Tuesday, December 28, 2004


While in the midst of preparing my massive New Year's Eve wrap-up I thought I'd toss out this list of my faverave Top Ten Tee-Vee programs of all time (or at least the Top Ten of this week!) in order to add a little levity to your probably sagged-out post-Holiday existence. Nothing serious here, just having a little bitta fun with this filler that's bound to get some of the brainiac types confused so don't get too excited...

1) LEAVE IT TO BEAVER-Great show, squirt!

2) THE TWILIGHT ZONE-Submitted for your approval...

3) NAKED CITY-Eight million stories, and even the one with wimp Roddy McDowell was really good!

4) THE HATHAWAYS-Peggy Cass did more with her life than pop up on TO TELL THE TRUTH (or was it I'VE GOT A SECRET or WHAT'S MY LINE??? All those shows were interchangeable to me!). And sharing the spotlight with a buncha chimps didn't hurt any either!

5) HAVE GUN, WILL TRAVEL-Richard Boone as a sophisticated yet brutal gun-for-hire in the Old West works well despite just how bad such a concept could have flopped in the wrong hands and at the wrong time (like say, 1971). Too bad he hadda go to pot, get fat, shaggy and become HECK RAMSEY!

6) M-SQUAD-Lee Marvin as late-fifties Hi-Fi cop Ballinger can't get any tougher!

7) DRAGNET-...and who can forget Joe Friday? You may prefer the long-running fifties version or swing with the more popular late-sixties variety, but any way you choose it you just can't lose it!

8) THE OUTER LIMITS-Some may say that this, along with ONE STEP BEYOND was ABC's answer to THE TWILIGHT ZONE, but it had a bared-wire intensity all its own. I still remember freaking out over "The Zanti Misfits" not to mention that episode that took place on the moon with the bald guy with the goggles and the big, bulging radioactive eyes. As I was screaming in fear my dad was joking with me, saying that the guy "looks like Mickey Mouse!" No wonder I hate Disney!

9) THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN-My Superman died in 1959, sorry about yours...

10) THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE AND HARRIET-Ozzie Nelson...top TV dad of all time!

Not forgetting such other HUGE all-time faves...THE MUNSTERS, SOUPY SALES, GUNSMOKE (pre-mid-sixties), GILLIGAN'S ISLAND, ABBOTT AND COSTELLO, SUPERCAR, FIREBALL XL-5, THE LUCY SHOW, THE FLINTSTONES, AMERICAN BANDSTAND, SHINDIG, HULLABALOO and just about every mid-sixties rock & roll show, THE HONEYMOONERS, THE ADDAMS FAMILY, LOST IN SPACE, GREEN ACRES and (stepping outside the Golden Age of American Intensity High Energy Living period for one sec) early SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, THE ODD COUPLE and MONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS. And of course there will be a thousand more that'll come to mind within a minute or two...

And folks, if you'd like to leave a comment about a specific entry on this blog, let me remind you that all you have to do is click on the highlighted pound sign at the end of the post which will take you to a page repeating the very same entry complete with a place where you can leave your own comments as well as read those that have already been left. (If I were you I'd try to avoid the "general" comment box at the bottom of the main page, a mistake I'd get rid of even though I'd be losing the comments already posted therein.) Even if you're not a "member" of blogger you can always write an "anonymous" response/retort, though leaving your name would be "nice" but not mandatory. Anyway, I thought I should remind you about this pertinent info in case you had something important (or maybe not-so) to add to/detract from these thrilling and oh-so meaningful (especially in this vacuum-packed world of ours) posts I have been making for well over six months!


Anonymous said...

Excellent choices, Chris.
I'd like to add a few of my own faves:
*I'M THE LAW (with George Raft)
(with J. Carrol Naish and James Hong)
*CAPTAIN GALLANT OF THE FOREIGN LEGION (aka Foreign Legionnaire, with Buster Crabbe)
*FORTUNE DANE (with Carl Weathers and Joe Dallesandro)
*ELLERY QUEEN (the Jim Hutton/David Wayne one)
*THRILLER (with Boris Karloff)
*LASH OF THE WEST (with Lash La Rue and
Al "Fuzzy" St. John)
*HIGHWAY PATROL (with Broderick Crawford)
*JOHNNY STACCATO (with John Cassavetes)
*THE ROUSTERS (with Chad Everett and Jim Varney)
*DEAN MARTIN'S LATE 60s/EARLY 70s shows and the roasts that came later
*MIKE HAMMER (with Stacy Keach, I even liked the later 90s version of this)
*DELLAVENTURA (with Danny Aiello)
*the short-lived 70's remake of IT PAYS TO BE IGNORANT,
hosted by Joe Flynn
*RUN BUDDY RUN (with Jack Sheldon)
*8th MAN
*many different Hanna-Barbera and Terrytoons cartoons
*HEY VERN, IT'S ERNEST (with Jim Varney)
*PETROCELLI (with Barry Newman)
That ought to be enough for a while. If only they were still on today...


Christopher Stigliano said...

Good choices. Some of the newer ones kinda zoom past me, and I must admit to not being that familiar with a few on your list that I would LIKE to be (I rarely got to see FERNWOOD/AMERICA 2 NITE, Norman Lear's insane trip into non-PC territory!), but JOHNNY STACCATO and ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE certainly deserve to be on ANYONE'S top Tee-Vee List. And like I said, I will be coming up with more all-time greats as the days go by...

Speaking of STACATTO (actually, John Cassavetes), what's the availability of either a video or DVD of the original version of his 1959 directorial debut SHADOWS anyway? Not that take film critics dribbles over, but the one with the totally improvised dialogue that bummed everyone out (including Cassavetes who had the whole thing re-shot with an actual script given the depressing response it got at Cannes)? I've been wanting to see that since the late seventies!

Christopher Stigliano said...

Make that "...film critics dribble over," in the SINGLULAR! Another hot TV show that should be on a true-blue top ten/twenty/thirty list... BEN CASEY!

Christopher Stigliano said...


Christopher Stigliano said...

And, naturally, I spelled STACCATO wrong as well!

Anonymous said...

Chris, do you really like the Lucy Show more than I Love Lucy? I haven't seen it in years.

I'd add some game shows, namely LET'S MAKE A DEAL and TREASURE HUNT.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Chris, I've never had the opportunity to see the "lost"
first version of SHADOWS. I noticed that a few reviews of the new Criterion 5-dvd box of Cassavetes films, which includes SHADOWS, complained that the original version WAS NOT included, so I'm guessing that the original version is NOT available on any US DVD or video (our brilliant BTC readers will surely know the definitive answer. I'm sure Mike Snider knows more about this than I do, for instance).It evidently has been shown at some film festivals since its "rediscovery" a few years ago.
I would not be surprised if someone managed to make an illegal copy at one of those showings, so not including it on the new DVD box set will just guarantee that it will circulate on mediocre quality bootlegs. I guess we can hope that the original version will be released legitimately on an authorized DVD as a separate film--
maybe the Cassavetes estate did not want to "waste" it as a bonus item on this box set and will put it out as a full-priced item itself. I'd certainly pay $20 for a copy.


ps, hey, I liked Hec Ramsey! although I don't know how it would hold up today. Have you seen any of those since their original airings?

Christopher Stigliano said...

Hi everybody-Lessee, where do I start? How about HERE...as for Tim's queries, let me say that at this point in time I probably DO prefer THE LUCY SHOW to I LOVE LUCY probably because it was made in an era that's more conduit to my own television tastes (early/mid-sixties as opposed to the fifties, a GOOD time for sure but for me more or less a period of gestation which would culminate in the glory that was the "real" GOLDEN AGE of 1958-1967). Having seen the tail end of the original LUCY SHOW run as a child and watching reruns daily during my teens made me a big fan, plus I must admit that the episodes with John Wayne, Jack Benny, Dean Martin and many other big names have really stuck into my wasted youth memories of happy, goof-offing times that I surely miss. Not to come down on the original though...Fred Mertz was a huge role model for me, proving that dumpy, bald guys can make it big on tee-vee just like sleek handsome people! Personally, I wish I ended up more like Desi Arnaz, but Fred is better than nothing! As far as THE GONG SHOW, LET'S MAKE A DEAL and TREASURE HUNT, the first two programs were fun, days-off-from-school viewing but not much else (well, I like the way THE GONG SHOW utilized the best of seventies gonzo humor, and in a "game show" to boot!). PASSWORD as well as the fifties pre-prime time revivals like TO TELL THE TRUTH were oft-viewed around here, though those celebrity panel programs weren't really "game shows" per se. I don't even remember TREASURE HUNT! A legit release of the improvised version of SHADOWS would be a godsend (I'm surprised Criterion didn't include it in their reissue) especially given its avant garde status, and as far as Heck Ramsey goes, I haven't seen it since it originally aired (and frankly I haven't even seen it rerun anywhere!) though I have the feeling I'd undoubtedly like it if I had the opportunity to see it again (or at least like it despite the early-seventies technology!). My remarks were more or less in regards to how Richard Boone went from playing this suave, sophisticated playboy with an eye for the girls (and a lotta sexual innuendo for late-fifties/early-sixties tee-vee) to this unshaven, greasy-haired lowbrow marshal/sheriff, and within the span of less than ten years! Best HECK RAMSEY memory...the time they tested out an electric chair by frying sausage on it! Anyone bring the mustard and rolls???

Another all-time tee-vee show that I want to see again (and again)...GOMER PYLE USMC!!!

Anonymous said...

Treasure Hunt was a Chuck Barris production. There's a web site about it here.

Anonymous said...

Don't know anything about the "lost" version of SHADOWS.

Are you familiar with a 1950s TV cop show called THE LINEUP (aka SAN FRANCISCO BEAT)? It was the basis for the great 1958 film THE LINEUP (itself
quite hard to see these days). Apparently it was like an SF answer to DRAGNET but even better than the 50s DRAGNET (I don't like the 60s DRAGNET at all other than the camp value). I've never seen it, but it seems like something that would have been quite good - I've heard it referred to as "the first adult cop show". It was already gone from syndication by the beginning of the 70s.

Also, what do you know about THE TELEGOONS (60s puppet animated series with Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe doing the voices?) Another show that sounds interesting but which I've never seen

BTW, how could you have left The Ghoul (or Ghoulardi) out of your top 10?
- michael snider

Anonymous said...

As for why HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL was better than HECK RAMSEY (granted I havent seen the latter since I was a kid, but I remember it being good), I think it had to do with Gene Roddenberry not being involved with Heck Ramsey. He had moved on to other things by that time, as everyone knows.....

Speaking of Roddenberry, did you ever see THE LIEUTENANT with Gary Lockwood (his show post HGWT and pre Star Trek)? I've only seen one episode, in which Dennis Hopper guested. - michael snider

Christopher Stigliano said...

Hi-I've seen SAN FRANCISCO BEAT listed in a variety of old TV GUIDEs, and I wouldn't mind seeing it one of these days. As for THE LIEUTENANT, that's another gotta see one for me...I'm not familiar with the series other than reading capsule summations from '63-'64 listings (that and knowing about Gene Roddenberry's involvement as producer), though I do know that one episode featured Walter "Checkov" Koenig, who got around a lot on early-mid-sixties TV not only here (shades of things to come!) but on ALFRED HITCHCOCK and MR. NOVAK. Ironically, in the Novak episode he's the new student straight from the Soviet Union who, in a reverse of the usual new kids hate the new foreigner plot, hates his new classmates (see my review of the ODD fanzine NOVAK spook in the latest BTC)! And as for the Ghoul, since I had extreme trouble getting channel 61 in from Cleveland (due to living in a valley and my father's fears of having an extra-high television aerial) and have only seen clips of it throughout the years, I really couldn't put it on my list though I would have LOVED to (that and dozens of other locally-produced wonders). Besides, that list was my all time top ten for the WEEK...it'd probably look much different if it were to be done today.

Another interesting cop show...POLICE STATION, a syndicated thing I wrote up in #23 from '58 which sorta resembled a late-fifties low budget serious version of BARNEY MILLER as hardly any of the action took place outside the station or squad room. The most interesting thing about it (for me) was that the show's consultant was the former Chief of Police of Youngstown Ohio who was by then working on the west coast. His last name was Allen, and my father was very impressed by an appearance of his at an early-fifties college course where Allen gave an impressive lecture on local organized crime. My father even read a number of Allen's books (dealing with his attempts in ridding the area of organized crime) and took note of Allen's passing in the eighties. Of course, when he saw the name on the credits of POLICE STATION my dad was pretty surprised! Anyway, it was a pretty good show, with one episode featuring a young Don Grady of MY THREE SONS fame as a kid who kills his abusive father or step-father or something like that...

Christopher Stigliano said...

Of course, omit the first new in the "new kids hate the new foreigner" line! As for the Ghoul...there's a video with clips available on a Ghoulardi tape available straight from PSYCHOTRONIC in case you're interested. He was legend amongst the adolescent crowd around here who could pick up 61 on their televisions...I remember at the time thinking it was weird for kids to be blowing up their models with m-80s...guess where they got the idea to do that!

Anonymous said...

from Michael Snider

Was THE TELEGOONS ever syndicated in the USA? Given Peter Sellers' immense popularity in the 60s, I would have expected that it would've made it to some of the then-plentiful indie TV stations' airwaves. That's something I've never seen and would like to.