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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

MICHAEL CONNELLY: MASTER OF THE MYSTERY

by Jim McAllister


MICHAEL CONNELLY

I really enjoy the mystery novels of Michael Connelly. Maybe it is because he is a former journalist and has a knack for putting words on paper. His primary protagonist is Harry Bosch, a world weary, tireless detective for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). As far as crime, Bosch has seen it all through such stories as best sellers CHASING THE DIME, ANGEL’S FLIGHT, VOID MOON and many others.
Within the last year Connelly has turned out two more good ones: THE CLOSERS (May, 2005, available in paperback, February, 2006) and THE LINCOLN LAWYER (October 2005). Since I am a Connelly fan, these two entries were "must reads". If you like Connelly, you will probably agree. If you are a lover of mystery novels but haven’t read Connelly’s stuff, here is an opportunity to get acquainted with him through a couple of real page turners.
THE CLOSERS...Another fine
entry in the Detective Harry
Bosch series by Michael Connelly
THE CLOSERS (Little, Brown, 403 pages)…The year is 1988 and an attractive sixteen year old girl, Becky Verloren, has been found dead of a gunshot wound to the chest. Her body has been recovered on a hillside located behind her home and after an investigation, the police rule that the death was a suicide. Despite the ruling, the case is entered into the "open-unsolved" file as some detectives feel that some of the evidence in the case points to possible murder.
We now fast forward to the present. Detective Harry Bosch is back on the job after a few years of retirement from the LAPD. He is assigned to work with former associate Kizman Rider in the area of unsolved cases and their first assignment is the Verloren case. With the use of modern DNA profiling, not available in 1988, Bosch and Rider determine that this case in anything but over. As they conduct their probe, they find increasing resistance within the police department as old enemies of Bosch start to resurface. Is Bosch getting too close to finding corruption within the department concerning this case? Are his old enemies trying to send him into permanent retirement?
There have been many Harry Bosch stories from the pen of Michael Connelly. They never seem repetitive though, as Harry is not a perfect man. Like all of us, he has his flaws and seems to never fully relinquish his guilt over not spending more time with his wife and daughter. In THE CLOSERS, he is fresh from retirement and anxious to make a successful return to the LAPD with the unsolved cases unit. The story is fast moving and contains no gratuitous sex or violence. It also leads us through many twists and turns with a scenic trip through the various social levels of Los Angeles. Not only are we given a good mystery to keep the pages turning, but we are exposed to the sadness and loneliness of those involved.
THE LINCOLN LAWYER intro-
duces a new Michael Connelly
character: lawyer Mickey Haller
THE LINCOLN LAWYER (Little, Brown, 404 pages)…Connelly hits again with this one. We are introduced to a new character, Mickey Haller. Haller is the "Lincoln Lawyer", a reference to his working primarily out of the backseat of his Lincoln Town Car which is chauffeured by a former client (Earl) who is working off Haller’s fee.
Haller is not the prototype of the typical defense lawyer that we read about. His clients are primarily from the southern part of Los Angeles and usually consist of prostitutes, bikers, and drug dealers, not a clientele that promises riches in legal fees. His peripatetic practice takes him to the many court houses in the L. A. area, hence, the use of the Town Car and a cell phone as his main means of communication. One of his constant goals is the big payday that would materialize from obtaining a "franchise" client, someone who would be reliable financially and produce a big fee. When he meets Louis Roulet, who has been accused of beating a prostitute, he feels that the payday will be easy and quickly obtained. However, Roulet brings more to the table than is expected and Haller is thrust into a whirlpool of mystery, intrigue, and morality.
Mickey Haller is similar to Harry Bosch in some ways. Both have had women problems (Haller has been divorced twice although both his ex’s still like him), he is a bit of a rogue but it is easy to root for him since we all have a little rogue in us, and both he and Bosch are willing to bend the rules, if only slightly, to accomplish a respectable goal.
I hope Connelly finds time to do more on Mickey Haller as he is a fascinating character. There also is a rumor of a Bosch-Haller story coming. Let us hope that happens; Connelly is the master of the mystery novel.

AND JUST A COUPLE MORE ITEMS.....

As the Crow's Feet Fly...Actress Jodie Foster, who recently turned 43, commenting on aging gracefully: "As time goes on I will play characters who get older," she said in a recent interview. "Look at Simone Signoret in MADAME ROSA. That's the kind of part I want to play when I am 70. I don't want to be some Botoxed weirdo."
JODIE FOSTER..No Botox please!
Got Milk?...When a pair of would be burglars knocked 93 year old Soja Popova to the floor of her home in Klaipeda, Lithuania, she grabbed one of them by the family jewels and squeezed so hard that his shrieks alerted neighbors, who called the cops. Popova attributes her viselike grip to years of milking goats!
Up and running...After three plus decades of competitive running, Louise Rossetti of Saugus, Massachusetts is taking on a new challenge: starring in an independent film about a 75 year old woman who tries to beat depression by qualifying for the Boston Marathon. "At 84," she told a reporter, "I'm only going to run and race-walk 100 races this year." (You go, girl!)

(Thanks, AARP)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

JUST THINKING OF SOME GREAT ROCK BANDS...

by Jim McAllister

When one writes about popular music and his/her favorite performers, there will always be a rush of support, a backlash of disagreement, or the shrug of the middle of the roadies who like everyone and can take or leave your opinions. So, as you read this, remember that it is about the music that I particularly enjoyed as I was living those great years of the 1960's and 1970's. It is also the tip of the iceberg as far as what I like. In the future I will cover more as space allows.
As I write this I am listening to KCDX (non commercial rock station available online through their site) play "Do You Feel Like We Do?", a cut from one of my favorite albums by Peter Frampton. For you Frampton freaks, you know this tune well as it comes from the smash live album of 1976, FRAMPTON COMES ALIVE! Pete sold 18 million copies of that album and appeared to be on his way to certain stardom but it never happened. By the 1980's, he was doing complementary work for other stars of the time. It was a case of a guy with a lot of talent being passed by because of the fickle tastes of his fans but for those of us who appreciated his work, we still love the sounds from that great recording made at Winterland in San Francisco thirty years ago. I was never a big fan of live albums until 1976 when FRAMPTON COMES ALIVE! was released and I still get a rush when I hear "Do You Feel Like We Do?", probably the greatest live recording on vinyl.
One of the best bands of the 1960's and 1970's was The Band which featured such rock legends as Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm. These guys were different from anyone else as their roots included a taste of Bob Dylan with an accent on American folklore and primal stuff. Their hit of 1969, "Up On Cripple Creek" is a good example of their style.
The Band was officially formed at Woodstock in 1967 although they had been working together in some form for about seven years before that. Besides Robertson and Helm, the group included Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel, and Rick Danko; four Canadians and a Southerner, an odd mix to be sure!
The Band had a nice run but after sixteen years they decided to call it off in the mid '70s. They had a final concert on Thanksgiving Day of 1976 which has to be one of the best ever as it was a virtual who's who of the pop music scene of the time. Once again taking place at San Francisco's Winterland (the site of The Band's first concert in 1969), stars such as Muddy Waters, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Van Morrison, Ringo Starr, and Dr. John showed up to pay their respects. We are fortunate as a young Martin Scorsese made a wonderful documentary of this concert titled, "The Last Waltz" (released in 1978). Occasionally it shows up on television so don't miss this one for some great music and nostalgia.

So, you say, what is your all time favorite rock act? It would be easy to say Elvis as he was the harbinger of what was to eventually happen in the rock genre. However, picking Elvis is like picking The Beatles. They are both on pedestals as they are the ones who made rock huge in the first place in the '50s and '60s. Anything after them was a copy so when acts like Jerry Lee Lewis and Eddie Cochran followed Elvis in the late 1950's, we thought they were good but they weren't The King. Elvis was the man who swivel hipped his way across the stage of The Ed Sullivan Show and caused CBS to show him from only the waist up. Without him Lewis and Cochran would have been unknown; hence, Elvis will always be the king of rock 'n roll as Clark Gable was the king of the Hollywood movies.
FRAMPTON COMES ALIVE
recorded at Winterland in 1976.
One of the best "live" albums, sold
18 million copies. (Cover photo
courtesy A&M Records)
(L-R) JEFF LYNNE and RICHARD TANDY
of THE ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA
performing in concert in the 1970's. Great
hair! (Photo courtesy Cathedral Stone)
The same respect is applied to The Beatles as without their success in the early sixties and subsequent appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in February of 1964, groups like The Rolling Stones and many others may have never crossed the Atlantic. The Beatles were the pavers of the road to America inhabited by The British Invasion.
Since I omit Elvis and The Beatles because of their iconic stature, I would name as my favorite act The Electric Light Orchestra. It's a tough choice as it means that I have to pass on some classy acts like Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Cream, The Who, and Queen among many others. "But", as one of my professors once told me, "We have to draw the line somewhere."
With the symphonic rock sound generated by ELO, they provided something totally different for its time. Jeff Lynne was the leader of this basically faceless group but played great lead guitar backed by rich surrounding strings, synthesizers, keyboards, and horns. The melding of symphonic sound and rock was a neat mix and a unique sound that captured me throughout the 1970's and into the present. Somebody must have agreed with me as ELO had a great run from 1972 to 1981 with five platinum albums. This was in addition to being a top touring band.
Occasionally I will fire up my turntable (yes, I still have one!), pull out my old ELO 33 1/3's, and have a ball listening to that classic stuff. For those of you who say, "What about Styx, REO, and The Yardbirds?" Well, they were all great in their own way but they were not in the same league with The Electric Light Orchestra!

SHOCKING TV MOMENTS

BOB NEWHART and SUZANNE
PLESHETTE in THE BOB NEWHART
SHOW (1972-1978). Was NEWHART
just a dream? (Photo courtesy
MPTV)

Probably the best finale of a TV series was the one on NEWHART in 1990 where Bob and Emily wake up from the 1970's series to find out that NEWHART (1982-1990) was just a dream.

Colonel Henry Blake is written out of M*A*S*H* by having his plane shot down over the Sea of Japan as he is heading home to be discharged.

Sammy Davis, Jr. visits the Bunker household on ALL IN THE FAMILY and plants a kiss on Archie's cheek. Archie (Carroll O'Connor) gives Sammy an unbelievable look!

(Thanks to Bill Goodykoontz)

Monday, January 09, 2006

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE CHILD ACTOR

by Jim McAllister

The shelf life of the average child movie star is limited. Perhaps that is why we always refer to these kids with a "Whatever happened to so and so?" attitude. It is rare for child actors to continue their stardom into adulthood.
The reasons for this are probably multiple: These kids are so cute and talented that by the time they get older, audiences don’t think that they are a big deal anymore doing the same things at a later age that they did when they were younger. They may also try different roles that aren’t accepted as they grow up, or they just tire of the whole routine and want out.
That was the case with Shirley Temple (b. 1928). She was the darling of the movies during the 1930's and was responsible for pulling financially ailing Fox Studios out of the red during the Depression years. By age twelve in 1940, her Fox contract was not renewed although she had made 44 movies between 1932 and 1940. She made 13 films between 1940 and 1949 but she knew the end had come. After a failed marriage to actor John Agar she married Charles Black in 1950 and went on to a career in public service and motherhood. Today she is happily retired in Woodside, California.
MARGARET O'BRIEN in MUSIC
FOR MILLIONS (1944) (photo
courtesy Classic Movie Kids)
You will have to look hard to find a child star cuter than Margaret O’Brien. Born in 1937 she was a sort of heir apparent to Shirley Temple. She made her debut in 1941 in "Babes on Broadway" starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. She received a starring role in 1942's "Journey For Margaret" with Robert Young and in 1944 was unforgettable with Judy Garland in "Meet Me in St. Louis".
By 1949, at age 12, MGM decided not to renew Margaret’s contract and despite a few more minor movie roles, she began appearing as a guest star in many TV productions. Today, at 69 and having been through two failed marriages, she continues to do some TV and stage work while living quietly in California.
MARY BADHAM with Gregory Peck
in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962)
(Photo courtesy Classic Movie Kids)
Mary Badham (b.1952) was outstanding as "Scout", the daughter of Gregory Peck, in "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1962). This was her first film role and she was so good that she was nominated for the "best supporting actress" Oscar, losing to another child actor, Patty Duke. Unlike many others before and after her, she showed no real interest in the Hollywood life and after making one more movie and a few TV appearances retired from show business. Today she is an art restorer and college testing coordinator. She also travels extensively recounting her great experiences during the making of "To Kill a Mockingbird". She lives near Richmond, Virginia with her husband and two children and says she is open to give a good script a try if one comes her way.
Although Temple, O’Brien, and Badham were able to adjust to adult life, that has not always been the case with child actors. There is the tragedy of Bobby Driscoll (1937-1968) who was a renowned child star with Disney in the 1940's and 1950's through such hits as "Song of the South", "So Dear to My Heart", and "Treasure Island". When his child star years ended and Disney dropped his contract, he was unable to cope with the disappointment. He wanted to prove that he was a serious actor and moved to New York to try stage work. When that failed he resorted to drugs and alcohol which led him to his demise in a New York tenement at age 31. He was so forgotten by that time that he was buried as a "John Doe". A year later through a chance checking of fingerprints, it was discovered that the body was that of famous child star Bobby Driscoll.
TOMMY RETTIG...starred as Jeff
Miller on Lassie (TV) from 1954-
1957. Also starred in THE 5,000
FINGERS OF DR. T (1953), a Dr.
Seuss story. (photo courtesy
Classic Movie Kids)
Tommy Rettig (1941-1996) played Jeff Miller on "Lassie" on TV from 1954-1957 and had also made seven movies. After "Lassie", parts were hard to obtain and he drifted through many jobs after marrying his childhood sweetheart. He got involved with drugs in the 1970's and was lucky to have a cocaine conviction overturned. He was unhappy with his life and mentioned that he considered suicide every day during his twenties. By the 1980's he had found a niche as a successful computer programmer. His ex-wife mentioned that he was fond of any foods that were fatty and that is probably what killed him at 54 in 1996 as he died from heart failure.
Although finally reaching a level of success in the business world, Tommy Rettig still had endured 25 years of anguish over losing his stardom after his departure from "Lassie" in 1957. His death was said to be from natural causes but it makes one wonder if stress may have been a factor.
The saga of the child actor: some made it, some didn’t, but they are all interesting.

BLACK AND WHITE

(Under age 40? You won't understand.)
(COURTESY: Ken Honeyman, a valued reader)

You could hardly see for all the snow,

Spread the rabbit ears as far as they go.

Pull a chair up to the TV set,

"Good Night, David. Good Night, Chet."

Depending on the channel you tuned,

You got Rob and Laura - or Ward and June.

It felt so good. It felt so right.

I Love Lucy, The Real McCoys,

Dennis the Menace, the Cleaver boys,

Rawhide, Gunsmoke, Wagon Train,

Superman, Jimmy and Lois Lane.

Father Knows Best, Patty Duke,

Rin Tin Tin and Lassie too,

Donna Reed on Thursday night! --

Life looked better in black and white.

I wanna go back to black and white.

Everything always turned out right.

Simple people, simple lives...

Good guys always won the fights.

Now nothing is the way it seems,

In living color on the TV screen.

Too many murders, too many fights,

I wanna go back to black and white.

In God they trusted, alone in bed, they slept,

A promise made was a promise kept.

They never cussed or broke their vows.

They'd never make the network now.

But if I could, I'd rather be

In a TV town in '53.

It felt so good. It felt so right.

Life looked better in black and white.

I'd trade all the channels on the satellite,

If I could just turn back the clock tonight

To when everybody knew wrong from right.

Life was better in black and white!

Monday, January 02, 2006

THE RISE AND FALL OF THE TELEVISION WESTERN

(AUTHOR'S NOTE: Because of the holidays, I took a week off from the column for a little R and R. In its place are a couple of columns from March and April of 2005: "The Rise and Fall of the Television Western" and "The Cavalcade of Television Comedy (part two): The 1960's." I hope you enjoy them and I'll be back next week with some new stuff. JM)

Always popular with the American public, the Western graduated from kiddie fare to adult status in the mid 1950's.
The Western had been popular with the American public since time immemorial. One of the first movies ever made was "The Great Train Robbery" (1903). This ten minute, fourteen scene film was supposedly based on a true event that took place "out west" (although actually filmed in New Jersey). Throughout the silent era the Western continued its popularity with stars like the Farnum brothers and Hoot Gibson. In the 1930's, movie serials became popular as matinee fodder for the kids. The Western made its appearance in the form of Gene Autry's "Radio Ranch" serial and others. William Boyd made his debut as Hopalong Cassidy in 1935 and by 1948 had made sixty-six feature films. Other popular western stars of the screen included Roy Rogers, Bob Steele, and Tex Ritter.
In spite of some adult features ["The Westerner" (1940), "The Ox-Bow Incident" (1943)], the Western was aimed primarily at juvenile and rural audiences. By the late 1940's, many of these films were being shown on television and drawing strong ratings. William Boyd in particular enjoyed success with his weekly "Hopalong Cassidy" programs which were simply edited versions of his many "B" Western films. In 1949 Hoppy was ranked number seven in the Nielsen ratings which created a bonanza of endorsements for Boyd.
With the success of "Hopalong Cassidy" came some made for television Westerns. Movie heroes like Autry and Rogers came on board with their own shows along with popular transfers from radio like "The Cisco Kid" and "The Lone Ranger". As the 1950's reached their mid point, there were classier productions made like "The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin" and the Disney productions of "Davy Crockett".
William Boyd (1895-1972) as
Hopalong Cassidy. This show
was the harbinger of the TV
western. (photo: U. S. Tele-
vision Office, Inc.)
In September, 1955, John Wayne appeared on CBS to introduce a new show that would change the public's vision of the Western on television. That show was "Gunsmoke" and it was the first of the successful "adult" Westerns. It was to run for twenty years and make a star out of James Arness who played Marshal Matt Dillon. With its sucess came others such as "Cheyenne", "Have Gun, Will Travel", and "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp".
These shows were different from the "kiddie" fare like Hoppy, Cisco, and the masked man. In the early 1950's there were successful Westerns made for the silver screen such as "High Noon" (1952) and "Shane" (1953). These movies explored adult relationships and subjects not previously considered for juvenile audiences. Because of this success in the movies, the adult Western became a theme for television. It was a natural for the tube; until that time the younger audience carried the ratings for the genre. By adding adult themes, these shows now captured the parental interest and still managed to keep the kids as there was still action to hold their attention. It was a perfect setup for the networks.
In the 1955-1956 season there were nine Westerns in prime time on television. By the 1958-1959 season there were 31. The movie studios were involved in the production of these shows which meant they were all on film. This gave them a much better "look" than previously made eastern productions that seemed "stagey" or had the blurred look of kinescope.
Despite the success of the adult Western, it was not without its critics. By the late 1950's and early 1960's, many complained about the excessive violence of these programs; most notably Newton Minnow, the head of the Federal Communications Commission during the Kennedy Administration. He referred to television as a "vast wasteland" in a 1961 speech which singled out the Western in particular.
Hugh O'Brian (1925- ) starred in
THE LIFE AND LEGEND OF WYATT
EARP from 1955 t0 1961 on ABC-TV
(photo courtesy Hugh O'Brian Youth
Leadership)
As the 1960's began, the popularity of the Western was beginning to wane. The violence factor was one issue, but it had also gotten to a point where there were just too many of them on television and the public was getting weary of the genre. Another factor was the emergence of another style that was rapidly catching on: the "smooth detective". New programs like "77 Sunset Strip" and "Peter Gunn" were examples of these new shows. Also, by this time the ratings services like Nielsen were becoming more sophisticated. Not only could they now measure how many households were watching particular programs, but they could break down their numbers by demographics. These ratings showed that Westerns were being watched primarily by an older audience, not the coveted younger generation that was more likely to purchase a sponsor's products.
Although the television Western had lost its outrageous popularity by the early 1960's, it was not finished as shows like "Gunsmoke", "Bonanza", and "The Big Valley" maintained popularity. After the violence issure was resolved with these more family oriented programs, the Western hung on well into the late 1960's. In the 1970's it was basically extinct but by the 1988-1989 season, with the production of one of the finest miniseries ever made in any genre ("Lonesome Dove"), it showed that there was still a flicker of interest.

THE CAVALCADE OF TELEVISION COMEDY (Part Two): THE 1960's

TELEVISION COMEDY IN THE 1960's TRANSFORMED FROM YOUTHFUL EXUBERANCE TO RELEVANCE TO IMPORTANT BREAKTHROUGHS. AS THE DECADE WANED, MORE CHANGES WERE IN STORE.

As the 1950's faded into memory, the 1960's emerged with a plethora of sitcoms aimed at the younger generation. I refer to this time as the era of "screwball sitcoms" but please do not confuse that term with the "screwball" movie comedies of the period between 1934-1941. The "screwball" movie genre contained classics like "Bringing Up Baby" (1938) and "His Girl Friday" (1940) and involved "A list" stars like Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and Rosalind Russell. The sitcoms of the sixties were not in the same league as these silver screen entries although there were two that stand out as quality productions that have stood the test of time and still can be viewed today in reruns: "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (1961-1966), and "The Andy Griffith Show" (1960-1968). Meanwhile, the comedy-variety format barely held its own through the decade.
A lot of the 1960's stuff relied heavily on "shtick" or gimmicks to gain an audience. "The Beverly Hillbillies", which somehow ran from 1962-1971 on CBS, was a huge hit for almost its entire run and drew 60,000,000 viewers per week during its first few seasons. The plot in this case was the oxymoronic idea of hillbillies from the Ozarks invading the luxury of Hollywood with the result being the funny interaction of the two cultures. When it finally went off the air, it was because CBS wanted to shed rural mentality programming, not because of bad ratings.
Publicity still photo of Buddy
Ebsen and Irene Ryan of
THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES.
Crazy stuff with the antics
of hillbillies in Beverly Hills.
It ran on CBS from 1962-1971.
(photo courtesy MPTV.NET)
Since rural humor was so successful with the "Hillbillies", why not beat it to death? Hence, along came "Gomer Pyle, USMC" and "Green Acres" soon to be followed by "Petticoat Junction". Gomer was a character spun off from the "The Andy Griffith Show". He was the marine bumpkin who was always terrorizing his nemesis, Sergeant Carter, in this popular entry. "Green Acres" was the opposite of "The Beverly Hillbillies" as it placed city slickers in the country with the expected hilarious results. "Petticoat Junction" followed the antics of the townsfolk of Hooterville, USA.
Other gimmick ridden shows were "My Favorite Martian" which seemed like a takeoff of the "Francis", the talking mule movies. As Francis would only talk to Peter Sterling (Donald O'Connor), Uncle Martin (Ray Walston) would only let Tim O'Hara (Bill Bixby) know of his Martian powers. "Bewitched" capitalized on Samantha's powers of witchcraft to create laughs at husband Darrin's expense (no wonder he needed all those martinis!). "I Dream of Jeannie" used a similar scenario with Jeannie (lovely Barbara Eden) using her powers with her "master" (Larry Hagman).
There was macabre humor with "The Addams Family" and "The Munsters" and slapstick hung in there with "Gilligan's Island" and "McHale's Navy". Family humor was alive with "Dennis the Menace", "Leave it to Beaver", and the ever sweet "The Donna Reed Show".
If you were cognizant at the time of these programs, you well remember the inanity of most of them, but they did provide some innocent fun in the early to mid part of the decade. Like the music of the time, television comedy was coming out of the innocence of the 1950's bringing with it a bit of carryover from those times.
By the mid to latter part of the decade, occurrences like racial strife, the assassinations of both Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King, plus the war in Viet Nam were causing changes in music and television. Leaving the scene was much of the youthful innocence of the early part of the decade and replacing it was programming of shows that dealt more with the realities of life than gimmickry. "I Spy" had its debut in 1965 and introduced a more subtle type of humor than had been the norm. It also was the first major series to have a black actor (Bill Cosby) as one of its stars. Following this breakthrough was "Julia" starring Diahann Carroll as a nurse working for a white doctor (Lloyd Nolan). It was the first show with a black female actor in an important lead role, not that of a second lead or domestic position. "Julia" ran from 1968-1971 and, while not a show with great story content, it represented, like "I Spy", an important breakthrough for blacks on television. Following close behind was "Room 222" with Lloyd Haines as a black teacher, and "The Mod Squad", about a trio of undercover cops with Clarence Williams III in one of the starring roles.
MY FAVORITE MARTIAN ran on
CBS from 1963 to 1966 and starred
(L-R) Bill Bixby and Ray Walston.
It's a good example of a "screwball
sitcom" of the 1960's. (photo
courtesy MPTV.NET)
During the 1960's, the comedy-variety format remained status-quo as far as quantity of programs with an average of ten to thirteen per year on the schedule. In the early part of the decade, old standbys like Garry Moore, Andy Williams, Jackie Gleason, and Perry Como retained their popularity. Reflecting the changing times, the late ‘60's introduced comedy-variety programming with more "bite" in the form of "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" (1967-1969) and "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" (1968-1973). Tom and Dick Smothers were popular with the younger set and their show became an immediate hit. Unfortunately for them, while the kids liked the rebel attitude and their stinging satires of various hallowed institutions like religion, government, and motherhood, the CBS censors were not amused. After two years of battle, CBS canceled the show in spite of its high ratings. They were given another chance in 1970 on ABC but by that time attitudes were beginning to change and their style had worn off with their fickle fans. "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" was similar to the Smothers Brothers in that they dealt with topical humor, but "Laugh-In" also had a faster pace and a cast of talented young performers like Goldie Hawn, Lily Tomlin, and Eileen Brennan. It shot to the top of the ratings during the period of 1968-1970 but began to drop off after that as the cast began moving on to other pursuits plus the format had basically run its course.
As Woodstock signaled the end of the drug culture of the late ‘60's, shows like "Laugh-In" were representing the end of the era's television mentality. The 1970's of Archie Bunker, Mary Richards, and Hawkeye Pierce were just around the corner.