TV Draft Round 10 – Pick 5 – Keith Selects – The Untouchables

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Keith at https://nostalgicitalian.com/

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We have reached the final round of the Hanspostcard TV Show Draft. I want to take a moment and thank Max from the Power Pop Blog for taking up the reigns and helping us continue this round in Hans’ absence. It truly has been a fun draft!

For my final pick, I have gone back to another classic – The Untouchables. The show ran from 1959 to 1963 and starred the great Robert Stack as Eliot Ness. It is hard to imagine anyone but Robert Stack in the role of Ness, but believe it or not, Desi Arnaz had originally offered the role to actor Van Johnson. Supposedly, he wanted double what they were offering to pay for the role, and it ultimately went to Stack.

When asked about the character some years later, Stack said, “Ness was a precursor of Dirty Harry. He was a hero, a vigilante in a time when breaking the law meant nothing because there was no law because Capone owned Chicago, he owned the police force.”

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The show was based on the book of the same name written by Eliot Ness and Oscar Fraley. Brian De Palma would use the book as the basis for his 1987 film of the same name.

According to Wikipedia:

The series originally focused on the efforts of a real-life squad of Prohibition agents employed by the US Department of Justice and led by Eliot Ness (Stack) that helped bring down the bootleg empire of “Scarface” Al Capone, as described in Ness’s bestselling 1957 memoir. This squad was nicknamed “The Untouchables” because of its courage and honesty; squad members could not be bribed or intimidated by the mob. Eliot Ness himself had died suddenly in May 1957, shortly before his memoir and the subsequent TV adaptation were to bring him fame beyond any he experienced in his lifetime.

The pilot for the series, a two-part episode entitled “The Untouchables,” originally aired on CBS’s Westinghouse Desilu Placyhouse (and was introduced by Desi Arnaz) on April 20 and 27, 1959. Later re-titled “The Scarface Mob”, these episodes, which featured Neville Brand as Al Capone, were the only episodes in the series to be more-or-less directly based on Ness’s memoir, and ended with the conviction and imprisonment of Capone. CBS, which had broadcast most of Desilu’s television output since 1951 beginning with I Love Lucy, was offered the new series following the success of the pilot film. It was rejected it on the advice of network vice president Hubbell Robinson. ABC agreed to air the series, and The Untouchables premiered on October 15, 1959. In the pilot movie, the mobsters generally spoke with unrealistic pseudo-Italian accents, but this idiosyncratic pronunciation was dropped when the series debuted.

The weekly series first dramatized a power struggle to establish a new boss in Capone’s absence (for the purpose of the TV series, the new boss was Frank Nitti, although this was, as usual for the series, contrary to fact). As the series continued, there developed a highly fictionalized portrayal of Ness and his crew as all-purpose, multi-agency crime fighters who went up against an array of 1930s-era gangsters and villains, including Ma Barker, Dutch Schultz, Bugs Moran, Lucky Luciano, and in one episode, Nazi agents. On many occasions during the series run, Ness would blatantly violate suspects’ Fourth Amendment rights with no legal ramifications.

The terse narration by gossip columnist Walter Winchell, in his distinctive New York accent, was a stylistic hallmark of the series, along with its ominous theme music by Nelson Riddle and its shadowy black-and-white photography, which was influenced by film noir.

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The series produced 118 episodes which ran 50 minutes each. Though the book chronicled the experiences of Ness and his team against Capone, and in reality the Untouchables disbanded soon after Capone’s conviction. The series continued after the pilot and book ended, depicting the fictitious further exploits of the Untouchables against many, often real life, criminals over a span of time ranging from 1929 to 1935.

The show came with some controversy. Italian-American groups protested over what they felt was an unfair presentation of their people as Mafia-types. “We are plagued with lawsuits after certain shows” one of the show’s producers Josef Shaftel explained, noting that the series was “heavily insured against libel.” With good reason – the first lawsuit against the show was instigated by Al Capone’s angry widow. She didn’t like the way her deceased husband was made into a running villain on the show and wanted a million dollars for unfair use of his image. (She lost.)

The FBI and J. Edgar Hoover were ticked off too. They were the ones who collared the famous names that Ness was supposedly busting each week on TV and they rightfully wanted credit for it. The second episode of the series, for example, depicted Ness and his crew involved in the capture of the Ma Barker gang, an incident in which the real-life Ness played no part. The producers agreed to insert a spoken disclaimer on future broadcasts of the episode stating that the FBI had primary responsibility for the Barker case. Even the Bureau of Prisons took offense, complaining that the show made their treatment of Al Capone look soft.

The show itself was considered one of the most violent television shows of its time. Of course, by today’s standards it’s not that bad, but it was violent enough at the time to spark protests from parents who were worried about their children seeing this violence.

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My Thoughts

This is one of those shows that I just love! Robert Stack’s delivery of almost every line as Ness is perfect. He won an Emmy in 1960 for Best Actor in a Dramatic Series for his portrayal of Ness.

Despite the fact that many of the stories are fictionalized to work the Untouchables into them, they are great! The show really was a forerunner to shows like The FBI, Crime Story, and even Hawaii 5-0. I love the film noir feel of it. Every episode plays like a good 50 minute movie.

The Lebanon Pennsylvania Daily News said of The Untouchables: “Between the hard-nosed approach, sharp dialogue, and a commendably crisp pace (something rare in dramatic TV at the time), this series is one of the few that remains fresh and vibrant. Only the monochrome presentation betrays its age. The Untouchables is one of the few Golden Age TV shows that deserves being called a classic.” It really does hold up well.

As I have mentioned before, one of the things I love about these old shows is seeing big stars (who are not quite yet stars) show up. In regular roles throughout the series you could see Raymond Bailey (Mr. Drysdale on the Beverly Hillbillies), Barbara Stanwyck, Barbara Nichols, Ed Asner (Lou Grant), Harry Morgan (Col. Potter on MASH), and Henry Silva.

The list of guest star appearances is long and amazing. They include: Jack Elam, Paul Frees, Jim Backus, Sam Jaffe, Martin Balsam, John Dehner, William Bendix, Whitt Bissell, Charles Bronson, James Caan, James Coburn, Mike Conners, Robert Duvall, Peter Falk, Norman Fell, Alan Hale Jr., Brian Keith, Jack Klugman, Cloris Leachman, Jack Lord, Lee Marvin, Telly Savalas, Elizabeth Montgomery, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Redford, Ricardo Montalban, Rip Torn, Jack Warden, Dick York, Cliff Robertson and so many more!

"The Untouchables"Paul Picerni, Robert Stackcirca 1961

You know, they play reruns of Law and Order on TV all the time. Many of the shows I have seen numerous times. I know what’s going to happen, yet I still watch (a lot like my previous picks – Perry Mason and Columbo). The Untouchables is a show that could very easily be rerun like a Law and Order. It is that good.

I love Walter Winchell’s narration

And I love the theme song!

It has been so much fun writing on some of my favorite shows. It’s been just as fun to read about the shows picked by other members of the TV Show Draft. I hope you have enjoyed my picks…

Thanks for reading!

TV Draft UPDATE

Tomorrow morning we will kick off our last TV draft round! We have 8 more TV Shows coming…we all want to thank you… the readers who have made this possible and a fun experience. I also want to thank the bloggers who have reviewed all of these shows and we have covered every decade from the 1950s until now. Below are the picks that began in January and will end on July 3. Thank you… Paula, Lisa, Dave, John, Keith, Mike, Liam, Vic, Hanspostcard (who started it), and Kirk for all of the reviews below.
Round 1 TV Show Who Posted Home Site
1. Doctor Who Vic https://cosmic-observation.com/blog-posts/
2. The Sopranos Mike https://musiccitymike.net
3. Bozo’s Circus John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com 
4. Barney Miller Max https://powerpop.blog
5. The Wire Kirk https://slicethelife.com/
6. Police Squad Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
7. Only Murders in the Building (OMITB) Paula http://paulalight.com
Round 2
1. The Odd Couple Mike https://musiccitymike.net
2. Cartoon Town John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com 
3. Fawlty Towers Max https://powerpop.blog
4. Rockford Files Kirk https://slicethelife.com/
5. Mission Impossible Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
6. Firefly Vic https://cosmic-observation.com/blog-posts/
Round 3 TV Show Who Posted Home Site
1 Hogan’s Heroes John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com 
2 Seinfeld Mike https://musiccitymike.net
3 Starsky & Hutch Vic https://cosmic-observation.com/blog-posts/
4 Perry Mason Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
5 Upload Paula http://paulalight.com
6 Lovecraft Country Lisa https://tao-talk.com/
7 King Of The Hill Dave https://soundday.wordpress.com/
8 Adam 12 Max https://powerpop.blog
Round 4 TV Show Who Posted Home Site
1 Breaking Bad Mike https://musiccitymike.net
2 The X-Files Vic https://cosmic-observation.com/blog-posts/
3 Columbo Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
4 Six Feet Under Paula http://paulalight.com
5 Shameless Lisa https://tao-talk.com/
6 Friends Dave https://soundday.wordpress.com/
7 Monkees Max https://powerpop.blog
8 JAG John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com 
Round 5 TV Show Who Posted Home Site
1 Sisters Vic https://cosmic-observation.com/blog-posts/
2 30 Rock Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
3 One Day At A Time Paula http://paulalight.com
4 Ray Donovan Lisa https://tao-talk.com/
5 Emergency Dave https://soundday.wordpress.com/
6 The Andy Griffith Show Max https://powerpop.blog
7 CSI: Miami John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com 
8 Mad Men Mike https://musiccitymike.net
Round 6 TV Show Who Posted Home Site
1 The Twilight Zone Max https://powerpop.blog
2 Tell Me Your Secrets Paula http://paulalight.com
3 My Name Is Earl Lisa https://tao-talk.com/
4 Ed Dave https://soundday.wordpress.com/
5 Get Smart Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
6 The Unicorn John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com 
7 The West Wing Mike https://musiccitymike.net
8 The Gong Show Max https://powerpop.blog
Round 7 TV Show Who Posted Home Site
1 All In The Family Paula http://paulalight.com
2 Trailer Park Boys Lisa https://tao-talk.com/
3 Downton Abbey Dave https://soundday.wordpress.com/
4 Life On Mars Max https://powerpop.blog
5 Burn Notice John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com 
6 Friday Night Lights Mike https://musiccitymike.net
7 The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show Liam https://othemts.wordpress.com/
8 The Honeymooners Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
Round 8 TV Show Who Posted Home Site
1 New Tricks Lisa https://tao-talk.com/
2 SCTV Dave https://soundday.wordpress.com/
3 WKRP In Cincinnati Max https://powerpop.blog
4 The Two Ronnies John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com 
5 Star Trek: Voyager Mike https://musiccitymike.net
6 Siskel & Ebert Liam https://othemts.wordpress.com/
7 Sherlock Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
8 Curb Your Enthusiasm Paula http://paulalight.com
Round 9 TV Show Who Posted Home Site
1 Jeopardy Dave https://soundday.wordpress.com/
2 Saturday Night Live Max https://powerpop.blog
3 Riverboat John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com
4 Suits Mike https://musiccitymike.net
5 The Kids In The Hall Liam https://othemts.wordpress.com/
6 Arrested Development Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
7 L.A. Law Paula http://paulalight.com
8 Resident Alien Lisa https://tao-talk.com/
Round 10 TV Show Who Posted Home Site
1 Max https://powerpop.blog
2 John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com
3 Mike https://musiccitymike.net
4 Liam https://othemts.wordpress.com/
5 Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
6 Paula http://paulalight.com
7 Lisa https://tao-talk.com/
8 Dave https://soundday.wordpress.com/

Gene Vincent – Bluejean Bop

His sound, voice, and echo draws me in and keeps me there. The slow intro and then music kicks in. His voice goes with that slapback echo better than any other singer. His influence can be heard through the decades including Springsteen in Glory Days.

This was released in 1956  from their debut album of the same name. Like many of the songs on the record, it only came in at around two and a half minutes long… but those two and a half recordings rocked. This gem was written by Gene Vincent and  Hal Levy. The song peaked at #16 in the UK in 1956.

Vincent was injured in a car accident on April 16, 1960…with Eddie Cochran in a taxi which killed Cochran. Vincent whose leg was weak due to a wound incurred in combat in Korea…was injured. He walked with a noticeable limp for the rest of his life. In 1962 he was in Hamburg and played on the same bill as the Beatles. The Beatles got close to him.

George Harrison told a story about going with a drunk Vincent to his hotel room. Vincent thought his girlfriend was cheating on him so he shoved a gun in Harrison’s hand. George was shocked and didn’t want any part of that.

The Beatles played at least 14 of Gene Vincent’s songs in their sets before they made it. A song like Somewhere Over The Rainbow that the Beatles would never think of covering until Gene Vincent covered it and gave the song his ok.

Paul McCartney:  “I remember hearing Blue Jean Bop on an album that I think John had; going to a place near Penny Lane for the afternoon, having a ciggy, and just listening to records. Blue Jean Bop was always one of my favorites. The first record I ever bought was Be Bop-A-Lula. We loved Gene.”

Bluejean Bop

Bluejean baby, with your big blue eyes
Don’t want you looking at other guys
Got to make you give me, one more chance
I can’t keep still, so baby let’s dance

Well the bluejean bop is the bop for me
It’s the bop that’s done in a dungaree
You flip your hip, free your knee
Squeal on your heel baby, one to three
Well the bluejean bop, bluejean bop
Oh baby, bluejean bop, bluejean bop
Oh baby, bluejean bop, baby won’t you bop with Gene (bop Blue Caps, bop)

Well bluejean baby when I bop with you
Well my heart starts hoppin’ like a kangaroo
My feet do things they never done before
Well bluejean baby, give me more more more
Well the bluejean bop, bluejean bop
Oh baby, bluejean bop, bluejean bop
Oh baby, bluejean bop, baby won’t you bop with Gene (rock again Blue Caps, go)

Well the bluejean bop, bluejean bop
Oh baby, bluejean bop, bluejean bop
Oh baby, bluejean bop, baby won’t you bop with Gene (Blue Caps, bop with Gene now, let’s go)

Well it’s, bluejean bop, bluejean bop
Bluejean, bluejean bop
Oh baby, bluejean, bluejean bop
Bluejean, bluejean bop
Bluejean, oh baby, won’t you bop with Gene

TV Draft Round 9 – Pick 3 – John Selects – Riverboat

We have a religious broadcaster in Atlanta that dedicates much of its evening entertainment on its primary subchannel to ancient black-and-white television shows, from the 1950’s and early 1960’s. Some were syndicated shows, while others ran briefly on network TV. One such show was Riverboat, which originally ran on NBC for two seasons, from 1959 to 1961 (31 episodes in the 1959-1960 season and 13 in the 1960-61 season).

The best description I have found for the show is “Wagon Train on a riverboat.” Like Wagon Train, it was an anthology series, this one based around the captain and crew of the riverboat Enterprise. NBC bought into the show as a competitor to ABC’s Maverick, which had lost James Garner, who was replaced by Roger Moore.

The captain of the Enterprise was Grey Holden, played by Darren McGavin. The initial pilot of the boat was Ben Frazer, played by a young Burt Reynolds, who had been cast in an attempt to lure the female viewers of the show. Reynolds left the show after 20 episodes, unable to get along with McGavin; the second season featured Noah Beery Jr. as pilot Bill Blake. Other regulars were, according to Wikipedia:

Dick Wessel, as chief stoker Carney Kohler, was cast in 41 episodes, Jack Lambert was cast in 23 episodes as first mate Joshua MacGregor (having played a different character, Tony Walchek, earlier in the series), John Mitchum co-starred in 10 episodes as Pickalong, the ship’s cook, Michael McGreevey was cast in 17 episodes as cabin boy Chip Kessler, and William D. Gordon played first mate Joe Travis in 13 episodes before his character’s death.

It was considered a Western, even though most of the show’s action took place on the Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri Rivers. It took place during the antebellum period of the South; of some concern was the fact that there were no African American characters or actors, this despite the fact that historically the majority of dock laborers were Black or Creole. The network and sponsors of the show didn’t want to upset the viewers, particularly those in the South. The writers and McGavin felt this was stupid, but that was life during that period.

The remainder of the weekly casts were made up of guest stars, such as Mary Tyler Moore, Elizabeth Montgomery, Jeanne Crain, Mercedes McCambridge, Ricardo Montalban, Vincent Price, Eddie Albert, and in one show Sandy Kenyon as a pre-presidential Abraham Lincoln. A full list of the guest stars can be found here.

The shows were well-written with an eye towards the history of that period. There are Indian conflicts, con men, beautiful women, stowaways, dangerous cargo, and plenty of fisticuffs. As Mary would say, it was better than the average schlock. When it went off the air, it was replaced by The Americans, a show set during the Civil War.

If you get a chance, it’s worth your time to see it.

TV Draft Round 7 – Pick 8 – Keith Selects – The Honeymooners

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Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Keith at https://nostalgicitalian.com/

For my next pick in the Hanspostcard TV Show Draft is one that is one of my all time favorites. I don’t remember when I first was introduced to this show, but I am guessing my dad had something to do with it. Early on in the draft, I chose Police Squad, which only aired 6 episodes. This show is known for its “Classic 39” – The Honeymooners.

This isn’t my first blog about the show. Some time ago, I took part in a “Favorite TV Episode” Blogathon and picked 2 of my favorite episodes to present. You can read that blog here:

https://nostalgicitalian.com/2019/03/22/some-favorite-tv-episodes/

When you think about 50’s TV shows, there was very little struggle involved. Think about it. I Love Lucy, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, The Andy Griffith Show, and Leave it to Beaver all showed families who were living in nice homes or apartments, showed no signs of financial struggles, and while there may be a misunderstanding here and there, it was mostly “bliss.” In 1955-1956, however, The Honeymooners focused on two couples from New York, who were struggling to get by.

The show focused on the lives of Ralph (Jackie Gleason) and Alice Kramden (Audrey Meadows), and Ed (Art Carney) and Trixie Norton (Joyce Randolph). One article I found on the show says this about Gleason’s Kramden character: Ralph was the get-rich-quick scheming, short-tempered, soft-hearted guy who was always striving for greatness, but never made it out of that two-room Brooklyn apartment. And that’s one of the main attractions for even the most casual of viewers: the characters are so identifiable. As Jackie himself said at the time, “Everything we did could have happened. People like the show, because we are them.”

The show began as a simple sketch on the DuMont Television Network, on the Cavalcade of Stars. The original hosts were Jack Carter and Jerry Lester, but in July of 1950 comedian Jackie Gleason took over the hosting duties. In the process, Gleason took the struggling show and turned it around to be a hit. The show, which featured comedy skits and a number of different performers each week, was broadcast live in front of a theater audience. In 1951, Jackie and his writers came up with the idea for a sketch called The Honeymooners. It was about a struggling couple living in Brooklyn who frequently fought, but in the end, there was no question that they loved each other.

Leonard Stern was a writer on both The Honeymooners and The Jackie Gleason Show. In an interview with the Archive of American Television he stated, “We started doing one sketch of The Honeymooners every five or six weeks and the response of people on the street was tremendous. So we started doing them every other week. Eventually, though, everyone, including Jackie, lost interest in the other characters in the different sketches, so we started to do them every week until the fatigue level hit its high and we’d have to take a break. I think Gleason had fun doing them, because he recognized the impact Kramden and Alice and Norton and Trixie were having on the audience. I’m not a great fan of ratings, but let me say that 53% of the total television audience was watching the show. There’s nothing like that in existence today. It was astonishing and the show itself was live. Remember, the audience of 3,000 people filled that theater. You earned your laughs. It was a resounding success and very exhilarating for all of us. It was opening night every week.”

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When Gleason left the Dupont Network and went to CBS, he hosted the Jackie Gleason Show, where the Honeymooners sketches continued. In the 1952 season, the sketches usually ran between seven and 13 minutes. In the following season, and those sketches ran for a minimum of 30 minutes, and sometimes longer. Then, in the 1954-55 season, they actually filled the entire hour of The Jackie Gleason Show and was doing so well in the ratings that it occasionally surpassed the viewership of I Love Lucy. That is almost unheard of!

In the 1955-56 season, The Jackie Gleason Show literally became The Honeymooners! It aired as a half-hour sitcom that was filmed in front of a studio audience. In total, 39 episodes were produced, and these episodes are the ones that are still being broadcast today. These 39 episodes are the ones that most people remember.

I read an article that said Jackie Gleason had actually been given a three-year contract from CBS for 78 episodes of The Honeymooners to be produced in the first two seasons. The contract also included an option for a third season of 39 more. For whatever it is worth, Gleason felt the quality of the scriptwriting couldn’t be maintained, and the show was mutually canceled by him and CBS.

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A Closer Weekly article says: What’s particularly impressive about The Honeymooners living on the way it has is the fact that back in the day, there needed to be a minimum of 100 episodes of a show available so that local stations could run it five days a week. Any less made syndication difficult, since the cycle would be repeated that much sooner. But then there was The Honeymooners, with a mere 39 episodes to offer up, yet it worked. And continues to do so.

In a 1996 appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Jackie was asked why the show ended. He told Carson, “We were running out of ideas. I liked The Honeymooners and I liked doing them, and I didn’t want to denigrate them by forcing scenes that didn’t mean anything. So I wanted to quit, but they didn’t believe me. They thought I had another job someplace, but I didn’t. I’m glad I did stop them, because what we had done was good and if we had gone any further, we might have spoiled it.”

Those “Classic 39” are classic for a reason. They are still funny. The situations that The Kramdens and the Nortons muddle through every week will make you laugh, cry, think, and smile. They still hold up today. Each one of them has memorable scenes and quotable lines.

In one episode Ralph tells his boss he is a great golfer and is immediately asked to go play around with him. Now Ralph needs to learn how to play – and fast. He finds the perfect teacher in his best friend Ed Norton. In pure Art Carney fashion, Ed reads from a book that you must “address the ball,” to which he takes the club, stands in front of the ball, looks down and says, “Hello, Ball!”

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An episode of the show was featured in the movie Back To The Future. When Marty McFly winds up in 1955, a family is watching the episode The Man From Space. Intending to win the $50 first prize at the Racoon Lodge’s costume ball, Ralph decides to create his own outfit. And what an outfit! After appropriating (among other things) a faucet, a pot, a radio tube, and the icebox door, he presents himself as the Man from Space.

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In another episode, Alice says she wants to go dancing. Ralph has Ed come over to teach him how to dance. Ralph’s outfit is hilarious (he tells Alice it is “what all us cats where! I’m hip!”). The dance (to the song The Hucklebuck) is worth the watch.

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To me, sometimes the funniest stuff can be as simple as Ralph’s face …

In another classic episode, Ralph and Norton appear on a TV commercial trying to sell their Handy Housewife Helper, a kitchen gadget that can, among other things, open cans, remove corns, and “core an apple.” In the inspired, ad-lib-laden episode, “Chef of the Future” Ralph demonstrates the wonders of the gizmo to “Chef of the Past” Norton. Rehearsal goes great, but in front of live cameras, Ralph freezes up.

chef

Art Carney was the perfect second banana. The play between him and Gleason is classic. In one episode Norton’s sleepwalking becomes a waking nightmare for Ralph. Ralph can’t get any sleep because he’s been asked to keep his pal from wandering off on late-night strolls around the neighborhood.

sleep9_orig

Another classic episode takes place at the pool hall where Ralph gets into an argument with the diminutive guy named George. “My friend is even bigger than me,” he tells Ralph. “I have a friend Shirley that’s bigger than you,” Ralph counters. But then he comes eye-to-chin with George’s friend, the towering Harvey, who challenges Ralph to a fight. This prompts Norton to observe: “He’s even bigger than your friend Shirley.”

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Many of the plot lines from the classic episodes made it into the Joe Piscopo and Eddie Murphy novelty hit “The Honeymooners Rap.”

In the 1980’s, Jackie Gleason announced that in his vault he had found a number of Honeymooners skits from The Jackie Gleason Show that had been shot on Kinescope, which is a way of filming directly through a lens that actually focused on the screen of a video monitor. 107 of those skits were released on DVD and syndicated to television stations. These would have been shot before the “Classic 39” and two of them stand out to me.

Jackie had been a guest star on the Jack Benny Show, so Jack makes an appearance as the Kramden’s landlord. The rent is being raised and Ralph is mad. When there is a knock on the door, Ralph opens it and Jack Benny is standing there. The audience chuckles in anticipation. Ralph calls to Alice that “the Landlord’s here” and the audience erupts. Benny stands there quietly as Ralph reads him the riot act! He calls him a “penny pincher” (which plays into Benny’s “cheap” character”) and says that he pinches a penny so hard that when he is through “both heads and tails are on the same side of the coin!”

benny

In another lost episode, Ralph must lose weight for work. All through the episode, he is starving. Finally, he is left alone in the apartment and sitting at the kitchen table. He notices a cake pan. He lifts the lid and sees the cake. His eyes bulge and he goes nuts. As he is about to tear into the cake Alice walks in. “Everybody get back,” he yells! The brief 3 minutes of him staring at the cake before getting ready to eat it is comedy genius!

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As brilliant as Jackie Gleason was as Ralph Kramden, he never won an Emmy Award for it. Art Carney, however, won 5 Emmys for Best Supporting Actor on The Honeymooners and the Jackie Gleason Show.

The Honeymooners influenced a huge 1960s cartoon – The Flintstones. It is a blatant rip-off of the show and was a huge hit. It is said that Gleason considered suing Hanna-Barbera Productions because of the similarities, but decided that he did not want to be known as “the guy who yanked Fred Flintstone off the air”

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Water Buffalo members and Racoon members

The Honeymooners is over 65 years years old! Joyce Randolph, who played Trixie Norton is 97 years old and still going strong. I wonder if Gleason ever thought that those 39 episodes would still find an audience today and that they would still bring much laughter.

In 1990, Audrey Meadows joined Bob Costas on Later to discuss the show. You can see that footage here:

If you have never seen an episode, I encourage you to do so. The two episodes I mentioned in a previous blog are good places to start – TV or Not TV or A Matter of Record. Most are available on Youtube.

Thanks for reading!

TV Draft Round 7 – Pick 7 – Liam Selects – The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Liam at https://othemts.wordpress.com/

The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show

(1959 – 1964)

When you have an animated series featuring talking animals, the natural inclination is to file it under “Children’s Entertainment.”  And yet The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show featured witty wordplay, spoofs of popular culture, self-referential humor, and political satire (particularly regarding the Cold War). You can tell that network execs were confused by the fact that they sometimes aired the show in prime time and sometimes on Saturday morning.  During the show’s five season run from 1959 to 1964 it also switched networks.  For the first two seasons it was on ABC and called Rocky and His Friends. Then it moved to NBC and became The Bullwinkle Show.  CBS never gave it a shot but the show lived on in syndication under the names The Rocky Show, The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, and The Adventures of Bullwinkle and Rocky. Whew!

Ok, but beyond this rocky (pun intended) broadcast history, what was the show about?  Jay Ward created the show to be an ongoing adventure serial about a moose and a squirrel. Animator Alex Anderson created many of the characters but declined to work on the show itself.  Ward hired Bill Scott as head writer and co-producer of the show, as well as writers Chris Hayward and Allan Burns. General Mills came on board as the show’s main sponsor. The ongoing serial featured four main characters, two heroes and two villains:

  • Rocket J. Squirrel (a.k.a. Rocky the Flying Squirrel), voiced by June Foray, is a noble all-American kid in squirrel form who serves as the straight man to his partner Bullwinkle’s antics. His catchphrase is “Hokey smokes!”
  • Bullwinkle J. Moose, voiced by Bill Scott, is a good-hearted and optimistic, but very dimwitted moose. He and Rocky are roommates in the fictional town of Frostbite Falls, Minnesota.  He attended Wossamotta U. on a football scholarship.
  • Boris Badenov, voiced by Paul Frees, is a spy from the fictional nation of Pottsylvania (a thinly disguised amalgamation of countries behind the Iron Curtain.). He is constantly up to no good and scheming on a plan given to him by his Fearless Leader or concocting his own criminal conspiracy. He proudly introduces himself as the “world’s greatest no-goodnik.”
  • Natasha Fatale, voiced by June Foray, is another Pottsylvania spy and Boris’ partner in crime. The design of Boris and Natasha are inspired by Charles Addams’ characters Gomez and Morticia Addams.

Over five seasons and 163 episodes, Rocky & Bullwinkle and Boris & Natasha appeared in 28 different serialized story arcs. The shortest serial had only 4 chapters while the longest had 40!  And this was in the days before DVD box sets and streaming video made binge watching possible, so the creators of the show put a lot of faith in the audience remembering what happened earlier in the story.

A typical 23-minute episode would have two segments of a Rocky & Bullwinkle serial, each ending on a cliffhanger (and a bad pun).  Additionally, the show would have a couple of supporting features drawn from the following:

  • Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties – In a parody of silent film melodramas, the brave but dumber-than-Bullwinkle mounted policeman Dudley Do-Right (Bill Scott) attempts to foil the plots of the villainous Snidley Whiplash (Hans Conried). This usually requires rescuing Nell Fenwick (June Foray), whom Dudley loves, but she in return is only fond of his horse.
  • Aesop and Son – Old fables are retold in a comical way by Aesop (Charles Ruggles) and his son, Junior (Daws Butler).
  • Fractured Fairy Tales – Edward Everett Horton narrates fairy tales updated with modern themes and a lot of puns.
  • Peabody’s Improbable History – Mister Peabody (Bill Scott), a genius talking dog, adopts a boy named Sherman (Walter Tetley). Since the boy needs exercise, Peabody invents a time machine called the WABAC. They travel to various historical events to see what “really” happened.
  • Bullwinkle’s Corner – Bullwinkle attempts to be cultured by reading poetry with comical results.
  • Know-it All – Bullwinkle, who we have already noted is quite dim, attempts to be the authority of various topics while Boris Badenov undermines his efforts.

The one great flaw of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show is its animation style.  Television animation of the 50s and 60s relied on the practices of limited animation such as reusing simple backgrounds and the stilted motions of the characters to save money.  But even by the standards of limited animation, The Rocky and Bulwinkle Show’s animation was choppy and full of visible flaws.  General Mills insisted on outsourcing the animation to the Mexican studio Gamma Productions S.A. de C.V, and Ward was never happy with the quality.  But ultimately, the witty scripts and terrific voice acting made the poor quality animation irrelevant to the show becoming a classic.

The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show legacy lives on in syndicated reruns.  Despite never being a morning person, I went through a phase as a teenager in the late 1980s where I would get up to watch it at 6am before school!  The show has also been released in various home media formats.  Attempts to revive the show in the 1970s and 80s failed but it eventually found its way to the big screen.  Boris and Natasha: The Movie (1992) and Dudley Do-Right (1999) were live-action adaptations that both bombed. A live-action/animated hybrid movie The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (2000) was also poorly received.  Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014) from DreamWorks Animation got much better reviews and spun off a Netflix series (2015-2017).  DreamWorks Animation Television followed up with a reboot series of The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (2018-2019) on Amazon Prime Video.  I have not watched any of these having remained loyal to the original work of Jay Ward and company.

Elmore James – Dust My Broom

I first heard about Elmore James from a Rolling Stones book…Brian Jones was a huge fan of the blues artist. The song also helped bring Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, and Brian Jones together to form the Stones.

On November 23, 1936, Robert Johnson was in San Antonio Texas for his debut recordings. The first song he did was “Kind Hearted Woman Blues” in two versions, his second song was “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom” and his third was “Sweet Home Chicago.” Johnson is usually credited with writing all three songs. Elements of this song can be traced back to several other blues songs. In 1934 Kokomo Arnold was in the studio in Chicago. He recorded Sagefield Woman Blues at a session, which contains maybe the first mention of the phrase “Dust My Broom” in the lyrics.

Elmore recorded and released his version in 1951. On the single, the song was credited to Elmo James. The song peaked at #9 in the R&B Charts in 1952. Elmore James’s version is probably the most popular version of the song. James’ “Dust My Broom” was inducted into the Blues Foundation Blues Hall of Fame in 1983… it was stated that it received more votes than any other record in the first year of balloting for singles.

Artists who have covered this song include Johnny Winter, Derek Trucks, ZZ Top, Ike and Tina Turner,  Robert Jr. Lockwood, John Littlejohn, Hound Dog Taylor, Homesick James and Frank Zappa.

Bill Wyman (bass player for the Rolling Stones): “The very first time Brian heard it, he played Elmore James’ ‘Dust My Broom.’ And Brain said the earth shattered and seemed to go off its axis, it was such an important moment in his life. He just went away and just tried to learn to play like Elmore James. And he sat in with the band, the Alexis Korner band, and played ‘Dust My Broom.’

By pure chance, that day Mick and Keith and a couple of their mates who’d been trying to put a band together in Dartford – unsuccessfully – went to see the Alexis Korner show as well, after reading about it in the music press. And they saw Brian Jones sitting onstage, this little white cat, sitting onstage and doing Elmore James, and it blew them away! So that was the Stones. Elmore James was a very, very important part, and if that hadn’t happened – that moment – maybe the Rolling Stones wouldn’t be here.”

Derek Trucks: “You can remember almost every Elmore James solo by heart because he was playing songs. Nothing’s wasted. Nothing’s throwaway. It doesn’t feel like somebody’s practicing in front of you, or running scales; these are melodies that are pouring out, and those are the players that I listen to. They move me.

Dust My Broom

I’m gettin’ up soon in the mornin’
I believe I’ll dust my broom
I’m gettin’ up soon in the mornin’
I believe I’ll dust my broom
Out with the best gal I’m lovin’
Now my friends can get in my room

I’m gonna write a letter, telephone every town I know
I’m gonna write a letter, telephone every town I know
If I don’t find her in Mississippi
She be in East Monroe I know

And I don’t want no woman
Want every downtown man she meets
No I don’t want no woman
Want every downtown man she meets
Man, she’s a no good doney
They shouldn’t allow her on the street, yeah

I believe, I believe my time ain’t long
I believe, I believe my time ain’t long
I ain’t gonna leave my baby
And break up my happy home

Elvis Presley – Good Rockin Tonight

When I think of Elvis …I admire him on one hand and on the other I pity him for how he ended up. When the big E was coming out of the Memphis radios on Sun Records…there was not anyone around that could touch him as a live rock and roll performer. Then came Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis became a huge star but with a steep cost.

Roy Brown first wrote and released this song in 1947. Elvis covered it and released it in 1954. His release was his second Sun Record release and the B side was a song called “I Don’t Care if the Sun Don’t Shine.” I wish Elvis could have stayed on Sun a little longer. Soon he would be gone to RCA. Great records but he had a sound on Sun that he never got back. His band was Scotty Moore on lead guitar and Bill Black on the double bass. The song didn’t chart many places but it did peak at #10 in Sweden.

His first single for Sun was “That’s Alright Mama.” On June 7, 1954, WHBQ Radio in Memphis became the first station to play this song when their disc jockey Dewey Phillips aired it on his Red, Hot and Blue show the day after Elvis recorded it. It soon built up regionally after that.

A Sun Records Tribute Assembles Old Timers of Rock & Roll - Frank Beacham's  Journal

On November 20, 1955, Elvis signed with RCA and after that, his records were everywhere. RCA could give him distribution all over the world but I wish they would have kept recording the Sun Studios with Sam Phillips. Mr. Phillips owned Sun Studios since 1952 and he would have a star-studded roster of Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and more.

He was also an early investor in the Holiday Inn chain of hotels and an advocate for racial equality, helping to break down racial barriers in the music industry.

The B Side I Don’t Care if the Sun Don’t Shine

Good Rockin Tonight

Well, I heard the news, there’s good rockin’ tonight
Well, I heard the news, there’s good rockin’ tonight
I’m gonna hold my baby as tight as I can
Tonight she’ll know I’m a mighty, mighty man
I heard the news, there’s good rockin’ tonight

I said, meet me and a-hurry behind the barn
Don’t you be afraid ’cause I’ll do you no harm
I want you to bring along my rockin’ shoes
‘Cause tonight I’m gonna rock away all our blues
I heard the news, there’s good rockin’ tonight

Well, we’re gonna rock
We’re gonna rock
Let’s rock
Come on and rock
We’re gonna rock all our blues away

Have you heard the news, everybody’s rockin’ tonight
Have you heard the news, everybody’s rockin’ tonight
I’m gonna hold my baby as tight as I can
Well, tonight she’ll know I’m a mighty, mighty man
I heard the news, there’s good rockin’ tonight

Well, we’re gonna rock, rock, rock, rock
Come on and rock, rock, rock, rock
Let’s rock, rock, rock, rock
Well, let’s rock, rock, rock, rock
We’re gonna rock all our blues away

Twilight Zone Precursor – The Time Element

★★★★ November 24, 1958 Season 0 Episode 0

If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.

I should have posted this before I started the series so when I reached the end of 5th season I thought it was time to feature this one. CBS purchased a teleplay in 1958 that writer Rod Serling hoped to produce as the pilot of a weekly anthology series. “The Time Element” marked Serling’s first entry in the field of science fiction.

It’s a Time Travel episode and a good one. William Bendix as Peter Jenson goes back in time right before Pearl Harbor takes place. 

This show premiered on November 24, 1958. Rod Serling wrote this episode and it appeared on the Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse. This one could have been a Twilight Zone.

Although this isn’t the pilot episode of The Twilight Zone, it was this Rod Serling production that eventually led to The Twilight Zone. It proved to be very popular with viewers, which led CBS to pursue a new series with Serling. Because TV viewers at the time were not used to the kind of surprise, twist endings for which Twilight Zone  became noted (as in this episode), Desi Arnaz appeared on-screen at the end of the episode to offer his explanation of “what really happened.”

IMDB Trivia:

Martin Balsam (Dr. Arnold Gillespie) later played Admiral Husband Kimmel in Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), which likewise concerned the attack on Pearl Harbor.

This episode takes place on October 4, 1958 and from December 6 to December 7, 1941.
Uses music that was later used in George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968).
The man at the bar is Joe DeRita from The Three Stooges.

This show was written by Rod Serling 

Summary

A man is sent back in time to December 6, 1941, to Pearl Harbor on December 5, 1941, two days before it is bombed. The episode relates his frantic efforts to warn military officials of the approaching catastrophe.

The complete episode

CAST

William Bendix…Peter Jenson
Martin Balsam…Dr. Arnold Gillespie
Darryl Hickman…Ensign Janoski
Jesse White…Bartender
Carolyn Kearney…Edna Janoski
Jesslyn Fax…Maid
Alan Baxter…Army Doctor
Bartlett Robinson…Mr. Gibbons
Don Keefer…Hannify
Joe DeRita…Man at Bar (as Joe De Rita)
Paul Bryar…Paul Bryar…… Bartender at Andy’s
Desi Arnaz…Host
Gene Coogan…Bar Patron (uncredited)

 

Twilight Zone Season 5 Review

We have now gone over every episode of the Twilight Zone. For those who have not seen every episode and you get curious or want an episode guide…please go here https://powerpop.blog/twilight-zone-episodes

If only one person watched an episode because of this series…I did my job. THANK YOU once again to all the readers who have followed me through this journey. Even if you just checked a few out.  Thank you for agreeing and disagreeing…that is what this was all about. I started this on April 11, 2021, and now over a year later, we are finishing this up.

When I started this I thought I would end up not liking the show as much but the opposite has happened…I like it even more. I found some episodes that at one time I thought were only so-so…much better than I remembered.  My appreciation grew for them after watching them again. Out of 156 shows…I only rated four shows under a 3…and my rating of 3 was an average good show. That ratio is a great run for any show.

The 5th season’s episodes are at the bottom of this post…. are there any that you disagree with the rating? Lisa brought up the interaction of the blog and that is what made me want to finish it. Some people found different meanings from episodes than I did and some episodes take on a new meaning for me now.

Now for the 5th season review. By the 5th season, Rod Serling was burned out and not as involved as before. The season was uneven but it still had some classic episodes such as Nightmare At 20,000 Feet, In Praise of Pip, Living Doll, Ring-a-Ding Girl, Number Twelve Looks Just Like You, The Masks, Stopover in a Quiet Town, and  I Am the Night – Color Me Black. It also had the creepy Come Wander With Me, Night Call, and Caesar and Me.

For one reason or another, Jim Aubrey [then president of CBS] decided he was sick of the show. He claimed that it was too far over budget and that the ratings weren’t good enough. In truth, Twilight Zone was still rated well, although not in the top ten but doing well, and the show was on budget.

To sum Jim Aubrey up…he had contempt for smart shows. Two of his successes were Gilligans Island and The Beverly Hillbillies… a quote from Mr. Aubrey:  The American public is something I fly over”

Executives have said his formula was “broads, bosoms, and fun” so The Twilight Zone didn’t have a chance. This is another quote by the magnificent Aubrey: Feed the public little more than rural comedies, fast-moving detective dramas, and later, sexy dolls. No old people; the emphasis was on youth. No domestic servants, the mass audience wouldn’t identify with maids. No serious problems to cope with. Every script had to be full of action. No physical infirmities.

ABC wanted the Twilight Zone but they would have had to change the name because CBS owned it. Serling said no. Daily Variety reported that Serling considered the odds of a sixth season unlikely…and then.  Rod Serling: I decided to cancel the network.

The Twilight Zone is still watched and admired by new generations. Many science fiction works are judged against it. SNL, The Simpsons, Family Guy, and songs have referenced the show. It’s now in our pop culture and will never leave.

The Simpsons Parodying The Twilight Zone - YouTube

Family Guy - HTTPete - YouTube

MY SATURDAY NIGHT LIFE... RICK NELSON... S04E12...

After the Twilight Zone, Rod Serling did another TV program called The Loner. The Loner was a terrific 1965 western program that hit on social issues set in the old west. In 1969 He did The Night Gallery but he didn’t have control over that like he did with the Twilight Zone. He later said he regretted not keeping more control. He also co-wrote the screenplay for Planet of the Apes.

Right before he passed away he did the promos for Fantasy Park in 1975.

From Wiki

In May 1975, Serling was admitted to a hospital after experiencing a mild heart attack. One month later, he was re-admitted for a coronary bypass operation. Complications arose after ten hours of open-heart surgery, and he died on June 28, 1975, in Rochester, New York. In all, he had lived fifty years, six months, and three days.

***Just a note…on Saturday I will be posting the precursor to the Twilight Zone and…I picked the show for the current ongoing TV Draft that will appear in a few weeks***

Season 5
Total Episode Date Episode Stars
121 1 Sept 27, 1963 In Praise of Pip 5
122 2 Oct 4, 1963 Steel 4.5
123 3 Oct 11, 1963 Nightmare at 20,000 Feet 5
124 4 Oct 18, 1963 A Kind of a Stopwatch 4
125 5 Oct 25, 1963 The Last Night of a Jockey 3.5
126 6 Nov 1, 1963 Living Doll 5
127 7 Nov 8, 1963 The Old Man in the Cave 4.5
128 8 Nov 15, 1963 Uncle Simon 3.5
129 9 Nov 29, 1963 Probe 7 – Over and Out 4
130 10 Dec 6, 1963 The 7th is Made Up of Phantoms 4
131 11 Dec 13, 1963 A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain 3.5
132 12 Dec 20, 1963 Ninety Years Without Slumbering 4
133 13 Dec 27, 1963 Ring-a-Ding Girl 5
134 14 Jan 3, 1964 You Drive 4
135 15  Jan 10, 1964 The Long Morrow 4
136 16  Jan 17, 1964 The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross 4
137 17  Jan 24, 1964 Number Twelve Looks Just Like You 5
138 18 Jan 31, 1964 Black Leather Jackets 2.5
139 19 Feb 7, 1964 Night Call 4.5
140 20 Feb 14, 1964 From Agnes – With Love 3
141 21  Feb 21, 1964 Spur of the Moment 4
142 22 Feb 28, 1964 An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge 5
143 23 Mar 6, 1964 Queen of the Nile 3.5
144 24 Mar 13, 1964 What’s in the Box 3.5
145 25 Mar 20, 1964 The Masks 5
146 26 Mar 27, 1964 I Am the Night – Color Me Black 5
147 27 Apr 3, 1964 Sounds and Silences 2
148 28 Apr 10, 1964 Caesar and Me 3.5
149 29 Apr 17, 1964 The Jeopardy Room 4.5
150 30 Apr 24, 1964 Stopover in a Quiet Town 5
151 31 May 1, 1964 The Encounter 4.5
152 32 May 8, 1964 Mr. Garrity and the Graves 5
153 33 May 15, 1964 The Brain Center at Whipple’s 4
154 34 May 22, 1964 Come Wander with Me 4.5
155 35 May 29, 1964 The Fear 4.5
156 36 Jun 19, 1964 The Bewitchin’ Pool
Season 5 Review Twilight Zone Season 5 Review

Rod Serling…OHSAA Football In 2020, You've Just Entered The 'Twilight Zone'  – Stateline Sports Network

Twilight Zone – The Bewitchin’ Pool

★★★★ June 19, 1964 Season 5 Episode 36

If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.

This is the last Twilight Zone episode. I will have a Twilight Zone 5th Season review Wednesday and a Twilight Zone precursor…a show that led to making the Twilight Zone on Saturday…also in our TV Draft…yea I’ll be covering this one in some round. 

This is the last aired Twilight Zone episode. I love this episode but it’s not one of the more popular ones. It’s in my top twenty of Twilight Zones. This one I disagree with the majority of Twilight Zone fans. Being a child of divorce I can totally relate to the two main children in this episode. It always reminded me of Narnia a little bit. Instead of a wardrobe closet, it was a pool. 

The biggest complaint of this episode happened when there was noise interference on the MGM back-lot during the pool sequences, and everyone had to be called back for post-dubbing. Actress Mary Badham who played Sport Sharewood had already flown back to Alabama and it was deemed too expensive to fly her back to Los Angeles. June Foray was brought in to dub her lines. It wasn’t the best dubbing job (not Foray’s fault) but it doesn’t interfere with the story. 

Kids would love a place to hide from fighting parents. The kids, Sport and Jeb found such a place at a bottom of a pool. As their parents would not stop fighting they escaped to a tranquil place with other kids who were all looked after by Aunt “T.” Sometimes parents don’t understand what lengths kids will go to get away…real or imagined.

IMDB Trivia: 

Both children speak with Southern accents while their urbane parents have generic American accents. The writer Earl Hamner Jr. (who later created The Waltons (1972)) hearkened back to the children in the film To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). In the film, the children were named Scout and Jem. In this episode, the children are Sport and Jeb. Mary Badham played both Scout and Sport.

This was essentially the series finale as the show was canceled a short time later in June 1964.

The swimming pool used in this is the same pool seen in the earlier “Queen of the Nile,” and season two’s, “The Trouble with Templeton”.

Earl Hamner, who wrote the script for this episode, said that he disliked the characterization of “Aunt T.” as played by actress Georgia Simmons. He stated that there were women whom he characterized as “earth mothers,” citing actress Patricia Neal as an example of the kind of portrayal he had envisioned for the role, and said that instead he found “Aunt T.” as depicted in the episode “too cute.” Patricia Neal would go on to create the role of Olivia Walton in the pilot, “The Homecoming,” of Hamner’s long-running series, “The Waltons.”

This show was written by Rod Serling and Earl Hamner Jr.

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration: 

Right before the end of the introduction, as in a typical episode, Rod Serling appears on-screen and says:

A swimming pool not unlike any other pool, a structure built of tile and cement and money, a backyard toy for the affluent, wet entertainment for the well-to-do. But to Jeb and Sport Sharewood, this pool holds mysteries not dreamed of by the building contractor, not guaranteed in any sales brochure. For this pool has a secret exit that leads to a never-neverland, a place designed for junior citizens who need a long voyage away from reality, into the bottomless regions of the Twilight Zone.

After the opening credits are finished rolling, Serling, in voice-over, says:

Introduction to a perfect setting: Colonial mansion, spacious grounds, heated swimming pool. All the luxuries money can buy. Introduction to two children: brother and sister, names Jeb and Sport. Healthy, happy, normal youngsters. Introduction to a mother: Gloria Sharewood by name, glamorous by nature. Introduction to a father: Gil Sharewood, handsome, prosperous, the picture of success. A man who has achieved every man’s ambition. Beautiful children, beautiful home, beautiful wife. Idyllic? Obviously. But don’t look too carefully, don’t peek behind the façade. The idyll may have feet of clay.

Summary

Told by their parents that they are getting a divorce, Sport and Jeb Sharewood now have to decide who they are going to live with. They decide they would rather live with Aunt T, the woman they’ve met by traveling through a portal at the bottom of their swimming pool. At the other end is an idyllic world where children play and there are few adults. Aunt T is a kindly old woman but Sport is far more reluctant than Jeb to accept her invitation to stay with them.

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:

A brief epilogue for concerned parents. Of course, there isn’t any such place as the gingerbread house of Aunt T, and we grownups know there’s no door at the bottom of a swimming pool that leads to a secret place. But who can say how real the fantasy world of lonely children can become? For Jeb and Sport Sharewood, the need for love turned fantasy into reality; they found a secret place—in the Twilight Zone.

CAST

Rod Serling … Host / Narrator – Himself
Mary Badham … Sport Sharewood
June Foray … Sport Sharewood (voice, outdoor scenes)
Kim Hector … Witt
Dee Hartford … Gloria Sharewood
Jeffrey Byron … Jeb Sharewood
Georgia Simmons … Aunt T
Tod Andrews … Gil Sharewood

Twilight Zone – The Fear

★★★★1/2 May 29, 1964 Season 5 Episode .35

If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.

This episode goes a bit under the radar compared to others. It’s a good solid effort. Mark Richman as Trooper Robert Franklin and Hazel Court as Charlotte Scott work very well together. Scott is introduced as a bit of a snob but as the show goes on you find out the reason for that. I like the Trooper who isn’t a stereotypical small-time trooper but is smart, does his job well, and is worldly. In between the mysterious events, the two characters always find time to philosophize and bicker with each other but build a good relationship. You end up rooting for both characters as their chemistry builds throughout the show.

The story focuses on the fear of who (or what) is causing disturbances outside of Charlotte’s remote cabin. The two encounter some strange phenomena including flashing lights and strange noises. They eventually see a giant fingerprint on Robert’s car that has been moved. Who or what you will find out in the end. This one is worth investing some time in to watch. 

IMDB Trivia: 

Robert Franklin served in both World War II and the Korean War.

Although never identified as such, Trooper Franklin appears to be a New York state trooper.

Trooper Franklin’s (Peter Mark Richman) badge number is #810 for an unidentified state police agency.

This show was written by Rod Serling 

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration: 

The major ingredient of any recipe for fear is the unknown. And here are two characters about to partake of the meal: Miss Charlotte Scott, a fashion editor, and Mr. Robert Franklin, a state trooper. And the third member of the party: the unknown, that has just landed a few hundred yards away. This person or thing is soon to be met. This is a mountain cabin, but it is also a clearing in the shadows known as the Twilight Zone.

Summary

Trooper Robert Franklin stops by Charlotte Scott’s remote cabin to see if she’s alright. She is a big-city fashion editor who is looking for peace and quiet while Franklin is a local who sees her as a snob. They are soon drawn together when a giant creature seems to appear in the woods just outside Charlotte’s cabin. Franklin’s patrol car is overturned and her telephone is suddenly out of order. Together, they will have to overcome their fears and deal with the extra-terrestrial creature that has appeared, which turns out to be something altogether unexpected.

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:

Fear, of course, is extremely relative. It depends on who can look down and who must look up. It depends on other vagaries, like the time, the mood, the darkness. But it’s been said before, with great validity, that the worst thing there is to fear is fear itself. Tonight’s tale of terror and tiny people on the Twilight Zone.

CAST

Rod Serling … Host / Narrator – Himself
Peter Mark Richman … Trooper Robert Franklin
Hazel Court … Charlotte Scott

 

Twilight Zone – Come Wander with Me

★★★★1/2 May 22, 1964 Season 5 Episode 34

If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.

There are two episodes in the 5th season that I differ from many Twilight Zone fans…and this is one of them. I think it is the creepiest episode of them all.  I’ve watched it countless times and I see something else every time I do. This show covers a plot device that the Twilight Zone has covered before but I like this take on it…a time loop…an endless cycle. 

Gary Crosby (Bing Crosby’s son) plays Floyd Burney a jaded rockabilly star in search of new songs in the backwoods. Hank Patterson (Fred Ziffel in Green Acres) plays an old man who apparently is waiting for Burney at a barn-like music store but remains utterly uncommunicative. When Burney grabs a guitar and takes off…his fate is sealed. 

Bonnie Breecher plays a beautiful girl named Mary Rachel who Burney hears singing a haunting ballad. Rachel falls in love with him but is powerless to change his preordained fate, as it seems Floyd is destined to live the song he wants to purchase. Floyd Burney is too self-centered to comprehend the bigger picture of the strange situation he finds himself in. Mary Rachel’s alter-ego also appears in an almost mourning demonic form throughout. The setting of this episode heightens the creepy atmosphere. You feel for Floyd Burney although you don’t really like him. 

IMDB Trivia: This was the final episode of The Twilight Zone (1959) to be filmed, although two episodes filmed earlier were aired afterward.

As a teenager, Liza Minnelli auditioned for the role of Mary Rachel opposite Gary Crosby. Minnelli was so nervous that the producer William Froug commented: “She’ll never make it.” Minnelli lost out to Bonnie Beecher. This episode was Ms. Beecher’s acting debut.

The headstock of Floyd Burney’s guitar has black tape across the label covering the Gibson name brand.

Floyd Burney’s guitar is a Gibson ES-295 electric arch-top.
 

Producer William Froug: One of the people I interviewed was this nervous, frightened little girl whose hands shook and who was covered with sweat, and I said, Shell never make it. Her name was Liza Minnelli. And I chose Bonnie Beecher, and we all know what became of Bonnie Beecher!

I’ll never forget Liza Minnelli sitting there and her agent saying, This girl can really sing. I said, I’m sure she can, but I thought, Oh, she is so nervous! She’s scared out of her mind. To picture her as a hillbilly singer: no way. And I must tell you and this is the truth at the time, I sat there thinking, Well, I’ll probably kick myself for this but I can’t see this girl playing the part but shell probably be a big star. I still don’t regret it, but it was really classic stupidity.

This show was written by Rod Serling and Anthony Wilson

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration: 

Mr. Floyd Burney, a gentleman songster in search of song, is about to answer the age-old question of whether a man can be in two places at the same time. As far as his folk song is concerned, we can assure Mr. Burney he’ll find everything he’s looking for, although the lyrics may not be all to his liking. But that’s sometimes the case – when the words and music are recorded in the Twilight Zone.

Summary

Singer Floyd Burney, the “Rock-a-Billy-Kid”, goes deep into the back woods hoping to find his next hit record. He no sooner arrives than he hears a beautiful singing voice which draws him deeper into the woods. He eventually meets Mary Rachel who tells him the song he heard belonged to someone and that she’s forbidden to tell anyone about it. When she finally reveals it to him, Floyd learns that his future is preordained.

The Complete Episode on Dailymotion.

Below is a short clip…I would recommend watching the episode if you have time.

 

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:

In retrospect, it may be said of Mr. Floyd Burney that he achieved that final dream of the performer: eternal top-name billing, not on the fleeting billboards of the entertainment world, but forever recorded among the folk songs of the Twilight Zone.

CAST

Rod Serling … Host / Narrator – Himself
Gary Crosby … Floyd Burney
Bonnie Beecher … Mary Rachel
John Bolt … Billy Rayford
Hank Patterson … Old Man

Twilight Zone – The Brain Center at Whipple’s

★★★★ May 15, 1964 Season 5 Episode 33

If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.

For years I would skim over this episode until I watched it again and really got the message. It’s a good show and true to life. Rod Serling had his crystal ball at full power with this episode and could see what was happening. The message that Serling gets across is a stronger one today. It has been reported that automation could destroy as many as 73 million jobs by 2030…paving the way for further dehumanization. 

Richard Deacon as Wallace V. Whipple, most famous for “The Dick Van Dyke Show” has control of his late father’s company. Despite the fact that his father doubled his production, the son sees him as a failure. His solution is to go to an almost totally computerized and mechanized factory, eliminating nearly all the workers, even the ones who have been there for years. Paul Newlan as Walter Hanley steals the show as a longtime principled employee with common sense and morals who picks Whipple apart. 

I also have to mention Ted de Corsia who plays a frustrated worker named Dickerson who has had enough and takes some revenge against the machine taking his job.  

The Brain Center At Whipple’s hits a chord with jobs being taken away from us by technology. We have corporations that only care about the bottom line and less about people who have helped make them. Technology is a great resource when used as a tool and should help employees do their jobs but not take them. 

The episode is a little over the top but worth the ride. 

IMDB Trivia: Richard Deacon and Rod Serling both grew up in Binghamton, New York and were graduates of Binghamton Central High School. There was a very popular lumber yard on Upper Court Street in Binghamton named “Whipple’s Lumber Yard”, thus the name for Deacon’s character in this episode. Rod Serling would often use names of places in and around Binghamton for names of places and characters in the series.

Select scenes and segments of dialogue from this episode were featured within the context of the ‘Information Age: People, Information and Technology’ exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of American History. The exhibit ran from May 9, 1990 through September 4, 2006.

The new computer that is installed is the same one used in, “The Old Man and the Cave”.

 

This show was written by Rod Serling

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration: 

These are the players — with or without a scorecard. In one corner a machine; in the other, one Wallace V. Whipple, man. And the game? It happens to be the historical battle between flesh and steel, between the brain of man and the product of man’s brain. We don’t make book on this one and predict no winner….but we can tell you for this particular contest, there is standing room only — in the Twilight Zone.

Summary

The W.V. Whipple Manufacturing Co. introduces a new automated manufacturing machine that will eliminate 61,000 jobs and the company’s president, Wallace V. Whipple, is quite proud of his achievement. Not everyone agrees with him, especially the loyal and longstanding employees who will be out of work. Foreman Vic Dickerson has plans for the machine – plans that land him in the hospital. When the machine is fully operational, it’s Wallace V. Whipple who learns just what it is he has created.

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:

There are many bromides applicable here: ‘too much of a good thing’, ‘tiger by the tail’, ‘as you sow so shall you reap’. The point is that, too often, Man becomes clever instead of becoming wise; he becomes inventive and not thoughtful; and sometimes, as in the case of Mr. Whipple, he can create himself right out of existence. As in tonight’s tale of oddness and obsolescence, in the Twilight Zone.

CAST

Rod Serling … Host / Narrator – Himself
Richard Deacon … Wallace V. Whipple
Paul Newlan … Walter Hanley
Ted de Corsia … Dickerson
Thalmus Rasulala (credited … Jack Crowder) … Technician
Shawn Michaels … Bartender
Burt Conroy … Watchman
Robby the Robot … Himself

 

Twilight Zone – Mr. Garrity and the Graves

★★★★★ May 8, 1964 Season 5 Episode 32

If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.

This is an excellent episode and what initially seemed like a straight drama actually had a subtle comedic twist. It says a lot about human nature. This may be a lighter episode but it works on many levels. Top to bottom, the comic casting is impeccable. Not a blight to be found in the cast. John Dehner is marvelously dry as a con man in the Old West and there is a good deal of humor as he goes about his business in the town of Happiness, Arizona. The town’s cemetery contained 128 dead, all but one were victims of violence…and as one drunk put it…that was my dear wife Zelda, rest her soul, a fine, healthy, strapping woman of 247 pounds but not unattractive, mind you. 

John Dehner’s character Jared Garrity is going to raise the dead in Happiness Arizona.  The townspeople in the saloon claim to miss their loved ones. But, upon rethinking the matter, one by one they realize that their late friends, wives, husbands, and drunkards maybe…just maybe weren’t the lovely people they were fondly remembering. Will Garrity be able to pull this feat off or is he taking the town for a ride? 

The Twilight Zone’s 5th season lagged a little in the middle but with three more episodes to go…they finished up quite strong. 

From IMDB Trivia: This is based on a supposed true story that happened in Alta, UT in 1873. It was initially told on Death Valley Days: Miracle at Boot Hill (1961).

This show was written by Rod Serling and Mike Korologos

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration: 

Introducing Mr. Jared Garrity, a gentleman of commerce, who in the latter half of the nineteenth century plied his trade in the wild and wooly hinterlands of the American West. And Mr. Garrity, if one can believe him, is a resurrecter of the dead – which, on the face of it, certainly sounds like the bull is off the nickel. But to the scoffers amongst you, and you ladies and gentlemen from Missouri, don’t laugh this one off entirely, at least until you’ve seen a sample of Mr. Garrity’s wares, and an example of his services. The place is Happiness, Arizona, the time around 1890. And you and I have just entered a saloon where the bar whiskey is brewed, bottled and delivered from the Twilight Zone.

Summary

In the early 1890s Mr. Garrity arrives in Happiness, Arizona apparently knowing a great deal about some of the people who live there. He knows that Jensen the bartender’s brother died and that Gooberman the town drunk lost his wife. Garrity also reveals that he has a very peculiar gift – he can bring back the dead. When a dog is run down by a wagon in the street he resurrects it without any difficulty. When he offers to do the same for the town’s loved one’s, they realize they would rather he not bring back the dearly departed, something they are quite happy to pay him for. Garrity, a charlatan if ever there was one, is glad to accept their money – though he does seem to leave something behind

 

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:

Exit Mr. Garrity, a would-be charlatan, a make-believe con man and a sad misjudger of his own talents. Respectfully submitted from an empty cemetery on a dark hillside that is one of the slopes leading to the Twilight Zone.

CAST

Rod Serling … Host / Narrator – Himself
John Dehner … Jared Garrity
J. Pat O’Malley: Mr. Gooberman
Stanley Adams … Jensen
John Mitchum … Ace
Percy Helton … Lapham
Norman Leavitt … Sheriff Gilchrist
Edgar Dearing … First Resurrected Man
Kate Murtagh … Zelda Gooberman
Patrick O’Moore … Man
John Cliff … Lightning Peterson
Robert McCord … Townsman In Black Hat
Cosmo Sardo … Resurrected Man