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A rarity--and one of the funniest, too!
"The Day Smart Turned Chicken" is, hands down, one of THE funniest episodes of the entire series. This is an unusual episode from the start, because Barbara Feldon doesn't appear (though you see a painting of her).
Simon Oakland plays a cowboy character who keeps appearing and disappearing, and seems to be out to destroy Maxwell Smart's credibility. Both he and Don Adams turn in great performances, as does Ed Platt.
The trial scene is excellent. And the very tail end of the episode is priceless! As much as I love Barbara Feldon, this may be my all-time personal favorite, because of how screamingly funny this episode is!
The Saint: The Time to Die (1968)
Cat and mouse with Suzanne Lloyd
"The Time To Die" has Simon Templar playing a cat-and-mouse game against someone who wants him dead. The "Music Box Man" tries different ways to bump off The Saint, and manages to get a couple of people killed.
This episode seems a little moody, but it well worth the watch. It is pretty tense, and it holds your attention. Suzanne Lloyd makes her final appearance on the series as an American freelance journalist, and her performance remains a treat. It also marks her penultimate performance, since she would appear in a movie with Kirk Douglas six years later.
Oh, and the ending fight is a nasty one.
Overall, another fine entry in the series. By the way, the end theme in this season is my personal favorite!
Before Archie Bunker ...
"The Night of the Ready-Made Corpse" remains an episode that Robert Conrad isn't fond.
And for what may be good reason. Happily, though, it's for the benefit of the viewers.
Carroll O'Connor was one busy actor before his signature role as Archie Bunker. He plays a cultured mortician who apparently has extracurricular activities that attract the attention of James West and Artemus Gordon.
This role shows how far removed Carroll O'Connor was from Archie Bunker, and how skilled an actor he was, right down to his mannerisms. I can see why Robert Conrad was concerned about being upstaged. The episode has other cast members who do a great job, and I can say that I have met one of them (Paul Comi) in person.
Overall, an excellent entry in the series.
Peter Gunn: The Feathered Doll (1959)
Before "Perchance to Deam" ...
"The Twilight Zone" episode "Perchance to Dream," which aired in late November 1959, was set in a carnival. But earlier this month, we find Peter Gunn investigating a series of murders that take place at a carnival.
This seems to be a pretty popular place!
Like its Twilight Zone counterpart, this is a top-notch episode that has outstanding dialogue and a great twist ending. Look for a pre- "Godfather" John Marley, as well as the usual cast, of course.
What makes the show stand out is its level of sophistication while maintaining a sense of simple production values. Great writing and a great jazz score help immensely!
Anyway, another great outing!
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.