Monday, July 3, 2017

Comfort TV Coast to Coast: 50 States, 50 Classic Moments (Part 2)

Welcome back to our classic TV tour of the United States. Sadly we’ve hit some bumps in the road, as only two of the selections for the next ten states feature any location filming where they were supposed to take place. Let’s start with one that does.

For our photogenic 50th state the choices include series that were filmed there (Hawaii Five-OMagnum PI), shows that were set there (Hawaiian Eye) and shows that dropped in for an extended visit. I am tempted to select “Angels in Paradise,” the Charlie’s Angels season two opener that introduced Cheryl Ladd as Kris Munroe. 

But if you are a long-time reader of this blog you probably already know where this is going. Season four of The Brady Bunch opened with a three-episode Hawaii adventure featuring a cursed tiki idol, Greg surfing, Alice hula-dancing and Vincent Price committing several felonies against the family, and still being invited to their farewell luau. 

I’m certainly open to suggestions here. The only appropriate option I could find is “Idaho a Go Go” from Wacky Races, in which Penelope Pitstop and company race through the town of Baked. The episode features the usual inventive sight gags, and a come-from-behind win for the Slag Brothers (spoiler alert). 

As an Illinois native I’m not surprised at how many television stars from Chicago wanted their shows set in the Windy City, including Jim Belushi, Bonnie Hunt and Bob Newhart. And while The Bob Newhart Show only filmed on location for some of the opening credits sequences, references to its setting (The Cubs, Marshall Field’s, The Pump Room) were weaved through several episodes. Plus, it’s one of the best sitcoms ever, so another easy choice. 

The Hoosier state is not a hotbed of television production, but it does have one prominent classic TV link as the home of Dr. Richard Kimble – wrongly convicted of murdering his wife and sentenced to death. Kimble make a dangerous trek home in several classic episodes of The Fugitive, including “Home is the Hunted” and the series’ two-part finale, one of TV’s highest-rated shows of all time. The Kimble family residence shown on the series is actually on Ethel Ave. in Studio City, California.   

The sophisticated globetrotting espionage show The Man From UNCLE is one of the last shows you’d expect to set an episode in Iowa. But that’s where Agent Napoleon Solo landed in the series’ second episode, “The Iowa-Scuba Affair.” There’s a James Bond in Mayberry quality to the episode that makes it one of the more memorable first season outings, helped along by Richard Donner’s brisk direction and the always interesting Slim Pickens as a rodeo cowboy with secrets.  

As Marshal Matt Dillon, James Arness kept the streets of Dodge City safe for 20 years on Gunsmoke. Dodge City remains a popular tourist draw in part because of this series, which filmed in Utah, California and Arizona but never in Kansas. But if you go there you can visit Gunsmoke Street, dedicated back in 1959. 

The life and legend of Daniel Boone is celebrated most in Kentucky, where the famed frontiersman’s name is still prominent (Boonesborough, Booneville, Boone County, etc.). So we almost have to go with the Daniel Boone series starring Fess Parker, even though most of it was shot in California’s Big Bear. 

It’s surprising that a colorful city like New Orleans has not attracted more on-location filming of shows set in Louisiana. As a result we are left with two choices, both set there but not filmed there. As few people still remember Bourbon Street Beat, I’ll select the smart, laid-back and sadly short-lived Frank’s Place, a sitcom that deserved a better fate. Married couple Tim and Daphne Maxwell-Reid played New Englanders who inherit a restaurant in New Orleans. 

“My name is Victoria Winters. My journey is beginning, a journey that I hope will open the doors of life to me, and link my past with my future. A journey that will bring me to a strange and dark place, to the edge of the sea, high atop Widow's Hill, a house called Collinwood.”
The small fishing village of Collinsport, Maine is not a real town but for five years it was one of the most fascinating places on earth for devoted viewers of Dark Shadows

While recent shows like The Wire and Homicide: Life on the Street have enjoyed successful runs in their Maryland settings, in the classic TV era Baltimore was a kiss of death. Among the series set there and canceled within one season: The Ellen Burstyn Show, In the Beginning (McLean Stevenson as a priest!) and Men with Ted Wass and Ving Rhames. No real winners here, but one of the failures is memorable as Norman Lear’s first TV bomb. From 1975, Hot l Baltimore pushed the envelope on mature content so far that the first episode was preceded by a ‘viewer discretion’ warning. There are a couple of clips on YouTube if you’re curious. 

Next Week: Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey and more!


  1. I still remember seeing HOT'L BALTIMORE when I was young. It's the first show where I remember seeing James Cromwell, Richard Masur, Conchata Ferrell, and Charlotte Rae.

  2. No offense, Mr. Hofstede, but you failed to mention that the Jessica Fletcher character on "Murder, She Wrote" was based in Maine during the show's early years.

  3. I believe a better choice for Indiana would be "One Day at a Time." the setting, shown in the opening, is Indianapolis. They also made frequent references to Logansport.

    Iowa is tough, but it was the initial setting for "To Rome with Love," a CBS series that starred John Forsythe. The setting, of course, was Italy, it opens in Iowa, from where Professor Michael Endicott uproots his family. The Iowa connection was stronger in the second season as Walter Brennan joins the family from Iowa.

  4. You just took me back to my childhood, I remember I used to watch most of these shows and nothing is as good as watching them. Thank you for sharing it