Certainly, for KCRA-TV the Charlie Chan films were an efficient late-night time-filler, there being almost four dozen of them. There was a general “nostalgia” craze at the time, resulting in revivals of W.C. Fields, Marx Brothers, Busby Berkeley, Sherlock Holmes, and other ’30s and ’40s icons. Charlie Chan was, in that sense, film history and begged to be broadcast.
However, it was also likely KCRA-TV was nervous about the racial stereotyping of Asians and blacks in the series, particularly in the earlier, 1930s installments.
Geoff Wong was the perfect host given these circumstances. He graciously and fairly addressed the stereotyping by placing the films in historical and cultural context. When he thought things went too far, he said so – I remember him warning the viewers before unleashing the cringe-inducing performance of Stepin Fetchit in Charlie Chan in Egypt, for example.