Saturday, October 22, 2016

Classic TV: Daniel Boone (1964)

Fess Parker had made coonskin caps a marketing phenomenon in the 50's as Davy Crockett. And, so, it was that same headgear that helped him make another historical hero a TV icon of the 60's.

20th Century Fox signed Parker to star as Daniel Boone, which lasted six seasons on NBC (1964-70), and currently airs on cable on INSP and Me-TV. In between Crockett & Boone, Parker had been cast in a sitcom adaptation of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1962), which lasted just 1 season.

Boone was structured around the frontiersman's family, most notably wife Rebecca (Patricia Blair) and son Israel (Darby Hinton). Daughter Jemima appeared during the first two seasons, but was written out of the show, largely because Veronica Cartwright (ex-Make Room For Daddy) moved over to another Fox series, Lost in Space. Albert Salmi, who played Boone's scout-sidekick, Yadkin, left after the first season, meaning that Ed Ames, as the Oxford-educated Native American, Mingo, would become Boone's de facto partner-in-peril, at least until Ames left the series following season 4.

After that, country singer Jimmy Dean came aboard as Josh Clements in season 5, and former football player and part-time singer Roosevelt Grier joined the show in the final year as former slave Gabriel Cooper. As memory serves, Dean's time on Boone would lead to his landing one last variety show, this time for ABC.

Parker, while not formally credited, was actually a producer as well, through his Fespar Productions.

Right now, let's go back to the series opener, from 1964.

The Ken Darby Singers performed the title song for the first season, but the theme would be more up-tempo as time wore on.

Rating: A.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Musical Interlude: An American Dream (1979)

There was a time in the late 70's and early 80's when the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band went by simply, the Dirt Band. Why they dropped "Nitty Gritty", I'll never know.

As it is, the Dirt Band managed just a couple of crossover pop hits during this period. The first was "An American Dream", released in 1979. The female voice heard on the track belongs to no less than Linda Ronstadt, who unfortunately wasn't availble when the Band made the video.

High School Fridays: Ballston Spa @ Troy (football playoffs), 10/21/16

New York's Section II began football playoffs tonight, and in Class AA, form held. All roads lead to the Class AA Super Bowl, taking place November 3 at RPI's East Campus Village Stadium.

Troy High would like to make that a de facto home game.

Coach Bob "The Builder" Burns and the Flying Horses welcomed Ballston Spa to Picken Memorial Field tonight, but it seems as though the Scotties left half their offense at home. Ballston Spa took the opening kickoff and marched down the field, mostly on the legs of running back Jason McCarthy. However, Troy's defense stiffened in the red zone, and the Scotties turned the ball over on downs.

After an exchange of punts, Troy's John Germinerio contributed on defense, picking off his quarterback counterpart, Christian Leva. Germinerio, on offense, then found Jesse Brown in the end zone to give Troy a 7-0 lead with under a minute in the first quarter.

That touchdown was the wake-up call the defense needed, as despite Leva & McCarthy still gashing the run defense, the Scotties couldn't get anything done through the air. In all, Leva was intercepted twice and sacked at least three times. Joe Casale had the other interception and nearly returned it all the way, getting stopped at the Ballston Spa 2. Joey Ward scored on the next play to put the game away.

Germinerio finished with four TD passes, two to Brown, the others to Dev Holmes and Ethan Evans, and Ward finished with three rushing TD's, the last a 75 yard gallop to start the 4th quarter, and Troy shut out Ballston Spa, 49-0.

It won't be that easy next week, not by any stretch. Troy will next face Christian Brothers Academy, which routed Columbia, 55-22, to earn a berth in the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, Shaker & Guilderland will meet in the other semi-final.
Unfortunately, the season is over for Troy's soccer teams. The women were eliminated by Bethlehem, 5-0, on Thursday. The Eagles had previously beaten Troy, 7-0, exactly one month earlier. The boys fell to Guilderland, 3-0, earlier today, ending a winless season at 0-16-1. The women finish at 4-11-1.
Holy Trinity, the unification of Catholic Central High School and Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons, will play their first playoff game Saturday afternoon at Hoosic Valley. That will be an achievement unto itself, considering that the Holy Trinity field house, on the Bishop Gibbons campus in Schenectady, was ravaged by fire, which destroyed virtually all of Holy Trinity's football equipement. Arson is suspected, which leads one to wonder why someone would go out of their way to sabotage a team that has struggled the last few years before earning its first post-season berth. Thousands of dollars and equipment have been donated, with the latter supplied by the University at Albany. Here's to hoping the disrespectful soul responsible finds it within himself to turn himself in.
Not every school in Section II has lights. In addition to Holy Trinity @ Hoosic Valley, Albany Academy visits Glens Falls, and Queensbury welcomes Mohonasen tomorrow as we wrap the first weekend of post-season play.

Weasel of the Week: Donald Trump

“I didn’t like the outcome of the 2008 election. But I had a duty to concede, and I did so without reluctance, A concession isn’t just an exercise in graciousness. It is an act of respect for the will of the American people, a respect that is every American leader’s first responsibility. Whatever our differences we owe each other that respect, which we express by defending the democratic values and practices that protect us all.”--Senator John McCain.

"Dumb Donald is really dumb."--Gene Rayburn, on a few occasions on Match Game in the 70's.

Yep, Republican Presidential candidate and prematurely senile businessman Donald Trump picks up another set of Weasel ears this week. He just can't keep his feet out of his mouth. For that matter, he can't go a day without saying something that is offensive or irresponsible.

Senator McCain's remarks, quoted above, followed up a statement by fellow Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, who denounced Trump as being selfish when Trump made this ridiculous statement in Delaware, Ohio:

"I would like to promise and pledge to all of my voters and supporters, and to all of the people of the United States that I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election -- if I win."

Trump, on the surface, appears to be unwilling to accept defeat of any kind. He even went so far earlier this week to claim that the Emmy Awards, handed out in September, also supposedly rigged, just because Trump's NBC reality show, The Apprentice, has never won an Emmy. Nominated, yes, but never a winner.

Earlier this year, Trump had met with Dr. James Dobson, head of the Christian organization, Focus on the Family, and reportedly had converted to Christianity. So why does he continue to make such outrageous, irresponsible statements, contradicting his newfound faith? What person in his/her right mind would be tweeting at 3 am (ET) in the morning, anyway?

The simple answer is that Trump hasn't completely embraced his faith. If he did, his attention-grabbing stunts would've already stopped. Trump's running mate, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, has had to try to walk back some of Trump's "senior moments", but he'd be better served if he took Trump into a private room and walked him through a few important Biblical passages. In my own personal opinion, Trump has so many people snowblind to reality with his haterizing rhetoric that they don't realize that the more he rambles on with unsubstantiated claims about his opponent former Secretary of State and NY Senator Hillary Clinton, the more likely it is he will lose the election. Trump doesn't want to admit it, but he's digging his own political grave every time he opens his mouth or takes to Twitter.

Try denying that, Dumb Donald.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Creepy TV: Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), aka My Partner the Ghost (1969)

Here's an ITC series that never saw the light of day in the home district that I know of.

Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) aired in England in 1969, and when it was imported to America, it was given the alternate title, My Partner The Ghost, which is how I remember seeing the show in the listings in the New York papers back in the day. There, it aired on WNBC ahead of NBC programming on Mondays, as memory serves.

In the series opener, detective Martin Hopkirk (Kenneth Cope) is struck and killed by a hit & run driver. He returns as a ghost, enlisting the aid of his partner, Jeff Randall (Mike Pratt) to find said killer. However, Marty has remained on the mortal plane too long, and must remain for another several years, even if his murder is avenged.

After a short-lived revival in England in 2000, NBC-Universal acquired the rights in 2010, intent on developing a new version for SyFy. So far, nothing has come of it, and likely never will.

No rating.

On The Shelf: Of Pussycats & cavemen

Time to catch up on some new releases.

Josie & The Pussycats is the 4th "New Riverdale" book from Archie Comics, and completely reboots the band's beginnings, updating the story to the 21st century (of course). Melody's not as dim or naive as we remember, but instead, in this series, she & Josie are roomies, and Melody's gone through more boyfriends than most folks have used cars. Alexandra Cabot is the same jealous, scheming beyotch as before, but, as we've documented in discussing the TV show over at Saturday Morning Archives, she's also a witch, something she couldn't be on TV, and uses the simplest of spells to try to break the band up before it gets started. Alan M (ayberry), who was Josie's boyfriend/roadie/bodyguard in the cartoons, has been upgraded. He's now a record producer. Alexandra's twin brother, Alexander, hasn't shown up yet, and writer Marguerite Bennett (DC Comics' Bombshells) may bring him on board as early as issue 2.

However, the problem that exists is, in fact, the drama Alexandra tries creating. It's not so unique anymore, and the roots of her jealousy should be addressed within the first year of the series. If not, what's the point?

I don't need high school level drama among 20-somethings in this kind of series.

Rating: C.

Dark Horse has decided to publish a separate James Bond 007 miniseries concurrent with the ongoing monthly, which likely will take another hiatus after the current arc concludes in December. Hammerhead sneak-peeks in the pages of James Bond 007 9-10, the latter being a flip book for a slightly longer peek. Any way you slice it, it's normal Bond fare, and that's enough for me.

Rating: A.

The Flintstones---and for that matter, everyone in Bedrock---got a makeover from DC this summer. As we've noted, Fred, Barney, and even Mr. Slate have been buffed up, thanks to the character designs by Amanda Connor, and brought to life monthly by artist Steve Pugh. Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm are attending middle school, and the Great Gazoo, who debuted in issue 3, appears to have been stranded on Earth after some alien kids he was supposed to supervise got out of hand. Science teacher Sargon is modeled after Carl Sagan (Cosmos), in case you didn't know. Writer Mark Russell, whose last DC series, Prez, has been outright cancelled, as the 2nd miniseries won't be published, must've been a fan of both Cosmos and the old Flintstones. The Water Buffaloes still have the iconic headgear, but you can't call them Water Buffaloes anymore it seems. Their lodge is now the Veterans of Paleolithic Wars (VPW). I guess the idea is to differentiate this series from the original show's prototype, The Honeymooners, as much as possible. The appliances, which, amazingly, includes Dino, as of issue 2, can talk, but only when the humans aren't around.

However, the attempts at sending up more recent pop culture are undermined by Russell's heavy-handed scripts. There wasn't anything funny about the alien invasion in issue 3, as some Bedrock folks were---gasp--killed off. Like, permanent like. Never saw that in a Flintstones cartoon, did you now?

Rating: C.

Noteworthy news: DC is bringing back Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth, the last of Jack Kirby's 1970's creations to get a 21st century relaunch. However, at the same time, the publisher is rebooting one of the oddest ideas of the 80's. The end result is the deluxe-sized Kamandi Challenge, launching in January. Throughout 2017, a series of writers and artists will pass the baton in completing this 12 issue limited series, a la the DC Challenge (circa 1987 or thereabouts). I guess the idea here is to test the waters for a possible Kamandi ongoing, which would launch in 2018. If memory serves, Kamandi would be marking his 45th anniversary either in 2017 or 2018.

In a case of the other shoe dropping, Archie Comics will publish a double-size 1-shot prequel of the forthcoming CW series, Riverdale. Both are due in January. Maligned writer-creative director Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is writing the 1-shot, which means it'll likely be late arriving in stores. I've said enough about Aguirre-Sacasa's unwillingness to share his vision for the horror line with other writers. Date & time for Riverdale on CW haven't been confirmed as of this writing. A Riverdale ongoing, presumably also written by Aguirre-Sacasa, will likely follow.

I have a bone to pick with the editors of Entertainment Weekly.

In their latest issue, which showcases "The 50 Most Powerful Superheroes" (you can't miss it, with Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Strange on the cover), it isn't said list that bothers me all that much. They pretty much got most of it right, with Wonder Woman at the top of the list. Hey, it's corporate synergy at work, since EW is published by Time, Inc., a sister company to DC, but on the other hand, there is a legit case for the Amazing Amazon at #1. Marvel dominates the top 10, with Spider-Man ranking at #2, ahead of both The Batman & Superman. I'm cool with that.

However, it's the back page, The Bullseye, where I have an issue. Writer Marc Snetiker just HAD to poke fun at the Wonder Twins. I won't even repeat the lame joke he used with a random still shot, other than to say there seems to be a---wait for it---double entendre there somewhere. If you don't want to spend the money to buy the issue, it's available at your local library for free reading. It was bad enough 15+ years ago when the alleged cool guys at Wizard: The Guide To Comics dissed Zan & Jayna, following along with certain internet jerks like Seanbaby, but to go to that well again? As Jayna would say, spacey, Snetiker, real spacey.

The Bullseye gets a C. The rest of the issue is worth an A-.

What Might've Been: O. K. Crackerby (1965)

The late Cleveland Amory, best known as a television critic for TV Guide for what seemed like forever, decided to develop a show of his own in 1965. Unfortunately, O. K. Crackerby, Amory's pride & joy (co-created with Abe Burrows), was a one season entry for United Artists & ABC.

The title character is a millionaire and single parent (Burl Ives, Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer) who thought that his money could elevate him into high society. Amory wanted the show to be more about Crackerby's major domo, St. John Quincy (Hal Buckley), but once Ives was brought aboard, everything changed.

The series lasted 17 episodes total before ABC scuttled it. A season earlier, the similarly themed The Tycoon, with Walter Brennan, had likewise flopped. The other common bond between Brennan and Ives, other than their musical pursuits, was that their next series would each be a greater success. Brennan with The Guns of Will Sonnett (1967-9) and Ives with The Bold Ones: The New Lawyers.

Let's take a look at part one of the episode, "Crackerby the Treasurer".

The shift in creative direction from Amory's vision to Burrows' final product, perhaps mandated by UA and/or ABC resulted in the show's low ratings and subsequent cancellation in January 1966, making room for Robert Goulet's similarly unsuccessful Blue Light.

Based on what we've seen, it's easy to understand why it failed. Money doesn't buy everything, and what was meant to be satire wasn't perceived as such.

Rating: C.