Friday, December 15, 2006

On a new year: promises, promises

"Impressions," TV Times, 14-20 January 1979


Putting aside everything that had given a special glow to the holidays--the live hotel shows and the dying leaves of a real pine tree, the needlepoint and the books, the holiday cards and the colorful gift wrappers--I settled down to the little tasks that will help me organize a new year of work. Deftly, I shrugged off the holiday hangover and sat down, on the Thursday night before we went to press for this issue, to face the small screen and begin another year of viewing and recording the flitting images from an electronic box.

Firecracker ban or not, I was told, the new year would explode with a loud bang. And why not? So many new shows on tap, both local and canned, I was promised. Some of the best just-one-season-late comedies on the US small screen, some of the most promising shows to emerge from the drawing boards of the local industry's most creative minds.

Love Experts. Star Games. Three for the Road. Sandy's Cousin. Eddie Capra Mysteries. Lifeline. W.E.B. Jeffersons. Star Trek. Return of The Saint. Kaz. Paper Chase. Mary Hartmnan, Mary Hartman. Bonkers. The Next Step Beyond. 2-Night. Good Times. Laverne & Shirley. Quark. Three's Company.

The list of Philippine television's new canned properties (most of them from the US) for 1979 sounds interesting, if not impressive, quality-wise, or so say foreign critics. But why must I take the word of foreign critics? Shouldn't I find out for myself?

So, on the Thursday night before our first Friday deadline for 1979, I sit down purposefully before the small screen after a two-week holiday from it. And what do you know? There, in front of me, moving with equally purposeful calm (and, I imagine, chuckling to themselves all the while) are very familiar figures, some of whom failed to reserve appropriate slots in the week's network-released schedules: Lt. Columbo, still disconcerting, still provoking his suspects to confess; Steve McGarrett, continuing to ham it up in sunny Hawaii; the Bradford family, proving that eight can take in more; the James Last star guests, newies in an oldie.

That made me feel a little schizophrenic and definitely nostalgic. Like writing 1978 on my checks when the banks will only read 1979. Like still wanting to see Space:1999 and Kojak and Streets of San Francisco although they may already have been bumped off from the new year's schedules. Like wishing they would instead bump off Steve Austin and his nth "Sharks" replay (or give the sharks more exposure; aren't they adorable?), plus the old Charlie's Angels season (which is good only for the show's fanatics, and so many others out there really are not).

Will next week's schedule from the local programmers, probably caught up in some form of extended wish fulfillment, be more realistic?


What takes much of the polish off local newscasts is a very obvious on-the-switch unpreparedness. A newscaster is placed on camera before he knows it. Or he is allowed to mouth his lines while his microphone is not properly patched. Or a headline or title slide swims onscreen for much longer than necessary because some technical apparatus is not working or some technical hands are not ready.

It shows up a newscast as unprofessional, makes a newscaster look silly, and turns off viewers. And on a new year, too.


Watching Andy Williams perform at the Folk Arts Theater stage is hardly catching the Andy Williams magic. The place is simply too huge, too impersonal, to distill a charisma that projects best on the television screen or within the cozier atmosphere of, at most, a hotel ballroom. As big a crowd as the Folk Arts Theater collected for each night of Andy Williams is just too big.

Yet, even in that crowd, with the communications system from the nearby Philippine Plaza interfering every now and then, or with the soft whispers among friends swelling into distinct murmurings, Andy Williams turned in a performance that can stand as a signal lesson in real showmanship. Here is a singer totally in love with his song, completely relaxed, truly sensitive to his music. Age and the years have not diminished his versatility nor marred his style, only mellowed both.

He knew exactly how best to interpret a song: softening here, swelling there. His performance was melody-drenched, emotional yet serene. With his well-loved golden burnished voice, he clearly and exquisitely sang through the plaintive and the whimsical to the grand and the rhythmic. Where young local singers would bellow with great impetuosity and noise, trying too hard and too tensely, he sang confidently, master of his repertoire, master of his songs.

-- NBT

No title in original published column

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