Sunday, July 28, 2019

Whirlybirds (TV)

Image result for whirlybirds tv show(1957-60)

Created by Art and Jo Napoleon
Starring Kenneth Tobey, Craig Hill
IMDB Entry

TV spinoffs happen for many reasons, some planned, some because a one-time character catches on with the public.*  Whirlybirds was spun off because the producers became enamored of a helicopter.

It started with I Love Lucy, where one episode featured a Bell helicopter. The producers liked using it so much that they created a series to feature it.

The show was about a small helicopter company run by Chuck Martin (Kenneth Tobey) and Pete More (Craig Hill). They were chartered for various duties, from rescuing people in danger, to carrying cargo, to whatever might be needed.

It was supposed to be part of the regular CBS schedule, but the network turned it down and it went directly to syndication, where it had a respectable run of 111 episodes.

After the show, Tobey had a long career guest starring in TV, while Hill moved to Spain and occasionally appeared in Spanish films.

*Most obvious example was Mork and Mindy, after Robin Williams impressed everyone on Happy Days.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Rescue 8

Image result for rescue 8 tv(1958-60)
Created by
Robert G. Walker and Herbert B. Leonard
Starring: Jim Davis, Lang Jeffries
IMDB Entry
When I was growing up, my TV options were limited to two channels:  Channel 3 (WTIC, CBS) and Channel 8 (WNHC*, ABC). And one of the shows I remember watching back then always intrigued me because it contained the same number as one of them:  Rescue 8.
The syndicated show was one of several the station ran at 7:00 pm, just before prime time. As its title implies, it was about rescue unit #8 of the Los Angeles Fire Department. Much like the later show Emergency, it showed people accidentally getting into dangerous situations, where Wes Cameron (Jim Davis) and Skip Johnson (Lang Jeffries) would come in to extricate them from near disaster.
The show went into the backstory, showing the events leading to calling the Rescue squad.  The issues would be big and sometimes small and Wes and Skip** would come on the scene to save the day. The problems included complications that made simple rescues more difficult.
Two seasons were made, and it remained in syndication for several more years.  Jim Davis later went on to play Jock Ewing on Dallas.
*Both channels have changed their call letters.
**Often without backup

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Toast of London (TV)

Toast of London
Created by
Arthur Matthews, Matt Berry
Starring Matt Berry, Robert Bathurst, Doon Mackichan, Harry Peacock, Tim Downie, Shazad Latif, Tracy-Ann Oberman
IMDB Entry
I’ve discussed Matt Berry before with is bizarre comedy Snuff Box. That was in 2006, and Berry has been keeping busy in British TV. He joined The IT Crowd as a regular, and the show took off. He was also busy with voice work. But among it all was his tour de force series, Toast of London.

Berry plays Steven Toast, an actor who has reached the age where he has trouble getting good roles.  He’s helped/hindered by his agent Jane Plough* (Doon Mackichan) who really doesn’t care. There’s also his arch-enemy, Ray Purchase (Harry Peacock), who stands in the way of anything he tries because he resents the fact that Toast is sleeping with his wife (Tracy Ann Oberman).**

Toast gets into strange situations and treats everyone with bombast and cluelessness. A favorite moment of mine was when he was doing voiceover work. He was hired to say one word:  “Yes.”  The director asks if he needs the script. Toast says of course not and tosses it aside. But when the start rolling the tape, he grabs the script to check it.

The show ran for three seasons and it was announced there’s be a fourth (though it hasn’t appeared). Netflix has it, and, if you like weird comedy, it’s a great place to fine it.
*(pronounced “Pluff”)
**Mrs. Purchase claims to be a prostitute, but Ray is the only she ever charges.