People like to joke that all Hollywood movie previews are done by the same production crew, using the same earnest but formulaic narrator:
In a time…
When [situation that describes a norm…]
[Behaviour that defies the norm]…
This reminds me of how TV shows used to begin in the 60s and 70s. Back then, advertising was important, but not to the extent it is now, so they were not always trying to squeeze every second of advertising time in where ever they could. As a result, TV shows took a couple of minutes to begin (unlike today’s 5-15 seconds).
A show would begin with some bad and too loud orchestrated music made worse because it was blaring through a cheap two-inch speaker on the front of the ol’ Philco-Ford television. Then some stern but enthusiastic-sounding man’s voice (and it seemed to be the same man for every TV show) announced the name of the show:
Behind the voiceover you would see fuzzy images of men in hats (60s) or loud shirts (70s) chasing bad guys and smoking cigarettes. The music would continue to blare and the announcer would say “Starring…” and would list the star’s names while their images appeared, looking either heroic and intense, or kicked-back and smiling (from having caught the bad guy). There would be three or four stars, and then there would be the “guest stars.”
I figured out that a “guest star” was basically a B-grade television actor who couldn’t get a regular gig on a series, yet was known enough to be able to make the rounds on a per-episode basis, showing up as a bank robber on one show, a DA or maybe a crime victim on another, and so on. Often there would be one “special guest star” but I could never figure out what made them so special.
By the time they cycled through all the stars’ and guest stars’ names, and showed various men in hats or loud shirts driving big cars on big California roads while chasing bad guys and smoking cigarettes, several minutes had passed.
One of my favorite shows of this era was “The FBI” (1965-74) starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. I liked it because it taught me that all American federal agents are virtuous, and because I loved to hear the stern but enthusiastic man say “Starring Efrem Zimbalist Junior!” I couldn’t even imagine how such a name would have come about, or even how you would spell it. It was the most insane name I had ever heard in the eight or so years I had been alive.
I thought it was particularly nuts because if he was Efrem Zimbalist Junior then there must be an Efrem Zimbalist Senior out there. My God, two of them! At some point I decided the name must be fake, some kind of nom de tube, because by then I had learned that nobody in Hollywood uses his or her real name. The “junior,” I decided, must be an affectation (another word I couldn’t then spell).
Tonight, however, I was listening to CBC Radio late night classical music in the background and I’ll be damned if the announcer didn’t talk about some piece of work having once been interpreted by the famous violinist “Efrem Zimbalist” (no junior). So I Googled around a bit and discovered that Junior is indeed the son of Senior, and that Junior was a known film and TV actor since long before “The FBI.” Apparently, junior has spawned another, Efrem Zimbalist III, who works as a high-falutin’ publishing executive.
Reason to have a blog #462:
So you can write about such utterly useless trivia and maintain the mistaken belief that by doing so you make it somewhat useful.