Rerjun Junkie–The Last of My TV Boyfriends

Pete MalloyI have three TV boyfriends: Artemus Gordon, Dan Williams, and Pete Malloy. These three characters (from The Wild Wild West, Hawaii Five-O, and Adam-12, respectively) managed to capture a little piece of my rerun junkie heart that no other character could. Sure, there have been crushes. Like Jim Rockford, for example. But these three guys really make it for me. Don’t ask me to tell you why because I don’t know. You can’t explain love.

So my heart was understandably broken when I heard on Monday that Martin Milner had passed away. A wonderful man and a wonderful actor, there are a whole lot of people sad and rightfully so.

But I’m doing a fair bit of mourning, not unlike what I did when James MacArthur died back in 2010. Ross Martin passed away back in 1981, long before I identified as a rerun junkie and discovered him, but I imagine I would have mourned just as much for him then if I had.

My last TV boyfriend is gone.

There’s a very odd sort of emotional duel going on in my being right now because the actor died, but the character I love will live forever because that’s how reruns work. That’s not to say that I don’t adore Martin Milner, because I do. I love watching him in other stuff, too. He’s in one of my favorite episodes of Murder, She Wrote and I’ve seen him in Route 66 as well as in some of my other reruns. I’m delighted to see him in anything, just as I’m delighted to see James MacArthur or Ross Martin play different characters. It’s a trip to see James MacArthur, Danno for crying out loud, play a right jerk and do it well. And Ross Martin is probably one of my favorite actors of all time because the ease at which he could seem to play any character, from psychotic bastard to wounded, vulnerable human.

Those three people are gone, but their characters live on.

Pete Malloy will never die. He’ll never wither, he’ll never age. There’s no risk that he’ll get cancer or suffer a stroke. Any injuries he sustains, any illnesses he contracts, he’ll recover. I know he’ll recover. Because I’ve seen it all before. He’ll always exist in a sort of frozen bit of time, a safe place where my TV boyfriend will always be waiting.

But the man that brought Pete Malloy to life, that gave him the essence and personality and emotion and face that I love has passed away and I’m really bummed about that.

Safe travels across the horizon, Mr. Milner. Thanks for everything. I really appreciate it.

Rerun Junkie–Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Oh where would I be without my LSD nigh nigh show?

Where the weird shit lives
Where the weird shit lives

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is a 1960’s Irwin Allen television show based on an Irwin Allen film of the same name. The show features the crew of a submarine called the Seaview which is headed by Admiral Nelson (Richard Basehart) and his right-hand man Captain Crane (David Hedison) and all of their wacky hijinx.

Okay, they only seem wacky because this was ’60s sci-fi and the first season (in black and white) was much more serious in tone, featuring mostly Cold War-inspired espionage and foreign baddies along with some sub-in-trouble episodes and only a few really weirdo episodes. Most of the sci-fi came from the submarine and the tech that everyone was using.

When the series went to color in the second season, that’s when things really started getting fantastic and stayed that way until the end of its four year run. In that time, the poor crew of the Seaview dealt with ghosts, werewolves, clowns, wax men, lobster men, a literal fire man, frost men, shadow men, a leprachaun, and my personal favorite, sentient seaweed, among other wild things. The crew, which included Chip (Robert Dowdell), Chief Sharkey (Terry Becker), my favorite crewman Kowalski (Del Monroe), Curley (Henry Kulky, who sadly passed away after the first season), Patterson (Paul Trinka), and Doctor (Richard Bull, aka Nels Oleson from Little House on the Prairie), always managed to come out victorious (though many nameless crew members often bit it in the course of victory, though no one ever seemed to mind) and probably could have used a pay raise, extra leave time, and maybe some PTSD therapy for the shit they’d seen.

"Sir, there's something on sonar."  "Probably some science experiment gone wrong. Let's poke it with a stick."
“Sir, there’s something on sonar.”
“Probably some science experiment gone wrong. Let’s poke it with a stick.”

And they saw a lot. They ended up inside whales and jelly fish. They disappeared. They went back in time. They transported murderous gorillas and mermaids with not much better temperaments. They diffused bombs and battled saboteurs. Everybody got kidnapped at least once and Chip ended up on Venus (sometimes I think he probably wishes they left him there).

They also saw a lot of people for a crew that spent most of their time on a submarine that always seemed to be on fire. Guest stars included: John Banner and Werner Klemperer before they went to work at Stalag 13; James Doohan and George Takei (this was probably great training for their Star Trek journey); Ed Asner; Tom Skerritt; James Brolin; Jill Ireland; Batman heroine Yvonne Craig and Batman villain Victor Buono; my horror movie love Vincent Price; Paul Fix, Jacques Aubuchon; June Lockhart, who didn’t have to do laundry for a change; John Fujioka; Brooke Bundy; Irene Tsu; John Dehner, John Hoyt, Nehemiah Persoff, John Anderson, Kevin Hagen, and Peter Mark Richman because I think it was required by law for those guys to be on your show in the ’60s and ’70s; Michael Constantine, who worked under the same law, but for more decades; Michael Ansara; George Lindsey; Leslie Nielsen; Robert Duvall as an alien (this is when I knew the series was going to really be something); James Frawley; Victor Mature; Nicholas Colasanto long before Cheers; Frances X. Bushman; James Darren; Patrick Wayne; John Cassevettes; Michael Dunn, whom I immediately recognized under his clown make-up the second he smiled; and if you pay attention to the crewmen in the background, you’ll see our old friend Marco Lopez (Emergency!) in about twenty episodes of the last two seasons.

This is one of those shows where it was probably absolutely amazing to the viewing audience at the time, especially after the show went to color, but now is pretty hokey looking with some really far out storylines. I mean, the lobster man was something to behold because it didn’t quite look like either. And I’m not joking when I say the Seaview was always on fire. It seems like something in that sub is always on fire. Even the Garvey’s barn didn’t burn this much.

But it’s a super fun show.

I couldn’t get to sleep on Saturday nights without it.

Really, what IS that?
Really, what IS that?

Rerun Junkie– The Big Valley

Though the TV Westerns were starting a downward trend, there was still a need for the adventures of a strong matriarch and her brood of grown kids.

Big Valley

The Barkley family included widowed mother Victoria (Miss Barbara Stanwyck), eldest son and lawyer Jarrod (Richard Long), rowdy son Nick (Peter Breck), only girl Audra (Linda Evans), bastard son Heath (Lee Majors), and youngest and rarely seen son Eugene (Charles Briles).

Over the run of the show, the Barkley clan dealt with murders, rustlers, bigots, prejudice, political scandal, PTSD (though it wasn’t called that), corruption, rabid wolves, mountain lions, dynamite, forest fires, and folks that just didn’t like rich families named Barkley.

But they're so delightful! And hardly snobby at all!
But they’re so delightful! And hardly snobby at all!

Friends and enemies of the Barkleys included: Western staples Royal Dano, Claude Akins, Dub Taylor and son Buck; Bing Russell; Richard Anderson; LQ Jones; James Gregory; in everything at the time Harold Gould, Virginia Gregg, Nehemiah Persoff, J. Pat O’Malley, John Hoyt, John Dehner, Dabbs Greer, and Kevin Hagen; Gavin MacLeod; Paul Fix and Johnny Crawford; Robert Fuller and Julie London, with a Bobby Troup cameo; Adam West, Yvonne Williams, and Van Williams (Batman, Batgirl, and Green Hornet); Sheree North; Jeanne Cooper; Eve Plumb; Pernell Roberts; Wayne Rogers; Mako; big names (either current or future) Dennis Hopper, Yaphet Kotto, Charles Bronson, William Shatner, Buddy Hackett, Diane Ladd, Ellen Burstyn, Milton Berle, Leslie Nielsen, Anne Baxter, Karen Black, Regis Philbin, Cloris Leachman, Ron Howard, Martin Landau, Colleen Dewhurst, and Richard Dreyfus; Keye Luke; Joe Don Baker; Judy Carne; Arlene Golonka; Russell Johnson; and Joyce Jameson.

As I mentioned before, Heath was a genuine bastard son, the product of a romance between Tom Barkley (Victoria’s dead husband, but he wasn’t dead at the time of the affair because it was scandalous, but not THAT scandalous) and another woman when he was in a bad way.  In fact, a few episodes were devoted to this bit of scandal, including the pilot when Heath first shows up to claim the Barkley name and an episode in which Victoria travels to Heath’s hometown to found if Tom loved Heath’s mother and if he loved her. Pretty deep and saucy stuff for a Western.

Part of the afternoon Western line-up at the time, I got sucked into watching because there was nothing else on. I quickly noticed defining character elements: Jarrod frowns; Heath glares; Audra frets; and Nick (my favorite) punches people. And Victoria Barkley? Oh, she just kicks ass. Seriously, the woman could handle a gun and a whip and she went up against anyone without flinching. I wouldn’t mind being her when I grow up.

Maybe with less blue eye shadow thought.

She owns it. And you will call her ma'am.
She owns it. And you will call her ma’am.

Rerun Junkie–The Addams Family

They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky, they’re all together ooky…and most likely more fun than your own family.

Snap along!
Snap along!

This fun ’60s show featured an oddball clan led by father Gomez (John Astin), mother Morticia (Carolyn Jones), children Pugsley (Ken Weatherwax) and Wednesday (Lisa Loring), the witch-like Grandmama (Blossom Rock), light bulb enthusiast Uncle Fester (Jackie Coogan), the hairy-adorable Cousin Itt (Felix Silla), and the loyal and prompt butler Lurch (Ted Cassidy). The family was always frequently aided by a helpful hand-in-a-box named Thing.


The house was a museum (as stated by the theme song) filled with curious objects like a noose that rang a gong for the butler, a foghorn doorbell, a rack, an iron maiden, suits of armor, an elaborate train set with frequently crashing trains, and a bear rug that roared. Being a typical family, they had their pets: Morticia had an African Strangler plant named Cleopatra and a vulture named Zelda; Pugsley had Aristotle the octopus;  Wednesday had spiders like her black widow named Homer; and of course, there was their lion named Kitty Cat.

The family had a rather spooky view of life. They lived for Halloween, ate weird foods and even poisons, clipped the roses off of their thorny stems and kept the stems, practiced fencing in the living room, made potions, had a dungeon, camped in swamps, and were generally odd, much to the chagrin of neighbors and the fright and/or awe of folks that stopped by. The oddness didn’t affect the Addams family wealth, though, and Gomez (a lawyer) employed a stock broker who managed the weirdness in the name of money.

Among those that dropped in at the Addams’s residence: Vitto Scotti and Virginia Gregg, because they stopped in everywhere; Margaret Hamilton as Morticia’s mother (a fitting role for the Wicked Witch of the West); Don Rickles; Parley Baer; Ellen Corby down from Walton Mountain; Hal Smith, better known as Mayberry town drunk Otis; Meg Wylie; Marty Ingels; Jack LaLane; Peter Bonerz before he became a dentist in the same building as Bob Newhart; Madge Blake, Dick Grayson’s Aunt Harriet; and Richard Deacon.

While the family was pretty bizarre in a fun way, they still dealt with the usual family troubles and resolved them in their own way. When a neighbor told Wednesday that witches didn’t exist (like telling a kid there’s no Santa), they held a seance to conjure up a long dead (burned at the stake) witch relative named Aunt Singe. When Morticia thought Gomez had gone broke, she and the rest of the clan rallied around to make money on the sly so his ego wouldn’t be hurt (Lurch and Uncle Fester were escorts, Morticia taught fencing, Grandmama became a beautician, and the children set up a lemonade stand that sold something not quite like lemonade…even Thing sold pencils). When Gomez was insulted by the property tax bill (it was something like eight bucks and he thought they should have been charged much more for their beautiful palace), he ran for mayor with the family helping his campaign.

They helped each other, supported each other, and genuinely loved each other. Keep your Romeo and Juliet; I want a love like Morticia and Gomez!

This could be us, but you playin'.
This could be us, but you playin’.

This is one of those shows that I watched a lot as a kid, enjoying the randomness and wackiness of the family. I’ve since rediscovered it and am now enjoying all of the hilarious dialogue that I missed as a kid.

Fester: (talking about the neighbor that told Wednesday that witches didn’t exist) I still think he should be horsewhipped. I’m going to get a horse!

Morticia: (in response to Gomez asking if Aunt Singe likes children) All witches love children. Remember Hansel and Gretel?

Morticia: (explaining Cousin Itt’s dilemma) He hasn’t quite found himself.

Gomez: And with Cousin Itt that isn’t easy. He looks the same from every angel.

Not to mention the variety of meanings of Lurch’s groans and Cousin Itt’s gibberish.

It’s one of those shows that I wish would have lasted longer than two seasons, but I’m still happy that I found it again. So let’s sing the theme song one more time!

Thank you, Thing.
Thank you, Thing.

Rerun Junkie–Guest Stars: Virginia Gregg

Guest stars are the underrated necessity to any TV show. Someone has to be a victim, be a villain, be a good guy, be a witness, be a friend, be a bystander, be a customer. In short, the main cast needs someone else to interact with on occasion just to keep things interesting.

I have a list of my favorite guest stars that I think are worthy of posts of their own. These are my people.

Virginia Gregg

On any given day of the week, it’s entirely possible that I’ll see Virginia Gregg on one of my reruns. Sometimes it seems like she was on every show ever made for about thirty years. Sometimes it seems like I see her every day of the week.

Of course, this isn’t a bad thing.

It’s also not too far off from impossible.

When I played my Me-TV guest star game last fall, the only person that had more guest appearances on the shows of the fall line-up was Vitto Scotti. When I said Virginia Gregg was in everything, I’m not really exaggerating the truth by much.

Of the current Me-TV summer line-up, she’s in 72 episodes of 22 of the shows.

So, yeah, it’s not far-fetched to possibly see her every day in a given week on this one channel.

She was a favorite of Jack Webb’s so she was in Dragnet (both TV incarnations, two movies, AND the radio version), Emergency!, and Adam-12 (13, 8, and 6 episodes, respectively). With Westerns as popular as they were back in the day she did Gunsmoke (didn’t everyone?), Bonanza, Big Valley, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Wagon Train, The Rebel, Daniel Boone, and Rawhide. Detective shows? Try Streets of San Francisco, Mod Squad, Cannon, and The Rockford Files. She was on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Thriller, and The Twilight Zone. Perry Mason and The Fugitive. And lest you think she could only do drama, she was on episodes of Happy Days and Make Room for Daddy.

And those are just shows on ONE station.

You can witness her fabulousness on Mission: Impossible, Ironside, My Three Sons, Charlie’s Angels, Marcus Welby MD, Bold Ones: The Lawyers, Bold Ones: The New Doctors, The Virginian, Maverick, Alias Smith and Jones, and so many more (I just listed shows I watch).

Being on so many shows, she’s played a variety of characters. The easiest way to get a sample of her range is to watch her episodes of Dragnet ’67. She played a cynical journalist, a gypsy grifter, the wife of a wounded veteran police officer, a no-nonsense secretary, the head of a pyramid scheme, a robbed candy store employee, a widow attempting insurance fraud, a gambler’s wife, a business owner not impressed with crime prevention, and a woman trying to get two police officers in trouble, just to name more than a few.

My personal favorite of her appearances, though, was on an episode of Adam-12 in which she bashed her own car because she was mad at her husband for drinking all the time. She wailed on that thing. It was impressive. And fun.

And so is Miss Virginia Gregg.

Be sure to catch her. She’s on any given day of the week.

Rerun Junkie–Murder, She Wrote

One of the few reruns that I had the pleasure of watching first run before it became a rerun junkie delight, to me, it was never just for old ladies.

I told my niece that's taking piano lessons if she didn't learn this theme song, her lessons were a waste.
I told my niece that’s taking piano lessons if she didn’t learn this theme song, her lessons were a waste.

Murder, She Wrote follows the exploits of widowed former-teacher Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) who now writes mysteries under the name of J.B. Fletcher and solves a few in her spare time. In her quaint hamlet of Cabot Cove, she’s assisted by first Sheriff Amos Tupper (Tom Bosley) and then his successor Sheriff Mort Metzger (Ron Masak) and local doctor Seth Hazlitt (William Window). Most, if not all of the mysteries, were murders, so a lot of people died in Cabot Cove. The guy adjusting the population number on the welcome sign was always busy.

But, it wasn’t just Cabot Cove that was filled with people offing their neighbors left and right. Wherever Jessica Fletcher went, people died (sort of an important component of the series, but it made the woman look like the Angel of Death). At a circus? Murder. On an airplane? Murder. Trapped in a cafe during a storm? Murder. Trapped in a ski lodge during a storm? Murder. At the stockbroker’s office? Murder. In a prison? Murder. At an archaeological dig? Murder. At a wedding? Murder. At a crazy friend’s house? Murder. On a ranch? Murder. At a local inn? Murder. In Sleepy Hollow? Murder.

Here a murder, there a murder, everywhere a murder murder.

They mysteries were pretty straight-forward. They introduced the principal characters, someone died, an investigation ensued, and Jessica would solve it before the credits rolled. A simple formula that could be used to in so many ways, the stories didn’t really get old.

I admit that most of my favorite episodes take place in or near Cabot Cove, or at least with one of the sheriffs or doctor. The chemistry Dame Lansbury has with Mr. Tom Bosley and Mr. William Windom, and later Mr. Ron Masak (who is one of my favorites), is fabulous. You’d never get tired of having lunch with that group.

So, do want to investigate a murder before or after lunch?
So, do want to investigate a murder before or after lunch?


The show ran for twelve years with over 200 episodes, so I’m not exactly exaggerating when I say EVERYONE was on this show. It took me hours over days to sort through everyone before I realized that I could do a whole blog post on the guest stars alone, which I’ll probably end up doing at some point. In the meantime, I decided to do a very short list featuring the names I wanted to feature. Neener.

Other recurring characters on the show included:Michael Horton as Jessica’s often-in-trouble nephew Grady; private investigators Jerry Orbach as Harry McGraw (who got his own, short-lived spin-off) and Wayne Rogers as Charlie Garrett; Keith Mitchell as jewel thief Dennis Stanton; Len Cariou as British agent Michael Hagarty; Herb Edleman as Lt. Artie Gelber and Ken Swafford as Lt. Catalano, the law enforcement Jessica often collaborated with when she was in New York (not my favorite episodes, sorry, guys); Cabot Cove folks Claude Akins as Captain Ethan Cragg, Julie Adams as Eve Simpson, Richard Paul as Mayor Samm Booth, John Astin as Harry Pierce, and Will Nye as Deputy Floyd and Louis Hearthom as Deputy Andy Broom.

Familiar faces from the reruns I’ve blogged about here include: Kevin Tighe, Randolph Mantooth, Robert Fuller, Marco Lopez, Vince Howard, James McEachin, Harry Morgan, Martin Milner, Kent McCord, Adam West, Cesar Romero, Frank Gorshin, Lee Meriweather, James MacArthur, Chuck Connors, Johnny Crawford, Dirk Benedict, Melinda Culea, Eddie Velez, Robert Vaughn, William Lucking, Lance LeGault, Rue McClanahan, George Grizzard, Monte Markham, Melissa Sue Anderson, Karen Grassle, Bonnie Bartlet, Dean Butler, Max Gail, Gregory Sierra, Ron Glass, Abe Vigoda, David Soul, Alan Hale, James Hampton, Forrest Tucker, Joe Santos Noah Beery Jr, Gretchen Corbett, William Conrad, and David Hedison (okay, I haven’t done Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea yet, but I’m going to!).

And just think…that’s the only the tip of the ice berg when it comes to familiar faces.

This is one of those shows that never fails to entertain me, no matter how many times I’ve seen an episode. I catch new things each time I watch it. And Jessica Fletcher is a delightful woman to spend an hour with.

Mostly because you know that you’re the one that won’t end up dead.

Whoops! Another body!
Whoops! Another body!

Rerun Junkie–The Rifleman

Though there was a huge boon of Westerns on TV during the fifties and sixties and therefore plenty of reruns of said Westerns, I am rather ambivalent to most of them, using most of them as background noise on the afternoons I’m not working a day job. However, a couple of them have captured my heart and one of them is The Rifleman.

The Rifleman

The Rifleman features Lucas McCain (Chuck Connors) and his son Mark (Johnny Crawford) building a life in the town of Northfork in the New Mexico territory back before New Mexico was a state and the 20th century was a thing. Lucas’s expertise with a rifle proves to be a valuable asset to Marshall Micah Torrence (Paul Fix) as they both try to keep some law and order in the Wild West.

"C'mon, Micah. We got some lawin' to do."
“C’mon, Micah. We got some lawin’ to do.”

The town had it’s share of familiar faces over the years. Hope Summers, Billy Quinn, Patricia Blair, Joe Higgins, Joan Taylor, and Harlan Warde all played recurring characters during the run of the show. Guest stars included: frequent TV guest stars John Anderson, Richard Anderson, Dabbs Greer (who played a different character in back-to-back episodes; I had to look it up when I first saw it to make sure Me-TV wasn’t airing them in a funny order or it was a season finale/season premier and it wasn’t), Kevin Hagen, William Schallert, Vito Scotti, John Dehner, and John Hoyt; lovely ladies June Allison, Agnes Moorehead (as a really fun character), Grace Lee Whitney, and Patricia Berry; Michael Landon and Dan Blocker before they were on the Ponderosa;  Robert Culp, Martin Landau, and Robert Vaughn before they were spies; James Drury before he was the Virginian; Ellen Corby before she was a grandma;  Frank DeKova before he was a chief of the Hekawi; Adam West before he was Batman; Lee Van Cleef, Royal Dano, Jack Elam, and Denver Pyle (because I think it was a law that they had to be on every Western TV show);  some nobodies like Dennis Hopper, Sammy Davis Jr., James Coburn, Buddy Hackett, and Lon Chaney Jr; and Robert Crawford Jr (Johnny’s brother) and Jeff Connors (Chuck’s son).

(You have no idea how many people I left out. Watch the show to see a whole lot of familiar faces, many of them very young.)

North Fork, like many old west towns in these shows, is a magnet for some real jerks. Bank robbers, kidnappers, gunfighters, murderers, thieves, cattle rustlers, bullies. Naturally, this sort of thing leads to trouble and many times that trouble was solved with Lucas’s rifle. But! That wasn’t the lesson Lucas taught his son. He taught the boy that the rifle was the last resort and it was never something he wanted to use.

This sort of thinking, however, did not apply to anyone messing with Mark. Over the course of the series, Mark got kidnapped or taken hostage, I don’t know, more times than any normal boy is kidnapped/taken hostage during their years between 10 and 15. A few times a season, at least. Anyway, whenever someone threatened/kidnapped/hostaged Lucas’s boy, the shit hit the fan and then Lucas hit the bad guy. Repeatedly. Maybe choked him. Stomped him. Kicked him. Hit him some more.

The backbone of the series really wasn’t Lucas shooting bad guys; it was his relationship with his son Mark. As a widower, he did his best to raise his son right. And he loved his son, that was very clear. He protected him (when he wasn’t getting kidnapped and such) and educated him in the ways of morals and values. For a man that used his gun every episode, he wasn’t keen on his son picking up one of his own too soon. And just as the show didn’t shy away from morals, it didn’t shy away from father-son affection, either. There’s never any doubt that Lucas loves his son and he’s not afraid to show it.

Try getting away with that today. Folks would be hollering “sissy”.

I don’t think it would be smart to take that attitude with the rifleman.

Father and son. They can't be beat.
Father and son. They can’t be beat.

Rerun Junkie–Following the Stars

Ross Martin not being Artemus Gordon.
Ross Martin not being Artemus Gordon.

I like to follow the stars of my reruns. Call it a symptom of my rerun junkie habit. Call it lazy, harmless stalking. Whatever you call it, I do it.

Once I get hooked into a show, I’ll start looking for its stars in other things when I go through the TV schedule for the week. It doesn’t matter what it is, new or old, movie or TV show, I’m just looking for the face.

To me, it’s neat. Here’s someone’s first TV appearance. Here’s their most recent movie. Here’s that same face that you love on this TV show that was made before you were born, the person that plays this character that you adore, doing something totally different.

And I have little to no shame in regards to this TV stalking. If I have taken an interest in you, then I will look for you. And if I see you are going to be on my TV this week, I’ll make a note of it on my phone so I don’t miss it (not kidding; I set an alarm and everything).

Randolph  Mantooth not being Johnny Gage, but doing it with a fantastic mustache.
Randolph Mantooth not being Johnny Gage, but doing it with a fantastic mustache.

Because of this peculiar habit, I’ve seen Johnny Crawford on Little House on the Prairie and Hawaii Five-O; Randolph Mantooth on Charlie’s Angels (with a fabulous mustache) and Criminal Minds; Larry Storch on Love, American Style and Gilligan’s Island; Forrest Tucker on Bionic Woman and Marcus Welby, MD; Ross Martin on The Bold Ones and The Return of the Mod Squad (honestly, my Ross Marin fixation deserves its own post); Kevin Tighe on Law and Order: SVU and Leverage; Kent McCord on Ironside and JAG; and Martin Milner on The Millionaire and The Virginian.

(I don’t think I have to tell you that I’m not listing ALL of them.)

Larry Storch not being  Randolphy Agarn.
Larry Storch not being Randolphy Agarn.

It’s because of this peculiar habit that I realize how many of these people I’ve seen dozens of times BEFORE I found them on my reruns. Do you know how many times I’ve seen Kevin Tighe in Roadhouse and Kent McCord in Airplane II? Well, let’s not discuss it. I’ve seen those flicks an embarrassing number of times. The same goes for anyone that’s been on Murder, She Wrote, because I’ve seen all of those episodes ten times at least. I’ve seen Martin Milner be the hero and Randolph Mantooth get killed sooooo many times.

The point I’m trying to make is that there are so many faces I’ve seen multiple times BEFORE they became significant faces to me. It’s fun to go back and see them again now knowing them.

And you thought I couldn’t have any more fun with my reruns.

Rerun Junkie–F Troop

John Wayne couldn’t patrol the entire Old West. Forts were established to help protect those wild areas. None were as funny, though, as F Troop.

...with a bang and a boom...
…with a bang and a boom…

The show revolved around Sgt. Morgan O’Rourke (Forrest Tucker) and Cpl. Randolph Agarn (Larry Storch) working to make their side business profitable while keeping it secret and also keeping their favored Captain Wilton Parmenter (Ken Berry) happy and oblivious, while he tries to keep the enamored Wrangler Jane (Melody Patterson) enamored without being TOO enamored. O’Rourke and Agarn worked with the Hekawi tribe, led by Chief Wild Eagle (Frank DeKova) to sell souvenirs, but also to help keep up certain illusions with Captain Permenter at the fort.

Members of F-Troop included lousy bugler Dobbs (James Hampton), blind sentry Vanderbilt (Joe Brooks), and Alamo veteran Duffy (Bob Steele). Chief Wild Eagle was aided by his son Crazy Cat (Don Diamond), who was more than ready to take over, Smokey Bear (Ben Frommer), and Roaring Chicken (Edward Everett Horton).

Chief Wild Eagle drives a hard bargain.
Chief Wild Eagle drives a hard bargain.

The show featured many of O’Rourke and Agarn’s get-rich quick schemes, including buying a ghost town, trying to get dancing girls for the saloon, trying to rope a wild horse to sell, and just about anything if the Hekawi could be made to agree to it. And since this was a Calvary post, there were always inspections, transfers, training, and other such military-minded things that Captain Parmenter was always prepared for as he always carried his trusty army manual with him.

Folks that stopped by Fort Courage included: James Gregory; Arch Johnson; Mako: funny men Henry Gibson, Don Rickles, Harvey Korman, Paul Lynde, Milton Berle, and George Furth; my forever favorite guest star J. Pat O’Malley; Catwomen Lee Meriwether and Julie Newmar; John Dehner; Zsa Zsa Gabor; Jaques Aubuchon (Boris!); Pooh and Baloo…I mean Sterling Holloway and Phil Harris; cowboys Jack Elam, Victor French (who I didn’t even recognize!), and Don ‘Red’ Barry; Vic Tayback; Jamie Farr (not in a dress but it’s this gig that led him to wear one); Mary Wickes; Jeanette Nolan; Pat Harrington, JR; and two of my favorite people Vincent Price and Joyce Jameson. Ivan Bell, John Mitchum, and Jimmy Horan also had recurring roles as troopers.

Let’s just get this out of the way right here. The show ran for two seasons in the 60’s (’65-’67). Political correctness hadn’t been invented yet. They called the Indians…Indians. In fact, they even use the word “redskin” in the theme song that was used the first season. None of the people playing Indians are Indians. This was commonplace at the time. Don’t let this detract from the show.

This is a show like Gilligan’s Island in the sense that it is quite silly, but it’s incredibly funny and probably wouldn’t have worked without this particular cast. Forrest Tucker and Larry Storch are brilliant together, their delivery and timing spot on. It’s hard to imagine anyone else doing the exact same scenes and having them be as funny. Ken Barry is a bit overshadowed because of this, but his Captain Parmenter is just as much fun and the interactions with Melody Patterson’s Wrangler Jane are both sweet and hilarious. Even though Frank DeKova and Don Diamond are basically playing stereotypes with the speech patterns and stuff, they’re still funny without every joke being about them being Indian. There are a lot of jokes that you can see coming a mile away and yet you still laugh.

I’m telling you, it’s all in the delivery.

I remember first seeing this show when I was a little kid (it was on late at night with Laugh-In, The Monkees, and Get Smart), but I never gave it much of a chance. I should have, though. I’ve missed out.

I was kinda dumb for a kid.

Don't cry, Agarn. I was said it only lasted two seasons, too.
Don’t cry, Agarn. I was sad it only lasted two seasons, too.

Rerun Junkie–The Guest Star Game

Star Cluster

I watch a lot of reruns, as you may know. Most of the time, my TV is tuned to Me-TV for my rerun junkie needs. Because I watch that station so much during the day, it’s not unusual for me to see the same guest star faces several times during the day. Some actors got around A LOT and some were kept very busy by television.

As such, I’ve developed my favorite guest stars, faces I’ve love to see pop up on my shows (but that’s another post). And since I’ve gotten so good at recognizing the faces that other people might not notice, it’s led me down the road to other thinky thoughts.

For example, one weekend I was bored off of my rocker and as I was watching my reruns I suddenly wondered who had been in the most shows that were on the current Me-TV fall line-up. My guess was Virginia Gregg because that woman was in EVERYTHING. It’s not uncommon for me to go a couple of weeks in a row and see her pop up somewhere at least once a day.

Then my thought went a little further. How many guest stars would it take to represent the current Me-TV fall line-up?  What’s the fewest number I could come up with?

And so the game was born.

I started off with the guest stars I thought I saw all of the time: Virginia Gregg, J. Pat O’Malley, Dabbs Greer, Kevin Hagen, Vitto Scotti, and went from there, adding and researching new names as I came across them. It turns out that Vitto Scotti was in more of the shows than Virginia Gregg, but the two of them combined covered most of the line-up. After that it was just filling in the blanks.

So far the game stands at 11 as my lowest. Eleven guest stars cover 65 shows.

Some shows are harder than others to find one of my familiar faces on and oddly, some of the shows were surprising in their difficulty.

But the game continues. I’m sure that if I pay attention and keep researching, I’ll be able to get that number down under ten. I’m just sure of it.

And when the schedule changes in the spring, like I”m sure it will, I’ll start the game all over again to account for the change.

Okay, yes, this is a pretty geeky timewaster, I admit that. It’s taking rerun junkie to a new limit.

I’m an overachiever.