Old-school TV shows being shown on the DECADES channel

Kim Greene
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Joined: Nov 10 2004, 10:28 PM

Jan 31 2018, 01:26 PM #1

One good thing about the Decades digital channel is that it shows a lot of old TV shows that are rarely seen in reruns, or rarely rerun period. It has what it calls its "Binge Weekends", in which a rarely shown TV show's entire run is broadcast throughout the whole weekend in back-to-back episodes. So far, I've seen shows from the dawn of television, such as LIFE WITH ELIZABETH, starring Betty White in her very first TV show (and which she produced) and a sitcom in which she played one-half of a married couple, and I MARRIED JOAN (1952-55) with its now-forgotten star--the actress/comedian Joan Davis, who starred as the crazy wife of a judge (played by future GILLIGAN'S ISLAND cast member Jim Backus--the show basically ended because he and Davis didn't get along---he didn't like playing second banana to her,even though that was his function on the show.) About two weeks ago, Decades did a binge showing of VEGAS, the 1978-1981 crime drama set amongst the backdrop and glamour of the Las Vegas, starring the late Robert Urich,with his handsome self, as a thoughtful private eye named Dan who did security for the casinos, and got into shootouts and fistfights defending himself from criminals who picked the wrong time to try to run up on him and start something. I remember when the show was actually on TV, and its intro theme song, but it wasn't one of my fave shows as a kid---I liked the cool,tough,disco theme song though.

After seeing classic cop shows that I literally hadn't seen since their original airing back in the day like HILL STREET BLUES, which I did grow up watching and liking,and THE COMMISH on the Heroes & Icons digital channel, I wondered why THE ROOKIES, a cop show from the early '70s, and which had the best bad-a** theme song of any TV show from that era (written by Elmer Bernstein and another person) was never shown, and hoped that maybe someone would actually get around to showing it one of these days. Well, guess what got shown as the Decades channel's designated binge-watch show this past weekend? Yep, THE ROOKIES----it was almost as if somehow,my wish to see it had psychically been received and answered by the folks who run Decades,lol. The show ran from 1972-76, and it was about the daily lives of three policemen, two of whom were rookies just starting out on the force, and the problems and cases they had to solve on the job every day, which included adjusting to new ways of dealing with criminals, along with the usual shootouts,car chases, fistfights with thugs and all of that. What made this show unique was that one of the main characters was an African-American rookie named Terry (played by Georg Stanford Brown, who would also become a film/TV director, and make one of Richard Pryor's better films, the 1980 comedy STIR CRAZY) who played a very large part in solving a good number of the cases--he even winds up being kidnapped by some thugs while going undercover to bust a killer at one point. The other two policemen (played by Micheal Ontkean and Sam Melville) worked side by side with him to help solve the cases, and would get involved in separate cases on their own. The show itself was one of the first shows next to POLICE STORY which purported to show a more realistic view of the police and the very real challenges they had on the job. A pre-CHARLIE'S ANGELS Kate Jackson also co-starred on the show as a nurse and the spouse of one of the policemen----she was able to help them with their cases by checking up on criminals who showed up in the hospital, or something close to that. It was interesting to see a young Sissy Spacek (from the original CARRIE) in an early role as a runaway drug addict in one episode, and in another, a veteran-turned-martial-artist (Rafael Campos) winds up being arrested for defending himself against a cop who gets pissed off and literally pulls him out of the car after he's stopped for driving too fast---one of the more memorable episodes. The series is also on DVD,too.


I also wanted to mention THE COMMISH, which I barely watched during its initial run--I was surprised to find out that it actually ran for four seasons (1991-1995) because the way it was advertised back then, I thought it was just some little silly comedy show about a goofy cop or something, so I blew it off. After having watched it for a good few weeks now, I got hooked on it, and I'm starting to think it's definitely one of the more underrated shows of the '90s. It holds up as a surprisingly good and strong show with some slightly offbeat humor about a small-town police commissioner named Tony (Micheal Chiklis, who would go on to play a much more darker and complicated role of a very shady policeman in the even tougher cop drama, THE SHIELD) who is a nice guy who has to come up with different ways to handle his job and the officers who work under him all the time. What's unique about the show Is how it manages to perfectly balance its family-friendly vibe/humor and still be a tough,hard police drama on top of that, and the fact that it dosen't take place in a big city for a change (the setting is a small town in New York--the state, not the city---but the show was actually filmed in Vancouver,British Columbia--where many U.S. shows are filmed to this day.) It also has a good theme song (unlike most shows today, which don't even have theme songs anymore) and it was co-created by writer/producer Stephen J. Cannell, who basically created, produced or co-wrote practically every TV series that was worth watching from THE ROCKFORD FILES,THE A-TEAM, to HUNTER to practically any other show you can think of from the '70s to the late '90s.

Basically, what's appealing about the THE COMMISH is that is has real heart, and some genuine affection for its characters, who come off as real people and not caricatures---in fact, the main character was based on a real-life police commissioner, who advised on a few scripts. The commish's wife, who's also a middle-school teacher, is played by the funny, appealing and spunky Theresa Saldana (I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND,RAGING BULL)----who seemed like she would have been a bigger star if she'd come up during the '40's or '50's ---she had the beautiful looks,the 'tude, the presence,and the comic skills of an actress from that era. I was surprised to find out that she passed away in 2016---she, unfortunately, has been remembered more as the actress who very nearly was murdered by a crazed stalker in real life back in the early '80s, survived, and starred as herself in a 1984 TV film about that horrific experience,titled VICTIMS FOR VICTIMS--the actual name of a support group she started for victims of brutal attacks like herself. Another member of the COMMISH cast, John Cygan, who played the tough-talking streetwise but thoughtful detective Paulie Petangeli,, and who became one of the best characters to watch on the show, also passed away last year due to cancer.

There's also Tony's son (Kaj Erik-Erikson) who learns a few lessons and looks up to his parents,but also has his own mind, and there's Cyd (Melinda McGraw) one of the few female cops on the force, who's tough as nails,but fair to whomever she catches doing wrong, and fun to watch---plus the adorable police officer Stan (Geoffrey Nautts) who's much smarter than he looks. Anyway, the show's on DVD, for anyone who wants it.
Last edited by Kim Greene on Feb 25 2018, 03:25 PM, edited 3 times in total.
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Kim Greene
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Joined: Nov 10 2004, 10:28 PM

Feb 1 2018, 06:10 PM #2

Just found this episode of the 1982 cop show spoof POLICE SQUAD!---created by Jim Abrahams and the Zucker brothers, David and Jerry (the trio who created the now-classic 1980 hit disaster film spoof AIRPLANE!) for ABC. It was only six episodes long ( I think it was a summer fill-in show) and had AIRPLANE's Leslie Nielsen starring in in too. Later on in the '80s, Abrahams and the Zuckers would use the same characters, ideas and gags from the show to be recycled in the NAKED GUN movies,starting in 1988 with THE NAKED GUN:FROM THE FILES OF POLICE SQUAD! Here's one crazy episodes from the show----I only caught one episode (not this one,I think) of the show,and I remember seeing it at my step-grandparents house on Detroit's east side (it came on at either 8:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m. on a Friday night) and I also recall the promo ads for it. For some reason I got this confused with those horrible Police Academy films for some reason---they're two completely different animals, thank goodness. Here's one crazy episode of POLICE SQUAD!--the only one I could find on the tube--the complete series is on DVD:

POLICE SQUAD!---brief 1982 comedy series

Here's an interview with Jim Abrahams and the Zucker brothers on on a real early David Letterman show, talking about what inspired them to write/produce AIRPLANE, why they weren't involved in the sequel, and they then talk about and promote their then-new show, POLICE SQUAD! What's interesting (and funny) is that it turns out a then-unknown Letterman himself actually did a test screening for the lead in AIRPLANE a few years before, and didn't get the role, of course:

The AIRPLANE creators interviewed on David Letterman in 1982

POLICE SQUAD! on IMDB
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Kim Greene
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Joined: Nov 10 2004, 10:28 PM

Feb 7 2018, 02:11 AM #3

Actor John Mahoney, who played the gruff and hilarious father of the neurotic psychologist on the popular sitcom FRASIER, passed away at the age of 77 recently. FRASIER became one of my unexpectedly favorite shows back during its prime, and it lasted an amazing and surprising 10 years,too----I liked the whole entire cast, and Mahoney's role was a very significant part of that. Here's a tribute article:

CNN article on FRASIER's actor's passing


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Jeff Nelson
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Joined: Oct 19 2004, 06:25 AM

Feb 11 2018, 04:05 PM #4

Kim Greene wrote:Yep, THE ROOKIES----it was almost as if somehow,my wish to see it had psychically been received and answered by the folks who run Decades,lol. The show ran from 1972-76, and it was about the daily lives of three policemen, two of whom were rookies just starting out on the force, and the problems and cases they had to solve on the job every day, which included adjusting to new ways of dealing with criminals, along with the usual shootouts,car chases, fistfights with thugs and all of that. What made this show unique was that one of the main characters was an African-American rookie named Terry (played by Georg Stanford Brown, who would also become a film/TV director, and make one of Richard Pryor's better films, the 1980 comedy STIR CRAZY)
Thanks for the heads up about this channel! Good write up. Although regarding Georg Stanford Brown, he did star in STIR CRAZY, but he didn't direct it, which is the impression your quote above gives; apologies for my OCD. :)

I really need to check out The Commish!
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Kim Greene
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Joined: Nov 10 2004, 10:28 PM

Feb 13 2018, 05:47 PM #5

Oh, thank you-----nice to see someone reading this, since not too many people post here any more. I was hoping somebody else would read it besides me, lol. And, yeah, you're right---it was Sidney Poitier who directed STIR CRAZY---my mistake. Btw, THE COMMISH (which is available on DVD) is actually being shown on the Heroes & Icons channel, which has a lot of great old-school shows from the '70s, '80's and '90s, such as the HERCULES and XENA,WARRIOR PRINCESS shows, THE INCREDIBLE HULK, HILL STREET BLUES, HUNTER, and others (including the excellent World War II '60s drama series COMBAT!, and THE RAT PATROL.) It's definitely worth looking at, though. Here's an article on how STIR CRAZY was, until recently one of the more successful films at the box office done by a black director:

Indiewire
Last edited by Kim Greene on Mar 9 2018, 07:09 AM, edited 1 time in total.
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Kim Greene
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Joined: Nov 10 2004, 10:28 PM

Feb 25 2018, 03:31 PM #6

Here's a wonderfully heartfelt tribute to the remarkable war sitcom/drama M.A.S.H. (based on the 1970 film) by the people who actually worked on the show itself to make it the classic it became---by the producers, writers, and nearly all the main actors who made it what it was ( and some of whom even contributed by writing and directing some episodes themselves. I grew up watching the show myself and also grew to love it, so reading this was a very moving experience:

M.A.S.H., 35 Years Later: The Untold Story
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Kim Greene
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Joined: Nov 10 2004, 10:28 PM

Mar 1 2018, 02:53 PM #7

Here's a look at some more obscure but interesting old-school TV shows seen recently on Decades:

MEDIC was a show that ran on NBC 1954-56. It was one of the first medical dramas to deal with specifically medical diseases and ailments in a very realistic way, and to be really detailed about actual operations and to start showing them on camera. Some of the episodes were actually shot in a real hospital, with real doctors and nurses also cast on the show (there were also real doctors as advisors on the show,too.) There had been previous medical shows such as CITY HOSPITAL (1951-53) and DOCTOR (1952-53) but MEDIC was the first one to really focus more on realism and attention to detail. Since it shared the same time slot as I LOVE LUCY, that pretty much nearly killed it in the ratings. Even though it was critically acclaimed, it only made it to two seasons. Actor Richard Boone (who became the star of the popular TV western HAVE GUN,WILL TRAVEL) did double duty as the host opening the show with a monologue about this week's case, and sometimes acting in some episodes as the doctor. It's pretty much like the forerunner to realistic medical dramas like ST. ELSEWHERE, and E.R. and all that. I recall a couple of years ago a former Mobius poster posted a link to what I just discovered was an episode of MEDIC about an atomic bomb dropping on a city and the doctors having to rush around dealing with caring for patients in that situation.

Anyway, I saw a part of one episode called "Awaken To Spring" in which a grandpa is taking care of his grandson, but has a heart attack, then tries to kill himself---I only saw half of this one while watching something else. Two other episodes I saw fully were a two-parter called "Reach of the Giants"(a very ironic title, given the subject matter) it's about a man (Barry Atwater) who starts having sudden pains in his back, and finds out that he's got a spinal condition which makes him into a literal hunchback. He's basically told there's nothing that can be done for him, and out of frustration/desperation, tells his faithful wife (Diana Douglas) to leave him and start a new life of her own. She tells him that she wants to stay with him, but he gradually convinces her to move out,since things are looking nothing but grim for him. In the second episode, nothing's getting better for the man, and his last chance is a new experimental surgery which holds no guarantees that anything will change for him, either. He goes with it, and ends up being able to at least stand up when he walks again, and is reunited with his spouse. The show is on DVD--it had 59 episodes, but only 44 of them were deemed salvageable enough to be restored. Here's the very first episode right here, along with a batch of them:

Medic----"White Is The Color"

The show's creator and sometimes writer, James E. Moser, would go on to write for DRAGNET and BEN CASEY, another more popular medical show (he reportedly worked in an actual hospital as an orderly for a year to gain experience to put in this show.) Here's a rundown on the show and all its episodes:

Classic TV Archive----Medical Series
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Kim Greene
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Joined: Nov 10 2004, 10:28 PM

Mar 4 2018, 10:44 AM #8

Here's a thoughtful piece about the new (and actually hilarious at times) NBC sitcom (it actually debuted in 2015) SUPERSTORE, about the eccentric and crazy staff of a huge store that according to the article resembles Walmart. It's mainly about the Asian-American characters in the cast (it's a wonderfully diverse show to begin with) and how diverse and non-stereotypical they are, and how they're not depicted as the usual "model minority" stereotype for a change:

How Superstore Depicts More Complicated and Realistic Asian-American Characters
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Kim Greene
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Joined: Nov 10 2004, 10:28 PM

Mar 26 2018, 12:33 PM #9

Here's Buzzfeed's list of "62 Shows that Got Canceled Way Too F****** Soon", as they put it,lol. I liked a small number of these shows too, and thought it sucked when some of them got kicked to the curb:


62 Shows That Got Canceled Way Too Effing Soon For Buzzfeed & Everybody Else
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Kim Greene
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Joined: Nov 10 2004, 10:28 PM

Jun 13 2018, 12:50 PM #10

Here's some more shows recently shown on DECADES:

THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO---another cop drama that lasted from 1972-77 starring veteran actor Karl Malden and a then up-and-coming Michael Douglas as, respectively, an older veteran street cop who's used to doing things his way orb by the book, and a college-educated rookie who wants to try out new ways and methods of catching criminals that's he learned. The two clash every now and then because of her respective differences, but they still manage to get along while busting said criminals, getting shot at, and various other things involving being a cop. It's a pretty ordinary cop show, but the dynamic between the two leads, and the generation gap between them, is what keeps it interesting. And,yep, it's available on DVD---it actually won a number of Emmys, and was also partly shot on location in the actual streets of San Fran. Also, like most of the early '70s cop TV shows back then, it had a memorable, bad-a** funky theme, of course. Thought I'd only find clips from it, but, to my surprise, you apparently can check out the whole first season here:

THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO episodes


THE PEOPLE'S CHOICE---This goofy but engaging NBC sitcom ran from 1955-1958, and featured former Little Rascal Jackie Cooper in his first leading role on a TV show. He played a ex-army vet named Miller who's dating the daughter of a candidate for mayor (Patricia Breslin) that he dosen't always see eye to eye with. Both of them run off and get married,but for some reason feel that they have to hide it from her dad. So part of the shenanigans in the show revolve around them trying hard to pretend that they're not husband and wife around the father. Another interesting addition to the show was the couple's dog, who comments on the actions of the crazy humans all around him in his head---that was the one surreal part of the show. The dog dosen't talk to humans a la Mr. Ed style, it just keeps its thoughts to itself, but those thoughts are sharp and kind of funny. It's on DVD, but only a handful of episodes are available. Here's some clips from the show:

Clips from THE PEOPLE'S CHOICE
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Kim Greene
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Joined: Nov 10 2004, 10:28 PM

Jul 5 2018, 01:38 PM #11

Just last week, I decided to see if I could find some first-season episodes from my now-favorite old-school show, MANNIX (shown on MeTV weeknights.) I didn't,but did find the opening credits from the first season. Then last week, as if someone had heard my wish, the channel started playing the first season MANNIX episodes from 1967, which I was glad to see. Here's the pilot episode, "The Name Is Mannix":

MANNIX pilot episode---"The Name Is Mannix"

I've really come to like the show----I never saw it as a kid, and only heard about it by reading about it. Basically, MANNIX is considered a groundbreaking TV show for several reasons---the first season featured tough and smart private eye Joe Mannix (Mike Connors) working for an investigative company called Intertect, which was unique in that it utilized the then-latest computer technology (of the late '60s) to track down and solve cases. Mannix's boss, Lew Wickersham (Joseph Campanella) was a no-nonsense corporate type respected Mannix and considered him the company's best detective, but didn't like how he tended to go and do things his own way when solving cases, and basically preferred bucking the system to some extent. The show was also a more modern and realistic depiction of a private detective, in that Mannix came off as more of a real person who got hurt, and didn't get right back up when he got slugged, or unexpectedly whomped upside the head while pursuing a case. (For example, in the pilot episode, after Mannix gets conked over the head by the daughter of the client he's working for, he manages to get up, but has to literally force himself to go slowly down the stairs, since he's still in pain) which is another reason I like the show----Connors wanted to bring a little more humanity and realness to the character, and really succeeded in making that come across--which is why Mannix is so likable is some ways,and gives zero effs about what anyone thinks of him to some extent. (The show was also created by Richard Levinson and William Link, who both created the classic detective character show COLUMBO, and the producer, Bruce Geller, also produced MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE.)

As decent as the show was, it still struggled in the ratings. The show was produced by Desilu Productions (who had done hit shows like THE UNTOUCHABLES and STAR TREK---MANNIX would be the last show they produced before they were bought out by Paramountb) then still run by actress Lucille Ball. After CBS was going to cancel it, Ball made some major changes to it-----Mannix went out and started his own practice, and also hired a secretary named Peggy Fair (Gail Fisher). Fisher's presence and role was notable in that she played a thoughtful, intelligent sister who wasn't there as just the main white character's sidekick---she was very much an essential part of the proceedings,and a significant character in her own right who helped to co-solve some of the cases he took---who also had her own life outside of working for Mannix,as well as a son. She would also help to find her tough,brash independent boss when he went missing, and she wound up being held hostage or kidnapped for reasons relating to the work she was doing with him. This definitely helped the show's ratings go up, coupled with the fact that it was a great-looking show (each episode looked more like a beautifully shot film, with breathtaking California locations) the acting was top-notch all around, and the show was definitely made for adults, not teens and kids. I also liked how everyone on the show was allowed to show wrinkles,pimples and any imperfections you could think of, which also made the show more realistic in general. Connors himself brought just the right amount of brashness/toughness to the character of Mannix---he was a good, decent fellow, until you crossed him, or tried to kill him one too many times---then he didn't hesitate to start kicking and busting a** left and right, mainly in self-defense most of the time (Connors, a former athlete,didn't mind doing his own stunts,and even injured himself a couple of times in the process.) The show got popular, won a couple of awards, and lasted another seven seasons (1968-1975) breaking ground for later private eye shows like CANNON, BARNABY JONES, and THE ROCKFORD FILES. It's also available on DVD,too, and holds up even better than most crime dramas from that era (such as IRONSIDE) which is why it's still worth watching today. The theme song by Lalo Schifrin (he did the original classic MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE theme) is also dynamic,breezy fun, and memorable,playing over the show's equally notable split-screen opening scenes.
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Kim Greene
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Joined: Nov 10 2004, 10:28 PM

Jul 5 2018, 02:03 PM #12

Also, the classic crime drama WISEGUY will be shown on DECADES as their binge choice show for this coming weekend---it's another good '80s show that still holds up very well today. I got hooked on it, and loved watching it when it came on back in the day (it's currently being shown on the HEROES & ICONS channel only on late night weekends.)  I still like watching it, and I have the first season on DVD. It's also the show I recall first seeing Kevin Spacey on,long before he became a big name (since he's currently being accused by 3 men in England of having assaulted them while he was running the Old Vic, I wonder if the channel will just not show the episodes he was in----just a thought.)
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