Difference between revisions of "Climax! "The Long Goodbye" (lost premiere episode of anthology series; 1954)"

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==The 'walking corpse' incident==
 
==The 'walking corpse' incident==
On October 7th, 1954, ''Climax'' premiered with a live adaptation of Raymond Chandler's 1953 novel ''The Long Goodbye''. About midway through the broadcast, actor Tristram Coffin - who was at the time playing the part of a freshly-murdered corpse lying underneath a sheet, while investigators surveyed the crime scene - abruptly discarded the sheet and calmly headed off the set, clearly believing he was no longer in frame. (Different accounts describe the erstwhile corpse as either 'crawling' or 'strolling' away.) Adding to the surreal vibe, the other onscreen characters carried on as usual, seemingly oblivious to the bizarre turn of events.  
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On October 7th, 1954, ''Climax'' premiered with a live adaptation of Raymond Chandler's 1953 novel ''The Long Goodbye''. About midway through the broadcast, actor Tristram Coffin - who was at the time playing the part of a freshly-murdered corpse lying underneath a sheet, while investigators discussed removing it from the scene - abruptly sat up, discarded the sheet and calmly headed off the set. (Different accounts describe the erstwhile corpse as either 'crawling' or 'strolling' away.) Adding to the surreal vibe, the other onscreen characters continued to discuss removing the now-absent body, seemingly oblivious to the bizarre turn of events. The show carried on without further deviation from Chandler's story, leaving many confused viewers in its wake.
  
 
==Aftermath==
 
==Aftermath==
  
Since ''Climax'' billed itself as a top-tier, highbrow program, its debut had garnered considerable critical attention, and write-ups about the incident (some featuring interviews with a thoroughly embarrassed Coffin) appeared in multiple newspapers.<ref>[http://www.snopes.com/radiotv/tv/deadman.asp A Snopes article on the episode, featuring newspaper excerpts.] Retrieved 06 Mar '13</ref> The gaffe would pass into television history, albeit sometimes attached to the wrong show or episode. These days it is most often claimed that the incident happened during "Casino Royale", an adaptation of the James Bond novel that was the third episode of ''Climax!'', not the first.
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Since ''Climax'' billed itself as a top-tier, highbrow program, its debut had garnered considerable critical attention. Write-ups of the incident, including confirmation from throughly embarrassed CBS executives that Coffin had believed himself to be out of frame at the time, appeared in multiple newspapers.<ref>[http://www.snopes.com/radiotv/tv/deadman.asp A Snopes article on the episode, featuring newspaper excerpts.] Retrieved 06 Mar '13</ref> The gaffe would pass into television history, albeit sometimes attached to the wrong show or episode. These days it is most often claimed that the incident happened during "Casino Royale", a special live dramatization of the James Bond novel that aired around the same time; this is probably due to it being conflated with the third episode of ''Climax!'', which also adapted the Bond story.
  
 
==Availability==
 
==Availability==

Revision as of 14:50, 21 May 2022

ClimaxTheLongGoodbye-TitleCardCoffin.png

The title screen from Climax/actor Tristram Coffin.

Status: Lost

Climax! (later known as Climax Mystery Theater) was an anthology series that ran on American network CBS between 1954 and 1958. Each episode showcased a different story, most of which were adapted from other media, and usually performed live. While many episodes are considered lost, the series premiere is especially sought-after as it contains one of the most memorable production errors in TV history.

The 'walking corpse' incident[edit | edit source]

On October 7th, 1954, Climax premiered with a live adaptation of Raymond Chandler's 1953 novel The Long Goodbye. About midway through the broadcast, actor Tristram Coffin - who was at the time playing the part of a freshly-murdered corpse lying underneath a sheet, while investigators discussed removing it from the scene - abruptly sat up, discarded the sheet and calmly headed off the set. (Different accounts describe the erstwhile corpse as either 'crawling' or 'strolling' away.) Adding to the surreal vibe, the other onscreen characters continued to discuss removing the now-absent body, seemingly oblivious to the bizarre turn of events. The show carried on without further deviation from Chandler's story, leaving many confused viewers in its wake.

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

Since Climax billed itself as a top-tier, highbrow program, its debut had garnered considerable critical attention. Write-ups of the incident, including confirmation from throughly embarrassed CBS executives that Coffin had believed himself to be out of frame at the time, appeared in multiple newspapers.[1] The gaffe would pass into television history, albeit sometimes attached to the wrong show or episode. These days it is most often claimed that the incident happened during "Casino Royale", a special live dramatization of the James Bond novel that aired around the same time; this is probably due to it being conflated with the third episode of Climax!, which also adapted the Bond story.

Availability[edit | edit source]

The episode has not resurfaced since its first airing, and it is unknown if a copy is still in existence. It is highly unlikely, given that early live TV was not often recorded, and the recordings that were made were necessarily of poor quality.

As of this writing, the only episode of Climax! to ever get an official release on home media is "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde", which appeared in a Classic Sci-Fi TV compilation. Several episodes from later seasons have also shown up online.

Reference[edit | edit source]