TelevisionWeek Executive Editor Tom Gilbert joins our roster of bloggers with this forum all about classic television, where anything from "Leave It to Beaver" to "Malcolm in the Middle" is fair game for discussion. Reunion specials, DVD releases of classic shows, vintage commercials -- anything that's ever been telecast is the hot topic here.


Timeless TV

August 2007 Archives

Get Your Kicks With 'Route 66' on DVD

August 29, 2007 2:19 PM

The first 15 episodes of the 1960-64 Screen Gems-for-CBS series “Route 66” are coming out on DVD Oct. 23 from Infinity Entertainment Group.

For those not familiar with the show’s premise, it’s basically two young guys driving around the country in an iconic Corvette, taking odd jobs and encountering some sort of drama in a new locale every week.

My favorite aspect of the series is that it was shot entirely on location, which adds a gritty verite quality to the shows that captures real life on the streets of midcentury America.

Martin Milner (“Adam-12”) plays Tod Stiles, a one-time rich kid whose father’s death leaves him penniless (but with a new Corvette), and George Maharis plays Buz Murdock, a tough guy from the Hell’s Kitchen school of hard knocks.

The scripts, mainly by series creator Stirling Silliphant, range from good to outstanding, and the impressive list of guest stars (throughout the series’ four seasons) includes James Caan, Robert Duvall, David Janssen, Buster Keaton, DeForest Kelley, Lee Marvin, Julie Newmar, Robert Redford, Martin Sheen, William Shatner, Rod Steiger and Ethel Waters.

Billy Ingram offers a detailed description of the show on TVParty.com.

See if the opening credits don’t intrigue you:

Goodtime Glen

August 22, 2007 12:15 PM

It’s easy to forget the impact Glen Campbell had on popular music in the late ’60s and ’70s, but a good way to recall just what a prolific hitmaker he was is through Time Life’s new DVD compilation culled from CBS’ 1969-72 “Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour,” due out in early October.

Wholesome and handsome, Campbell was a true crossover artist who, after breaking through in a major way in 1967 with John Hartford-penned “Gentle on My Mind,” went on to straddle the line between country and pop with unprecedented agility on the strength of a spate of Jimmy Webb songs: “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Where’s the Playground Susie?” and “Galveston.”

The DVD also features insightful comments from Campbell today as well some impressive duets with guests including Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Cher, Bobbie Gentry, Roger Miller, Anne Murray, Ricky Nelson, an almost unrecognizable Willie Nelson, Linda Ronstadt and B.J. Thomas. Good times!

A Really Brief History

August 17, 2007 2:47 PM

Some clever soul with plenty of time to kill has assembled the history of Paramount Television on YouTube—well, in program end tags, that is. Take a trip from its origins as Desilu Productions through its many years as Paramount Television from 1967 onward, right up to 2006’s CBS Paramount logo. (Warning: musical sniglet can grow repetitive!)

A Really Missed Shew

August 7, 2007 3:55 PM

The greatest thing about “The Ed Sullivan Show," a Sunday night staple on CBS for 23 years, was that it was a common cultural reference point for just about everybody in the U.S., no matter how old they were or where they lived in the country.

Broadcast live from New York at 8 p.m. ET (when the kids were still up), it introduced the latest—in musical acts, comedians, Broadway musical numbers, trying acrobatic acts, what have you—and back in the days when there were just the Big Three networks, exposure on the Sullivan show packed some wallop. From 1948 to 1971, careers were made overnight, when up-and-comers suddenly became household words. Its effect was not unlike that of “American Idol’s” today, but with more frequency, a more varied lineup of professional talent and a lot more class.

When the Beatles made their historic debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” the next day grammar school kids and grandmas alike knew who they were. In fact, everybody around the water cooler knew the latest personalities to arrive on the scene any given Monday morning because they all had seen them on Sullivan.

Viewers could easily stay abreast of the American entertainment scene by tuning in regularly.

In the current fractionalized, über-multichannel/user-generated entertainment scene, fewer and fewer people are on the same page when it comes to new acts, particularly among the different generations. An “Ed Sullivan”-type variety show could perform a real service today if presented with a fresh approach—and with properly chosen acts—don’t you agree?