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 ClarkKent_DC said:

Too bad Law & Order never found a way to have Jerry Orbach and Jesse L. Martin -- two Broadway song-and-dance men -- perform on the air. I've read that between takes they often would break out into song (and dance). 

Of course!  (Forehead smack!Law & Order!  A 'way more obvious exception to the "let's write an episode where he sings" law of television.  Even though it would have stretched believability past the breaking point, I would have accepted such a thing as Orbach and Martin getting a bit to sing and hoof.  I've always been a sucker for moments like that.

I have to make a confession about Jerry Orbach.  When I saw him on television, doing guest spots and then as Harry McGraw, both on Murder, She Wrote and The Law & Harry McGraw, I didn't care for him as a performer.  There was something about his image and the general sameness of his roles that just turned me off.  And I still didn't like him when, in the first season of Law & Order, he appeared in a guest part as a defence attorney.

But, then, he becomes Lenny Briscoe on the series, and he was golden.  Even though my personal favourite of all the cops on Law & Order was Phil Cerreta, there's no denying that Orbach's Lenny Briscoe was the definitive cop of the show, and I was enthralled by his performances.

I guess I had probably heard something about his Broadway performances by that point, but I really didn't pay that part of his career much attention until after he died.  All of the testimonials from those who knew and worked with him talked at length about, first, what a great guy he was, and two, his performances in musicals.  First-hand, I would never know the former, of course.  As for the latter, I had no idea---until I caught a clip of him at a White House social event in the early '90's.  He was pressed to sing "Try to Remember", from The Fantasticks---which I now know was his signature song.

Now, for me, the Ed Ames version of "Try to Remember" was the definitive one, so I prepared to watch that clip of Orbach singing it with some resistance.  About a minute into it, all my resistance was out the window.  Just as Orbach and Lenny Briscoe was the perfect marriage of actor and role, he and "Try to Remember" was the perfect joining of singer and song.

In the film Going My Way, Bing Crosby's character, Father O'Malley, tells an aspiring chanteuse that singing at a professional level is more than just having a good voice and hitting the right notes.  The singer, he explains, has to sell the song, by investing his voice, his gestures, his expressions with emotion and sincerity.

And that the difference between Ed Ames, who sang "Try to Remember" well, and Jerry Orbach, who sang it great.

Which is why I'm not impressed with all the raving fans make about Michael Buble. His recording of Stardust as a happy song was especially way off. One fan insisted he sang Dean Martin's songs better than Dean because "Dean Martin is dead!" That was his entire argument.

Ron M. said:

Which is why I'm not impressed with all the raving fans make about Michael Buble.

We're on the same page there. I find Buble's voice competent but not compelling.  I also find the timing of his lyrics either slightly off or, when right, slightly forced.  Either way, his singing lacks the casual grace of Dean Martin or Bobby Darin or Nat King Cole.

I'm not a fan, but he does do a pretty good "Spider-man" theme.

Commander Benson said:

Ron M. said:

Which is why I'm not impressed with all the raving fans make about Michael Buble.

We're on the same page there. I find Buble's voice competent but not compelling.  I also find the timing of his lyrics either slightly off or, when right, slightly forced.  Either way, his singing lacks the casual grace of Dean Martin or Bobby Darin or Nat King Cole.

Laverne was attacked by a robot in Laverne and Shirley in the 70s. They've been warning us for decades this was going to happen one day but no one believed. They're already here! You're next! You're next! You're next!

Danger Will Robinson!!!

I've watched the whole show and I think I only heard him say that once. Usually he says Warning instead of Danger.

I stand corrected - going by my (faulty) memory.

Actually, I have hardly watched the show as I can't stand Dr. Smith.

The first five episodes where he's trying to kill them is pretty good. After Penny makes friends with the talking nebula in episode seven the show starts going downhill.


David Warren said:

Actually, I have hardly watched [Lost in Space] as I can't stand Dr. Smith.

Amen, brother.  Doctor Smith is one of the two regular supporting characters of their respective series who make me reach for the channel-changer the instant they appear on screen.

As Ron points out, the first five episodes of the series were actually quite decent---when the idea was that it was a serious adventure/SF drama and Smith was an enemy agent.  Smith had sabotaged the Robinsons' navigational computer and their robot; when he inadvertently became a stowaway on the space flight, he spent the next four episodes trying to figure out how to kill the Robinsons but still, somehow, make it back to Earth.

(To give Jonathan Harris his due:  while I hated his later version of Smith, his performance as the sinister, competent Smith was spot-on and quite chilling.)

The original format included killing off the evil Smith after the first half-dozen episodes or so (hence, his billing as "special guest-star", which contractually never changed, even after he became one of the leads).

As I've read Mr. Harris to convey in interviews, he grew bored portraying the singly-dimensional evil Dr. Smith, and with 1) Irwin Allen's encouragement; and 2) the knowledge that the character's time on the show was limited anyway, Harris began to toy with his line delivery, making Smith sound more arch and increasingly flamboyant.

As it has affected so many other television offerings, once again the phenomenal popularity of the Batman television series influenced the direction of Lost in Space.  Seeing the viewers drawn by the camp elements of Batman, Irwin Allen adopted the same sort of over-the-top approach to Lost in Space---which, by lucky happenstance, played right to the kind of character into which Jonathan Harris was transforming Dr. Smith.

That pretty much signified the death of the "serious Robinson-family adventures" for the show.  When season two began in the fall of '66, it pretty much became the "Dr. Smith-Will Robinson-and-the-Robot Comedy Hour".  To their credit as professionals, Guy Williams, June Lockhart, and Mark Goddard continued to play their rôles with appropriate seriousness.  While that buffered some of the obvious ludicrousness of the second season for viewers like me, who longed for the old, serious days of the show, eventually it worked against them---for two reasons.

The first reason fell within the conceit of the show:  it became increasingly difficult to believe that such intelligent, resourceful, and canny men like Professor Robinson and Major West were that often duped by Dr. Smith, or would entrust a vital part of an operation or experiment to him, or---eventually---not just vapourise him outright with one of their laser pistols.  ("Um . . . we found a note---yeah, a note---from Dr. Smith.  He said that he's . . . er . . . gone to live on the other side of the planet.  Well, time to blast off!")

The second reason fell squarely into the behind the scenes conflict:  Messrs. Williams and Goddard, and Miss Lockhart were not happy with the direction the show had taken---away from drama to comedy---and often, flat outright, refused to indulge in some of the more outrageous scenes.

For both of the reasons above, this led to Williams and Goddard and Lockhart being written out of many, many episodes---either because it affected the believability of the episode, they refused to participate, or, on a couple of occasions, they were suspended.  Thus, for a large number of episodes, Professor and Mrs. Robinson and Major West would be away, "on the other side of the mountain ridge, analysing soil samples", for the entire time.

Yeah, you're right, Mr. Warren---the show pretty much sucked the instant it turned Dr. Smith loose.



Commander Benson said:

The second reason fell squarely into the behind the scenes conflict:  Messrs. Williams and Goddard, and Miss Lockhart were not happy with the direction the show had taken---away from drama to comedy---and often, flat outright, refused to indulge in some of the more outrageous scenes.

For both of the reasons above, this led to Williams and Goddard and Lockhart being written out of many, many episodes---either because it affected the believability of the episode, they refused to participate, or, on a couple of occasions, they were suspended.  Thus, for a large number of episodes, Professor and Mrs. Robinson and Major West would be away, "on the other side of the mountain ridge, analysing soil samples", for the entire time.

Yeah, you're right, Mr. Warren---the show pretty much sucked the instant it turned Dr. Smith loose.

 

 

You know, I sort of half picked up on that when I was a kid and never knew why until just now. I haven't seen an episode of the show since I was little - I wonder how I would react to it now?

 

One thing I do remember was liking Dick Tufeld's voice.

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