My favorite TV show when I was a boy was Combat! In 152 grittily realistic episodes from 1962-1967, the experiences of an American infantry squad fighting in France in World War II were detailed. Most of the cast members had served in the military, several in World War II. The men were not portrayed as supermen, but ordinary men trying to survive while doing a necessary, dirty job. The series won accolades from World War II combat veterans for its unsparing look at what fighting had been like for them. The series hit its artistic peak on March 1, and March 8, 1966 with the two part episode Hills Are For Heroes. Directed by Vic Morrow who starred in the series as Sergeant Chip Saunders, the episodes detail the battle of the squad and the platoon of which it was a part to take a vital hill. At the end of episode two, after incurring heavy losses, they succeed, only to heartbreakingly having to abandon the hill due to a German breakthrough. As they march away from the hill, Second Lieutenant Gil Hanley grimly tells his men to remember every feature of the hill for next time. Television does not get any better than Combat! Continue reading
When I was a kid I watched way too much TV. How little of those hours I can recall now! However there is one television show that I watched that has always stayed with me. On October 25, 1971, when I was a freshman in high school, a Gunsmoke episode aired entitled Trafton. The guest star of the episode was character actor Victor French, who would make twenty-three appearances on Gunsmoke, usually portraying a villain. The Trafton episode was no exception. He portrayed a gunman known simply as Trafton. A murderer, Trafton had learned the gunman’s trade while riding with Confederate raider “Bloody Bill” Anderson during the War. The episode opens with Trafton and his gang shooting up a town in New Mexico. They attempt to rob the bank, only to find that the vault contains no money. Frustrated, on his way out of town Trafton sees a Catholic Church. He enters the Church and goes up to the altar, and takes a gold cross, a gold communion chalice and a gold paten. The priest appears and tries to stop him, Trafton unhesitatingly gunning down the priest. Seeing a gold cross about the neck of the dying priest, Trafton stoops down to remove the cross. As he does so the priest with his last strength, to the utter astonishment of Trafton, says, “I forgive you.” and with his bloody right hand traces a cross on the forehead of Trafton just before he dies. Trafton uneasily touches his forehead, and then leaves the Church and rides off. Continue reading
A Charlie Brown Christmas was first broadcast in 1965 on CBS. I was 8 years old and I was stunned at the time by the passage of Linus quoting the Gospel of Luke in explaining the true meaning of Christmas. Apparently CBS executives wanted to cut this passage out, but Charles Schulz, normally a fairly non-confrontational man, was adamant that it remain in. Continue reading
Audie Murphy’s appearance on the What’s My Line television show on July 3, 1955. It is striking to me how well-mannered and modest he was. Compare and contrast with the behavior of many modern celebrities. Continue reading
The FCC is coming under fire from Congress for lax oversight of kids’ programming. So what’s the problem? Is Joe from Blue’s Clues working a little too blue, if you catch my drift? Are the explicit drug scenes from Yo Gabba Gabba getting a little too out of control? Is the lack of parental oversight of Max and Ruby sending a bad message?
No, none of that. Evidently there are too many commercials.
I am not making this up.
TV watchdog groups say the Federal Communications Commission needs to better target kids’ programs that have too many commercials, and they want the commission and Congress to strengthen oversight of the Children’s Television Act.
Fueling the drive is a Government Accountability Office report issued last week that highlights FCC shortcomings in enforcing the landmark 1990 law intended to raise the quality and educational value of children’s programming while also limiting advertising. The report said the FCC has been lax in ensuring compliance from cable and satellite providers and questioned the commission’s guidelines for determining the educational value of children’s shows.
You mean to tell me there is a law out there that dictates the amount of commercials that can be shown during children’s programming? Surely you jest.
Congress crafted the law in response to a decrease in educational shows during the 1980s that corresponded with an uptick in commercial blitzes during children’s programming. To shield youngsters from excessive commercials, the law restricts advertising during children’s programs to 10.5 minutes per hour on weekends and 12 minutes per hour on weekdays.
I repeat: there is a law, passed by Congress, signed by a President, that actually dictates the amount of commercials that are to be shown during kids’ shows. The government of the United States deemed this an issue worthy enough of oversight.
Moreover, there are people who think the government isn’t doing enough.
During the Clinton administration, the FCC was “paying attention to children’s education, and the quality of children’s programming improved,” said Dale Kunkel, a child media expert and a communications professor at the University of Arizona.
“We slowly moved to a posture in the 2000s where they completely ignored the issue and the broadcasters offered whatever they want,” he said.
Wait a second. Broadcasters can offer programs that viewers have the option to watch, or not watch? What is this, a free country or something?
Look, I’m all for making sure that the airwaves are generally clean for kids. While parents have the ultimate responsibility for watching their children and making sure that the content of what they’re viewing is appropriate, it’s helpful to be assured that they’re not going to watch all the animals from Franklin get a little too friendly (and at least they’ve finally had the decency to put some clothes on little bear). But do we really need the government to dictate the quality of educational programming available, or the precise amount of commercial time airing on television? Is there anything that busybodies won’t ask the government to oversee?
For all of my childhood, James Arness, and the show he starred in, Gunsmoke, were a constant presence. The television show, a sequel to the radio show of the same name, came on the air in 1955 and ran for 20 years. I was born in 57 and graduated from high school in 75. Each week my family would watch the show, even the reruns. We had a slight personal connection to the show, my grandfather, a shoemaker, making a pair of boots for James Arness to wear in his role of Matt Dillon. Continue reading
Oh the gems that can be found on Youtube! From 1957, two legends discussing a third. Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the greatest American architects of the 19th and 20th centuries, and Carl Sandburg, poet and Lincoln biographer, talking about Thomas Jefferson!
Carl Sandburg, in his multivolume biography of Lincoln, got closer to the heart of the man than many professionally trained historians, telling the tale of a man’s life requiring the touch of a poet as well as a chronicling of facts. Frank Lloyd Wright developed a style of architecture that causes his buildings to be treasured. In my town of Dwight, the building of the First National Bank of Dwight was designed by Wright, and is a little gem of his style. Go here to read all about it.
It is interesting to hear two men who are now legendary themselves, discussing a third legendary American. In the world beyond one can hope that Jefferson has since taken part in the conversation! Continue reading
Michael Scott, the head sales manager of Dunder Mifflin is calling it quits at the end of the 2011 television season.
The Office is one of the few shows that I enjoy watching because the comedy and writing are top-notch and just as importantly, it isn’t as depraved as most shows on television.
Viewing The Office is like watching elementary school cliques try to behave as adults. It’s entertaining and sometimes difficult to watch, especially when the Michael Scott character embarrasses himself to the point that I cringe at the tv set.
Regardless, the show will definitely be different without him if they choose to continue, which I hope they do.
An actor, a faithful Catholic, willing to lose a role in a TV series because he won’t do sex scenes? Surely not in this day and age? Guess again!
Neal McDonough is a marvelous actor who elevates every role he plays, whether it’s in Band of Brothers or Desperate Housewives. So when he was suddenly replaced with David James Elliott 3 days into the filming on ABC’s new series Scoundrels earlier this week, there had to be a story behind the story. The move was officially explained as a casting change. But, in fact, McDonough was sacked because of his refusal to do some heated love scenes with babelicious star (and Botox pitchwoman) Virginia Madsen. The reason? He’s a family man and a Catholic, and he’s always made it clear that he won’t do sex scenes. And ABC knew that. Because he also didn’t get into action with Nicolette Sheridan on the network’s Desperate Housewives when he played her psycho husband during Season 5. And he also didn’t do love scenes with his on-air girlfriend in his previous series, NBC’s Boomtown, or that network’s Medical Investigation.
I found this new Catholic media network online, it’s new to me, and it is professional and spiffy. It’s called New Evangelization Television, or NET for short.
Hattip to commenter restrainedradical. One of the two Tebow pro-life Superbowl ads has leaked. I can see why the pro-aborts fought tooth and nail to keep it off the air. In tandem with the other Tebow pro-life SuperBowl ad, it is devastating to them. For background to the ads go here. For the rest of the pro-life Tebow story, go to Focus on the Family here.
And here is the second ad:
Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. The pro-aborts by their hysterical reaction made sure the Tebow story of how his Mom refused to abort him got broadcast over America for free. Now these two anodyne ads featuring a loving Mom and son make the pro-aborts look like the intolerant bigots they truly are!
[Update at the bottom of this post]
Salvete TAC readers!
Here are my Top Picks in the Internet from the world of the Catholic Church and secular culture:
1. The USCCB scandal continues as the U.S. bishops continue to issue denials of wrongdoings.
Mary Ann of Les Femmes blog asks why does the USCCB continue to cooperate with evil.
An interesting twist to this story is how the Boston Globe and New York Times covered the homosexual pedophile abuse scandal in the Church quite vigorously yet not one peep when the USCCB is caught red-handed with direct links to anti-Catholic organizations.
2. A great discussion about the origins of the phrase, “The Dunce Cap“, provided for a clarification by Friar Roderic. He provided a video that explains the steady progression as a Protestant insult, ie, to call Catholic dunces for being aggressive in their Catholic beliefs, to the more secularized version which has turned it into a catch phrase for idiocy.
My ignorance of sports is vast. However, I believe I now have a favorite quarterback. Focus on the Family has paid for a 30 second ad during the Super Bowl featuring former University of Florida Quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother Pam. When Pam was pregnant with Tim she contracted amoebic dysentery. Harsh antibiotics were administered to her to rouse her from a coma. She was counseled to have an abortion, being warned that her baby would be stillborn or live only a few hours. She refused to have an abortion and Tim Tebow came into the world.
Hattip to the Curt Jester. I loved What’s My Line as a kid. The game show aspect was fun, but I really watched for the wit of the panelists. Entertaining and amusing without profanity, vulgarity, salaciousness, nudity or explosions. How did they ever do it?
The Bishop Sheen episode aired October 21, 1956 at the height of Sheen’s fame. Note the high respect for him by the host, the panelists and the audience. How much ground the Church has to regain in our society!