01 January 2010

Happy New Year! 1 January 2010

Happy New Year!

     Today is the first day of January, the first day of the year 2010, and the first day of a new decade. The month, as you can read in the Wiki link, is named after the Roman god, Janus, the god of the doorway (i.e., the door to the new year). But Janus is also the god with two faces: one looks back and one looks forward. So, taking that into account it's appropriate at the New Year to look back at the years past and forward to the year and years to come. Here are a few of my favorite things from my childhood back in the Jurassic of the 60s and 70s.
     The 60s:

     The 70s:
  •   Jim Rockford may have sometimes worn sport coats that looked like they were cut from picnic tablecloths, but he was my favorite TV private investigator. The Rockford Files is a show which was almost perfect right from the get-go. (And, best of all, he gave Tom Selleck, the future Magnum, P.I., a real break with his part as Lance White, the sunny dispositioned P.I. with the white Caddy and improbable detective technique.) James Garner's comic delivery was flawless, and he conveyed a reluctant tough guy attitude that influenced a lot of detective shows that came after. The Rockford Files had some tough competition in the 60s from other great detective shows I watched, tho. Mannix was notable for Mike Connors getting his head cracked just about every week. (In fact, the IMDB's Mannix trivia page states that, over the course of the series he was knocked unconscious 55 times and shot 17 times!)
  • Kolchak: The Night Stalker , which was produced by Dan Curtis, the creator of Dark Shadows, had some elements of a detective show; it combined the inquisitive reporter genre with the supernatural. The TV series never rose to the level of the two TV movies which preceded it, The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler. Darren McGavin, tho, still managed to make the TV series a pleasure for me and a generation of other lovers of SF and horror, including Chris Carter, who based The X Files on the format established by Kolchak: The Night Stalker. (He wanted Darren McGavin to play Fox Mulder's father on the series... That would have been simply amazing.)
  • Dan Curtis produced two of the best, creepiest TV movies of the 70s (not counting the two great Kolchak movies). The Norliss Tapes, starring Invaders veteran Roy Thinnes (who was another Chris Carter favorite who did actually make it onto The X Files), involved Roy Thinnes investigating a demon-worshipping not-quite-dead artist who appears to be haunting his wife, played by the luscious Angie Dickinson. Trilogy of Terror had Karen Black playing four distinct roles in three eerie horror vignettes. Most memorable from that movie was the "Devil Doll" sequence which features an African fetish doll which is possessed by an evil spirit which is really, really pissed off at being stuck in a foot-high wooden doll. 

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