(Television History and Trivia)




Victor Edward Swanson,


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- - - T.H.A.T. , Edition No. 3 - - -

    Welcome to T.H.A.T., specifically the third edition, which will pick up on a topic that was started at the end of the previous edition.  In the previous edition, I got on the topic of "Many Happy Returns" and Many Happy Returns (which is the title of two network television programs that exist in my files about television shows).  I wondered in the previous edition if you knew who played William "Bud" Robinson in the 1986 movie Many Happy Returns.  The answer to the question is George Segal, who would go on to play Jack Gallo in the television series entitled Just Shoot Me (and Just Shoot Me!), which would aired on NBC-TV from March 4, 1997, to at least August 16, 2003 (the date that the final new episode was shown on NBC-TV).  I also noted in the previous edition how "Will Robinson" was a name of a character who should be familiar to most people who search for "likable" television programs to see.  The "Will Robinson" that I hoped you would remember is the "Will Robinson" (played by Bill Mumy) in the television series Lost in Space, which originally aired on CBS-TV from September 15, 1965, to September 11, 1968.  In Lost in Space, actor Mark Goddard played Don West.  Lost in Space and Many Happy Returns (the television series of the 1964-65 season) have at least one link.  Mark Goddard played a regular character in both series.  I have already noted what character Mark Goddard played in Lost in Space.  In Many Happy Returns, the television series, he played Bob Randall, the husband of Joan Randall (played by Elinor Donahue).

    In the previous paragraph, I used the term "likable."  Let me give you a general statement that I use about the history of television.  I tell people, generally speaking, the "likable" period of television history is from roughly the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s.  Many series that were originally aired on television during the period are yet played in syndication or on cable today.  More clearly, I might say that the best years for television so far have been the years from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s, because many likable shows were created and aired, such as The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Wild, Wild West.  Before the 1950s, likable shows had existed, but many television shows of the period had been based on radio shows or had poor production values (since the technical side of the television industry was yet under development).  Since the mid-1970s, some likable programs have been aired, but, since the mid-1970s, producers have often pushed political ideas in their programs, even comedies, and often  producers have based shows on put-down comedy or even sexual situations.  Today, most producers and writers in network television have forgotten how to or do not know how to make "likable" programs.

    Let me talk about "likable" some more.  Two music programs that I like are Yes Symphonic Live (a long program featuring the rock group called Yes and a symphony) and Scenes from the Big Chair (or Tears for Fears in Scenes from the Big Chair), which features the group called Tears for Fears.  I recommend both programs to people who want to be rock musicians and in rocks bands.  Both programs give clues about what good musicians do and what good songs are.  For example, Scenes from the Big Chair has a section in which Roland Orzabal talks about how the group tried to make records by taking a bunch of interesting sounds and putting a song to the sounds and how that idea of making songs did not work well.  (If you get a chance to see the video disc or the video tape of Scenes from the Big Chair, listen carefully when Mr. Orzabal talks about how a song made in that manner has some nice bits but is hard to get a hold of.)  The Yes program is available on a DVD, and it is not a program that was made for television or that has aired on television in the U.S. yet, so it is not listed in my television files.  Scenes from the Big Chair did get shown on Showtime, a cable channel, in 1986, such as on February 14, 1986.

    The other day, a friend of mine, who knows I enjoy Yes Symphonic Live and Scenes from the Big Chair, gave me a video tape that had a program featuring Andre Rieu.  The program was Andre Rieu: Live in Dublin.  This pledge-drive program for PBS stations had Andre Rieu helping PBS staffers during pledge breaks by urging people to send in money.  During one of the breaks, a gal mentioned that this program was the tenth Andre Rieu program for PBS.  I went looking in my files to see how many programs had "Andre Rieu" in the beginning of the title.  In my files, I have more than ten programs that have "Andre Reiu" in the title.  These are the programs: Andre Rieu: The Christmas I Love, Andre Rieu: Dreaming, Andre Rieu From Holland With Love, Andre Rieu in Concert: The North America I Love, Andre Rieu: La Vie est Belle, Andre Rieu: Live in Dublin, Andre Rieu: 100 Years of Strauss, Andre Rieu: Romantic Moments, Andre Rieu: Royal Albert Hall, Andre Rieu: The Vienna I Love, and Andre Rieu: The Waltz That Changed My Life.  Which was his first program?  What year did it show up on PBS stations?  I shall have the answers in the next edition of T.H.A.T.

    Yes, I think Andre Rieu: Live in Dublin was a good program--a likable program.

    Notice how I covered programs from Lost in Space to Andre Rieu: Live in Dublin in this addition of T.H.A.T.  I did not want you to think I will cover only one type of program, such as the silly type of program, in T.H.A.T.  Maybe, I should say that I cover programs from the highbrow type to the lowbrow type.  Of course, the question is: Which is which?

        By the way, I have to make a note about two made-for-TV movies that fit the main theme of the first edition of T.H.A.T.  On July 22, 1993, USA, a cable network, aired a TV-movie called Caught in the Act.  On May 10, 2004, Lifetime, a cable network, aired a movie entitled Caught in the Act, which was not that 1993 movie.  Again, I have noted two made-for-TV movies that have had the same title.

Stay well!


Date: June 10, 2004

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