Thursday, November 26, 2015

Relief from Boob Tube Banalities: TV's Many Other Windows I Am Now Just Opening: Thriving Vietnam Today Stirs Painful Memories of War; Old TV Shows Recall Simpler-Saner Times, Pre-Mass Shootings

And it's about time!

By accident, I discovered a number of channels I have with Comcast that I have overlooked  How rich and refreshing it is to look into the past, or across into Asia. Here are some captured photos from both disparate realms: 

Can you name the country where this game show takes place?  Read on ...

Theeeeres Johnny!  Before Tonight, Johnny Carson showed up on a great game show, To Tell the Truth.  Three people each introduce themselves by the same name.  The panelists, taking turns, ask them questions, trying to figure out who is the actual person.  So intriguing.  I'm surprised this show has never been revived in some format.

The country is Vietnam. The channel, Vietoday.  The game show is called Mot Phut De Chien Thang. This dancing MC is flashy good fun.  Contestants balance and manipulate objects in semi-juggling fashion.  A gas.

They try stacking objects into intricate formations.  They try blowing balls into  -- I don't know where there were intended to go..  And when they succeed, they victory-dance around the stage with the MC.

What a surprise!  I know all about TV Land, but I would  never have expected to find any early program from 1952 anywhere but, if lucky, at the Museum of TV and Radio in Beverly Hills or New York.  Okay, bash the fifties if you must.  What among many things did that despised decade lack?   Teenage infidelity as a spectator sport, for one.  Frighteningly frequent coverage of bloody mass shootings, for another.  Here, you see Miss Brooks and Mr Boynton, the eternal object of her pining for romance, played by Robert Rockwell, whose son, Jeffrey, played Al Ringling in my musical Those Ringlings when first presented in Los Angeles.

Advance by 65 years to our ambitious young Asians.

On a Vietnamese talent show, this kid made the four chairs turn for him, and brought one judge to his feet.

At least American influences are being put to non-violent means these days.

But not a single chair turned to face  this girl.  Two kind judges ran out to console her.  Touching moment.

These talent show are easy to watch, even without my understanding a word of the language.  On the other programs, I do my best trying to read body language. 

Superman!   Another rare discovery, from  1952 on MeTV. 

The fifties also gave us Lois Lane, fearless reporter, and a female no less, for the Daily Planet, day job employer of Clark Kent when he wasn't flying about in his famous cape.

And ... Lois revives this miner, near death in a collapsed mine shaft.   Just in time for Superman to swoop down to the rescue.

Asian kiddies:  I've seen many young tots, some hardly out of diapers, blasting out American pop and banging away on guitars for a shot at local stardom. I think this was off a major channel that broadcasts shows from Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

Upside down goes the little girl!

Back to the fifties when we had live drama, when I first saw Death of a Salesman and Waiting for Godot on mainstream TV.  Both were outstanding.  Yes, bash the fifties for not bringing us more sophisticated programming, such as that offered today by Jerry Springer and  Maury Povich, among other icons of enlightenment.

Here's a scene from Studio One, 1958, presented LIVE.  I remember watching these dramatic  adaptations, more famously remembered from Playhouse 90,and sometimes glimpsing a camera at the edge of the screen.  Can you name the man at the center? Answer below.

Such a beautiful country.  And such real people. 

I discovered a series, nearing its end, set in a small Vietnamese village along the river, focusing on the everyday lives of families, work to recreation.  Humorous moments were whimsically scored by squeaky toots from a brass instrument.  Even their sense of humor is more subtle than ours.

In one episode, this boy went to a swimming competition with his village friends, and I think he won.  The bus ride to and from was charming.  Here, he has spotted an approaching tiger.

This one program moved me the most -- the kids at play, the parents tending to them and to their own conflicts, the lovely scenes of boats on the river, the bamboo houses.  And while watching it I felt silent tears in my heart for all of the Vietnamese people who were killed and maimed and tortured during that catastrophic nightmare of a "war" produced by the American military industrial complex and by the politicians of this country.  In other words, produced by self-serving greed  and egregiously misguided "American exceptionalism."  Thank God for the American journalists and photographers who went over there to honestly record what really happened in one of the darkest hours of civilization.

The perfect way to end this post --- Peace and happiness in a remarkably advanced Vietnam. and how happy I am to see scenes like this.  I found this couple on another channel,, and from what have seen on Asian TV, I'd bet that love is more vividly expressed on Vietnamese channels than any of the others.  Certainly not in Japan. 

Answer to the man at the center: Boris Kaarloff.

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