Friday, October 02, 2009

A View From the Phlipside - TV Stamps

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

Time to take a moment to look back at the old days of the media. It's easy to overlook the groundbreaking ideas that some of those shows represent. We may get stuck on the fact that the old TV shows are in black and white, or how cheesy the effects look compared to what we see today. If you take just a minute to push those ideas aside you can appreciate the great work that was done in the early days of TV.

With that in mind it's great to look at the newest batch of collectible stamps that the Postal Service issued back in August. Called the "Early TV Memories" series they highlight shows that are probably familiar at least in name to most folks of any age. But they also remind us of great shows that may be slipping through the cracks of memory.

Sure Lassie is there, and I Love Lucy (it's a scene from the chocolate factory episode), and Ed Sullivan and the original Tonight show with Steve Allen. Add in the Twilight Zone, Perry Mason, Howdy Doody, Dragnet, The Lone Ranger and The Honeymooners. If you don't recognize all those names then you're missing out on some of the great original TV programs of the early days of the medium. As a fan of the early shows I know there are still some gems that may have started to fade for a lot of folks. Ozzie and Harriet, Hopalong Cassidy, Burns and Allen, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, the Phil Silvers Show and the Dinah Shore show all deserve a moment to remember. Each one brought something new and special to TV, sometimes for the very first time.

I have to admit that there are three shows memorialized that I have special soft spots for in my media loving heart. First the show that launched the first TV superstar - Texaco Star Theater hosted by Uncle Miltie, Milton Berle. There is no one, NO ONE, in TV today that comes close to the level of stardom that Berle enjoyed. Second is "You Bet Your Life" with Groucho Marx. As game shows go this one was pretty lame but you just can't lose when one of the smartest and funniest men in America is the host. You think being snarky is something new? Go listen to Groucho. And last but not least is Kukla, Fran and Ollie. Technically a children's show it was popular with adults as well because it added satire and humor more subtle than the typical slap stick of kids shows of the day. The witty, multi level "children's" humor that Pixar does so well finds roots in this great classic TV show.

The next time you buy some stamps take a look, there might just be an important piece of media history looking up at you.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

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