Monday, July 11, 2005

That Basketball Show

A DVD release for the first season of "The White Shadow", created by the late Bruce Paltrow. I can't think of much to say about this show, because it's been so long since I've seen it. I do remember thinking that it went overboard in terms of trying to work some kind of hot-button issue or prosocial message into every episode. When the MTM company got into hourlong dramas after years of doing only comedy -- their initial successes in the drama field were this show and "Lou Grant" -- they seemed to want to prove their drama bona fides by doing a Big Issue every week. Their best dramas, Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere, were closer to MTM's best comedies in being character-driven rather than issue-driven.

That said, I do remember The White Shadow as being pretty good. I also remember Mad Magazine doing a story on recently-cancelled TV shows circa 1981, and whereas they made fun of the weaknesses of all the other cancelled shows, they basically turned the White Shadow blurb into a straightforward, no-joke hymn of praise to the show ("It suffered from the rarest of TV diseases: intelligentus programmus"). When you can make Mad get all mushy, you must be pretty good.

Oh, and in yet another example of how shows from the same production company tend to wind up sharing story concepts, The White Shadow and MTM's WKRP in Cincinnati both did episodes in early 1980 about a Russian who visits the main characters and wants to defect (WKRP's was January 1980, TWS's was February).

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