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Friday, September 16, 2011


"Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn't have in your home."
David Frost

"They say that ninety percent of TV is junk. But, ninety percent of everything is junk.
Gene Roddenberry
* * *

The Cure To All Our Ills
Dolly entered our office, clutching the daily hotsheets. A mischievous grin lighting the way. “Guess who’s directing the schoolship episodes?” she asked.

“Irwin Allen!” Chris blurted.

“No, he’s a producer, silly,” Dolly said.

Chris knew this, of course. Allen, of “Poseidon Adventure” and “The Towering Inferno” fame was known far and wide as “The Master Of Disaster.” But little did we realize that someday we would come to know him too damned well as “The Towering Toupee.” (See Episodes 28-39 of The MisAdventures Thus Far for the lowdown on that stinky little mess.)

“Well, who then?” I asked. Our fates rested on the hopefully puny shoulders of whoever shot the two parter. With luck, it'd fail so badly that the ratings would dip below a thirteen Nielsen share and Chris and I might escape our contracts.

Wishing I was the praying sort, I glanced over at the sign we'd posted on our door:


Dolly, who knew how badly we wanted off the lot, put a hand to her bosom and intoned, “Man… Woman… Birth… Death… Infinity!”

Chris goggled at her. “Sam Jaffee?” he said. “Gunga Goddamned Din?”

He poured Remy into our coffee cups. “Cole, we’re up shit creek with nary a paddle in sight,” he groaned. “Jaffee’s talented, even if he is older than God.”

I looked at Dolly with pleading eyes. “Tell us it ain’t so, Dolly,” I said. “Lie to us.”

“No lies are necessary,” Dolly said. “I’m speaking of none other than that heart throb of the Sixties doctor shows, Vince Edwards. Ben Casey in the ever lovin’ Italian Stallion flesh.”

Sam Jaffe & Vince Edwards
Chris and I felt much better. Vince Edwards had peaked in the early Sixties during the five years that he played surly neurosurgeon, Ben Casey. (1961-1966)

Sam Jaffee had played his boss and also did the intro to the show - Man, woman, etc. Almost two decades had gone by since then. To my rookie mind that meant Edwards had been reduced to directing loser TV shows. (TV directors are almost never a big a deal as their Brethren Of The Big Screen. They are for hire per episode and the cast regulars and staff producers and writers have way more clout.)

“I’ve heard good things about him,” Dolly said.

“Don’t tell us,” I begged.

Chris pointed at the door. “Get thee back to the winch, wench,” he said.

Laughing at our plight, Dolly returned to her duties as the chief scrounger of Cole And Bunch productions.

An aside: We had loan out companies to keep our taxes low. Mine was called, “No, No, Don’t Do That.” It was my dream that I’d make a fortune with that company. Producers would call to consult and try out things, like: We’re going make a sequel to “Casablanca.” You know, what happened to the guys after the plane took off?

And I’d say, “No, no, don’t do that.” And they’d drop the picture idea, save a bundle of money and pay me a ten thousand dollar consultant fee. (A TV sequel was actually boarded - lasted three episodes, I think. Also a prequel to The African Queen, for crying out loud.)

Chris’ loan out company was called, “Whatever The Gorilla Wants.” No explanation necessary. Says it all.

The phone rang. Chris picked up. “This anyone with good news or money?” he demanded. He listened a full half-second. “No? Then fuck off.” He slammed the phone down.

“I hope it was somebody who realized you were joking,” I said. “Somebody who saw ‘A Thousand Clowns’  and remembered the Jason Robards bit.”

“It was the EatAnter,” Chris said. He frowned. “He hasn’t been a producer long enough to get that stupid, has he?”

The EatAnter was Jeff Freilich, co-producer, along with Frank Lupo, of Galactica ‘80. Until recently he’d been a lowly writer like us.

“What did Jeff want?” I asked.

Chris shrugged. “Beats the shit out of me,” he said.

The phone rang again. This time I got it. It was the EatAnter. Again. And he was laughing - a hopeful sign.

“That was a good one,” he said. “Chris is lucky I'm a fan of ‘A Thousand Clowns,’ or you guys might be fired.”

“Damn,” I said. “Missed again.”

“Look,” Jeff went on, “I wanted you guys to be one of the first to know. I mean I brought you onto the show, after all. I feel responsible.”

My heart skipped a joyful beat. “We’ve been canceled?” I said. I heard Chris say, “Hot damn,” and crack another bottle of Remy.

More chuckling from the Eatanter. Jesus, he was sounding more like a producer as the days passed. “No, no, nothing like that,” he said. “You guys are safe. We’ve got the schoolship episodes, right? A three plus million dollar spectacle.”

“Right,” I said glumly. Chris heard the woeful tone of my reply and returned the bottle to the booze drawer.

“Plus, we’ve got Ben Casey directing,” he continued. “He’s supposed to be pretty hot. A personal friend of Bing Crosby.”

“He’s dead,” I said. “Crosby, I mean. Died on a golf course in Spain a few years back.”

“Sure, sure, but that’s not the point,” Jeff said. “Crosby discovered Edwards. Gave him a super recommendation, I’m told.”

I was starting to feel better. Recommendations by a dead guy, even if he was Bing (The Crooner) Crosby, boded ill for the show and well for us.

“So, what’s the news, then?” I asked.

“I’m leaving the show,” Jeff said. “Larson’s starting a new series called ‘Battles.’ It’s a detective thing set in Hawaii. Starring old ‘Gunsmoke’ himself, William Conrad.”

William Conrad & Co.
His reference to ‘Gunsmoke’ was the fact that William Conrad was the voice of Matt Dillon in the old Gunsmoke radio series. But in person he was too damned fat to play him when it went to TV. That role was limned by James Arness. (Brother of Peter Graves of Mission Impossible fame, in case you are curious.) However, Conrad was as massively talented as his girth. (Although a friend who later worked with him on 'Jake And The Fataman' said you couldn't shoot him from the back, because it looked like two gunny sacks of potatoes going up and down when he walked away from the camera.)

“Sounds like fun,” I said. “A sure hit.” What I didn’t say was that it was a sure flop if Larson wrote all the episodes like he was doing on Galactica. (This turned out to be true on both counts.)

“Here’s the thing,” Jeff said. “I want you guys to know that if Galactica is canceled I’ll try to get you on at ‘Battles.’”

I bit my tongue. I couldn’t say, please, Jeff, don’t help us. Eatanter that he was, he’d take it the wrong way. Instead I said, “Well, maybe we could at least bang out a script for you.”

“Well, that’s the other thing,” he said. “We need some scripts pretty fast. I’ll send over the show bible and you guys see what you can come up with.”

I said thanks, made my farewells and turned to Chris. “The good news,” I said, “is that the Eatanter is going to hire us to write a script for William Conrad.” Chris’ eyebrows rose. “The bad news,” I went on, “is that if this show goes tits up, Jeff wants to take us with him to a brand new Glen By God Larson gig.” The eyebrows descended.

“We gotta stop him,” Chris said. “We gotta fucking break his telephone hand, or something. Set fire to his fucking hair.”

“Take it easy,” I said, although I didn’t feel too easy myself. “One schoolship burning at a time.”



The MisAdventures began humbly enough - with about 2,000 readers. When it rose to over 50,000 (we're now knocking at the door of 110,000) I started listening to those of you who urged me to collect the stories into a book. Starting at the beginning, I went back and rewrote the essays, adding new detail and events as they came to mind. This book is the result of that effort. However, I'm mindful of the fact, Gentle Reader, that you also enjoy having these little offerings posted every Friday to put a smile on your face for the weekend. So I'll continue running them until it reaches the final Fade Out. Meanwhile, it would please the heart of this ink-stained wretch - as well as tickle whatever that hard black thing is in my banker's chest - if you bought the book. It will make a great gift, don't you think? And if you'd like a personally autographed copy you can get it directly through my (ahem) Merchant's Link at Click here. Buy the book and I will sign it and ship it to you. Break a leg!


Two new companion editions to the international best-selling Sten series. In the first, learn the Emperor's most closely held  cooking secrets. In the other, Sten unleashes his shaggy-dog joke cracking sidekick, Alex Kilgour. Both available as trade paperbacks or in all major e-book flavors. Click here to tickle your funny bone or sizzle your palate.    


Relive the fabulous four-day Stregg-laced celebration.  Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever. New recipes from the Eternal Emperor's kitchen. Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever. Sten's thrill-packed exploits at the Emp's castle. How to make your own Stregg. And, did I mention, Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever?

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