Dark Shadows: The Leviathans – Week 2

Monday 11/24/69

Dark Shadows was preempted for ABC coverage of the Apollo 12 splashdown. Coverage was slated to run from 3:30-5:30pm Eastern time. The splashdown occurred at 3:58pm Eastern Time. I am guessing that this preemption was not planned for because for the next several weeks the episode numbers will be off by one. More on this in a later article.

Episode 891 – Tuesday 11/25/69

Are we surprised that the Todds were at the door? I wasn’t the first time I saw this plot in the late 90’s on the SciFi Channel. And oh my, what a charming locket indeed.

So if the audience paid attention to the closing credits last week they already know this mysterious guy hanging around Collinsport is Paul Stoddard. Guess nobody thought to keep the surprise a secret, did they? He calls Collinwood, asks Maggie Evans for Elizabeth, then hangs up. Looks like a standard soap plot to me at this point.

Barnabas decides to give the Leviathan box to the Todds. Just you wait until you see what you bargained for!

Paul Stoddard shows up at an empty Evans cottage and talks to Maggie about what is going on at Collinwood. This is a really creepy scene to me because he keeps dodging questions about who he is. It’s also sad because this is the last time we see the Evans cottage set in the whole series. It’s one of the original sets from the earliest days of the show’s life (it first appeared way back in Episode 3.)

Back to the Antique Shop and everybody is stepping over each other’s lines! That is part of the charm of this show.

So would you do what the Todds do at the end of this episode? Want to open a mysterious box so badly that you just happen to find the key in an envelope? Neither would I.

Episode 892 – Wednesday 11/27/69

So there is a scroll inside the box with a mysterious message. The Todds naturally think its weird but then have a debate about having spaghetti for dinner for like the umpteenth night in a row. Such unusual dialogue for Dark Shadows!

Then Barnabas shows up in a dream of Megan Todd and says that the room she’s in must be prepared for something. I can just see all the Barnabas fans in the audience throwing things at their TV sets in protest of our favorite vampire being 150% evil now. Oh, and Phillip had the same dream and walks in with lumber to board up the windows.

Let’s be clear here, both Greg and me are sitting here watching this unfolding and thinking that the audience needs a lot more of a clear explanation as to why Barnabas has turned so so so evil. I think the plot background of the mysterious happenings at that altar are insufficient. Remember when I said miss an episode miss a lot? Oh people who haven’t been watching are way way behind now!

So there’s this cradle…

If I’m not mistaken, this was the same cradle one of Quentin’s children was in back in 1897. But now it will be the recipient of a child you don’t want to mess with.

So Maggie is in the Blue Whale with Carolyn trying to pressure her to have another drink and Paul Stoddard shows up again and decides to properly introduce himself at long last. If only his name wasn’t in the credits five episodes ago it might have been a bigger surprise!

Thursday 11/27/69 – Thanksgiving Day

Dark Shadows was again preempted, this time it was planned for the Thanksgiving holiday. Starting at 2pm that afternoon, ABC Sports carried coverage of a College Football game: Texas Tech at Arkansas. A very big matchup indeed since Arkansas was ranked #2 in the coaches poll at this time. Arkansas won the game 33-0.

Friday 11/28/69 – Episode 893

So we end up with a really soapy scene in which we get lots of plot recap from way back in the summer of 1967. I don’t think a majority of the audience would have remembered the Jason McGuire blackmail plot going on during the early Barnabas days. It’s not a bad idea to get the audience up to speed on it.

I must say, why is Carolyn skeptical for only a brief second then all too trusting?

Unseen baby alert! The Todds have some kind of child now.

Another soapy scene at the front door of Collinwood. Who should be skulking about but David Collins himself, listening at the door. Guess his new lease on life is full of his usual garbage.

So the baby has a name now, Joseph, pulled out of thin air! And who else should come in but Amy Jennings and David and then Paul shows up. Paul is acting mighty weird and now it starts to connect a bit to all the other weird stuff going on already. On a side note, I am loving all of the mysterious cues from the first music cue package that haven’t been heard for a while on the show.

So David in his usual bumbling ways accidentally tore a page in the Leviathan book and then has to steal it. Only he didn’t have it in his hands in the previous scene when he was shooed out of the antique shop. I know, reader, I know, suspend your disbelief. But it is an egregious continuity error.

Megan goes evil/shocked/evil and vows to kill whomever stole the book. This leaves us with a Wednesday cliffhanger pushed back to Friday. I guess it works!?

So, we are one-ish weeks into the story. It’s moving pretty fast, but like I said, I feel some fans are left behind if they didn’t catch the first few episodes. I hate to be in ABC’s network correspondence during the month of December 1969.

RIP To 2 Shows I Watched

The toughest part of watching a TV show religiously is when a show gets cancelled.  It’s become a thing that you have to get used to.  Two shows I loved were “The Real O’Neals” and “American Crime.”

Read: More shows got the axe at ABC too (article from A.V. Club)

O’Neals was a funny comedy centered around Kenny O’Neal, who is in a catholic family and in the pilot, comes out of the closet.  Hilarity ensued for two great seasons.  Unfortunately, this season, it was on against the hot drama, “This Is Us”,  and it got trounced week after week in the ratings.  I loved the cast of this show, especially Martha Plimpton as Eileen O’Neal, she has great comedic talent.

“American Crime” was a show that was too good to be on network television.  What John Ridley did with this show was nothing short of amazing.  Each season of this show was a new story with new characters, but with many of the same actors.  Regina King, Felicity Huffman, Timothy Hutton, they were all very dynamic on this show and showed a great range of flexibility in their acting range from year to year.  It’s a shame we won’t see what they can do with a Season Four.  Unless the show finds another home somewhere.  One can only dream.  (Hello Netflix, Hulu, or some other streaming service… are you listening????)

By the way, Connor Jessup is just sexy as hell.  There, I said it. 🙂

Shows get cancelled folks.  It’s nothing to lose sleep over, the world keeps turning on and great actors will find other jobs.  At least that’s what one would hope would happen!

Easter Movie Tradition

Last night was the yearly tradition of ABC screening the epic Cecil B. DeMille film “The Ten Commandments” starring Charlton Heston.  The film has been broadcast annually by ABC since February 18, 1973.  Check out this ad from the premiere telecast:

This was back in a time when movies on television were a very big event.  It was of course the days before cable and home video pretty much ruined that epic feeling you might have gotten when a great movie was on that you just had to watch.

I thought to myself as this movie was on last night, “You know, this movie has nothing to do with Easter directly.”  True, but people love it more for it being inspirational.  Of course, this movie would be more identified with Passover instead of strictly Easter, so don’t write in or comment that I don’t know my religious holidays, because I do know.

I guess people just love this movie so much and people still turn out to watch it once a year, even though you can readily watch the movie on any number of home video formats that it has been released on over the years.

While “The Ten Commandments” is not my favorite biblical epic, I got to thinking about when my two favorites appeared for the first time on television.

“The Robe” premiered on ABC on Easter Sunday, March 26, 1967.

My favorite film of all time, “Ben-Hur”, premiered on CBS Sunday, February 14, 1971 and was watched by over 85 million people (a record for a movie on TV at the time).

Excuse me, I need to go get my sword and sandals.


Aww Man, My Show’s Not On!?

Back before there were a gazillion TV channels, I’m sure you remember the scenario of sitting down to watch your favorite program and being greeted with an announcement like this:

You probably reacted with some form of sadness and despair: “Aww man, my show’s not on!? What am I going to watch now?”  Then you start flipping channels to find out what you would watch.  50 years ago tonight, Star Trek was preempted for the second time in the first season, the program replacing it was highlights of the 1967 show of the Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Circus.  As you have probably heard, that circus is shutting down this year after 146 years in operation.  Here is an ad for the airing of that show on WNBC in New York:

The interesting thing is that, while the Thursday 8:30-9:30pm time period was preempted by WATE for the Rawhide repeats, the powers that be decided not to do that and instead air this program!  Guess they like lions and tigers and bears but not Vulcans! (Oh my!)

The 3/16/1967 TV Schedule

Now, I never really was a circus fan, so I probably would have flipped over to another network and watched something else.

In case you were curious what those programs were:


8:30pm –  My Three Sons – “Charley O’ The Seven Seas” (not seen in Knoxville on WBIR – instead it would be the final 30 minutes of Theater 10 – “The Gift of Love”)
9:00pm –  Beginning of the CBS Thursday Night Movie – “Major Dundee”


8:30pm – Bewitched – “The Crone of Cawdor”
9:00pm – That Girl – “The Honeymoon Apartment”

If I were somewhere else, I probably would go with My Three Sons. If I had to choose in Knoxville, it would be “Bewitched.”

By the way, have I ever told you how much I used to love that CBS Special Presentation intro of yesteryear?

I know I’m not the only one that loved that intro!

Nick’s Mix Thoughts on Current Game Shows

In the mix today, my thoughts on some of the current game shows on prime time TV.   Granted, I should probably be watching “Hollywood Game Night”, but I still catch most of the others.

In the video below, I discuss my thoughts on “Match Game” and “To Tell the Truth” along with my first impression of the upcoming NBC game show “The Wall.”

No Trek for Knoxville

As everyone knows, “Star Trek” premiered on NBC on September 8th, 1966. One might assume that the show debuted on stations from coast to coast. However, as I recently discovered, that was not the case… at least in my current city of residence, Knoxville, Tennessee.

Above are portions of an article that appeared in the Knoxville News-Sentinel on August 28, 1966. The article was looking ahead to the new NBC shows on WATE-TV 6, at the time Knoxville’s NBC affiliate. As you see above, the station’s program director at the time, John Reese, passed on “Star Trek” for the Knoxville market.  The Sentinel’s writer, Frank Weirich, didn’t think much of the show either, calling it a “far-out space thing.”   As you can also see, WATE also passed on “a bit of nonsense” called “The Monkees.”  (Davy Jones and gang finally did appear on Knoxville screens starting on February 6th, 1967 for the final 8 shows of their first season.)

In hindsight it’s easy to see why both of these programming decisions could be lauded as terrible.  However, when you look at the demographics of Knoxville at that time, you can see why the decision was made.  To further prove that point, here is what they aired instead:

Instead, they aired the popular western series “Rawhide,” which aired on CBS from September 1959 to December 1965.  Westerns were very popular with TV audiences, and I can gather from this decision that Reese felt more confident that Rawhide would do better against the other programs, “My Three Sons” and the first 30 minutes of the Thursday Night Movie on WBIR (CBS) and “The Tammy Grimes Show” (which was cancelled after four weeks) and “Bewitched” on WTVK (ABC).

Things would change for the fate of “Star Trek” on Knoxville TV screens.  That story, however, is for another day.

My thoughts on the Summer 2016 Game Shows

I was thinking to myself, what do I think of the summer game shows currently on broadcast television.  You may be surprised at my thoughts.

Celebrity Family Feud (ABC)

While I don’t care much for the question material on the current versions of Family Feud, hosted by Steve Harvey, there are still plenty of laugh out loud moments to make it somewhat tolerable… at times.  The problem with celebrities of today is that I’ve never heard of some of them, and some of those people are… let’s see, how do I put this… not altogether there.  (Note to self: don’t be so denigrating, celebrities are people too.)

The $100,000 Pyramid (ABC)

Now *this* is an awesome show.  When I heard that Michael Strahan was going to be the host, my initial reaction was one of skepticism.  He did have a good run with Kelly Ripa on Live and was very popular with the audience of that show.   I was very impressed to hear in interviews that in preparing for the show, he went back and watched episodes of the Dick Clark version on YouTube.  Read this article from the New York Post and you’ll see why I think he’s a great addition to a new breed of host that I enjoy watching.  The winner’s circle has brought lots of excitement to this version as in any other.  It still remains my favorite bonus round/end game of all time of any game show, without question.  It’s fun to see people master the art of this round.  And one more thing….


That set.  It’s so freaking beautiful.  A great update to the classic look.  This is how a modern game show set should be done.

Match Game (ABC)

Gene Rayburn once said that Match Game has a weak format.  That is true.  What drives this game is the insane laughter and goings-on in between the answers.  When I heard Alec Baldwin was going to host this one, my thought at the time was, “Huh?”  Then, that quickly became, “Either this will work or it will utterly fail.”  I think it’s safe to say it was the former.  While the question writing and the stacking of said questions (such as having gimme questions in Round 1 instead of Round 2) leaves a lot to be desired, the laughs and the mixture of celebrities are working out very good.  There are still some celebrities here that I have to Google, or ask Greg, to figure out who they are.  There are other little nit-picky presentation problems that I’ve come to expect out of Fremantle Media revivals.

To Tell the Truth (ABC)

Now this show I wasn’t so crazy about.  The game play wasn’t altered that much from what we would expect from years past.  The execution was very, very lacking.  Do we need a house band on a panel show?  Do we need the host’s mother keeping score for no reason?  Do we need Twitter shame just because you were the worst panelist at trying to figure out who was lying on purpose?  I find myself asking too many questions about these elements of this show to enjoy it.  At least they tried, but I don’t see this one coming back, especially when you consider they taped the shows about a full year before they even aired.  Back burners do not a renewal make.


So, that’s my thoughts on this summer’s shows.  Will we see more Feud, Pyramid and Match Game?  Time will tell.  I’ll try to review more new shows and not-so-new shows in the future.

EDIT: Right after I published this post, word came down on the ABC summer press tour that all four of these shows have been renewed, presumably for next summer.  (Source for the Truth renewal was the ABC press site.)

Shadows on the Wall

Those who know me know I have loved the classic Gothic soaper “Dark Shadows” for many years. Me and Greg have been watching the show on DVD over the years. As of the night of this writing, we have reached the end of the series, which aired on April 2, 1971. Our intention is to go back to the beginning again. Back to June 1966.

I’ve always been fascinated with how TV is made and accomplished. That’s the big reason why I studied, trained, and now work in TV. It was a difficult show with witches, vampires, spirits and such. The show constantly needed special effects that was difficult to achieve given the equipment of the period. Just as equally fascinating is looking at where the show was actually recorded, the studios where all the magic happened.

“Dark Shadows” utilized two studios over the course of its run of almost five years. The first was ABC TV-2 near ABC’s headquarters at 77 West 66th Street. (The studio is actually located on 67th Street)

Outside of ABC on West 66th Street in NYC

DS taped its first 11 weeks here (through episode 55.) This studio is still in use today, currently it is the home of “The Chew”. There is great info about the modern look and equipment the studio offers at this link.

I have a pretty good feeling that TV-2 was only a temporary home for the series. At this time, ABC was renovating a former lumber yard in another part of Manhattan.

Original ABC TV-16 Exterior
Original ABC TV-16 Exterior

Former ABC TV-16 Exterior
The building in later days

This is ABC TV-16 at 433 West 53rd Street. DS moved here during a one-week taping break in August 1966. It must have been nice to be the new tenants of a newly renovated studio. The situation reminds me of when we converted from SD to HD at my station. New equipment, new challenges. The show had a great run here, with all the ghosts and ghouls and wonderful writing, acting and production filling the stage. Oh how it must have been fun to work on a series like this! All good things must come to an end however, and the show did so on April 2, 1971. DS remains a legendary show to this day. The studio itself however would have more legendary shows to come. It would later house the popular ABC soap “Ryan’s Hope” for the first 10 years of its run, from 1975-1985.

The picture above is from our first trip to New York City in April 2014. I made it a point to visit this location. And I’m glad I did, because it won’t be there for much longer.

That’s right, the famous studio which was home to all those great shows is about to become just another group of way-too-expensive condos. Oh well, time marches on. But the memories will remain. Forever.

Affiliation Switcheroo

Well, it’s an interesting day back in my old home, the Tri-Cities market. Not a lot has changed there in the media landscape, until now. Today, the parent company that employs me and Greg, Media General, announced that they have secured an agreement with ABC to take over the affiliation from WKPT, owned by George DeVault and Holston Valley Broadcasting as of February 1st, 2016. It will operate on WJHL and be on Channel 11.2 as of that date.

WKPT-TV has been with ABC since it signed on the air for the first time on August 20, 1969. Prior to that, you were lucky to see ABC programs at all on any station in the area. Either WJHL or WCYB had to air them, and more than likely they were at odd times to keep the pristine time slots for more popular CBS or NBC shows, respectively.

The Kingsport Times-News is reporting that WKPT-TV will no longer do local news after the move. My heart hurts for all of the people in their news and production departments that will be losing their jobs (more than likely) at the end of the month.

I totally did not think this is how this would go down in that market. Greg and I have discussed in the past that if WKPT-TV would ever want to become a major player in that market, they would have to be bought out completely by some other entity, seeming as how Bonten or Media General would be restricted from doing so. Quite honestly, the production value of the news that they were doing left a lot to be desired, but then again, on the probably minuscule budget that they had, you can only do so much. They were lucky they had anything at all. It goes without saying that a company with the resources and the diversity to be a major player could have made a third newscast competitive in that market.

Let’s face it folks, the era of Mom-and-Pop Broadcasters has come to a sad end. Conglomerates have been and will continue to be the way of the future. It’s sad it had to end this way for a small town station in the market I grew up in, but given the realities of today’s world… I’m not surprised, not in the slightest.