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Television Q&A: Darren McGavin, ‘The Good Fight’

Q: I have been watching the series “Kolchak: The Night Stalker” with Darren McGavin. I have seen him in other movies, but that was a while back. Can you tell me some of his other roles, and what he is up to now?

A: McGavin, who played Carl Kolchak in the TV-movies “The Night Stalker” and “The Night Strangler” as well as the “Kolchak” series in 1974-75, died in 2006 at the age of 83. While Kolchak may be his most famous role, his most beloved performance is as The Old Man, the father in the holiday classic “A Christmas Story.” Other movies included “The Man with the Golden Arm” and “The Natural.”

His TV credits were enormous, among them starring roles in the series “Crime Photographer” (1951-52), “Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer” (1957-58), “Riverboat” (1959-61) and “The Outsider” (1968-69). He was nominated for an Emmy as guest actor in a comedy for playing Murphy’s dad on “Murphy Brown.”

Q: I enjoyed “The Good Wife,” and saw the first (and only?) episode of the spinoff, “The Good Fight.” Did this become a series – I never saw it listed. Or – will it be a series? Tell me what happened.

A: “The Good Fight,” which continued stories of some of the characters on “The Good Wife,” was designed for CBS All Access, a streaming and video-on-demand service available by subscription via The first episode was shown on the broadcast network; nine more, completing the entertaining first season, are on All Access. A second season has also been ordered.

CBS is going to entice even more people to All Access this fall when it launches the new “Star Trek: Discovery” series on broadcast before offering additional episodes on the subscription service. The CBS network premiere on Sept. 24 will be followed by a second episode that same evening on All Access; the 15-episode debut season will continue with Sunday night episode premieres through Nov. 5, then a break before resuming in January 2018.

Q: What happened to “Major Crimes” on TNT? Will it be back?

A: Yes. The drama completed airing its fifth season in April, and the cast and crew are at work on a sixth season that will premiere this fall.

Q: I am a big fan of Natalie Wood, and watch all her old movies. Why hasn’t her movie “Marjorie Morningstar” ever been on TV? This movie is one of her best. The public is missing out of pure entertainment from days gone by.

A: Based on the novel of the same name by Herman Wouk, the film has been on television; I have seen people online discussing how they discovered the movie that way. Of course, there are many different channels carrying movies, with rights to different titles spread among them, so it can be difficult to keep track of where and when some productions are shown. That said, there was a new DVD and Blu-ray release of “Marjorie Morningstar” not long ago, so you may want to pick that up – or see if your local library carries it.

Q: Please tell me when the show “Inspector Morse” started and ended. In the show Morse died. When did John Thaw, who played Morse, die in real life? How old was he?

A: Thirty-three telecasts of “Inspector Morse” aired between 1987 and 2000. That’s not counting the prequel series “Endeavour,” with Shaun Evans as a young Morse, which has been going since 2012, or the spinoff “Inspector Lewis” (2006-15). John Thaw was 60 when he died of throat cancer in 2002. That was “almost exactly a year after (the death) of his character in the final episode of ‘Inspector Morse’ broadcast in the United States,” the New York Times observed. By the way, before his TV demise, Morse had also died in the series of novels by Colin Dexter that inspired the series.

Do you have a question or comment about entertainment past, present and future? Write to Rich Heldenfels, P.O. Box 417, Mogadore, OH 44260, or Letters may be edited. Individual replies are not guaranteed.

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