Friday, June 29, 2012

Musical Interlude: Cry Wolf (1987)

The Norwegian band A-Ha is still best remembered for their surreal half-animated video for "Take On Me", but in 1987, in support of their follow-up release, "Scoundrel Days", the band used a different concept for their first single, "Cry Wolf". You'll see what I mean as you watch the video.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Retro makes some more changes----including saying goodbye to Albany

First off, a tip of the cap to blog brother Sam Wilson for the heads-up on this item.

This week, Retro has made some changes with their programming schedule, not much that you'd really notice. For example, their contracts for Daniel Boone, The Rifleman & Peter Gunn have expired, so those shows are off the schedule. Until Monday, all were airing on both Retro & Me-TV, and now will air only on the latter. They're finally getting around to adding the Beverly Hillbillies, which I addressed a few months back. The series will air on weekends as part of a double-play block lineup that also includes Hopalong Cassidy, which also airs weeknights at 6 (ET), replacing Daniel Boone, and Cisco Kid.

Among the other treats is The Colgate Comedy Hour, earmarked to air on Saturdays at 7 (ET), and The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, which has moved in to replace Rifleman weekday mornings and also airs on the weekends. The Nelsons were last seen in my district on the Variety Channel, before the Fox affiliate here swapped that network out for first Untamed Sports, and, presently, TheCoolTV.

Sadly, the ABC affiliate here is bidding adieu to Retro after the programming ends in the wee hours of July 1, and Retro will be replaced the Live Well network, which, according to Sam, is heavy on infomercials. Shoot, infomercials to me are only good if they're shilling music collections from Time-Life. Otherwise, bleah.

Coupled with Hopalong Cassidy in the 6 pm hour weeknights is a rural comedy that predated the Hillbillies by 4 years. The Real McCoys, a brainchild of writer Irving Pincus, debuted on ABC in 1957, and lasted for five seasons there before moving to CBS for a last hurrah in 1962. Walter Brennan & Richard Crenna starred. Here's the open......



I remember seeing reruns of Real McCoys in syndication back in the 70's, and while Irving Pincus laid the foundation, Paul Henning may have improved on the concept just enough, with his vision making the Beverly Hillbillies far more successful, lasting twice as long. I wonder if there weren't any claims of creative piracy in those days, though........

My take on Retro leaving my district is this. They lost viewers to Me-TV pretty steady over the year and change since Me-TV entered the market, and couldn't justify the expense it was costing the affiliate. I wonder if that's happened in other parts of the country.......

Don Grady (1944-2012)

He was a Mouseketeer before he became one of My Three Sons, for which most fans still remember him. Today, Hollywood is mourning the passing of actor-musician Don Grady after a lengthy bout with cancer, less than three weeks after his 68th birthday.

Grady, born Don Agrati, made his debut on the original Mickey Mouse Club, and was later cast in one of the sequels to its popular Spin & Marty series. Grady and co-star Tim Considine would later be reunited on My Three Sons, with Considine leaving after 4 seasons. Grady stayed with the show until 1971, when his character, Robbie Douglas, was written out.

In later years, Grady turned his attention to music, and even had formed a band while on Sons. In addition to recording, Grady composed music for movies and television, most notably including Phil Donahue's seminal talk show.

Here, Don goes solo in appearing on American Bandstand in 1964.



Rest in peace, Don.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Another first for RPI

It's funny how things work out.

On Tuesday morning, Mark Singelais, writing in the Albany Times-Union, was all but campaigning for former RPI & NHL star Adam Oates to earn induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Oates, who played for Detroit and St. Louis among his 7 NHL stops after being an intregal part of RPI's 1985 NCAA championship team, ended up doubly blessed later in the day. Not only is he going into the Hall, along with Joe Sakic, Pavel Bure, & Mats Sundin, but he was named head coach of the Washington Capitals after spending the last two seasons as an assistant with the New Jersey Devils.

What makes this even more significant is that Oates is the first ex-RPI player to be inducted into the Hall. There weren't too many players on that 1985 team who went into the NHL to start with, as so few players from RPI and/or local rival Union have ever been drafted. Thus, Singelais had the honor to follow up his Tuesday column with a write-up in today's paper documenting Oates' good fortune. Oh, by the way, Oates, according to Singelais' piece today, is the 2nd ex-Engineer to be a NHL head coach. The other is Kevin Constantine, who has coached at San Jose and Pittsburgh. A rare breed, and a rare treat, indeed.

One wonders now what becomes of another RPI alum who became a superstar in the NHL. Will Joey Juneau, who played virtually his entire career in Washington, follow Oates into the Hall down the road? We will have to wait and see.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Nora Ephron (1941-2012)

Acclaimed author, filmmaker, and three-time Oscar nominee Nora Ephron passed away earlier tonight at the age of 71.

Ms. Ephron is best known for having written the screenplays for films such as "When Harry Met Sally", which starred Billy Crystal & Meg Ryan, and two more films which Ryan starred in, both with Tom Hanks--"Sleepless in Seattle" & "You've Got Mail". She also wrote the novel, "Heartburn", which later became a feature film that starred Jack Nicholson & Meryl Streep. Don't be too shocked if any or all of these films suddenly begin airing on cable in the coming days.

Rest in peace, Nora.

Weasel of the Week: Elizabeth Lloyd

At the ballpark, they always tell us to watch out for flying bats and foul balls. Then again, no one ever thinks that someone will one day file a lawsuit.

In 2010, during a game at Manchester Little League in New Jersey, Matthew Migliaccio was warming up a relief pitcher when an errant throw got past the fence and struck Elizabeth Lloyd in the face while she was sitting at a picnic table, minding her own business. Today, Mrs. Lloyd has earned a pair of weasel ears for daring to file a lawsuit against Migliaccio, now 13. According to the Prep Rally blog on Yahoo!, Mrs. Lloyd and her lawyers claim the errant toss was intentional, allegedly causing "severe, painful, and permanent injuries", and filed the misguided throw under "assault & battery".

Mrs. Lloyd isn't alone. Her husband has filed suit as well, claiming "lost services, society, & consortium of his wife", according to Prep Rally, and the Lloyds also claim that Migliaccio was involved in "inappropriate" activity.

SAY WHAT?


Was Mrs. Lloyd paying any attention to the game in the first place? We cannot say for sure. What is certain is that the Lloyds and their ambulance chasers are unfairly targeting Migliaccio for a simple case of human error. Anthony Pagano, who is representing the Migliaccio family, told the Associated Press that the Lloyds' suit is "disgusting" and "horrible", and he's right. I don't know who it was that gave the Lloyds the idea of suing the Migliaccios, but don't expect to see these two square off on Family Feud any time soon. The People's Court or Judge Judy would happily settle this case, and teach the Lloyds and their money-grubbing attorneys a thing or three. The Lloyds want $150,000, plus an unspecified additional sum for "pain & suffering". What Elizabeth Lloyd gets for now is a set of weasel ears for picking on a child for making a simple mistake. We don't even know if Migliaccio even apologized for what happened that day. If he did, it fell on deaf ears. Then again, Elizabeth Lloyd may already be blind to reality.

DC makes some more changes

DC's second round of cuts was announced recently. I didn't even get around to referencing the 1st wave of cuts that took effect last month, but let's address what the fall season brings, shall we?

Incoming:


Sword of Sorcery: Originally an anthology series when DC initially published the book in the early 70's, it's being revived now as an outlet to revive 80's heroine Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld. Speaking of the 80's, writer Christy Marx is better known for her television work in the 80's & 90's, including Jem and some of the Transformers cartoons.

The Talon: Spinning out of the "Night of the Owls" event in the Batman line. I guess writer Scott Snyder hit a chord with the fanboys who are still into dark & gritty characters with a weird edge to them.

Team 7: Originally published at Image in the 90's, this is another series from Jim Lee's now defunct Wildstorm studio and being knitted into the fabric of the DC Universe.

Phantom Stranger: On the one hand, he's a legacy character whose history dates all the way back to a short-lived series in the 50's, but the Stranger didn't really become an icon until the 60's, when he was reintroduced in Showcase, DC's premier anthology mag, then given his own book. However, in 2012, the Stranger is being rebooted and linked to 2013's premier event, "The Trinity War". Dan DiDio, whose first attempt at writing a regular series bombed out when OMAC was cancelled 2 months ago, now tries to reinvent another classic character with no regard to the character's storied past. He just doesn't get it.

Outgoing:


Resurrection Man (2nd series): Writers Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning introduced the seemingly immortal Mitch Shelley some 15-odd years ago, and thought they could find the audience that carried the book's 1st run. It didn't happen.

Voodoo:: Like Team 7, Voodoo, formerly with the WildC.A.T.S., came from Image. They thought she could carry her own book, but today's readers, unfamiliar with her past, thought, "Who is she?", and passed.

Justice League International:  (2nd series): Since the Justice League line of books are not linked together in terms of continuity, editorial decided one of the secondary books was deemed expendable.

Captain Atom (2nd DC series, 3rd series overall): Originally published by Charlton back in the 60's, acquired by DC in the 80's. DC tried to recapture the success of the late 80's series, but it didn't click with readers this time.

The four new books begin with issue 0, in September as part of a "Zero Month" promotion for the "New 52"   as it marks its first anniversary. There are, I believe, some skeptics thinking that "Trinity War" may be the beginning of the end, and things will ultimately revert to what they were.

As long as DC and corporate parent Time Warner put profit margins before comics history, it's going to be a mess that can never be cleaned up without someone else coming along and rewriting history yet again. The vicious circle will never be broken. Today's readers don't understand the legacy and history behind some of their favorite characters, and long-time fans, such as myself, find a greater disconnect, and there is no middle ground to be had. Yet.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Maybe now they'll add humble pie to the school lunch program.......

By now, you've probably seen the video of four 7th graders bullying a 68 year old grandmother who was working as a bus monitor in Greece, NY, earlier this week. One of the kids posted a video on his Facebook page, and of course it got picked up on the web. As this week concludes, the boys have done an about face and apologized to the woman, Karen Klein. Seeing themselves on video, they realized they made a terrible mistake.

One boy said that if someone did that to his own mom or grandmother, he'd be angry, and so he admitted what he did was wrong. The others have followed suit, expressing remorse and regret for making damaging remarks about Mrs. Klein's age, weight, etc..

A fellow in Toronto started a fund to send Mrs. Klein on vacation, and the donations, as of press time, had far exceeded its goals. Max Sidorov had wanted to raise as much as $5,000, but according to Yahoo!, donations had exceeded $500,000. Thursday night, CNN reporter-talk show host Anderson Cooper, on his CNN program, stunned Mrs. Klein with a trip to Disneyland, courtesy of Southwest Airlines. Disney made a similar offer for Disney World in Orlando.

Meanwhile, the boys, while remorseful, are also living in fear, as if the torment is coming back to haunt them, with interest. School officials in Greece, according to Yahoo!, report that the boys have gotten death threats, all because of the age of the target. Mrs. Klein has gone to bat for the boys, asking police not to press charges, and has called for the counter-attacks to stop. As the school year is over, and the kids move on to other, more positive pursuits, one has to hope that request is granted.

The lesson learned? Sometimes, life teaches us lessons that can't be taught in the classroom.

When stories write themselves......

Over the last three weeks, the best sports stories out there have essentially written themselves.

We previously documented Mets pitcher Johan Santana hurling the first no-hitter in franchise history on June 1, but a week later, after getting two extra days rest because of a high pitch count that night, Santana was bombarded by the Yankees, and it took him two more starts to get back into form, as he beat Baltimore on Tuesday after shutting out Tampa Bay a week earlier. With the Subway Series resuming tonight at Citi Field, Santana will not pitch in this series, but the Yankees, even if they continue to dominate as they have this season against National League pitching, will have to deal with the sudden success story that is knuckleballer R. A. Dickey, who has hurled consecutive 1-hit complete games, also vs. Tampa Bay & Baltimore, and will pitch Sunday night vs. the Yankees' CC Sabathia. Fittingly, the game is ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball game of the week. Dickey is more of a lock to make the All-Star team than had been considered when the season began, and the pundits will tell you it'd be a crime if he didn't make the team.

On the same night that Santana was torched by the Yankees, Kentucky Derby & Preakness winner I'll Have Another was withdrawn from the Belmont Stakes, this after the predictable over-hyping of the race due to the prospect of the 34 year Triple Crown draught coming to an end. It's now 35 years and counting since Affirmed was the last Triple Crown winner in 1978, and, understandably, with the racing business in the condition it's in now, they needed something to bring the fans back. I'll Have Another was the story du jour, but the decision of trainer Doug O'Neill to not only scratch his horse, but retire him immediately due to tendonitis in his left fore leg, broke the hearts of those hoping for a Triple Crown miracle. Wait 'til next year, then, and see if there's another chance.

While the Mets are celebrating their 50th anniversary, the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League are marking 45 years. In what could be a bit of a harbinger, the Kings won their first Stanley Cup on June 11, defeating New Jersey in 6 games. As has been the case in recent years, the Kings rode a red-hot goaltender, in this case, a relative unknown named Jonathan Quick, to the championship. For all the great players the Kings have had since they entered the NHL in 1967, from Rogie Vachon to Wayne Gretzky,  they never had the chance to sip from the Cup. That all changed 11 days ago, and now, the next challenge is the hardest one. Repeating. The quest begins at home vs. the NY Rangers in October.

That same challenge now is brought before the Miami Heat. On Thursday, the third time was finally the charm for LeBron James, who earned MVP honors in leading Miami to their 2nd NBA title, defeating Oklahoma City in 5 games. There will be the detractors who won't give James his due, the hardcores who will complain about the usual star system when it comes to officiating, and Yahoo! had a blog up the other day implying that the boys in the striped shirts were favoring Miami in games 2 & 3.

Look, I am not as much of a basketball fan as I used to be because of the preferential treatment given to certain players, and that is a by-product of how the game is marketed. It's supposed to be a team game, but, since the 80's, it has increasingly been packaged such that the fans are conditioned to believe the bigger stars, such as James, Kobe Bryant, et al, will get the calls in their favor, but the refs will hold their whistles if those same golden boys commit fouls themselves at crunch time. This has also affected the college game, because of the way certain players are promoted by the media, and, of course, the parasites encouraging some kids to play college ball for just 1 year. In that regard, education becomes secondary, and it shouldn't be. Some kids can bypass college, like a Bryant or James, and succeed right away. Others think they can, and struggle.

What does that tell us? To paraphrase a well known slogan, education is fundamental, regardless of what anyone tells you.

Now that he & Chris Bosh have earned their rings (Dwyane Wade won his 2nd), James now must be asked to prove himself again by backing up his boasts from two years ago that he'd bring multiple titles to Miami. That alone makes the quest to repeat that much harder for Miami, because of the greater scrutiny involved.

On the other hand, now that the Heat's so-called dream team won their title, what about the other franchises that have tried copying them? The NFL's Philadelphia Eagles let quarterback Vince Young walk (now in Buffalo) after he'd given them the dream team label last year, only to have the Eagles fail to make the playoffs despite the lofty expectations. Back in South Beach, the Marlins are on the brink of falling back into the basement of the National League East after getting swept by Boston, proving once again that sometimes, you have to learn to walk before you can run. Right now, Miami, along with Philadelphia, needs a second half burst to make the playoffs, or, at best, have the Washington Nationals collapse. The Phillies are a proven second half team and will make a move. After all, they will get their injured stars back around the All-Star break or soon after. Miami? At the rate they're going, it might be time to tell them to wait until next year, even if LeBron and friends try to help with a little motivation. And, sometimes, that isn't quite enough.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Weasel of the Week: Kenn Doane

Mr. Doane is a former wrestler with WWE, best remembered perhaps as part of the 5-man troupe known as the Spirit Squad back in 2006. At that time, Doane was engaged to fellow wrestler Mickie James, but within a couple of years, the engagement was broken off, Doane was cut from the roster, and, until recently, hadn't been heard from all that much.

Now, he's making the rounds of the internet dirt sheet sites and using Twitter to air his dirty laundry about James, who's now moonlighting as a country singer when not appearing with TNA, and her failed relationship with one of WWE's current top dogs, John Cena. Doane claims no animosity toward Cena, as they both came up through Ohio Valley Wrestling (now affiliated with TNA), and their roster debuts separated by about 3 1/2 years (Cena was called up 10 years ago this month, Doane at the end of 2005). So why is he dishing the dirt now, while Cena is going through what potentially could be a nasty divorce from his wife?

Because, quite frankly, Doane seems to have become the forgotten man. He has been working independent promotions since leaving WWE about 4 years ago, and, contrary to his claims, he's using Cena's fame to pick up an additional 15 minutes of his own. Oh, sure, he could've taken a chance and signed with TNA, which would've led to a reunion with James, for better or worse, depending on how one looks at that scenario, but he opted against it, and, given the shaky management there, it might be the best decision he never made.

The timing of Doane's tweets and internet interviews happen to be beyond dubious or atrocious. He is claiming that Cena wanted fellow grappler Randy Orton fired 6 years ago, but that sounds like a bunch of sour grapes. Again, the timing is dubious in the wake of Orton having been suspended a few weeks back for violating the WWE's Wellness Policy, his second such violation. Certain sites are claiming there is a movement within WWE to give Orton his walking papers after 10 years, but I doubt he's leaving because WWE knows TNA will sign Orton in a heartbeat, just like they scooped up James 2 years ago after she was cut.

During his time in WWE, Doane, I felt, was all mouth, too much flash, and short on real skills. His mouth got him in trouble in the ring, and now it gets him a set of weasel ears. Hey, it could've been worse, but I don't have any pom poms, not even the candies by that name, to send him.......!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Just when you thought late night was safe........guess who's making a comeback!

On the heels of winning the latest season of Celebrity Apprentice, Arsenio Hall announced Tuesday that he was going to get back into the talk show business. Late night talk, that is.

It's been nearly 20 years since Hall ended his first self-titled talk show, and since then, he's tried a sitcom, hosted a short-lived revival of Star Search, and helmed My Network TV's equally short-term knockoff of ABC's long-running America's Funniest Home Videos. 3 primetime failures somehow has convinced Hall that maybe, just maybe, his true calling is going back to late night and challenging old foes Jay Leno & David Letterman, plus Jimmy Kimmel and Conan O'Brien.Sure, it's not going to start until 2013, so there's plenty of time to plan and prepare. Hall is once again working with CBS-Paramount, this time with Tribune Entertainment as a partner. All he really needs is to reform his house band, the Posse, and contact announcer Burton Richardson, and it'll be 1989 all over again

Somehow, though, I have this feeling the magic ain't gonna be there this time, though we're all hoping the dog pound will be in full effect, just like the old days. The landscape is much, much different now, but let's give the man credit for sticking to what worked in the first place. After all, Letterman bombed as a daytime host before hitting it big in late night 30 years ago, and so Hall is figuring---correctly---that the daytime minefield is not for him.

We'll all find out together 15 months from now, but don't say I didn't warn you.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Does panic really equal change? Only in the WWE

Three weeks ago, Monday Night Raw's ratings fell below 3.0. After this happened for a 2nd week, WWE Chairman-CEO-resident wackjob Vince McMahon, who shouldn't have to worry about these matters anymore, decided he had to return to television. Never mind that 11 months ago, "Mr. McMahon" was removed from the day-to-day operations of the company. Never mind that less than 3 months after that, he returned to turn the tables on son-in-law Triple H and remove him from being an acting GM for Raw, installing long time assistant John Laurinaitis as GM. Two months ago, Laurinaitis added Friday Night Smackdown to his workload. However, he never should've been placed in that position, for the simple reason that he didn't have enough of a screen presence that would have viewers gravitating to him. Quite the contrary. Just like Vickie Guerrero 3 years ago, Laurinaitis and his lies about "people power" sent the ratings into the toilet. Mrs. Guerrero folded under pressure and resigned, only to return 4 months later, back on Smackdown, and plotting anew.

Laurinaitis, meanwhile, had just lost his real-life post as Executive VP-Talent Relations (Triple H took over that job within the last couple of weeks), and the fact that he was overexposed on TV for nearly a year finally convinced McMahon that more changes had to be made. The problem is, he ruined the storyline by inserting himself into the mix for a week.

9 years ago, McMahon undermined his own daughter, Stephanie, by sabotaging her administration as GM of  Smackdown. His actions last October convinced me, and likely many other viewers, that he was doing the same thing to Triple H, only covertly, and played messenger himself just to stick it to HHH, basically saying that the conspiracy that had dogged the "Cerebral Assassin" was his idea, but no one could prove it. Thanks to the incompetence of his writers, McMahon has made sure he comes out of this a hero instead of a pariah. At the No Way Out PPV on Sunday, McMahon personally "fired" Laurinaitis after John Cena had edged out a victory over Big Show in a cage match. Last night, however, Laurinaitis was allowed to say goodbye, and also to give a win back to Cena in the TV main event. He should've been gone a lot sooner than this, but just like Vickie Guerrero, he overstayed his welcome because McMahon stubbornly stuck with him, rather than listen to the viewers and the fans at the arenas. When the ratings fell, that's when the insane chairman finally took action.

So what happens now? Mick Foley, former champion, best-selling author, and aspiring comic, fills in this week. As I commented over on Todd Martin's blog, Smashmouth Driving, I think we're going to see some combination of the following in the run-up to Raw's 1000th episode on July 23, as former GM's or figurehead executives will be brought back. Guerrero, for sure, will get a turn, for better or worse, but she is toxic already. Aside from that.......

Teddy Long, who has had his tenure on Smackdown interrupted three times in the last 4 1/2 years, is likely going to get his old gig back, but not right away. Stephanie McMahon, one of four people to have served as GM on both Raw & Smackdown (Guerrero, Laurinaitis, & Long are the others; Long had a 1-night gig in January 2003 as a sub for Eric Bischoff), almost certainly will make a rare appearance to further her husband's angle with Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman. William Regal (Commissioner in 2001, GM in 2007-8) will get a look, but they'd be crazy to ask back the worst of them all, sportscaster and former football player Mike Adamle (June-November 2008). Then again, Vince is a few fries shy of a happy meal, anyway, so anything's possible.

One ex-GM who won't be back is Eric Bischoff, still working behind the scenes with TNA. Even with the deals made in recent months that allowed Ric Flair to return for a 2nd induction into the WWE Hall of Fame in April (Christian was at Slammiversary 9 days ago in return), I doubt very seriously that Bischoff will show up for one night. Flair, however, recently was dismissed from TNA after 2 1/2 years, and a 3rd go-round in WWE seems mighty likely at this point. There are a few people on message boards who believe Flair will land the GM's job, and I would guess the appointment will come on July 23, when Raw expands to 3 hours a week. Flair was a figurehead co-owner of the company from November 2001-June 2002, so he fits in perfectly.

They didn't need to have the ratings fall to effect change, though. The problem, as it has always been for the last decade, is Vince McMahon, who refuses to walk away gently into that good night, because he cannot see anyone other than him being in control. As long as he remains in charge, he's stifling Triple H, whose old school background lends itself to opening a door to a return to a more back-to-basics formula for success.

A better writer would've solved a lot of WWE's creative problems long ago, but McMahon doesn't want to teach anyone the basics of the business, never mind the fact that any writer worth his salt can apply his skills to writing a wrestling program by using the simplest method there is, and that is, every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Vince McMahon has forgotten this simple tenet, and doesn't care. His loss, and, unfortunately, it could get worse, if he doesn't embrace reality and walk away now.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dunce Cap Award: New York Mets

I'm a Mets fan as much as the next guy, but I'm also a realist, so I had a problem with the lack of logic of this latest piece of Met ignominy.

On Wednesday, knuckleballer R. A. Dickey, the Mets' top winner, checked Tampa Bay on 1 hit, the lone run scoring unearned thanks to an error by David Wright in the 9th inning of a 9-1 Mets victory, raising Dickey's record to 10-1, tops in the National League (St. Louis' Lance Lynn also won his 10th, but he has more losses, so in terms of winning percentage, Dickey is ahead of Lynn). What the Mets were hoping for, in vain, of course, was to have a 1st inning infield single by B. J. Upton reversed into an error charged to Wright, hoping against hope that Dickey could be credited with a no-hitter, the team's 2nd this month.

On Friday, Major League Baseball, predictably, denied the Mets their lame request. Even Dickey admitted there was no point in this exercise, and after watching a replay of Upton's hit, well, even if Wright fields it cleanly, there's no guarantee he could've thrown Upton out. Later on Friday, the Mets' modest 3-game winning streak ended, losing to Cincinnati, and the loss dropped the Mets back to 3rd place in the NL East.

Was the loss karmic justice? Can't say for sure, but even the most die-hard Mets fans would feel slighted by the fact that the team wanted a cheap way of getting another no-hitter. They've had a zillion 1-hitters by comparison, and Dickey is almost certainly a lock for the All-Star team. All they did was make the misguided effort to try to cheapen his latest gem. Manager Terry Collins knew what MLB's ruling would be, but felt that it wouldn't hurt to try. Oh, really?

All this exercise in futility did was get some headlines for the Mets, to remind people they still have a pulse, as they swept Tampa Bay to wipe the stench out of getting swept themselves by the Yankees last weekend. A box of dunce caps are headed to Citi Field, and I'm sure they'll figure out who deserves them more. I think.

Celebrity Rock: Light of Day (1987)

One of the biggest films of 1987 was "Light of Day", which paired Michael J. Fox (Family Ties) with rock babe Joan Jett. The band in the movie was known as the Barbusters, and also boasted actor-musician Michael McKean (Spinal Tap, ex-Laverne & Shirley), whom you'll also see in the following clip. Adding to the song's street cred is the fact that it was written by no less than The Boss, Bruce Springsteen. Now, how can you go wrong?

Fox was no stranger to rocking out on screen, either. He did some playing in "Back To The Future", too, but I think this might have been his only visit to the Top 40. "Light", of course, got a ton of heavy airplay on MTV when it broke, and rightfully so. Fox & McKean are barely audible on backing vocals behind the high octane Jett, but then again........!



Enough said.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Musical Interlude: Don't Stop Believin' (1981)

Journey's 1981 hit, "Don't Stop Believin'", has experienced a bit of a revival in recent years. It was used in the series finale of The Sopranos a couple of years ago, and has been covered---badly---on Glee. It also figures prominently in the movie adaptation of the Broadway musical, "Rock of Ages", which opened today.

Ewerlord uploaded this concert clip, recorded in Tokyo in March of 1983.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What Might've Been: Dick Tracy (1967)

William Dozier had two schools of thought by 1967.

On the one hand, his lone hit, Batman, was on its last legs, and the last first-run episode would air in March 1968. Dozier tried to catch lightning in a bottle again, but, as we've already seen (to use a phrase Dozier used during season 1 of Batman), pilots for Batgirl & Wonder Woman went unsold, and in the case of Wonder Woman, it was just as well, as it would've done an irrevocable disservice to fans of the Amazing Amazon.

On the other hand, Dozier wanted to prove he could still do serious drama. The lone Western he made, The Loner, was also the lone series he'd sold to a network other than ABC (it aired on CBS), and came from the pen of no less than Rod Serling (ex-Twilight Zone). That the iconic Serling would step away from the science fiction & horror genres and move in a different direction was noble and worthy, but he & Dozier were found wanting as Loner was cancelled after 1 season. The same fate befell Green Hornet, which contrary to popular belief wasn't done in "hero camp", but was rather a straight mystery series, befitting the hero's radio roots.

And, so, Dozier acquired a license to adapt Chester Gould's iconic newspaper strip, Dick Tracy, to television, which would've been the first live-action Tracy series in 16 years; the first one ended when actor Ralph Byrd passed away during the 1951-2 season. Unfortunately, ABC & NBC both passed, and it's never been said if CBS was even offered the show.

Kliph Nesterhoff has the complete pilot episode on his blog, Classic Television Showbiz, but unfortunately, I haven't been able to find it on YouTube. Maybe it's the right combination of search words I need to have. Meh. Anyway, what we do know is that reliable Victor Buono (King Tut from Batman), who'd also done a gig on The Wild, Wild West, was cast as Mr. Memory. Not sure if Memory was an actual Gould creation, or someone that Dozier's staff concocted for the proposed show. What we do have is the open, with theme music performed by surf rock icons, The Ventures (whose rendition of the theme to the original Hawaii Five-0 still kicks major tail 44 years later). The only "name" you might recognize is that of Eve Plumb, who'd gain icon status herself three years later, when she was cast in The Brady Bunch.



No rating, as I've not seen the full pilot. Could Tracy be done today, what with all the procedural crime dramas? I don't know.

A Classic Reborn: Hip Hop Squares (2012)

Yo! These ain't your parents' Hollywood Squares. Not even close, dawg.

MTV2 has found a means to revive the classic game, but with a heavy dose of street attitude, under the title, Hip Hop Squares, with new episodes premiering on Tuesdays at 11 pm (ET), with reruns sprinkled during the rest of the week. NYC DJ Peter Rosenberg is the host, and while he's got some big shoes to fill with this latest revamp of an iconic franchise from the 60's & 70's, he keeps everything as lively as possible. As the title implies, the panel consists mostly of rap artists and DJ's, plus a few comedians.

Footaction, one of the show's sponsors, uploaded this promo onto their YouTube channel:



Given that MTV2 isn't in as many homes as MTV itself, I believe episodes will be made available On Demand, if that hasn't happened already, as the series has been on the air for a month now. If you're a serious Squares fan from way back, I think you'll dig it. It would help, though, if MTV got in on the act and helped by doing some repurposing to call attention to the show. After all, what's a big brother there for, anyway? Rating: A.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A casting mistake could doom "Mockingbird Lane" before it starts

The new-look Munsters have been assembled for NBC's Mockingbird Lane, a dramatic rebooting of the beloved gothic sitcom, devised by Bryan Fuller, whose Pushing Daisies was critically acclaimed but ratings-challenged in its lone season on ABC a couple of years back.

Eddie Izzard (ex-The Riches) will don the cloak of Grandpa, made famous, of course, by Al Lewis. Portia de Rossi (ex-Arrested Development, Ally McBeal) has landed the role of Lily (formerly played by Yvonne DeCarlo). The biggest stunner of them all, however, was who was chosen to play Herman Munster.

Jerry O'Connell (ex-Sliders, Crossing Jordan, My Secret Identity, The Defenders) was cast as Herman a week ago, and that has raised some eyebrows. Now, John Schuck, the last man to play Herman (Munsters Today) wasn't exactly a tall guy, either, so the rationale against casting a tall actor on the order of Fred Gwynne does make some sense, though at least one unenlightened fellow on Yahoo! felt it made more sense to pay tribute to the original series by casting the tallest actor currently available, and that would be Brad Garrett (ex-Everybody Loves Raymond), whose last series, 'Til Death, lasted a couple of seasons on Fox. With Garrett being known more as a comic actor, not a dramatic one, however, that might've been a strike against him, despite his talent as an impressionist. Hey, you can't have everything.

However, given Universal's recent track record of poor revivals (Night Stalker, Knight Rider, & Bionic Woman all failed to get past the first season of their reboots), revamping Munsters into a dramatic series to appeal to the "Twilight"/Vampire Diaries audience doesn't guarantee it'll work. Given that it's still a year away from premiering, and at that a year ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Munsters franchise, there's plenty of time for Fuller to fully realize his vision and sell it hard and strong to the legions of Munsters fans.

As far as I'm concerned, thanks, but I'll stick with the original.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Musical Interlude: Pretending (1989)

It's a rainy night. It's Eric Clapton. Enough said.

"Pretending" was the first single off Clapton's 1989 CD, "Journeyman", and, oh, let me tell you, this is my personal favorite Clapton track. Gettingdown101 uploaded this clip, and you'll see why this rules.

What Might've Been: Wonder Woman (1967)

The camp crimebuster craze that started with Batman came full circle when producer-narrator William Dozier decided that an adaptation of Wonder Woman would be done as more of a sitcom than an adventure series. This had to be the worst of Dozier's ideas in the three years of his Greenway/Greenlawn Productions. (Greenlawn was the name used for a Dick Tracy pilot that we'll discuss later)

The idea was that Diana Prince (Ellie Mae Walker) was a bachelorette who was still living with her mom (Maudie Prickett). Obviously realizing that Walker was not suitable to play Wonder Woman, Dozier hired a second actress, Linda Harrison (later of "Planet of the Apes"), to play the Amazing Amazon, totally against type. Suffice to say, the pilot didn't sell, and would spell the end for Dozier, as he never sold another series.

In all, Dozier had 4 series hit the air between 1965-68. We've previously reviewed Green Hornet here, and Batman was covered in Saturday Morning Archives. We'll either reprint that review, or do a fresh one down the line. Dozier, however, failed to click with a sitcom (The Tammy Grimes Show) and a Western (The Loner) in 1965, but, as I noted last time, once Batman ended, that was that for Dozier, whose last contribution to television was a PSA that reunited Burt Ward & Yvonne Craig (Robin & Batgirl), but with Dick Gautier (ex-Get Smart) subbing for Adam West as Batman. That'll be up some time soon. In the meantime, here is the infamous Wonder Woman pilot, in black & white, "Who's Afraid of Diana Prince?"





A teaser for this pilot was included on the Batgirl pilot VHS I refernced last time. That was enough for me.

Rating: F.

What might've been: Batgirl (1967)

In season 3 of Batman, Commissioner Gordon's daughter, Barbara, was added to the cast. Months earlier, she'd debuted in the pages of Detective Comics, and the resulting sales spike was such that William Dozier decided to bring Barbara (Yvonne Craig) and her alter-ego, Batgirl, on board. Initially, Dozier had intended on a solo series for the "dominoed dare-doll", but that didn't work out, and so Batgirl was added to Batman straight away as the season started.

Sadly, Batman was cancelled six months later, going on to a very long shelf life in syndication and, presently, on cable. The Batgirl pilot has surfaced on VHS, and has traded around the last few years. A number of years ago, I acquired the tape, which also included a teaser for another failed Dozier pilot, which we'll talk about another time, and an assortment of other stuff.

Killer Moth never made it onto Batman, but might've had this episode gone to air as a backdoor pilot. Coincidentally, Killer Moth was also Batgirl's first foe in that issue of Detective, so there is some correlation.

Enough chatter, let's let Dozier, as the narrator, introduce us to Batgirl.



After Batman's cancellation in March 1968, Dozier never produced another series, and, in fact, Batman was his only success. Later on this week, we'll take a look at some of his other failures.

Rating: A-.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Frank Cady (1915-2012)

If there was just one store in the fictional town of Hooterville, chances are Sam Drucker would've been a very rich man, especially considering how much business he was taking in.

Drucker, played by Frank Cady, had the distinction of appearing regularly on both Green Acres & Petticoat Junction, plus a few well-placed guest appearances on the third part of Paul Henning's Hooterville trilogy, The Beverly Hillbillies, making him the first character to appear on three shows at once. This feat hasn't been duplicated---yet----and that puts Cady in some rarefied air in television history.

It seems that Drucker wore many hats in Hooterville. In addition to running the general store, he also was the justice of the peace and editor/publisher of the town newspaper. Hooterville might've been the only town that petitioned for the 30-hour day, just so Drucker could get some rest!

In all seriousness, we mourn the passing of Frank Cady, who left us on Friday at 96, having long since retired after a lengthy show business career that included a number of other TV & movie roles. Cady also did some commercials, but I wasn't able to find anything to post with this piece. As of this writing, the cause of death is not known, but likely natural causes.

Cady's passing leaves just two cast members from Green Acres----Tom Lester (Eb) & Mary Grace Canfield (Ralph Monroe), still among the living. Cady's last television appearance was in a Green Acres reunion movie some years back, which was interesting considering that of the Hooterville Trilogy, only Petticoat Junction didn't merit a reunion movie, and the Hillbillies' TV-movie got the most attention.

Rest in peace, Frank.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sounds of Praise: Put Your Hand in the Hand (1971)

There was a period from the late 60's to the late 70's when there were gospel crossovers on either the pop or country charts. Simon & Garfunkel, one of the most influential folk duos of the period, have seen their 1969 hit, "Bridge Over Troubled Water", covered by artists as diverse as gospel star Michael W. Smith (in 2005) and the late Johnny Cash, such that if you didn't think it was meant to be a gospel record, well.......!

In 1971, the Canadian gospel-rock group Ocean scored their only American hit with "Put Your Hand in the Hand", which clearly refers to Jesus in the lyrics, though not by name. As I located the following video on YouTube, the search also revealed that Elvis Presley & Loretta Lynn have also covered this song. I chose to post it today because the worship ministry in my church played it in today's service.

1hit1ders uploaded this clip.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Bob Welch (1945-2012)

Bob Welch played a key role in the development of Fleetwood Mac into the fan favorite band it is today, spending 4 years with the group during the early 70's. However, he had his greatest success as a solo act, scoring a pair of hits with "Ebony Eyes" & "Sentimental Lady" in 1977-78.

Welch, after dealing with some health issues in recent years, reportedly took his own life on Thursday, passing on at the age of 66 (most sources claim he was 65, but if he was legitimately born in 1945, he'd be 66, with his 67th birthday due in August). He leaves behind a musical legacy that doesn't include induction in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Following is a video for "Sentimental Lady", which Welch originally wrote for Fleetwood Mac in 1972, then re-recorded for his 1977 solo album, "French Kiss".



Rest in peace.

Now begins the litmus test

Two months into the season, and no one thought the New York Mets would be contenders for the National League's Eastern division title, but there they are, 1 1/2 games in back of the front-running Washington Nationals, this after they salvaged the final game of their series in the nation's capital on Thursday behind their top winner, R. A. Dickey, who ran his record to 9-1 in beating Washington. The Nationals are the only team the Mets don't have a winning record against in their own division, which is saying something by itself.

With last Friday's no-hitter by Johan Santana vs. St. Louis, the Mets began a difficult stretch where they were playing division leaders and/or contenders, and that includes interleague play, which resumes tonight against the Yankees. The Mets took 3 out of 4 from the defending World Series champions, losing the finale on Monday, spoiling ex-teammate Carlos Beltran's return to New York in the process. The series this weekend against the Yankees isn't just for bragging rights to the city, a matter that will be resolved, at least for now, when the Subway Series ends at Citi Field on June 24, but rather, with both teams in a prime position to move into first place in their respective divisions, it will be war. Santana goes tonight against ex-Dodger Hiroki Kuroda, who has struggled to adjust to American League hitters and has not been the reliable #2 starter behind C C Sabathia that the Yanks thought he'd be. Tomorrow night's nationally televised game (Fox's Baseball Night in America) pits Dillon Gee against Phil Hughes, and on Sunday afternoon, the Yankees' Comeback Player of the Year candidate, Andy Pettite, faces fellow lefty Jonathan Niese. Just for kicks, the Yanks plucked ex-Met Ryota Igarashi off the waiver wires after he was cut by Toronto the other day, but if he was woefully inconsistent in two years in Flushing, what makes the Yankees think he can dedevil his former mates? The answer, for now, is, he can't. The Mets will be ready for him.

The rest of the interleague schedules for both the Mets & Yankees aren't exactly cupcake city.

The Mets travel to Tampa Bay, then play the upstart Baltimore Orioles, next week. After a brief respite for intraleague play, they finish the Subway Series in Flushing, meaning they don't get to play Boston, and this is where the schedule makers fumbled the ball. It was one thing when former Mets skipper Bobby Valentine was signed by Boston, and has already been to the Bronx, but there would've been plenty of headlines were the BoSox to play the Mets this year. The tabloids would've played it up bigger than necessary, especially considering the Red Sox are in last place after another terrible start.

Curiously, in addition to the annual home-and-home vs. the Mets, the Yankees likewise have a home-and-home with Atlanta, which doesn't make a lot of sense. In between, the Bronx Bombers travel to Washington, which might do the Mets some favors. No Miami, no Philadelphia. What gives?

Well, the Phillies & Yankees met in interleague play a couple of years ago, so the schedule making jabronies figured, it's too soon to match them up again. That doesn't explain the el snubbo given to the Marlins, for whom the Yanks helped christen their new park two months ago. My first thought was, did MLB goof here? I guess not, but you have to figure it's the subject of discussion on sports talk shows throughout New York. Of course, it'll all be a moot point next year, as interleague play will be woven into the regular schedule from the go, due to the revamped structures of both leagues, and maybe, just maybe, the schedule nerds reserved a Yankees-Marlins series for 2013 ahead of time.

After this weekend, the Mets & Yankees will be rooting for each other before meeting again June 22-24 at Citi Field, and who knows? Maybe by then, both teams will be in first place. Then again, maybe not, because this will also be a test to prove whether or not the Nationals & Orioles are for real, too.

Who needs the NBA Finals? Interleague baseball is more exciting and unpredictable, and that's just the way we fans like it.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Musical Interlude: The Old Apartment (1997)

Canada's Barenaked Ladies introduced themselves to American audiences with their 1997 debut hit, "The Old Apartment". The story in the song is about a young couple who decided to return to their old digs to revisit some memories before heading back to their current pad. A common misconception is that said couple were in a dispute, but that isn't the case at all.

The video is notable not only because it's the band's first single in the US, but it's directed by fellow Canuck Jason Priestley (Beverly Hills 90210), who also arranged for the band to appear on the show.

Nettwork Records, the band's current label, posted the video on their YouTube channel.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Weasel of the Week: Amanda Bynes

Oh, how far do some stars fall, and so fast.

Just a few short years ago, Amanda Bynes had wrapped up a primetime gig in the sitcom, What I Like About You, but is still better known for her years with Nickelodeon, first on All That!, and then, a spin-off designed for her, The Amanda Show. She even went so far as to claim she was retiring from show biz about a year or two ago, and then recanted those remarks. In her case, to borrow the title of one of her movies, she doesn't really know "What a Girl Wants" anymore.

Two months ago, Ms. Bynes was arrested and charged with DUI (Driving Under the Influence). The charges were not made official until yesterday, and that's when Bynes checked her brain cells at the door. She tweeted President Obama, asking him to have the LAPD officer who busted her canned. Uh, wait a minute.

That's a first. How many others do you know would go that far? Ms. Bynes claims she doesn't drink, and after another incident, hitting another vehicle and fleeing, which puts her in total denial. The hit-&-run was the result of texting on her cell phone while backing into a curbside. Don't they have laws in place to stop that sort of thing? If she doesn't supposedly drink anything stronger than root beer or an energy drink, how else to explain her citations?

I was prepared to just hand Amanda a Dunce Cap, but she gets Weasel of the Week honors for pleading her case to the President, who really can't do anything about it. That screams out "DESPERATION!", in this writer's opinion. The President has more important things to concern himself with, such as his re-election campaign, than to come to the aid of a fallen child star who hasn't yet figured out that her actions mark her as immature and unable to grasp the concept of adulthood. And here we hoped she would not  end up like, say, for example, Lindsay Lohan, who is forever attempting comebacks, but can't put her vices behind her. I'm sure Amanda can figure out how to fit the cap in between the weasel ears......

Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)

Science fiction author Ray Bradbury passed away yesterday at 91.

Some of Bradbury's best known works, including Farenheit 451 & The Martian Chronicles, have been adapted for television and/or the movies, allowing Bradbury the status of becoming a cultural icon in his field. In 1985, Bradbury made the move to television himself, as the host of an HBO anthology series that bore his name. Reruns of Ray Bradbury Theatre would later air on USA Network after its pay-cable run ended.

Musical director John Massari composed the theme for Ray Bradbury Theatre, and a YouTube channel bearing Massari's name uploaded the open thus......



As host, Bradbury was cordial and pleasant. I don't think he ever acted in any of the episodes aside from being host. Rest in peace, Ray. You will be missed.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Celebrity Rock: The Boys Are Back in Town (1986)

Michael "P. S." Hayes (The PS stood, supposedly, for "purely sexy") was 1/3 of the wrestling tag team known as the Fabulous Freebirds, who were one of the most respected, reviled, and revered teams in the wrestling business in the 80's. Hayes, however, was also a bit of a visionary. His team was one of the first to use rock music for an entrance theme, and Hayes recorded what would be their seminal theme song, "Badstreet, USA", about the team's "hometown" of Atlanta.

4 years later, while working for Bill Watts' Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF), Hayes went back to the recording studio and recorded a cover of Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back in Town". The video premiered on UWF television, as you can tell from the teaser graphic at the end of the following clip, promoting a tag match Hayes would compete in later in the broadcast.

When the UWF was bought out by a rival promoter, Hayes returned to World Class Championship Wrestling in Texas. I can recall him actually doing some singing down there, too, most notably, a cover of  Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay". At the time, World Class had begun airing on MSG Network, which back then was a premium channel, and in those days, you could tune in to a scrambled picture and just enjoy the audio. These days, Hayes works for WWE as one of its head writers, but he's also been known to put his Badstreet Band back together for the occasional gig.

Here's "The Boys Are Back in Town", uploaded to YouTube by Vicvenom:

Monday, June 4, 2012

Classic TV: Hogan's Heroes (1965)

In 1965, McHale's Navy began its 4th & final season on ABC, but the series had shifted locations, with the crew of the PT73 now in Italy. In today's parlance, that would mean it jumped the shark.

While McHale demonstrated that the sitcom formula that Phil Silvers had mined a few years earlier could work in the context of a series set in World War II, Hogan's Heroes raised the bar. Also set in World War II, this CBS offering placed a group of prisoners of war (POW's) in Stalag 13 in Germany, but these weren't your ordinary prisoners. Instead, they ran what amounted to an underground railroad within the confines of the camp itself!

Air Force Col. Robert Hogan (Bob Crane) was the senior officer among the POW's, and, understandably, was also the team leader. Sgt. Andrew Carter (Larry Hovis), though presented as dumber than a bag of hammers most of the time, was also a chemist and one of two mimics on the team. The other was Cpl. Peter Newkirk (Richard Dawson), who also designed the disguises the team wore. Sgt. James Kinchloe (Ivan Dixon) was the communications ace, and LeBeau (Robert Clary) was the master chef who kept Sgt. Schultz (John Banner) busy with strudel and other delights. Otherwise, LeBeau was usually sent ahead on recon if needed.

Camp Commandant Wilhelm Klink (Werner Klemperer) was so sure no one could escape from Stalag 13, that he bragged about it at every opportunity. Unbeknownst to him, there were tunnels all over the joint, which allowed Hogan and his men to ferry other prisoners off to safety under the collective noses of the German army, including Major Hochstetter of the Gestapo (Howard Caine).

Technically a sitcom, Hogan's Heroes should really be filed under comedy-adventure, what with the occasional missions that were crucial to the plots of some episodes. The series lasted six seasons, and in the last season, Ivan Dixon left the show, replaced by Kenneth Washington as Baker, who replaced Kinchloe as the communications officer.

With the passing of Richard Dawson over the weekend, only Robert Clary remains from the show's core cast. Post-Heroes, Clary, like Dawson, ventured into daytime televison, only in his case, it was a lengthy run on Days of Our Lives. Dixon moved on to become a director, Hovis' last series was a revival of the game show, Liars Club, during the 70's, Banner followed up Heroes almost immediately with the short-lived Chicago Teddy Bears, co-starring with Dean Jones & Art Metrano. Bob Crane landed a self-titled sitcom and made a few movies, including "Superdad" for Disney, but everyone knows the rest of his story. I believe Washington is still around, but like Clary, is retired.

Here's the intro that you all remember:



The series has most recently aired on Me-TV & Universal HD. So far, no word about a tribute marathon in honor of Dawson, who passed away on Saturday.

Rating: A.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Musical Interlude: Tall Dark Stranger (1969)

Buck Owens released "Tall Dark Stranger", both the album and the single, in 1969, right around the time when Hee Haw hit the air, if memory serves. I remember hearing this on the radio one morning before going to school, and nearly 40 years later, I was able to find the video on YouTube.


Richard Dawson (1932-2012)

He first made his mark with American audiences as Corporal Peter Newkirk on Hogan's Heroes (1965-71), and then reinvented himself as a game show icon, starting with a stint as a regular panelist on the revivals of I've Got a Secret (1972-3) and Match Game (1973-78) before achieving iconic status as the original host of Family Feud (1976-85, 1994-5). Today, game show fans and all of Hollywood are mourning the passing of Richard Dawson at 79 from throat cancer.

Dawson wasn't content with limiting himself to comedy. He also did some dramatic work, appearing in the movies, "The Devil's Brigade" & "The Running Man", the latter with Arnold Schwarzenegger & Jesse Ventura in 1987, and in an episode of McCloud during the 70's. He also appeared in "Munster Go Home", the 2nd theatrical spinoff from The Munsters. His other television credits include guest appearances on The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and The New Dick Van Dyke Show. Dawson's first MC gig was another revival, Masquerade Party, in 1974, but that series, like the revival of Secret, lasted one year.

Dawson is known to cartoon fans for a brief stint in the 70's with Hanna-Barbera, having guested on Hong Kong Phooey in 1974, and before that had worked on the studio's adaptation of Oliver Twist, Oliver & The Artful Dodger, for The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie.

Let's go back to the beginning of Family Feud with the first episode from 1976:



Rest in peace, Richard.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Mets finally get the biggest monkey off their backs

50 years. Over 8,000 games. Headed into tonight's game with the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals, with former teammate Carlos Beltran returning to New York for the first time since he was traded to San Francisco 11 months ago, the Mets had never had a no-hitter.

The list of pitchers who've hurled no-no's after leaving Flushing Meadows, Queens, includes a pair of Hall of Famers in Nolan Ryan (7) and Tom Seaver, who hurled his after he'd been traded to Cincinnati. Dwight Gooden & David Cone had theirs across town with the Yankees. Philip Humber, a prized prospect a few short years ago, hurled one just a few weeks ago for the Chicago White Sox.

Tonight, Mets ace Johan Santana, making a case for Comeback Player of the Year after missing all of 2011 recovering from shoulder surgery, used veteran guile, and got a little help from Lady Luck, in taking the biggest monkey on the Mets' collective backs and tossing it aside, once and for all. Setting a new career high with 134 pitches, Santana struck out World Series hero David Freese to end the game. Santana's gem was by no means perfect. He'd walked five. Beltran nearly spoiled the party in the 6th inning, but a drive to left was ruled foul even though it clearly struck the chalk line before crossing into foul territory. Umpire Adrian Johnson held firm on his ruling. How often has that happened in cases like this? Had Beltran been credited with a hit, it would've been business as usual. Instead, Santana continued on course with destiny. The Mets' offense did the rest, putting the game away with 6 runs in the 7th off St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright, the same man who closed the door on the Mets' pennant hopes 6 years earlier in the NLCS as the Cards' closer. Poetic justice? Perhaps.

The injury plague that has cursed the Mets since Citi Field opened 3 years ago struck again, with outfielder Mike Baxter the latest victim. He made a highlight reel catch in the 7th, crashing into the left field wall to brace himself, but had to be helped off the field. It was later reported he'd suffered a contusion in his left shoulder. However, the plague would not deter Santana. The final score reads, Mets 8, Cardinals 0. Perhaps it is a sign that maybe, just maybe, the Mets, once again, are meant to be destiny's children come October, just as they were in 1969 and 1986. It took 17 years between those titles. This year, should the Mets make the playoffs and reach the Series, would be 16 years between titles if they go all the way and win. Right now, you have to believe they are the team no one wants to face. Well, no one that's expected to be a playoff team, anyway. The no-hitter may be just part of the plan, after all.

Death hits another triple

The Grim Reaper has been busy lately, with three obituaries to pass along.

We start in basketball, with two passings. Orlando Woolridge played for a number of teams, including the New Jersey (now Brooklyn) Nets, during the 80's & 90's, and passed away earlier this week at 52. Jack Twyman was not only a star player in the NBA's early years, but also a humanitarian who became the legal guardian of teammate Maurice Stokes when Stokes had to deal with debilitating illness that ended his career prematurely. Twyman passed away at 78.

Cartoon lovers will recognize this next name. Dick Beals specialized in child voices, and the reason for that was a glandular condition that prevented Beals from reaching puberty, at least in terms of his voice changing. Beals, who passed away on Tuesday at 85, is best remembered in cartoon circles for Davey & Goliath (he was the original Davey), Frankenstein, Jr. (as juvenile scientist Buzz Conroy), and Birdman (as Birdboy), but historians also will link him to commercials, such as this vintage ad for Alka-Seltzer when it first hit store shelves in 1954........



Rest in peace, gentlemen. You will all be missed.