Tag Archives: NBC

Americana: Rose Parade


Elaborate flower-covered floats and marching bands didn't enter the minds of parade organizers when the first Rose Parade was held back in 1890. Uploaded by nlh.org.

If you happened to have been in Pasadena in 1890 (Anyone? Anyone?), you could have been one of the 2,000 or so people who saw a number of horse-drawn carriages covered in flowers. No floats, no cars, no marching bands. But you’d have been a witness to the start one of America’s most-beloved New Year’s Day traditions. (Unless that happens to fall on Sunday, in which case it’s a day-after-New-Year’s-Day tradition.)

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If you’d been there on January 1, 2011, you’d have witnessed a much more elaborate spectacle. Beginning with the flyover of a B-2 Stealth Bomber, and grand marshal Paula Deen, y’all. You’d have witnessed 42 flower-covered floats, heard 22 marching bands, and prayed that none of the 22 equestrian units decided to lighten its load in front of you.

Of course, you didn’t have to go to Pasadena to see this spectacle. You could have been one of the millions who watched on ABC, NBC, Hallmark, HGTV, or Univision. Or been one of several hundred million people who tuned in live around the globe. The Rose Parade is truly a spectacle in all the good senses of that word — quite a difference from what the city fathers of Pasadena envisioned back in the late nineteenth century…

TV Show: Columbo

Peter Falk presented Columbo as disheveled, quirky, and unassuming. Then he used his prey's overconfidence to his advantage in bringing them to justice. Uploaded to Photobucket by skjern 2007.

The TV classic Columbo was an “anti-whodunit.” Typically, we saw the crime being committed at the beginning of the episode, and knew who the “perp” was. The rest of the show was devoted to watching the wonderful Detective Columbo figure out the crime and catch the bad guy.

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The wonderful Peter Falk portrayed Detective Columbo as a rumpled, disheveled mess who was constantly underestimated by those he suspected of crimes. He didn’t usually carry a gun or need to resort to force, his unexpected wits and powers of observation being his main crime-solving tools. I’m sure he occasionally used forensic evidence, but Columbo is about as far from the CSI school of detection as it’s possible to get.

Columbo began as a segment of the NBC Mystery Movie (other segments: McMillan & Wife and McCloud). Its primary run on NBC lasted from 1971-1978, though it aired infrequently on ABC a decade later. By the way, the first season premiere “Murder by the Book” was written by Steven Bochco and directed by Steven Spielberg (Great American Things, July 22, 2009), both relative unknowns at that time. That’s one way to kick things off the right way, wouldn’t you agree?

TV Show: Hill Street Blues


Its first season, Hill Street Blues received poor ratings. But then it received 21 Emmy nominations. It didn't have rating problems again. Uploaded by dvdtimes.co.uk.

From the moment the great Mike Post theme song came on, you knew you were going to see a different kind of show. Hill Street Blues wasn’t just a great cop show, it created the template for ensemble dramas to come. So N.Y.P.D. Blue, E.R., L.A. Law, St. Elsewhere – the least you can do is send Hill Street Blues a Christmas card each year.

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HSB ran on NBC from 1981 to 1987. Most episodes began at roll call, when Sgt. Phil Esterhaus would admonish his team, “Hey, let’s be careful out there.” The show usually went through a day in the lives of officers at a single precinct in an unnamed Midwest city. The language was gritty, as realistic as TV would allow at the time. And like most successful shows, the casting was outstanding, no small feat considering that the cast consisted of 15 or 16 regulars each season.

This is one of those times when network executives rewarded quality in spite of low ratings. The show’s first season would normally have let to cancellation, but NBC renewed it for a second season. Or at least, for 10 episodes of a second season. One factor that may have rescued the run is that it dominated the Emmy Awards. People wanted to know what was this program that got a record 21 Emmy nominations, and won eight. They tuned in, the ratings rose, and we got to have 132 episodes of the Blues.

Actor: Bob Hope

Bob Hope and the reigning Miss World entertain aboard the USS Bennington in 1966. Uploaded by uss-bennington.org.

Bob Hope and the reigning Miss World entertain aboard the USS Bennington in 1966. Uploaded by uss-bennington.org.

No one has ever done as much to entertain our troops overseas as Bob did. It began normally enough, when Bob was one of many Hollywood stars who visited our troops fighting in World War II. But he continued his service whenever Americans were in harm’s way – in the Berlin airlift, in Korea, in Vietnam, in Beirut, and in Operation Desert Storm.

His dedication didn’t go unappreciated. He had a ship named in his honor (the USNS Bob Hope) as well as an Air Force C-17 (the “Spirit of Bob Hope”). But perhaps his biggest honor was being honored by Congress as an Honorary Veteran, the first individual so honored in American history.

Uploaded by freewebs.com.

Uploaded by freewebs.com.

I remember as a kid dreading when a Bob Hope special came on TV. We had only one set, of course, and only three channels. And my parents loved Bob Hope, so we were stuck. I didn’t appreciate what Bob Hope meant to The Greatest Generation.

As an adult, though, I’ve learned to love those Road pictures Bob made with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. Those films featured excellent writing and great comic timing among the principals. He always joked about never winning an Oscar: “Oscar night at my house is called Passover,” he said. And yet he starred in 50 films, and appeared on the NBC radio and television networks for an astonishing 60 years. Bob lived to the age of 100, and was active almost to the end.

Bob, I’d like to apologize for the mean thoughts I had about you when I was young. I join the rest of America in honoring you for all you did for your profession and your country. Thanks for the memories…