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My attempt at a review, 22 October 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Given the wiping of that era, I don't know if any complete episodes still exist of this series.

However, I recently viewed a partial episode via a National Film and Sound Archive access copy (second half of the hour-long episode).

What struck me was the amount of advertising. Generally speaking, shows back then had less advertising than today's shows, so it was surprising to see a show so ad-filled.

The commercials are very different to those of the US in a way you might not expect. While 1950s Americans preferred a commercial break to consist of a single long commercial, the commercial breaks in the partial episode I viewed consisted of several short commercials. I do not know if this is typical of Australian TV of the 1950s.

As for the show itself, it isn't bad at all. The footage I viewed included several pop singers (such as Johnny Marco), a pianist performing some music, and a comedy sketch.

The sketch isn't particularly funny (too much like radio with pictures), though the audience seems to like it, while the songs are for the most part quite good. The pianist was a bit nervous, but performed well.

There was a contest where a photo of a celebrity when they were young was shown, with viewers sending in their ideas of who they thought it was.

The episode ended with a song about the election.

The sets were basic, camera-work acceptable but unstylish. Yet so much has changed since the 1950s that the show had a sort of atmosphere of a different era, which is a plus.

Not bad, 29 July 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I disagree with the other reviewer about this having poor production values. This is a *live* television play, and while it isn't an outstanding example of the genre (there are far better shows of its kind), it isn't worth just one star.

Vincent Price gives a very good performance as a completely unlikable guy, the female co-star also gives a good performance. The production values are decent if nothing special, camera-work is adequate, the pacing is good, in fact the only bad things about this episode are the iffy attempts at British accents and the rather dull commercials for Johnson's wax, but there are only a few of them. Popular television personality Dororthy Collins also appears in the filmed commercial for Lucky Strike cigarettes, and sings the Lucky Strike jingle. Perhaps there is a couple of slipped lines during the drama, but again, this is live drama. There are only a few goofs in this drama. The actors in this drama are very experienced professionals who knew what they were doing.

This is a bit of a spoiler, but the title "The Ringmaster" refers to how one of the characters loves to manipulate the other characters for his own amusement. The final scene confirms this.

An entertaining drama, 16 July 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I recently viewed this drama at the Melbourne Mediatheque via an NFSA access copy (a VHS tape, believe it or not).

This drama is about a disturbed woman who keeps searching for her young son (the title refers to the very dark glasses she repeated puts on). She tries to pick him up at school, but he isn't there. She insists that her husband took her son away, but is she correct? By the time she is threatening her ex-mother-in-law with a pair of scissors, it is clear she isn't well. The ending is a major twist, though not an unexpected one.

One scene I particularly liked is when the mother-in-law is switching between the channels on her TV set. Unhappy with the program she is watching, she switches to another channel, which is showing a program which sounds the same (the TV screen isn't shown, but we hear the audio of the program). She changes the channel again and we hear the narration of a rather dull-sounding documentary (presumably on ABC). She finally turns the TV set back to the channel she started with. This was a nice bit of comedy in an otherwise tense drama.

The commercials were missing on the copy I viewed. Running time was approx 48 minutes. The sets are quite decent, as is the camera-work.

Early Australian TV series, 27 January 2014

Australian television had to begin somewhere.

GTV-9's locally-produced offerings in 1957 were typical of the first year of Australian television. They included children's shows, variety shows, game shows, talk shows, sports shows, and women's shows. The mixed these series with many US series. Many of GTV's "local" offerings were actually kinescoped Sydney-produced series like "Leave it to the Girls", "Pantomime Quiz" and "Give it a Go" produced by station ATN-7. The two stations had an agreement to share programming with each other.

On the week running from 20 October to 26 October, GTV's locally-produced offerings (excluding ATN-produced series) were "Open House" (variety/talk), "Lovely to Look At" (fashion), "Happy Show" (children's), "In Melbourne Tonight" (variety), "Thursday at One" (women's show), "Raising a Husband" (game show), "In Melbourne Today" (variety), "Do You Trust Your Wife" (game show), and "Mannequin Parade" (fashion).

Along with an additional episode, NSFA lists an episode of "Raising a Husband" among their holdings, with a broadcast date of 24 October 1957, meaning it was from the above week. I recently viewed this episode via the Melbourne Mediatheque.

In this series, there are three married couples, each of which is quizzed separately. The husband is asked a series of questions related to their marriage, such as where he met his wife, where he first proposed, etc, while the wife is in a sound proof room. After this, the wife is brought in and asked a similar set of questions. After the first couple have done this, they then do this with the second couple, and then finally the third couple. After all three couples have been quizzed, a group of people then vote as which couple should be the winner. The series was sponsored by Bushells, with various ads for the product still intact in the episode I viewed. All contests receive tins of Bushells tea. The winning couple receive "Namco" cooking wear, which amused me. The show itself is very informal and casual. After each husband has been quizzed, he goes into the "doghouse", in which he wears a collar. I've noticed that, in 1957 Australian shows, there is often very odd camera-work. This was corrected later on in the 1950s. The episode I viewed ran over-time considerably, eventually running approx 37 minutes.

Not bad, but still the weakest of Jack Davey's 1957 game shows, 24 January 2014

Simple game show. I recently saw an episode of this at the Melbourne Mediatheque via a NFSA access copy. This was originally a radio show, and the television version was simply the radio show recorded with television cameras, though they did create a simple set which featured giant cans of Dulux paint.

This series was produced in Sydney, and contestants tried to win plane trips to places like Adelaide (flying via TAA). They were asked a series of questions related to particular locations (for example, one question asked which was the second smallest Australian state, another question asked which sea a particular foreign port was located at). Correctly answering several of these question got them the plane trip.

There was also a segment in which two contestants tried to win a plane trip to another country (flying via Qantas). In the episode I viewed, both wanted to take a plane trip to London. The first contestant is given two minutes to correctly answer as many questions as possible (questions such as what year did the Russian revolution start, what was Buffalo Bill's real name, etc.) while the second contestant is in a sound proof room. Then the second contestant is brought in and asked the same set of questions.

In 1957, Jack Davey hosted three game shows, the other two being "Give it a Go" and "The Pressure Pak Show". I've seen a single episode of each of these series, and based on that, "The Dulux Show" was the weakest of the three series.

Decent, 24 January 2014

There isn't much to say about this pleasant show. I recently viewed an episode at the Melbourne Mediatheque via an NFSA access copy. The episode was under the "Bert Newton Show" title (the series was later re-titled "Hi-Fi Club"). The episode consisted of Bert Newton introducing various rock'n'roll and pop acts, who lip-sync their versions of popular songs of the day such as "Poison Ivy" and "Shout". They lip-sync the songs on simple sets (though one of the sets was kinda cool).

Apart from this, there is a segment where a jazz band does an instrumental, and another segment where well-dressed teenagers dance to some rock'n'roll music. Bert Newton's introductions to the acts are brief and done on a simple set. I wonder if this series was live, as there is a goof where cigarette smoke can be seen while Newton is introducing an act.

The show is notably more "square" than "Six O'Clock Rock", but is still entertaining. Commercials were deleted in the copy I saw. Per the closing credits this series was produced by GTV-9 itself, which is credited as "Channel 9" even then. Wouldn't mind seeing more of this series.

Based on the episode I've seen, this was a good game show from the early days of Australian television, 2 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This was a game show which was produced by ATN-7 in Sydney, and which also aired on GTV-9 in Melbourne. ATN-7, of course, was an important contributor to early Australian television, with such notable 1950s era series as "Sydney Tonight", "Hour of Music", "Autumn Affair", "Your Home" and "Astor Showcase".

It was hosted by Jack Davey, who was not as popular on TV as he had been on radio. It appears to have been a case of the voice not matching the face. Nevertheless, he makes a rather upbeat game show host.

I recently viewed an episode of this series via an NFSA access copy. The episode begins with a game, in which Davey picks two people in the audience. He then holds a banknote above them, and asks a simple question. The first person who grabs the note and answers the question correctly gets to keep the banknote.

The rest of the episode is a more standard quiz type format. Questions are asked, each worth more than the previous question. The contestants consist of pairs of people, either of which can answer the question.

Several pairs of people play the game. The final segment consists of one of these people going through an unusual quiz. For each correct answer the contestant gives, they are given 10 boxes of Persil, a laundry detergent (or was it a laundry soap at the time?). If they manage to get 100 boxes of Persil, they receive a washing machine (complete with wringer!). Davey, realising the contestant in the particular episode was doing very well, gives several "gag questions" such as "what is my telephone number". I won't reveal whether the contestant wins the washing machine or not.

The episode I viewed is missing the commercials, and runs about 26 minutes. It's an enjoyable game show. The quality of the kinescope recording is quite acceptable. I would hope that this series gets a DVD release some day.

I recently saw two 30-minute episodes. Here are my thoughts, 22 November 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This series was a music series, not a talk show as some believe. It ran from 1960 to 1964, although I believe Desmond also hosted a TV special by the same title in 1959. I recently viewed two episodes via a NFSA access copy.

The two episodes were broadcast in 1961, feature Lorrae Desmond singing songs. A vocal trio called The Escorts also sing songs in both of the episodes. There are also dance numbers performed by "The Channel 2 Dancers".

Most of the songs are traditional pop, with songs like "Singin' in the Rain" and "If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd a Baked a Cake" But on occasion there is a comedy song. In the first episode I viewed, there was a pseudo-calypso song about television, and a very unexpected song. The latter starts off as a song about "dixie", quickly starts making fun of the southern US, with the lyrics mentioning things like lynchings, and by the end of the song the singer was dressed up as a KKK member. In the second episode on the tape, there was a number featuring a man dressed as the devil, singing a song about "the good old days" of the plague and the stock market crash, which is not as witty as it sounds. The song about television is also not as witty as it wants to be, plus it is dated: How many people these days would get a punch line about Buster Fiddess (who, BTW, was a performer on Bobby Limb's show).

But for the most part, the songs are straight, and there is sometimes a series of songs with a theme. The second episode on the tape, for example, featured a series of songs about rain, with the dancers dressed up in raincoats.

Based on the episodes I viewed, it appears this was a good series. The production values are very good, and the recording (kinescope I believe) is quite good.

A popular series despite an odd format, 20 November 2013

This Australian TV series (which aired from 1956 to 1959) was a music series with an unusual format. The hit records of the week were played, and a group of people known as the "Hit Paraders" lip-synced them, sometimes acting out the plot of the song.

I recently viewed an episode via an NFSA access copy (listed as episode #40, though I believe this may be incorrect). In the episode, the set design consists of a street with a café, a butcher shop and other such shops. The "buildings" on the set are used as part of the miming of the songs, as I said above some of the songs are not just lip-synced, but woven into a simple form of storytelling. For example, a song called "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" is mimed by a woman holding a baby carriage, with people surrounding the carriage to see the baby. A song called "Boppin' in a Sack", which mocked the "sack dresses" of the era, is lip-synced by three men, surrounded by women wearing such dresses.

I would like to note that the episode is incomplete, missing the opening intro.

Despite the odd format and idiosyncratic production values, I found it to be quite enjoyable and very watchable. Over a dozen of the episodes still exist, I would like to see more.

The series appears to have been popular with viewers. Produced by HSV-7 in Melbourne, it was also shown on TCN-9 in Sydney.

ABC variety series, 6 October 2013

I would suppose that, like all variety series, the entertainment value would vary depending on the guests.

I recently viewed an episode of this (via a NFSA access copy) via the Melbourne Mediatheque, the episode being from 1960 (as such, it has a distinct 1950s feel to it). I quite enjoyed the episode.

The episode features various acts, two of which stick out in particular. There was a man from Malay(!) named "Chang" who performed a juggling act. He stumbled at first, but then did some impressive feats of balancing.

The other act which impressed me was a French duo of "apache dancers" named The Rivieras. Their act was quite humorous, and slightly risqué for the era.

The other acts were decent, but not up to the same level.

Czech-born host Hal Wayne, speaking with an obvious accent (not sure if he was exaggerating it or not), does some comedy of his own in his introductions of the acts.

The episode ran a full 30 minutes (this was an ABC show) and was recorded via the kinescope recording technology, which ABC preferred to call "telerecording" (kinescope is the US term, telerecording is the British term). This involved using a special 16mm camera synced to a TV monitor to film the television image. It sounds awful, but the picture quality is surprising good.

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