Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Work in progress

I wasn’t able to come up with anything original today (here’s a tip: anytime I put up a comic strip on the blog it’s because Inspiration Creek has run dry) because I’m putting the finishing touches on a pair of First Generation Radio Archives projects. But here’s a few meaty blog posts from some individuals whose work I try to read on a daily basis (that is, unless they’re like me and are having to do the comic strip thing, too).

Steven Bowie at The Classic TV History Blog has a well-written and well-researched piece on the crime drama Brenner, a short-lived CBS half-hour from 1959 that has recently seen a DVD release of several of its episodes courtesy of Timeless Media Group. Truth be told, I really hadn’t a great deal of interest in this show (save for the fact that one of my favorite character actors, Edward Binns, was the series’ star) but Steve’s essay has convinced me I may have to second-guess myself. Some of the people worked on this program had very impressive resumes in television, most notably executive producer Herbert Brodkin, whose credits include The Defenders, The Nurses and Coronet Blue. (Steve wraps up his post with a plea for CBS/Paramount to open up their vaults and release the aforementioned programs to DVD…an idea a vintage TV fan like myself can always get behind.)

Terry Teachout reiterates a rumor that I first heard via Barrie Maxwell at the Digital Bits that a box set of the Randolph Scott-Budd Boetticher westerns is coming to DVD soon (Barrie’s sources report that that it will be definitely out sometime this fall, as directors Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese and Taylor Hackford are participating). This is wonderful news and having such classic oaters as The Tall T (1957), Buchanan Rides Alone (1958) and Ride Lonesome (1959)—to name only a few—on DVD will certainly be welcome in the dusty Thrilling Days of Yesteryear archives. Terry wrote an amazing essay on the Scott-Boetticher collaborations some time back, and it’s definitely worth a re-read.

Finally, Bijou Bob at Matinee at the Bijou reprints an article by film historian Michael H. Price (which originally appeared in the Fort Worth Business Press) on the recent VCI release of the 1938 serial Dick Tracy Returns, which is currently en route to Rancho Yesteryear thanks to the recent 50% off July 4th sale at VCI’s website. (In fact, so many people over at In the Balcony took advantage of this special to order the disc the joke is that it should have been called the “Dick Tracy Returns” sale.) In the article, Price mentions the unavailability of both Dick Tracy’s G-Men (1939) and Dick Tracy vs. Crime, Inc. (1941) on DVD but VCI will be bringing both of those chapter plays to DVD soon (in fact, G-Men has a street date of July 29th). They have also released (in tandem with Returns) a box set of the four Dick Tracy B-features made for RKO between 1945 and 1947. (I do not know if the VCI set is superior to the one released by the Roan Group several years back, but if I hear anything I will let you know.)


Pam said...

Speaking of comic strips.... you mentioned one the other evening about a clueless former NYC-ite in Iowa or Idaho or some place far from delivery boys. Could you tell me the name of that again -- and where to find it?


Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...


I did not learn until recently that this was a web-only comic strip...which probably explains why I could never locate a newspaper that carried it.

Bobh said...


Re: Brenner

If you like "Naked City," you'll probably like "Brenner." While the shows are different in a number of aspects, both shows share good writing and acting. There's an incredible array of character actors in this show, a number of whom are very early in their careers. Interesting to see both Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis appear in this series as they would later be series regulars on "Car 54, Where Are You?" (filmed in the Bronx) and, of course, "The Munsters." Ed Binns was always a solid, reliable actor and he has a commanding presence in this show, but I also like James Broderick as Binns' son "Ernie" despite the fact that he doesn't look like Binns at all and is too old to play his son (in real life, there was only an age difference by about 11 years between the two men).

At the time that "Brenner" was produced, New York City still had a fair amount of television shows produced there (mostly live shows), so there was still a pretty good talent pool of people working both in front of and behind the cameras in the late 1950s. But in just a few short years, most shows would be produced in California; live shows were a dying breed and almost all filmed shows were made in Los Angeles and environs.

Incidentally, Timeless Media has secured relatively good looking prints for this series, certainly better than either "Checkmate" or "Arrest and Trial" . . . . not Paramount quality, but pretty darn good.