June 20, 2013
Last year, I wrote about the 1958-1959 TV series Mike Hammer, and wondered who produced the show. Though it would be unthinkable today, MCA at the time omitted producer credits from some of its television programs.
Recently, I took a minute to poke through Variety‘s digitized archives and solved the mystery (at least partially). As Hammer expert Max Allan Collins suggested in a comment on the original article, MCA lifer Richard (Dick) Irving was the primary producer of the show. Variety first announced the Darren McGavin/MCA package on June 12, 1957, in a piece that noted the earlier Brian Keith pilot based on the Spillane character, but confirmed that neither Keith nor Richard Lewis, the producer of that pilot, would have any involvement in the new series. Rather, “the syndicated private eye skein will be producer by Karl Kramer and Dick Irving, with the latter directing most, if not all of the segments.”
Karl Kramer – whose name you’d probably never heard until now, even if you’re a TV aficionado - was a senior MCA executive, one of the former band bookers who became, according to Dennis McDougal’s The Last Mogul, the agency’s treasurer and a member of its “ruling elite.” A contender to succeed Jules Stein as the company’s president, Kramer instead became the company’s chief television executive around 1950. Kicked upstairs shortly after the Mike Hammer launch (his title in 1958 was “honorary chairman” of Revue Productions), he retired in the early sixties and died in 1980. (One of Kramer’s daughters was married to sitcom director Jay Sandrich). It’s pretty safe to assume, then, that most or all of the creative decision-making fell to Irving, who incidentally ended up directing fewer than a dozen episodes – an early sign that television production, even in the days when a TV show could have but a single producer, would prove more complex than the executives or the press initially assumed. (Irving also directed all the New York City location shooting, even in episodes credited to other directors.)
One of the very first directors associated with MCA’s production unit – he started on generic, threadbare anthologies like Stars Over Hollywood and The Gruen Guild Playhouse as early as 1951 – the one-time bit actor Irving stayed with the company as a sort of mid-tier creative for nearly two decades. (He was initially assigned to The Virginian, but bumped when Universal hired a “name” – Rawhide creator Charles Marquis Warren – to oversee the prestigious 90-minute Western.) As a producer and occasional director on the likes of State Trooper and Laredo, Irving may be best remembered as a mentor of young talent: he hired both Sydney Pollack (on Shotgun Slade) and Steven Spielberg (on The Name of the Game) early in their careers.
So that solves that, except that I couldn’t find any reference to who produced the second (1958-1959) season of Mike Hammer. It’s likely that Irving stayed on, but perhaps not – and it’s also possible that he had an associate producer or story editor whose name still remains lost to history.
One other interesting tidbit I discovered is that – contrary to my assumption that one series followed the other – Mike Hammer and Darren McGavin’s subsequent starring vehicle for MCA, the Western Riverboat (1959-1961), actually overlapped in production. According to Variety, McGavin shot the first two Riverboat episodes prior to May 23, 1959, at which point he went back to shoot another five Mike Hammer segments. ”After the five, he’ll continue to shuttle between the two shows, with 11 more Hammers to be made,” the trade paper added. And James Garner thought he had it rough on Maverick!
Riverboat premiered on September 23, and a quick check of the TV listings suggests that, at least in the New York City market, new episodes of Mike Hammer were debuting as late as November 1959. So, for a couple of months that fall, McGavin fans could see their favorite actor headlining two different first-run series at the same time. How many other times in television history has that happened?
June 19, 2013
Name: Dennis Boutsikaris.
Specialty: Edgy, hyperverbal intellectuals, either kindly (like the SAT policeman-turned-academic-mentor he plays on Shameless) or sarcastic (like the arrogant surgeon he recurred as on John Wells’s earlier ER).
Impersonations: He played Woody Allen, opposite Patsy Kensit’s Mia Farrow, in a low-rent 1996 TV movie, and comb-wielding Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz in Oliver Stone’s W.
Enduring Claim to Fame: As the de facto leading man, in the hilarious, maligned, Green Acres-obsessed sitcom The Jackie Thomas Show. The straight man of the show, Boutsikaris played the fledgling writer whose horrified reactions were often funnier than the punchlines delivered by putative star Tom Arnold, riffing on his own rep as a narcissistic TV star. Boutsikaris and his female lead, the equally underappreciated Alison LaPlaca, were carryovers from an earlier sitcom, Stat.
Where Else You’ve Seen Him: In recurring roles on 100 Center Street, Law & Order, Six Degrees, and many others, and on the New York stage (replacing John Pankow as Mozart in Amadeus, and more recently in the revival of Brighton Beach Memoirs).
Second Career: A prolific narrator of audio books, Boutsikaris is the winner of seven Golden Earphone Awards. I do so hope those are in fact shaped like earphones, and made out of gold.
June 11, 2013
The Writers Guild of America has noted the death of television writer Norman Borisoff on April 21, just five days short of his 95th birthday.
Never especially prolific, Borisoff notched an odd grab bag of dramatic TV credits on both sides of the Atlantic: scripts for The Saint, Man of the World, and Herbert Brodkin’s spy anthology Espionage in England during the early sixties, then episodes of Ironside, Judd For the Defense, and I Spy (his only teleplay was also the only two-part episode) back in the States. Prior to that, Borisoff – who had been the editor of UCLA’s campus newspaper The Daily Bruin in 1938! – wrote documentaries; afterwards, he became a young adult novelist.
Among the other odds and ends among Borisoff’s TV credits are one of the final, filmed episodes of the newspaper anthology Big Story, and an adaption of the F. Marion Crawford story “The Screaming Skull” (which had been filmed in 1958) into a TV special that aired early on in ABC’s late-night “Wide World of Entertainment” block. Per Variety, it was one of four horror-themed telefilms, part of an effort to “adapt the techniques, pacing, and stylized acting of the daytime soap operas to the spooky genre.” (Translation: Probably coasting on the success of Dark Shadows, some New York-based producers, in this case veteran ex-Susskind and Brodkin lieutenants Jacqueline Babbin and Buzz Berger, bid on those slots and filled them with low-budget videotaped programs.) Alas, Variety declared The Screaming Skull (1973) “a complete, interminable bomb.”
Perhaps more distinguished than his fiction scripts were Borisoff’s documentary credits, which included the 1950 feature The Titan: Story of Michelangelo (an English-language reworking, supervised by Robert Flaherty, of an earlier German film); Victor Vicas’s 48 Hours a Day (1949), a “proud tribute to the Hadassah nurse,” shot in Israel; segments of Conquest (a CBS News-produced, Monsanto-sponsored series of science-themed programs that alternated in a Sunday afternoon timeslot with See It Now and The Seven Lively Arts) in 1957-1958; and the Emmy-nominated NBC film The Kremlin (1963).
I contacted Borisoff in 2004, after I had a hunch – based on his credits abroad during the McCarthy era, and his return to the U.S. around the time the Red Scare cooled off – that the peripatetic Borisoff might have been blacklisted. But I was wrong: Borisoff informed me that his globe-trotting was all done by choice. We never connected for a full interview, but I did enjoy seeing footage of Borisoff, then 89, walking the picket lines during the 2007 Writers Guild strike.
June 4, 2013
I used to do an occasional roundup post wherein I would comment upon interesting new TV-related articles I’d read. Ever since I’ve been on Twitter (@smilingcobra), I’ve just been posting those links there — it’s more efficient and I never liked putting a lot of effort into writing posts that would become instantly disposable.
However, I can’t resist a little annotation on two recent articles that are totally unrelated but still strike me as two halves of the same whole. One is Matt Zoller Seitz’s attempt to make an auteurist case for the episodic television director. The other is a DGA Magazine article about directing The Good Wife. Where Seitz compiles through-lines by looking at the TV shows themselves, Ann Farmer comes at it from the other direction, by polling some Good Wife producers and directors in search of concrete examples of the directors’ contributions to specific episodes. (Totally irrelevant coincidence: When I interviewed veteran TV director Michael Zinberg for last year’s “Turkeys Away” oral history, he called me from the set of The Good Wife. Which reminds me, I’m still waiting for that introduction to Archie Panjabi.)
Whereas the role of the television writer changed seismically when episodic television shifted from a freelance to a staff model, the of the episodic director is essentially the same as it has been since the fifties. The almost complete separation of filmic and three-camera sitcom directors, the director’s hierarchical disadvantage relative to producers and actors and cameramen who work on their shows full-time, the gulf between A-listers who direct the hot shows and rank-and-file directors who get stuck with everything else — none of those factors have changed much since the late fifties. There have been some intriguing exceptions to these old patterns in recent years – a director’s occasional commitment to a staff job on a show, as Seitz noted, or the relatively new form of the one-camera sitcom – but none of them have become the rule. Plus, even those new things aren’t that new: in the old days, a director would turn producer once in a while (Walter Grauman on Felony Squad, Boris Sagal on T.H.E. Cat), and hybrid half-hour dramedies like The Law and Mr. Jones, which were the closest antecedent to single-camera comedies, attracted an odd mix of comedic and dramatic directors, just as today’s single-cams pull in both established TV comedy directors and indie-film outsiders (whose widespread infiltration of episodic TV during the HBO era of the early 2000s is also something that a few older shows like East Side / West Side and The Bold Ones tried).
So, nothing is new under the sun — which is why it’s remarkable, and frustrating, and revealing, that the subtext of that Good Wife piece is one of defensiveness, and that the idea Seitz is getting at is so hard to pin down. It’s easy to talk out one’s ass about “the director” — to simply default to auteurist lingo in criticism and write that Thomas Schlamme did this or that, without actually investigating who came up with what idea. But to really write authoritatively about a TV director’s work, or style, is extremely challenging. A glance at Seitz’s scattershot examples shows how much work is left to be done: there are nods to The Twilight Zone (John Brahm) and All in the Family (Paul Bogart), but most are from post-2000 shows Seitz has written about elsewhere. Of course, there are TV director auteurs from every era, but we’ve only scratched the surface in picking them out or isolating what qualities differentiate them from their peers. John Frankenheimer’s roving camera made him a behind-the-scenes star of the Playhouse 90 period, and most of my fellow sixties television cultists have figured out that Sutton Roley – the Orson Welles of early television – crammed nearly every TV episode he directed with a ton of strange angles and extreme lenses. But there are dozens of other early episodic directors with an eye almost as bold as Roley’s, and an especially problematic class of “actor’s directors” (like Paul Bogart, whom Seitz mentions) whose touch is probably only detectable by subtraction. (Many episodic TV directors had, or have, their own “stock companies” — but while we know all of those beloved John Ford and Preston Sturges actors well, we haven’t yet enumerated Paul Bogart’s or Ralph Senensky’s favorites.)
Most of us watch television by program, whether it’s one episode per week or in marathon form. To write knowledgeably about an episodic director’s work, you’d have to turn that sideways, and scrutinize specific episodes of dozens of different series, with an eye peeled for formal connections that aren’t always obvious. Then you’d have to try to account for factors that derived from other creative contributors, or “house styles.” Series like Ben Casey or Star Trek had such distinctive lighting schemes that you would expect any director’s episodes of those shows to vary from their personal “look,” whatever it might be. A series star’s performances aren’t likely to vary much from episode to episode (or are they?), but what can be discerned by comparing actors’ one-off work across many shows, for particular directors? Why might Don Gordon have walked through a dozen guest shots and then absolutely nailed the title role in The Defenders‘ “Madman”? Was it simply a response to stronger-than-usual material, or was the director (Stuart Rosenberg) the x factor? Or why, to put it another way, might Sutton Roley’s touch be more muted on some series than others? Probably because of budget constraints, or producers and cinematographers who preferred a less showy style. Roley always fought the system, which is why his body of work stands out, but there are other directors who did extremely innovative work on “friendly” shows and totally anonymous work on other series.
In the DVD-and-torrenting era, the texts are available for this kind of scrutiny in a way that they weren’t until ten or fifteen years ago — but I haven’t taken it on, and I’m not aware of anyone else who has, either. (Actually, I do know some gonzo cinephiles who are expert on some of the TV-movie directors of the seventies, but little or none of their work has been published yet.) Finding the director’s touch, I think, is the ultimate brain-teaser of television scholarship.
P.S. So, I’ve been missing in action for a while, huh? Writing for money and sundry other things have kept me away from the important work for longer than planned. If things go as planned, though, this space should be sputtering slowly back to life over the next couple of weeks.
My first piece for The AV Club ran last Friday. It’s a look at the ritual of preempting or editing television shows in the aftermath of tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombing – a ritual that extends back at least as far as the murder of John F. Kennedy. (That’s Martin Milner above, in the strange Route 66 episode “I’m Here to Kill a King,” which was meant to air on November 22, 1963, and bears some disturbing parallels to the assassination.)
As I was researching the aftermath of President Kennedy’s assassination, I noticed that the original broadcast dates for at least two of the preempted television episodes have been recorded incorrectly in nearly every reference source. Presumably that’s because historians consulted newspapers’ TV listings without discovering that sudden changes were made after the listings were published. As a sort of wonky footnote, I thought I would untangle those errors here.
Channing, the one-season college drama with Jason Evers and Henry Jones, had an episode entitled “A Window on the War” slated for November 27, five days after the president’s death. An early work by the noted screenwriter David Rayfiel, who was adapting his play P.S. 193, “A Window on the War” involved an adult student’s plot to kill a professor (who is sort of a variation on the teacher character in All Quiet on the Western Front). The subject matter led ABC to push the episode back two weeks, to December 11. The episode that was substituted was Juarez Roberts‘s boxing story “Beyond His Reach,” which had evidently been penciled in for December 11. Wikipedia supplies the correct dates but the Internet Movie Database and the Classic TV Archive still have it wrong.
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour had planned to show “The Cadaver,” a Michael Parks-starring episode about a practical joke involving medical students and a cadaver, as the first post-Kennedy episode, on November 29. Instead, the episode that had been preempted on the night of the assassination, “Body in the Barn,” was shown on November 29, and “The Cadaver” (evidently because of its morbid subject matter) was pushed back until January 17. Most references claim that “The Cadaver” aired as scheduled on November 29 and that “Body in the Barn” didn’t resurface until July 3, in the middle of summer reruns. That’s wrong.
What’s interesting here is that, in their book The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion, Martin Grams Jr. and Patrick Wikstrom figured this out and printed the correct dates, with an explanation as to why they were given incorrectly elsewhere. That book was published in 2000, and yet all of the data aggregation sites on the internet – the IMDb, Wikipedia, TV.com, Epguides, the Classic TV Archive – still reflect the incorrect dates. It’s a good example of how sites like those tend to grab the low-hanging fruit and overlook more obscure sources. Rely upon them at your own peril.
As documentation, I’ve reproduced some pages from some relevant TV listings below. First, an early Los Angeles Times listing for Channing‘s “A Window on the War” on November 27:
Then a New York Times listing for November 27, giving the evening’s episode correctly as “Beyond His Reach”:
A Chicago Tribune listing for “A Window on the War” on its eventual broadcast date, December 11:
A Hartford Courant listing for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour‘s “Body in the Barn” on its original airdate, November 29 (no date is given on the clipping, but the episode titles for other series correspond to 11/29):
“The Cadaver” debuting on January 17, 1964, per the Los Angeles Times:
This New York Times TV listing for July 3 is one of several that declares “Body in the Barn” a repeat:
Also in the AV Club article, I mentioned that Espionage switched around its schedule in order to delay an assassination-themed story. That episode was “A Camel to Ride, a Sheep to Eat,” which was pushed back from November 27 to December 18. “The Light of a Friendly Star,” originally scheduled for December 4, was moved up a week. I’m not sure of the original sequence for the episodes in between, but the Classic TV Archive has the final airdates right. (Apropos of nothing, can I tell you how annoyed I am that the British DVD release of Espionage went out of print before I snagged one?)
May 1, 2013
Nope, that’s not a SyFy original. Alas.
Here we go again.
Yesterday, the internet made a big deal out of the nearly 1800 movies that were about to disappear from Netflix’s streaming video library. Netflix had disclosed a while ago that this was going to happen, so I was surprised at how viral the story went. There was chatter about it pretty much everywhere I went on the net: social media, forums, blogs, Slate, C-Net, Gothamist (from whom I shamelessly swiped the above graphic, which, incidentally, I find hilarious: nuts to you, streaming family!), etc, etc. The tone of the coverage was: these movies are disappearing tonight, so hurry up and watch as many as you can.
I’ve said my piece about Netflix ad nauseum, and I was on deadline yesterday, so I was initially planning not to weigh in. But much of what I’ve seen about this is either wrong or just wrong-headed so, as I said, here we go again. Sorry.
First, factually wrong: Initial reports claimed that these titles were expiring because they were going to move over to Warner Archive’s new, and competing, streaming service. Nope. Warner Archive has explicitly denied it on Twitter. The wording of Warner’s statement was a little strange, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were angling to license the 1800 catalog titles (which are mostly owned by MGM but were linked to Netflix via a third party called Epix; it’s complicated). But it definitely won’t be an immediate transition. I’ve been trying to trace the source of that rumor and I think there isn’t one. Probably some yob on the internet said, hey, Warner Archive is mostly old movies, and these are mostly old movies, so I bet that’s where they’re going! And that’s still being reported as fact, a day after Warner’s denial. So among other things, Streamageddon marks yet another dispiriting failure of online journalism.
Let’s start with this: Any time movies go from being more accessible to less accessible, that’s a bad thing. In that sense, I’ll join with the Streamageddon mourners.
But, as we’ve noted before, streaming is not a good way to watch movies. Of course, streaming varies based on a lot of things, so that statement should be heavily qualified. But let’s drill in on these 1800 movies. Start with film critic Sam Adams’s selections of MGM-owned films that he’ll miss among the 1800 Netflix refugees. I’m pretty sure that every one of those eighteen films is or has been available on DVD, and Netflix carries many of those DVDs. Four of them (The Bed Sitting Room, Kes, and the two Bond films) are available on Blu-ray. Kes is a even a Criterion Blu-ray, and it looks gorgeous. Also, the longer, superior cut of Altman’s Vincent & Theo is available on DVD in the UK.
You can argue about the relative quality of a standard DVD vs. an HD stream, but let’s agree that for every film Adams mentions, that there’s a relatively convenient alternative that’s at least as good. For many of those films, there’s a better option than Netflix streaming. Streamageddon is not a crisis of the magnitude that some are claiming.
Let me put that a different way: If one single person ends up watching Goldfinger on Blu-ray instead of via Netflix streaming, then I think I’m actually in favor of Streamageddon.
Now, it’s true that there are rarer films that were among the 1800 that should cause a little more agitation. Adams does not mention any of these, so I will name a few interesting ones: Philip Kaufman’s Fearless Frank (1967). Robert Thom’s Angel, Angel, Down We Go (1969). Norman Jewison’s Gaily, Gaily (1969). Richard Brooks’s brilliant The Happy Ending (1969) and Looking For Mr. Goodbar (1977). Jerzy Skolimowski’s The Adventures of Gerard (1970). Walter Grauman’s The Last Escape (1970). John Boorman’s Leo the Last (1970). Elia Kazan’s The Visitors (1972). Bruce Geller’s Harry in Your Pocket (1973). Robert Benton’s Still of the Night (1982). Nicolas Roeg’s Castaway (1986). And so on.
(And I’m actually not sure about TV: Were any of the MGM-controlled TV series, like the Ziv action shows or Flipper, on Netflix Instant? I do know that a handful of ’80s TV movies, such as Lois Gibbs and the Love Canal (1982), evaporated from my streaming queue.)
None of the films I listed above ever been available in the US on pre-recorded discs. A few of them (Leo the Last, Harry in Your Pocket, and Still of the Night) were released by MGM as burn-on-demand DVDs, but those were mostly subpar. In theory, those films would’ve looked better via Netflix streaming than through any other commercially available way to see them. But there’s a catch: the Epix library was riddled with bad encodes. By that I mean that the streaming copies of many films had severe technical glitches. Early on I came across two films (Daniel Haller’s The Devil’s Angels and the Leslie Stevens oddity Fanfare For a Death Scene) that were corrupted at length by a severe digital stutter. At which point I stopped futzing with the Epix library, because I don’t care to have viewing experiences ruined unpredictably and there was no good way to QC the streaming encodes ahead of time. Incidentally, one film fan who works for MGM tried repeatedly to get the bad encode for another film, Beyond the Time Barrier, fixed, and no one would listen.
(Another factor to keep in mind is that most of those MGM films were on Netflix in HD because MGM created hi-def masters for its cable channel. So it is or was possible to record your own copy of them, at the same quality level you would have gotten from Netflix. And nobody can take that copy away from you.)
When Stuart Galbraith IV and I discussed this here a few months ago, one of our complaints about streaming was precisely this: that content could vanish en masse and without warning. But I’m not crowing I told you so because that was never my main complaint. Streaming simply looks lousy relative to the other options, so the disappearance of this content is a dubious loss.
If you’re resistant to that argument, perhaps you’ll counter with something like this: Yes, but most people don’t care about image quality and they find Netflix’s one-stop shopping convenient and they don’t have the time or money to look for the best available version of every movie. Well, okay: in any endeavor, you get in what you put out. I get that.
But consider this: Netflix streaming (and the concept of an online streaming library in general) is a relatively new phenomenon. It was only five years ago that selecting a movie to watch and finding that movie and getting it home required a certain expenditure of effort. I’m not pushing nostalgia for that model, but I do think it’s alarming any time someone becomes totally dependent on a particular technology, and helpless when it fails. The tenor of much of the Streamageddon comment I read was along the lines of: these movies are not just gone from Netflix but gone completely, and HELP. I don’t think it’s healthy that movie lovers’ ability to find things to watch begins and ends with Netflix. That deprives those viewers of some things they’ll like and it hurts the rest of us in that it gives Netflix too much power, and cuts off support to alternative (and superior) distribution channels. Those 1800 movies will probably turn up somewhere else soon, but you’re going to have to look for them. In fact, you’re going to have to look for a lot of stuff over the next few years. Netflix’s acquisition of catalog titles (that is, older movies) was essentially flat for the last couple of years; now, it’s dropping. That’s because Netflix, with its present emphasis on producing original TV series, is reshaping itself as an on-line competitor to HBO, not to the local video store it helpfully put out of business a few years ago. The supply chain for old movies and TV episodes, both online and physically, is in the middle of a big shift. Any of us who watch a lot of stuff are all going to reacquire the habit of figuring out where our next rental is coming from. If Streamageddon is a wake-up call for anyone who has become too Netflix-dependent, then, again: that’s a big silver lining.
And let me put that a different way: if you’re a fan of Netflix streaming AND you’re complaining about the loss of these movies, that’s a contradiction you have to resolve. Because huge swaths of disappearing content IS Netflix streaming. It’s not a fuck-up or an aberration. It is the nature of the beast.
And the most important point here is that Streamageddon is trivial compared to the Netflix’s more significant and still ongoing betrayal of its customers: its decision three years ago to stop adding to and replenishing its physical library of films. Anyone who cares enough to notice that a bunch of catalog films disappeared from Netflix’s streaming supply should care even more about Discpocalypse. And yet I didn’t notice any wailing from Slate or CNET or my Facebook feed or Twitter back when that started (or now). Where were you guys when we needed you?
April 25, 2013
We’re in reruns this week … but, hey, it’s a lot of reruns!
A couple of years ago I noticed that the blog had started to get unwieldly. Even with the very rough array of categories on the right, it’s hard to navigate to the older pieces. And some of those have become inexplicably Google-proof — in fact, sometimes I even have a hard time finding an old post when I need to refresh my memory. So, finally, I’ve gotten around to putting together a master list with links to all of the longer essays on the blog — one-stop shopping, as it were. If you’ve been a regular reader for a while, but not from the very beginning (five and a half years ago!), maybe you’ll find something of interest here that you haven’t already read.
I’ve broken the list down into a few basic types, and listed everything in reverse chronological order. I’ve deliberately excluded link roundups, short obits, and anything else that I thought was dated or ephemeral. In other words, this isn’t a full index of every blog post, just those that may have some lasting value. Unless I get lazy, I’ll continue to append new pieces to this list, so that it will remain an up-to-date table of contents (accessible via the MASTER LIST link in the Categories section at right).
Old TV Shows
Peyton Place (for The A.V. Club). (11/11/13)
The Fugitive (for The A.V. Club). (9/11/13)
The Gallant Men. (4/2/13)
Wagon Train (follow-up). (10/17/12)
“Alas, Babylon” (Playhouse 90). (8/23/12)
“The Noise of Death” (The Untouchables). (3/23/12)
Dennis the Menace. (7/29/11)
The Restless Gun. (9/19/10)
The Bill Cosby Show and Love American Style. (4/19/10)
The Patty Duke Show. (2/11/10)
The Paper Chase. (11/1/09)
Wagon Train and Ironside (follow-up). (10/13/09)
“What Makes Sammy Run?” (Sunday Showcase). (9/30/09)
Wagon Train and Ironside. (9/15/09)
The Donna Reed Show. (11/14/08)
Man With a Camera, Tate, and Laredo. (10/10/08)
Arrest and Trial. (1998; revised 2008)
The Invaders. (1998)
East Side / West Side. (1997; revised 2007)
Recent TV Shows
Breaking Bad. (for The A.V. Club). (8/12/13)
Lie to Me. (7/25/12)
Recasting Mad Men. (3/26/12)
24 (follow-up). (5/19/11)
24 and Swingtown. (7/9/09)
Ralph A. Woolsey. (1/22/14)
Everett Chambers on Peyton Place. (11/26/13)
Ed Lauter (interview by Tom Donahue, text by me). (10/18/13)
Gail Kobe. (9/6/13)
Richard C. Sarafian on The Gallant Men. (4/12/13)
Robert Pine. (7/12/12)
Burton Armus on Kojak. (11/1/11)
Gerald S. O’Loughlin. (8/26/11)
Harry Landers. (5/31/11)
Leigh Chapman. (12/8/10)
Tim O’Connor. (2/26/10)
Collin Wilcox. (3/25/09)
Lonny Chapman. (12/19/07)
Oral Histories with Early Television Writers. (2007-2009)
Gordon Hessler (1/31/14).
Nate Esformes. (8/6/13)
Norman Borisoff. (6/13/13)
Gerry Day. (2/27/13)
Frank R. Pierson. (8/12/12)
Edward Adler. (6/15/12)
Jerome Ross. (3/1/12)
Ben Gazzara and Zalman King. (2/4/12)
Walter Doniger. (12/13/11)
Tom Donovan and Robert Collins. (11/3/11)
Allan A. Buckhantz. (10/15/11)
David Pressman. (9/19/11)
Alfred Brenner and Lyman Hallowell. (8/23/11)
James H. Brown. (8/3/11)
Charles F. Haas. (5/21/11)
Gerald Perry Finnerman. (4/12/11)
Donald S. Sanford. (3/4/11)
John McGreevey. (2/12/11)
Janet MacLachlan. (10/21/10)
Arthur Penn. (10/11/10)
Alvin Boretz. (7/30/10)
Peter Haskell. (5/7/10)
Robert Culp. (4/12/10)
Mary Scott. (12/18/09)
Paul Wendkos. (12/3/09)
Collin Wilcox. (10/22/09)
Paul Burke and George Eckstein. (9/21/09)
Clement Fowler. (8/22/09)
Philip Saltzman. (8/20/09)
Mort Thaw. (7/25/09)
Steven Gilborn and Pat Hingle. (1/15/09)
Earl Booth. (12/18/08)
Paul Schneider and Thomas Y. Drake. (11/21/08)
Nina Laemmle. (11/6/08)
Luther Davis. (8/2/08)
Irving Pearlberg. (7/2/08)
Eliot Asinof. (6/26/08)
C. M. (Chris) Gampel. (5/14/08)
Harry Kleiner. (2/11/08)
Barry Morse. (2/6/08)
Frank Lewin. (1/20/08)
In Praise of David E. Kelley (for The A.V. Club). (11/20/13)
The Nurses of Ben Casey. (10/16/13)
Richard Kimble Was Guilty. (9/17/13)
The Casting Files of Marion Dougherty. (8/29/13)
Le Cinéma de Vince Edwards. (7/25/13)
Why Pulling an Episode of Hannibal After the Boston Bombings Was a Mistake (for The A.V. Club) and a sidebar about airdates. (5/3/13)
Stanley Milgram Goes to Medical Center. (12/20/12)
Procrustes Comes to Syndication. (2/25/12)
A Life at the Video Store. (11/10/11)
Who and Where Is Hudson Faussett? (11/17/10)
Sixteen Footprints of the New Wave. (8/12/10)
Cloud Minder Girl (Charlene Polite). (3/21/10)
Perception Studies in Seventies Crime Shows. (7/30/09)
Confessions of a Recovering Trekkie. (5/14/09)
Dear Bobbie (Roberta Collins). (9/5/08)
Something About Sydney Pollack. (5/27/08)
Starting a List of Great TV Episodes. (December 2007)
Dining Out on Tony Randall. (12/14/07)
No Love For Jacques Rivette (for World Cinema Paradise) (1/17/14).
Finding My Way Into Schlock (for World Cinema Paradise) (12/19/13).
Andrzej Zulawski: Untameable Heroines (for BAMcinématek) (3/7/12).
Great Directors: John Frankenheimer (for Senses of Cinema) (11/2006).