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When MeTV decided to air "The Wild Wild West" on Saturday nights, I decided to watch it. It had been, overall, close to 50 years since I saw the show.
It did not disappoint.
I never saw the series when it aired in 1966-67, because I was watching "The Green Hornet." And yes, this show was taking cues from "Batman," both from the colorful costuming and from the appearance of Victor Buono. From a casting episode, it also stands out from the appearance of Richard Pryor, as well as from an appearance by Anthony Eisley, who used to star with Robert Conrad in "Hawaiian Eye."
I can see why I was disappointed when this series was canceled in 1969. It was well done, and could have gone on for at least two more years.
Five years before "Prescription: Murder," we have Richard Levinson and William Link writing an Alfred Hitchcock episode that seems like a dress rehearsal. Here, we have Gene Barry as a columnist, not a doctor, and getting rid of his wife.
Mention was made of Lou Jacobi's character as a precursor of sorts to Lt. Columbo. The latter character made his debut on TV on 31 July 1960, with Bert Freed in the role. So, Columbo was already established as a character.
Overall, a superb episode with a top-notch cast. And it is the cast that makes this episode stand out, including a young Dabney Coleman. Beyond that, it's interesting that this episode was somewhat remade as a pilot movie for Columbo. But this episode has the Hitchcock touch, and has a flavor all its own.
Route 66: I'm Here to Kill a King (1964)
Oh, another thing ...
"To Kill A King" is an episode that I have great interest in. When I visited Niagara Falls in 1992-93, some of the areas hadn't changed since the episode's 1963 filming. The plot is interesting, and Robert Loggia (who is Italian-American) is convincing as an Arab king.
One special thing that sticks out in my mind about this outing is how a Muslim (and a king) is portrayed with sympathy, not as some cartoon bad guy. Martin Milner stretched himself here, playing a dual role.
On the surface, the thriller aspect is so-so. But add in the great performances and how it mirrored (and forecast) the John F. Kennedy assassination, and it is one amazing episode!
How it began
This first outing of "Perry Mason" is a very nice watch. It's hardly perfect, but the series was just beginning to feel its way as it began in September 1957.
Gotta say that the night locations and shots were very good, and it added to a certain noir feel to the show. Also, there's a lot more spontaneity in this episode--and in the first two seasons or so-- than in later seasons.
Of course, we have Perry Mason wearing plaid sports jackets and hats here, driving Ford coupes; later on, we have him in more conservative attire and driving Lincolns. But that was as much a reflection of how life was in 1957. America had only fully recovered from the Great Depression in 1954, and the prosperity of the post-war era would really swing into high gear from 1960 on.
As for the plot, it is a decent one, and the cast is fine, too. Overall, a fine start to a great show.
Eight on the Lam (1967)
Not a bad period piece
"Eight on the Lam" was clearly filmed some time in 1966 and released the following year. It tends to plod along, but it has its share of fun stuff. I could see connections to 007 (Shirley Eaton and Jill St. John), as well as connections to "The Fugitive," which would end its run four months later.
I am sure both Shirley and Jill provided plenty of eye candy, but it really is both Phyllis Diller and Jonathan Winters who really carry this film through. And yeah, I get the Ajax cleaner bit! I was a child when that ad aired in the Sixties.
Overall, not a bad film.
Inspector Clouseau (1968)
Interesting take on Clouseau
Had Peter Sellers (and Blake Edwards) been available for "Inspector Clouseau," their careers might have fared better.
Or maybe not.
What we have is an interesting take on the famed French detective. What I admire about Alan Arkin's take on the character is that he makes him a more sympathetic character, and finds more of the essence of the character.
Perhaps Henry Mancini music could have added to the movie's appeal. Perhaps having Herbert Lom as Dreyfus would have helped. No matter. This is an interesting take on the Pink Panther movies, and definitely worth watching. And having a good cast and decent script helps, too!
PS: The London setting might have been a good idea, given the massive civil unrest that Paris encountered just before the movie's debut.
Night Gallery (1969)
I refuse to rate this show.
I'm watching this on a marathon hosted in May 2016 on the Decades Channel. I didn't care for the show when it first aired, because I found Rod Serling scary as a child, and I disliked horror. It took years to get over the apprehension I had about "The Twilight Zone." "Night Gallery" didn't help.
But watching the show, it's clear the series is uneven. Some of the episodes aren't so good. When there is a good episode, though, I have to say it hits a home run.
While I don't care for the horror, it's still fun to watch so many of the actors involved. By 1971, Rod Serling was able to get such notables as Edward G. Robinson and Dana Andrews. He also drew upon Twilight Zone performers such as Donna Douglas, Susan Oliver, Burgess Meredith and Patrick Macnee.
And yes, it's dated, but back in the early 1970s, TV was all about color. The medium would not start becoming more experimental for at least a decade.
Overall, when it's good, it's excellent. When it's not so good, it's bad.
I got to see this episode on 17 May 2016 on the Decades TV network, because it was the 24th anniversary of Lawrence Welk's passing. The show did not disappoint.
Of special interest to me was seeing Lawrence Welk on this show. When this aired, it had been five months since his show left ABC, and he seemed genuinely stunned that he would be allowed back on the network. Dick Cavett, to his credit, assured him he was welcome. Mr. Welk, at the time, was promoting his autobiography, which made the Top 10 list of best sellers in The New York Times.
I remember that time period well. This show hit a nerve for me, because I remember being disappointed that Mr. Welk's show was canceled in 1971. This was at a time when things were changing from what I grew up with in the 1960s, and it was not (for me, anyway) for the better. The interview also seemed to make Lawrence Welk seem more human.
The segments with Milton Berle and Phyllis Diller were also interesting! Overall, a cool show from early 1972.
Very good episode
Had things worked out as planned, this episode would have reunited Myrna Loy and William Powell. It was not meant to be, because the latter sustained health problems while making "Mr. Roberts" in 1954.
But it didn't matter here, because the episode works well. Though it may seem like an ever-so-slight outing, "No Second Helping" is actually an exploration of middle age and youth, of a fling that never takes place.
As a fan of Jill St. John, this episode is a cool chronicle of her time as a Universal starlet. She had already worked as a child actress, and then had a brief break before beginning her more-adult career in full force in 1957. Both she and Myrna Loy are incredibly lovely to look at (yes, 52-year-old Myrna Loy!), and all the performers do very well.
For those who like vintage TV, fun watching!
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
More than a horror film
For me, "Bride of Frankenstein" excels as a film in general because it is more than a horror film. The humor is abundant, and we see real humanity in Boris Karloff's portrayal of the monster.
And Elsa Lanchester is just simply great in her dual role as the Bride and in her other role as well. In the latter, you see how really beautiful she was.
I was struck by how old looking Ernest Thesiger was in this film. He was only 56 years old, yet looked older than old. I remember him from his last role, 1961's "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone," which he must have filmed either at the end of 1960 or very beginning of 1961. His role as the villain was a really good call!
Add to that amazing special effects, and you have not so much as a horror story, but a film tragedy that has a lot of heartand humor to it.