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Friday, April 26, 2013

The OTN.

I have mentioned several times here that I believe that THIS is the Golden Age of Television.
Primarily because, as I have said, we have virtually everything that has ever been on available to us.
Well, that statement isn't quite as accurate as I would like it to be.
There were comments after my last post, because I made a passing reference to the series "The Eleventh Hour", that some shows just seem to be lost.
Beneath just about everybody's radar.
Shows that were worthy of our attention then, and are most-likely worthy of it now.
This commentor suggested that we form the OTN.
The Obscure Television Network.
Please bear in mind that this is probably an exercise in complete fantasy.
Who knows if these shows are even available to be shown?
Who knows if there is even an audience for such a network?
Beyond the readers of this blog, I seriously doubt that there is enough of a viewership to make it a profitable venture.
And I'm not even so sure about you guys.
But I would certainly be a devoted viewer of such a network.
Therefore, I, along with your assistance, am going to attempt to make the case for shows that deserve to be on the OTN.
This will take at least several posts, and I welcome your suggestions in the comment section as we go, and I will respond to them.
If you don't feel like suggesting, I don't mind carrying the load myself.

Here are the rules, as set forth by the New York State Athletic Commission.
The referee for your main event is Ruby Goldstein:

We are only dealing with shows that have simply disappeared from the airwaves since their initial runs.
There should be some quality, and/or curiosity, and/or nostalgia value to these shows.
It doesn't matter how few episodes were made of any series.
Showing up in the bowels of YouTube for one or two episodes doesn't eliminate a show from consideration.
A show coming out on DVD does not eliminate it from consideration.
I won't present them in any order of preference.
Except for today.

Thus, I'll toss out the first pitch, the first show, today.
The daddy of them all.
The daddy of lost shows.
"The Defenders"

It has been a major mystery, one I hope one of our readers can help straighten out, as to why this show has completely vanished.
I've heard tales of legal problems, but don't you think enough time has gone by that this stuff can be resolved?
When it was on, beginning in the early 60's, it won every Emmy Award you can imagine.
And it deserved every one it received.
It starred E.G. Marshall and Robert Reed as father and son defense attorneys.
They were both wonderful.
No wonder Robert Reed felt like he was slumming when he was doing "The Brady Bunch"
There was also a comedy knockoff of "The Defenders"
Another Father-and Son law firm: "Harrigan and Son"
Pat O'Brien, and the forgettable Roger Perry.
Pat O'Brien was much better when he played Jimmy Cagney's friendly neighborhood priest in all those Warner Brother gangster films.
Lost as it also might be, I would not put "Harrigan and Son" on the OTN.
I look forward to your input.

Mark Rothman
CEO of the OTN.


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  1. I enjoy tuning in to some of the old anthology series, a genre apparently too expensive for today's production budgets. Some compelling stories came out of that era, and some of my favorites were Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Twilight Zone, and, long before Michael Jackson made a song out of the title, Thriller. Of course, all of these now show up now on those alternative broadcast networks like MeTV, for which I'm grateful. You can even see some of this stuff on YouTube.

  2. After he left All in the Family, Rob Reiner starred in a very short-lived show called Free Country, in which he played a turn-of-the-last-century immigrant right off the boat from Ellis Island. I think it was a summer replacement show in 1977. I was 16 at the time and found it very funny. I don't know if I'd find it funny now. Only the opening credits are on YouTube.

  3. Free Country was a very good show.
    I'd certainly like to see it again.

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  5. I would love to see "The Rogues" (1964-65) again. It starred David Niven, Charles Boyer, and Gig Young as a trio of retired con men who still pulled the occasional heist. From week to week they rotated in the lead, ala Maverick, abetted by a wonderful support cast including Robert Coote and Gladys Cooper. Impressive guest start list, too. It was a kind of predecessor to today's "Leverage".

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  7. "The Rogues" was fun, and is definitely a candidate. The only problem I had with it is that as the run proceeded, Gig Young had the lead roughly three out of four times. Kind of like if Jack Kelly had the lead three out of four times on "Maverick"
    By the way, all these deleted comments were spam, directing you to their websites. It's nothing editorial.

  8. The OTN -- what a great idea!

    A few suggestions:

    "The Practice," which marked the only time I ever found Danny Thomas to be funny, and created by Steve Gordon, who, of course, did "Arthur." I'd be curious to see whether I'd still find Thomas -- and the show -- funny.

    "Trials of O'Brien," with Peter Falk. This was one of those tantalizing shows from when I was a kid -- meaning that I somehow sensed that it was a very good show, though I was too young to understand it. I do remember one episode about (I think) a murder among vaudevillians, called "Dead End on Flugel Street." I think it featured Milton Berle. And wasn't Elaine Stritch a regular? I'd be curious to know your opinion.

    Maybe "The Law and Mr. Jones," with James Whitmore. I barely remember this, but Whitmore usually made anything worthwhile. (OK, maybe not "Temperatures Rising"....) He also co-starred in a short-lived show called "My Friend Tony," which I remember liking at the time.

    Dick Powell's anthology series, which one cable channel did show some years ago. (As I recall, you share my enthusiasm for this, too.)

    I hope I'm not overloading your program schedule....

  9. Mark, You've brought up 3 out of 4 shows that I was going to bring up.
    I've seen, and written about "The Law and Mr. Jones", which had an extensive run on the Nostalgia Channel when it existed.
    It held up very well.
    "The Practice" and Danny Thomas were VERY funny.
    Danien did no spit-takes in this one.
    Elaine Stritch played Peter Falk's secretary, and "O'Brien" was wonderful.

  10. "Meet McGraw" a one-named detective played by two-named Frank Lovejoy.

  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  12. Ahhhh ...
    I'm home.

    First off, THE ROGUES is part of the MeTV inventory.
    It was airing in the Sat-Sun overnights for while, before giving way to BURKE'S LAW (V.O.), which has the spot now (and since they're now running the crap spy shows that killed it, that spot should be opening up shortly).
    I believe the problem you mentioned stemmed from David Niven not wanting to do much heavy lifting at that point.
    Thus, Gig Young took up some slack, and they were in the process of breaking in Larry Hagman as a backstop.

    TRIALS OF O'BRIEN is an all-time favorite; kind of the flip side of PERRY MASON.
    What I remember mainly is how Peter Falk's typecast was back in the '60s.
    Falk was the Joe Pesci of that time: fast-talking, loud, in-your-face.
    Remember O'BRIEN's teaser title? Falk's hands in close-up, gesticulating furiously, followed by his face, in several degrees of lawyerly concern(?).
    Not only Elaine Stritch as his secretary, but also David Burns as his legman, and even Joanna Barnes as his ex-wife, and for that matter Ilka Chase as his mother-in-law (who was on his side).
    I recall one review: "Falk is irresistable - you sit back and root for him."
    Just not enough of us, I guess.
    The moral is clear: don't kick off your great series opposite GET SMART.

    Many series are kept off the market because of ownership issues: who owns the rights, the words, the films (not always the same people).
    Back then, nobody believed that TV shows would have any kind of shelf life beyond their original airing.
    The very idea that anybody would be willing to watch a filmed show (or even a live or taped one, comes to that) as much as a second time ... preposterous.
    So live shows weren't preserved, and kinescopes got dumped, and early videotapes got taped over or wiped, and films were left in vaults to deteriorate.
    That last is what's happening to THE DEFENDERS (who owns that one?).

    There's something called the "collector-to-collector" marketplace (C2C to its inhabitants), wher copies of "lost" series and specials can be found in varying stages of decrepitude - watchable, but often just barely.
    In my DVD/VHS wall at home, I've got scads of ancient (and sometimes not-so-ancient) TV, more than enough to start my own OTN.
    I may soon start plaguing you with some of these.
    Consider yourself warned.

  13. I hope by "plaguing" me, it means sending me some.

  14. Shirley Temple Black DeathApril 29, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    Yes, but to save on postage he'll send you some tapes strapped to the backs of bubonic flea-infested rats.

  15. You could be eligible for a complimentary Apple iPhone 7.



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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."