Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Musical Interlude: All You Get From Love is a Love Song (1976-7)

The Carpenters scored a modest Top 40 hit in the winter of 1976-77 with "All You Get From Love is a Love Song", which some folks might mistakenly refer to as "Dirty Old Shame", which starts the chorus.

Karen Carpenter left us too soon. Period.

Monday, November 24, 2014

On DVD: The Halls of Ivy (1954)

Not long ago, we reviewed the radio version of The Halls of Ivy, starring the husband & wife team of Ronald & Benita Colman. Now, let's take a look at the short-lived television version.

Halls lasted just 1 season, with Ronald Colman doubling as executive producer in addition to reprising his role as Professor William Todhunter "Toddy" Hall. Future icons Mary Wickes, better known for later roles in Dennis The Menace and The Father Dowling Mysteries, to name two, played the Halls' housekeeper, while Ray Collins, a couple of years away from Perry Mason, was a professor.

Complete episodes aren't available on YouTube, so we'll settle for this compilation put together by Doug Quick:

While shows set in high schools (i.e. Our Miss Brooks) thrived on both radio & television, Halls, due to its being set in college, slightly higher up the educational ladder, failed because of trying to emulate the success of Brooks, as well as its radio precursor.

Rating: B.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Classic TV: Alice (1976)

Back in the day, CBS had a pretty decent comedy block on Sunday nights, which featured The Jeffersons, Archie Bunker's Place, One Day at a Time, and our next subject, Alice.

Spun off from the 1974 film, "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore", Alice enjoyed a 9 year run (1976-85), and I'd venture a guess that more people remember the series than they do the movie.

Widow Alice Hyatt (Linda Lavin, ex-Barney Miller) is en route to Los Angeles to pursue a singing career, but her car breaks down, forcing her and her son, Tommy (Philip McKeon) to settle in Phoenix, where Alice finds a job as a waitress. Most of the episodes put an emphasis on the ensemble cast, which, when the series began, had only one holdover from the movie, that being Vic Tayback reprising his role as Mel Sharples, the grumpy but good-hearted owner of the diner.

Amazingly, there were only three waitresses in the diner, the two constants being Alice and neurotic, dimwitted Vera (Beth Howland). Brassy Flo (Polly Holliday) was the breakout star, meriting her own series after the 4th season. Problem was, the producers had trouble filling the void. Diane Ladd was brought in as a new character (she played Flo in the movie), and won a Golden Globe, but had off-air issues that led to an abrupt departure. Celia Weston then was brought in as Jolene for the rest of the series, which led to a minor crossover with WB stablemate Dukes of Hazzard in which J. D. "Boss" Hogg (Sorrell Booke) and Enos Strate (Sonny Shroyer) visited. Seems Hogg was a distant relation of Jolene's. There were a couple of regular customers frequenting the diner. Henry, a telephone repairman (Marvin Kaplan, ex-Top Cat), often complained about the food. Earl (Dave Madden, ex-The Partridge Family) was Tommy's basketball coach.

The series was last seen on Ion a few years back, but otherwise is sitting in the WB vaults, although it'd be a good fit for Me-TV now.

Following is the first season open. The theme, "There's a New Girl in Town", is sung by Linda Lavin.

Rating: A.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Celebrity Rock: WC Fields does Three Dog Night? (Naaaaaah!)(1970)

Ok, students, I'm going to play this track first, then tell you about it.

Paul Frees, who worked for just about everybody in Hollywood back in the day, found some time to cut a record for MGM in 1970. "Paul Frees & the Poster People" found Frees, impersonating WC Fields, Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, and others, covering hits by the likes of Three Dog Night, Dusty Springfield, and the Beatles, among others. The final track, a cover of BJ Thomas' "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head" (from "Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid"), is a Frees "jam" piece. To be honest with you, I didn't know about this album until just a few minutes ago, and decided to give it a shot. If this doesn't put a smile on your face, I don't know what will.

What I didn't know was that Eric Burdon & the Animals had recorded "Mama" first, in 1966. I had always thought it had been written for TDN (by Randy Newman).

We know the man can sing in his own voice, having done so in a couple of Rankin-Bass Christmas specials, so I doubt that this can be classified as "Golden Throat" material. What do you think?

Advertising for Dummies: Would you buy a car from an action figure? (2014)

The folks at Honda should've asked Michael Bolton for an encore.

Instead of bringing back the crooner for a 2nd season of "Happy Honda Days" ads, the automaker's ad agency decided to take a page from [adult swim] and use action figures to sell the cars this holiday season. Among the spokestoys are Stretch Armstrong, Strawberry Shortcake, the original GI Joe, who joins 80's cartoon songstress Jem, and Fisher-Price's Little People. Factor in Art Clokey's legendary claymation hero, Gumby, accompanied, of course, by Pokey, and this 80's villain.........

I guess they couldn't find the old villains home and contact Boris Badenov. Skeletor as a car salesman? What's next?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Classic TV (?): BJ & The Bear (1979)

BJ & The Bear preceded CBS' Dukes of Hazzard to the air by a month, but only lasted 2 1/2 years as opposed to Dukes' 6 year run (1979-85, 6 1/2 seasons). Go figure.

BJ McKay (Greg Evigan, ex-A Year At The Top) was a truck driver making his living taking jobs all over the country, and finding trouble and adventure at every turn. Aside from the last part, I can relate, since I had an uncle who drove a 18 wheeler for a prominent company back in the day. Digressing aside, BJ had frequent run-ins with corrupt sheriff Elroy Lobo (Claude Akins, ex-Movin' On), who became so popular himself, that he was spun off into his own series. Once Lobo left, BJ had a new nemesis in another corrupt lawman, Rutherford Grant (Murray Hamilton), who made Lobo look like a choirboy by comparison.

The final season not only saw the emergence of Grant, but also a team of female drivers, including Grant's own daughter, which put Grant at a moral crossroads. As a result, like Lobo before him, Grant would forge a temporary truce with BJ against a common foe.

Executive producer Glen Larson composed the show's theme song, sung by Evigan with an anonymous group of female singers.

Today, the show sits in Universal's vaults, not even airing on Cloo. Try figuring that one out. If Lobo's solo series could land a berth on Retro a couple of years back, why not BJ & The Bear? And whatever happened to Bear, anyway?

Rating: B.

Destination: Bargain Basement---TNA finds a new home that few have heard of

The text was originally published at www.2xzone.com on November 20.

An era ended on Spike TV (formerly the Nashville/National Network, or, TNN) on November 19. However, TNA's era of errors continues unabated by common sense.

Raise your hand if you've heard of Destination America, the new home for Impact beginning in January. All we know is that it's one of the Discovery Communications family of networks, but most people know Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Discovery Family (formerly the Hub & Discovery Kids), and the Oprah Winfrey Network (formerly Discovery Health). Destination America? That sounds like a clone of the Travel Channel to me.

So, when TNA books Slamniversary in June, marking its 13th birthday, they will have been on 3 networks in the course of about 11 years, starting with a floating timeslot on Fox Sports Net, then 9 years and change on Spike, when they replaced the WWE, and now Destination America. Early rumors had them going to another Discovery network, Velocity, which in some cities is only available on the HD tier of your cable system. Heck, I had to do a search to see if my cable provider had Destination America, which they may just be adding in time for the addition of Impact.

The point is, insofar as I know, Destination America, or, DA for short, is in fewer homes now than Spike is. As usual, TNA went shopping in the bargain bin for a new deal. Once again, Dixie Carter demonstrated the business acumen of a blind mosquito. Then again, the fact that Fox wasn't interested in reacquainting themselves with TNA, despite the departure of founding father Jeff Jarrett, coupled with Spike, a Viacom network, deciding to get out of the wrestling business, left Dixie with few options. Time Warner wasn't interested, else TruTV, which is in more homes than DA, would've been a perfect fit. With WWE firmly wedded to NBC/Universal/Comcast, TNA wasn't going there without raising the ire of the McMahons.

Considering the questionable state of TNA of late,and the fact that one of their hottest heel characters, Ethan Carter III, the fictional nephew of Dixie Carter, is on the shelf with an injury, I'd not be surprised if we read in a year's time that TNA on DA ends up being DOA. TNA let Sting, AJ Styles, Frankie Kazarian, Mickie James, and Christopher Daniels walk, and Kurt Angle and Team 3D may be next, depending on negotiations. WWE can always dangle the carrot of a Hall of Fame berth, which Team 3D got last month at Bound For Glory, to bring Angle, Ray & Devon back, bringing Tommy Dreamer with them. WWE could do more for Dreamer's House of Hardcore promotion, given the sloppy way TNA did an angle with Dreamer over the summer in New York. Angle, in WWE's eyes, would be better suited not as a wrestler, since Vince McMahon had advised Kurt to retire 8 1/2 years ago, but as an administrator, the role he has now. Daniels & Kazarian are in Ring of Honor. Styles is floating between ROH & New Japan, and is the IWGP champ and a member of their NWO-esque faction, the Bullet Club, which just inducted one Jeffrey Jarrett into their ranks recently. Then again, Jarrett helped kill the NWO in WCW by joining in 2000 after it'd already jumped the shark. Maybe the Bullet Club is on its last legs.

What I'm trying to say is, quite frankly, TNA shot themselves in the collective foot again. Dixie's role models aren't the McMahons, whom she's tried to imitate, but, rather, classic bumblers like Wilton Parmenter (Ken Berry on F-Troop, nearly 50 years ago), and Inspector Cleuseau of the "Pink Panther" movies (Peter Sellers or Steve Martin, take your pick). To borrow from the Climax Blues Band, TNA still "Couldn't Get It Right". A year from now, I may be writing their final epitaph. Watch & see.