Saturday, July 1, 2006


It was a full Toobworld day for me on Thursday. Besides posting my o'bservations on 'Kyle XY', I spent the evening with Mark and Michael, my "Brokeback Boys". (One's from Wyoming; for all I know, the other's hung like a horse.) They brought me up-to-date on the sophomore (and, quite frankly, sophomoric) season of RTD's reign on 'Doctor Who' by showing me "Love & Monsters" and "Fear Her". (Eventually I'll get around to commenting on the entire series, having found links for each episode so far.)

I'll be saving the two-part, and possibly traumatic, season finale for my return from vacation. I don't want to see "Army Of Ghosts" and then be left hanging for two weeks until I can get back to see "Doomsday". I'd rather see it as a whole.

Earlier in the day I went to the Museum of TV And Television - er, excuse me, the Museum of Television & Radio! - where I used only two of the four viewing console hours allotted to me as a member to watch three shows.

First up was an episode of 'Night Gallery', "Sins Of The Fathers". It's one that has always haunted my memories and not just because it featured one of my five favorite actors of all time, Michael Dunn. It also starred Richard Thomas, Geraldine Brooks, and Barbara Steele, and was based on the folkloric tradition of the sin-eater, who would eat the sins of the recently deceased by eating food off the dead man's bier.

Next up was "Nice Guys Finish Last", an episode of 'Checkmate' which starred Sebastian Cabot, Anthony George, and Doug McClure, and which was created by spy novelist Eric Ambler. The show was about a private detective agency called Checkmate, Inc., whose goal was to not only solve crimes but to also prevent them from even happening.

This premise always intrigued me, as I figured the private eyes would somehow pick up on clues before even the intended victims figured out somethine was wrong. But based on this one episode I saw, it looks as though they were hired for protection or based on suspicions by their clients that something was going to happen.

"Nice Guys Finish Last" was written by Larry Cohen, a long-time genre stalwart, and had more of the feel given by episodes of 'Naked City'. It was full of character development and insight, heavily slanted more towards dialogue than action.

Guest star James Whitmore was a cop in San Marin who had a beef with a reputed criminal that stretched back to their high school days in NYC's Hell's Kitchen. When he was passed over for a captaincy in the department, the detective automatically blamed his rival and set about finding a way to destroy him once and for all.

Diana Van Der Vlis played the mobster's girlfriend, a former socialite ("Hope Reardon, of the Connecticut Reardons") who ended up falling for Whitmore's cop. At one point, they had an exchange of dialogue that would come back round in a Toobworld echo thirty plus years on:

Hope Reardon: I don't even know your first name!
Lt. Harker: Lieutenant.

This same conversation occurred between Peter Falk and Faye Dunaway in the 'Columbo' episode "It's All In The Game".

All in all, considering what I thought 'Checkmate' was supposed to be like, I was a bit disappointed. And it's the only episode of the show available at the museum, which is a shame considering that it was never lacking for great guest stars like Joan Fontaine, Cyd Charisse (in her first TV appearance), and Charles Laughton (in his last TV appearance).

Oh, and it has a fantastic, jazzy theme by "Johnny" Williams of 'Star Wars' and 'Jaws' fame.

Finally, I saw the pilot episode of 'Topper', and now I have to amend what I had to say about the Kerbys when I wrote about the sitcom after the recent death of Robert Sterling.

I've always thought that the Kerbys were already dead when the show began, but there they were, hale and hearty at a Swiss hotel where they first encountered Cosmo Topper. We actually get to see George and Marian out on the slopes, where they then meet up with their "rescuer" Neil the inebriated St. Bernard. And then we saw the beginnings of the avalanche which claimed the lives of all three, as well as its aftermath when they discover they have perished and are now ghosts.

I have to say, they took it remarkably well.

So my declarative statements that George Kerby was one of the few TV characters who was already dead before we met him are no longer valid. But that's okay; TV scriptwriters have a way around this problem when they create scenes which invalidate earlier information about a show and its characters - they ignore it.

By the way, the gallery on the first floor has a very interesting exhibit running until August 31st: "Beyond TV: New Media Art from Studio IMC". There was a TV screen where you stand before it and it will "paint" your portrait in light. If you move, it becomes a very interesting abstract.

There was also three stacked blocks upon which images were projected of four different "singers" - a young guy, a cow, a Middle Eastern or Indian sub-continent woman, and somebody dressed like a heart. But you can move the blocks and spin them around to mix-n-match the parts of the bodies and this will even change the songs they are singing. Each song is different, but when mixed together, they still work.

The other exhibits are better suited to someone who's less of a techno-phobe than me (although I'm more of a Luddenite than a Luddite), because they depend on interaction with your cell phone. As I hate the telephone in general (I leave mine unplugged unless I need to use it and to hell with people bothering me with calls!), and so would never saddle myself with a cell phone.

(Besides, the government is behind this massive wave of TV advertising to get people to buy cellular phones. The reason? They track us through the phones. Well, not me, pal! Bwahahahahaaha!)

Anyway, it's a fun exhibit and if you're in the City with half an hour to kill, you couldn't go wrong with just touring that one gallery.


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