Dear Professor,

If you assigned a final exam or essay question worded exactly as follows:

List & discuss at least six tv shows that depict the police, courts, and correctional components of the correctional system.

… then one of your students has been Googling for the answers, and may or may not have plagiarized them from my blog.

Hope that helps.

And let me know what grade I got.

WordPress metadata is awesome!


Stephen Bowie

The Classic TV History Blog: Busting Internet Plagiarists Since 2007


July 3, 2012

As you already know if you’ve been a longtime reader here, Andy Griffith (or Andy Taylor) was something of a surrogate father for me, and for many North Carolinians of my age.  Even for those of us lucky to have great dads already.

We’ll be flying the flag at half mast here at the Classic TV History Blog for a little while.  Regular programming is cancelled until further notice.

Crime Time

October 3, 2011

Okay, loyal readers, it’s time to fire up the television set . . . .

. . . . slam a fresh U-matic cassette into your VTR machine . . . .

. . . . and settle back into your most comfortable plastic-covered recliner.

Because, for no special reason other than that I finally carved out a couple of weeks for some binge-viewing and a lot of them were on top of the pile, much my output for the rest of this year will be focused on an array of crime dramas from the seventies.

(So if you don’t like those, it’s going to be a long, cold winter.  Sorry!)

This excursion into retrograde crime-fighting will take the form of criticism, DVD reviews, interviews and other sidebars, goofy throwaways, and anything else I can come up with to provide a little variety.

Taken as a whole, the glut of police and private eye shows that cluttered the airwaves in the seventies aren’t as good as many of the older dramas that I’ve often written about here.  They challenge or transcend the limitations of genre less frequently than the best crime shows of the sixties or of this century.  But many of them are a lot of fun and, more to the point, many of them are new to me.  So I hope you’ll join me on my bell-bottomed journey through through Watergate-era violence, mayhem, and skullduggery.

Stay, as they say, tuned.

Reading Material

September 17, 2011

Those guys are at it again: The bloggers who brought you their Siskel-and-Ebert rundowns on every episode of The Outer Limits and Thriller have turned their attention to Batman.  As before, the supplemental content that John Scoleri and Peter Enfantino have organized, and the reader comments (historian Gary Gerani, for instance, on the mise-en-scene of TV director Tom Gries) have greater value than the episode reviews themselves.

So far, the most interesting piece is this frank new interview with Joel Eisner, author of the eighties-era companion book to the series, The Official Batman Batbook.  Generally accurate and entertaining, and very well-designed, Eisner’s book is a delight to read even if it’s not the full-on production history that someone should still write.  In the interview, no one comes off particularly well, not even Eisner (who seemed interested only in writing an authorized history of the series – why? – and was willing to pay the actors for interviews).  As it turned out, even with money on the table, greed kept Burt Ward and Adam West from participating in the Batbook, to the later regret of at least one of them; and West’s subsequent attempt to publish an autobiography (to be ghostwritten by Eisner) foundered on similarly unrealistic expectations of profit.  None of that comes as a surprise to me, because I remember clearly that the good old days of the Hollywood Collectors Show – in which the “celebs” generally showed up to meet fans, sold their photos for $5 each, and signed everything else for free – came to a fast end after the “Batman Bloc” (West, Ward, Julie Newmar, and Yvonne Craig) banded together and successfully started charging $25 for any and all signatures.

I do hope the Batpole men are able to recruit Lorenzo Semple, Jr., to share some new memories for their blog.  I saw Semple speak at a screening earlier this year, and he’s still sharp, funny, and able to attract the attention of very good-looking fangirls.


I’m quoted in Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.’s piece here about The Defenders, on the occasion of its fiftieth annversary.  Ivan contacted me to ask why I thought The Defenders has remained so conspicuously out of circulation, relative to other long-running shows of its era.  I’ve heard various theories, some plausible and some from people connected to the show, as to why executive producer Herbert Brodkin’s legendary parsimony may have created future clearance problems for The Defenders (and other Plautus productions).  But my argument to Ivan is that at this point it’s probably an Occam’s razor situation: The Defenders is MIA because it’s old, it’s obscure, and much more commercial TV properties have been tanking on home video left and right.

(These TV-debut anniversaries that come around every September and early October are arbitrary and hypocritical, aren’t they?  If The Defenders remains neglected at 49 and 51, nobody is going to suddenly revive it on its 50th birthday.  Anniversary fetishizing is a harmless ritual until – and I’ve heard of this happening more than once – some publisher or programmer rejects a project because it’s tracking too late to hit one of those meaningless dates.  Then it’s not so funny any more.)

Gone Fishin’ Again

September 8, 2011

It’s that time again: I’m in need of a blogging breather in order to relax, recuperate, work on some other writing projects, figure out what the hell I’m going to do with the rest of my life, or (e) all of the above.

Actually there will be at least a few posts over the next couple of weeks, but they’ll probably be brief.  Meanwhile the screener pile is swollen with unwatched DVDs (I still can’t believe anybody sends me these for free!) so, if all goes according to plan (and, fair warning, very little has gone according to plan lately in the project completion department), I’ll be back soon with some reports from that front.

Thought of the Day

August 19, 2011

“I would rather reclaim history from nostalgia than derive nostalgia from history.”

– Rick Prelinger

Thought of the Day

August 1, 2011

After today’s news of the debt ceiling “deal,” I once again find myself wondering where the presidential candidate Obama for whom I voted went, and where exactly this President Obama came from.

Finally, it dawned on me.  The same thing happened fifty years ago.


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