Classic Movies · Stuff You Should Know · Television

TV news, both good…and not-so-good


Finally found a bit o’ spare time to get something up on the blog…but the window of opportunity is closing fast, so I’ll get right to the important items in the bulletin.

Friday morning, as my Bombast web page appeared in my browser as if to say: “Hiya! Doesn’t it suck that we’re the only high-speed internet service in town?” I started getting another feeling of dread when I saw Valerie Harper’s picture in one of the boxes in the “Entertainment” section. As it turns out, the man standing beside her was the object of attention: actor David Groh, who played Joe Gerard—the husband of Rhoda Morgenstern (Harper) in The Mary Tyler Moore Show spin-off Rhoda—had passed away at the age of 68.

Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper) invited 52 million TV viewers to her wedding to Joe Gerard (David Groh) in 1974.

To be honest with you, my memories of Groh’s work on Rhoda are a little fuzzy because apart from the famous wedding episode, I never really watched the show all that much until its later seasons (because our CBS affiliate, WCHS-TV in Charleston for some reason ran them on Saturdays around 6:30 p.m.), when Rhoda and Joe had already called it splitsville and Julie Kavner began to dominate the show as Rhoda’s sister Brenda. The show’s producers forced the characters into a sort of “shotgun divorce” when it became apparent that a married Rhoda just wasn’t as funny as a single (and whiny) Rhoda. But this indignity shouldn’t diminish Groh’s fine acting career. R.I.P., David. You will be missed.

catchers2I got the opportunity to watch Ghost Catchers (1944) the other night, which I finally located while digging into already-packed-with-DVDs boxes looking for some discs to put on eBay. As it stands now, Hellzapoppin’ (1941) remains the best Olsen & Johnson on celluloid. I had high hopes for Catchers, especially since Leonard “Two-and-a-half-stars” Maltin gives it three sparklies in his Classic Movie Guide…but to be honest, it’s not all that good—and it suffers from the fatal flaw of Crazy House (1943, an otherwise enjoyable Olsen & Johnson romp): namely a lot of musical numbers that interrupt the comedic momentum, stopping the movie dead in its tracks. There are one or two good funny bits in Catchers (when Ole and Chic are following a pair of dwarves into the basement of the haunted mansion they’re staying in, Ole makes a Snow White reference…prompting one of the dwarves to shout: “Everywhere we go…everywhere we go!!!”), and you’ll get to see Andy Devine and Lon Chaney, Jr. in a horse and bear suit, respectively, along with the song stylings of Kirby “Sky King” Grant. But Gloria Jean’s the female singer in this one (well, along with Ella Mae Morse) and you know what she does to the funny in Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941). (Insert sound of screeching halt here.)

The cast of My Three Sons (the B&W version).

There has been a number of encouraging TV-on-DVD announcements as of late, courtesy of One of them I’m really stoked about is the debut of sitcom warhorse My Three Sons, which I mentioned back in July 2007 in my “I’d buy that for a dollar” lists of television programs I’d like to see on DVD. Unfortunately, since there were thirty-six episodes in Sons’ inaugural season, CBS-Paramount will resort to the old “split season” gambit, meaning that when Fred MacMurray and his brood hit the streets on June 3rd it will be as My Three Sons: Season 1, Volume 1. (Well, you can’t have everything, I suppose. I am, by the way, impressed that CBS-Paramount has decided to start at the very beginning with the early black-and-white episodes broadcast on ABC-TV from 1960-65. Growing up, all I ever saw was the color episodes…and I never understood why so many TV reference books mentioned that William Frawley was on the show until Nick at Nite reran the “lost” shows.) I have to be honest…I seriously considered buying this series on “root peg”—so I’m glad I waited.

Mike Connors and Joseph Campanella in Mannix’s first season.

TSOD also reports that CBS-Paramount will continue with their release of The Fugitive when they roll out The Fugitive: Season 2, Volume 1 on June 10th. (Gad! Will this split season nonsense never end…?) Also on that date, the fourth seasons of both Hawaii Five-O (I love the box art on this one) and The Odd Couple will be released…which makes me wonder if selling off DVDs on eBay isn’t really just an exercise in futility. And finally, the news on the first season of Mannix has definitely been confirmed for release on June 3, though for some odd reason the P.R. people refer to Gail Fisher’s character in the press release (well, technically they screw up by referring to the secretary by the actress’ real name, instead of “Peggy Fair”) when she didn’t join the series until Season 2. Still, I hope to line up with Mannix fans on that date to get the first season on disc.

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