Category Archives: Eliiot Ness

“Lassie” and Television’s Progress

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On Friday, September 12, 2014, 60 years of television had passed by, since “Lassie’s”

first debut episode. The show was simple, meaningful and encompassed all areas of

rural living, (1954 – 1973). When they list the ‘longest lasting television series,’ they

place this show close to top of the list.

 

The years I remember the show, “Lassie,” best had June Lockhart as portraying my

favorite mother of all time. The father was genuinely well-acted by Hugh Reilly and

my favorite little boy, “Timmy,” was played by Jon Provost.

 

Although the leading “human” roles changed over the years, there was always the

faithful dog, “Lassie.” (Many dogs played this role, of course, through the years.) I

enjoyed the various transitions of “Lassie,” having family values and including life

lessons.

 

Fast forward to September and October, 2014 for the New Fall, 2014 television

season.

It would be nearly impossible to picture most of the newest additions to our current

television programming to last ten years, let alone 19 years.

 

The “CSI” and “NCIS” shows are still going strong and on this Fall’s t.v. line-up.

I am going to miss having the original show, “CSI,” with its location of Las Vegas,

when it moves to its new Sunday evening slot. Sunday is my favorite ‘catch up’ night,

with PBS, Hallmark and I still am a big fan of “Once Upon A Time” and “Revenge.”

The new Fall line up is already getting over-crowded on my own Sunday night.

 

I was talking to a good friend who thinks some of the shows sound “silly” and was

pointing out a Columbus Dispatch critic thought Debra Messing would be hard to

imagine being a cop, in the new show called, “”Mysteries of Laura.”

Since I would first respond, I love the silly show, “Mike and Molly.” I may be quite

blasphemous to say that “Mike” would NEVER make it on a real police force, due

to his large size…

Criticism from someone who loves all kinds of wild SyFy shows like, “Haven” and

“Eureka,”  and on regular network t.v., “Under the Dome,” should be wondering

about their own ways they stretch their imagination! I am laughing with you; not

at you, my friend!

 

Can you suspend your sense of disbelief and let your imagination go?

I remember the funny ways we learned, as children to open our ‘escape hatches’

and step into the Lands of Wonderment.

 

I shall try all the shows with female-driven plot lines. They have had ‘good fortune’

in the past. Imagine “The Good Wife” not being on,  not receiving another round of

Emmy Award nominations. I think it is nice to see women in professional situations,

not wearing an ‘apron’ and carrying out the character of a ‘housewife and mother.’

This is not to say that I don’t enjoy programs that have women who have chosen to

stay at home to do

this very important job and having this be part of the plot line, too. Choices are what

makes this a different world from the Fifties and Sixties’ television programming.

 

“We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!”

I like the characters in this sweet little show about a single mother with a son, you may

recognize him from big screen movies, I “About a Boy.” I am sadly not pleased with

where they tucked this show into a 9:30 time slot. It is ‘not cute’ but original and quirky.

We, if you are a viewer, are ‘rooting’ for the handsome neighbor man to become the single

mother’s date. Although it is about a boy, it is definitely about the mother, too. Having

raised 3 children on my own, I am particularly happy to watch this one. I also like the

upcoming role of Katherine Heigl getting another chance on television in “State of

Affairs.” While Katherine Heigl left “Grey’s Anatomy,” definitely getting better comedic

roles in movies, she is still sorely missed as the character of “Izzy,” on that show. I am

looking forward to seeing her as a CIA agent. She was funny in “One for the Money,” a

movie based on the hilarious antics of a bondswoman in more than 20 books by Janet

Evanovich.

 

If you liked Tea Leoni’s funny past roles you may have seen her show her acting chops

in serious dramas, too. We will see which direction she heads in, “Madame Secretary.”

She was one of the wackiest women on television for 2 years in a show called, “The Naked

Truth.”

 

I have read a decent review of “Red Band Society.” It is not a “Breakfast Club,” nor

is it one that will be all laughs, but will tackle diseases and illnesses with a touch of

humor and give it an uplifting spin. It is a group of young people who are ones who

have hospital experiences, who are dealing with personal challenges. I picture it more

like the movie, “Stand By Me,” in its tone and togetherness. It is about a ‘band

of young misfits.’

 

Critics are harsh when it comes to some and not so much with others. I remember

when I discovered, “How I Met Your Mother.” It was before the critics endorsed it,

awhile back. I am sad how they chose to end it, with the death of the mother but

happy the main gal, Robin, got her ‘man.’

 

The serious shows genre are tougher to predict. I would imagine Scott Backula will

knock the New Orleans’ version of “NCIS” out of the park. I happen to have liked his

‘goofy’ portrayal of character in “Quantum Leap.” I am not sure about, “Stalkers,” but

will support Dylan McDermott, since he is still okay after all these years since his role

as a non-supportive ‘husband’ for Julia Robert’s dying ‘wife’ role in “Steel Magnolias.”

 

Another serious plot line can be found in “Gracepoint.” (Not to be confused with the

CIA/FBI show about the safe house, “Graceland.”) David Tennant, from the British

show, “Broadchurch,”and Anna Gunn are two strong actors that will head up the

already critically-acclaimed and well-promoted television show. This show is set in a

fictional California coastal community.

 

I think that the “Forever” show that is listed on two consecutive days, for its kick-off

first two episodes sounds good.  Sadly, I lost “Journeyman” and also another traveling

through  time show just in the past two years. I will hope this one ‘sticks’ because I like

the concept. I used to enjoy “Time Tunnel” on television and “Back to the Future,” on

the movie screen.

 

I have been a fan of Josh Dushamel ever since the show, “Vegas.” I have enjoyed his

forte into romantic comedies, too. The actor, Dushamel will be on a new show called,

“Battle Creek,” This will be loosely based on likely crimes to be found in Battle Creek,

Michigan. His co-star/partner will be that of Dean Winters. You will recognize him,

but not necessarily ‘place’ him. I will check this one out simply because I love crime-

solving television series.

 

I will return to comedies. This is what a good friend in Lancaster, Ohio mentioned

when we turned 50: “Try to laugh more, watch comedies!”

I came up with a slogan, which I will hope no one else has coined:

“Humor is found in the ‘ear’ of the listener.”

(“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”)

So, if you liked “My Favorite Martian” did you ever try 2 seasons of “Neighbors?”

I think not, since it did not make it. This was clever, witty writing with four likable

adults, along with poking fun at Suburbia. I will miss this, unless it is on a later

schedule, it did not make the ‘cut.’

 

If you liked “Scrubs,” you probably followed the guy who was the janitor on over

into “The Middle,” who became the ever patient, sometimes ‘clueless’ Dad in this

sit-com. This also includes Patricia Heaton, who played the Mom/wife roles in

“Everyone Loves Raymond.”

 

If you liked “Taxi,” “Barney Miller” and “Psych,” you may have discovered last year’s

Emmy-awarding comedy, “Brooklyn 9-9.” Hilarious, quirky and goofy at times, but

watch out, you may laugh out loud anyway.

 

I am wishing that Nielson’s Rating chart were in my mailbox, because I had such a

lovely time about eight years ago, studying and analyzing the television Fall Season

Line-ups back then. The first time I had the full control of a remote control.  I wrote

some comprehensive and profuse notes for those receiving my multiple page Nielson

Ratings Report. I  am not a paid writer nor do I write for a newspaper. I was able to

honestly say this, it was all for the love of television and the future of programming

that I was inspired to carry out my ‘duties’ in this report.

 

My final thoughts on the Progress television has made since “Lassie” was on.

You are invited to ‘debate’ these comments, too. I love a good and lively discussion!

 

I personally feel current shows embrace more ethnicities, culture and show characters

with wider world views in our programming. They encompasses much more ‘diversity’

on television since my childhood days. This means the people who are represented

are not stereotyped as much, anymore.

 

I like that there are two children with special needs included in some popular shows.

I recommend, “Parenthood,” and if you have never seen this, start by watching the

first shows. It is cool to watch this fine young actor, “grow up” with two caring

‘parents’ who disagree about how to handle him, along with a supportive ‘family.’

I am not sure how they would ‘label’ the character, “Brick,” in the show “The Middle,”

but the family accepts him just as he is.

I feel the shows today give better examples of the way families really act, showing

varied relationships, how to handle or not able handle serious and controversial

subjects such as addictions, challenges and sexual orientations.

 

We have heroes and villains. The same as in the past, sometimes more graphically

(and honestly presented.)

 

World conflicts and images are horrifying.  We cannot ignore what is going on, bury

our head in the sand. Powerful, and yet maddening, events are daily depicted (some

consider, ‘bombarded’) on our television sets.

We are urged to ‘act’ and ‘choose’ which side of the dilemmas we will take, as a nation

and other countries must, too.

Along with this serious, somewhat negative impact of television’s immediacy to

situations, we have positives.

We have the opportunity to watch the Olympics, sporting events and international

specials, shown across the world. My coworkers and friends from the Philippines

were captivated by Pope Francis being chosen to be the Roman Catholic Pope.

Other friends were entranced by the wedding of Prince Charles to Diana. Then,

many followed the tragic ending to Lady Diana’s life. They were hopeful for the

more recent wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton. The baby’s birth and

now, the next one on its way, are subjects that many feel are happy bits of news.

 

History, social studies, geography and science are subjects of programs, for

everyone to  learn about, grow to enjoy and get more educated. There are so

many fascinating shows to watch. Nature, musical and art works may never be viewed

or listened to, first hand. Other countries and animals, places that may not be within

everyone’s budget or ability to travel.

 

Some people are not necessarily able to buy or read the newspaper. They find out

information about the world they live in, from the television news shows.

Hurray For National Geographic, Travel Channel, PBS, Weather Channel and

other quality network programming!

 

We have real and make-believe images still, with our magic carpet rides taking off,

from our own homes.

 

There are subjects and shows I may never care to watch. I embrace and support

those who like QVC shopping, cooking shows, reality shows and true dramas,

because they are part of the wide community of television watchers.

 

Many of the shows I choose to watch, you may not want to watch. I got hooked on a

soap opera, during our second break at work. For the past six years, I am ‘guilty’ of

watching, “The Bold and the Beautiful.”

All the years I stayed home and babysat, I did not watch any soap operas. I did in

college, much to the chagrin of my parents, when I mentioned I was scheduling my

courses around a couple of soap operas!

 

I was listening, the first year of American Idol, to all the animated conversations in

the teachers’ break room. They were talking about the ‘bad’ try-outs and the odd

characters. It was in the very beginning of the national search for those who would

make it to “Hollywood.” This caught my attention and I am so glad that I started

watching it.  I can say, “I remember when I first heard Carrie Underwood’s fantastic

voice, was medium built and had frizzy hair!” Along with several well-known singers

who made it to the Top Ten or higher.

 

I am grateful that I don’t have to sit on a sofa and listen to radio to imagine the

great radio characters of the “Green Hornet,” “Gracie Allen and George Burns,”

or how the President of the United States looks like as he is speaking. I enjoy

hearing my Mom’s excitement when she heard about Amelia Earhart’s trans-

Atlantic plane trip and her memories of the “Fireside Chats,” with President

Roosevelt, though.

 

I liked how we  used to watch to find out if we had school on Snow Days. Later,

if our children or grandchildren have school cancelled. I enjoy watching to see

how ‘my’ candidates or ‘my’ issues are doing, as the voting polls report in their

results.

 

I am saddened that there are blind people who cannot see, but grateful for the

inventions of special devices and increased equipment due to new technology

allowing them ‘to see’ the shows. The descriptions of the setting, characters and

other visual ‘clues’ are given. I have read about these and think the inventors are

brilliant for creating and providing this service. There are new creations in hearing-

impaired equipment, too.

 

Many people cannot afford to go to the movies or take a vacation with their families.

They may not go to Broadway but on PBS, they can see a Broadway play or musical.

They get their main form of entertainment from television.

 

There are others, lying on their back sometimes, healing from surgery or permanent

disabilities. My Dad liked to watch the comedies, while getting his chemo treatments.

Laughing made him feel so much better on those days he was nauseous.

 

The elderly in the nursing home I worked at for 4 1/2 years, liked to watch the shows

on TV Land, old reruns of “Lawrence Welk” and  “Bonanza,” along with their church

programming on Sunday mornings. The beauty of fireworks in our country and

celebrations around the world, brought big smiles to their faces. They enjoyed, as

I still do, the lovely creations in the Tournament of Roses Parade.

 

We get a sense of conscience from our ‘small screens.’  The night I watched, “Stand

Up 2 Cancer” impacted me, along with millions of other people watching. It moved

us to donate to some form of Cancer (Society) fund-raising, including Hospice Care,

research and local hospitals.

 

Remember “One Small Step for Mankind?” We now look forward to continued

space travel, inventions and research. When we hear of satellites making it to

Mars or other planets this gives us information that we may use in the future.

 

A quote about freedom from H.L. Mencken, American author and journalist

(1880-1956):

“We must be willing to pay a price for freedom,

for no price that is ever  asked for it,

is half the cost of doing without it.”

 

My soap box, put away for now. . .

 

 

 

What do you watch?

Have you heard about any new t.v. show compelling you

to ‘set your DVR’?

 

Gumshoes’ Nostalgia

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Recently, I was up in Cleveland visiting my Mom, who had a whole

lot to talk about memories of television shows she used to watch

with my Dad, mostly detective shows. I decided to look up a few

of them, outline and give you the bygone dates of those shows

we were discussing. Hope it will bring back some great memories!

Who can forget the old show, “Dragnet?” I know the remake movie

brought it back and did fairly well with the casting. But that show

with Jack Webb as the “main” cop, lasted from 1951 up to 1959.

Then, a resurgence of attention, rare these days to so much of a

degree occurred. And, lo and behold, it started up again with Jack

Webb, from 1967 until 1970.

A big favorite with my mother were the two shows that starred

Raymond Burr. His portrayal of Perry Mason captured a lot of

attention, his honest and straightforward approach to being a

lawyer was similar to the one that Gregory Peck portrayed in

the classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Taking on numerous cases

to defend the underdog was Atty. Mason’s ‘mode of operandi.’

“Perry Mason” lasted from 1957 until 1966, representing a good

long “run.”

Then from 1967, Raymond Burr, one of the most popular actors

during this time, picked up his next television series, “Ironside.”

This lasted until 1975. I remember how intriguing it was to have

a parapalegic Chief of Detectives. Did you know they are remaking

this and Blair Underwood will be playing the character named,

“Ironsides?” But the trailer indicates he won’t be parapalegic! How

can that be?I think it is one of a small handful of television shows

that featured a character with a disability, then termed “handicapped.”

 I have liked Mr. Underwood in past roles so I may still watch the new

“remake” but am wondering how they will explain the title and his

name without the wheelchair to be his ironside?

A long ago series that took on the mob was, “The Untouchables.” Do

you remember this one? It ran from 1959 until 1963. Robert Stack

played the lead actor. I remember liking the fact that the bad guys

who were still pretty rampant in some big cities, collecting their “take”

from the small business owners, were caught and they made sure they

faced their consequences. The real life cop, Eliot Ness, was the role

model for this show.

At the same time Robert T. Ironside was a Chief with a wheelchair, the

handsome Mike Connors played, “Mannix.” I liked this show a lot and

had a crush on the actor for quite some time! The series lasted the

exact same years as the afore mentioned, from 1967 – 1975.

A year after Mike Connors started chasing criminals and investigating

crime, the very popular (and again remade a couple years ago into a

current t.v. series. They lucked out, being given permissiong to use

the iconic music) “Hawaii Five- O” began in 1968.

Jack Lord played “Steve McGarrett” and he coined that phrase, “Book

’em Danno!” talking to his subordinate, James Mac Arthur’s character.

I don’t really like the new series based on this old one, think that it

doesn’t seem to have the same direction as its predecessor.

We are now into the seventies and have a wild list of television shows

that include some of my Mom’s favorites and mine. Sam Mc Cloud,

played by Dennis Weaver, in the series “Mc Cloud.” (1970-1977). Frank

Cannon, played by William Conrad, in “Cannon.” (1971-1976). Buddy

Ebsen, changing his whole demeanor and approach from the silly, but fun,

show, “The Beverly Hillbillies,” became “Barnaby Jones.” (1973-1980).

I think this next one was one of my very favorites, “The Rockford Files,”

starring James Garner.  Jim Rockford took a different, wry humored turn

as a detective from 1974 until 1980.

The final one that was of this same kind of show, starring Robert

Urich who played “Spenser for Hire.” This showed was based on Robert

Parker’s books with the character Spenser. He has a sidekick in the

books, along with the television series, named “Hawk.” Robert Parker

passed away in 2013, to my chagrin, because I had become quite attached

to his character, Jesse Stone, portrayed by Tom Selleck. If you have not

picked up and read any Robert Parker books, I would suggest them!

I cannot forget the female lead television roles that made history! I

hope that you will hang on, to read the “grand finale” of leads! Angie

Dickinson played “Police Woman” from 1974 through 1978. Ta Da!

Although there were female pairings, this was the one and only show

that featured a woman who “carried” the show. Her character, Suzanne

“Pepper” Anderson was a one of the badge toting women who could

handle the gun and sometimes, do it in heels!  I have to give Stefanie

Powers a listing as a partner to her husband played by Robert Wagner

in “Hart to Hart.” This show was one I cherished since they had money,

solved crimes and wore beautiful clothes, they drove around in a

convertible, too. This show lasted from 1979 – 1984.

“Mod Squad” had what they officially billed, I am not making this up!

“One Black, One White, One Blonde” as Julie, flower child product of a

prostitute, Linc as a rioter arrested during the Watts riot, and Pete who

was a rich kid who chose to walk away from his roots. This was 1968 and

such a strange but compelling show,  Aaron Spelling and ABC took on the

era’s rebellious age, along with the relevant social issues. Julie was played

by Peggy Lipton, Linc by Clarence Williams III, and Pete was played by

Michael Cole.

Another group effort, who could forget “Charlie’s Angels?”  The trio of

women were the characters of Jill Munroe, Kelly Garrett and Sabrina

Duncan. (In order, Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson.)

I was laughing because these women taught us to use all kinds of hair

products, loved their outfits and definitely set trends with some of their

clothes. While they brought us women who could solve problems and

crimes, they also brought us women who were gorgeous and brothers,

boyfriends, etc. all expected the same kind of well rounded characters!

Ha ha! Also, many a boyfriend had a poster pin-up of one of these women.

I have to mention, although not part of the early nostalgic shows that I

liked, my Mom and Dad enjoyed “Murder She Wrote.” I watch some of

those shows on Hallmark with my mother and am a little bored. Maybe

that is just my feeling that she is a little trite. But Jessica Fletcher, played

by Angela Lansbury, was very popular and cannot fault the television

producers that hired an older (and fine) actress for this mystery novelist

character who solved plenty of murders and mysteries over the years.

My Mom would “shoot me!” if I didn’t include “Matlock” with Andy Griffith

who like Buddy Ebsen, went from a comedy to a great drama show. His

lawyer role incorporated his drawl, his laid back character but his razor

sharp mind did well with each case this lawyer took on!

I am sure you will have a few memories of these characters and maybe,

remember another show that I have missed. I  wrote a few notes while

sitting at a picnic table on Sunday with my Mom. My brother, Randy,

the artist, took Lenny down to see the water and watch some people

swimming on Sunday at Huntington Beach. 

Oh my! I just thought of the show, “Quincy, M. E. with Jack Klugman.

Shoot! Another one to remember! I have to stop!

Captivating memories, indeed!

coroner role that