||ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS
Anthology drama series presented by 'The Master of Suspense.'
CBS 1955-59, NBC 1960-62, USA Network 1987-88.
The instantly recognisable, deceptively benign visage of arguably the world's greatest director of cinematic suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, side-stepped deftly to the smaller screen of US television and welcomed viewers to a polished series of stories (seventeen of which were directed by Hitchcock himself) dealing in his trademarked obsession with terror, horror, dark humour and sardonically surprising endings.
'Hitch's' wryly deadpan delivery style of introduction, coupled with the series' memorable theme music quickly established themselves as much imitated standards over a decade which saw the show broadcast on two different networks -and later in the never-ending reruns of syndication. Cleverly, in knowingly direct violation of the then accepted television code of ethics; the stories would often appear to end with evil both triumphant and unpunished.
However, the downbeat resolution would invariably be revealed as misleading, when following the final commercial break, Hitchcock would return to almost gleefully explain what small mistake or random act of chance had finally seen justice prevail. In 1962, the show was expanded to an hour and underwent a title change to The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. The shows were produced by Norman Lloyd, later to appear before the camera as Dr. Daniel Auschlander in St Elsewhere and boasted contributions from such notable authors as Ira Levin, Roald Dahl, Sterling Silliphant and Ray Bradbury.
In a real life twist worthy of the Master himself, five years after Hitchcock's death, in the fall of 1987, the 'Hitch' achieved a unique, near morbid, distinction: he became the first person in television history to return from the dead to host a new series, when for one season, the NBC network used colorized versions of his original black-and-white introductions to introduce all new half hour episodes of the revived series. The success of this new version led in 1987 an additional year of new episodes being made for the USA Cable Network.
Well written, expertly crafted and displaying the signature of quality which informed all of the great director's most accomplished cinematic works, 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents' remains a superior example of the art of the dramatic anthology series.
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