Friday, March 10, 2006

MUSEUM PIECE (03/09/06)

I went back to the Museum of Television & Radio yesterday to continue my personal tribute to the late Darren McGavin. I made three selections, but only two programs - the first two choices were parts one and two of "The Forty-Eight Hour Mile" which combined two unrelated episodes of 'The Outsider' with some patchy voice-over work by McGavin to make the connection work.

Had I more time, I would have chosen 'Tales From The Hollywood Hills: A Table At Ciro's', which starred McGavin as A.D. Nathan, a once powerful Hollywood honcho.

The second program wasn't McGavinistic, but another episode from 'The Bold Ones - The Lawyers'. While watching "The Invasion Of Kevin Ireland" last week, the episode which guest-starred McGavin, I was inspired to cobble together a "Wold Newtonesque" riff on the life of Walter Nichols, the character played by Burl Ives. There may only be one episode left to view at the MT&R, I want to see it before I commit Nichols' "biography" to the blog.

"The Forty-Eight Hour Mile" concerned David Ross' attempts to serve a subpoena on Bernard Christie, a reclusive multi-millionaire who only had one picture of himself in media circulation; and even that was suspect as to it being Christie. That's how reclusive he was.

A lot of the elements which producer/writer Roy Huggins would later bring to the character of Jim Rockford are evident in Dave Ross. An ex-con who works alone as a private eye, lives simply and yet with some eccentricities, Ross is a man who can be charming and playful with the ladies. But he's also somebody who can get tough when he has to be and yet still come out on the wrong side of a fight.

Just as she did in "The Invasion Of Kevin Ireland", Kathie Browne acted alongside her husband. Her character of Amy Godwin, most especially when we first meet her at the amusement park, seemed to be a forerunner of the whimsical characters played decades later by Joan Cusack. Other guest stars included John Doucette as Ross' client, Michael Strong as a psychiatrist friend, Henry Jones as an author of a book about Bernard Christie, and William Windom as Christie.

But it was Carrie Snodgrass who really shined in her episode's segment. Because she put twice as much work into her acting, I didn't catch on to what the mystery about her could be until more than half way through.

Henry Jones' character of Carl W. Decker was the linchpin to link 'The Outsider' to the rest of the TV Universe. Decker used to be the financial editor for the L.A. Chronicle before Bernard Christie ruined him for attempting to publish his book.

The Chronicle figures in several TV series, most prominently in 'I Had Three Wives', but also including episodes of 'Murder, She Wrote', 'The Rockford Files', and 'Beverly Hills 90210'. It should not be confused with the sensationalized tabloid the World Chronicle (as seen in 'The Chronicle').

The name of the episode from 'The Bold Ones - The Lawyers' was "Panther In A Cage". The law firm of Nichols, Darrell, and Darrell represented a member of the Black Panther Party who was accused of pushing a police detective off a flight of stairs to his death.

Georg Standford Brown played the defendant, and we got to see Joseph Campanella as Brian Darrell cross-examine his brother Frank. The older Campanella was playing Dr. Charles Rowland, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner from the L.A. Coroner's office. (He probably retired before 'Quincy, M.E.' aired.)

An interesting casting note that might prove useful for the TV Universe - Val Avery played another cop, a detective named Lt. Aram Makarian. It's always possible that Lt. Makarian (not to be confused with Detective Makazian from the first season of 'The Sopranos') would soon after retire and then open the bar Sinbad's on the pier, as seen in the 'Columbo' episode "Identity Crisis".

(According to Mark Dawidziak's excellent book "The Columbo Phile", Avery's character in that episode was named "Louie The Bartender". "Louie" could have been a nickname, a diminutive of "Lieutenant". After all, you can't get much of a nickname out of "Aram".)

I think I'll be going back to the MT&R again next week. I still have at least one more episode of 'The Lawyers' to see ("The Verdict"), but I've got an interest in seeing if they have any episodes from Wayne Rogers' old series 'City of Angels'.

Just one last note - I dropped in to my favorite place to buy DVD dupes of classic old shows after my trip to the Museum. I picked up a two-episode disk for 'Riverboat' as well as one for 'The Patty Duke Show'. There are eight episodes on that disk, but I'm not sure if any of them will feature John Spencer as Cathy Lane's boyfriend.


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