Television

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (Television Series)

ISBN: 
883929422180

The 1960’s was the time of the “Cold War” and the “Iron Curtain” Both of these terms were indicative of our relationship with Russia during those years.  We may not have been in a shooting war, but we were very much at odds with them in terms of our political philosophies and both countries were very much concerned that these differing political philosophies would spread or worse contaminate their own people. So it is surprising that one of the most popular spy shows on television in the sixties featured an organization made up of agents from many different countries with no regard to the political affiliation or beliefs of their home countries.  In fact, the organization's two top agents and their best team consisted of American agent Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Russian agent Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum).  The series was known as “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” and it was popular enough to spawn several made-for-TV movies, a spin-off series known as “The Girl from U.N.C.L.E,” and an attempted movie reboot in 2015.   

BATMAN (1966 - TV Series)

ISBN: 
883929409501

There’s a business in Logansport, Indiana known as Fiberglass Freaks. They produce my dream car.  They don’t make a lot of them as each car is custom built by hand.  The car is known as “The Batmobile.”  Over the years in the movies and television there have been several Batmobiles, but the 1966 Batmobile is perhaps the best known and one of the most loved. It is this car this small company builds.  The popularity of this car is not just because of its distinctive lines and style, but because of the popularity of a camp, comedy version of one of the most well-known crime fighters in comic book history, Batman.  

The 1960’s Batman TV series was originally conceived as a drama; at some point the decision was made to turn it in to a camp comedy.  I don’t know why the decision was made but the result was almost literally pure gold.

The Wild, Wild, West – Television Series

ISBN: 
097368881648

When I was young, maybe too young as I was only eight at the time, my father introduced me to a series of books by an author named Ian Fleming about an English secret agent known as James Bond.  Prior to this my heroes were all from world of television.  I was enthralled with the “Adventures of Superman,” “Roy Rogers” and “The Lone Ranger.” As you may have noticed two of my favorite heroes were from westerns.  James Bond suddenly took precedence over them all.  I loved the intrigue and the action in the books.  But I still loved my westerns.  Then, in 1964 a television western, The Wild, Wild West, set in the mid 1800’s appeared about two agents of the newly established U.S. Secret Service; James West and Artmus Gordon.  Each episode had the intrigue and mystery of a secret agent like James Bond as well as the special gadgets and gizmos a spy would use and best of all, it was a western.  I was hooked.

Mister Roberts - Teleplay

ISBN: 
054961811991

In 1984 NBC broadcast a full-length production of Mister Roberts. Along with a great many others before it aired, I felt the 1955 movie (about which I've posted previously) was definitive; I certainly didn’t feel that there was a need for another version of this classic film. What I didn’t realize was that this was not a remake of the movie—it was a play, filmed before a live audience. 

Babylon 5

Babylon 5 castOpening - Season One: It was the dawn of the third age of mankind, ten years after the Earth-Minbari War. The Babylon Project was a dream given form. Its goal: to prevent another war by creating a place where humans and aliens could work out their differences peacefully. It's a port of call, home away from home for diplomats, hustlers, entrepreneurs, and wanderers. Humans and aliens wrapped in two million, five hundred thousand tons of spinning metal, all alone in the night. It can be a dangerous place, but it's our last, best hope for peace. This is the story of the last of the Babylon stations. The year is 2258. The name of the place is Babylon 5.

 

Babylon 5, created by J. Michael Straczynski, came to our Televisions in the early 1990’s, about the same time as Star Trek’s Deep Space Nine.  The two are often compared.  Fans of each have called one a “rip-off” of the other.  The truth is they were both developed and planned independently of each other.  Babylon 5 did something that was amazing at the time; it got Trekkers and Trekkies alike talking about a new show.  Some of them even thought this new series was better than Star Trek. 

Auto Focus

ISBN: 
1404908722

In the 1960’s one of the top rated TV shows of the time was a comedy about the unusual subject of a prisoner of war camp in Nazi Germany.    The show was the story was about a group of prisoners in Stalag 13 whose mission was to conduct secret operations behind enemy lines.  It was known as Hogan’s Heroes.   The film Auto Focus is not about this television show but about its star who found himself in the public’s eye and being held up to public as the example of the ideal family man.  His life and his actions were anything but ideal. 

Firefly

ISBN: 
6308024716

“Here's how it is: The Earth got used up, so we moved out and terraformed a whole new galaxy of Earths. Some rich and flush with the new technologies, some not so much. The Central Planets, thems formed the Alliance, waged war to bring everyone under their rule; a few idiots tried to fight it, among them myself. I'm Malcolm Reynolds, captain of Serenity. She's a transport ship; Firefly class. Got a good crew: fighters, pilot, mechanic. We even picked up a preacher for some reason, and a bona fide companion. There's a doctor, too, took his genius sister outta some Alliance camp, so they're keepin' a low profile. You understand. You got a job, we can do it, don't much care what it is.” – Opening Credits

The television series Firefly is a show that many say was never really given a chance.  I would have to agree. Produced by Joss Whedon for the Fox Network, the show was originally planned to have a seven year story ark.  It was canceled after airing only 11out of 14 filmed episodes.  It suffered from a variety of issues.  Fox aired the episodes out of order and swapped the times that it aired in an ill-advised attempt to raise ratings.  Those who found the show had trouble finding it again.  Even with these issues, Firefly gathered such a strong fan following that with the release of the DVDs its popularity has continued to build over time. 

Difficult Men

ISBN: 
9781594204197

This is an interesting book detailing the rise of what the author terms the "Third Golden Age of Television". He provides in-depth details on the development, reaction, and impact of several critically acclaimed television shows (The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, Mad Men) and touches on others more peripherally (The Shield, Six Feet Under, Breaking Bad and various others). [Note: The Library may not, and probably will not, have the entirety of some of these shows, so check the catalog if you are inclined to (re-)watch any of them]. The author provides a context for how these new shows developed (going back to briefly recap the first two 'ages' on network television) and traces how this third Age was able to come about only on premium and basic cable stations.

If You Liked Doctor Who

Doctor Who In November a show which is perhaps the longest running television series in the history of Television celebrates 50 years. The show is BBC One's time traveling adventure Doctor Who. "Who" is more of a question than a name. Launched 1963 with William Hartnell as "The Doctor" a Time Lord from Galafrey who travels in time and space in a ship known as The T.A.R.D.I.S; a ship inexplicably larger on the inside than the outside and which looks exactly like a 1960's British police call box.

The Adventures of Superman

Adventures of Superman

My last posting regarding the death of “The Adventures of Superman” star George Reeves resulted in my reminiscing about my childhood love of this particular Superman/Clark Kent.  “The Adventures of Superman” is an interesting mix of adventure and plain silliness.   The result is that there is something for almost everyone.  The series started out as an adventure series aimed more at adults than children.  In the beginning the series had an almost film noir quality about it; there were real mysteries and realistic (for the time) dangers.  Superman may have saved the day, but the stories themselves would have fit well in almost any of the detective shows of the era.    If you like a good story and don’t mind the cheesy special effects of the time, check out the first season of “The Adventures of Superman.”  Once you get past the Superman origins episode you will find some good half hour mysteries.

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