Category Archives: Television

Frank Sinatra Christmas Special 1957

Frank Sinatra’s 1957 Christmas Special (with Bing Crosby)

Frank Sinatra Christmas Special 1957

Directed by Frank Sinatra himself, and sponsored by the good people of Bulova and Chesterfield, it’s surely one of the classiest Christmas specials ever to go out over the airwaves: twenty-five minutes of unassuming Yuletide excellence. And it’s currently available via YouTube (and embedded below). Continue reading Frank Sinatra’s 1957 Christmas Special (with Bing Crosby)

The Cinch Review

Elaine Stritch and “Two’s Company”

Elaine Stritch & Two's Company

Mentioning to my better half this morning that actress Elaine Stritch had just died, she asked, as people do in these situations, how old she had been. (The day before someone dies, no one cares how old they are, but, once they kick the bucket, it’s an important fact for us to obtain.) I said that the paper reported she was eighty-nine years-old, but that this had surprised me: I would’ve thought she must be at least one hundred and twenty, because when I watched her on TV many decades ago she already seemed older than the Devil, at least to my eight-year-old eyes. But my wife hadn’t seen her on TV back then. I, unlike she, was residing in Ireland when Elaine Stritch starred in a sitcom called “Two’s Company” on a British television network, which we picked up over the airwaves. The series was likely rebroadcast in the U.S. somewhere at some point but apparently had not become terribly well known.

The media is full of those paying articulate tribute to Stritch as a legend of Broadway and the stage, but I can’t do that, having never seen her perform live. I do have a lot of respect for those who pour their chief energies and talent into live performances that exist in the moment and live on only in the memories (and reviews) of those who saw them. Elaine Stritch did some other screen work (recently a role on a show I’ve never seen named “30 Rock”) but all I really know her from is this English sitcom, and, while I was not writing reviews back then, I guess her presence and performance was sufficient so that I always remembered her name and her face. Continue reading Elaine Stritch and “Two’s Company”

The Cinch Review

The Wisdom of Jim Rockford

The Rockford FilesJames Rockford. 1970s TV detective. Lovable loser. Does he ever get paid for a case? He always gets to the truth of the situation somehow, but the paycheck seems to evade him for one reason or another virtually every time. That obviously explains why he lives in a grungy trailer on the beach. On the other hand, something’s got to be paying for his shiny Pontiac Firebird, which gets bashed up quite often.

Although The Rockford Files has been in syndicated reruns since record-keeping began, I’ve been getting reacquainted with it through the internet service “Hulu,” where there are currently three seasons available to watch for free. I like watching this way because as compared to regular TV, where scenes are often brutally edited to squeeze the show into a time-slot with the requisite number of commercials, on “Hulu” you seem to see every minute of what’s on the original tape (even if advertisements sometimes butt in at odd moments). And naturally it’s nice to watch a show just when you feel like it. Me and Mrs. C. recently finished watching everything available from Kojak—the often-brilliant 1970s police show with Telly Savalas set in New York City. Continue reading The Wisdom of Jim Rockford

The Cinch Review

Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey reviewI’d avoided this much-talked-about joint British ITV/American PBS Masterpiece Theatre television series until last night, when special circumstances conspired to compel me to view it (i.e. my better half wanted to watch it). I fully understood that the show was basically a soap opera for people who are too good to watch soap operas. And there’s nothing wrong with that, per se.

Last night’s episode (Season 3, Episode 2) had multiple plot-lines promising turbulent events. A young woman was due to marry an older man with a disability, to the disapproval of some. A middle-aged servant woman in the Downton Abbey edifice was awaiting test results that might confirm that she had cancer. Meanwhile, there was much angst circulating roundabout due to the fact that money was running out to keep the gigantic household running, and the family might soon have to move from their palatial Downton Abbey structure (which appears to have about 500 bedrooms) to another site that was merely a huge mansion (containing probably only about 50 bedrooms). This would also require laying off some of the army of household servants. Continue reading Downton Abbey