We’ve been watching Thriller–free of charge on youtube–a 1961 TV series hosted by Boris Karloff.
This is about as good as TV has ever been, or ever will be. It was an anthology series with a very broad format. As long as the story was a “thriller,” be it a tale of mystery, intrigue, irony, or the supernatural, it fit.
What made it so good? For one thing, most of the screenplays were adapted from short stories or novels by some of the very best writers in the field–Robert Bloch, Charlotte Armstrong, Margaret Millar, and others. Sometimes the original author also wrote the screenplay.
For another, Thriller employed the best actors they could find. The likes of Brandon DeWilde, Susan Clark, and Boris Karloff himself are not to be found anymore on American TV. And then they hired top composers like Jerry Goldsmith and Pete Rugolo to write original music for each episode. Finallly, Karloff’s introductions to each story are a treat.
With all that going for it, Thriller just had to be great.
My favorite outing, so far, has been Pigeons from Hell, starring Brandon DeWilde, based on a story by Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan the Barbarian. This was one corker of a scary story! My wife’s favorite is Rose’s Last Summer, starring Mary Astor, from a novel by Margaret Millar, a mystery-writing genius who was married to another award-winning author, Ross MacDonald.
I don’t know about you, but when I watch this stuff, it flushes out my mind like an outboard motor, so I’m ready to take up my work again the next day. Yes, that’s escapism. And yes, my little grey cells need regular doses of it. And I’ll bet yours do, too.