Thursday, July 24, 2008

Shakeup at RTN

My good friend Rick Brooks over at Cultureshark reports that changes are underway at the Retro Television Network, and he does not speak with forked tongue. RTN’s contract with Paramount ended in July, so they’ve signed with NBC/Universal to provide the bulk of their programming. (RTN still imports a few shows from other sources, namely Sony’s The Monkees and The Partridge Family, and some of the oeuvre of Stephen J. Cannell—The Greatest American Hero, Hunter and Renegade.) Rick announces in this post that WJLA-TV in Washington, DC has added a digital subchannel and will begin RTN operations on July 28.

Rick lists a few of the shows his RTN affiliate will be carrying, and if it seems as if I’m not hiding my envy very well it’s because I’m not that good an actor. Some of the goodies he’ll be getting include Quincy, M.E., Ironside, Switch and The Kraft Suspense Theatre. (I’d give up my first born to see Quincy reruns…if I had a first born, that is.) Naturally, I was curious to see what WSB-RTN would be offering up, and so I painstakingly put together their new schedule:

10:00a Jack Benny
10:30a Jack Benny
11:00a Bachelor Father
11:30a McHale’s Navy
12:00n Leave It to Beaver
12:30p Leave It to Beaver
01:00p Marcus Welby, MD
02:00p Emergency!
03:00p The Bold Ones
04:00p Kojak
05:00p Adam-12
05:30p Dragnet
06:00p That’s Incredible!
06:30p That’s Incredible!
07:00p Incredible Hulk
08:00p Knight Rider
09:00p Magnum, P.I.
10:00p Rockford Files
11:00p Alfred Hitchcock Hour
12:00m Night Gallery
12:30a Alfred Hitchcock Presents

10:00a Leave It to Beaver
10:30a Leave It to Beaver
11:00a Wagon Train
12:00n Wagon Train
01:00p Alias Smith and Jones
02:00p Laredo
03:00p It Takes a Thief
04:00p Run For Your Life
05:00p Mystery Movie (McCloud, McMillan & Wife)
07:00p Airwolf
08:00p Airwolf
09:00p Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer
10:00p Black Sheep Squadron
11:00p Offbeat Cinema

10:00a Operation Petticoat
10:30a Operation Petticoat
11:00a Wagon Train
12:00n Wagon Train
01:00p Alias Smith and Jones
02:00p Laredo
03:00p It Takes a Thief
04:00p Run For Your Life
05:00p Harry and the Hendersons
05:30p Harry and the Hendersons
06:00p The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo
06:30p The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo
07:00p Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries
08:00p Voyagers!
09:00p Battlestar Galactica
10:00p Black Sheep Squadron
11:00p RTN Mystery Theater

Now, about 80% of the shows on this list is crap that I wouldn’t watch when they were originally on, so one good thing about the new schedule is that it won’t keep me from any of my usual blogging or movie-obsessing activities. Still, there are a few nuggets among the dross: Bachelor Father (a show I haven’t seen since it was reran and reran and reran on CBN), The Bold Ones (one of Stacia’s favorites), Run for Your Life (I’ve always wanted to see this show) and if I may be permitted a guilty pleasure, The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo. (But only the first season, not that god-awful second act with Nell Carter.) Plus, there are old favorites like Alfred Hitchcock, McHale’s Navy and The Rockford Files—and since I love westerns, Wagon Train and Laredo. I am curious, however, as to how they’re going to schedule Jack Benny twice-a-day five days a week when to my knowledge there’s only 104 episodes in the syndication package (get set for a lot of reruns). (By the way, the appearance of Dragnet on this schedule—it’s not the original black-and-white shows, but you could have guessed that. My cable schedule on my CharredHer homepage classifies it as “documentary.”)

I’m hoping that this deal with NBC/Universal will open up a good many more oldies from the vaults similar to the DVD releases being put out by Timeless Media Group: it would be great to be able to kick back and watch M Squad or The Deputy instead of having to rev up the DVD player. (The RTN website says: “More programming coming soon!” so I’m interpreting that as a positive sign.) I have to admit, though, I will miss some of the stuff that used to be on: The Fugitive, Get Smart, Rawhide and The Untouchables, to name a few. I was going to say something along the lines that since these shows are being released on DVD it probably won’t matter (but then I remembered The Fugitive was involved).


Anonymous said...

It's a shame so many of the earliest TV shows were filmed with kinescope(?) or whatever they called the stuff that disintegrated in a very short time. I'd love to see Rocky King and Captain Video one more time!

Once again I've forgotten my password and have to list this comment as anonymous.

Jim from

Craig Zablo said...

I've been watching and loving "The Wild, Wild West" on RTN. Also have been recording Jack Benny and Night Gallery. The Benny Shows are classics... Night Gallery not so good as I remembered it or maybe they just haven't aged well.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Night Gallery works better when it's shown in its original hour-long format (though its last season was shortened to 30 minutes).

And I don't blame Jim for wanting to remain anonymous. If I didn't work here, I'd keep my identity a secret, too. :-)

Andrew Leal said...

My mother and I enjoyed most of the first season of McMillan and Wife they put out on DVD (watching later episodes via NetFlix, the show got weirder, with more of that offbeat Universal TV casting highlighted by an episode in which devil worshipers are after Sally, and featuring Special Guest Satanists Keenan Wynn and Werner Klemperer!)

When I was six or seven (proabbly six), my sister and I would watch "Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo" when mom wasn't around. At the time, I thought it was sheer comedy brilliance and loved Deputy Perkins. The local station's package mixed in BJ and the Bear, though, on a rotational basis, so I was utterly confused when they ran the BJ pilot: "Why is Lobo the bad guy?" I also didn't realize he was running a white slave ring(!) which makes the Lobo series unique in the annals of spin-off history. Gildy and Pete Porter never did anything like that, after all!

Bobh said...

For "anonymous" . . . .

A few episodes of "Rocky King" are available on DVD courtesy of Alpha Video. Details here: