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Wednesday, July 02, 2014

The Hammer Stroke on Scarecrows ...


... and The Beatles Trounce Dr. Syn

So now I know why I passed on The Wonderful World Of Color when Dr. Syn began. The Beatles were coming on Channel 3 in a half hour, via Ed Sullivan, and that was a huge event. Why didn't I realize that yesterday? It took wise commenter Kevin K to open mine eyes --- February 9, 1964 was the Sunday night when a pair of Brit imports met on network field of ratings battle, and Disney's lost. I can't imagine many kids or teenagers passing up the Beatles in favor of Dr. Syn. Wouldn't they at least have jumped back and forth between stations so as not to miss the first Fab Four segment? It's not like we had DVR then. You made your choice and for a lifetime would live with it. Mine was the Beatles that night and no regrets since. Others set viewing dials in accord: Sullivan dominated his 8PM stand with a 44.6 Nielsen rating in the first half-hour against Disney's 20.2, the Mop Tops more than doubling Dr. Syn's yield. Even the Wellington's Scarecrow theme song couldn't outpace I Want To Hold Your Hand.


For comparison sake, I got out Hammer's 1962 Night Creatures DVD right behind Disney's Dr. Syn. To say there was difference in approach would be understating. Let's just say Night Creatures was for the big kids whose little brothers had to make do with Disney Scarecrows minus teeth. Peter Cushing as piratical Captain Clegg opens the floor presiding over tongue removal and ear slicing. Hammer propensity for extraction of tongues was known and beloved by 1962, as was voluptuary Yvonne Romain, she having given birth to previous year's Hammer werewolf. Yvonne, to say least, would have been unthinkable as a Disney ingĂ©nue. Night Creatures entertains in that reckless way of Hammer, performances splitting out of seams (a young and intense Oliver Reed) with spasms of violence denied to Disney-viewing. Neither fish nor fowl so far as horror's following, we'd embrace it still for Cushing at leaping peak of athleticism (and subtlety where needed), plus spooky business of horseback skeletons roaming marsh fields. Certainly Universal sold Night Creatures with scare currency as backdoor to 1962's Phantom Of The Opera, Creatures playing in some keys as accompany to Lonely Are The Brave.

2 Comments:

Blogger Kevin K. said...

As I now recall, 50 years after the fact, we watched the first half hour of each Scarecrow episode before flipping the channel to watch the Beatles, then flipped back to watch the final 15 minutes of Scarecrow. And even while missing some of the show, we knew Scarecrow was something special. We were lucky enough to have had a color tv, too, for the full Disney treatment.

12:17 PM  
Blogger tomservo56954 said...

I am sure that it aired on DISNEY years later, under the "Romney Marsh" title--I recognize that, not Dr. Syn.


Paul

12:04 AM  

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