Thursday, September 24, 2020

TMP Television Edition: Journalism

I miss it. It's been so many years since I've heard, in person, the heavy clanking of analog typewriter keys that rarely went down without a fight. When they did, they launched strikers angrily at sheet of paper being held hostage - strapped to a horizontal cylinder by a slim metal bar. Only a ink slathered ribbon buffered their blow, itself being stripped of its only possession. The carriage return dragged the whole violent affair to the left as quickly as the operator's fingers dictated. It even rang when it reached its breaking point summoning the typist to slam it as far back to the right as mechanically possible and subject it to more blunt force trauma. When it gets up to a good speed it sounds like a million factories all in the business of manufacturing your thoughts and packaging them in eight-and-a-half by eleven windows into the writer's soul. 

That's what comes to mind when I think of journalism, or at least the journalist working. Of course, I'm rambling about all of this because this week's topic for Thursday Movie Picks, hosted by Wanderer at Wandering Through the Shelves, is journalism. However, this is any regular Thursday. It's the last one of the month which means we're not talking about movies, at all. We're talking about what we 'Muricans used to refer to as the boob tube, or the idiot box, or just plain 'ol TV. Who's up for a trip through my childhood?

The Adventures of Superman


Mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent (George Reeves) works for a newspaper called The Daily Planet and has the hots for co-worker Lois Lane (first Phyllis Coates, then Noel Neill).  He spends lots of time sitting on the corner of desk, twirling his fedora while trying to hustle her for a date and treating photographer Jimmy Olsen (Jack Larson) like a peon. To impress, he always wears a fresh suit with the jacket always buttoned and keeps his hair slick as a snot covered marble. It's all pretty innocuous except he always does the damndest thing whenever there's trouble. He ducks into the storage closet, changes outfits, and jumps out the window. Hmph.

The Amazing Spider-Man


Peter Parker (Nicholas Hammond) is a college kid whose main source of income is freelance photography. He manages to sell a lot of pictures to a newspaper by the name of The Daily Bugle. Eventually, he's not just taking pics, he's tracking down leads and helping cops with their investigations. All in all, things go pretty good. However, when things do go south, Peter gets so beside himself his eyes do this weird thing and he's literally climbing the walls. No, really.

The Incredible Hulk


Jack McGee (Jack Colvin) is an intrepid reporter tracking the biggest story of his career. And I mean big. Reports have surfaced that some gigantic dude (Lou Ferrigno), possibly on steroids, shows up in random places and assaults anyone in his vicinity, destroying all sorts of property damage in the process. Whatever he's on, it's serious because it's turned his skin green. His appearance has caused people to label him a monster. Jack aims to get to the bottom of it. He has reason to believe that slight and possibly depressed David Bruce Banner (Bill Bixby), a disgraced, homeless, nomadic doctor, is responsible. Never one to give up, Jack just follows the poor guy all over the country. It's a wonder he's still alive because the guy keeps warning Jack not to make him angry. But that Jack...he just can't take no for an answer.

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  1. LOVE the superhero theme within the theme!! I've seen all three of these, some more than others.

    I watched reruns of the George Reeves Superman when I was a kid too. There was a sort of combo block where they would show a Popeye cartoon first, then Superman followed by Tobor the 8th Man which for some inexplicable reason I loved though I can't recall any of it but the theme song now.

    I really tried with Incredible Hulk because I was a big Bill Bixby fan and had loved both of his previous series, My Favorite Martian and The Courtship of Eddie's Father, but the show never worked that well for me. Even with my liking for him I trailed off after the first season. I remained true to Bill though and when he tried other series, The Magician and Goodnight, Beantown (both terrific but short-lived), I was right there watching!

    I think I only saw an episode or two of The Amazing Spider-Man. I don't remember much about it and I think it was on at an inconvenient time to catch on a regular basis.

    Mine all deal with different forms of journalism but the last two are connected in a big way.

    The Name of the Game (1968-1971)-Publisher Glenn Howard (Gene Barry), “People” magazine reporter Jeff Dillon (Anthony Franciosa) (before that publication existed) and editor of “Crime” Dan Farrell (Robert Stack) all work for magazine giant Howard Publications. Described as a “wheel” show at the time with the three main leads in rotating stories that dealt with everything from industrial espionage to fanatical hippies committing mass suicide to corruption in sports and everything in between. Though the men very occasionally appeared in one of the others episodes they were all tied together by Peggy Maxwell (Susan Saint James) the editorial assistant to each man. In the opening credits each star’s name would appear in small type and multiply until forming a portrait of each.

    Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977)-For seven seasons Mary Tyler Moore turned the world on with her smile as the independent and single (a rarity at the time) Mary Richards, associate producer at WJM News in Minneapolis. She works for the gruff but good-hearted Lou Grant (Edward Asner) along with head writer Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod), dim bulb anchorman Ted Baxter (Ted Knight) and two faced “Happy Homemaker” Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White). Outside the newsroom she had a cozy efficiency apartment where best friend Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper) and dizzy landlady Phyllis Lindstrom (Cloris Leachman) frequently popped in for chats and humor. Similar to the first show the star’s name appears as a single line in the credits before multiplying as the iconic theme song plays. You would need a truck for all the awards the show won.

    Lou Grant (1977-1982)-After nearly the entire staff is fired from WJM Executive Producer Lou (Edward Asner) relocates to L.A. to become city editor for the Los Angeles Tribune newspaper. Aided by reporters Joe Rossi (Robert Walden) and Billie Newman (Linda Kelsey) and overseen by publisher Margaret Jones Pynchon (Nancy Marchand) they pursue topical stories each week. One of the rare shows where a character from a comedic show transferred to a dramatic one successfully (Asner won Emmys for both Best Dramatic Actor and Best Supporting Actor in a comedy). The show won 13 Emmys in total. The opening credits show the life cycle of a newspaper from a tree being felled through printing, delivery and finally a piece of it being used to line a canary’s cage!

    1. Man, I watched so much Popeye, too! I can't say the same about Tobor the 8th Man. I remember nothing of that show, at all.

      I'm not familiar with The Name of the Game, but I love your other two picks. Have to admit that I watched lots more Mary Tyler Moore than Lou Grant, though.

    2. I think the ratio of MTM to Lou Grant would be the same for most people but the latter was a good show and Ed Asner pulled off quite a trick in making sense of the character on two such completely different shows.

      I don't think that Name of the Game gets rerun much, if at all, which is a real shame. It was sleek and entertaining. It was also a spot the star-past, present or future-show since being a "boutique" show with three big stars headlining it was able to pull in the talent both in front of the camera (everyone from The Rat Pack to Donald Sutherland...hell even Tina Turner was in one episode...passed through) and behind (Steven Spielberg was among the many directors episodes).

      Coincidentally a marathon of The Adventures of Superman is showing Decades, one of our nostalgia stations, starting tomorrow! I doubt that I'll watch the whole thing but I'm going to dip into one or two for old times sake. :-)

    3. To be honest, most of both shows went over my head. I was soooooo young when I saw them, but I had fun with them anyway.

      Enjoy as much as you want, or as little, of The Adventures of Superman.

  2. Those are all wonderful picks! I love that you went with this comic theme withing the theme.

  3. I like your theme within a theme! I haven't seen any of these unfortunately. Familiar with the names, just have never watched.

    1. It's okay. Just tell me I'm old. I can take it.

  4. I never thought of this though I admit to not having seen any of these shows. Still, this is a great take of a theme within a theme.

  5. We match with Superman! I always loved watching this show and I loved that Lois Lane was a reporter and not married. I never did u dermatologist d how they could not know Clark was Supermen. I might have seen an episode of Dpiderman but I don’t recall. I wonder if Hammond started to sing Do-Re-Mi. I loved The Incredible Hulk and watched it all the time. Funny, I don’t remember the last episode but I think he was killed off.

    1. Superman was amazing. Glad to see it get some more love.