H.R. Pufnstuf, Lidsville, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Land of the Lost: For a generation of children growing up in the late sixties and early seventies, these were some of the most memorable shows on Saturday morning television. At a time when television cartoons had lost some of their luster, two puppeteers named Sid and Marty Krofft put together a series of shows that captivated children. Using colorful sets and mysterious lands full of characters that had boundless energy, the Kroffts created a new form of children’s television, rooted in the medium’s earliest shows but nevertheless original in its concept. This work first provides a history of the Kroffts’ pretelevision career, then offers discussions of their 11 Saturday morning shows. Complete cast and credit information is enhanced by interviews with many of the actors and actresses, behind-the-scenes information, print reviews of the series, and plot listings of the individual episodes. The H.R. Pufnstuf feature film, the brothers’ other television work, and their short-lived indoor theme park are also detailed.
There was a time when “American popular entertainment” referred only to radio and motion pictures. With the coming of talking pictures, Hollywood cashed in on the success of big-time network radio by bringing several of the public’s favorite broadcast personalities and programs to the screen. The results, though occasionally successful, often proved conclusively that some things are better heard than seen. Concentrating primarily on radio’s Golden Age (1926–1962), this lively history discusses the cinematic efforts of airwave stars Rudy Vallee, Amos ’n’ Andy, Fred Allen, Joe Penner, Fibber McGee & Molly, Edgar Bergen, Lum & Abner, and many more. Also analyzed are the movie versions of such radio series as The Shadow, Dr. Christian and The Life of Riley. In addition, two recent films starring contemporary radio headliners Howard Stern and Garrison Keillor are given their due.
When media coverage of courtroom trials came under intense fire in the aftermath of the infamous New Jersey v. Hauptmann lawsuit (a.k.a. the Lindbergh kidnapping case,) a new wave of fictionalized courtroom programming arose to satiate the public’s appetite for legal drama. This book is an alphabetical examination of the nearly 200 shows telecast in the U.S. from 1948 through 2008 involving courtrooms, lawyers and judges, complete with cast and production credits, airdates, detailed synopses and background information. Included are such familiar titles as Perry Mason, Divorce Court, Judge Judy, LA Law, and The Practice, along with such obscure series as They Stand Accused, The Verdict Is Yours Sam Benedict, Trials of O’Brien, and The Law and Mr. Jones. The book includes an introductory overview of law-oriented radio and TV broadcasts from the 1920s to the present, including actual courtroom coverage (or lack of same during those years in which cameras and microphones were forbidden in the courtroom) and historical events within TV’s factual and fictional treatment of the legal system. Also included in the introduction is an analysis of the rise and fall of cable’s Court TV channel.
Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In was one of the most unusual programs on television, defying definition as simply comedy, variety, or burlesque. The show had audiences laughing for six seasons and continues to make appearances in revivals, reunions, and salutes. This critical history of Laugh-In includes background details on the creation and creators, as well as information on lookalike shows. An appendix contains a complete program history with principal production credits and episode guides.
Since the first baseball movie (Little Sunset) in 1915, Hollywood has had an on-again, off-again affair with the sport, releasing more than 100 films through 2001. This is a filmography of those films. Each entry contains full cast and credits, a synopsis, and a critique of the movie. Behind-the-scenes and background information is included, and two sections cover baseball shorts and depictions of the game in non-baseball films. An extensive bibliography completes the work.
Beginning with Charlie Chaplin’s Shoulder Arms, released in America near the end of World War I, the military comedy film has been one of Hollywood’s most durable genres. This generously illustrated history examines over 225 Army, Navy and Marine–related comedies produced between 1918 and 2009, including the abundance of laughspinners released during World War II in the wake of Abbott and Costello’s phenomenally successful Buck Privates (1941), and the many lighthearted service films of the immediate postwar era, among them Mister Roberts (1955) and No Time for Sergeants (1958). Also included are discussions of such subgenres as silent films (The General), military-academy farces (Brother Rat), women in uniform (Private Benjamin), misfits making good (Stripes), anti-war comedies (MASH), and fact-based films (The Men Who Stare at Goats). A closing filmography is included in this richly detailed volume.