The following bloggers have or probably have their entries up and awaiting your persusal for this week, or will soon (more refined links to occur when possible):
Bill Crider: Cutthroat Island
Brian Arnold: Mischief
Eric Peterson: The Outfit
Evan Lewis: The Adventures of Sir Lancelot
James Reasoner: Hellfire
Jerry House: The Atomic Man aka Timeslip
K.A. Laity: The Knack...and How to Get It
Patti Abbott: Local Hero
Paul D. Brazill: Charlie Bubbles
Pearce Duncan: The Fountain of Youth
Randy Johnson: Man of the West
Scott Cupp: Dark Intruder
Scott Parker: They Were Expendable
Todd Mason: The Great American Dream Machine; Fanfare for a Death Scene; The Firesign Theatre Radio Hour
And posts of related interest:
Cullen Gallagher: Hickey & Boggs
David L. Vineyard (among others, courtesy Steve Lewis's Mystery*File): My Name is Modesty
Paul Bishop: Johnny Staccato
Scoleri and Enfantino's We Are Controlling Transmission...
Vince Keenan: Fuzz
Comedy Film Nerds
...and thanks to all who participate, reviewers and readers alike.
The Great American Dream Machine might not've been indicative of all PBS was meant to be, but it was nonetheless a pretty good start in the form of a relatively free-form, largely satirical magazine series, 90 minutes in its first short season, down to sixty for its second and final in 1971-1972, which included a mixture of animation, sketch comedy (often featuring Marshall Efron, Chevy Chase, Albert Brooks, Ken Shapiro and others, including pre-codger Andy Rooney), reportage, interview segments (including the link above to an extended Studs Terkel discussion), and generally did what it could to push boundaries for US television for its time. Reportedly, at least some of the material in the show was reshot for Shapiro and Chase's film The Groove Tube; more importantly, the series was a guiding light and launching point for such other series as Marshall Efron's Illustrated, Simplified and Painless Sunday School, and, of course, NBC's Saturday Night and its "hip" every-fourth-week slot companion, the newsmagazine Weekend. Here's a bit of Albert Brooks's "School for Comedians" film for TGADM, unfortunately as "sweetened" with a laugh track and cut short for some latter-day clip show. While no legit home video of the original series has been offered, in June, the syndicator Executive Program Services has just announced, a pledge special gathering diverse elements from the series will be offered to public television stations, and perhaps you might be lucky enough to see it in a non-pledge slot.
Television films exist in a gray area...are they really simply teleplays (many of them serve as pilots for series, perhaps more often in the past than they do now), or are they actually more like cinematic releases...since no few US television movies have been given cinematic release, abroad when not also domestically. The most famous examples of the latter include the 1964 remake of The Killers, with the famous footage of Ronald Reagan's thug character slapping Angie Dickinson's around, deemed to be too violent for broadcast in the months after the John Kennedy assassination, and several films co-financed in the 1980s and 1990s by PBS under the American Playhouse rubric, beginning with Testament. (And a number of films made in a similar funding arrangement with the likes of the UK's Channel 4, such as My Beautiful Laundrette, also saw theatrical release in the US and elsewhere). Television films have had a tendency to be bland, even when promising to revel in salacious material (hitting all the stops in notoriety from The War Game through Born Innocent to Mother May I Sleep with Danger? and Little Ladies of the Night), and shallow; only occasionally do we encounter the truly lunatic film-for-television, but some can stand proudly in this "alternative" (in the sense that Bill Pronzini applies this adjective to Harry Stephen Keeler's fiction, and others') field...and one such item is Fanfare for a Death Scene, co-written and directed by The Outer Limits creator Leslie Stevens, and one of the most joyously ridiculous crime/espionage dramas one can hope to encounter, straight out of the same well of creativity that led Stevens to also produce the only feature-length horror film in Esperanto, Incubus. Somehow, Stevens managed to get a script approved for the Kraft Suspense Theater which involves a disinterested Richard Egan seeking out a defecting scientist amidst a swirl that includes a drugged and crazed Burgess Meredith mistaking himself for Al Hirt, with the rest of the cast filled in by such stalwarts as Ed Asner, Tina Louise, Telly Savalas, Khigh Dhiegh (born Kenneth Dickerson, in the years before The Manchurian Candidate and Hawaii Five-0) and Viveca Lindfors. The climax is hilarious; the entirety of the episode/telefilm, as the only commenter on IMDb notes correctly, is surreal. It's genuinely fascinating in the way that a Stevens production gone wrong, as with several Outer Limits episodes and Incubus, can be...and you probably won't be wishing you were watching something else while it plays...and I'm happy to report that I've just discovered that Netflix is streaming this alternative classic, so that gray-market discs don't have to be relied upon. I shall have to reacquaint myself.
And my set of links to various comedy podcasts and webbed radio shows from a few months back needs updating and expansion; I'd like to draw particular attention to the slightly revised address for the Firesign Theatre Radio Hour archives, a pulling-together of some of the "lost" material from free-form, at times Very free-form, live radio series the Firesigns did for Pacifica Radio and "underground" commercial FM radio stations in California (and national syndication, before their Nick Danger series) around the turn of the 1970s...not usually up to the best of their work on LP, you can still hear inspired bits and much of the material on the Dear Friends double-LP set is here in context. Perhaps more useful for someone who is already a fan, who's heard Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him, or Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers, or The Giant Rat of Sumatra, or even the late, underrated Eat or Be Eaten...but here's more from where that all came from.