Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Musical Interlude: Shine A Little Love (1979)

I had a vision, never fulfilled insofar as I know, of the Electric Light Orchestra being backed by some dancers (don't ask me why) on 1979's "Shine a Little Love". This surreal video, though, is worth the trip.

Monday, September 18, 2017

What Might've Been: Our House (1986)

"Our House is a very, very fine house...."--Crosby, Stills, & Nash (italics mine).

Had NBC placed Our House on a night other than Sunday, maybe it goes past 2 seasons (1986-8). It was slotted at the top of the network's Sunday lineup, meaning it would often be delayed or pre-empted early on in the season due to football in much of the country.

Diedre Hall (Days of Our Lives) led the ensemble, which also included Shannen Doherty (ex-Little House on the Prairie) and Wilford Brimley ("Cocoon"). Hall left Days during season 2 of House after discovering that trying to juggle two series at once wasn't going to work a second time. A decade earlier, after joining Days, Hall, ah, moonlighted in the campy superhero series, Electra Woman & Dyna Girl as part of ABC's Krofft Supershow. While her segment lasted just the one season, Hall endured the longer primetime season with House, but the strain got to be such that she had to sacrifice her 10 year gig on Days, though she'd eventually return.

The basic concept was this. After his son passes on, Brimley's character takes in his daughter-in-law (Hall) and her two children (Doherty & Chad Allen).

My folks rediscovered the series on cable a few years later, and that's how I came to watch a few episodes. Let's take a look at a sample.

Post-House, Brimley spent several years pitching life insurance and oatmeal. You know what Shannen Doherty has done since (Beverly Hills 90210, Charmed, Scare Tactics), often fraught with off-screen drama.

Rating: B.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Raymond "Bobby" Heenan (1944-2017)

Tonight, the world of professional wrestling is mourning the passing of Raymond Louis "Bobby" Heenan, who passed away earlier today, just a couple of months shy of his 73rd birthday.

Although billed as hailing from Beverly Hills, Heenan was really from Chicago, and began his career working for Dick the Bruiser's promotion in Indianapolis, first as a wrestler, then as a manager. Early success led Heenan to move on to the AWA, a brief run in the Georgia territory for the NWA in 1979-80, then, of course to the World Wrestling Federation, where he was first a manager, then a color commentator, from 1984-93. His pairing with Gorilla Monsoon on Wrestling Challenge and Prime Time Wrestling turned "The Brain" into a cult favorite due the chemistry he shared with Monsoon. The short-lived Bobby Heenan Show suffered from being developed without enough time to actually promote the program and give it room to grow.

From 1994-2000, Heenan was a color analyst for WCW, and was later inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. It is believed that had his talk show not bombed, Heenan could've been looked at as a possible star in Hollywood, compared to Emmy winner Ted Knight.

From 1989, here's a montage of Prime Time segments with Monsoon & Heenan at a premiere party for Hulk Hogan's film, "No Holds Barred".

After a couple of brief returns to WWE, Heenan's career in wrestling ended due to throat cancer, which ultimately cost him his greatest attribute, his voice.

Rest in peace, Brain.

What Might've Been: Gloria (1982)

The last spin-off from All In The Family was rolled out in the fall of 1982, just as Archie Bunker's Place was entering its final season. But, for whatever reason, known only to CBS suits who left their brains in mason jars, Gloria was cut off from the family tree.

The initial pilot was, for unknown reasons, rejected by CBS. Tandem Productions went back to the drawing board and reworked it into an episode of Archie Bunker's Place, but brought in writers from WKRP In Cincinnati and veteran director Bob Claver, who'd been with Screen Gems for a number of years (i.e. Here Come The Brides, Partridge Family, The Interns, would direct the entire subsequent series.

Gloria Bunker-Stivic (Sally Struthers), newly divorced from husband Mike (Rob Reiner), has custody of their son, Joey (Christian Jacobs), and rents an apartment from veterinarian Willard Adams (Burgess Meredith), for whom she works as an assistant in order to pay the rent. Reiner would not appear in the series at all, and, aside from the pilot, there would be no more interaction with Archie (Carroll O'Connor). No crossovers between the two series.

That last point, dear friends, is what killed Gloria after 1 season. Someone at CBS had a beef with Norman Lear, or vice versa, we don't know, because despite being placed in the same Sunday comedy block as Place, Gloria was, for all intents and purposes, left out in the cold.

Gloria was given a romantic interest (Lou Richards), who made Mike look like a Rhodes scholar by comparison. You'll see what I mean as we screen the series finale, "An Uncredited Woman". Paul Rodriguez guest stars.

Believe it or else, my late mother, who was a big All In The Family/Archie Bunker's Place fan, just wasn't into Gloria as much, and that may have been the case for much of the country.

Rating: B-.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Origin of a Classic: Dick Powell as Amos Burke (Dick Powell Show, 1961)

Dick Powell had transitioned from musicals to becoming a respected character actor, and, as one of the founders of Four Star, built a television company that should've been an even bigger player than it was.

In 1961, Powell fronted his own anthology series, The Dick Powell Show, on NBC. It was like a double-sized version of Four Star Playhouse, but with a larger cast. Regrettably, Powell passed away halfway through the 2nd season, at which point the series was retitled, The Dick Powell Theatre. The series was cancelled at the end of that season.

The series opener introduced viewers to millionaire playboy police captain Amos Burke, who would resurface two years later when ABC acquired Burke's Law, with Gene Barry (ex-Bat Masterson) taking over as Burke. In "Who Killed Julie Greer?", Powell and producer Aaron Spelling established the star-studded whodunit format for Burke that would be copied in other genres by Spelling and other producers in later years. The cast includes Ralph Bellamy, Edgar Bergen, Ronald Reagan, Edward Platt (later of Get Smart), Dean Jones (who also landed his own Four Star series, Ensign O'Toole, for NBC), Alvy Moore (later of Green Acres), and Leon Lontoc, who would return for Burke's Law in the same role as Henry, Burke's chauffeur.

Was Powell as believable as Burke as Barry would be? Can't say for sure. Barry made the role his own, and got three years out of Burke, including the ill-advised Amos Burke, Secret Agent season, then two more in the 90's under Spelling for five total.

Rating: B.

We'll take a deeper look at The Dick Powell Show/Theatre another day.

Now, this is a soap opera (1971)

Let's take a step back in time, shall we?

This next item clearly was tailored for the daytime soap opera audience, and, back then, Procter & Gamble not only sponsored soap operas, they also produced a few (i.e. As The World Turns, Search For Tomorrow, Another World, etc.).

Comedian-actor Avery Schreiber (ex-My Mother The Car), by this point in his career better known for his comedy pairing with Jack Burns, shaved off his signature mustache to play a truck driver who finds a unique means of winning the heart of a truck stop waitress (Reva Rose).

Aww, isn't that cute? I'd like to see some high school or college kids try to duplicate that scene.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Musical Interlude: Reflections of My Life (1969)

The Marmalade were a 1-hit wonder from England who scored in the fall of 1969 with "Reflections of My Life". This, in all honesty, is the first time I've actually seen the band perform this song. Ever.