Tuesday, June 20, 2023

More on those "New" shows: Some reviews from Harry and Wally

I think it will be fun to take a look at comments from one of my favorite TV books, Harry and Wally's Favorite TV Shows, about some of the NEW shows we talk about on this week's bonus episode of the podcast. If it's not fun, well, let's call it The New Battle of the Network Shows and forget about it.

Harry Castleman and Walter J. Podrazik  wrote their book, a sort of highly opinionated (but not exhaustive) encyclopedia, in 1989, and it's fun to look at what they thought about all kinds of programs ranging from classics to bombs.

The New Gidget: They gave it a mere 1 of 4 stars, saying the original is "pointlessly updated in this series that tries to drag the Gidget character into middle age. None of this is really worth noting, unless you happen to be planning a Ph.D. dissertation on the evolution of Gidget over the decades."

The New Monkees: The book makes only passing reference to this "undistinguished" spinoff in the Monkees entry, yet later in the book, wham, it gets its own entry, a 1-star review, and this: "It's almost laughable to say that this show does not reach the level of quality of The Monkees, but The New Monkees simply isn't very funny. The music is passable, at best." Kind of a dig on the original as well!

The New Odd Couple: In a 2.5-star take, the authors seem to think the network gave up too soon on the revival, pointing out how the material had already been done multiple times while speculating that maybe it was a thankless task. They note that many critics seemed to think reusing scripts from the Randall/Klugman version was "cheating," though they say that putting old material in new settings has a lot of potential. The entry points out that this was not an "all-Black" version since only Felix and Oscar happened to be Black, in contrast to the Barefoot in the Park sitcom of the 1970s.

The New Dick Van Dyke Show: Another 2.5-er, calling the series "solid, if not exactly groundbreaking," and "several seasons worth of well-written and executed comedy once again split between home life and the world of showbiz," though not on the level of the original DVDS. Harry and Wally don't have a lot of critical analysis but do a good job of laying out the premise of the series and its format shift for the third season in an useful capsule.

The New Andy Griffith: They point out the similarities (quite intentional, of course) to the original but say without Knotts, it's "mostly just bucolic passages of life and family in Greenwood," with the town being the erstwhile Mayberry. 2 stars.

The New Mike Hammer: The book gives both the 1950s Darren McGavin show and the 1980s Stacy Keach revival 2 stars but calls it fun to watch McGavin while seeming to dismiss the blunt retro nature of the Eighties version.

The New Love American Style and The New Lassie get brief mentions in the entries for their respective predecessors.

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