Sign in | Register now Like us on FacebookLike Us | Follow us on TwitterFollow Us

Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, July 25, 2014

Fri
Hi: 79
Lo: 66
Sat
Hi: 85
Lo: 69
Sun
Hi: 80
Lo: 61
Advertise on OnMilwaukee.com

In Movies & TV Commentary

Happy birthday. Cell phones have been around for 40 years, and they have had an impact on TV shows. (PHOTO: shutterstock.com )

Can you hear me now? Cell phone turns 40


William Shatner -- and his ego -- like to claim that he's the one that created the idea of the cell phone. It was while he played Captain Kirk on "Star Trek" that he suggested to prop makers to make a piece that flips up for the communicator device he would use to talk to crew members on the Enterprise.

Early chiefs at phone companies poo-pooed the idea of people wanting to have a mobile phone while they had perfectly working ones at their home or work place. How wrong we've proved them on the 40th anniversary of the cell phone.

In the TV world, early mobile phones were reserved for the rich and spies who needed the latest technology. On "Get Smart," Agent 86, played by Don Adams, had his phone in his shoe.

And then there was Zack Morris, played by Mark Paul Gosselaar, on "Saved By The Bell." Morris' character would talk directly to the camera, leading the viewers with a commentary that was once only reserved for private eye shows. When he wasn't talking to the camera, or his fellow castmates, he was talking on his big, blocky, almost-the-size-of-his-80s-regulation-puffed-up-hairdo mobile phone.

There's even a site dedicated to this piece of technology and its place as a crucial plot device at zackmorriscellphone.com.

Technology has changed our lives, and how we do what we do for a living. Sometimes I like to think what "Rockford Files" would have been like if James Garner's Jim Rockford had a cell phone and the internet to help him on his cases. His answering machine on his home phone played a huge role on the show.

"This is Jim Rockford. At the tone leave your name and message, I'll get back to you."

If Rockford had a cell phone, he would just have answered those calls while he drove around in his 1977 Pontiac Firebird Esprit. Cases would have been solved much faster, leaving more airtime for Stephan J. Cannell to give Rockford more funny quips.

Decades later, cable channels are using cell phone apps to tout new programs to prospective advertisers. "Shark Week" is displayed proudly on the Discovery Network's specially made app for its upfront. It's a strange, wonderful mobile world we live in.

So, happy 40th to the cell phone, which you may or may not be using right now to read this.

OFFICIAL: As reported yesterday on OnMilwaukee.com, NBC did announce that Jimmy Fallon will be the new host of the "Tonight Show" in 2014. Jay Leno, who has been the host since Johnny Carson's departure (except for the nine month thing with Conan O'Brien), will exit the stage – again – following the network's coverage of the Winter Olympics.

"I just have one request of Jimmy. We've all fought, kicked and scratched to get this network up to fifth place, okay? Now we have to keep it there." Leno said in his monologue on Wednesday night. "Jimmy, don't let it slip into sixth. We're counting on you."

With the help of some healthy tax incentives, NBC will be moving the "Tonight Show" to New York.

Earlier this week, the network also announced that the next season of "America's Got Talent" will be moved to the Big Apple as well. New judges Heidi Klum and former Spice Girl Mel B will join Howard Stern and Howie Mandel for the new season at Radio City Music Hall.

Talkbacks


Post a comment / write a review.

Facebook Comments

Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.