television history

TV Tuesday: All Creatures Great & Small 1975

Posted on Updated on

All Creatures Image One
Image Credit: imdb.com

Forty-five years ago, today, the Hallmark Hall of Fame television movie All Creatures Great and Small aired on NBC. Based on two novels by James Alfred Wight (pen name James Herriot), If Only They Could Talk (1970) and It Shouldn’t Happen To A Vet (1972), it was the first of a series of films and TV series based on his work. Directed by Claude Whatham and produced by David Susskind, it starred Simon Ward (as James Herriot), Anthony Hopkins, Lisa Harrow, Brian Stirner and Freddie Jones.

From Wikipedia

It is 1937 and newly qualified vet James Herriot travels to Yorkshire to apply for the post of assistant in Siegfried Farnon’s practice. He soon learns the facts of country life but, struggles to overcome the prejudices of the Darrowby locals who are skeptical of the novice vet’s ability. In between cases, Herriot courts pretty farmer’s daughter Helen Alderson and finally marries her.

From Turner Classic Movies:

A gentle, episodic account of author Herriot’s apprenticeship in the mid-1930s to an eccentric rural English veterinarian and his awkward courtship of a farmer’s daughter.

All Creatures Image Two
Photo Credit: tmdb.org & watchviooz.com

From IMDB:

The story of a young veterinarian’s apprenticeship to a somewhat eccentric, older vet in the English countryside and the young man’s hesitating courtship of the daughter of a local farmer.

Filming began May 1974 in Malton, North Yorkshire with studio work in London. The film wasn’t released in the UK until May 9, 1975, opening in London at Studio Two on Oxford Street.

Trivia Bits:
♦ Although born in Sunderland, England, James Herriot spent the first twenty-three years of his life in Glasgow, Scotland and never lost the accent, as can be heard in television interviews. Simon Ward however, plays him as a Londoner.
♦ Known to the cast and crew as “All Creatures Grunt and Smell”.

TV Tuesday: Robert Goulet Variety Show 1964

Posted on Updated on

Robert Goulet Image
Photo Credit: thefamouspeople.com

Fifty-five years ago, today, the TV Special An Hour With Robert Goulet, a variety show, aired on CBS. Directed by Clark Jones (The Carol Burnett Show) and written by Arthur Alsberg (Herbie, the Love Bug & No Deposit, No Return), guest stars were Leslie Caron, Peter Gennaro, Phil Silvers, Ed Sullivan, Terry-Thomas, Fredd Wayne and Earl Wilson.

There is very little written about this special, save a New York Times Article, written the next day (No writer credited):

ONE of the tiredest gimmicks of variety shows was coupled last night with a fresh idea on “The Robert Goulet Hour.” When the tenor turned his profile toward the sun on a southern California beach and a light wind ruffled his perfectly groomed hair as he sang “Lost in the Stars,” his program consciously aimed for the creative touch. Few singers are willing to compete with the Pacific Ocean.

But when Mr. Goulet was on the sound stage of C.B.S. Television City in Hollywood, he was engulfed in that shopworn gag of pretending to be rehearsing a musical special for TV. Leslie Caron joined him in “Call Me Irresponsible” and then said “no,” she simply would not sing on his show. Peter Gennaro demonstrated a possible dance step and Fredd Wynne [sic] agonized over material for Mr. Goulet and sketches for Miss Caron. Even the ad‐libs were planned.

Visiting the University of California at Los Angeles, Mr. Goulet and company held a press conference for tanned Tammys and Gidgets, who watched Terry‐Thomas mug shamelessly as a fine arty professor. The atypical students acted like graduates of the Hollywood Professional School.

When the script permitted Mr. Goulet to forget the script, his show had possibilities. Still, the evening’s honors must go to Miss Caron, who, impersbnating [sic] Marlene Dietrich as the Blue Angel, tackled a chair with the finesse of an Olympic champion.

IMDB states that it was filmed at the Wilshire Boulevard Brown Derby. The second video, below, appears to be from a Robert Goulet channel that was set up by his widow, Vera Novak. Written below the video:

Robert Goulet Live From Sahara Hotel In Las Vegas was filmed as part of “An Hour With Robert Goulet” TV special in 1964 and produced by our company Rogo Productions, Inc. This is a rare gem and wonderful historical footage of a remarkable entertainer showcasing live entertainment in Las Vegas during 1960s. In this clip, Robert sings a “Medley Of Old Songs” written by Jerry Bresler and Lyn Duddy, which was also recorded in 1963 on Columbia RecordsRobert Goulet in Person“.

Vera Goulet

Official Website


 

TV Tuesday: Take A Good Look 1959

Posted on Updated on

Ernie Kovacs Image One
Image Credit: forcesofgeek.com

Sixty years ago, today, the game show Take a Good Look debuted on ABC. Created by Ernie Kovacs, it ran for two seasons with 53 episodes. Designed as a parody of Goodson-Todman panel games, celebrities were to guess the secret of the person brought before them. The clues provided were short video clips or skits and were extremely vague. The people brought on stage were regular folks that had an interesting area of expertise, had experienced extraordinary events in their lives or had been in the news.

Ernie Kovacs Image Two
Photo Credit: Bottom Shelf Movies

Regular panelists were Edie Adams (Kovacs’ wife), Cesar Romero, Hans Conried, Ben Alexander and Carl Reiner (second season). Other panelists to participate were Zsa Zsa Gabor, Jane Wyatt, Mort Sahl, Jack Carson, Tony Randall, Janet Leigh and Jim Backus.

Kovacs was a guest panelist on What’s My Line? (10 appearances) and a mystery guest (two appearances). This is probably where the idea for his show came from.

TV Tuesday: Harsh Realm 1999

Posted on Updated on

Harsh Realm Image One
Photo Credit: imdb.com

Twenty years ago, today, the science fiction series Harsh Realm debuted on Fox. Created and developed by Chris Carter (The X-Files & Millenium), it starred Scott Bairstow, D.B. Sweeney, Terry O’Quinn, Rachael Hayward, Max Martini, Samantha Mathis and Sarah-Jane Redmond with Cameron K. Smith as a Republican Guard Soldier (Smith had fourth billing but, much of his acting history is uncredited) and, Vinnie as Dexter the Dog (seventh billing in the cast list). Filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, it was loosely based on the Harsh Realm comic book by James Hudnall and Andrew Paquette.

Tagline: Are you ready to play?

From Wikipedia:

Harsh Realm is a virtual reality game created by the U.S. Army, programmed to minutely replicate the real world for training simulations. In the world of Harsh Realm, a small nuclear bomb is detonated in the program’s version of New York City, killing four million people and thrusting its participants into a post-apocalyptic disaster scenario. Lieutenant Tom Hobbes is unknowingly thrust into this world by his superiors with one mission: to kill “General” Omar Santiago. Along the way, he meets fellow soldiers sent into the game and alternate versions of people he knows in the real world (including Dexter, an alternate version of his real world dog). It is in this world that Hobbes must survive, defeat Santiago, save the real world and, somehow return to his real life and his fiancée, Sophie Green.

From IMDB:

Lt. Hobbes, a young idealistic Marine who’s about to get married, is sent into a [virtual reality] war game simulation where he is to terminate a renegade General who has taken control of the program. [He] also learns that he is actually trapped in the game, along with numerous other soldiers previously sent to kill Santiago. Meanwhile, Hobbes real life fiancee investigates his disappearance with the help of a mysterious female ally with an agenda of her own.

Harsh Realm Image Two
Photo Credit: imdb.com

Trivia Bits:
♦ Notable director for one episode: Kim Manners (Supernatural)
♦ Notable writer for one episode: Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files)
♦ Notable composer for the series: Mark Snow (The X-Files & Starsky & Hutch)
Gillian Anderson is the narrator of the Harsh Realm training video in the first episode.
Thomas Hobbes is named for the philosopher Thomas Hobbes, who believed in predestination and that people are inherently selfish and power-hungry.
♦ Hobbes’ dog, Dexter, is named after the protagonist from the Harsh Realm comic book series upon which the show is loosely based.
♦ Many [have] wrongly speculated that [the] widely-publicized lawsuit brought about the series’ sudden cancellation. It was actually a struggle between Carter and Fox that got the series cancelled (after nine episodes).
♦ The term “harsh realm” originates from the grunge speak hoax of 1992 […]
♦ The theme music contains samples of speeches given by Benito Mussolini.
♦ Music from artists Prodigy, White Zombie (Rob Zombie) and Moby are featured in some episodes.

The Lawsuit
Critical Reception
Nominations

Pilot Episode

TV Tuesday: The Betty Hutton Show 1959

Posted on Updated on

Betty Hutton Show Image One
Image Credit: tvguide.com

Sixty years ago, today, the sitcom The Betty Hutton Show debuted on CBS. Originally titled Goldie, it was sponsored by General FoodsPost Cereals and, produced by Desilu and Hutton Productions. Created by Stanley Roberts, it starred Betty Hutton, Dennis Joel (Olivieri), Peter Miles, Gigi Perreau, Gavin Muir, Tom Conway and Jean Carson.

From Wikipedia:

Hutton stars as Goldie, a showgirl-turned-manicurist. One of Goldie’s regular customers is a millionaire, Mr. Strickland. After he suddenly dies, Goldie discovers that he has left everything he owns, including his $60 million fortune and his three children, to her.

From IMDB:

A talkative manicurist inherits a legacy and the custody of three children from a rich Wall Street broker customer.

Episode List

Although Hutton was a popular actress, the show only lasted for thirty episodes before being cancelled, mainly because it was scheduled opposite ABC‘s popular series The Donna Reed Show.

Betty Hutton’s Website

Episode One: Betty Crosses The Tracks

Throwback Thursday: Hour Glass 1946

Posted on Updated on

Hour Glass Image One
Photo Credit: eyesofageneration.com

Seventy-three years, ago, today, the long forgotten variety show Hour Glass debuted on NBC. It was the first hour-long musical/skit/comedy in television history. Co-hosts were Helen Parrish and Eddie Mayehoff. Edgar Bergen appeared on November 14 performing his ventriloquism, a rare thing for radio personalities. He later became host of the program.

From Wikipedia

Hour Glass was sponsored by Standard Brands, promoting Chase and Sanborn Coffee and, Tenderleaf Tea. The program included comedians, musicians, entertaining films (such as a film of dance in South America) and a long, live commercial for the sponsor’s products. Such famous names as Doodles Weaver, Bert Lahr, Dennis Day, Jerry Colonna, Peggy Lee and Joe Besser appeared on the program.

The Columbia History of American Television attributed the program’s short life to its cost, saying, “Standard Brands invested $200,000 in this series over its ten-month tenure at a time when that level of investment just couldn’t be supported and sustained, leading to the Hour Glass’s abbreviated run.” Another factor was that James Petrillo, president of the American Federation of Musicians, forbade musicians from performing on television without an agreement between the AFM and the networks, thus, limiting directors, and performers, to use of recorded music.

Hour Glass Image Two
Photo Credit: eyesofageneration.com

From the Television Academy Foundation:

It is historically important, however, in that it exemplified the issues faced by networks, sponsors and advertising agencies in television’s formative years. The program was produced by the J. Walter Thompson agency […]. The lines of responsibility were not completely defined in those early years and the nine-month run of Hour Glass was punctuated by frequent squabbling among the principals. Each show was assembled by seven Thompson employees working in two teams, each putting together a show over two weeks in a frenzy of production. It must have been the curiosity factor that prompted some stars to appear on the show because they certainly were not paid much money. Hour Glass had a talent budget of only $350 a week, hardly more than scale for a handful of performers. Still, Standard Brands put an estimated $200,000 into the program’s nine-month run, by far the largest amount ever devoted to a sponsored show at that time. In February 1947, Standard Brands canceled Hour Glass. They were pleased with the show’s performance in terms of beverage sales and its overall quality, yet, were leery about continuing to pour money into a program that did not reach a large number of households (it is unclear if the show was broadcast anywhere other than NBC’s interconnected stations in New York and Philadelphia). The strain between NBC and Thompson played a role as well. Still, Hour Glass did provide Thompson with a valuable blueprint for the agency’s celebrated and long-running production, Kraft Television Theatre.

More information from Eyes of a Generation