Welcome back, friends. To this special Holiday episode of the Retro Radio Memories podcast. One of course whose subject just so happens to be The Saint. The popular running radio series based on the character created by Leslie Charteris in 1928. The Saint or Simon Templar as his friends and close enemies call him. Is in fact a type of modern day Robin Hood – however he lives off his ‘good deeds’ too. What I am saying of course is that Simon makes sure these actions help to line his own coffers in the process.
While it is certainly true that we’ve shared an episode or two of The Saint on the podcast before. With the Holiday upon us, I felt it the perfect time to share a Seasonal offering. While The Saint radio series got it’s start in 1940, most fans feel that it was the NBC version that is best. Naturally it is hard to argue that fact as it feature Vincent Price as Simon Templar!
In our episode today, entitled Santa Claus is No Saint. Templar of course finds himself mixed up in a dangerous situation. Furthermore, one that involves a case of mistaken identity as well as a stolen necklace.
So settle in where it is warm, friends. Let the soothing electronic glow of your monitor or phone ease your worries away. And join us on Retro Radio Memories as we go on another caper with The Saint!
If you have any comments or feedback for the show you can e-mail them to at VicSage@Retroist.com. You can also reach me on Twitter and of course on Facebook.
That’s right, Allison’s Written Words wants to team up with Retroist by – brace thyself – kicking off the holiday season with a big commercial block!
Late Saturday night/early Sunday AM, and I show you a glimpse of a recording session.
No life, I tells ya!
Allison’s Written Words and Retroist – The Joint Presentation!
It’s no secret that I love combining my world on here with the one I’ve carved out on Allison’s Written Words. I share teasers for my articles here over on my blog, create videos with mention of both sites, and affiliate myself with both anywhere and everywhere I possibly can.
I love the work I do with both sites, and I’m proud of the opportunity to continue letting my geek flag fly simultaneously.
Allison’s Written Words/Retroist Christmas Commercial Kickoff!
Last week, I worked on my first commercial block commentary, after several efforts of dipping my toes in video games and, well, “video games.” I’ve loved the opportunity to hone my “comedic” skills and show you some great nostalgia at the same time.
The commercial block I selected is from the November 28, 1998 airing of Saturday Night Live Goes Commercial, Volume 2. The tape originates from WNBC 4 New York, my former home market NBC station. The special aired as one of the prime time specials the late-night sketch show was famous for during the 1998-1999 season. It was the second one that year, and the highest-rated one. Not bad for primetime AND a holiday weekend Saturday night!
There’s a healthy mix of Christmas-themed commercials, promos, product ads, short-lived television shows, and even The More You Know. Throw in a local newscast teaser and you’ve got nostalgia AND awesomeness.
That’s right, nostalgia AND awesomeness! Because those two should always go hand-in-hand!
So go on and click play, and join me in watching some commercials!
Upload via Allison Venezio / Allison’s Written Words
It’s 1972. Missions to the moon are still being launched. A space station is about to go into orbit. Live television broadcasts and telephone communications via satellite are becoming commonplace, as are computers capable of handling and sorting immense amounts of information. In this context, the idea of one man, an Aston Martin, and a martini (shaken, but not stirred) standing between the free nations of the world and domination by evildoers seems quaint.
At least that’s the idea in NBC’s Search, a short-lived “spy-fi” series dreamed up by Leslie Stevens, the producer who had brought us The Outer Limits in its original 1960s incarnation. Search involves the top-secret World Security Corporation, evidently a commercial entity with connections in all the right (high) places. Deep inside World Security’s office building lies PROBE Control, a kind of “mission control” guiding the activities of an elite handful of special agents around the globe.
Sitting in the big chair at the center of PROBE Control is V.C.R. Cameron (the simply amazing Burgess Meredith), a veteran at the spy game who now turns his expertise toward guiding younger agents in the field. Surrounding “Cam” is a circle of specialists in data retrieval and analysis who, together with PROBE’s amazing computer power, can piece together information on the fly to help agents in the field.
Those agents are themselves called Probes. Each agent has been fitted with an implant that allows them to hear and speak to PROBE Control via satellite, and each agent has a tiny camera, worn either as a pendant or as a ring, allowing PROBE Control to see what they say, analyze things or even people at the spectroscopic level, and monitors and records the agent’s vital signs.
Perhaps most importantly, there’s more than one agent, and an acknowledgement that each Probe needs time off to recover from each taxing adventure. One of three agents leads the charge in each episode: Hugh O’Brian as Lockwood, a.k.a. “Probe One”, the best and brightest of the agents; Anthony Franciosa as Nick Bianco, a.k.a. “Omega Probe”, a former cop with deep knowledge of the criminal underworld; and Doug McClure as the carefree C.R. Grover, the Backup Probe, who gets the assignments no one else wants – or inherits hazardous assignments from Probes who die in the line of duty. (On a purely logistical level, this arrangement would allow for multiple filming crews to be filming multiple scripts at multiple locations, and future-proofs the show against such real-world incidents as a star being hurt…or demanding a larger salary.)
The action starts with the pilot movie PROBE, which aired early in 1972, starring Hugh O’Brian and no less a guest star than Sir John Gielgud. Introducing the show’s jetsetting international scope, flashy stunt work, and the seemingly vast PROBE Control set, the movie can’t have been cheap, but it sets up the concept and some of the characters – and hooked enough viewers to get a go-ahead as a series.
There’s just one problem: PBS was airing a documentary/news series called Probe at the same time, and the producers were asked to change the name of the series when it returned in the fall, hence its rebirth as Search. O’Brian and Burgess Meredith were still aboard, along with many of the same actors who played the PROBE Control computer operators, but O’Brian began rotating episodes more or less evenly with Franciosa and McClure, and the settings changed drastically from week to week.
Search is fun in that early ’70s gotta-have-a-car-chase-if-it’s-on-TV kind of way. Each of the leading men have their own quirks and charms (though Franciosa, as Nick Bianco, emerges as an early favorite just for his character’s Rat-Pack-worthy swagger), and Burgess Meredith anchors each episode, providing his trademark good-natured crankiness.
And that awesome spy tech? The funny thing is, in this world of the internet and cell phones (and, yes, cell phones that can get on the internet), Search’s technology is just now landing this side of the “plausible” line. In 1972, the technology depicted, and its abilities, were pure science fiction, an attempt to transplant the NASA technology that everybody had seen get men to the moon into a spy thriller setting.
After decades of obscurity and being forgotten, Search is back, with the full series available on DVD. PROBE is available on its own disc. It may not be worthy of binge watching as we now know it, but it’s fun to watch an episode now and again. And how did Search fans enjoy the show after it played on their local NBC stations? Believe it or not…there was an official set of Search ViewMaster reels…because nothing is more fun for kids than reliving Hugh O’Brian stoically putting down a terrorist plot!
As cool as that is, however, Search – and its whistle-able theme song and neat spy tech – signed off after a single season. Over the course of its months on the air, the expense of mounting weekly international spy capers (even if “international” meant “Hollywood backlot”) was evidently getting to be a bit much, as PROBE Control shrinks noticeably as the show wears on.
Had the show stayed on for a second year, it would seem like getting the three leading men together, either for a one-off mission to save the world, or as part of an all-hands PROBE effort to stop some global scheme, would’ve been a no-brainer for a sweeps month – kind of like doing Doctor Who’s celebrated Five Doctors episode in year two instead of year 20.
Is this one of those underground classics that needs a modern reboot? Should the Search continue? Seek out the original and judge for yourself.
Well, to be completely honest, Working Stiffs didn’t just star Michael Keaton. No, this CBS comedy series also co-starred Jim Belushi.
The two portrayed Mike and Ernie O’Rourke – two men who have yet to find their true purpose in life. So naturally they do what they can to make ends meet, becoming your typical Working Stiffs of course.
For the O’Rourke brothers it turns out they do have some aces up their sleeves. For one thing – the apartment where the two can hang their hat is situated above a cafe. In addition Mike and Ernie are able to become friends with the owner of the eatery, Mitch Hannigan as well as the cafe’s waitress, Nikki Evashevsky.
Hannigan by the way is played by M.A.S.H.‘s Allan Arbus with Nikki portrayed by Lorna Patterson. I bet some of you might recognize Patterson from her starring role in the early 80’s TV version of Private Benjamin.
The other bit of good fortune for our Working Stiffs is they are able to secure employment with a relative. Their rich Uncle Harry who owns the building reluctantly agrees to put them on the payroll. However not as the businessman as the duo hope but as janitors in fact.
While I can certainly say in all honesty that I hadn’t seen Working Stiffs before today. I have to say that the short video below – from the pilot episode showed a lot of promise.
When Working Stiffs debuted on CBS back in 1979 it rather unwisely decided to compete against NBC’s CHiPs. It was also attempting to compete against ABC’s Three’s Company spin-off The Ropers. The series itself was created by Bob Brunner, who had a hand in the popular TV series Happy Days as well as Laverne and Shirley. In addition, the pilot episode was directed by none other than Penny Marshall. As well as having a rather catchy theme song in my honest opinion.
Sadly Working Stiffs just couldn’t stand up to the likes of Ponch and Jon nor even Stanley and Helen Roper. After a mere four episodes the comedy series was cancelled. However, once both Keaton and Belushi found success in films, the show was released on VHS. Having said that though, friends, in total there were nine episodes filmed – but only six present on the VHS release. I found that the show has been seen here and there since 1979. I’ve read that it’s appeared on the likes of retro-themed TV channels such as TV Land, Comedy Central, and the A&E Network. Although I haven’t found an actual DVD release as of yet.
Like I mentioned up above, I wasn’t aware of this TV series until today. I have fellow Retroist author, Phillip Cary, to thank for the heads up. For my birthday earlier this week he brought me a 1979’s TV Guide. A Fall preview issue that had this to say about the then upcoming television series.
Now that you’ve learned a bit about Working Stiffs why not check a stand-up comedy routine by Michael Keaton?
I am pretty positive this is actually from the TV show An Evening at the Improv.