Saturday, March 11, 2006

PLEASE STAND BY

Perhaps befitting a blog about the TV Universe, Inner Toob is experiencing technical difficulties for at least the next two weeks.

The computer mainframe at Toobworld Central, Alexand'r II, suffered a permanent breakdown.

We do have other options for posting, so we'll at least be able to keep up with the regularly scheduled programming like the Crossovers of the Week and any Hat Squads that need to be honored. (Hopefully we won't have the need.)

But nothing of great detail; just quick hits in the night and then we'll slink back into the snow on your screen....

BCnU!
Tele-Toby

THE HAT SQUAD: ANNA MOFFO

Opera singer Anna Moffo has died, the Metropolitan Opera said Friday. She was 73, according to the Grove Dictionary of Music.

The dark, graceful Moffo thrilled audiences on television's "Bell Telephone Hour" as well as in opera houses in the United States and Europe starting in the late 1950s, but her career ended when she was just in her 40s, her voice only a shadow of what it was.

Moffo made her debut as Cio-Cio-San in Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" in a 1955 television production directed by future husband Mario Lanfranchi

Moffo made her U.S. debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1957 as Mimi in Puccini's "La Boheme," then had her Met debut on Nov. 14, 1959, in the role of Violetta in Verdi's "La Traviata." The New York Times' Harold C. Schonberg wrote that her work "still seems just a shade tentative." But he also said she had "quite a lovely voice" and was "one of the most beautiful women ever to grace the stage of an opera house."

In a lengthy profile in the Times in 1977, she said she was pushed too fast in the early stages in her career and was taking time off to learn new roles and strengthen her technique.

"I was working much too hard and traveling much too much," she said. "I got mixed up in TV, films, things like that. Psychologically I was miserable, always away, always alone. But I don't think I was singing that badly until I reached a point where I was just so tired."

In 1974, she had married broadcast executive Robert Sarnoff, who headed the NBC television network in the late 1950s and early '60s and later was CEO of parent RCA. Her previous marriage to Lanfranchi, her one-time manager, ended in divorce.

TV GUEST APPEARANCES
Night of 100 Stars (1982) (TV) .... Herself
"The Dean Martin Show"
- Celebrity Roast: Truman Capote (1974) TV Episode .... Herself
- Episode dated 29 March 1973 (1973) TV Episode .... Herself
- Episode dated 21 September 1972 (1972) TV Episode .... Herself
"V.I.P.-Schaukel" - Episode #1.3 (1971) TV Episode .... Herself
"The Merv Griffin Show"
- Episode dated 1 June 1970 (1970) TV Episode .... Herself
"W√ľnsch dir was"
- Episode dated 23 May 1970 (1970) TV Episode .... Herself
"Toast of the Town"
- Episode #20.29 (1967) TV Episode .... Singer
- Episode #19.9 (1965) TV Episode .... Herself - Singer
"The Hollywood Palace"
- Episode #2.12 (1964) TV Episode .... Herself - Opera Soprano
"The Bell Telephone Hour"
- The Many Faces of Romeo and Juliet (1967) TV Episode
- Episode dated 8 October 1963 (1963) TV Episode .... Herself
- Till Autumn (1962) TV Episode .... Herself
- Portals of Music (1962) TV Episode .... Herself

I'm fairly certain the foreign shows are talk shows, but I'm including them anyway. According to 1010 WINS, she had her own TV show in Italy.

BCnU.....
Tele-Toby

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.

BCnU!
Tele-Toby

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

ANOTHER 'DOCTOR WHO' SPIN-OFF?

There's going to be a spin-off series from 'Doctor Who' next year - 'Torchwood', which will star John Barrowman as the omnisexual Captain Jack Harkness, the 52nd Century adventurer who starred with the Doctor and Rose for the last five episodes of 'Doctor Who' last season.

But now comes word from the English newspaper The Sun that there will be another spin-off as well, one featuring Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith and K-9 as himself. (They made a pilot once before, 'K-9 And Company', but which wasn't very successful.)

The BBC won't comment at this time, but Russell T. Davies, the writer who reinvigorated the 'Doctor Who' series, has said in the past that there are some other ideas floating about for spin-offs.

Here's how The Sun played out the story:

"Doctor Who's robot dog K9 and ex-sidekick Sarah Jane Smith are to get their own spin-off show, TV Biz can reveal.

We told how BBC bosses are bringing back K9 for an episode in the Timelord's new series. Now it has emerged that the pooch and Sarah Jane, played by Elizabeth Sladen, will also star together in their own children's series.

An insider said: 'It would have been a shame to put K9 back in his kennel, so we've come up with an idea for another drama. It's early days but K9 and Elizabeth Sladen are inseparable characters. There are loads of things we can do with 'Doctor Who'. It's one of the most popular shows on TV and viewers can't seem to get enough of it.' "

You'd think the English would remember that the character is named The Doctor; it's the show that's 'Doctor Who'. Why they would call him "Doctor Who" makes me think The Sun must be the British equivalent of the New York Post.

And if so, who can trust what they report? So I'll just wait for confirmation on this from other sources before I start celebrating.

BCnU!
Tele-Toby

(Full disclosure: Sarah Jane Smith is my favorite of the Companions.)

THE HAT SQUAD: DANA REEVE

It's stories like this that make me question God's reasoning....

Dana Reeve, the widow of the American actor Christopher Reeve, has died at the age of 44, only 18 months after the death of her husband.

Mrs Reeve was a singer and actress who appeared on Broadway and in various films and television series. But she was best known as a campaigner for better treatments and possible cures for paralysis through the Christopher Reeve Foundation, named for the late "Superman" star.

She announced last August that she had been diagnosed with lung cancer, even though she had never smoked. She died last night.

Dana Reeve was born in New York City, the daughter of a cardiologist. She studied acting in California and married her husband in 1992, three years before the horseriding accident that left him as a quadriplegic.

She won much admiration for the support she gave to her husband until his death in October 2004 and continued to campaign for his foundation until her death. The foundation has distributed more than $60 million in research and personal grants.

The couple had a son, Will, who is now 13.

[From the Times Online]

Here's hoping Dana has been reunited with Chris, and my prayers and best wishes go out to their son, Will.

BCnU.....
Tele-Toby

TV MOVIES
The Brooke Ellison Story (2004) (TV) .... English Professor

TV SERIES' RECURRING ROLES
"Oz"
- Works of Mercy (2000) TV Episode .... Wendy Schultz
- The Bill of Wrongs (2000) TV Episode .... Wendy Schultz
- Obituaries (2000) TV Episode .... Wendy Schultz
- A Cock and Balls Story (2000) TV Episode .... Wendy Schultz
"Feds"
- Somebody's Lyin (1997) TV Episode .... Meg McClure
- Do No Harm (1997) TV Episode .... Meg Shelby

[More than likely this is the same character; Meg may have married or divorced and reverted to her maiden name between episodes.]

TV GUEST APPEARANCES
"Law & Order: Criminal Intent"
- The Faithful (2001) TV Episode .... Melanie Grasso
"Law & Order"
- Barter (1997) TV Episode .... Susan Tashjian
- By Hooker, by Crook (1990) TV Episode (as Dana Morosini) .... Camilla


[Thanks to the IMDb.com]

Monday, March 6, 2006

CROSSOVER OF THE WEEK!

It's probably not much of a surprise as to what the Crossover of the Week was....

CONVICTION
&
LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT
&
LAW & ORDER

But there was nothing really special about the crossover either. In this pilot episode, it had an air of been there/done that: This is the same set which was used by Dick Wolf's earlier attempt, 'Law & Order: Trial By Jury' (which I liked). And the atmosphere that Wolf was ham-handedly going for was better served in past productions by David E. Kelley.

Although the series doesn't carry the 'Law & Order' prefix as was also the case with 'Deadline', it does have stronger ties to the mothership of the franchise than that newspaper drama did. (All 'Deadline' had going for it was a tenuous link via the "New York Ledger" newspaper which is seen on occasion in the other shows.)

'Conviction' has Stephanie March reprising her 'SVU' character of Alexandra Cabot to be the ADA den mother to this habeus of young lawyers who are more involved in their personal issues than they are in the cases they prosecute.

Another link was forged by the quick cameo by Fred Dalton Thompson as the District Attorney, Arthur Branch. With his regular role on 'Law & Order', (which was also a regular gig on 'Trial by Jury'), and with guest appearances in the other shows in that Dick Wolf corner of the universe, it should be no surprise that D.A. Branch will be inducted into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame later this year as we salute 'Law & Order'.

At any rate, that fast on-and-off-stage cameo was just par for the course, because it's probably not much of a crossover. But like I said, no surprises are to be expected there.

BCnU!
Tele-Toby


Sunday, March 5, 2006

MUSEUM PIECE

For the second time in three weeks, I went to the Museum of Television & Radio. When it gets to be this time of the year, I find I go more often as my yearly membership comes close to renewal time.

This trip I wanted to check out certain shows in connection to Don Knotts and Darren McGavin. Not just because they recently passed away, but because these have been shows I've always had on my "must check out" list.

As a member, I can choose four shows for one session, so I figured to split it evenly between both subjects. But I was less successful with Don Knotts. I wanted to see the premiere episode of 'The New Andy Griffith Show' in which Andy played Andy Sawyer, the new mayor of Greenwood, North Carolina.

But in that first episode, Goober and Emmett show up from Mayberry and they act like they've always known Andy Sawyer. And then Don Knotts shows up as an unnamed character, but by the way he's dressed and the way he talks and the fact that he calls Andy "Ange", you know it has to be Barney Fife!

Unfortunately, they didn't have that episode, so I watched a different one from that show just to get the feel of it. It was homespun, gentle humor, in a way a clone of the old 'Andy Griffith Show' (but with a wife and two kids). What dragged it down was co-star Anne Morgan Guilbert.

Don't get me wrong - I like her a lot in everything else I've seen her do. But her character was written as being so worn-down and depressing, I half expected her to fit in better in the rowboat of "An American Tragedy"!

Also in the guest cast of "TJ In The Strawberry Business" were Malcolm Atterbury as the town miser type, and a very young Willie Ames as the friend of Andy's son.

I'll have to find out if I can recommend that they track down that pilot episode. I think it's a more interesting episode for the collection with some televisual historical value!


I also came across an episode of 'Dobie Gillis' in which Don Knotts guest-starred as the father of Dobie's girl-friend. His wife was played by my second favorite TV character actress, Kathleen Freeman. (Ruth McDevitt holds first place in my heart!) And his daughter was played by Denise Alexander of 'General Hospital' fame. (She played Dr. Leslie Webber once upon a time.)

In "Rock-A-Bye Dobie", Knotts played Edmund Metzger, the curator of the County Museum, as though it was a run-up to his role as Mr. Limpet. He even had the same kind of glasses. Mr. Metzger was a meek milquetoast until he'd suddenly go into a paroxysm of nervous shock - usually right after his wife splashed water in his face.

As for McGavin, I picked out one of his starring roles and one of his many guest appearances. First up was 'The Outsider', a private eye loner role created by Roy Huggins who created 'Maverick' and who would go on to rework the private eye genre to better success with 'The Rockford Files'.

I never saw 'The Outsider' when I was growing up. Checking its schedule for its one year on the air, 1968, I see it played on Wednesday nights at 10 pm. For a 13 year old kid, I was probably already trundled off to bed, but even if I had stayed up, I'd have probably chosen to watch Jonathan Winters' show.

What surprised me most was that it was an NBC show. Everything about it had the feel of an ABC program. This episode was titled "As Cold As Ashes" with Keye Luke as the guest star. It had an interesting blend of real world history with Toobworld which I'll write up soon.

The other show was an episode of 'The Bold Ones - The Lawyers' which I've wanted to see ever since first reading about it in TV Guide back in the early 1970s. In "The Invasion Of Kevin Ireland", McGavin played an executive who lost his job; wasn't too worried about getting back into the game at some other corporation; but then found it impossible to get employment anywhere save finally as a trucker. He lost his cars, lost his home, even lost his wife to divorce, and it turned out that his problems stemmed from a report on him by an investigative firm that was full of factual errors.

I already knew how it was going to end, but the impact was not lessened by that. It was a pretty powerful performance by McGavin.

(Thanks to Richard Holbrooke of the Museum for helping me get to see that episode. It's available only upon request by a member of the MT&R and he put it through under his name since I had already closed out my checklist on the computer. But it was also filed wrong - McGavin's character is named "Ireland" in the title, but the computer had it as "Iveland". I forgot to remind them to fix that.....)

When I was there on the Sixteenth, I saw three shows with no particular agenda in mind. First up was 'Carson's Cellar' from Thanksgiving time, 1953 starring Johnny Carson. His guest was Jack Bailey of 'Queen For A Day'. It was the most cheapjack set you could imagine and the script was pretty slapdash in its idea of humor, but you could see the energy radiating from Carson.

Then there was episode 5 of "Lorna Doone" on 'Once Upon A Classic' (hosted by Bill Bixby). I chose this out of sequence episode from 1976 because Patrick Troughton, my favorite of the time-traveling Doctors, was in the cast as Councillor Doone. He was practically unrecognizable in the grizzled, bushy beard he sported.

I also watched the first episode of 'Coronet Blue' again. This was in error, as I wanted to see something new from this show, (I must have clicked when I should have scrolled!), but "A Time To Be Born" was still enjoyable. There's a great crossover reference to another one of Herbert Brodkin's productions, 'The Nurses', in the use of Alden Hospital, and Frank Converse did a great job with this character.

I just wish there had been a way to wrap this mystery series up so that we could have found out exactly what was the meaning behind the phrase "Coronet Blue". I think it still could be done as part of an episode in some other TV series, using clips from the old show to accentuate what transpires in the present.

I wrote about this idea back in my old website "The Tubeworld Dynamic", but it got dashed with cold water by Tod Goldberg. But I think he's wrong; I think it could still work, especially with the use of clips intercut into the modern update of the story. This type of thing worked once before with an episode of 'Murder, She Wrote' which continued the story from an old film noir.

One thing that struck me while watching it this time around was that there is some kind of similarity in features between the young Frank Converse and Mark Valley, formerly of 'Keen Eddie' and now in 'Boston Legal'. And that got me thinking that unless the character has already been on 'BL', maybe Converse should play the father of Brad Chase.

And it's just wild enough of an idea for a show like 'Boston Legal' that maybe Brad's father turns out be Mark Alden of 'Coronet Blue'!

I realize now that I never did get around to writing up my experience while in California of visiting the Los Angeles site for the Museum of Television and Radio.

What I saw:
'Maverick' - "The Quick And The Dead" which featured Maverick's encounter with Doc Holliday.

'Doctor Who' - "Attack Of The Cybermen" (episode one). This had a nice reference back to the very first 'Doctor Who' story, "An Unearthly Child", as the Sixth Doctor and Peri landed in I.M. Foreman's junkyard. It also tied in to a Fifth Doctor adventure, "Revenge Of The Daleks" with an appearance by the character of Lytton.

And then I watched the pilot episode of 'The Green Hornet', as the guest star was Lloyd Bochner who had passed away just before my trip West.

As for the museum itself, I prefer the NYC version. The computers have been updated (It may have since been updated at the LA branch as well.), and the room in which you can watch at the consoles is more private and has darker lighting so that you can focus on your choices better.

Plus I prefer elevators to long, rising slopes to walk up!

BCnU!
Tele-Toby