Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

Obit watch: April 14, 2016.

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Two! Two! Two themes in one!

Theme 1: people who had interesting lives and careers.

Anne Jackson, noted actress.

Ms. Jackson, who had endured a difficult life growing up in Brooklyn, carved out an impressive stage career of her own. Critics hailed her range and the subtlety of her characterizations — including all the women, from a middle-aged matron to a grandmother, in David V. Robison’s “Promenade, All!” (1972) — and a housewife verging on hysteria in Alan Ayckbourn’s “Absent Friends” (1977).

She was also married to Eli Wallach from 1948 until he died in 2014. And they were good together:

They both won Obie Awards for their work in Mr. Schisgal’s 1963 Off Broadway double bill, “The Typists” and “The Tiger.” They also starred in his hit 1964 Broadway comedy, “Luv,” directed by Mike Nichols, which ran 901 performances and won three Tony Awards, and in another pair of Schisgal one-acts, “Twice Around the Park,” on Broadway in 1982.

Arthur Anderson. He was perhaps most famous as the voice of the Lucky Charms Leprechaun. But he did a lot of other stuff, including working with Orson Welles:

After acting in “The Mercury Theater on the Air,” Mr. Anderson was cast in 1937 as Lucius, the herald to the 22-year-old Welles’s Brutus, in a Broadway production of “Julius Caesar” set in Fascist Italy. Arthur sang, accompanying himself on a ukulele camouflaged as a lute.
His most memorable moment during the show occurred offstage. After heeding an order to stop hurling light bulbs at a brick wall, he decided to light matches to test the melting point of the sprinkler heads. Besides setting off a fire alarm, he triggered a deluge just as Brutus ascended the pulpit above the body of Caesar on the stage below.

Remember, folks, the sprinkler is not a toy, nor is it a load-bearing device.

Theme 2: the death penalty.

Jack H. Smith passed away a few days ago.

Mr. Smith had convictions for robbery-assault and theft in 1955 and another robbery-assault conviction in 1959 that earned him a life prison term. He also had a prison escape attempt in 1963.
He was paroled from his life sentence on Jan. 8, 1977, after serving 17 years. One day short of a year later, on Jan. 7, 1978, Mr. Smith and an accomplice were arrested in the killing of Roy A. Deputter, who was shot to death while trying to stop a holdup at a Houston convenience store known as Corky’s Corner.

Mr. Smith’s accomplice testified against him and was sentenced to life. Mr. Smith was sentenced to death:

Mr. Smith, a former welder who completed only six years of school, arrived on death row on Oct. 9, 1978, and remained there until his death.

Joe Freeman Britt also passed away a few days ago. He was a prosecutor in North Carolina:

As the district attorney for Robeson and Scotland Counties from 1974 to 1988, Mr. Britt oversaw cases that led to more than 40 death sentences. Only two of the defendants were executed — appeals court rulings led to many altered sentences, and some suspects were later exonerated [Emphasis added: -DB] — but his courtroom record ranked him at one point among the country’s most prolific advocates for capital punishment.

After his time as a prosecutor, he became a judge:

Mr. Britt’s candidacy for the court seat was not without controversy. His opponent, a Native American, died in what the authorities concluded was a domestic dispute. The death essentially guaranteed a victory for Mr. Britt, and it prompted a period of unease and suspicion. Investigators, however, never accused Mr. Britt or his supporters of wrongdoing.

Random notes: April 11, 2016.

Monday, April 11th, 2016

Statesman writer subscribes to LootCrate so he can get a box of pop-culture crap delivered to him every month.
Statesman writer discovers that he really doesn’t like getting a box of pop-culture crap delivered to him every month.
Stateman writer decides, not just to quietly cancel his LootCrate subscription and move on with his life, but to publish a “breakup letter” in his newspaper.

Editors. Where are the editors?

Obit watch: Dr. Charles S. Hirsch, chief medical examiner of New York City from 1989 to 2013.

In 2001, when two jetliners commandeered by terrorists struck the World Trade Center, Dr. Hirsch and six aides rushed downtown to establish a temporary morgue.
When the North Tower collapsed, two aides were severely injured. Dr. Hirsch, thrown to the ground, broke all of his ribs. His cuts sutured by a medical team, he returned to the examiner’s squat brick headquarters at First Avenue and 30th Street, coated in a ghostlike gray soot.

Begun, the “Hamilton” backlash has.

Quote of the day:

“I can recognize a nipple from 600 yards in the background behind a leaf at this point.”

Obit watch: March 30, 2016.

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

Lester C. Thurow, noted economist.

Mr. Thurow was often prone to sweeping declarations about the economy, using metaphors and easily digestible analyses to convey his point. That made him a target of criticism from other economists, notably Paul Krugman, who is now a New York Times columnist, who argued that much of what he said was overly simplistic.

You know, when Paul Krugman is attacking you, you’ve probably done something right…

I was one year old when “The Patty Duke Show” went off the air. My mother says she can still sing the theme song (but won’t).

I don’t think I’ve ever seen the 1962 “Miracle Worker”: I want to say that we saw the 1979 version in school (with Half-Pint as Hellen and Patty Duke as Anne Sullivan) but that could be a memory implanted by aliens. In any case, if I did see it, I don’t remember it well.

The two things that I associate most with Patty Duke were her “Night Gallery” episode (which I’ve touched on before) and “Thanks for the Honeymoon” from the good “Hawaii 5-0″. (She was also in an episode of the bad “Hawaii 5-0″.) As I noted, I thought she was kind of strident and one note in both of those, but I also think those may have been directorial choices.

Reading over the obits, there was a lot I never know, like the fact that she was married to John “Gomez” Astin. It sounds like she went through a great deal of hardship and pain, but emerged on the other side a stronger and better person, who found some relative peace late in life.

NYT. LAT. WP.

And this is a nice essay from Kenneth Turan, LAT film critic and co-author of Call Me Anna.

Obit watch: March 28, 2016.

Monday, March 28th, 2016

Mother Mary Angelica, founder of the Eternal Word Television Network.

Jim Harrison. I feel kind of bad about saying this, but: I bought a copy of The Raw and the Cooked, mostly because it gets a lot of praise from various food writers that I like. I’ve tried to read it, and found that it’s about 50% really good food and outdoor writing…and about 50% pretentious twaddle.

Obit watch: March 25, 2016.

Friday, March 25th, 2016

Garry Shandling. NYT. A/V Club.LAT.

Earl Hamner Jr. I knew he was responsible for “The Waltons”, but I wasn’t aware that he also did “Falcon Crest”, and I don’t think I knew he’d written “Twilight Zone” episodes.

He also wrote the 1968 TV adaptation of “Heidi,” which infuriated football fans when NBC began airing the children’s classic by cutting off the final one minute and 15 seconds of a New York Jets-Oakland Raiders game in which the Raiders scored two touchdowns in the final 75 seconds.

Did you think I was going to pass up a chance to work in a Heidi Bowl reference?

Obit watch: March 24, 2016.

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

Ken “The White Shadow” Howard. A/V Club.

I had completely forgotten he was Jordan’s father in “Crossing Jordan”, and didn’t know that gig only lasted two seasons. Then again, I checked out of “Crossing Jordan” after the first season: my fondness for Jill Hennessy couldn’t overcome the stupidity of the show.

Joe Garagiola. I think everyone of my age remembers him from television, but I’m too young to remember his baseball career, such as it was:

“Senator, how can you tamper with a .250 hitter?” Garagiola said.

And that wasn’t intended as a cheap shot: he was amazingly self-deprecating.

“Each year I don’t play, I get better,” he once observed. “The first year on the banquet trail, I was a former ballplayer, the second year I was great, the third year one of baseball’s stars, and just last year I was introduced as one of baseball’s immortals. The older I get, the more I realize that the worst break I had was playing.”

Short random notes: March 18, 2016.

Friday, March 18th, 2016

I absolutely hate the BuzzFeed inspired headline on this story. But the story itself is worth reading:

Twenty-seven years ago, on a drug raid conducted by an elite special operations team with the same county police department, Sommers had shot and killed his best friend, a fellow squad member named Mark Murphy. In the days afterward, one of the few people who could reach Sommers, locked away in private torment, was another officer who had also accidentally killed another cop.
And now Sommers was being asked by his friend to do the same thing for the officer who had killed Colson — just as he has done for cops across the country who have suddenly found themselves at the center of unfathomable circumstances.

Obit watch: James Sheldon has passed away at the age of 95. The name didn’t ring a bell with me, but wow, what a career:

Mr. Sheldon directed episodes of some 100 series in virtually every genre, including classic episodes of “The Twilight Zone” (among them “I Sing the Body Electric” and “A Penny for Your Thoughts”), 44 episodes of the hit series “The Millionaire” and a full season of “The Bing Crosby Show,” a short-lived family sitcom.

Larry Drake. You know, I remember being fond of “L.A. Law” when it was first running; I wonder how it holds up today.

Obit watch: March 1, 2016.

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

George Kennedy. NYT. A/V Club.

Yes, yes, Naked Gun. But also “Cool Hand Luke”.

And this thought isn’t original to me, though I don’t remember where I first encountered it: Joe Patroni had a rather interesting aviation career. He started out as a mechanic in “Airport“, and wound up pilot in command (?) of the Concorde nine years later. (I honestly don’t remember what he did in the other two “Airport” movies, but he was in them, and was the only actor to appear in all four.)

(Interestingly, Wikipedia says Kennedy was a pilot in real life.)

Edited to add: I intended to also mention (but ran out of time) Kennedy’s two police series:

  • “Sarge”, which I’m a little young to remember; I think we were watching “Five-0″ at the time, anyway. But “Sarge”, as the Wikipedia entry notes, was showing up on RTN for a while as part of “The Bold Ones” wheel. (This is odd, as “Sarge” was really more of an “Ironside” spinoff.)
  • “The Blue Knight”, which should be closer to what I’m able to remember, but I don’t think I ever saw an episode of it. That’s odd, as it would have been right up my alley. I think it was right around this time that I read Wambaugh’s book

Random notes: February 6, 2016.

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

Good news, everyone! Our long national nightmare is just beginning!

“Cop Rock” is coming out on DVD.

I never saw an episode of “Cop Rock”, but I am assured it is horrible: therefore, I have to get the DVDs.

I went back and forth about noting this obit yesterday, but in the end, this paragraph pushed me over the edge:

Ms. Denham plunged into the bohemian life. She modeled by day, posing at camera clubs and doing photo shoots for romance and detective magazines, paperback covers, comic strips and movie posters. For a spread in True Adventures magazine, “Girl Gun Runners of Saigon,” she posed as four different Vietnamese women holding an array of weapons as they took position on a ridge.

“Girl Gun Runners of Saigon”, one of the greatest titles ever. Right up there with “Weasels Ripped My Flesh” and “Coffin’s Got the Dead Guy On the Inside”.

Obit watch: February 3, 2016.

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

Bob Elliott, of Bob and Ray fame. NYT. A/V Club.

Bob & Ray Present the CBS Radio Network.

And now I really want the DVDs of Get A Life, a show I personally have fond memories of.

Something lighter.

Friday, January 29th, 2016

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s list of “Institutions Whose Degrees are Illegal to Use in Texas”.

Good for a few chuckles, at least. For example, the entry on “Eastern Caribbean University”: “…master’s degrees were offered in “Classical Studies” which actually was the study of any ‘classic’ TV or movies series such as ‘I Love Lucy’ or the James Bond movies. Closed by action of the CB.”

I also like “Irish International University”: “The Irish government has requested that Malaysia close this entity on grounds that it is neither Irish nor a university.”

(“The Partridge Family were neither partridges, nor a family. Discuss.”)

More Marvin.

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

I really like this remembrance of Marvin Minsky by Stephen Wolfram.

Edited to add: By way of Lawrence, Kevin D. Williamson in National Review on Minsky and economics.

Not Minsky, but worth linking to: Hal Linden on Abe Vigoda.