Sunday, October 19, 2014

What Might've Been: Blacke's Magic (1986)

In the winter of 1986, NBC decided to try an old concept, with a twist.

Blacke's Magic was a different kind of crime drama, starring two actors accustomed to playing cops in Hal Linden (ex-Barney Miller) and Harry Morgan (ex-Dragnet, M*A*S*H, etc.). Linden was retired magician Alexander Blacke, who, albeit reluctantly, moved into a new career as a detective specializing in bizarre murders. Morgan was Leonard Blacke, Alexander's dad, a career con artist. Mark Shera (ex-Barnaby Jones, S.W.A.T.) was their police contact.

Blacke's Magic came from the brilliant minds of legendary writer-producers Richard Levinson & William Link (Mannix, Columbo), and producer Peter Fischer, at the time a relatively new name in television. The trio would find greater success with another series they sold to Universal, Murder, She Wrote, for CBS. So, the question becomes one of why Blacke failed as a mid-season replacement. Well, for one thing, as memory serves, the show aired on Wednesday nights, serving as a lead-in to St. Elsewhere. Plus, it combined elements of two series from the 70's. On one hand, there was Bill Bixby's 1972 series, The Magician. Alexander Blacke might've sounded too close to Bixby's Anthony Blake. On the other, there was The Feather & Father Gang, with Stefanie Powers & Harold Gould, which in turn was a sort-of reboot of The Rogues from the 60's. Like Gould, Morgan was playing a con artist whose offspring was on the right side of the law. Given the resumes of Morgan and Linden, this should've been gold. However, it'd been 4 years since M*A*S*H ended, giving way to AfterM*A*S*H, and 3 since Barney Miller ended, and both series were thriving in syndication. Viewers were still identifying the actors with their earlier roles.

Following is the open. I think the music may have been recycled somewhat for Murder, She Wrote, or, at the very least, the two series had the same musical director.

This was, in fact, comfort food during the winter. Too bad it wasn't renewed, because it certainly deserved to.

Rating: A-.

Musical Interlude: Boy From New York City (1981)

The Manhattan Transfer are currently on tour, marking the group's 45th anniversary, but also marking the passing of the lone founding member who was still with the group at the time of his passing. Tim Hauser passed away on Thursday at 72.

1981's "Boy From New York City", off "Mecca For Moderns", was the group's 1st top 10 hit, peaking at #7. Two years earlier, their tribute to Rod Serling's seminal Twilight Zone had reached the top 20, but went no further. The following clip of "Boy" comes from Fridays, and introduced by Larry David, impersonating Howard Cosell, as they're transitioning out of a skit parodying Monday Night Football:

Saturday, October 18, 2014

What Might've Been: Marie (1980)

We have often discussed how network suits have this habit of bringing back older stars, giving them new shows, and plugging them into familiar time slots in the hopes that viewers will be drawn back to those stars. It doesn't always work.

One such example involves Marie Osmond. A year and a half after Donny & Marie had ended its run on ABC, Marie returned, this time with a solo series, back on Friday nights, but this time on NBC, which was starving for a hit primetime series that wasn't Little House on the Prairie at the time. Unfortunately, Marie couldn't carry the load by herself, and the show was cancelled after about a year. It would also be the last series produced by the Osmond family's production company.

Oh, sure, Donny would drop by from time to time, and brothers Jay & Alan served as co-executive producers, but the viewers had moved on. Back then, Fridays belonged to CBS, which had taken over the night after Donny & Marie ended. The problem was that the show was on the wrong network. Had the Osmonds stayed at ABC, and Marie aired on another night, like, say, Saturday, things might've been different. A few short years later, Marie began her musical comeback on the country charts, scoring a #1 hit with "Meet Me in Montana", a duet with Dan Seals, who had been "England Dan", as in England Dan & John Ford Coley, in the 70's.

Following is a sample episode with guest star Andy Gibb, who'd later co-host Solid Gold:

These days, Marie is doing ads for Nutri-Systems, and periodically fills in on CBS' The Talk, after her self-titled Hallmark Channel talk show ended its run a year ago.

Rating: B.

Celebrity Rock: Bill Cosby sings the blues (or tries to)(Arsenio Hall Show, 1992)

Hey, hey, hey! In the waning days of the first Arsenio Hall Show, ol' triangle head thought it would be a good idea to have Bill Cosby sit in with no less than B. B. King. Judge for yourselves, pilgrims, as this is more of a protracted comedy sketch than anything else.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

How much does your car mean to you (2014)

Dodge is doing all they can to get the Dart back out in the public consciousness. To that end, actors Craig Robinson ("Hot Tub Time Machine") & Jake Johnson (New Girl) star in a series of spots in which Robinson is very protective of his Dart.

Example: Jake wants to key the car, but Craig ain't having any of that.........

I wonder how Craig'd react if his next door neighbor was another New Girl star, like, say, Zooey Deschanel?

Dunce Cap Award: Mike Goldberg

In 2008, Vince McMahon made one of his biggest blunders by hiring former NFL & American Gladiators announcer Mike Adamle as a WWE announcer. Adamle was not prepared, and it showed. After Adamle was moved out of the broadcast booth and into the GM's office on Monday Night Raw, it was hoped that he could be better served in smaller doses, but Adamle couldn't handle the pressure, and resigned that fall.

McMahon had long considered UFC announcer Mike Goldberg, but never took a chance on him. Fox, which has TV rights to UFC these days, thought it'd be a clever cross-promotional ploy to put Goldberg in an NFL booth last Sunday. Sadly, he came off looking as bad as Adamle did in WWE.......

To make matters worse, Goldberg didn't take too well to criticism on social media. Instead of giving him the Weasel ears, we'll just give Goldberg the Dunce Cap this week, for his lack of preparation for NFL duty, which lasted 1 week. The Fox suits learned a painful lesson from this, hopefully never to be duplicated. Then again, Adamle, now a sports anchor in Chicago, is available........

Monday, October 13, 2014

Remember Jimmy the Cab Driver? (1994)

The face might not be so familiar, but the voice might. 20 years ago, Donal Logue made a series of in-house ads for MTV as cab driver Jimmy McBride, this after having made his film debut 2 years earlier in "Sneakers" with Robert Redford and Dan Aykroyd, among others. Today, with a resume that includes Grounded For Life, The Knights of Prosperity, Vikings, Copper, Sons of Anarchy, The X-Files, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Logue may be putting himself in line for an Emmy as corrupt detective Harvey Bullock on Gotham. Like, who knew that goofy cabbie would end up like this?