Q: Can you find out what happened to “Dr. Jeff: Rocky Mountain Vet”? It has been taken off the Animal Planet with no information. It was one of my favorite shows!!
S.C., of Belleville
A: Your question gave Paul Schur and me a good laugh.
We’re of a certain age — and maybe you, too — to remember when television consisted of only the Big Three networks and when, like clockwork, their seasons ran from early fall to late spring. Every mid-September I would wait breathlessly for my mom to buy the TV Guide fall preview issue so I could pore over all the shows new and old to judge which ones merited my time. Oh, sure, we might be teased with a few new series in the summer (e.g., “The Prisoner” and “Coronet Blue”), but mainly it was a season of reruns as folks escaped their living rooms for barbecues, baseball games and the like.
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So it went year after year. But no longer. With a bevy of networks now offering original programming, you almost have to have a scorebook to keep track of all the new series coming and going. And where we used to expect 25, 35 or even more new episodes each year, now we’re often lucky to get a dozen.
That’s why Schur, the vice president of public relations for Discovery’s Animal Planet and Science Channel, had to laugh when I relayed your email of distress. From reading various blogs, he knows a lot of people are going through the same withdrawal symptoms you are. But as the “Outer Limits” folks used to say, there is nothing wrong with your TV — or Dr. Jeff. He merely wrapped up another complete, 12-episode season that ran from Feb. 4 to April 22. Now you just have to hope that the show is renewed for a fourth season.
It’s a good bet it will be if Dr. Jeff Young is still game. After all, Dr. Jeff is the network’s top show, drawing as many as 1.7 million viewers each week, Schur said. You may not know it, but the show got off to a bit of a rocky start, and I’m not talking about the Colorado mountain range where Young runs his clinic. In an interview last year with the Denver Post, he said he lost money during his first season and didn’t enjoy the handling he received from the film crew.
But during the second season, Young said, he “got a really good crew, and we filmed twice as much in half the amount of time.” And, when Young revealed late in the season that he had been diagnosed with B-cell lymphoma, his ratings spiked even more as concerned viewers wanted to follow his cancer treatment and the future of the clinic, which doubled its size when it moved into a new 8,000-square-foot home.
Now, Young has won his cancer fight, and his show has helped make Animal Planet a top-10 cable network on Saturday nights, especially among women ages 25-54. It’s too early to say whether there will be a fourth season, but with those numbers I certainly wouldn’t bet against it.
“Fingers are crossed” was all Schur would say.
▪ Kegger set: My recent column on beer kegs prompted a call from Belleville Historical Society President Larry Betz, whose organization will celebrate brewing in Belleville from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday (today) at the Garfield Street Saloon at 633 E. Garfield St. Among the highlights will be a display of historic breweriana items — including a wooden keg and other kegs from the Star and Stag breweries — along with “Quenching Your Thirst Belleville Style,” an original film about the city’s brewing history.
It will be part of “Drink, Sing and Be Merry,” the fourth annual Belleville Summer Museum Day. You’ll learn more about the 1856 prohibition controversy at the Gustave Koerner House at 200 Abend while the Emma Kunz House at 602 Fulton unveils its restored 1874 Clough and Warren reed organ. Also open will be the St. Clair County Historical Society’s Victorian home at 701 E. Washington St. and the Labor & Industry Museum at 123 N. Church St. Admission is free, but donations are always useful.
▪ Sour notes: I suppose it was inevitable that a few people called and wrote to ask whether I simply was being satirical last week when I said I had a copy of William Shatner singing “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”
Sadly, no, I wasn’t. In fact, that might not be the worst of it. In addition to Shatner butchering the Beatles, I also have Enterprise crewmate Leonard Nimoy doing “Proud Mary” (he must have lost his Vulcan mind temporarily during a period of pon farr), Mae West letting it all hang out on “Twist and Shout,” Jack Webb asking us to “Try a Little Tenderness” (just the love, ma’am, just the love) — even Belleville native Buddy Ebsen cutting loose on “Your Cheatin’ Heart.”
They’re among dozens of recordings that should have been mercifully destroyed but wound up instead on a three-disc set called “Golden Throats.” I highly recommend them — especially if you have company that’s starting to overstay its welcome. Be sure to turn up the volume, so they don’t miss one torturous note.
Name the baby girl whose drawing has adorned Gerber products since 1931.
Answer to Friday’s trivia: The Indianapolis 500 was not always “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” — at least, not in those exact words. It was 1955 when WIBC (then AM-1080) in Indianapolis was putting together a network of radio stations to broadcast the Memorial Day race. The work led to a minor problem: What could the announcer say to warn affiliate stations that an advertising break was coming? It was Alice Greene, a young WIBC copywriter, who reportedly piped up and said, “Stay tuned for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Her superiors loved it and legendary race announcer Sid Collins quickly turned it into an unforgettable phrase the world over. Her media career, however, was short-lived. She soon retired to marry Bill Bugher, raise nine children and later work as a cafeteria manager. She died on New Year’s Day, 1996, at age 64.