the obsolete man


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The Twilight Zone was TV at its peak and this is The Twilight Zone at its peak.

And only in black and white. Color does not help intelligence at this level. Color also destroys the art, though not the possible beauty, in photography. Consider too that a 30 minute original broadcast supports the story while the standard to come of 60 minutes would have vitiated it.


he got a fair trail, btw

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I want to call attention to the point Brant makes above about the duration of dramas. Television has abandoned the 30-minute format for all shows except news, sitcoms, and educational programs.

But when all teleplays must last an hour, great ideas for short dramas must either be abandoned or padded with needless subplots and red herrings to fit the standard Procrustean Bed.

This was not always the case. Take a look at the 1959-60 network prime time TV schedule. You'll find more half-hour than full-hour drama series:

The Rebel, Colt .45, Broken Arrow, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Johnny Staccato, The Loretta Young Show, Richard Diamond, Private Detective, Tales of Wells Fargo, Peter Gunn, Alcoa Theatre/Goodyear Television Playhouse, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, The Rifleman, Philip Marlowe, Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond and others.

I do not wish to make the case that this was always television at its best. But as in the Twilight Zone, the 30-minute format forced the writers to establish characters, introduce a conflict and complication, and then bring it to a resolution (not always happy, even in 1959) within 24 or so minutes. This made for tight, economical writing and directing.

I wonder if the public could be persuaded to take an interest in a revival of short TV dramas.

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I cannot recall the last recurring drama or comedy I watched on network or any other television. I watched Breaking Bad on again off again, mostly off. I watched only part of two showings of The Sopranos. There was a show called Dexter I never watched because I knew a man called Dexter who was killed in the Vietnam War. I continually read about shows that were on for several or even more years I never heard about before much less watched.

The first show I watched regularly was Bonanza in 1959. I didn't like The Untouchables, especially because of the Walter Winchell narration. That show was supposed to be some kind of Objectivist moral-esthetic litmus test years later. I think it was Barbara Branden who asked for a show of audience hands for those who liked it. She may have been right; I was somewhat wishy-washy back then. Or confused and ignorant.


not much has changed--I still don't like it--I don't like in your face stridency; it's not good for thinking

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  • 4 years later...

High tech on TV. “Richard Diamond, Private Detective,” first aired in 1957, and took place in Los Angeles. When I saw this show I found it hard to believe that cars had phones, like it was such an everyday item. And that oh so sexy voice over the phone? His receptionist and message taker was named Sam and her voice was originally supplied by Mary Tyler Moore.  

From Wikipedia: (1957–1960) Richard Diamond is a suave private investigator, played by David Janssen, who, at first, walks the mean streets of New York City, then later packs up and moves to Los Angeles, California, where he tools around in a convertible with a car phone. His sexy receptionist Sam, whose face we never see, minds the office, while Diamond solves his cases . . . . In February 1959, Diamond moved to Hollywood and found a girlfriend, Karen Wells. He also acquired an answering service where "Sam" took his messages . . .  "Sam'' was Mary Tyler Moore, for most of season 3, but actress Roxanne Brooks took over for the rest of the series, until it ended . . . A car phone is a mobile radio telephone specifically designed for and fitted into an automobile. This service originated with the Bell System, and was first used in St. Louis on June 17, 1946. The original equipment weighed 80 pounds (36 kg), and there were initially only 3 channels for all the users in the metropolitan area. 

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David Janssen was Jewish. Just don’t smoke. Look who gave his eulogy and were his pall bearers. Peter

From Wikipedia. David Janssen, A heavy drinker and a four-pack-a-day smoker, Janssen died of a heart attack in the early morning of February 13, 1980, at his home in Malibu, California at the age of 48. At the time of his death, Janssen was filming the television movie Father Damien. Janssen was buried at the Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California. A non-denominational funeral was held at the Jewish chapel of the cemetery on February 17. Suzanne Pleshette delivered the eulogy at the request of Janssen's widow. Milton Berle, Johnny Carson, Tommy Gallagher, Richard Harris, Stan Herman, Rod Stewart and Gregory Peck were among Janssen's pallbearers. Honorary pallbearers included Jack Lemmon, George Peppard, James Stewart and Danny Thomas. For his contribution to the television industry, David Janssen has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located on the 7700 block of Hollywood Boulevard

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  • 3 years later...
On 2/28/2015 at 2:05 PM, Francisco Ferrer said:

But as in the Twilight Zone, the 30-minute format forced the writers to establish characters, introduce a conflict and complication, and then bring it to a resolution (not always happy, even in 1959) within 24 or so minutes. This made for tight, economical writing and directing.

Tonight, I was watching an oldie channel at 12:30 at night and saw a Twilight Zone episode that was Spooky!

“Little Girl Lost" is episode 91 of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. It is about a young girl who has accidentally passed through an opening into another dimension. Her parents and their friend attempt to locate and retrieve her. It is based on the 1953 science fiction short story by Richard Matheson. The title of the episode comes from a poem by William Blake, from his collection Songs of Innocence and of Experience.

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