Monday, July 27, 2015

Keeping Track

• We’ve written before on this page about Undershaw, Arthur Conan Doyle’s once-endangered former home in Hindhead, England (see here and here), including bringing you the news that the once-stately residence, where Conan Doyle produced 13 Sherlock Holmes adventures, had been saved from redevelopment. Now comes word of a plan to raise money for Undershaw’s renovation as a school for children with learning disabilities. “Sixty of the world’s leading Sherlock Holmes authors have come together to create the largest ever anthology of new stories about the Baker Street detective. …,” reports Radio Times. “All the royalties from the anthology, which will span three hardback volumes and cover 1,200 pages, will go towards the new owners of the building, Stepping Stones--a small specialist education provision--who are restoring [Undershaw] back to its former glory, including the restoration of Conan Doyle’s study. One of the pledges from Stepping Stones [managers] to their Sherlockian supporters is that outside term time they will be making the house accessible to fans as much as possible; allowing them to visit the study and look out the very windows Conan Doyle did when he wrote stories such as The Hound of the Baskervilles.” Britain’s MX Publishing is scheduled to release all three of these new Holmes and Dr. John Watson collections, edited by David Marcum, on October 1. Learn more about them here: Volume 1, Volume II, and Volume III.

The Gumshoe Site brings the unwelcome news that Gerald A. Browne, a former fashion photographer and the author of such thrillers as 11 Harrowhouse (1972), Green Ice (1978), and 19 Purchase Street (1982), “died on July 24 at his home in Oceanside, California.” Born in Connecticut in 1924, Browne was 90 years old. Click here to read a story People magazine did about him in 1986, shortly after the publication of his novel Stone 588.

• OK, let’s have a quick show of hands. Who remembers the 1987-1989 ABC-TV comedy-drama Hooperman, starring John Ritter (formerly of Three’s Company) as San Francisco plainclothes police detective Harry Hooperman? That program (which I wrote about in this wrap-up about Bay Area crime series) was created by Steven Bochco and Terry Louise Fisher, and I remember it as being a lot of fun, partly because it featured nice romantic tension between Ritter and the lovely Debrah Farentino, who played the manager of a decrepit apartment building Hooperman had inherited. Sadly, the two-season Hooperman still hasn’t received a DVD release, but somebody signing him- or herself “JackTripper491” has begun posting episodes on YouTube. Twelve are up already, with (I hope) more to come.

• Another YouTube find: This is the 1976 TV movie adaptation of Dorothy Uhnak’s 1973 novel, Law and Order, about three generations of a family in the New York City Police Department. It stars Darren McGavin, Keir Dullea, Suzanne Pleshette, and Robert Reed.

• I’m a regular follower of Television Obscurities, which focuses on forgotten or at least insufficiently acclaimed small-screen programming of the past. That blog marked its 12th anniversary last month, and as part the celebration its author, who signs himself only as “Robert,” has started “writing about my 12 favorite obscurities from each decade.” This month’s selection includes Mr. Lucky, a 1965-1966 CBS adventure-drama created by Blake Edwards (of Peter Gunn fame) and starring John Vivyan and Ross Martin (this was before Martin co-starred in The Wild Wild West). I’m not all that familiar with Mr. Lucky, having watched only a few episodes, but Robert knows more, as evidenced by this fine backgrounder on the series. To watch some of the show for yourself, check out MatineeClassics’ YouTube page.

• In Artistic License Renewed, Julian Parrott considers “The Peculiar Parallels of Ian Fleming and Raymond Chandler.” He concludes:
Fleming and Chandler were kindred spirits. They were bonded by shared experiences, values, and sensibilities. But what really linked the two men, who only really knew each personally for three years was, was the common belief that their novels, although commercially successful, were simply not taken seriously. Each saw in the other a fellow craftsman someone worthy of the respect of authors and literati alike. Fleming and Chandler both believed that Marlowe and Bond should transcend the limitations of their respective genres.

Although their novels never attained the plaudits they felt they deserved in their home countries both men have left indelible stamps on global culture.
• Author Gary M. Dobbs is in the midst of a project I’ve long thought to tackle: a re-reading of the four novels in Larry McMurtry’s “Lonesome Dove” saga, in chronological order of their evolving story, rather than in the order those books were published. This month Dobbs enjoyed Dead Man’s Walk (1995) and Comanche Moon, McMurtry’s prequels; he’ll soon be moving on to the classic Lonesome Dove (1985) and its sequel, Streets of Laredo (1993).

• The Monkees always remind me of my childhood. So I was interested to look through Comfort TV’s list of “The 20 Best Monkees Songs--and the 5 Worst.” I don’t have any arguments with blogger David Hofstede’s choices, but his post does remind me that there are a lot of songs by that TV-born rock group that I have forgotten over the years. “Gonna Buy Me a Dog”? “P.O. Box 9847”? (I’ve posted thoughts about the Monkees before, which you can find here.)

• Welcome to a new literary blog, The Seattle Review of Books.

• It had slipped my mind that FOX-TV will broadcast a six-episode revival of The X Files, beginning in January 2016, complete with David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, and--by some strange alchemy--the Lone Gunmen. But this super-brief teaser makes clear that the “event series” is actually going to happen.

• UK critic Jake Kerridge offers this short but winning profile of Swedish author Maj Sjöwall in The Telegraph. Sjöwall, of course, was the co-author with her journalist husband, Per Wahlöö, of the highly influential 10-book Martin Beck series of detective novels (Roseanna, The Man Who Went Up in Smoke, etc.). Kerridge mentions that a documentary film of Wahlöö’s life is currently being made, with hopes of it being “ready for Sjöwall’s 80th birthday in September.”

• Last month, film and television historian Stephen Bowie wrote an excellent piece for A.V. Club about The Senator, Hal Holbrook’s 1970-1971 political drama shown as part of the “wheel series” The Bold Ones. (The Senator was recently released in a DVD set by Shout! Factory.) Now he follows that up with this post in his Classic TV History Blog, using much of the material he didn’t have room for in his previous piece. “I’ve compiled it here in the form of an oral history,” Bowie explains. “It covers the standalone pilot film, A Clear and Present Danger; the development of the series; and then the individual episodes, at least half of which are little masterpieces from a period when quality television drama was scarce.”

• I am sorry to hear that Ann Rule, the Seattle-area resident who became famous writing true-crime books, has died at age 83. This follows allegations that she had been “bilked out of more than $100,000 by two of her sons, one of whom demanded money while she ‘cowered in her wheelchair.’” Seattle’s KING-TV quotes Rule’s daughter as saying that “her mother had gone to the emergency room last week and had a heart attack while she was there. She says her mother passed away a few days later.” Rule was probably best known for having penned The Stranger Beside Me (1980) about serial killer Ted Bundy. I had occasion to meet and talk at some length with her in the late 1980s, when I was an editor of Washington Magazine. I assigned her at least two pieces for the mag, including an essay about how multiple murderers like Bundy and the Green River Killer represented the dark side of America’s pleasant Pacific Northwest. Rule could be blunt and abrasive at times, hungry for approval at others, but she definitely knew her stuff when it came to the subject of real-life criminals. She was a Seattle fixture, and anyone who knew her will surely raise a glass in her memory tonight. UPDATE: The Seattle Times published a Rule obituary here.

• A brand-new episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show? How can that possibly be? Well, TV writer Ken Levine (M*A*S*H, Cheers, Frasier, etc.) recently decided it would be a fun experiment to put together an installment of the 1961-1965 CBS-TV sitcom for his popular blog. Here’s are the results: Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV.

Did you know there was Jack Reacher fan fiction?

• Finally, here are several author interviews worth your tracking down: Gary Phillips has a good talk with CrimeFiction.FM’s Stephen Campbell about Day of the Destroyers (Moonstone), the pulpish new anthology he edited featuring stories linked by a real-life 1930s conspiracy (the so-called Business Plot) designed to overthrow President Franklin D. Roosevelt; Wallace Stroby discusses his latest Crissa Stone thriller, The Devil’s Share (Minotaur), with podcaster Paul Brubaker from The Backgrounder; Sara Paretsky chats with Jordan Foster of The Life Sentence “about her role as [Mystery Writers of America] president, what she’d like to achieve during her tenure, and how the crime fiction genre can address challenging issues confronting it; and Crime Fiction Lover has a conversation with Icelandic author Arnaldur Indridason about his new-in-the-UK novel, Oblivion (which will be published next February in the States as Into Oblivion).


Greg Daniel said...

For those who have a ME-TV affiliate in your local television market, MR. LUCKY can be found there at 4:30 AM Eastern Time on Monday mornings (though they call it Sunday night) right after PETER GUNN.

Stephen Campbell said...

Thanks for the shout out for the Gary Phillips interview on CrimeFiction.FM - Much apprecaited!