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8/8/2010 - Updated - Patricia Neal Passes Away! .... Question Answered .... Movie Notes .... Q-bert Was Robbed .... Passing On .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf /
Nolan's Pop Culture Review 2010!
Assistant Editor / Co-moderator: Terence Nuzum

Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our eleventh calendar year!
Number 541  (Vol. 11, No. 32). This edition is for the week of August 2--8, 2010.

Even More
Summer PCR Anniversaries
One More Retro TV Surprise
Mitch Miller, Dead at 99


Crazed Fanboy's Most Memorable Moments, 2000--2009
As submitted by PCR writers, compiled by Chris Woods
From 2002, PCR covers the very first film festival from Renegade Films, Saints and Sinners.
Last week, Ye Olde Editor's preoccupation with getting The World of Nolan video online caused a memory snafu regarding a few significant columnist's anniversaries. Fortunately, ED Tucker keeps better track of that than I do, so last week's Retrorama served as a reminder.

Congratulations to ED Tucker (Retrorama) and Lisa Scherer (FANGRRL) for reaching their third anniversary on Nolan's Pop Culture Review, and to Jason Fetters (The Asian Aperture) on his one-year anniversary! ED followed Lisa one week apart at the end of July 2007 and Jason started the last week of July 2009.

It's funny how frequently it's right at this time of year a new column starts. Not exclusively, mind you, but more often than not. While ruminating over dinner last Friday, Will Moriaty reminded me that his wonderful on-and-off again column, La Floridiana started the last week of July, 2001. Bobby & Jake's attempt at the short-lived Music Emporium began the first week of August, 2008. Chris Woods' monthly Growing Up Fanboy started a little later, in September of 2008.

One notable exception is Mike's Rant written by ten-year PCR vet Mike Smith who started with me in Spring 2000, and who has never missed an issue. (To their credit, neither has ED, Jason, or Chris! Thanks, guys.)

Of course, I'm grateful for any writer who joined us at any time of the year to join us in celebration of crazed fandom! All PCR writers are held in the highest esteem by Ye Olde Editor and have kept a consistently high standard. The aforementioned are just a few I remember that sprung up in the dog days of summer.



I hadn't intended on featuring any Retro TV this week, but as luck would have it, there I was again on Sunday morning flipping through the channels and found an old episode of Bat Masterson on 8.2 RetroTV. With few exceptions, I was never all that big a fan of what I saw as "formula westerns" back in the day (The Rifleman and Bonanza being two notable exceptions). Those older than me could identify with westerns because the "old west" was only about 50 years removed at the time of TV's first western craze in the late '50s. Now, another 50 years later, some hold up and others seem really antiquated. Me, I was a space-age kid, then and now. I loved my fiction in outer space. But, I digress...

Starring fan favorite Gene Barry, I was never all that sure who or what Bat Masterson was supposed to be. He was definitely a gambler and gunslinger, but with his fancy clothes, "cane and derby hat" (as the catchy theme song points out), he didn't seem to be a sheriff or whatever. Some simply referred to him as a "lawman", but he seemed to make his money primarily from gambling. No matter, it had some cool episodes.

The episode I'm spotlighting today caught my attention because of a very special co-star: LON CHANEY, JR. I couldn't resist seeing this. The title of the episode I had to look up, because it isn't featured on the show. "Bat Trap" sounds like it could've been a title of an Adam West Batman adventure, haha!

Bat Masterson..........Gene Barry
Rance Fletcher..........Lon Chaney, Jr. (billed as "Lon Chaney")

The town council of Midas Creek hire William Barclay "Bat" Masterson to run their annual shooting contest, aka, the annual "Turkey Shoot" (altho no turkeys were harmed---or even shot at---during this production).

The three finalists are the local gunsmith, a young gunman new to the contest, and...drumroll please....Rance Fletcher (Lon Chaney), local bully, a**hole and crack shot with a rifle.

While Fletcher has a decent shot at the prize money (no pun intended), his insecurity and mean-sprited nature lead him to try and tilt the odds in his favor anyway. He tries to intimidate the boy until Masterson steps in. Nevertheless, he finds a way to damage the kid's gun before the contest. Still not confident, during the "warm-up" to the contest, Fletcher uses the noise of practicing shooters to cover an attempt to murder the kid! A**hole indeed! The boy, however, was hit in the shoulder and had to sit out the contest.

The local gunsmith wins the contest, although it was a narrow victory. Outraged, Fletcher kidnaps his daughter and runs to the hills challenging Masterson to come get him in a final shootout. Long story short, Masterson outsmarts Fletcher, saves the girl, and saves the day.

  • Bat Masterson ran three seasons on NBC from 1958--1961.

  • Original Air Date of "Bat Trap": October 13, 1960.

  • Lon Chaney, Jr. had been billing himself as simply "Lon Chaney" for some time. I don't remember him doing all that much television back then, but once in a while he'd show up. He was having terrible problems with heavy drinking, and the Fletcher character looks and sounds like an alcoholic. It works for the character. Still, Chaney's performance is darn good and he really makes an irritating villain.

    The series was loosely based on Richard O'Connor's 1957 book of the same name. This was highlighted by the book's front cover being shown at the end of the closing credits with an onscreen notation "based on".



    There are precious few show-biz celebrities left from my childhood who are still alive, let alone any who appeared to be old even then!

    Bandleader Mitch Miller is--or was--one of these special people. Forever identified with the vintage NBC-TV series "Sing Along With Mitch!" TV phenomenon of the '50s and '60s, he is arguably the original inventor of what would decades later morph into the karaoke craze.

    While I remember him from talk show appearances on The Mike Douglas Show and the like in the '60s, I also remember seeing a Beanie and Cecil cartoon produced earlier than that ('50s?) that spoofed him, so he was popular even then.

    Both his original show and any spoofs featured the "bouncing ball" animation that would bounce over the lyrics super'd over the live-action.

    Miller began his career as head of Artists & Repertoire for Mercury and Columbia Records signing many influential pop, blues and lounge-type acts. Reportedly, Miller didn't like rock 'n' roll music and passed on working with the likes of Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly when he had the chance. (Allegedly he would've reluctantly signed Elvis, but didn't approve of the money manager Col. Tom Parker was asking.)

    Mitch Miller is a show business pioneer and will be sorely missed. He was 99.


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    "Mike's Rant" is ©2010 by Michael A. Smith     "This Week's Movie Review" is ©2010 by Michael A. Smith     "The Audio Philes" is ©2010 by Terence Nuzum     "La Floridiana" is ©2010 by William Moriaty    "FANGRRL" is ©2010 by Lisa Scherer    "Retrorama" is ©2010 by ED Tucker    "Growing Up Fanboy" is ©2010 by Chris Woods    "Sports Talk" is ©2010 by Chris Munger     "The Asian Aperture" is ©2010 by Jason Fetters      All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova    
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