Have you guys seen the show Command Decisions on The Learning Channel? It’s a show with a cool premise: take a historical battle and give the viewer three options per point-in-time about how he or she would do it. The only problem with the show is that it takes the decision the commander made and makes it the right one. Sometimes this makes sense – lots of times the questions relate to technical issues. For example, the question might be “how should George Washington begin the attack?” and the “official” answer would be “because it’s raining, muskets won’t fire reliably. Sneak up on the British from behind and use bayonets”. OK, that makes sense. The last thing I’d want to hear while staring down thousands of British troops would be seven thousand “clicks” from the wet gunpowder in my troops’ muskets. But at other times, the questions and answers are far more ambiguous. Like: “George Washington gets to the end of a road. Both roads lead to the same town, are equally straight, have an equal incline and equal cover. The British are equidistant from both roads and face the same terrain no matter which way they pursue you. Which way do you turn?” Of course, the official answer is “left – because that’s the way George Washington did it!”
When I was a child, WTBS (a.k.a. TBS, the “Superstation”) was known as WTCG. At the time, WTCG was a small, unimportant UHF station in Atlanta that was infamous for running old black & white B-movies and reruns of ancient TV shows like Petticoat Junction, Felix The Cat and Mighty Mouse. Even though America had firmly moved in to the color TV era by this point, it sometimes seemed as if the only color you’d ever see on WTCG were the commercials or the occasional color episode of The Beverly Hillbillies!
One of the shows that WTCG ran religiously was the original Superman TV show – the one from the 1950s starring George Reeves. It was one of my favorite shows as a wee child, and I’d beg my mom to rush home from kindergarten so I wouldn’t miss a minute of Reeves dishing out truth, justice and the American Way. It’s ironic (and sad) then, that Reeves would be denied all of those things when it came to his own life.
George Reeves was born in 1914 in Woolstock, Iowa. His first film appearance was 1939’s Ride, Cowboy, Ride. Reeves would go on to become a somewhat successful “bit part” actor; he ended up being one of Vivian Leigh’s first suitors in the opening scene of Gone With The Wind. But by the 1950s, Reeves star had fallen, and he was reduced to taking the occasional part on television.