Tuesday, October 25, 2011

TV Time!

One of my favorite corners of the World Wide Web is the Internet Archive. If you've never been there, it's a massive repository of all sorts of public-domain media. One can even view old iterations of Web sites via their Wayback Machine, should you be nostalgic for the comfortably clunky look that even the biggest sites had back in the last millennium.

Our main interest in the IA, at least thus far, is in their "Moving Images" archive, wherein repose thousands of films and episodes of TV shows that have fallen into the public domain. Many, many good Netizens have taken the trouble to transfer these shows into digital form and post them for us all to enjoy, and Wifey and I are quite grateful for this. We have a strong yen for the old and the obscure, especially if it involves familiar actors, and we have found some real gems at the IA.

One can stream all IA content directly from the site, but we prefer to download things and watch them on our TV. Thus, when I am otherwise idle, I am often rummaging through the IA listings, downloading promising items to watch later. We view them using a Boxee box, which is essentially a little specialized computer that aggregates audio-visual content from the Web and from your own local network files and presents it all (well, mostly all) in a neat, menu-based format, accessible from your TV or networked computer.

Tonight, we watched a real gem, as obscure as they come. It was the premiere episode of Diagnosis: Unknown, entitled "The Case of The Radiant Wine." We enjoyed it so much that I resolved to present it here for your enjoyment.

This show was a summer replacement show (remember those? then you're older than me, Dearie!) for The Garry Moore Show (remember Garry Moore? then you're older than me, Dearie!). Summer replacement shows usually ran thirteen weeks, but this show was interrupted twice, two weeks each time, for the Presidential conventions (remember when the networks covered those like a blanket? okay, the bit's played out). That's a shame, because based upon this episode, if the show had run the full time, it might well have been picked up for a full season.

Diagnosis: Unknown starred Patrick O'Neal as a research physician with a strong sideline in homicide investigation, and co-starred Chester Morris as his contact on the police force. This episode guest-stars Tom Bosley, Larry Hagman, Murray Matheson and Patricia Barry. The first two you know, the third you will recognize, and the fourth--well, if you are a fan of Columbo, she was the gallery owner in the episode starring Peter Werner, "Playback". Oh, and keep an eye out for what I think is a brief cameo by Garry Moore himself, in the delicatessen scene.

The quality of the video is pretty good, actually excellent by IA standards, given that it obviously didn't look great in the first place; it appears to have been shot like a soap opera, live with just general lighting. It may have been televised live, then re-broadcast on video for the West Coast, although this print looks as if it were shot directly on film. Quien sabe?

Enough of the technical stuff. Watch, and enjoy a slice of TV the way we watched it back in the day. I mean, the way they watched it.

UPDATE: I watched it again, and confirmed that it is definitely Garry Moore. He's at the end of the delicatessen scene, the man standing talking to someone in a booth that Bosley touches on the shoulder as he walks by.

Also, I forgot to note that the much more recent show Diagnosis: Murder, starring Dick Van Dyke, bears more than a passing resemblance to this show.

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