Today's News: Our Take

Question: I vaguely recall a ...

Question: I vaguely recall a show starring Jeff Conaway as a dragon-slayer type. It was probably on in the early '80s. Ring any bells? — Nicole, Hamilton, Ohio

Televisionary: Yup. In fact, it takes me all way back to 2001, when I first wrote about Wizards and Warriors.

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Question: My sisters and I ...

Question: My sisters and I remember a children's show back in the early '60s that featured a friendly giant. I don't remember much, but I do remember that he'd reach down and open the front of a miniature grandfather clock to set the time, and there was a rocking chair rocking. Can you help us remember what show this was? — Cheryl, Tallahassee, Fla.

Televisionary: You're thinking of The Friendly Giant, a kids' show starring the late Robert Homme as the titular giant, who together with pals Rusty and Jerome (a chicken and a giraffe) and other friends, entertained children for more than a quarter-century. The show was created at a small Wisconsin TV station in 1954, but moved up to Canada and the Canadian Broadcasting System four years afterward. Sadly, Homme passed away in 2000 at the age of 81.

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Question: I seem to remember ...

Question: I seem to remember a program about a superhero called Mr. Terrific. When did it run? He would change in a phone booth. Am I right or wrong? — Ray, Perth Amboy, N.J.

Televisionary: About the phone booth? I don't think so, Ray. As I recall, he merely took his giant pill, turned various colors and was on his way to superdom.

Yes, there was a Mr. Terrific, which ran on CBS from January to August in 1967. It starred Stephen Strimpell as gas-station co-owner Stanley Beamish, who gained wondrous powers after taking the pills developed by the U.S. government's Bureau of Secret Projects. (The pills worked only on him.) Great for fighting crime, except for the fact that the effects lasted only an hour.

John McGiver played BSP head Barton J. Reed, while Dick Gautier (Get Smart, When Things Were Rotten) played Sta read more


Since Barbara Walters revealed on The View that the sight of a mother breast-feeding her child next to her on a flight made her "uncomfortable," she's been under attack by women in favor of the practice. Randy teenage boys are also really, really ticked. read more


In a thriller of a verdict, the jury in the Michael Jackson child-molestation trial found the singer not guilty of the 10 felony counts on which he stood accused. Kind of gives "Beat It" a whole new meaning, doesn't it? Get it? "Beat It"? Beat the charges? Oh, forget it. It's over! read more

The Day You Can't Miss on DVD

By the time Doris Day came to television in 1968, her place in entertainment history was as sealed: She was the freckle-faced all-American blonde who had ruled the box office with bubbly musicals (The Pajama Game) and pseudosophisticated bedroom farces (Pillow Talk, for which she was Oscar-nominated).

Her CBS sitcom, collected on The Doris Day Show Season 1 (MPI Home Video, $39.98), was wisely built on her bona fide girl-next-door appeal. She played a widowed mother who moves from the big city to the country to raise her boys (Philip Brown and Tod Starke).

Critics at the time dismissed the show as poorly written fluff, but audiences spooned it up like a butterscotch parfait, and it ran for five successful seasons.

True, the shows' plots make even Everybody Loves Raymond seem multilayered (a noisy clock keeps everyone up; the kids take Mom out to an expen read more


MTV has given the go-ahead to a load of new reality shows to fill the air during those rare instances when a Real World marathon isn't on. Among the series ensuring we'll never see another music video on music television again: The Reality Show (billed as a "reality search competition"), Parental Control (a dating program) and Bad Dads, Phat Mums (an English import whose title we prefer not to dwell on). read more


The busboy who found — and kept — "Margaritaville" singer Jimmy Buffett's lost cell phone confessed to cops that his pals (clearly Mensa members all) may have used it to crank-call Bill Clinton. The accused added that he and his posse checked out the address book while smoking pot, which we could have figured out for ourselves: Clear-headed people know it'd be easier to get a rise out of Hillary. read more


While covering the upcoming presidential election in Iran for The San Francisco Chronicle, Sean Penn had his camera taken away temporarily. To further irritate the short-fused Clark Kent, officials suggested that maybe Jude Law wasn't such a great actor. read more


According to the New York Post, although Russell Crowe was scheduled to join el presidente and his missus at the White House last Wednesday for a Cinderella Man screening, the actor canceled the get-together following his arrest. No word on whether his regrets were phoned in. read more

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