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11 January 1975 Brooklyn Eagle Saturday morning edition page E3
Executive Office Drama   by-line John Henry

Wednesdays 8:00 PM NABC North American Broadcasting Company

On paper, BEHIND THE PALACE GATES, the hour-long drama 
Wednesday nights on NABC looks like one of the sure winners of 
the new vitavision season. It has bright, attractive people and a 
wonderful premise  an insiders view at the Executive Palace - 
created by Gerald Heffernan, who wrote award winning THE 
GRENADIER [useless FN 1] for the big screen. Add to that a 
decent period, preceding one of the network's most popular 
programmes, CONFEDERATION PANORAMA [UFN 2], and the 
prospects look favourable.

The programme premiered on Wednesday January 8 and in it all 
the featured players parade before us with three brief story lines, 
which hold out some interesting possibilities for future 
development. The players are just what you hope to find in the real 
executive offices; they were to a body bright, attractive, articulate 
and earnest.

The cast is an interesting mix of old friends from other series and 
films, and some new faces. Paul DeVillers, from EVENINGS WITH 
MURRAY is the wizened chief of staff HIRAM BANKS. David 
Anderson long time patriarch of the eponymous CASTERBRIDGE 
FAMILY plays the Minister of Home Affairs DANIEL FIELDING. 
Playing against type Wilkie Darrow of the MILLIE ON THE CASE 
film series does an admirable job as the distinctly Masonist 
Foreign Secretary CECIL MONTGOMERY [UFN3]. The rest of the 
cabinet are not fully fleshed as of yet but there are some 
welcomed new faces among the executive political staff; chief 
among these playing the Governor-General's tough as nails chief 
political operative MARCIA REYNARD is the lovely Anne 
McClellan, a very welcomed discovery.  A newcomer to vita but 
long time King's Way stage actor Wayne Easter plays the youthful 
ever-earnest Governor-General MATTHEW TENNANT.

The most impressive feature of the premiere was the dialog, 
which was crisp, smart and on key, and the atmosphere, which, 
with several exceptions was very close to the real world of the 
Executive Palace Offices. On the programme Governor-General 
Tennant is a member of the "Independence Party" clearly an 
analogue for the Reform and Justice Party.  A sensible reasoned 
political philosophy is exhibited throughout the programme. 

The only problem in tone was a distinct lack of edginess on the 
part of the players. During the Mason years, on my (admittedly 
infrequent) visits to the Palace, I was struck by the tenseness of 
the younger staff members. They always seemed to be looking 
over their shoulders, as though someone was out to get them, or, 
worse yet, their boss. However, that may have been peculiar to that 
particular Governor-General-ship.

My prediction is that in spite of the fact that most North Americans 
are bored with Governor-General Skinner; they will welcome this 
programme and make it the hit of the season. As an old political hack,
I shall certainly look to live the next 5 years through my vita than
to face the harsh realties of our own real political landscape.

6 January 1975 Michigan City Banner page C7
New Wednesday Vita offerings are a mixed bag By-line Roswell
Please see page C1 for the entire 1975 season review

8:20     Following Dr Russell Snow's venerable BOOKNOTES (or is 
that the venerable Dr Snow's BOOKNOTES) is the relatively lively 
adventure show FORT PITT EXPLOITS. It purports to show life in 
the frontier colonial fort (and soon to be national capital) in the 
heady days directly after the first Britannic Design. Robert Scott 
plays the ahistorical COMMANDER JOHN MANLEY of Fort Pitt. 
Though the programme makes claims of historical accuracy it is 
in essence forty minutes of Millies and Indians. Children should 
enjoy it; parents may be able to stomach it. In the first instalment 
the DUKE OF ALBANY, as played by English stage actor Peregrine 
Hadley, makes a surprise inspection. Pass the time by spotting 
the anachronisms. Grade: **1/2 

have switched starting times. Presumably adding some chronological
order to the NUBS programmes as well a metaphor for the civilizing
force of vita, perhaps. From Fort Pitt to the Vandalian Prairie to
concert halls of the Galloway. Well that's my theory anyway for this
otherwise useless switch.

No changes to the early evening Wednesday NCCC schedule 
though according to press reports this is the last series for Alan 
Rock with DOWN ON THE FARM [UFN4] and it would be a travesty 
for this comedy to continue without Mr. Rock. The eight o'clock 
hour in which NCCC has dominated for the last seven years is in 
doubt. Though who knows in these troubled times past what next week 
may bring much less next year. 

9:30     NCCC is going with a fresh face. The newspaper 
"journalist" Caroline Habsburg will have her own half hour vita 
programme imaginatively titled INTERVIEWS WITH CAROLINE 
HABSBURG. The tiara-less Archduchess [UFN5] will be 
interviewing "celebrities" from the "worlds of vita, film, stage and 
Society" according to the NCCC programme prospectus. That this 
programme will detract from CLOSING TIME at 11:30 seems not 
to have occurred to the NCCC Directors. If you watched Walt in the 
past few weeks you'd assume that Miss Habsburg now has her 
own monogrammed chair on CLOSING TIME as she has 
appeared so often and been so heavily promoted. I give this 
programme six weeks at most. Grade: ** 

8:00    BEHIND THE PALACE GATES is a tediously earnest drama 
that will probably earn some undeserved early viewership due to 
NABC's relentless promotion during the Football finals. Writer / 
Director Gerald Heffernan is capable of very fine work when he is 
not sidetracked by his ideological blinders (see MY YEAR AT 
OXBRIDGE and despite of my personal political disapproval, the 
uproariously funny KING HENRY AND I DOWN A PINT) [UFN6] but 
allows his Masonist party sentiments full rein in this 
dramatization of the Executive Offices.

As a complete review is available elsewhere (please see page 
C1) please allow for nitpicking here. As BEHIND THE PALACE 
GATES is a supposed insider's view of the workings of the 
Governor-General's Office it is surprising how unrealistic its view 
of politics. One realizes this immediately when we see the 
character of Governor-General MATTHEW TENNANT played by first 
time vita actor Wayne Easter. His saintliness is emphasized to 
such an extent that we expect him to be wearing a halo and wings.
Again for a programme about politics there is very little of it about,
except for the most Masonist feel-good variety. The hard choices and
harsh realities of modern life hardly intrude on this imagined
Confederation. In light of recent tragic events this may count as a
scandal though in the producers defence these episodes were filmed
last year.

In the first episode (which was not to be the premiere episode, the 
original premiere contained a storyline involving a state visit from 
King Edward of Australia which was hastily pulled for obvious reasons)
the Governor-General receives a request from a British Prime Minister
Roberts  in help in liberating country called Iraq (an imaginary
despotism somewhere in Arabia). This "Conservative Party" leader is a
supposedly close friend of the "Independent" Tennant. "She" met the
Governor-General while teaching at Webster. This introduction contains
so many implausibilities that I do not know where to begin. [UFN7] The
entire episode leaves us with a multitude of questions of which the
some of most trivial and thus the most needling are listed below.

How likely is it that the Primate of the Church of North America just 
happens to be a life long mentor to the Governor-General? How 
likely is it that said Bishop would have been the rector of the 
younger G-G's public school during the latter's school days'- in 
Manitoba no less? (As an aside, it was a nice touch to have aging 
actor Stephane Dion play the ARCHBISHOP MACKINTOSH. Dion played 
the title role in the fondly remembered 1940's vita programme 
COUNTRY VICAR) Given the Governor-General's busy schedule 
how likely is it that he would have tea with the Primate twice in a 
weeks time? At the beginning of both teatime scenes did the 
producers have to use the same stock footage of the Anglican National 
Cathedral? Have the producers even ever left Hoboken and set a single 
foot in Burgoyne? These and other questions left unanswered.  I 
pray for a quick programme run. Grade **

horrible idea all round. If this is NABC's answer to CLOSING TIME, 
I demand a new question. Just because the Liberals are in power
doesn't mean that the vita public will accept any old imported English
NRVS twaddle [UFN8]. Grade *1/2

Useless FN 1    THE GRENADIER won a Felix for best screenplay 
adaptation in 1970 from the 1956 novel of the same name [UFN9]

UFN 2        Think "CBS Sunday Morning" crossed with "Mutual of 
Omaha's Wild Kingdom"  for 90 freakin' minutes

UFN 3        In the MILLIE ON THE CASE series, Wilikie's character
L.E. Strong is as if  Samuel L. Jackson is channeling Colombo.

UFN 4	Which _is_ hilarious btw

UFN5	She lives in Manhattan and is "making it on her own"  with a few
hundred thousand NA pounds of Daddy Max's money.

UFN6 	Kinsolving may disapprove of the overly familiar and at times
mocking tone that Heffernan takes towards King Henry in the play, but
the king comes off miles better than if people knew the "real" Henry.

UFN7	Well- Why is Britain asking for North American help to invade a
country deep in the German sphere of influence? Secondly, the FAN
Conservative Party is a minor "barking-mad" isolationist party. And
lastly a femme PM? What radical TL are you from, bud?

UFN 8	The National Radio and Vitavision Service see FAN #132: _Confido
in Fabulositate_

UFN9	Well I said useless. So how many Angels actually _can_ dance on
the head of a pin?