Friday, May 31, 2013

Classic TV: The Rookies (1972)

While Jack Webb's second Dragnet ended in 1970, Adam-12 was rolling into its 4th season in 1972. ABC and producer Aaron Spelling decided they wanted a piece of the action. They wanted a show that was their answer to Adam-12.

The end result was The Rookies, which bowed with a TV-movie pilot on the ABC Movie of the Week in March, and graduated to series six months later. The Rookies would last for four seasons, and spawn a spinoff, S.W.A.T., thanks to a backdoor pilot in season 3.

Though filmed in LA, Spelling opted to keep the real setting of the series vague, hence making his cops members of the (reputedly) Southern California Police Department (SCPD). I think this might've been to avoid any conflicts with Webb and his family of series, and Webb's association with the LAPD.

The series followed a trio of cops, played by Sam Melville, Michael Ontkean, & Georg Stanford Brown. Mike Danko (Melville) was the only one of the trio who was married (wife was played by Kate Jackson). The Rookies served as a suitable successor to The Mod Squad, which, I think, was either at the end of its run, or would soon get there, I can't remember at the moment.

After 2 seasons, Ontkean left and was replaced by Bruce Fairbairn for the rest of the series, playing another character. After the show ended, Brown gradually walked away from acting and was married to actress Tyne Daly for a number of years. Of course, Kate Jackson segued right into another hit series, Charlie's Angels, which replaced Rookies on the schedule.

Captsisko51 uploaded the familiar, kickin' theme, composed by Elmer Bernstein, followed by a short scene in which Officer Gillis (Ontkean) is made to look like a complete dunce.



Rating: A.

A little bit of this & a little of that

Will it ever end?

Yahoo! is reporting this morning that a 5 year old boy was suspended from his school for 10 days for bringing a toy cap gun with him to show a friend. What is so galling is that the school principal was so insensitive to the age of this poor kid, that she interrogated him for 2 hours before bothering to call the boy's mom. By the time mommy got there, the little guy had wet his pants. He was probably crying his eyes out, too, but Yahoo! didn't mention that. The story does say that the case is being appealed. If the suspension, harsh and improper as it is, stands, the kid will miss the rest of the season, and this incident will be on his permanent record.

Look. The child is in kindergarten. You can't expect these kids to understand that things have changed so quickly in the last 5 months since Sandy Hook. You have school administrators who are paranoid about guns of any kind that they're so quick to issue knee-jerk suspensions without regard to the prospect of traumatizing the poor kids. They're so afraid that these school massacres are doing the traumatizing, but fail to see that they're doing their own share with their stupidity.

Need I mention, then, that this was in Maryland, within shouting distance, perhaps, of the White House?
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When it was announced last year that Scooby-Doo would meet some of the stars of the WWE in an animated movie set at Wrestlemania, fans of both camps had to be excited. The movie won't hit stores until just before Wrestlemania 30 next spring, but even before that project is completed, WWE & WB have announced another collaboration, this time sending Vince McMahon, John Cena, et al, into the stone age.

Yes, you read that right. WWE in 2015 will visit the Flintstones. With news that Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane's proposed Flintstones reboot for Fox has been buried in turnaround, fans will have to wait 2 more years to see some new stuff with Fred, Barney, and the gang. One can only wonder if Pebbles will be able to be a teenaged WWE diva...........! To think this all started because Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson made some cracks equating Cena with Fruity Pebbles cereal, which Fred & Barney have endorsed for more than 40 years.......
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Everyone, I think, expected the Yankees to dominate the annual Subway Series vs. the Mets. Nuh-uh. Not even close. The Mets completed a 4-game sweep Thursday, moving closer to the .500 mark with a 3-1 verdict. The Amazin's outscored the Bronx Bombers, 16-7, in the series. Granted, the Yankee apologists will point to the fact that the Yanks were missing several key players due to injury and hit just 2 homers in the series (Brennan Bosch on Wednesday, Robinson Cano on Thursday). They'll get Mark Teixiera & Kevin Youkilis back tonight for a series vs. Boston, and Andy Pettite is set to return Monday vs. Cleveland, but if George Steinbrenner were still with us, he'd have been raging and looking for scapegoats after getting swept off the field by the Mets.

What may be even more galling to the Yankees is the Mets' interleague record to date, a sparkling 7-1 (the lone loss was vs. the Chicago White Sox). Bear in mind, the Mets still have 1 game to make up vs. Minnesota, plus a 2-game return match vs. the ChiSox and series vs. Detroit, Cleveland, & Kansas City. Whodathunk they'd feast on the AL Central like this?

To think that it was supposedly leaked out in the tabloid press that moribound infielders Ike Davis & Ruben Tejada were threatened with demotion to Triple A earlier this week. Davis has avoided it again, but Tejada instead finds himself on the DL with a quad injury sustained Wednesday. Actually, if the tabloids weren't so obsessive-compulsive over every minute detail, the team could go about their business a little quieter. Impossible, of course, in New York.

Personally, I'd like to see the biggest gasbag in the city, Mike Francesca, try working out with the Mets or Yankees, or even train with any of the city's teams, before polluting the air with his self-centered opinions and attitude. Dude, you only think you know everything, and probably haven't admitted to being wrong since you were a child.
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So the New York Rangers fired coach John Tortorella earlier this week, less than a week after being eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs by Boston. The most likely place Tortorella will go next will be in the television studio. After all, where do most coaches go these days between jobs to make sure they get the attention of the other owners?
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This week's Dunce Cap winner, Amanda Bynes, is now denying she ripped on Rhianna, but then started looking for other people to rag on via Twitter. Actually, what she should be doing is taking a vacation from Twitter instead of reality.

If you think that's bad, consider that one of the supermarket magazines had a cover headline claiming the former child star wanted to "be the next Kim Kardashian". Oh, please, give me a break. I realize that mags like OK!, In Touch, and their ilk are desperate for readers, but these days, a majority of their headlines are probably fabricated in an effort to try to lure readers. Sorry, jabronies, but it ain't happening here. Bad enough that rags like Globe, which used to be reputable, have sunk to being almost totally fictional in their reporting. Better, then, to fold, and follow sister rag Weekly World News into online retirement.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

What Might've Been: Joanie Loves Chachi (1982)

ABC figured there was room for one more spinoff from Happy Days, which had already begat Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, and the animated Fonz & the Happy Days Gang. The latter two series were coming to an end, but if the network thought help was on the way, well, were they ever wrong.

Joanie Loves Chachi put the spotlight on lovebirds Joanie Cunningham (Erin Moran) and Chachi Arcola (Scott Baio), the latter of whom was also the cousin of Fonzie (Henry Winkler). Chachi decided he wanted to form a rock band of his own, after having apprenticed with Richie, Potsie, & Ralph (Ron Howard, Anson Williams, & Don Most) in earlier episodes of Days. Meanwhile, Al DelVecchio (Al Molinaro) had married Chachi's mom, Louisa (Ellen Travolta), making him Chachi's stepfather. For the series, Al left Arnold's and Milwaukee, and relocated----with Chachi & Joanie in tow---to Chicago. Chachi's uncle (Art Metrano, ex-Chicago Teddy Bears) acted as the band's manager, which would explain why the band included a couple of cousins.

After a 4 week spring preview in March-April 1982, Joanie was given a full-season commitment the following fall, but then, ABC pulled the plug in December, then burned off the final two episodes in May '83. The storyline was concluded a year later on the series finale of Happy Days with Joanie & Chachi finally getting married.

Erin Moran had made her singing debut on Days a while earlier, in a short-term storyline that had her joining another band fronted by Leather Tuscadero (real-life singer Suzi Quatro, a 1-hit wonder in the late 70's), and the only other time she had sung on camera was when she appeared with some of the Days cast on Dinah!, not long before this series launched. Scott Baio could claim to have had his debut in the 1976 movie, "Bugsy Malone", but as was documented previously, all of the vocals were done by older singers in that film. However, as you can see in the opening provided by retrorebirth, the two actors acquit themselves pretty well. I believe Baio actually released an album, but if he thought he could parlay his teen idol status into pop stardom, as John Travolta did before him, nuh-uh.

Anyway, here's the open:



These days, Baio has sunk to reality-TV to remain relevant. Erin was last seen on Celebrity Fit Club, if memory serves, but has otherwise had some other issues.

Rating: C+.

On DVD: Mr. Wong in Chinatown (1939)

I've been watching the "Mr. Wong" movie series out of order. And, so, we are back to the 3rd film in the series, "Mr. Wong in Chinatown".

An Asian Princess (Lotus Long) is admitted into the home of detective James Lee Wong (Boris Karloff), but before the sleuth can take the case, his royal client-in-waiting is killed via poison dart shot from an open window. What follows is a winding case that involves forgery and other deceptions. Enterprising reporter Bobbie Logan (Marjorie Reynolds) pulls Wong from a parked cab before it blows up, which doesn't endear Bobbie to Capt. Street (Grant Withers), although it only proves that Bobbie has proved her worth.

Anyway, scope out the movie:



It's too bad Monogram didn't spin Bobbie off into her own series to cash in on the emergence of Lois Lane in the Superman comics, which had started a little while prior. Then again, Bobbie would've been used mostly for comedy instead of serious adventure.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Classic TV: The Big Valley (1965)

ABC, in the mid-60's, was looking for a tentpole Western along the lines of CBS' Gunsmoke or NBC's Bonanza. What they got fell closer to the latter than the former, but didn't have the staying power of either one.

As Bonanza was set in Virginia City, Nevada, and built around the Cartwrights, The Big Valley was set in Stockton, California, and centered on the Barkleys. Victoria (Barbara Stanwyck) was a widow with three sons and a daughter, which trumped the men of the Ponderosa. Heath (Lee Majors) was sort-of the black sheep of the family, as he was allegedly an illegitmate son. Jarrod (Richard Long) was a lawyer. Nick (Peter Breck, ex-Black Saddle) was the ranch foreman. Audra (Linda Evans), the daughter, was the predictable damsel in distress. While the Cartwrights had an Asian cook, the Barkleys had an African-American butler (Napoleon Whiting) who was treated with the utmost respect. Some reference sources referred to the butler as the "major domo" who was put in charge when the family was away.

The Big Valley, a Four Star production, lasted four seasons (1965-9), and attracted an eclectic collection of guest stars. Comedian Marty Allen, for example, appeared in at least two episodes. Adam West (Batman), who'd previously worked for Four Star on The Detectives with Robert Taylor, reunited with Linda Evans, his co-star in the movie, "Mara of the Wilderness", in one episode, which I believe came after Batman ended. He wasn't the only one to swap his cape for an encounter with the Barkleys. Yvonne Craig also made a guest appearance, as you'll note in the following video, but that was before she was cast as Batgirl.

Post-Valley, Richard Long shifted to sitcoms, starring in Nanny & The Professor (1970-2) and the short-lived Thicker Than Water before his untimely passing while the latter series was in production, if memory serves. Of course, Lee Majors & Linda Evans each achieved iconic status much later. Majors in The Six Million Dollar Man, and Evans in Dynasty. It happens that they're also the only two core cast members still around.

SpudTV uploaded a season 1 open & close, taken from Encore Westerns. Currently, Me-TV & INSP share cable rights.



Rating: A-.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Musical Interlude: Goody Two-Shoes (1982)

Here's a gem from the Golden Age of MTV.

Adam Ant, minus the Ants, released a solo record, "Friend or Foe", in 1982. It seemed at the time that just about anything from the CBS Records family of labels (Columbia, Epic, et al, now part of Sony-BMG) was assured of heavy MTV airplay. The first single, "Goody Two-Shoes", presents Adam as a playboy who quickly charms a reporter into losing her inhibitions.

Y'see, pilgrims, I didn't get to see any of the Ants' videos until after I'd seen this back in the day, and if I had to pick a favorite from that period, it'd be "Antmusic". Anyway, from Adam's VEVO channel, here's "Goody Two-Shoes":

On DVD: Pete Kelly's Blues (1955)

If I mention the name Jack Webb, what to you comes to mind first? Dragnet, of course. But can you picture ol' deadpan Jack playing anything but a lawman?

In 1955, Webb directed himself and a fairly credible ensemble cast in "Pete Kelly's Blues", which was produced by Webb's Mark VII Productions for Warner Bros.. Webb plays a jazz bandleader who has his hands full with a crime boss (Edmund O'Brien) who has him and the Big 7 under contract. Of course, Webb and his crew didn't really play, as the music was dubbed over by an all-star jazz ensemble, comprised of guys I'm not familiar with, including Matty Murdock. However, when you consider the band on screen includes movie tough guy Lee Marvin and Martin Milner (who'd appeared on the original Dragnet and would be considered a part of Webb's repertory company pre-Adam-12), you'd think these guys would've mixed it up with the mob if need be. As it was, drummer Joey Firestone (Milner) is whacked by machine gun fire 1/3 of the way in.

Actress-singer Peggy Lee earned an Oscar nomination as Rose, a singer added to the band at the boss' insistence, but when she gets a little too tipsy one night, she's remanded to an asylum, where she's regressed mentally to the age of 5. The last scene Lee shares with Webb was, I think, what got her the nomination. Pete Kelly (Webb) also finds love in the form of Ivy (Janet Leigh). If you thought that Webb could never get the girl just because he was a stone-faced square on Dragnet, well.........! As you'd expect, Webb also narrates, as if this was Dragnet or his other radio gigs, The Lyon's Eye or Pat Novak For Hire. Of course, there's also the smart-aleck analogies and wisecracks that I became acquainted with on the latter series.

Speaking of series, "Blues" was transitioned to television, perhaps not long after the movie, but that's for another time.

Something else to look forward to are a couple of solo numbers by jazz icon Ella Fitzgerald. Enough said.

Following is a sample clip of Pete Kelly's Big 7 "performing" "Sugar":



Webb didn't make too many movies. A pity, as he might've earned himself an Oscar or two if he made a few more pictures before transitioning permanently to television.

Rating: A.

Monday, May 27, 2013

What Might've Been: A Man Called Sloane (1979)

The last first-run network series produced by Quinn Martin's production company also marked the beginning of the end for the studio.

QM Productions had been acquired by Taft Broadcasting, which at the time was Hanna-Barbera's parent company. The end result was a spiffy, flashy new company logo, which debuted with the launch of A Man Called Sloane.

At the time, Robert Conrad was one of the busiest men in Hollywood, as he seemed to be a near-permanent fixture in primetime. Sloane arrived just a year or two after his last series, Black Sheep Squadron, which, like Sloane, aired on NBC, had ended. This time around, Conrad played a secret agent, Thomas Remington (T. R.) Sloane, who, as the commercials told us, supposedly out-Bonded James Bond. Oh? If that was really the case, Sloane would've made it past Christmas.

As memory serves, Sloane aired on Saturday nights, and was as close to a TV version of James Bond as we'd get for a while. Sloane had a partner, Torque (Ji-Tu Cumbuka), whose prosthetic hand was a portable arsenal all by itself. Hmmmm. Aside from The Director (Dan O'Herlihy), Sloane got his orders from a computer named Effie (voiced by Michele Carey). If that was supposed to attract the teenage boys, well, that didn't work.

Following is a sample episode, "The Venus Microbe", with guest stars Morgan Fairchild & Monte Markham. One other thing you'll note is that the new QM did away with the voice-over announcer and the familiar QM format that we knew so well (Act 1, Act 2, etc.).



I wanted to like this show. Unfortunately, airing at 10 PM (ET), even on a Saturday night, was a little too taxing for a teenager.......

Rating: B-.

Dunce Cap Award: Amanda Bynes

Once upon a time, there was a sweet, adorable young girl who had joined the cast of Nickelodeon's All That, and gained her ticket to stardom. As with Kenan Thompson & Kel Mitchell before her, Amanda Bynes was spun off into her own solo series, and graduated from that to What I Like About You. Since that latter series has ended, however, Ms. Bynes has gone, well, cuckoo for cocoa puffs.

On Thursday, Amanda was arrested in New York after she was caught tossing a marijuana bong out of her apartment window, the latest escapade for a young 20-something who just a couple of years back claimed she was retiring from acting, likely because she was afraid of being typecast, and that would be because Hollywood casting directors couldn't see her as anything but sweet and innocent. What she is now is a poor woman's Lindsay Lohan.

According to today's New York Daily News, Ms. Bynes, who's been photographed wearing a blonde wig of late, which suggests she pulled a Britney Spears move and shaved her head sometime back, went on Twitter and ranted on Rhianna. Amanda went so far as to claim that she wasn't on drugs. Oh, really? Three days after being busted? Talk about denial!

What is it about a lot of young starlets these days? Britney's apparently recovered, though she was cut after a year of judging on The X-Factor. Lindsay doesn't know how to avoid getting into trouble. What causes this? In all probability, each of these ladies has had a few too many "friends" putting bad advice in their ears, and that bad advice usually includes drugs. We're always told to know who our real friends are, and that includes watching out for the parasites who suddenly show up when you become famous. Amanda Bynes became another victim of these parasites and their bad advice. The pot's taken control of her mind, leading to her ill-advised Twitter Twaddle on Sunday, and that gets her a Dunce Cap.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Classic TV: Sanford & Son (1972)

One year after All In The Family became an overnight sensation for CBS, Norman Lear mined British sitcoms again for his next creation. Not only that, but he tweaked the concept to flip the race card.

Sanford & Son, like Family, was a mid-season replacement when it bowed on NBC. Set in Los Angeles, the show revolved around Fred G. Sanford (don't ask what the G stood for---not even Fred was sure), who operated a junkyard out of his home, aided by his son, Lamont. Fred was a widower who'd lost his wife, Elizabeth, some years earlier, and any time he felt threatened by something, he'd feign a fatal heart attack, not so much to gain sympathy, but as a defensive mechanism.

Nightclub comic Redd Foxx was cast as Sanford, with Demond Wilson as Lamont. The two had the same kind of chemistry that Carroll O'Connor & Rob Reiner had created on Family with their antagonistic, generational humor. Lamont was level-headed and a ladies man. Fred was old and close-minded, even to his sister-in-law, Esther (LaWanda Page), who seemed to always have a Bible in her hand, in case she needed to preach to Fred, literally. Esther didn't arrive on the scene until season 2, but would stick around for most of the run.

Fred had his friends, particularly Bubba (Don Bexley) and Grady (Whitman Mayo). In one memorable episode, Fred & Bubba found themselves on Let's Make a Deal, and there was another case where Fred ended up on Chuck Barris' Gong Show. Grady would later be spun off into his own series, which, sadly, didn't last very long.

Sanford & Son, based on the British series, Steptoe & Son, lasted 5 years before being rechristened The Sanford Arms, after Fred converted his home into a boarding house. That didn't last, and before long, the show was shortened to, simply, Sanford.

For a while, the Sanfords had a Latino neighbor, Julio (Gregory Sierra), who left after a couple of years when Sierra left to join the cast of Barney Miller. Pat Morita appeared as two different characters before landing his iconic role as Arnold on Happy Days. As was often the case in those days, repeats aired on weekday mornings to fill out the schedule before going into syndication. Small wonder, then, that you couldn't get the theme song, composed by the legendary Quincy Jones, out of your head.

Doop72 uploaded the open that everyone knows:



The theme song actually has a title, as it appeared on one of Jones' albums. It's called "The Streetbeater". Maybe I'll put the full version up sometime.

Rating: A.

Sports this 'n' that

It was a nice story Thursday night in Boston. Too bad Red Sox Nation didn't get a happy ending out of it.

Former Boston manager Terry Francona made his return to Fenway Park, this time as a visiting manager, leading his current club, the Cleveland Indians to a romp over the BoSox, whom he led to 2 World titles in 4 years (2004, 2007) before resigning after an epic collapse in 2011. After making a few appearances at Fenway as an ESPN announcer last year, Francona was back on the field Thursday, and the Red Sox showed him the ultimate respect by playing a highlight reel of his run in Beantown. Boston has since bounced back to win the next two games in the series, but what was perhaps the most embarassing thing on Thursday was that MLB Network chose the game---NESN feed and all---for national broadcast.

Meanwhile, Madison Square Garden is dark, at least until WNBA season starts in a few weeks. In the space of a week, the Knicks & Rangers were both eliminated from the playoffs, meaning the focus of the obsessive tabloid media tightens on the Yankees & Mets. The WNBA's Liberty? Fuhgeddaboutit. They never get a back page headline.

The Yankees have played the part of the children's book, The Little Engine That Could, clawing their way into first place in the AL East, defying the media naysayers. Outfielder Curtis Granderson, about a week removed from his season debut, was sent back to the disabled list on Saturday, after getting a knuckle on his left pinky broken by a pitched ball on Friday night. While the tabloid media response was predictable, stopping short of going all Chicken Little as usual, the Yankee management shrugged. Ex-Tiger Brennan Bosch was called up from Triple A Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Bosch has been one of those role playing veterans who've contributed to the Yankees' gradual rise to the top of the standings. It may only be the end of May, but it seems to me that the media mavens who dismissed the Yankees in pre-season as pretenders were only fooling themselves.

The injury curse afflicting the Mets since the opening of Citi Field 4 years ago may also be including fractured pysches.

Case in point: First baseman Ike Davis, for the 2nd straight year, is having a horrible start to his season. Of course, the media is calling for GM Sandy Alderson to do the right thing and send Davis to the minors to get his game back to normal. Problem is, after an eternity of Triple A ball in the International League, the Mets' top farm team is in the Pacific Coast League this year, and in, of all places, Las Vegas, which used to be San Diego's top team. I don't understand the logic of that particular business decision. The Buffalo Bisons, which was the Mets' top farm team the last couple of years, now is tethered to Toronto. I digress. Everyone thinks the thin air in Nevada will help Davis regain his lost confidence and batting stroke. Last year, the Mets resisted sending Davis to Buffalo, and he responded by coming back to life in the 2nd half. However, this year, the media scrutiny is much more intense as the Mets have already settled into 4th place (like, Miami is not getting out of the basement any time soon), 12 games in back of Atlanta and 12 under .500.

Davis isn't the only one needing a vacation in Vegas. Shortstop Ruben Tejada isn't hitting like he should, but the notation that he is hitting more pop flies than line drives reminds that his predecessor, Jose Reyes, now on the DL in Toronto, had the same problem for years. The diff is, Reyes is a charismatic presence on the field and in the clubhouse. Tejada has let early season defensive struggles affect his batting, while Davis has of late been the opposite. The tabloid media won't let the story go, but in Davis' case, he's the one preventing the team from making the necessary move. Reportedly, he doesn't want to go west, even though he would be accorded more chances to play in front of family and friends in his native Arizona, which has teams in the PCL. The New York Daily News reported the other day that the legendary mentalist, The Amazing Kreskin, has offered to help.

SAY WHAT?

The Mets would be better off hiring a staff psychologist, as they did in the late 80's, to deal with Davis and his fragile psyche. Truthfully speaking the Mets would be well served to advise Davis that he really has no say in the matter. The Mets can shift Lucas Duda, currently their left fielder, back to his natural position at first, and bring outfielder Collin Cowgill back from Vegas to team with Rick Ankiel & Marlon Byrd in the outfield, or let rookie Juan Legares play full time. All I'm asking the tabloids to do is back off a little and not nag the Mets to death.

It's bad enough that the WWE has one wrestler sidelined with a legitimate concussion (Dolph Ziggler, as previously reported). Now, they've decided to create a separate storyline involving a worked concussion.

Last week, at the Extreme Rules PPV, former WWE & UFC champion Brock Lesnar used Triple H's signature weapon of last resort, the sledgehammer, and a timely assist from Paul Heyman, to defeat the "Cerebral Assassin" in the rubber match of their feud. The next night, Heyman announced that he had added a new man to his stable, one Curtis Axel (real name: Joe Hennig, formerly known in WWE as Michael McGillicutty 2010-13), the grandson of Larry "The Axe" Hennig, and son of the late Curt Hennig, aka Mr. Perfect. Axel was thrown right into a main event match against an angry HHH, but the match never reached a true conclusion. Just as he was about to put Axel away, HHH began to feel dizzy and retreated to the ringside area. Doctors had warned him not to try to compete, but he did anyway, and now it cost him. He was seen collapsing to the floor as Monday Night Raw drew to a close.

The storyline unfolded over the next few nights, with reports that HHH had suffered from Post Concussion Syndrome, thanks to the sledgehammer shot to the jaw a week ago. In truth, he's fine, but Vince McMahon, who picks up another Weasel of the Week award as a result, decided to do this storyline, ignoring the real-life issues facing Ziggler, who has been sidelined for a couple of weeks. The rumor mill speculated already that the chairman/CEO would return to a prominent television role in an attempt to talk his son-in-law into retiring (Triple H, aka Paul LeVesque, turns 44 in July), for the sake of his family. Inevitably, HHH will get another crack at Axel, probably not until later in the year (Survivor Series in November would be a good time for the rematch), or next year at the latest.

Does anyone feel as I do, that the NBA playoffs are creating an easier and easier path for the Miami Heat to win another title? I am so not digging.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Classic TV: Family Affair (1966)

Consider the following:

A New York-based, Indiana-born architect, accustomed to the life of a bachelor, has his whole world turned upside down when his nephew and nieces move in with him after their parents are killed in an auto accident, and the rest of the relatives don't want them.

In a nutshell, that's the premise behind Family Affair, which lasted 5 seasons on CBS (1966-71), and came from producer Don Fedderson (My Three Sons), who would only produce two more series after Affair ended. But then, we're getting ahead of ourselves.

The plot centered on Bill Davis (Brian Keith, ex-The Westerner), the aforementioned playboy architect, who, along with his valet, Giles French (Sebastian Cabot, ex-Checkmate), now must attend to his nephew, Jody (Johnny Whitaker), and nieces Buffy (Anissa Jones) & Cissy (Kathy Garver). One must think that when Sherwood Schwartz created The Brady Bunch 3 years later, he had to have been inspired by not only the movie, "With Six, You Get Eggroll", but Affair as well.

As Fedderson had cast ex-Mouseketeer Don Grady in My Three Sons, he went to the well again, and hired Sherry Alberoni to play a friend of Cissy's. Just a coincidence, it would seem. However, he also played the nepotism card and had son Gregg cast as Cissy's boyfriend. Oh, well.

Post-Affair, Johnny Whitaker & Kathy Garver are the only core cast members still with us, but for the most part, everyone, save for Anissa Jones, kept busy after the series ended. Whitaker made films such as "Napoleon & Samantha" (with a young Jodie Foster), "Tom Sawyer", and for Hallmark Hall of Fame, The Littlest Angel, before moving on to the Saturday morning series, Sigmund & the Sea Monsters, which lasted 3 seasons (1973-6) on NBC. Garver is doing mostly voice work these days, usually for audiobooks, but cartoon fans know her as the voice behind Firestar (Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends, 1981-4), among other roles. Sebastian Cabot's last series gig was Ghost Story (previously reviewed), which underwent the title change to Circle of Fear in mid-season after Cabot departed. Brian Keith landed one more sitcom gig, which started under the title, The Little People before being rechristened, The Brian Keith Show. Either way, it lasted one season. Keith would return to drama in the 80's action series, Hardcastle & McCormick, which ran for three seasons on ABC.

Here's the theme everyone knows, composed by Frank DeVol:



The popularity of Buffy's doll, Mrs. Beasley, led to a merchandising deal with Mattel. Unfortunately, none of the magic of the original series would translate into a 2002 revival on the WB, with Tim Curry ("Rocky Horror Picture Show", "Clue") as Mr. French, and Gary Cole (ex-Midnight Caller) as Bill. That version lasted just one season.

As I noted, Fedderson produced two more series. To Rome With Love, starring John Forsythe, replaced Affair on the CBS schedule in 1971. The following year brought Henry Fonda and Ron Howard in The Smith Family on ABC. Both series were cancelled after 1 season each, and after that, Fedderson wasn't able to sell any more series to the networks.

Rating: B+.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Musical Interlude: Personal Jesus (1990)

When Depeche Mode came along in the 80's, their hits, such as "People Are People", got airplay on MTV, but not on a lot of radio stations. Their songs either ended up on college channels or album-oriented rock (AOR) stations.

That all changed with the release of "Violator" in 1990, which produced a small handful of hits that garnered heavy airplay on MTV, starting with "Personal Jesus". If you've heard Marilyn Manson's incomprehensibly bad cover, well, you're better off with the original. Warner Bros. Records' YouTube channel offers the video, digitally remastered.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

On the Shelf: Mermaids, fairies, and old friends

I apologize for not having previously done my annual overview of Free Comic Book Day 2 1/2 weeks ago, but here we are, better late than never. We'll do some today, and the rest next time.

Marvel offers a sneak peek at two forthcoming animated series, both headed to DisneyXD.

Avengers Assemble replaces Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes on the schedule, and is aimed at younger viewers. In other words, it's a step up from the Super Hero Squad Show, now airing in reruns on The Hub, and a flight or two below the last series. The comic, of course, seeks to capture the appropriate artistic style, and works in that capacity. Meanwhile, Hulk & The Agents of S.M.A.S.H. is someone's idea of taking recent events in Hulk's books and trying to set up the green goliath to form his own team. She-Hulk returns, but TV audiences will have to get used to Hulk's old nemesis, General "Thunderbolt" Ross, in his new guise as Red Hulk, and Rick Jones Hulks out as well, as the blue-skinned A-Bomb. Yeah, that happened in the books, too. Rounding out this monster cast is Skaar, who was introduced as the son of the Hulk in the books a couple of years back. When you consider that Bruce Banner's wife, Betty Ross, is now the Red She-Hulk, well, some would think she'd be more than a bit upset over her hubby's cheating on her on another world. Yeah, I know, too much information.

Too many Hulks, though, actually spoils the legacy of the character. No rating, as we'll review the shows themselves when they debut on DisneyXD.

Meanwhile, over at DC, this year's DC Nation Super Sampler offers a peek at the forthcoming Beware The Batman, and marking the comics debut of writer-producer Mitch Watson as a plotter. Serviceable, but one needs to get used to seeing Alfred clean-shaven in this series. Anarky, a villain of a sort who debuted in the 90's in the books, is the big bad here, and it'll be interesting to see where this goes. Latest word says Cartoon Network will debut this show sometime in the summer. Meanwhile, Teen Titans GO! is represented by an inventory piece from the defunct book of the same name, which is a little easier on the ol' eyeballs than watching the chibi-animated silliness airing twice weekly on CN (previously reviewed in Saturday Morning Archives). Rating: B.

Papercutz checks in with another round of Smurfs, with the movie sequel due soon. If you still have the issue from 2011, this is a continuation, although this time, Papercutz also adds an adaptation of the CN series, Annoying Orange, among the backup features. Papercutz also has an issue starring Tinker Bell and her fairy friends. If you've seen the DTV movies with these characters, well, this should be worth reading to your little girls. Both books merit an A rating.

We'll finish part one of our FCBD review with Action Lab's NFL Rush Zone, which adapts the Nicktoons series of the same name. I haven't seen the show yet, but I did get a pretty good idea of the concept. Kids, all I have to tell you is to let your imagination run wild if you're an NFL fan. Rating: B-.

From Dynamite comes Damsels: Mermaids, which bows with a 0 issue on FCBD, meaning that issue 1 is right around the corner. It's a stand-alone series separate from the regular Damsels book, and if you've been following that, you'll gravitate over to Mermaids with no problem. Nice art, but if this isn't a licensed title, like most of Dynamite's line, they could stand to lower the price. Rating: B+.

Shifting gears and going to my personal reading pile.

Dynamite Entertainment is expanding its line of licensed heroes titles. The results, though, have been hit or miss.

Veteran writer Mark Waid is the latest to take on Green Hornet in an all-new series borne out of the Hornet's appearances in the Masks limited series. Waid appears to be setting up friction between the Hornet & Kato in what would be a case from early in the Hornet's career. I'll take a chance. Rating: A-.

June Tarpe Mills created Miss Fury during the Golden Age, and the character's last appearance was for Malibu or one of its sister labels in the 90's. Now, she's being reposited as Dynamite's answer to Catwoman,  but I am so not digging the opening arc, which has Marla Drake (Miss Fury) shifting in time between 1943 and 2013. For what, well, you'd have to keep reading. Dynamite, though, should have marked this series as "recommended for mature readers" because of brief sex scenes and a near nip slip, the latter in issue 2. Apparently, the writer likes the idea of Marla getting busy out of costume, if you catch the drift. Rating: C-.

The Black Bat's been around since the Golden Age, too, but writer Brian Buccelato, formerly with Marvel,  lays it on mighty thick, as if the Bat is meant to be Dynamite's cross between DC's Dr. Mid-Nite and Marvel's Punisher, except that the Bat can see because of an eye transplant, but, well.......! Rating: B.


Rockin' Funnies: Smile (2011)

Kirk Franklin (currently co-hosting The American Bible Challenge) teams with Steve Harvey (Family Feud) to pay homage to a famous scene in "Coming to America". You know the one, where Eddie Murphy & Arsenio Hall are playing multiple roles in a church sequence. Harvey & Franklin are both in the front row, while also on stage in costume (Harvey takes on Arsenio's role as the preacher, as if you couldn't tell).

Here's a musical "Smile" for ya, courtesy of Harvey's "official" YouTube channel:

Heaven adds to its chorus

In the last 24 hours, we've lost two musical talents from a bygone era.

Alan O'Day is better known as a songwriter who created hits for Bobby Sherman, Helen Reddy, Cher, & the Righteous Brothers, among others, before hitting the charts himself in 1977 with "Undercover Angel", which was later used in the first "Charlie's Angels" feature film (appropriate, no?). O'Day succumbed to cancer at 72.

While there is no official video available of "Undercover Angel", we will have to make do with this from kouj1328:



Ray Manzarek was the keyboard player in The Doors, and was still playing periodically as late as last year. Manzarek passed away on Monday at 74. Following is a 1968 concert clip of the band performing "Light My Fire", which features an organ solo by Manzarek:



We'll close with a little appropriate number, the Righteous Brothers' final hit, "Rock & Roll Heaven", written by Alan O'Day in 1974, with the following video culled from a 1981 concert.



Rest in peace, Alan & Ray.

Monday, May 20, 2013

What Might've Been: Misfits of Science (1985)

NBC was looking for something to replace Knight Rider on Fridays, something that would hook the action-adventure crowd. Unfortunately, their first attempt was not only a failure, but the network was lucky they weren't hit with a lawsuit of some kind.

Misfits of Science was conceived by network programming chief Brandon Tartikoff. Apparently, Tartikoff couldn't get Marvel to find a studio to adapt their wildly popular X-Men comics to television, and it would be another few years before those "merry mutants" would get there, via an animated series. So, Tartikoff did a sort-of end around with the Misfits, a trio of mutants, each with their own unique powers.

Misfits also holds a place in history as the first starring role for Courtney Cox (currently on Cougar Town). 9 years before Friends, and one year removed from grooving with Bruce Springsteen, Cox was cast as Gloria, a young woman with a history of juvenile delinquincy who was also blessed with telepathic abilities. The cast also included Kevin Peter Hall (who later had the title role in "Predator"), Dean Paul Martin, and Max Wright, the latter two as the team leader and his boss, respectively. There was a 4th Misfit, but this is where Universal and NBC were risking butting heads with Marvel over the name, Iceman, and so the Misfit by that name was cut after the 90 minute pilot and never mentioned again.

Misfits of Science had the tall order of trying to beat CBS' long running soap, Dallas, which was now firmly entrenched at 9 (ET), especially with Knight Rider gone. The series lasted less than six months before being cancelled.

Oliver Martin uploaded a sample episode:



Hall & Martin are no longer with us, and chances are more likely that Marvel would green-light a live-action X-Men series for primetime rather than have something like this be attempted again.

Rating: C.

Classic TV: All In The Family (1971)

All Norman Lear wanted to do was push the envelope. Did he ever.

All In The Family was a midseason replacement series when it launched on CBS in January 1971, and would go on to achieve iconic status, as well as birth a few spinoffs. Set in Queens, Family was built around blue collar worker Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor), at the time an unrepentant bigot who had insults for every minority in reach. All Archie wanted was to settle down at home after a hard day at work, but conflict, it seemed, was dogging his trail, be it at home in domestic spats with wife Edith (Jean Stapleton), daughter Gloria (Sally Struthers), or son-in-law Mike (Rob Reiner), or getting into arguments at the neighborhood bar. As time wore on, however, Archie would mellow with age and become more tolerant.

The easy explanation for that would be that the early targets of his xenophobic tirades had moved on. There was Maude (Beatrice Arthur), Edith's cousin, who was spun into her own series as Family began its 3rd season. Archie also sparred with the Jefferson brothers, first Henry (Mel Stewart), and later, the more iconic George (Sherman Hemsley), who was practically the player on the other side. If Archie had so much hate toward African-Americans, George was venting against the whites. The Jeffersons was granted its own series in 1975, and lasted longer than Family did.

The ensemble cast was often changing. Stewart, presumably, left when he landed a role on a short-lived CBS military sitcom, Roll Out!, opening the door for Hemsley. Sitcom vet Allan Melvin, by this time a regular on The Brady Bunch, added Family to his workload as Barney, Archie's best buddy. Bob Hastings (ex-McHale's Navy) resurfaced as bar owner Tommy Kelsey, appearing periodically, such that he had time to try his hand as a game show host (Dealer's Choice) before leaving the series for good and eventually shifting to daytime and General Hospital. Near the end of the series, Archie bought the bar, which was later renamed Archie Bunker's Place as the franchise continued with a new look in 1979. Jean Stapleton was written out of the show shortly after Place launched, as Edith was killed off.

Place ran for four seasons, and Archie went through three business partners. Bartender Harry Snowden (Jason Wingreen) was the original, but sold his share to a businessman (Martin Balsam) whose liberal viewpoints were in tune with Mike's, amazingly. Balsam left halfway, and Barry Gordon (ex-Fish and for many years the voice of the Nesquik Bunny) took his place.

Thefamilyalbum uploaded the familiar open of Archie & Edith at the piano, dueting on "Those Were The Days", followed by the open for Archie Bunker's Place:



Carroll O'Connor also co-wrote the show's instrumental closing theme, "Remembering You". If you've ever wondered if there were ever lyrics to "Remembering", well, wonder no more. Videoholic50s60s70s found this item, taken from The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, complete with intro by Sonny Bono:



Ray Conniff rearranged both themes for Place, giving it a Dixieland sound, though that seemed a little inappropriate, considering the series was still set in New York. Atlantic Records released an album of selected bits from Family, which included a guest appearance by future soap icon Anthony Geary (a few years before hitting it big on General Hospital). Unfortunately, the album isn't yet available on CD and may be just out of print. Hmmmmmm. Betty Garrett (Irene Lorenzo) left the show to take a recurring gig on Laverne & Shirley, remaining with that series up to its end, which, like Place, was in 1983.

Ratings:

All In The Family: B+.
Archie Bunker's Place: A.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Musical Interlude: Kids In America (1981)

I have to admit that Kim Wilde's "Kids In America", which exploded onto the pop charts in her native England in the winter of 1981, had flown under the radar by the time I'd seen the video more than a year later on MTV.

Unfortunately, Kim only landed one more hit in the US, a cover of the Supremes' "You Keep Me Hanging On" in 1987.  "Kids", meanwhile, was covered by The Muffs for the soundtrack to the 1995 movie, "Clueless", and just a few years after that, the Jonas Brothers reworked the song (same beat, altered lyrics) into "Kids of the Future".

Here's the video everyone remembers:


Friday, May 17, 2013

What Might've Been: The Ugliest Girl in Town (1968)

In the 60's, sitcoms were divided into various sub-genres, and that meant not all of them were destined for success.

You had fantasy-coms, such as Bewitched & I Dream of Jeannie, which merged the traditional domestic comedy with elements of science fiction and fantasy. The Flying Nun, while also a fantasy-com, went in a different direction (magic mixed with religion), and lasted about half as long as Jeannie.

All three were produced under the direction of Harry Ackerman, head of sitcoms for Screen Gems (which today is a separate feature film entity as a sister studio of Columbia), whose track record was gradually diminishing as time wore on, because while Bewitched ran for 8 seasons (1964-72) and Jeannie for 5 (1965-70), there were so few others that got past one season (Flying Nun spent three seasons on ABC, and it should be noted that The Monkees, which lasted two years on NBC, wasn't credited to Ackerman at all).

That brings us to a concept that, as it turns out, was ahead of its time.

The Ugliest Girl In Town spent one season on ABC (1968-9), and only merits attention now because its core concept came back into focus in the 80's. Long before future Oscar winner Tom Hanks began masquerading as a woman (Bosom Buddies, another ABC entry, 1980-2), and before Dustin Hoffman made "Tootsie", there was the story of fashion photographer Timmy Blair (Peter Kastner), who goes undercover, posing as a female model and traveling to London to get close to his girlfriend. Of course, chaos dogs his every move, as Timmie (clever spelling variation) becomes an overnight sensation in spite of him/herself.

Gilmore Box offers the open, narrated by Kastner:



As memory serves, Kastner was hardly heard from again after Ugliest Girl was cancelled. Pity, as he did have some potential.

No rating. Never saw the show.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

What Might've Been: Voyagers! (1982)

NBC was looking for something to fill the gaping void in their Sunday schedule, created when they had dropped The Wonderful World of Disney (nee Disney's Wonderful World) in 1981. They seemed to find a real winner that would appeal to kids and parents alike, as the Disney shows did, but it just wasn't meant to be.

Voyagers! was a spiritual successor to Irwin Allen's Time Tunnel, which had been cancelled 15 years earlier. It was also the first primetime series to be produced by the television arm of children's book publisher Scholastic, in conjunction with Universal. Jeffrey Jones (Meeno Peluce, ex-The Bad News Bears) might never be mistaken for Mr. Peabody's sidekick, Sherman, only because he was already well versed in history (his uncle was a history professor), though Phineas Bogg (Jon-Erik Hexum) could've come off the same assembly line as Stephen Cannell's Greatest American Hero, largely because his instruction manual for his time device, the Omni, was lost when he met Jeffrey (the dog ate it).

If NBC was smart, they would've repurposed the series on Saturday mornings, but there was no need at the time, though using it as a summer replacement might not have been so bad. The series was cancelled after 1 season, and was last seen on Retro a couple of years ago, airing on Sunday afternoons.

Anyway, here's a sample episode, in which Bogg & Jones meet Cleopatra and Babe Ruth, among others.



This was appointment television at my house, since my dad was a bit into history and a little science-fiction.

Rating: A.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sports this 'n' that

I just don't get it.

Joe Bruno Stadium, home to the NY-Penn League's Tri-City Valleycats, opened its doors for a high school baseball doubleheader on May 10 to benefit Coaches Against Cancer. I had a thought about attending the nightcap, pitting Troy High vs. Christian Brothers Academy in what was technically a CBA home game, even though they were in Troy. But, due to timing issues, I stayed home and channel-flipped between the game and the Mets-Pirates game.

While Troy won the game (and CBA won the return match at THS yesterday), what I couldn't help but notice was the large amount of empty seats in the stands.

SAY WHAT?

The Valleycats routinely will draw anywhere from three to six thousand fans per game, and so, the seats along the base lines are usually filled, especially on fireworks nights. Not so here, even though a high school game ticket is about half the price of a general admission ticket for a Valleycats game. Mix in unsettled weather patterns and the fact that the game was being televised on Time Warner Cable, and, well.........! I find it very hard to believe that CBA, with its ginormous alumni base in the area, and Troy could not sell out "The Joe". Neither could Guilderland and Bethlehem, who played the first half of the doubleheader, also shown on TV.

Look, high school baseball doesn't get the same kind of media exposure as football & basketball do in my home market. Upstate New York isn't that fanatic about high school sports in the spring, unlike the Southern & Western states, which have rabid fan bases year round. It's just a cruel fact of life. Period.

The Mets, meanwhile, need help, not just in the outfield and on offense, both of which were reasons why they signed outfielder Rick Ankiel, late of Houston, on Monday, and plugged him into the lineup against St. Louis.

The biggest problem is pitching. As in, there ain't enough of it in the starting rotation behind 2nd year phenom Matt Harvey. Jonathan Niese reportedly had back issues prior to his start against Pittsburgh on Saturday. He was risking further injury by taking the hill, and if the Mets don't do something now, they run the risk of losing him for the season prematurely. While Jeremy Hefner has started to show some progress after a slow start (ditto for Dillon Gee), in the long term, he's not meant to be a starter, but rather a reliever. The ironic thing is that the Mets' announcers discussed at length on Monday how the Cardinals have successfully nurtured their pitchers, including converting Adam Wainwright and last night's winner, Lance Lynn, from relievers to starters. Both have been All-Stars. Dave Duncan retired after the 2011 season, and ex-Braves hurler Derek Lilliquist (who also marked time in Cleveland, as I recall) has simply followed the formula. Because of the intense, overly obsessive media scrutiny in New York, the Mets can't follow that same formula because the media has convinced the fan base that there's no room for patience.

Never has "win now" been more a nagging buzz word than in New York, and it's been that way because New York is the spoiled brat capital of the world when it comes to sports fans.

All major sports are taking concussions very seriously these days. The WWE has followed suit, concerned more for the long term health of their performers, especially at their young ages.

In the last couple of years, Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, and Michael "The Miz" Mizanin have all fallen victim to concussions. As of last week, World champion Dolph Ziggler (real name: Nick Nemeth) was added to the list when he suffered a legitimate concussion in a brawl with one of his top challengers, Jack Swagger. As of last night, Ziggler was ruled out of Sunday's Extreme Rules PPV, meaning Swagger & Alberto Del Rio, instead of climbing a ladder, will be in a "I Quit" match to determine who gets next dibs on Ziggler. The smart thing to do is to hold Ziggler out at least another week, maybe two, before letting him return to the road, provided, of course, he passes all of his tests. It's what the NFL, the NHL, & Major League Baseball are all doing, and WWE should be commended for being out front on this matter.

Speaking of the NHL, that brings us to this week's Weasel of the Week. Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals was every bit the sore loser no one thought him to be after the Caps were eliminated by the New York Rangers on Monday. Ovechkin has gone so far as to suggest that the Rangers were shown favoritism by the game officials in order to boost ratings.

I'll say it again: SAY WHAT?

I know I've said the same thing about the NBA, but there's a lot more evidence to support the idea that the NBA, which is marketed based on individual stars more than any other league, pays more attention to the needs of its corporate partners on Madison Avenue than legitimately legislating how the game is supposed to be played. You don't see this sort of thing in the NHL. You can count on your hands and still leave room for a finger or two how many "superstar" players are marketed by the NHL, and Ovechkin is one of them. For him to claim that the officials favored the Rangers, just because they're in the biggest media center in the country, is beyond ludicrous, and it will likely cost him endorsement deals here in the US. His best bet would be to do a commercial with 80's star Yakof Smirnoff. Oh, wait.......

I wonder what the going rate is for Weasels in Russia, since Ovechkin is taking home a set of ears.

Three more pass to eternity

I opened up the paper this morning, and was stunned to read of the passing of psychologist Joyce Brothers at the age of 85. Most people know Dr. Brothers from a zillion game show appearances, from Hollywood Squares to Showoffs, and talk shows, being interviewed by Mike Douglas, Conan O'Brien, et al, over the course of her career. But, did you know that her first bout with fame (pun intended) came on The 64,000 Question. Her field of expertise? Would you believe-----boxing?

Unfortunately, the episode of The 64,000 Question has been deleted by YouTube. In its place, we present Dr. Brothers' appearance on The Amazing Kreskin's show in 1977:



Hollywood has been mourning the passings of two others in recent days. Special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen left us about a week ago, leaving behind a lifetime of work, including the "Sinbad" movies in the 70's. Meanwhile, The Young & The Restless will pay tribute later this month to cast member Jeanne Cooper, who passed on May 8 at 84. Here is Ms. Cooper's final appearance on the show, which aired 5 days earlier, on May 3:



Rest in peace.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Classic TV: The Ghost & Mrs. Muir (1968)

One of the more popular sitcom trends in the 60's involved fantasy and/or horror. However, the average lifespan for these sitcoms was about 2 years. The Munsters & The Addams Family each lasted two, and were virtually mirror images of each other, except that Addams was adapted from a popular comic strip in The New Yorker. Each series has been revived at least once, though the Addamses have a distinct advantage, as they've also been revived in animated form twice (1973 & 1992).

The Ghost & Mrs. Muir bowed on ABC in 1968, but unlike the other fantasy-coms the network had (Bewitched & The Flying Nun), this wasn't from Screen Gems and comedy chieftain Harry Ackerman. Instead, this came from 20th Century Fox, which had released a feature film version a few years earlier with Gene Tierney & Rex Harrison. In the TV version, Hope Lange & Edward Mulhare were cast in the leads, but most people might remember the show for one of its supporting players.

Charles Nelson Reilly became a television fixture thanks to Ghost, playing Claymore Gregg, a relative of the late Captain Daniel Gregg (Mulhare). Claymore was a weasel in every sense of the word, but he was a bumbling weasel, whose failings and pratfalls were worth watching. ABC suits must've liked what they saw, because Reilly moved on to a Saturday morning fantasy-com, Lidsville, after Ghost ended, before achieving iconic status when CBS revived Match Game in 1973.

Claymore is front and center in this 2nd season episode, with Joe Flynn (ex-McHale's Navy) guest-starring as a personification of the Devil himself.



Hope Lange moved on to co-star with Dick Van Dyke in his 1971 sitcom, but Edward Mulhare, after a decade of spot guest appearances, would return in a more active role in 1982's Knight Rider, which I think most people might associate him with today.

Rating: B.

Sounds of Praise: My Beloved (2013)

A few minutes ago, I was checking my e-mail at work. The pastor at my church sent me this video, but, regrettably, when the message appeared on my browser, the video wasn't there. Ok, I said, I can do something about that.

David Crowder teams with the worship group, Passion, for "My Beloved". The following concert clip comes from Passion's VEVO channel.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Major League Baseball needs to hold the umpires fully accountable----NOW!

After two botched calls earlier this week, Major League Baseball, especially commissioner Allan "Bud" Selig, cannot keep their heads in the sand on the issues of instant replay and umpire competency.

On Wednesday, Oakland's Adam Rosales hits an apparent, game-tying homer in the 9th off Cleveland closer Chris Perez. However, 3rd base umpire and crew chief Angel Hernandez, a 15 year veteran, doesn't see it clear the fence, and assumes the ball is still in play. Upon further review, when it was obvious that the call should've been reversed, Hernandez, stupidly, held his ground.

On Friday, MLB Network analyst Peter Gammons, quoted by Yahoo!, alleged that Hernandez deliberately refused to overturn the call as a form of silent protest against the replay system. Agree with him if you like, but the real issue here lies with the fact that too many umpires put themselves ahead of the integrity of the game, seemingly drunk with power. There've been too many instances that I personally have witnessed on TV of umpires missing calls involving the Mets, but that's another story altogether.

Now, let's move back to Thursday, and a clear case of umpire stupidity. Rookie manager Bo Porter of the Houston Astros caught the umps napping when he made an extra, albeit illegal, pitching change in his game vs. the Angels. Angels manager Mike Scioscia rightfully protested, but the gripe was withdrawn after the Angels won the game. Plate umpire Fieldin Culbreith was subsequently suspended 2 games (returns Sunday) for his incompetence. MLB suits claimed that the umps weren't sufficiently schooled on the particular rule. Please.

Now, here's the solution to the Oakland-Cleveland problem. MLB already said that they can't change the result. Wrong! There is a precedent to be set. You go back to the point of controversy. Game's on the line. You put the teams back out on the field, and erase everything that happened after the review. Will it change the result? We don't know. MLB didn't want to have egg on its collective corporate face 2 days in a row, so they had to punish Culbreith, who has less seniority than Hernandez, to set an example. However, the right thing to do is to add 2 extra umps on the field, like they do for the All Star Game and post-season play, and one more in the replay booth, utilizing a system not specifically unlike what's used in the NFL.

We know Selig is a moron as a commissioner, but how did we know he also hired idiots as umpires? For that, Selig, Hernandez, & Culbreith all get the Dunce Cap this week.

Does ordering pizza make you excited enough to dance? (1989)

I can recall when this first aired.

I was stretched out on my sofa at home, watching football (I think it was a Bills game on NBC), and had fallen half-asleep when the following ad for Domino's Pizza came on.



Martha Quinn had returned to MTV after more than 2 years away 7 months earlier, which had to make her legions of fans very, very happy. The fact that she ends up dancing on her sofa to the beat of the Human Beinz' "Nobody But Me" just happens to be part of the gimmick to this ad. These days, she's let her hair down much further (as anyone who's played her 80's game on MSN.com knows from seeing her picture), and, with fellow MTV alums Nina Blackwood, Alan Hunter, & Mark Goodman, is pushing a book these days, leading to an appearance earlier this week on the Today Show, I think we'll be hearing a lot more from Martha real soon......

Friday, May 10, 2013

On The Air: Cops (1989)

It is the longest running series in the history of the Fox network, ahead of The Simpsons by about a year and a half, but as this current television season draws to a close, Cops is bidding the network farewell and headed to cable.

When Jack Webb brought Dragnet to television after a lengthy radio run, he taught viewers just how police work is done. Cops, in effect, took the concept to the next level. The series criss-crossed the country, following actual police patrols, and recording arrests for broadcast. When Cops resumes production, it will air on Spike TV, as this was a case of the inevitable other shoe dropping. Fox had dropped America's Most Wanted a couple of years back, and watched that series move to cable, specificially Lifetime, which recently cancelled the series themselves. Cops reruns air in syndication and on a number of cable outlets, including Tru TV. You just can't escape it.

CopsTV (naturally) uploaded a sample clip from a show taped in Las Vegas:



Inner Circle cracked the charts with "Bad Boys", which became the show's theme. I'll find the video and post it another time.

Rating: A-.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Weasels of the Week: Titus Young, Wade Robson, and a few others......

We're handing out a whole stack of Weasel ears this week, as we couldn't settle on just one recipient.

*Titus Young's NFL career was cut short when he was cut by Detroit last season, and since no one else has taken a flier on him, Young now has a longer road to navigate after being arrested twice in less than 24 hours on separate charges. When this news became public the other day, it was obvious that Young had flushed his chances of making a NFL roster in 2013, perhaps ever again, down the drain with his stupidity.

*Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose hasn't played a minute, much less a nanosecond, this season, and yet he keeps trying to sell the media and the Chicago faithful on the idea that he could possibly make a miracle return during the playoffs. As I write, the Bulls are even at 1 game apiece against defending champion Miami, but a Yahoo! blogger wrote earlier this week, before the series started, that he didn't think Rose was actually planning on playing at all this season as he recovers from a torn ACL. So why the constant teases? Because Rose either doesn't want to let his fans down and cross the point of no return, or he just doesn't have enough faith in himself. He was cleared to practice a couple of months back, but hasn't suited up at all this year. This from the man who has prevented LeBron James from winning 5 straight league MVP awards (James just won his 4th earlier this week) by copping the honor in 2011. Rose's credibility is just about gone, and it's his own fault.

*A decade ago, Wade Robson hosted his own self-titled reality series on MTV, and later landed a dual gig as judge and choreographer on Fox's So You Think You Can Dance. He testified at one of Michael Jackson's child molestation trials that he was never harmed by Jackson in his frequent visits to the late singer's Neverland ranch in California. However, news hit on Wednesday that Robson suddenly is backtracking and contradicting his previous, sworn testimony by claiming that, yes, Jackson did molest him.

So why the turnabout? Money, of course. The Jackson family filed a lawsuit against a concert promoter, something having to do with Jackson's personal doctor at the time, Conrad Murray, who is currently in prison himself. Robson sees that there's money to be made from this, or at least was pointed in that direction, but he runs the risk of ruining his own reputation in the music industry with this lame attempt at making himself relevant all over again.

And, then, there are the gossip editors at the New York Daily News, who seem to think that the public won't tire of Kim Kardashian, one of the most overexposed people in America. Every day, the tabloid publishes a picture of the pregnant reality show star, under the heading, "Kimsanity". I'm sorry, but all they're doing is enabling this nothing happening attention magnet, when she should be at least getting a minimum of privacy. Like, she married Brooklyn Nets star Kris Humphries, only to dump him after 2 1/2 months, then took forever and a week to reach a settlement on the divorce, while moving on to her next patsy, singer-rapper Kanye West (the baby daddy). Apparently, being a stepdaughter to Olympic hero Bruce Jenner is enough, as Kim apparently either doesn't know how to fill out a----shudder---job application, or doesn't want one. I've got three words for Kim, and this applies to the tabloids and the paparazzi who follow her around like wounded puppies. Please. Go. Away.

Classic TV: The Mike Douglas Show (1961)

When I was growing up, it was virtually appointment television to watch The Mike Douglas Show after school. Oh, sure, I'd miss part of the show due to dinner, as it aired right before the 6:00 news, but it was a little bit of "comfort food", if you will.

Douglas began his show as a local entity in Cleveland in 1961, then went national 2 years later, landing a deal with Group W (Westinghouse), which would remain in place for the next 17 years before changing syndicators for the final 2 seasons of the series.

The format was different. A guest-co-host would join Douglas for a full week (5 days), mostly to help with interviews. There would be the comedy & musical acts virtually every show, and it was a lot of fun. Douglas ended the series in 1982 after a grand total of 21 seasons, as the talk-variety show was slowly being phased out of daytime in favor of straight talk shows that would soon broach more controversial topics once considered taboo.

Following is a 1968 clip with Judy Garland, who is interviewed by Douglas before performing her signature song, "Over The Rainbow" (from "The Wizard of Oz"). Uploaded by AllAboutJudy, a Garland fan channel on YouTube:



A slogan used in the 70's certainly fit. "Mike Makes Your Day". Indeed, he did.

Rating: A.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Classic TV: Father Dowling Mysteries (1989)

At the end of the 80's, it was becoming a trend to cast veteran stars as lawyers or detectives of various stripes.

At the forefront of the trend were producers Dean Hargrove & Fred Silverman. They had successfully revived Perry Mason, with Raymond Burr playing Erle Stanley Gardner's famous lawyer in a series of TV movies until Burr's passing in the 90's. They then cast Andy Griffith as Matlock, a Georgia lawyer who wasn't quite as polished as Mason----or was he?

For their next trick, Hargrove & Silverman produced a TV movie for NBC that adapted Ralph McInerny's crime solving priest, Father Dowling. A weekly series followed, beginning in the winter of '89, but NBC put it on the wrong night, it seems, and gave up on Father Dowling Mysteries after 1 season. ABC acquired the show and kept it running for 2 more seasons. ABC would later acquire Matlock at the end of its run, as well.

Tom Bosley (ex-Happy Days) was cast in the title role, coming over from Murder, She Wrote, where he cut his crime-solving teeth as Sheriff Amos Tucker. Frank Dowling was a Catholic priest based out of Chicago who kept running across murders and other crimes, then aided the police with the assistance of a streetwise nun, Sister Steve (Tracy Nelson), who seemed to be more at home picking locks and shooting pool while searching for clues.

As noted, ABC pulled the plug, but while they moved the series to Thursdays, they couldn't break NBC's stranglehold on the ratings in the early years of "Must-See TV". ABC would've been better served airing Dowling on Tuesdays......!

SpudTV uploaded the open:



Cable's Family Channel (now ABC Family) aired repeats during the 90's, but the series is in the vaults somewhere. Luckily, it's on DVD, if you can find it.

Rating: A.

Monday, May 6, 2013

What Might've Been: Quark (1977)

In the 60's, Buck Henry helped Mel Brooks create Get Smart. To date, it happens to be the most successful venture for either man in television. Henry, on his own, followed with Captain Nice a year and a half later, but that failed to win viewers. After making some appearances on Saturday Night Live, Henry landed another series. However, Quark was a victim of bad timing.

Quark was a series comeback vehicle for Richard Benjamin (ex-He & She), cast in the title role of an operator of.........a garbage scow. Well, no one would ever suspect that a galactic garbage truck would save the universe now, right? Of course not, and that was the whole point. Adam Quark answered to a snarky politico, Otto Palindrome (Conrad Janis), and had a bizarre crew, which included a humanoid plant, an android, and a sort-of-transgendered fellow with a split personality (Tim Thomerson). Throw in the Barnstable twins as dual navigators, and, well, it seemed as though Henry was aiming for the Star Trek crowd, as the pilot for this series aired a few short months before "Star Wars" made sci-fi cool again. However, it took a year before Quark would return to begin a weekly run, and that was where NBC made their mistake, waiting too long to take advantage of a potentially hot commodity.

Cancellation, however, was good for Conrad Janis, as he'd soon return as Fred McConnell on Mork & Mindy, but these days is better known for having moved on to conduct orchestras in real life.

Quarkscow serves up the first half of the pilot.



The bottom line is that Quark was one of those shows that was ahead of its time, and when NBC finally got it on the air, viewers opted to ignore it. Their loss.

Rating: B-.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Ultimate Wrestling East @ Troy Boys & Girls Club, 5/5/13.

It's been six weeks since 787 Pro Wrestling's last show. Now, the promotion is known as Ultimate Wrestling East, and today's show, billed as "Redline", drew the smallest crowd to date. Whether it was because parents opted against returning after some issues last time, I don't know, but there were some other issues that cropped up today.

The fans weren't admitted into the gym until 2:10, even though the doors to the Troy Boys & Girls Club were open on time. Some of the talent was running late, and that started a chain reaction of sorts. The bleachers remained closed, so either you had to improvise, or you'd get to mingle with the ringsiders, even if you paid less for your ticket than they did. Things like this happen, and you learn from such misfortune.

Anyway, there were two pre-show matches. The first featured Doink, billed as the "Clown Prince of Professional Wrestling". No, I don't know who was under the makeup. His opponent was a masked newcomer, whose name I couldn't quite catch due to the faulty sound system. Anyway, it was old school Doink was in effect, as he won by tap-out. The second bout introduced two more newcomers, Harley Cruise vs. Ben Ortiz. Cruise won this in a quick squash, and would return later.

The show proper finally began around 2:40, and ring announcer Brian Cady came out with General Manager J. P. Black, who's otherwise sidelined due to injury. Black, in turn, called out Lenn Oddity and Chris Envy, who were tied in a internet fan poll to determine a #1 contender for the UWE title, held by Vik Dalishus. Black's decision here was an easy one, as it'll be a triple threat for the title.

Now, for the matches:

1. Este Tipo def. Randy Walker. Randy's valet-wife, Brandi, was in absentia this time, so Randy had to push the wheelbarrow into the ring himself. Not that it changed his luck any, since he lost again. Tipo used a codebreaker to pick up the win. Well, it is Cinco de Mayo, after all.

2. Dalton Castle def. Kriptic Keegan. Keegan's one of these guys who really needs to do less talking smack and more wrestling if he's finally going to reach the winner's circle. Funny thing. Some fans were "Fandangoing" after the match, as the WWE wrestler's theme played over the loudspeaker at a low volume. Castle won with a rudimentary wrestling move, a German suplex and bridge.

3. Bill Carr, who debuted last time, def. Foxx Vinyer. Vinyer tried to cut a promo to explain why he turned on Rob Coleman last time, but was cut off. That story will continue. Carr was a WWE developmental trainee at one time, but didn't pass muster. Right now, Vince McMahon is wishing he hadn't cut the guy. Carr won with a sweet looking Black Hole Slam, which makes Wade Barrett's version, Winds of Change, look like, well, chump change.

4. Hale Collins, another man who debuted in March, def. Adam Badger. The UWE website crowed that Badger was getting a tryout with a bigger promotion in New York last month, but apparently things didn't go so well. Too, Badger didn't learn anything from Keegan's mistakes earlier, and wasted too much time talking smack to the ringsiders. Back to the drawing board for "The Spectacle".

5. UWE tag titles: The Monarchy def. Harley Cruise & Shane Alden. Once again, the Outkast Killaz came to the aid of the Monarchy, this time accompanied by some yuppie geek who apparently is a business associate of Marshall McNeil. Dalton Castle came back out with a chair to chase off the Killaz, but the Monarchy took advantage of the distraction, and Alden was pinned. They have 0 credibility as long as McNeil has the Killaz on retainer, but as we would later see, that may soon change.

6. CJ Scott def. Kyle Badger by tap-out. Interstate champion Coconut Jones was kept off the card due to a concussion at the hands of Scott 6 weeks ago, but may be back to battle "The Wolf" next time. Scott had been using the package piledriver as a finisher, but not this time, and varied the offense by going to a submission finish.

7. Bobby Fish def. Rob Coleman. Fish, 1/2 of the Ring of Honor tag champs, reDRagon, was another one doing a lot of talking, but his antics made this match more fun, as people were laughing as if this was a bit from the Harlem Globetrotters. Vinyer came back out to continue his issue with Coleman by pushing his ex-partner off the top rope, then hid under the ring. The sad part was, the ref saw it, and had to act like he didn't. A ringsider pointed out Vinyer to the dunce ref as Vinyer went under the ring, but Fish picked up the fall. Vinyer never came out where I could see, so he had to have slithered out the other side, and worked his way back to the locker room. Meanwhile, Fish had to be restrained from going after the fan, who in turn met with Black to address his concerns. Uh-oh.

For what it's worth, due likely to logistics more than anything else, Fish and partner Kyle O'Reilly weren't booked to appear for ROH in Toronto this weekend.

8. The Outkast Killaz def. the Joint Task Force. Diablo Santiago wore some sort of ceremonial mask to the ring, the kind associated with witch doctors, I believe. Anyway, these guys didn't need any help from their manager or the Monarchy, and took care of business on their own just fine, thanks. Post-match, Yuppie Yutzie put on the mask, which was a big no-no. Santiago & Oman Tortuga turned on Mr. No-Name and left him lying. Something tells me that after they settle up with the Peacock Experience, the Monarchy are next!

9. UWE title: Vik Dalishus def. Chris Envy & Lenn Oddity. The Fandango theme hit again, and Keegan, who joined JP Black at the timekeeper's table, was doing some Fandangoing, along with some of the fans. Dalishus tried to get his opponents to play along, after Oddity had used a deck of cards on him earlier, but no sale. Angle at the end. Bonnie, Oddity's wife-valet, got on the apron, which was new for her. Dalishus went after her with Lenn incapacitated. Envy tried to help, but barely collided with Mrs. Oddity, who fell awkwardly and sold a leg injury the rest of the way. Dalishus hit a classic belly-to-belly suplex on Envy, ending the match. After, he continued the attack. Lenn Oddity came back with a chair, then let it go, basically turning on Envy for accidentally hitting Bonnie. Dalishus used the chair on Envy, but then a young girl hit the ring and pleaded with Dalishus to stop. Bill Carr came back to make the save, and after some back and forth facilitated by Black, we have a title match at the next show, tentatively set for June 9, which is also the Flag Day parade here in the home district.

Some of the issues last time may have included language. Oman Tortuga dropped an F-bomb, and promptly apologized, which may have gotten the crowd on the side of the Killaz by the end of the day. In speaking with ring announcer Brian Cady after the show, I learned that "Buttery" Bert Williams was scratched from the 3/24 show because he had retired due to an injury, ending a career of more than a decade spent entirely in the indies. All the best to Bert in his next venture.

Again, the June 9 date isn't set in stone, but watch the UWE website for more details.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

In Theatres: Iron Man 3 (2013)

For the 4th time in 6 years, Robert Downey, Jr. dons the armor of "Iron Man", but, judging from this third outing, something is wrong with the translation of classic comics storylines into the movies.

Jon Favreau turned in his director's cap, though he remains a producer and co-stars as Happy Hogan, newly promoted to head of security for Stark Enterprises, as was the case in the comics way back in the day. However, the power of his new office has gone to Hogan's head (gee, doesn't that sound familiar, wrestling fans?), and it would ultimately prove costly. An old business rival, Killian (Guy Pearce), whom Stark blew off on New Year's Eve more than 13 years ago, has returned, and while the company he founded, Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM), was only a passing reference in terms of the overall story, that only begins the slew of mistakes in the script, co-authored by director Shane Black.

Apparently, Black didn't do as much homework as he should've. Instead, "Iron Man 3" falls more toward Black's most famous cinematic effort, "Lethal Weapon", as if he was asking Downey and Don Cheadle (House of Lies) to audition for him in case he wants to reboot the Mel Gibson-Danny Glover movie series for a new audience. Worse, one of the Golden Avenger's oldest foes, the Mandarin, is deconstructed as a mere actor (Ben Kingsley), and looks more like an analogue for the late Osama bin Laden. In Black's mind, Mandarin is merely a front for Killian and his "human bombs", agents injected with a formula that turns their bodies into IED's at a moment's notice. In this regard, Kingsley, while hamming it up when confronted first by Stark, then by Stark and James Rhodes (Cheadle), becomes a less believable menace. Not good.

And, then, of course, there is Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), Stark's girlfriend, who is now a high ranking major domo in the company. In a brief bit of fanservice to recent comics readers, Potts briefly wears the armor to help pull a houseguest-cum-spy out of Stark's home after he stupidly gave Killian an open invitation to attack. In the comics, Stark wouldn't have been that brazen or mindless. Killian later captures Pepper and turns her into a potential walking bomb, but, well..........!

Rhodes, meanwhile, has had his heroic identity upgraded from War Machine to Iron Patriot. In the comics, the Iron Patriot handle had been used by a master villain not long ago (Norman Osborn), so this is perhaps some foreshadowing towards something to come, though one cannot be certain of that. Of course, Stan Lee gets in his obligatory 5 seconds of face time, this time as a beauty pageant judge. At least he ain't in harm's way, like he was in "Incredible Hulk" 5 years ago. The final battle between Stark & Killian was anti-climatic, predictable, and, well, less satisfying than the first two films.

Was there a post-credits teaser? You bet there was, but it ain't tied to the "Avengers" franchise. Instead, a certain Marvel Doctor may be making a house call at the multiplex real soon.

Meanwhile, scope the trailer.



Last and least, friends, the story-within-a-story of Stark and a Tennessee kid teaming to get the armor back up and running now explains Verizon's ad campaign tie-in to the movie. Oh, yeah, there is the predictable product placement.

Some people think this was better than the last film. No, I don't think so. Taking some classic stories from the late 70's through the 90's, by creators like David Michelinie and Warren Ellis, and deconstructing them so's to make it look like "Lethal Weapon" with super powers, was just wrong. Still, it'll be #1 at the box office. The "Marvel zombies" will flock like sheep. They usually do.

Rating: C.

Friday, May 3, 2013

What Might've Been: Carter Country (1977)

With Jimmy Carter in the White House, someone decided to create a sitcom set in the then-President's home state of Georgia. Regrettably, Carter Country was off the air before Carter lost his re-election bid in 1980.

ABC smartly placed the series on Thursday nights, and if memory serves, it was hammocked between two hit series, Welcome Back, Kotter & Barney Miller, so it should've lasted longer than it did. Like the New York-set Miller, Carter Country had a fairly decent ensemble cast, headed up by Victor French, who came over from (and returned to) Little House on the Prarie to star as police chief Roy Mobley.

Much of the laughs were either generated by Clinton Corners Mayor Teddy Burnside (Richard Paul), who seemed more interested in delegating tasks to Chief Mobley than actually doing his job, or Mobley's officers (Harvey Vernon & Guich Koock). Kene Holliday made his debut on this series, but would later resurface in a dramatic role nearly a decade later on Matlock. Vernee Watson was actually pulling double duty, as she was also heard on Saturday mornings as one of Captain Caveman's Teen Angels, launching a voice acting career that has been more prolific than her work in front of the camera.

Gilmore Box uploaded the open:



As noted, after Carter Country ended, Victor French returned to Little House on the Prarie to resume his role as Mr. Edwards, and of course, his association with Michael Landon would continue with Highway To Heaven after that.

Rating: B.

Dunce Cap Award: John Doe

This is something I just had to share, because it just happened en route to work.

I had made it in time to catch the 7:40 CDTA #22 bus (Albany-Troy via Watervliet), but it didn't reach my stop until 7:49 am (ET). I initially figured the driver was on an extended layover. I figured wrong.

As the bus reached Menands a few minutes ago, there were two Menands Police cruisers stationed near a bus shelter, a short distance from a tiny mini-mall that houses Price Chopper and Rite Aid as its anchors. One passenger was getting off, but the issue was with a guy who had been on an earlier run, and left behind a bag containing his bus pass. Turns out the driver found not only the pass, but also-----wait for it----some crack cocaine. Naturally, she reported the drugs, and Joe Blow was in police custody. He'd flagged down the bus, not knowing it was going to stop there anyway, and tried to get his pass back. That's when the driver told him she'd found the crack and, in essence, had ratted him out. The last I saw, as I was walking from Riverview Center (the former Montgomery Ward building) to my job, the cruisers were on their way back to the station, with this week's winner of both the Weasel of the Week and Dunce Cap Award in the back seat of one of them.

Comedian Ron White is credited with popularizing the phrase, "you can't fix stupid". Our for-now-anonymous Weasel hasn't figured that out yet.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Classic TV: The Johnny Cash Show (1969)

What started as a summer replacement for The Hollywood Palace in June 1969 managed to hang around for 2 years (3 seasons), one of what seemed to be an infinite number of variety shows on the air in those days. The Johnny Cash Show may have ended a wee bit too soon, cancelled by ABC in 1971 (doing their own rural purge, if you will), but it remains a classic.

The show was taped in Nashville, and attracted not only other country stars, but pop & rock acts, such as Creedence Clearwater Revival, Gordon Lightfoot, and, in the series opener, Bob Dylan. Cash, you'll recall, crossed over between the pop & country charts early in his career, much like his peers, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Cash, "The Man in Black", was joined onstage by wife June and the Statler Brothers. If you've seen infomercial clips of Cash leading June and the Statlers in performing "Daddy Sang Bass", those clips come from this episode:



Co-executive producer Bill Carruthers would later try his hand at producing game shows. His production company co-produced the series with Screen Gems, and Sony, at last check, retains the rights. A "Best of" package is available on DVD, and it's doubtful, due to rights & clearances issues, that full episodes will see the light of day on DVD.

Rating: A.

Chris "Mac Daddy" Kelly (Kris Kross)(1979-2013)

He was a star at the age of 13, toured with Michael Jackson (and appeared in the self-proclaimed King of Pop's video for "Jam"), and it seemed the sky was the limit. Today, however, we are mourning the passing of Chris Kelly, aka Mac Daddy, one half of the rap duo Kris Kross, who was found dead in his home in Georgia at the age of 34 after an apparent drug overdose.

Kris Kross burst onto the scene in 1992 with their debut CD, "Totally Krossed Out", which produced the high energy single, "Jump". The duo was discovered by rapper-producer Jermaine Dupri and signed to his So So Def label. They even appeared at the label's 20th anniversary show earlier this year, and made VH1's list of top child stars.

But, as with most recording acts of the 80's and 90's, fans veered away from Kris Kross and on to the "next big thing", with 1996's "Young, Rich, & Dangerous" being the duo's last CD to date.

"Jump" comes from Kris Kross' VEVO channel:



Rest in peace, Chris.