Ask Jackson: January 2023

Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday, on a Tuesday! This week, I’ve got another Q&A entry, where I answer questions submitted by readers. Thanks to everyone who sent in something — if you don’t see your “Q” here, I just may “A” it next time. (And keep them coming — any related topic on which you want my opinion and/or a little research? Just let me know!)


TVLover3 asks… Is it harder to pick ten favorite episodes from seasons/shows that are good or those that are bad?

Seasons that are great tend to be easy to examine because we sort of know the classic episodes that make them so celebrated. Yes, sometimes there are a couple of goodies resigned to the Honorable Mentions, but usually the hierarchy of “must-includes” is clear. Similarly, for seasons that aren’t great, it’s typically obvious which installments stand above the qualitative baseline, or the average. Yes, sometimes it is tough to muster up a full list of ten to highlight, but at least it’s evident which offerings should be definite exclusions. That leaves mediocre seasons — years that are somewhere in the middle, with few standouts and/or few duds — as the hardest to sift through, simply because it’s hard to rank general mediocrity. And this is especially true for series that are basically mediocre on the whole (some of which I have indeed covered here).


Tom Schroeder wonders… What episode of Get Smart is the phrase “ laser blazer” used?

That comes from an actual episode called “The Laser Blazer.” It’s one of the best entries from Season Four, first airing in November 1968 and guest starring Julie Newmar. See more here.


Jon B. wants to know… Have you ever seen an unsold pilot that you wish was made into a series?

Although I’ve never been crazy about hotels as a setting for situation comedy, I think Betty White and Harvey Korman could have carried a season or two of Snavely (based on Fawlty Towers) with a handful of funny half hours under their belt — much more than White got on The Golden Palace (or, incidentally, Bea Arthur made do with on Amanda’s). The pilot itself is not strong, but there’s just a lot of potential in their pairing (and the superior source material).


Mr. Melody has a request… Can you elaborate your opinion on the Michael Richards Show, The Tortellis, and The Popcorn Kid?

Yes. The Michael Richards Show has a silly, narrative-driven premise that pushes character to the side and does not ground its regulars with enough definable comic substance. The Tortellis is based on side characters who are so broad that watching them try to push story as leads is grating because their believability is dubious and our emotional investment is limited. The Popcorn Kid has a decent construction but can’t overcome lame joke-writing and false turns of emotion from its self-indulgent storytelling, both of which negate our affinity for its regulars.


Michael asks… What is your dream Encores! lineup?

There are so many options! But how about Jubilee (1935), the COVID-postponed Love Life (1948), and Carnival In Flanders (1953)? Those strike me as more possible than some of the others I’d love to see get exhumed and mounted — like Three Sisters (1934), Hooray For What! (1937), and Stars In Your Eyes (1939). And I want fully orchestrated recordings of them all!



Have a question for me? Submit it at the “Ask Jackson (Q&A)” link.



Come back next week for another Wildcard! And stay tuned Monday for a musical theatre rarity!