Thursday, February 11, 2016

Old TV & Foggy Memories

Or is it Old Memories and Foggy TV? I mentioned awhile back that my U-verse TV package had added H&I which is mostly old TV shows. I tune it in a few times a week when there is nothing else on, especially late at night. 

I thought I was an expert on TV series from the late 50's through the mid 60's. While I get most of it right, there have been a few surprises. 

I posted a few weeks ago that I had no recollection of Stagecoach West starring Wayne Rodgers, before his stint as Trapper John on M*A*S*H. So far that's the only series I don't think I ever saw that is now on the H&I Network.  There may be others but I haven't checked their whole schedule. That doesn't bother me since I probably never saw the original program, so I can't be expected to remember it. A few other shows are familiar, but maybe not as familiar as I thought I remembered them.

A couple of other shows don't jive totally with my memory. There are differences and gaps. The first I noticed this was on an episode of Combat! which is on late at night. For those that don't remember, it was a series about World War II. I remember the series as black and white (B&W) and starring Vic Morrow. Seems it also starred Rick Jason and that he and Vic sort of alternated episodes. I also thought that Caje (Pierre Jalbert) 
played a larger role. Although Caje was a character throughout the series run, he often had no lines or just a grunt or two. Seems it was usually more about guest stars. The other big surprise is that the last year of its five-year run was in color. I don't think I ever saw a Combat! episode in color until this year. Since the series often interspersed actual WWII footage into the episodes, shooting in color was a problem. Still in all, the series is enjoyable. 

There was another WWII series, Twelve O'Clock High, around the same time. This show was about a US Army Air Corp bomber squadron stationed in the UK. It originally starred Robert Lansing but he was killed off and replaced by Paul Burke. This series also originally was filmed in B&W but changed to color. It was much more problematic for this show. Combat! only use WWII footage occasionally to show heavy artillery or other big stuff. Twelve O'Clock High used original footage in nearly every episode. Almost all the airplane shots, except for internal cockpit views, were real WWII films. It is tough to match grainy B&W WWII film to newly shot color video. Since the fly boys were based in the UK, there were opportunities for interactions with females. The depiction of those women is interesting, but not in a good way.

Another series that went from B&W to color is The Saint, a rather campy British series starring Roger Moore in a precursor to his run as James Bond. This show had none of the problems with matching B&W with color footage. Not much realism in this show but there was a lot of smoking and debonair activities. Of course, all the women were pretty much incompetent and swooned for Simon Templer immediately. Just fun in a British way.

The last series is Mannix. I saw parts of a couple of episodes and everything seemed right. His old house/office, his convertible car and his loyal and smart secretary Peggy. Then I saw an episode that must have been from the very beginning of the series. Mannix was working for a big investigative agency called Intertect headed by Joe Campanella. Of course, Mannix was the maverick in a button-down corporation. Intertect had computers to help the associates solve crimes. I even saw footage of an IBM card sorter. Of course Mannix didn't want or need any part of those new fangled computers to help him, he's an old style detective who goes by instinct. The episode I saw was not very good. Luckily, they changed to Mannix being an independent PI after that first season. Like the other shows, I don't remember ever seeing Joe Mannix working for a big corporation. 

These series were aired in the 60's when TV was changing from B&W to color. I don't know whether I never saw the shows in color because I was doing or watching something else or whether we didn't have a color TV. I have no idea when we got a color TV at home. My dad was a TV addict, so we probably got color early on. There is also the fact that dad controlled the TV so if Combat! or Twelve O'Clock High or The Saint or Mannix were on opposite something he wanted to watch, I would never see those shows. We only had one TV. Finally, by the 60's, I had interests other than home and TV. I was out and about every chance I had. TV was not a priority.

So, is it selective memory or just stuff I forgot? I'm old enough now that I can't figure out which one it is. Doesn't matter, these old shows are fun to watch.


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