay to some taut mysteries. After a few episodes, Hudson shaved his mustache, cut his hair and began to let it go grey. By the last season, the show lost Susan and continued on as simply McMILLAN.

In movies, BANACEK's George Peppard was always rather cold and wooden but in this made to order series about a rich Boston insurance investigator (vaguely similar to radio's YOURS TRULY, JOHNNY DOLLAR), that comes across as the epitome of cool.  

HEC RAMSEY reunited the volatile producer/star of the fifties series MEDIC for an excellent western with a twist that the aging, rustic hero, was actually a scientific detective. Former Paladin Richard Boone returned to TV for one last hurrah in what many have speculated to be literally an updated HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL.

THE SNOOP SISTERS was a delightful short run series with Helen hayes and Mildred Natwick sort of presaging Jessica Fletcher times two as aging mystery novelists who solve murders against their police detective nephew's wishes.

Perennial sidekick James McCeachin was Tenafly, a cool cop in hot times. He was great but the series never caught on.

Jessica Walter probably guest starred in every single one of the series above and below as she was in everything in the seventies but here was her chance to shine as a lady police chief. Unfortunately, she didn't get to shine long.

After COLUMBO, Jack Klugman's QUINCY, ME, about a medial examiner who solves murders  must surely be considered the next most successful of the Mystery Movie series, graduating to its own along-running one hour show.

With McCloud and McMillan hits, NBC tried again with McCOY bringing film star Tony Curtis to TV as a reformed gambler who solves mysteries.

FARRADAY AND COMPANY starred former big screen hoofer Dan Dailey as a man who escapes from a South American prison and returns to the US many years later to find a private investigator son he never knew he had. Togetehr, they solve mysteries.

James Farentino's COOL MILLION was almost a hot blooded version of BANACEK.

And finally, film star Richard Widmark brought his 1968 movie character MADIGAN to TV for a short run.


Monday, November 11, 2013

The New Three Stooges

Just released is this collection of the 1960s low budget cartoons featuring Larry, Moe and Curly Joe. They ere cheap but had all-new wraparound silliness with the aging live-action trio. The added filter of nostalgia makes these seem much better than they were...or are.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Jim Nabors Hour

Jim Nabors was not only surprisingly popular in the long-lasting GOMER PYLE USMC but he and the American public also discovered that he had a truly surprising singing voice. As his albums became bigger and bigger sellers in the age of psychedelic music and acid rock, Jim decided to use his show biz power to quite while he was ahead on GOMER and do a variety show where she could sing. He didn't want to lose the great chemistry he had with his co-stars though so he took Frank Sutton and Ronnie Schell along with him.

For two seasons, THE JIM NABORS HOUR hosted comedy, music and guest stars like Carol Burnett, Michael Jackson, Glen Campbell, Roy Rogers, Rock Hudson (don't go there) and, as seen on this ad, Andy Griffith, who had gotten Jim his start in TV.

This was one of my mother's favorite shows.