Friday, January 17, 2014

The World Moves On and Hell Freezes Over

It would not be an exaggeration if one were to describe the young Bloggling of the late 1960s- 1970s as... "a bit obsessed with television."

Not an exaggeration, at all.

An understatement, actually.

As a kid, the future PC was very obsessed with television.

Possibly, disturbingly obsessed.

While the other kids were spending their allowances on baseball cards and such, I was buying the latest issue of TV Guide.

Oh, not every issue, every week.

Most weeks, I was satisfied with the "TV Week" magazine supplement that came with the newspaper every Friday.

I may not have been into baseball cards. But there were other cards packaged with a stick of rock hard bubble gum.

                                                   There were Batman trading cards.

                                                             Get Smart trading cards.

                                                      The Monkees comic books, and...

Well, you get the picture.


                                      But, I always bought the "special" issues of TV Guide.

I knew everything about what was on TV.

Even the shows I didn't watch. I could tell you what channel, what night and what time any show was on.

What any show was about.

And who starred in what show.

Understand, back in those days, there were only three channels, so knowing all of this stuff was not the Herculean task that it would be today.

When I wasn't reading about TV, I was watching it.

Much to everyone's surprise, my TV saturated childhood was not wasted.

The Blog is one of those lucky people who turned his obsession into a career.

So that was a good thing.


Oh! Okay. So, where was I going with this post before I took that brief walk down "Memory Lane?"

A couple of things.

First off, not one, but two fixtures of American television during that time went to The Great Syndication in the Sky, today.

If you are more than a week younger than The Blog, you may not recognize either of their names. But, if you grew up when prime time shows were re-ran, five days a week, in the after school afternoons...

Or, if you grew up watching Nick at Night...

Or, if today, you are 8-years-old and have discovered such digital channels as "Antenna TV," or "MeTV..."

(And if that is the case, while The Blog admires your taste in old television, what the fuck are you doing here? Get off my lawn, you little shits!)

...You know their best known characters.

                                                  Russell Johnson, aka: "The Professor."

The lone "straight man" (which, for you youngsters, doesn't mean "the one non-gay guy,") to six wacky, fellow castaways on "Gilligan's Island."

Even though I was not really a fan, as such, I was a viewer. From "first run" to syndication, "Gilligan's Island" was virtually inescapable for decades.

So, yes, The PC has probably seen every episode, a dozen times.

And then there is...

                                                   Dave Madden, aka: Ruben Kinkade.

Not exactly "The Partridge Family's" "straight man" (that distinction goes to Shirley Jones' Shirley Partridge,) but the long suffering foil to the Partridge kids' hi-jinks and shenanigans, especially Danny Partridge.

Unlike "Gilligan's Island," "The Partridge Family" was a show that the young me was emotionally invested in.

I wanted to be a Partridge. I wanted to be Danny's best pal. I wanted to do kissy things with Laurie.

                                                                   Because, seriously.

*Yes, yes. I know. If I "was" a Partridge, doing kissy things with Laurie would have been wrong and creepy. Don't piss on my childhood fantasy over a technicality.*

 Dammit! I wanted to drive Mr. Kinkade to the brink of hilarious insanity!

By the time Dave became one of the Partridge stars, I was already familiar with his work.

I already knew him as the dead-pan, confetti and one-liner tossing comic from "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-in." A show that I wasn't allowed to watch, but did, anyway. Every week.


During my years as a TV obsessed youth, there were a handful of shows that my parents deemed "age inappropriate" for my young, impressionable psyche.

"Laugh-In,"  "The Smothers Brothers," "The Pat Paulson Show," "All in the Family" and "M*A*S*H" come to mind.

And yet, sooner or later, all those shows became my family's "must see TV" (before NBC invented the phrase.)

The thing that these shows all had in common is, they all had reputations for being subversive and "adult."

And they were.

In a TV world of "Gilligan's Island" and "The Partridge Family" fluff...

These "forbidden" shows were ground-breakingly intelligent and thought provoking.

I truly believe that those shows, along with MAD Magazine, were crucial to the formation of the critically thinking, asshole, know-it-all that I am today.

And I thank my parents for giving in to their weird, stubborn, television addicted son.


 It is well documented (Google it yourselves,) that unlike the child hating Ruben Kinkade...


Sorry to *DIGRESS* again so soon. But...

I keep running across the phrase "child hating" in descriptions of the Mr. Kinkade character, as I read Dave's obits.

And I call bullshit.

Sure, the Partridge kids drove him crazy. The confirmed bachelor was often annoyed, exasperated and exhausted by them.

But, I firmly believe that, by Episode 3, Ruben would have taken a bullet for any of those kids.

Especially Danny.

And, at the risk of veering into some seriously lame, retro, fan fiction territory, I think he was more than a little bit in love with Shirley.

I like to think that, sometime after Season 5 ended, "The Partridge Family" became "The Kinkade Family."

Or, maybe I'm just projecting.


Where was I?

Oh, yeah.

It has been well documented that Dave Madden loved kids.

So much so that, when when domestic strife reared it's ugly head in the Bonaduce household...

(Evidenced by the bruises and black eyes that Danny showed up to work with...)

Shirley Jones and Dave Madden would invent excuses to have Danny spend weekends, alternatively, with them.

Danny and David Cassidy both talk about this in their respective autobiographies.

After "The Partridge Family" ended, Dave did only a handful of on camera acting jobs.

But, he became one of Hollywood's most respected voice actors and continued that career path until he retired.

Russell Johnson was 89. Dave Madden was 83. Both lived good, long lives and died of natural causes.

 On a lighter note...

The weather forecast for today in Hell must be "A high of 31 degrees with a chance of snow and freezing rain."

In the 30 + years that "home video" in forms that have changed form VHS to DVD to Blu-Ray to internet streaming...

Every TV show, ever, has been made available to rent or own.

Except one.


The movie, based on the show has been available for forever.

But, because of a distribution rights conflict that has gone on between Warner Brothers and 20th Century Fox for more than three decades, the series episodes have never been available in any home video form.

The conflict has been so complicated and fascinating that it probably deserves a post of it's own. (Note to Self.)

Back in 1998, on the verge of the release the Warner Brothers, Tim Burton, Michael Keaton big screen reboot...

Adam West recorded a hilarious parody of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody..."

"Batman Rhapsody."


Bringing this post full circle...

Adam West's Batman was The Young PC's first TV obsession.

The Bloggling was 6-years-old at the time.

So, it seems fitting, in an awesomely fateful way, that the first TV celebrity that The Blog worked with in Hollywood would be his childhood hero, Adam West.

(Well, The Blog's first paying job. A few months before that, he worked with "Green Acres' "Hank Kimball," Alvy Moore. But, it wasn't a paying job, so it doesn't count for the purposes of this post.)

*END DIGRESSION* (The last one, this post. I promise.)

If, 24 hours ago, you had bet me that the 1965 Batman series would soon see the light of home video day, I would have taken that bet.

But, this morning, Warner Brothers announced that, finally, the complete Batman TV series will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray.

I don''t know why I didn't see this coming.

The clues were out there.

This past summer, there was a flood of Batman TV series merchandise released into stores. Especially an exclusive series of products from Target.

Half of the presents The Blog got for Christmas were Batman TV series toys.

Warner Brothers and 20th Century Fox resolved their differences.

Maybe there is still hope for the Republicans and Democrats in Washington.

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