Sunday, September 21, 2014

Musical Interlude: It Doesn't Matter (2000)

At the height of the Rock's popularity in 2000, the "People's Champion" went into the studio to cut a rap single with ex-Fugee Wyclef Jean. The result, "It Doesn't Matter", peaked at #3 on the UK chart, but research doesn't tell us how far it went here in the US. Go figure.

Rock (Dwayne Johnson) was so inspired, he recorded a rap of his own for a WWE (then-World Wrestling Federation) CD, titled after his favorite dessert dish, "Pie". Needless to say, that CD flopped.

What Might've Been: Occasional Wife (1966)

Harry Ackerman, head of the comedy division at Screen Gems, was taking ideas for just about any scenario you could dream up in the mid-60's. The studio was had successfully transitioned from The Donna Reed Show & Hazel to the likes of Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. In 1966, the same year that The Monkees had joined Jeannie on NBC, there came a "modern fable" about a bachelor who pretends to be married in order to gain a promotion.

However, such a gimmick as what fueled Occasional Wife, in an era of wacky ideas in television, ended up failing, probably because there were too many wacky concepts. Michael Callan starred along with Patricia Harty as the titular periodic spouse. Harty would try again 2 years later, signing with Universal and King Features to adapt the latter's Blondie, co-starring opposite Will Hutchins, who'd flopped with Hey, Landlord for NBC, for which Wife was replacing Landlord. Got all that?

Don Kirshner, brought in along with the Monkees, was tapped as music supervisor for Screen Gems for a couple of years and is credited as such here, as well as on Bewitched, beginning with season 3. Along with the swinging theme music, one surprising hook in the series, as demonstrated in the pilot, is the use of baseball icon Vin Scully as the narrator.

Occasional Wife was brought back as part of a cable deal with USA Network some 20-odd years later, hence the Columbia Pictures Television logo of the period bumping the infamous Screen Gems "S from Hell" logo.

No rating.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Musical Interlude: Into The Night (1980)

Benny Mardones only had 1 big hit, and it was a hit twice over.

"Into the Night", a tale of young, perhaps forbidden, love, debuted in the summer of 1980, and peaked at #11. 9 years later, after DJ Scott Shannon, then based in LA, added the song to his playlist, "Night" charted anew, but only got as far as #20. Co-author Robert Tepper would end up a 1-hit wonder himself, scoring with "No Easy Way Out" from "Rocky IV" in between releases of "Night".

What Might've Been: The Asphalt Jungle (1961)

The Asphalt Jungle is not a true spinoff from the movie of the same name, sharing only the title and the studio (MGM). As it happened, it was a summer replacement series in 1961 and lasted just 13 weeks when it could've gone longer, but for the fact that it was just another crime drama.

Jack Warden and William Smith headlined a promising ensemble cast, and would each go on to greater successes. Seeing this show for the first time via YouTube, I can see just what the problem was. As noted, it really had 0 to do with the movie, and instead focused on the same subject matter as other crime shows, with a few exceptions, one of which being a case study, if you will, on the American Nazi Party, as demonstrated in the episode, "The Scott Machine", with guest stars Robert Vaughn and John Astin.

Uploaded by robatsea:

Rating: B.

Friday, September 19, 2014

A new collection of dunces & weasels

The turmoil surrounding the NFL has produced a veritable cornucopia of Weasels and Dunces this week, to borrow some of the late Howard Cosell's preferred vernacular.

However, we start with baseball.

Philadelphia Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon may have written his ticket out of town with a lewd gesture aimed at the homies on Sunday. After blowing a save, Papelbon was lifted by manager Ryne Sandberg, who had to be embarrassed, along with the rest of the team, by what happened next. Upset over being booed by the hometowners, Papelbon decided to grab a hold of his, ah, package, if ya will. Umpire Joe West wasn't digging, and proceeded to further Papelbon's exit by ejecting him from the game.

While West isn't one of the most popular umpires, he got praise from the press for taking matters--literally---into his own hands, although that cost West 1 game. Papelbon gets set down for 7, and the Phillies might as well begin the process of auditioning new closers for next year, and see about trading Papelbon, who's nearing the end of his career. Papelbon gets a set of Weasel ears and a Dunce Cap.

Next stop is Minneapolis. Vikings owner Zigy Wilf really earned a Dunce Cap this week by first reinstating running back Adrian Peterson on Monday, a day after gift-wrapping a win for New England, then, under pressure from the league, sponsors, and Lord knows who else, Wilf reversed field by Wednesday, and Peterson was placed on the exempt/commissioner's permission list. Wilf, thanks to Peterson's attempt at old school discipline being exposed for all the world to see, may have mortgaged the Vikings' chances at a playoff spot, but what else could he do? Even a former Viking from a by-gone era, Fran Tarkenton, took a shot at commissioner Roger Goodell's sudden bumbling and stumbling on domestic issues off the field. To borrow the title of Tarkenton's lone primetime series, That's Incredible! That exempt list is getting longer. In Charlotte, Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, no relation to the Hardy brothers of pro wrestling, is appealing a July domestic abuse conviction, and was allowed to play the first two games. Carolina went 1-1, but Hardy was put on the exempt list, also on Wednesday. Shouldn't Goodell have thrown the book at him in preseason? Yep, but the common theme the NFL is using in these cases is that they would rather wait for the legal system to run its course in each case through due process. The media isn't that patient, and now, neither are sponsors such as Anheiser-Busch, makers of Budweiser and the biggest advertiser in sports for years. Hardy gets a set of Weasel ears for trying to appeal when the evidence is obviously there.

Moving west, the Arizona Cardinals had a pair of former Pittsburgh Steelers running backs on their roster at the start of the season, neither one named Rashard Mendenhall, who decided to retire after 1 season in the desert. Former mates Chris Rainey and Jonathan Dwyer followed him to Phoenix, but at mid-week, Rainey had followed Mendenhall out of town, as the Cardinals cut him, while placing Dwyer on the exempt list after he was arrested for---wait for it---attacking his wife. Rainey's stay in Pittsburgh was short, too, as he didn't even finish his rookie season in 2012, and, yep, he too has had a history of domestic troubles. Dwyer gets a set of Weasel ears because he should've known better, considering his act was more recent.

Goodell gets a Dunce Cap for having his head in the sand so long, he could've been making out with an ostrich for all we know. Today, he surfaced for a press conference, only to have that crashed by some jackass named Benjy Bronk, a writer and performer on Howard Stern's satellite radio show. Bronk was there for one reason, to get the so-called "King of All Media" trending on Twitter. Mission accomplished, but did Stern really need to resort to this kind of guerrilla stunt after all these years? No, but it seems he's not happy about not being relevant enough in social media, and that's despite the charity work his wife Beth does.

Face facts, Howard. These kinds of stunts were so last century. Captain Janks' act got old, and he apparently isn't the type to appear in public, so you send some jabroni no one's heard of. Are you that homesick for old school radio? I'd say yeah, but here's a set of Weasel ears. If you don't know what these are for, ask Beth. She'd probably model them for you.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Musical Interlude: Me & Julio Down by the Schoolyard (1972, 1988)

In 1972, Paul Simon scored his first #1 solo album with his self-titled release, from whence we get the top 5 hit, "Me & Julio Down by the Schoolyard". To this day, I still can't quite get the lyrics. Simon was, perhaps intentionally, vague about the circumstances behind the crime supposedly committed at the start of the song.

Fast forward 16 years, and Simon, in support of his greatest hits CD, "Negotiations & Love Songs", shoots a video for "Me & Julio", with guests Big Daddy Kane & Biz Markie laying down a beat before the song starts, and a trio of guest stars from the sports world: Yankee icon Mickey Mantle, NBA star Anthony "Spud" Webb, then with Atlanta, and former Oakland Raiders coach-turned broadcaster John Madden, who gets the Rodney Dangerfield treatment from a group of kids he calls into a huddle at the end of the clip. Well, what didja expect? He was a football coach, not a basketball coach. Big diff!

From Simon's VEVO channel:

What Might've Been: Crusader (1955)

More than a decade before Family Affair made him a major TV star, Brian Keith made his debut in the crime drama, Crusader, which lasted 52 episodes between 1955-7.

Keith played journalist Matt Anders, a freelancer whose millieu went beyond investigative reporting, although in this episode, he does play detective to find a "Cop Killer":

Revue (now NBC-Universal) churned out crime dramas like they were on an assembly line. The angle of using an investigative reporter was just a variant on the usual procedurals of the period. Believe it or else, before I ran across the above video, uploaded by Acountryboy to YouTube, I wasn't even aware of this series, and assumed that Keith's debut series was the Four Star oater, The Westerner, which we will cover at a later date.

No rating.