Thursday, August 25, 2016

Musical Interlude: Copacabana (1979)

From The Muppet Show:

Liza Minnelli serves up a righteous take on Barry Manilow's seminal disco hit, "Copacabana".

I remember seeing this the first time around. This was a distraction from the overall episode, first shown in November 1979, in which the Muppets engaged in some murder mystery role play. Who'd have thought that it would later become trendy?

Is this any way to sell insurance? (2016)

Allstate Insurance has had a good thing going the last few years with the "Mayhem" ads featuring actor Dean Winters, which we reviewed over at Saturday Morning Archives because those spots usually air during sporting events on the weekends.

So the company ratcheted up the star power with their "What's it like to be IN good hands?" ad campaign, featuring the likes of the following:

Leslie Jones ("Ghostbusters", Saturday Night Live):

Adam Devine ("Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates"):

And Tim Gunn (Project: Runway):

Long-time pitchman Dennis Haysbert still does the voice-overs, which might be better than dubbing over generic actors, as he did in an ad campaign last year.

Would you buy insurance from Allstate after seeing these ads? Or are they a turn-off (well, Devine's might be)?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

When MTV Was Cool: Al TV (1984)

Song satirist "Weird" Al Yankovic had done one of MTV's monthly "Guest VJ" gigs in February 1984. The ratings must've been so good, the network invited him back, but this time giving him a 4 hour block of unfettered silliness.

Fittingly, Al TV launched on April Fool's Day, April 1, and would appear sporadically over the next 22 years, with the last two installments---all of the episodes were glorified infomercials for Al's albums---airing on VH1.

Yankovic pretended he had built a pirate satellite, and "took over" MTV for 4 hours, using outsourced interview footage and pretending he was the one conducting the interviews, producing commercials for non-existent products, and so on. It was just flat out wack.

This, of course, led not only to Yankovic's 1989 movie, "UHF", but also a subsequent, short-lived Saturday morning comedy-variety show for CBS.

Let's take a look at some excerpts from the opener, on April 1, 1984. The music videos have been edited out for obvious reasons.

Yankovic, of course, is still recording. With MTV and VH1 having forsaken music for lame reality shows and off-network reruns, there might not be room for a return. Or is there?

Rating: B.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A British Classic: Father, Dear Father (1968)

When England's Thames Television brokered a deal with 2 American television stations, including WOR in New York, in the late 70's, they selected a number of shows to air here, including The Benny Hill Show, which was later chopped down to a half-hour for syndication here, and The Sweeney, one of their premier crime dramas.

One sitcom, Father, Dear Father, had been out of production for a spell when it arrived here. Patrick Cargill was the titular parent, divorced and caring for his two teenage daughters while maintaining a cordial relationship with his ex-wife, who has since remarried.

Despite the fact that Father ran for five years in England, the series was not picked up for an extended run by WOR. In fact, The Benny Hill Show was the lone survivor of the program exchange to continue here in the US.

Following is the episode, "This Is Your Wife", in which Patrick must convince his ex to at least pretend they're still together for a magazine article....

Series creators and writers Johnnie Mortimer & Brian Cooke also created Man About The House, which was translated in the US into Three's Company. As memory serves, Man was also part of the Thames on 9 package in New York, and that ultimately led to Three's Company, though I can't be sure that's the way it went.

Father, Dear Father merits a B.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Gene Roddenberry on To Tell The Truth (1975)

Here's one for all you Star Trek fans out there.

Series creator Gene Roddenberry appeared on To Tell The Truth in 1975. Not the first high profile creator to appear on the show (Marvel's Stan Lee appeared twice on Truth, and Bill Gaines of Mad Magazine fame was also a contestant), but this was the sort of outside-the-box thinking that kept the syndicated Truth going as long as it did.

Let's just get right to it, leading with an abridged reading of the Trek preamble by host Garry Moore.

I guess Rita Moreno (The Electric Company) wasn't a sci-fi fan.......

Now Colonel Sanders is a wrestler? (2016)

Can we just stop and let Colonel Sanders rest in peace, once and for all?

The latest imposter Colonel is WWE superstar Dolph Ziggler, part of a marketing campaign WWE & KFC are, ah, tag-teaming on, leading into last night's Summerslam PPV. The opposition, looking like a total tool in a chicken suit, is Michael "The Miz" Mizanin, whose in-ring character thinks that even though he's made cable and DTV movies in recent years, he's an Oscar-worthy actor. Not after this....

Seems that Miz is representing a parody of Popeye's, which had been a WWE sponsor. Hmmmmm.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

What Might've Been: Hi, Honey, I'm Home! (1991)

Get ready for a blast from Nickelodeon's past.

In the summer of 1991, the network cut a deal with ABC, giving the latter first-airing rights to a new sitcom, Hi, Honey, I'm Home!, which served as a summer replacement series, airing on Fridays on ABC, and replaying two nights later on Nickelodeon before the Nick at Nite block took over.

The concept was this. Hi, Honey tells the story of the Nielsen family, who've moved from Hollywood to an unnamed small town. While the Nielsens are fish out of water, they also share some life lessons with their neighbors, the Duffs.

Unfortunately, ABC viewers were tuned out, and the network dropped Hi, Honey after the first six episodes. Nick, however, brought the show back the following summer for 7 more episodes before putting it to bed for good.

Future Backstreet Boy AJ McLean was cast as one of the Duff boys in the pilot, which you will see in a moment, but the part was recast and a new pilot was shot. If only they knew.....!

The following video was taken from a Nick special that aired at the height of the Backstreets' popularity in 1999, eight years after it was originally shot on tape.

Unfortunately also, series star Charlotte Booker was hardly heard from again after Hi, Honey bit the dust.

Rating: B.