Saturday, 1 October 2022

the new people (10. 183)

Produced for a single season and clocking in at forty-five minutes per episode (a rarity for regularly-scheduled programming), the 1969 Aaron Spelling and Larry Gordon collaboration for the ABC network was developed by Rod Serling (under the pseudonym John Phillips—see previously) and centres around the struggle for survival of a group of American college freshman returning from a trip in Southeast Asia (to present as goodwill ambassadors during Vietnam) whose plane crashes on a deserted island in the Pacific, which had been slated and provisioned for a nuclear-test that never took place. Foreshadowing the later ABC series Lost, it explores rather melodramatically the premise of Lord of the Flies, killing off all of the adults and letting the young fend for themselves—plus the counterculture adage of the time not to trust anyone over thirty—and is echoed in Logan’s Run and the Star Trek episode “Miri.” Here is the pilot with the full series available online:

Monday, 26 September 2022

knight industries two thousand (10. 169)

Premiering on the NBC television network on this day in 1982 and running for four seasons, Knight Rider, created by Glen A Larson (Alias Smith & Jones, Battlestar Galactica, The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo), covers protagonist Michael Knight, a lieutenant detective with the LAPD who was cosmetically robocopped after being betrayed by an informant and industrial espionage expert. Disfigured and officially declared dead, Knight is given reconstructive surgery (appearing as David Hasselhoff—see also) and teamed up with a nearly indestructible, sentient car, KITT (previously) to fight crime in the name of public justice, under the pilot organization of philanthropist billionaire Wilton Knight (no relation) called FLAG (Foundation for Law and Government).

Sunday, 25 September 2022

7x7 (10. 165)

a tale of two times: the gift of a European mechanised clock was respectfully declined by a Japanese lord raised in a culture of variable hours, via Strange Company’s Weekend Link-Dump  

miner 2049er: Atari celebrates its fiftieth anniversary with game posters from Billy Butcher (previously)  

sequestration: a scalable carbon-capture facility is setting up in Wyoming, aiming on drawing down five million tonnes of CO2 annually  

the battle of the planets: the American syndication of the 1978 Japanese anime series Science Ninja Team Gatchaman  

skyline: a free rooftop garden in central London—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links (plus lots more to explore) 

pyrotechnics: a look at how digital fireworks displays competed with the real shows—from the Tedium archives  

est: US Department of Transportation to map out time zones ahead of the permanent switch to Daylight saving time after it learned that no such comprehensive map exists

Thursday, 22 September 2022

potus (10. 157)

Premiering on this day in 1999 on NBC and running for seven seasons with two specials, the serial political drama created by Aaron Sorkin with ensemble cast including Stockard Channing, Allison Janney, Rob Lowe, Moira Kelly, Martin Sheen, Dulรฉ Hill, Bradley Whitford and Janel Moloney The West Wing covered the fictitious administration of US President Josiah Bartlet. Showered with accolades including two Peabodys, three Golden Globes and twenty-six Emmys, the series ranks among the best television shows ever produced. The short segment from the pilot episode shows the first occurrence of Sorkin’s signature ”walk and talk” expository technique.

Tuesday, 20 September 2022

6x6 (10. 151)

teenage rampage: 70s sing-a-long pop was edgier than one thought   

on tyranny: twenty lesson on unfreedom and defending democracy

heptominos: geometric magic squares from Lee Sallows—see also

cross-hatched: dozens of security envelope patterns  

quiet quitting: these scenes of office drudgery are a form of protest

rainbow quest: Pete Seeger’s 1960s folk music television show

Saturday, 17 September 2022

s1:e1 (10. 140)

On this day in 1972, the CBS television network first aired its dark-comedy series—based on the 1970 feature film—about a team of doctors and ancillary staff stationed at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in Uijeongbu during the Korean War. The first episodes, set in 1950, were broadcast while the US was still mired in the Vietnam War and were presented as the most careful kind of allegory, detached yet openly questioning the proxy wars of the Cold War and the value of offensive ideology. The ensemble cast included (by rank) Henry Blake McLean Stevenson (thanks, Dad), Loretta Swit, Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers, Gary Burghoff and Jamie Farr and the show became less political and more character-driven after 1975 and the withdrawal of US troops—also removing the controversial laugh-track of earlier seasons.

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

goodnight john-boy (10. 132)

Having debuted the prior year with a Christmas Special (see also), the historical drama The Waltons was released by the CBS network on this day in 1972. Running for nine seasons until 1981, the series relates the story about a family in rural Virginia during the Great Depression and World War II (1933—1946) and is based on Earl Hamner’s semi-autobiographical novel Spencer’s Mountain. Hamner also contributes the opening and closing narration for each episode as the eldest son grown-up. After its cancellation, a rival network produced a string of made for television reunion movies before CBS reclaimed the franchise with three more specials in the mid-1990s. Below is a thirty-second synopsis of the pilot with all episodes similarly summarised.

Tuesday, 6 September 2022

7x7 (10. 112)

all the news that’s fit to print: a curated collection of kiosks from around the world from Trevor Traynor—via Present /&/ Correct  

tomato cain: an anthology of the short fiction of Nigel Kneale—perhaps better known for his screenplays, like The Stone Tape Theory  

national defensive design strategy revisited: another look at the style book (see also) of the US government  

finding out that you accidentally wrote five pages in cursive: our AI wrangler Janelle Shane (previously) charges a neural network to explain human behaviour quirks  

flareup: a 1969 Raquel Welch vehicle  

wild palms: a 1993 cyberpunk soap opera that aired on US network television  

movable-type: the Ruckwanderer innovation and how the Chinese incorporated the keyboard—see previously

Monday, 5 September 2022

7x7 (10. 110)

ch-ch-ch-chia: University of Virginia research team 3D prints living walls and roofs  

the road to rhรปn: more interactive LOTR maps to explore—see previously  

defenestration: accident-prone energy executives  

doctor doolittle: translating non-human animal vocalisations into language with artificial intelligence 

the hunt for the golden walnut brain of ronald reagan: an adventure from John Hoare (previously)—via Things Magazine  

lady woman: a sample track from Boris Midney’s reimagining of 1979 “Evita” as a disco opera 

reefer madness: researchers make an advance in the race to save Caribbean coral, whose health also affects hurricane intensity

once i ran to you (i ran) (10. 109)

Propelling to the top of the charts in part due to this memorable performance on TOTP (see previously), Soft Cell’s reworking of the Ed Cobb and the Four Preps’ Tainted Love (1964) reached number one on this day in 1981 and was ranked as best-selling single of the year in the UK—until after re-tabulating the numbers in 2021 and the title was awarded to The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me?”

Monday, 29 August 2022

drizzle, drazzle, druzzle drome—time for this one to come home (10. 094)

Alternately titled St George and the Dragon and The Seven Curses of Lodac, the 1962 adventure fantasy by Bert I Gordon (King Dinosaur, The Amazing Colossal Man, Village of the Giants, etc.) loosely based on the legend of St George and his conquests was subjected to the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment, airing for the first time on this day in 1992. Our hero in this version, George (Gary Lockwood, later Lieutenant Commander and navigator Gary Mitchell on the Enterprise and astronaut Frank Poole in 2001: A Space Odyssey)—of royal parentage but fostered by a sometimes ineffectual sorceress played by veteran actor of stage and screen Estelle Winwood—embarks on a quest to rescue the princess Helene and prevent her from being fed to the dragon of the evil wizard Lodac, played by the equally esteemed Basil Rathbone.

Sunday, 28 August 2022

the tango briefing (10. 093)

The franchise created in the mid-60s and concluding in the mid-90s the Quillerverse stars the eponymous, pseudonymous protagonist created by novelist Elleston Trevor and was introduced to us in the form of a short-lived BBC television series with Michael Jayston, Moray Watson and Sinรฉad Cusack that first aired a decade later, following the success of the cinematic adaptation of the first novel, The Quiller Memorandum (under its American title) with screenplay by Harold Pinter and the acting talents of Max von Sydow, Alec Guiness and George Segal as Quiller. All iterations, the books, film and TV (all thirteen episodes below), are set during the Cold War and feature the mostly independent spy-master who works for a secret organisation known only as the “the Bureau.”

Saturday, 27 August 2022

hooba-dooba (10. 088)

Canonically, George Jetson is born on this day, future patriarch of the family with Jane his wife, daughter Judy and his boy Elroy, canine companion Astro and Rosie the Robot. Residents of Orbit City, Jetson will be a “digital index operator,” a button-presser for Spacely Sprockets, engaged in this activity for as much as three hours a day, three days a week. Jane—stop this crazy thing! 



Thursday, 25 August 2022

farbfernsehen (10. 084)

Though displays and transmission systems were invented as early as 1938 with various trials reaching back to the late nineteeth century, television broadcasts in colour did not begin until the mid-1960s after a compatible mode of transmission was introduced (meaning it could be received on monochrome sets without a noticeable loss of quality) and colour models became affordable, and this era of broadcasting was inaugurated on this day in 1967 by Vice Chancellor Willy Brandt at the start if the Great German Radio Exhibition in West Berlin with public and private broadcasters making the transition throughout the programming day—albeit during these early years, only a few hours per week were available in colour. Among the first segments was reporting on Montrรฉal’s Expo 67 and an airing of the 1962 French-Italian adventure film Cartouche starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Claudia Cardinale.

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

out there in the dark there’s a beckoning candle (10. 080)

Recorded in June of 1968 as the grand finale to his Comeback Special at the artist’s bidding (replacing a rather incongruous “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”–scheduled to air in November) and lyrically echoing Dr Rev Martin Luther King Jr’s 1963 address from the Lincoln Monument in the space of three months after the civil rights figure was murdered, “If I Can Dream” is an emotional number currently being rediscovered thanks to a recent biopic on Elvis Presley. Watch for reaction clips–it’s like Elvis fandom from the first go around. Prompted by Presley’s declaration he would never sing another song he didn’t believe in, and over Colonel Tom Parker’s objections, the song was a collaboration between lyricist Earl Brown and composer Billy Goldberg.

Monday, 22 August 2022

7x7 (10. 078)

ultima generazione: climate activist glue themselves to the Vatican’s Laocoรถn  

little gold statue special: MST3K’s take on the 1995 Oscars 

larder and pantry: photographer Richard Johnson’s compelling series on root cellars–via Everlasting Blรถrt 

a garbler of spices: an eighteenth century specialised position 

canting arms: heraldic rebuses to puzzle 

biblioclasm: to combat book bans and censorship, the Brooklyn Public Library is issuing free cards to all US adolescents  

yangtze: drought in China reveals ancient statues of the Buddha normally submerged–see also here and here–and is also causing shortages in hydroelectric production

Sunday, 21 August 2022

8x8 (10. 075)

west eigg: via property scout Messy Nessy Chic, this lighthouse and keeper’s quarters on Pladda island in the Firth of Clyde  

oled: a clever tinkerer makes dynamic LEGO computer consoles—see previously  

calling card: the true story of football pioneer, journalist, stock-broker and mermaid-hunter Arthur Pember—via Strange Company’s Weekend Link Dump  

cinetimes: a free film and documentary aggregator with a familiar streaming-service interface—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links  

sad beige werner herzog: a master of the bleak-harvest aesthetic  

รงiftetelli: more on “Misirlou”—see previously 

the dolmen of guadalperal: drought in Europe reveals the “Spanish Stonehenge”—a circle of one megaliths almost always submerged 

 fresnel lens: a LEGO ideas kit allows one to create one’s own well-appointed beacon

Sunday, 14 August 2022

brackets, in kilohertz, closed brackets (10. 058)

In winter of 1978 in response to a newly brokered international broadcasting frequency allocation scheme, much of the BBC’s presence on the radio dial shifted and to pass this information to the listening public, the Broadcasting Corporation commissioned the a capella vocal ensemble The King’s Singers to harmonise a series of psalm settings to list the changed stations. It was released as a single by EMI Records as the transition was coming into effect called “Some Enchanted Wavelength.” After this pause for station identification, the public became endeared to the group for the 1984 televised documentary series on minstrel traditions in Western Europe called The Madrigal History Tour in deference to the Beatles’ album. Listen to more announcements in anticipation of the 23 November changes, please click here.

Friday, 12 August 2022

7x7 (10. 055)

zone improvement plan: the Swinging Six ensemble sing the praises of the ZIP code (1967)—see also  

unsealed warrant: FBI recovered multiple boxes of top secret and classified documents from the Trump residence during Monday’s search  

coo-coo for cookie crisp: recreating vintage breakfast cereal with machine learning—see previously  

mulder & scully: full script of an unmade episode of the X-Files—via Super Punch  

that old black magic that you weave so well: Clavis Inferni (The Key of Hell), an illustrated spell book from 1775 

retrofit: more on the noir aesthetic (more here and here) of vintage automobiles converted in electric vehicles 

 like & subscribe: the long and short history of the newsletter—both print and digital

Monday, 8 August 2022

we now return to regular programming (10. 045)

Interrupting regularly scheduled, prime-time programming on this day in 1974—ironically as he regularly attacked the medium as an instrument of liberal bias and never stopped blaming TV for wrecking his first US presidential bid against JFK having not fared well on screen during televised debates—to address the nation and announce his imminent resignation in the face of the so called “smoking gun” recording that revealed what the president knew about the botched burglary in the Democratic National Committee headquarters and told he would face certain impeachment— Richard M Nixon offered, “I have concluded that because of the Watergate matter I might not have the support of the Congress that I would consider necessary to back the very difficult decisions and carry out the duties of this office in the way the interests of the nation would require.” Adding that he was contrite errors in judgment, Nixon failed to mention, however, any talk of congress leveling articles of impeachment against him. Tendering his resignation the following day, Nixon submitted a letter to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and left office, effective noon 9 August.