Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Musical Interlude: Sea Cruise (1959)

The rain came pouring down in the Northeast overnight, such that you'd swear Noah would be on his way in due course. Just kidding. On the other hand, for those of you on dry land, even though summer ended a week ago, why not envision a "Sea Cruise" with Frankie Ford? This clip comes from Dick Clark's Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show, and is in memory of Ford, who passed away recently.


The silly season's about to begin

In a little more than a week, the baseball playoffs will begin. Once again, both wild cards come from the same division (Central) in the National League, and since all five playoff spots have been filled in the NL, we'll take a look at that first. AL preview on Sunday.

Wild Card round:

Since the Cardinals, Cubs, & Pirates are all tightly bunched, the division hasn't been decided as of this writing. However, let's assume the Cards hang on to win the division, leaving the Cubs & Pirates to duke it out to take on their division rival. If anything changes by the weekend, we'll note it on Sunday. Anyway, Cubs management brought Joe Maddon over from Tampa Bay to finally get the team back to the post-season, and he's succeeded. A division title would've been even sweeter. The Cubs are young, hungry, and barring injuries and/or stupid decisions by management or certain greedy "agents" (Scott Boras, especially), they'll be here for a while. We like the Cubs over Pittsburgh, and, then, to upset the Cardinals in the division series.

The sure matchup was finalized on Tuesday when the Los Angeles Dodgers repeated as NL West champs, eliminating defending World Series champ San Francisco on the strength of a 1-hitter by Clayton Kershaw. All that's left is to decide who gets home field for the division series vs. the East champion Mets, beginning on 10/9. While Don Mattingly's club has two solid aces in Kershaw and Zack Greinke, the Mets' "Young Guns" (Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom) have become media darlings, although Harvey has that albatross on his neck (Boras). Kershaw has flopped in the playoffs the last two years, but, if I'm right, he won't see St. Louis this year anyway. The Mets won the season series between the two teams, 4-3, winning 2 in LA and splitting a 4-set at Citi Field, all in July. The changes they made since the latter series have made them a more dangerous proposition.

The Pick: If the Mets can get into the Dodger bullpen, as they did vs. Greinke in July, they could pull the upset, and that would spell the end of Mattingly's time in LA. Mets in 5. Cubs in 5.

The Central Division was the Mets' kryptonite this season, as they went 0-13 vs. the Cubs & Pirates, but swept Cincinnati, winning all 7 meetings, to finish 13-20 vs. the Central. They'll play the Cubs in the NLCS with revenge on their minds, plus the fact that the Cubs haven't seen Matz yet. Right now, Terry Collins and Joe Maddon are 1-2 for Manager of the Year in the NL. That's not going to change.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

On The Air: Blindspot (2015)

50 years ago, Larry Cohen had developed the story of an amnesiac struggling to learn his identity while on the run from enemy spies. Unfortunately, it took a year and a half before Coronet Blue hit the air. By the time it did, its star, Frank Converse, had moved on to another series, and so Coronet was cancelled after just the 1 season.

One wonders if Martin Gero, the creator of NBC's new series, Blindspot, was inspired by Coronet Blue. His amnesiac protagonist is a woman (Jaimie Alexander, "Thor") whose memory was wiped by an unknown man who will go to any lengths to protect whatever secrets he has, including who Jane Doe really is.

If the whole concept of a season-long, overarching mystery sounds familiar, that's because Blindspot also counts among its executive producers Greg Berlanti (Arrow, The Flash, Mysteries of Laura), who will add a 2nd Monday series, CBS' Supergirl, next month. In the case of Blindspot, each individual episode will reveal at least one significant part of Jane's past, tied to the tattoos she now wears.

Let's take a look at the series opener, courtesy of Hulu:




Oh, I think romance will develop ere long between Jane and FBI agent Kurt Weller (Sullivan Stapleton), but something tells me it won't end so well.

Rating: B+.

Forgotten TV: Wrestling Society X (2007)

In recent years, Empty-V has had more of a love-hate, mostly hate, relationship with wrestling.

The network farmed out WWE's Sunday Night Heat to step-sister network Spike TV in 2003, signaling the end of its involvement with the wrestling business. However, three years later, Empty-V was back in----sort of.

Wrestling Society X was a short-lived promotion that died only because Empty-V sat on the tapes longer than they had any right to. The pilot was shot in February 2006. Five months later, Empty-V green-lighted the series, which was taped in November. However, viewers had to wait until February 2007, one year after the pilot, before the series would air. Why is that? To this day, I still don't have a clue. The only thing I can figure is that there might've been a change in administration at Empty-V, and they wanted to get rid of WSX as soon as possible. The ratings weren't there, even with under-advertised Friday previews airing the first two weeks (the show actually aired on Tuesdays), and then it quickly went downhill. Some matches that didn't make it onto broadcast television aired instead online.

What WSX aspired to be, billed as a sort-of underground promotion, later was a success for Lucha Underground, which will return in 2016 on El Rey. Ironically, the last WSX champ, Ricky Banderas, is the current LU champ under the guise of Mil Muertes.

Let's take a look at a sample match. Three of the four guys in the ring are familiar to fans of WWE, TNA, and Ring of Honor.



"Magnum" Joey Ryan later went to TNA, but his stay was brief and uneventful. Then again, TNA is so messed up, it isn't funny. Tyler Black & Jimmy Jacobs moved to Ring of Honor, and "Doin' It For Her" morphed into Age of the Fall, leading to a couple of tag team title runs. Today, Jacobs is a writer-trainer for NXT, WWE's developmental program. Black jumped to WWE a few years earlier and adopted the ring name Seth Rollins. He's the current WWE World champ, but has been packaged poorly, perhaps on purpose because of past success in ROH, presented to audiences as a whiny, cowardly, paranoid champion with zero credibility. Blame that, of course, on Vince McMahon, who won't accept the fact that there are guys who've succeeded elsewhere before signing with his company.

The WSX roster included a who's who, including WWE alums 6-Pac (Sean "X-Pac" Waltman) and Aaron Aguilera, Vampiro (now with Lucha Underground), Jack Evans (ditto), Matt Sydal (currently with ROH after a stint in WWE), & Matt Cross (Son of Havoc in LU), who would appear during the 2011 version of Tough Enough.

Rating: B-.

Monday, September 28, 2015

What Might've Been: Me & The Chimp (1972)

It has been derided as one of the worst sitcoms of all time. The funny thing is, it came from the mind of one of the most prolific writer-producers in television history, Garry Marshall.

The Odd Couple was halfway through its second season at ABC when Marshall made what I thought might be his first sale to CBS. Me & The Chimp was a mid-season replacement series that bowed in January 1972, and lasted three months on the air. Apparently, Marshall and co-creator Thomas Miller hadn't learned anything from the failure of The Hathaways at ABC a few years earlier. It's one thing to showcase a chimp in a dramatic series in an appropriate setting (i.e. Daktari), but another altogether to put a chimp in a domestic sitcom.

Ted Bessell (ex-That Girl) played a dentist, and the titular chimp, Buttons, was the playmate of his two children (Scott Kolden & Kami Cotler). Anita Gillette, more familiar from appearing on almost every game show on the planet back in those days, played Ted's wife.

Let's take a look at a sample episode, and see if you can figure out where Marshall & Miller went wrong.




In this writer's opinion, and bear in mind, I never saw the show when it first aired, substituting a chimp for a dog or a cat makes this no different than your average sitcom. Marshall just wanted to be different. Unfortunately, unless I'm mistaken, Marshall didn't sell another series to CBS, though some of his writers and producers, such as Mark Rothman & Lowell Ganz, would develop shows at Paramount for the network. Marshall enjoyed his greatest success at ABC, and would strike gold 2 years later with Happy Days.

As for the cast, it'd be several years before either Anita Gillette or Ted Bessell would land another series. Gillette got about 2 years out of The Baxters, but Bessell would bomb again. Kami Cotler moved directly into The Waltons the following fall. A year later, Scott Kolden would resurface on the NBC Saturday morning series, Sigmund & the Sea Monsters, which would run for 3 years.

Based on what I saw in the above video, this merits a C.

On CD: Before The Crowd (2015)

Rare is the time when an artist from the home district makes the jump to the national stage. Sean Rowe did it not long ago, appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and likely will make a return trip down the road. The next time, though, he may not be alone.

Maurizio hails from the Sycaway section of Troy, and has been playing, either solo or with a band, for roughly 25 years (Yeah, that long already. Time does fly!). Rather than delve into his history, at the risk of embarrassing the guy, let's talk about his debut CD, "Before The Crowd".

His musical DNA suggests a mix of John Mellencamp, Tom Petty, and early period Bob Dylan, with a juicy splash of 60's Motown (Think Marvin Gaye, especially on "I Just Spent My Last Dime"), with maybe some Beatles thrown in. The local critics who passed on the release party over the weekend didn't know what they were missing. Their loss.

"Crowd" opens with the ethereal "Breathe" & "Elizabeth Fades", then jumps to the Motown-centric "I Just Spent My Last Dime", which should get some radio airplay ere long, and not just on college channels, mind you. "Radio Waves" is an ode dedicated to the singer's late sister, Grace, a Peace Corps volunteer, while another sister is honored with "My Sister Rose". Though nine tracks are listed on the back cover, an unadvertised bonus (10th) track brings everything full circle. What a delicious mix.

Pay heed, students. Chances are pretty good Maurizio will be trading barbs with Jimmy Fallon or Stephen Colbert sooner rather than later. The cynics can stop with the nonsense about "Smallbany" and "Troylets".

Rating: A++.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

What Might've Been: Ace Crawford, Private Eye (1983)

In the 60's, Tim Conway's 1st post-McHale's Navy project had him skewering Westerns in Rango, which lasted half a season. His last sitcom, 1983's Ace Crawford, Private Eye, barely got past a month.

I think part of the problem might've been that Conway, who co-created this series, had put himself in an unenviable position, trying to duplicate what had made him so popular as part of an ensemble on McHale, as a well meaning bumbler. In fact, when you think about it, Conway basically remade Rango as Ace Crawford, subbing the hard-boiled private eye genre for Westerns.

The supporting cast included Shera Danese (Mrs. Peter Falk), Joe Regalbuto (a few years before Murphy Brown made him a big star), and Billy Barty, long associated with the Kroffts back in the 70's (i.e. The Bugaloos, Sigmund & the Sea Monsters). Had Conway tried to do a straight crime drama to demonstrate some range, this wouldn't have been written off by viewers for what it was, not so much a parody, but Conway treading a trail already blazed. Bear in mind, too, that the Zuckers' Police Squad! met a similar fate a year earlier, but was successfully resurrected in a series of movies. Ace Crawford? Not so much.

Gilmore Box offers the intro:




No rating. Tuesdays at my house meant The A-Team in those days.

Maurizio w/Eric Margan & the Rodeo Barons @ the Hangar, 9/26/15

A quick history lesson before we begin.

The Hangar is Troy's best kept secret these days. A converted medical supplies building on River Street, the venue has begun booking concerts in addition to hosting monthly burlesque shows (no lie; they're trying to bring burlesque back a few years after the movie "Moulin Rouge" should've done that). The building also is so named because the roof resembles an airport hangar. Get it?

On Saturday night, hometown talent Maurizio had the premiere party for his solo debut CD, "Before The Crowd", which we'll get to soon enough. He accurately described the evening as a "family affair", and it was, in more ways than one. Co-producer James Gascoyne also played with both opening acts on the bill.

Eric Margan went on first at 8:30 (show was advertised for an 8:00 start, but almost nothing starts on time in these cases), and warmed up the small, appreciative, enthusiastic crowd with a smart, soft 20 minute set that had ye scribe wishing it could've gone longer. He's that good.

The Rodeo Barons went on stage at 9, and played about 45 minutes of driving alt.-folk-rock. Guitarist-vocalist Chris Carey would probably blush if someone said he was the love child of Conan O'Brien and the late Dave Madden (Reuben from The Partridge Family). Carey said he had CD's of his own for sale in his truck, and never brought them into the Hangar. Would've sold like hotcakes, trust me. Would like to see these guys again. It's been years since I've done the club scene (20, in fact) with any regularity, and that could change, thanks.

Carey, Gascoyne, and drummer Sam (I Am) Zucchini stayed on to play behind Maurizio, who played "Before The Crowd" in its entirety, in track order. With a voice that falls into the Bob Dylan/Tom Petty/John Mellencamp range with a healthy dose of retro-Motown soul (i.e. Marvin Gaye), Maurizio looked and sounded like he was having fun, even as he shared the story of the four year process in preparing the album. The show ended at 11:05 after 65 minutes of solid rock. While engineer Frank Moscowicz took a quick curtain call, if he had stood up any longer, he might've been mistaken for one of the guys from The Big Bang Theory (It's the hair, as Maurizio deduced, that makes Moscowicz a ringer for actor Johnny Galecki. No lie. If enough people notice, maybe he'll change his name to Leonard!).

Sadly, the local papers whiffed on promoting the show, even though The Record's long time music critic, Don Wilcock, also contributes to the Nippertown website. The Record, Times-Union, & Metroland all focused instead on the next show at the Hangar, guitarist Wayne Hancock, coming up on Wednesday. Nippertown may have, in fact, been the only place folks would've known about the show. Posters were readily visible in sections of downtown for weeks, but the audience consisted almost entirely of family & friends. All this critic can say is, more, please. What a night!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

On The Air: The People's Court (1981)

If you remember 1988's "Rain Man", you might recall that The People's Court was the favorite TV show of Raymond Babbitt (Dustin Hoffman), an autistic savant. The series had been on the air for 7 years by the time Barry Levinson's film was released, and after a 4 year break in the mid-90's, continues today, although the show's format has been tweaked some.

The People's Court premiered in 1981, not long after I graduated from high school. Judge Joseph Wapner was even immortalized in the lyrics of Young MC's "Got More Rhymes" on the rapper's 1989 debut CD. That's how much of a pop culture icon the jurist had become by that point. Wapner presided over the Court for 12 seasons (1981-93), a record long since eclipsed by Judge Judy. Warner Bros., which acquired Lorimar-Telepictures well before Wapner's term ended, decided to convince producers Stu Billett and Ralph Edwards to revive the series in 1997 after a 4 year hiatus, but as the now hour-long People's Court begins its 19th season in its current incarnation, it is on its third judge.

Former New York City Mayor Edward Koch was tapped in 1997 to preside over the new Court, which was curious in that Koch wasn't a jurist, but was selected largely because of his own status as a pop culture icon, particularly in NYC. Koch lasted a couple of seasons before Billett, Edwards, and Harvey Levin decided to go after the then-upstart Judge Judy by hiring Judy Sheinlin's husband, Jerry, as the new judge. He lasted 1 1/2 seasons before being ousted in favor of current judge Marilyn Milian.

So, why a 1 hour show today, when it was just fine as a half-hour show originally? Times change. Half-hour shows are packaged in one hour blocks in syndication today for ratings purposes, with few exceptions. It's why the current incarnation of Family Feud, for example, has two episodes a day instead of one, and it's own iconic status helps immensely as that franchise approaches 40 years next year. The hour-long blocks are designed to counter-program the tabloid talk shows, such as Jerry Springer, or, in the case of Feud in the home district, late afternoon news blocks.

Digression over. I don't know of any cabler that is running classic repeats of the Wapner era, and that's a shame, because the fatherly Wapner probably would frown over the current state of courtroom shows.

Anyway, here's a classic from the Wapner era. Part of the open has been edited.



Rating: A.

Friday Night Lights: Troy celebrates Homecoming vs. Bishop Maginn, 9/25/15

Four years ago, I attended my first Troy High football game, the delayed home opener vs. Bishop Maginn. Troy routed the Griffins that night, 48-7, but one takeaway I took from that night was the lack of support on the Maginn side of the field. The visitors' bleachers were barely occupied. It didn't make sense.

Flash forward to last night, and Homecoming at Troy. The bleachers on the Troy side were filled, more so than they were opening night vs. Queensbury. Maginn? Still suffering from a lack of visible support from parents, alumni, etc.. The school just relocated recently, their new building not far from the Empire State Plaza, and enrollment is way down. The Griffins dressed just 21 players for the game, or roughly half of Troy's roster. Just about everyone knew it would be another rout, especially considering that last year, Maginn beat Troy.

John Germinerio started at QB for Troy, and, as was the case last week vs. Amsterdam, he didn't run much himself to protect an injured ankle that may or may not be 100%. On the other hand, Troy's running game showed it was more than Damani Soares, who scored the first two touchdowns of the game in the 1st quarter, and had a 3rd one called back on a penalty in the 2nd half. Soares was "held", if you will, to 80 yards rushing for the night. The defense contributed, as Reid Crobok returned a fumble 27 yards for a score to put the game away in the 3rd. Maginn coach Joe Grasso made a change, having Dylan Storm & Joe Ward trade places. Storm wasn't listed as a QB, but started at the position. His primary role is as a wide receiver, and he scored both Maginn touchdowns on passes from Ward. Troy improved to 4-0 with the 46-16 win.

Germinerio was lifted in the 2nd half with Troy comfortably in front, and Joe Casale & Nick Pastore shared QB duties for the rest of the game. Pastore is also the team's placekicker, and for some odd reason had a bad night, with 1 PAT in 4 tries. His kickoffs were fine, but I don't know if it's nerves or something else entirely, but he missed his last three PAT's. Two went wide left, and another was a low liner than barely hit the crossbar. Troy's defense forced six Maginn turnovers, as it's already a lost season for the Griffins, now 0-4.

What most folks came for, however, was the crowning of the Class of '16 Homecoming Queen. Ariana Judge earned the honors, which got the biggest applause of the night. I'm not kidding. After the ceremony, and with the game for all intents and purposes over, some fans started for the exits.

The home portion of the schedule ends next week with Senior Night vs. Averill Park, which in turn starts Troy on a 3-game series vs. Suburban Council schools, as they finish on the road vs. Mohanasen & Niskayuna. Can they run the table? We'll find out soon enough.

Friday, September 25, 2015

What Might've Been: The Silent Force (1970)

With The Silent Force, ABC had asked producer Aaron Spelling to develop what was meant to be their answer to CBS' Mission: Impossible, which was a huge hit. Unfortunately, Silent Force was only a half-hour show, not enough time, really, to tell the stories they wanted to.

Worse, it was airing opposite Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In over on NBC. Game over, as Silent Force barely got into the following calendar year before being cancelled.

Ed Nelson (ex-Peyton Place) toplined as government agent Ward Fuller. Lynda Day (George) would move to Mission: Impossible the following season after the departure of Barbara Bain.

MattTheSaiyan offers this promo.



Too bad this ain't out on DVD, because it could've been good television on a different night.

No rating.

Celebrity Rock: RM486 (2015)

Rose McGowan hasn't been heard from much since Charmed ended its run a few years ago, but now her career's taken a decidedly different turn.

Perhaps taking after her ex, shock rocker Marilyn Manson, McGowan has released her first single, "RM486". I will caution ahead of time that parental discretion is advised for the following clip, as McGowan, under heavy makeup, appears topless for a little bit.



Ethereal, surreal, spooky, all in one.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Musical Interlude: How 'Bout Us (1981)

Does anyone remember the R & B group Champaign?

Named for a Chicago suburb, Champaign peaked at #6 on the Hot 100 with "How 'Bout Us", which was released as a single in January 1981.




The song has been covered a few times since, most notably by Grayson Hugh & Betty Wright in 1988, Lulu in 1993, and by former Three Dog Night vocalist Chuck Negron around 1995-6.

Dumb Donald passes the buck on the birthers

"Dumb Donald is really dumb...."---Gene Rayburn, Match Game, during the 70's.

After being accosted by a dimwitted birther wannabe recently, at which point he didn't agree or disagree with the man's notion that President Obama is a Muslim, "Dumb" Donald Trump is playing pass the buck by claiming that it was no less than Hillary Rodham Clinton who supposedly started the birther movement 7 years ago when she & Obama were running against each other for the Democratic nomination.

Had "Swillary" actually raised any issues about the then-Senator Obama's birth then, it would've been major headlines for days. But, no, only a few stragglers in the Clinton campaign formed their own opinions. For some reason, perhaps to distance himself from a sinking ship like the birther movement, Dumb Donald decided to blame Clinton, expecting the media to play along. As usual, Trump is throwing everything out there now, but it will avail him naught.

Two of his potential primary opponents, former Texas governor Rick Perry, and Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, have withdrawn from the race, and it won't surprise anyone if Dumb Donald finally runs out of stupid things to say that would have his personal army of dittoheads genuflecting before him, and drops out, too. He's not going to be President, and neither will "Swillary". It just isn't going to happen. You'd have a better chance of buying stock in Western Union than seeing either piece of tabloid bait get nominated. As the Republican "clown car" slowly empties, we'll separate the real contenders from the pretenders, like Trump.

And, just like in 2008, the media presumes too early on Hillary as the Democratic candidate.  Someone will come along, like Obama, and blow right past Clinton, who has way more baggage than Dumb Donald, anyway. Just watch. It will happen again.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

On The Air: The Muppets (2015)

In 1998, ABC dropped the axe on Muppets Tonight, which finished its run at step-cousin Disney Channel. 17 years later, Kermit, Fozzie, Miss Piggy, and the gang return to ABC, this time in a completely different setting, which to some seems unsettling.

The Muppets copies the basic format of ABC stablemate Modern Family and the former NBC series, The Office, from which the show gets its logo. This time, in addition to the mockumentary format of the other shows, The Muppets serves as a parody of late night talk shows, positing the fictional Up Late With Miss Piggy as airing in back of the popular Jimmy Kimmel Live, meaning that if this was for real, it'd replace Nightline. As with their previous series, the Muppets interact with humans, especially considering the workplace environment remains in the entertainment business.

In the run-up to last night's season opener, it got out that Kermit (Steve Whitmire) had split with Miss Piggy (Eric Jacobson, who has the enviable task of following Frank Oz), and is dating another pig, Denise. Having not seen the two feature films released in the last four years, I didn't see this coming, and, come to think of it, no one else did, either. Considering that the franchise was big on inter-species relationships, should it surprise anyone that Fozzie is dating a human woman? In the context of the Muppet universe, of course not.

Unfortunately, someone had to throw shade on The Muppets because of the adult content. One Million Moms, a division of the American Family Association, railed, whined, and complained in the press today, claiming to be concerned more about the children who are the Muppets' usual target audience. Give me a break. As usual, these moral zealots miss the point of the parody. Sam the Eagle serves as the moral compass on the show, and if they don't like that, then they've got an issue. You have to assume parents are watching the show with the kiddo's, and have to explain things like the inter-species romance angles. Given that the AFA and OMM are based in the South (Mississippi in particular), one wonders if they actually understand modern humor, or are they so stuck in the past that they can't acknowledge the here and now?

What I liked was Fozzie showing some emotion while having dinner with his girlfriend and her family. Piggy's jealousy comes into play with her refusal to have Elizabeth Banks appear on her show, prompting Kermit to book Tom Bergeron (Dancing With The Stars, ex-America's Funniest Home Videos, Hollywood Squares) on short notice. Bergeron's even doing infomercials in his spare time, just to stay busy.

The overarching storyline, obviously, is whether or not Kermit & Piggy get back together by season's end. Well, with The Flash returning in 2 weeks, The Muppets don't have a whole lot of time to keep the young folks' attention. Right now, here's a trailer:



In fact, I think what could help the show is people using On Demand or their DVR's, if not also online viewing, especially beginning next month.

Rating: B+.

Yogi Berra (1925-2015)

Beginning perhaps tonight, and for the rest of the season, the Yankees will wear the black memorial armbands on their uniforms, this time in memory of one of their legends.

Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra passed away at age 90, just 4 months after reaching the milestone. Born in St. Louis, Berra became a New York icon, winning 4 MVP awards, and leading both the Yankees and Mets to the World Series. He was the field pilot when the Mets lost a 7 game Fall Classic to Oakland in 1973, but would later return to the Yankees as a manager. Unfortunately, that last managerial gig was a short one, as he was let go after 16 games by the late George Steinbrenner, who was unhappy with the Yanks getting off to a 6-10 start in 1985. Steinbrenner's short temper and quick trigger angered Berra to the point where he didn't return to Yankee Stadium for several years before mending fences with Steinbrenner prior to the egotistical owner's passing a few years ago.

Berra was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972. In addition to playing for, and, later, managing the Yankees, and his short stint as a manager and coach with the Mets, Berra did commercials for Camel cigarettes, Puss 'n' Boots cat food (with teammate Whitey Ford voicing a talking cat), Yoo Hoo chocolate drink, and a legendary late 80's Miller Lite ad that poked fun at Berra's penchant for malaprops. If you looked quick, you'd see Jason Alexander (pre-Seinfeld) in the background. We'll run those ads down the line.

Tim Moore uploaded this highlight reel, taken from a cable special.




Rest in peace, Yogi. You won't find any forks in the road in Heaven.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Forgotten TV: Night Stand w/Dick Dietrick (1995)

Judge Judy would never have made it to air without Night Stand with Dick Dietrick.

It's true. Night Stand, which ran for four seasons in syndication and on E!, was the first series produced by Big Ticket Television, which also packages Judge Judy, which, I believe, has been on the air about 15 years or so, and we'll review that down the line.

Night Stand parodied tabloid television, and at least two of the shows it skewered, Jerry Springer & Maury, are still on the air, 16 years after Night Stand ended its run, so what does that tell you?

Co-creator Tim Stack played series host Dick Dietrick, whose show-opening monologues were riddled with malaprops, which were worth easy laughs. Springer even appeared as a guest on the show, just to show he's a good sport. Silly fun.

Following is a sample episode.




You'd think the reruns would still be available on cable (are you reading this, Comedy Central?), but nope. A year after Night Stand ended, Stack returned with the Howard Stern-produced Baywatch satire, Son of the Beach, which we'll also cover another time.

Rating: B-.

Musical Interlude: Flowers on the Wall (2000)

In 2000, Eric Heatherly put a retro-rockabilly spin to the Statler Brothers' 1966 smash, "Flowers on the Wall" Like the original version, it was a top 10 hit on Billboard's country chart, but failed to reach the Hot 100, peaking at #50.

Unfortunately, Heatherly hasn't been heard from much since.



Personally, while this was great listening, I still think the original was better, and someday, I'll have a clip of the Statlers' version up.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Shillin' With Superman: Kellogg's Corn Flakes ad (1950's)

This, I believe, is an in-show ad for Kellogg's Corn Flakes from The Adventures of Superman. Jimmy Olsen (Jack Larson) and Clark Kent (George Reeves) are about to sit down for a round of the cereal, but Jimmy's run completely out. Of course, Clark has the answer to that particular problem.........



Dedicated to the memory of Larson, who passed away over the weekend at 87.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Musical Interlude: Come Dancing (1982-3)

The early years of MTV not only enabled a new generation of artists to emerge, but it also allowed veteran acts to, ah, reintroduce themselves to a new generation of fans.

While the pipeline of music from the UK to the US remained intact with the emergence of David Bowie and Elton John at the end of the 60's-early 70's, and the punk rock movement pioneered by the Sex Pistols and Clash in the late 70's, the next wave represented a return to soft rock (Duran Duran, Howard Jones), and revived interest in 60's stalwarts the Who and the Kinks.

In 1982, the Kinks released "State of Confusion", and while the title track gained some airplay on album-oriented rock stations (AOR), the band scored its biggest hit since "Tired of Waiting For You" when "Come Dancing" peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the spring & summer of 1983.

The video is a semi-biographical bit as Ray Davies spins the tale of his older sister going out on a date with a suitor (Ray Davies with a fake mustache and a pinstriped "spiv" suit, which might've been a variant on the zoot suits that were popular here in the 40's). The final bit with the washer women on stage is priceless. Davies would revisit the "spiv" character in subsequent videos, including the follow-up, "Don't Forget to Dance".

Here's "Come Dancing":


Saturday, September 19, 2015

What Might've Been: The New People (1969)

In the 60's, Rod Serling made two attempts to venture away from the sci-fi/horror/fantasy milieu that he had mined with The Twilight Zone. The first, The Loner, failed to survive the Christmas holidays in 1965, but introduced viewers to producer William Dozier, and we've documented his series history.

Four years later, Serling, fresh off adapting Pierre Boulle's Planet of the Apes into a feature film, returned to television, and to a network other than CBS for the first time. Serling developed The New People for producers Aaron Spelling and Danny Thomas, whose Mod Squad was entering its 2nd season, and ABC, which rolled the dice with the idea that a 45 minute program such as New People and Music Scene, its lead-in, would ensure that viewers wouldn't flip the dial to NBC's popular Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In. It didn't achieve its desired effect. Instead, New People was cancelled after 17 episodes.

In a way, you can't fault ABC's thinking. Network television had evolved from 15 minute programs to 30 to hour-long dramas, such as Mod Squad, and variety shows, like Laugh-In. They felt they'd skipped a step in the tele-evolutionary process, moving to a 45 minute format. It turned out the step wasn't skipped. No, it wasn't needed at all.

Following is a short promo, narrated by Ernie Anderson.




35 years later, ABC went to the well again with Lost, which actually managed a healthy run. NBC & Discovery Kids (now Discovery Family) countered with a Saturday morning show, Flight 29 Down, which didn't go very far, the next year.

One benefit to New People was the theme song being performed by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, and we all know that Rogers, after the demise of the First Edition, embarked on a lengthy, successful solo career.

No rating.

Homecoming can't come soon enough at Troy High

Friday night was spent channel flipping between Mets-Yankees and a high school football game between Troy High & Amsterdam. Which game do you think had me cringing more before it was over? If you said the Mets, you'd be wrong.

Troy High welcomed back QB John Germinerio after he sat out last week's 54-0 demolition of Scotia to rest an injured ankle. It was assumed he was 100% ready to go, and for the first half, he was. Troy jumped out to a 26-0 lead at half time, most of it thanks to Damani Soares, who accumulated nearly 300 yards in total offense all by himself, 271 on the ground, with 2 TD's. However, when Germinerio was tackled on one play, he reaggravated the ankle injury sustained vs. Queensbury 2 weeks ago. Common sense would suggest that he would sit out the remainder of the game and be ready for the 2-game homestand coming vs. Bishop Maginn & Averill Park.

Unfortunately, common sense is not familiar with John Germinerio. He thinks he can be Joe Namath, Willis Reed, and Kirk Gibson rolled into one, and while RB/PK/DB Nick Pastore would take a few snaps at QB (he played QB last week), Germinerio insisted on going back in to gut it out. I get that he's a gamer, but another brutal hit, and perhaps that ankle ends up broken, ending his season prematurely. Coach Bob Burns needed to err on the side of caution, but instead listened to his star QB, and it nearly cost him the game.

On his first play from scrimmage after the injury, Germinerio botched the handoff to Soares. Amsterdam, which had just scored late in the 3rd quarter, pounced on the recovery. A couple of minutes into the 4th quarter, the Rams trimmed the lead to 26-14 as Bryan Stanovich scored his 2nd TD of the game. Stanovich would later throw a TD pass on the halfback option, creating the final score at 26-21, Troy. Amsterdam dips to 0-3, while Troy escapes and returns home 3-0, but at what cost?

If I'm Coach Burns and/or AD Paul Reinisch, I'd sit down with Germinerio ASAP, and try to convince him to sit out Homecoming next week vs. Bishop Maginn (0-3), or at least let either Pastore or Joe Casale start at QB, then come in for mop-up duty if Troy runs out to a big lead again. It's one thing to be a hero, it's one thing to have the courage to overcome injury, but it's another thing altogether if you're putting your team in jeopardy, as Germinerio did. I'm going to be at THS for the next two games, so I'll see for myself what happens next.

Friday, September 18, 2015

This is NOT how you play football!

You've read about how Cincinnati Bengals defensive back Adam "Pacman" Jones assaulted Oakland Raiders rookie receiver Amari Cooper on Sunday. We don't know the motivation behind Jones' actions, but maybe the roots of the incident come from something less than 24 hours earlier in Linden, New Jersey:




I mean, seriously? Look, I know Jones spent some time moonlighting as a part-time wrestler with TNA a few years back, but this is just flat out stupid. Had the officials actually seen this play, the defensive player (#1) would've not only been flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct, but ejected from the game. There is talk, as noted in the video, that a criminal investigation may yet happen.

A few days earlier, in San Antonio, Texas, two players attacked a referee, allegedly on orders from an assistant coach who claimed the official used racial slurs during the game. Supposedly, said ref's crew also missed some calls. The following video comes from Good Morning America, and does not have George Stephanopoulos' interview with the players, which aired today.




We don't know all the facts. What I do know is that I don't read about these things in the home district. Oh, there was an incident at Whitehall last year, but that seems remotely tame compared to these two cases.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Classic Reborn: Love Boat: The Next Wave (1998)

What was Aaron Spelling thinking?

Of all of the hit series he'd developed for ABC, only one (Fantasy Island) would be brought back for a revival, and a second landed, then dry-docked, at UPN.

Love Boat: The Next Wave was meant to reintroduce the anthology series to a new generation of viewers with a hipper look, as if the forgettable final season of the original series didn't try to accomplish that same goal. Robert Urich, who'd previously toiled for Spelling in S.W.A.T. & Vega$ years earlier, was cast as Capt. Jim Kennedy III, a divorcee who has his teenage son (Kyle Howard) aboard to keep the lad out of mischief (we think). The only other recognizable name is Phil Morris, whose father, Greg, worked with Urich on Vega$.

The series launched as a spring replacement in April 1998, and after returning for the fall season, brought the original cast & crew back for a 1-shot to resolve some viewer questions. Unfortunately, "Reunion" and other episodes are not available. The intro, though, is.



This one should've never left the dock.

Rating: C-.

Weasels in need of clues

Time to hand out some Weasel of the Week awards.

First stop, Times Square in New York. Amidst all the fuss over topless women panhandling, and wearing paint over their exposed breasts, one "desnuda", Maria Diaz, went so far as to bring her two year old daughter with her, and had the toddler go topless as well.

SAY WHAT? WHAT HAS THIS WORLD COME TO?

According to an article in Wednesday's NY Daily News, Child Protective Services has been called in, which spells more trouble for Diaz than the rest of the "painted ladies". It's all about making as much money as possible with these ladies, but don't you think they'd be better off putting their talents and assets to better use? Like, with legitimate employment?

I just don't get the appeal.

Remember, too, that these women are working the same area as a bunch of costumed hustlers who are using the appearances of well known comic book characters, plus Elmo from Sesame Street, without any sort of licensing from Marvel/Disney or Sesame Workshop. If Dumb Donald Trump wants to complain about something, let it be these freeloaders.

Next, we go across country to Irving, Texas, the former home base of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys (who now play in Arlington). I'm sure you've heard the story by now. Ahmed Mohamed, 14, designed and created a homemade clock to bring to school. His classmates loved it. The teacher in his class liked it. Another teacher, the school principal, and everyone else? Not so much.

Seems someone panicked and thought the clock was a bomb, and called police. Ahmed was arrested, then had the charges dropped when the cops got a reality check and realized they made a mistake. Ahmed was suspended through today, and, at last report, was considering transferring from MacArthur High in Irving. The principal's office is trying to avoid any accountability for the mistake they made, and clueless Mayor Beth Van Duyne thinks they were just following protocol. The case has gotten the attention of President Obama, who invited young Mr. Mohamed to Washington.

Are we that paranoid in the Southern part of the country? It certainly seems that way, and Mayor Van Duyne and the moronic administrators at MacArthur High get the Weasel ears, along with Maria Diaz. What is wrong with the ingenuity of a teenager interested in science? Nothing, except for the fact that Ahmed fell victim to racial profiling, just because of his Muslim faith.

In addition to the Weasel ears, the faculty at MacArthur should sit through marathons of Dexter's Laboratory, Johnny Test, and any of Don Herbert's Mr. Wizard programs, or even Bill Nye the Science Guy to get the picture.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Red Cross does more than disaster relief (1973)

There was a time when the American Red Cross meant more than just disaster relief.

Take for example this 1973 ad, narrated by actor Buddy Ebsen (Barnaby Jones), about a young Red Cross volunteer.


What Might've Been: The American Girls (1978)

No, Tom Petty did not have anything to do with this show, in case you wonder.

The American Girls (plural, as opposed to Petty's "American Girl" in the singular) was one of a number of female-centric dramas the networks introduced in the late 70's, not quite in the mold of, say, Charlie's Angels, which was entering its 3rd year on ABC, but the idea was that this wasn't about jiggle TV. And that might've been the show's downfall after all.

Producer Harve Bennett left Universal after The Six Million Dollar Man was cancelled, and made a brief stop at Columbia to develop this series before moving on to Paramount and the Star Trek movie series. The idea revolved around a pair of news-magazine researchers whose penchant for getting into trouble provided the drama. Debra Clinger, fresh from the Saturday morning series, The Krofft Supershow, co-starred with Priscilla Barnes, later of Three's Company.

I regret to say I have little memory of seeing any episodes of the series. Its biggest problem was that it aired opposite Aaron Spelling's Love Boat on ABC. Enough said.

Right now, let's scope out this promo, taken from CBS' Fall Preview special for 1978, and narrated by Dick Tufeld (ex-Lost in Space).




No rating.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Musical Interlude: Take it on the Run (1980)

REO Speedwagon scored their biggest album hit to date with 1980's "Hi Infidelity", which produced 4 top 40 hits, including our next entry, "Take it on the Run". Unfortunately, there wasn't a concept clip available, but a concert performance from the same period will do.

Dedicated to the memory of the song's author, Gary Richrath, who passed away over the weekend.


Sports this 'n' that

Less than 3 weeks before the end of baseball's regular season, and no one even thought the Mets would be in the position they're in, sitting atop the NL East. Their magic number to clinch is 10 after dispatching Miami on Monday (2nd place Washington needed 11 innings to beat Philadelphia to keep pace), which means that unless the Mets suddenly stumble on a pile of rocks the rest of the week, the division is theirs for the first time in 9 years.

I wouldn't be too shocked, then, to see Atlanta's Fredi (& the Dreamers) Gonzalez and Washington's 2nd year skipper, Matt Williams, dismissed after the season. Gonzalez did his best impersonation of Williams on Sunday afternoon. He had the Mets right where he wanted them, down 3 in the 9th. His rookie closer, Arodys Vizcaino, had been abused by the Mets the two previous games, so he went to sidewinding Australian right hander Peter Moylan to close. Moylan got 2 outs, both on strikeouts. Then, Gonzalez, like an idiot, lifted Moylan after a pinch-double by Juan Lagares. Curtis Granderson walked. Daniel Murphy, then, took rookie Ryan Kelly out of the yard to tie the game. The Mets would win, 10-7, in 10.

Oy! The Braves will be sayin' g'day to Gonzalez, as in, you're fired, mate, on October 5.
==============================================
It's hard to fathom who was more deserving of the Dunce Cap on Sunday, Gonzalez or Giants QB Eli Manning. Today's papers tell of Manning copping to a late-game brain cramp in the loss to Dallas, admitting he lost track of how many timeouts Dallas had left. To that end, he advised running back Rashard Jennings not to score what would've been a game-saving touchdown. Jennings admitted as much on Monday, and then, Manning, proving to be almost as dense as his telegenically challenged brother, Peyton, owned up.

Ehh, let's call it a draw and give both Eli and Gonzalez Dunce Caps and be done with it.

So the Giants start 0-1 again. And Atlanta, which dispatched Philadelphia on Monday, comes in for the home opener on Sunday. I don't like the Giants' chances.

Oh, by the way, the next time someone wants to have the Manning brothers do a commercial, let them remake an old Tennessee Tuxedo cartoon. You can figure out which one is Tennessee (the penguin) and which one is dumber-than-a-bag-of-bricks Chumley (a walrus), I'm sure. It'd be better than either one of them doing more stupid spots for DirecTV. As if Eli's turn as a lounge comic was wack, Peyton's made two ads. One is "skinny legs", the other has him with a "high pitched voice", which sounds like he couldn't reach that level on the register, and they went and got an actress to dub that part for him. If Papa Archie's not their agent, who is? Elmer Fudd?
===============================================
The Tri-City Valleycats saw their season end on a rainy, dreary Thursday, getting swept by Staten Island, but nothing can discount their 4 straight division titles, 5 in 6 years. I'd rather call that a dynasty than a certain disreputable football team..........! I'd be shocked if Ed Romero wasn't promoted within the Houston chain and a new face was in the dugout next June.

Speaking of the New England Patriots, the last thing they wanted to have happen was any sort of technical glitch in their home opener, also on Thursday, knowing that the whole world would be watching, and the fact that they'd be under greater scrutiny in the wake of Deflategate. But, as an NFL flack pointed out on Friday, the inclement weather which hindered the Valleycats also played games with the headsets of both the Steelers & Patriots coaches, and it got to the point where Bill Belichick finally had had enough of the accusations levied against his club. Can't say as I blame him there. I'm still trying to figure out how a humble assistant who won his first 2 Super Bowls under Bill Parcells with the Giants (1986-7, 1990-1) before getting his first head coaching job in Cleveland would have not only a prima donna at QB, but a bunch of Dick Dastardly wanna-bes who are probably hiding like roaches within the cracks of Gillette Stadium, getting paid under the table. The mind boggles.....!
================================================
You might've noticed a disturbing trend on Sunday. Of all the QB's who signed up for that stupid DirecTV ad campaign I referenced earlier, 2 of them (Peyton Manning & Tony Romo) were winners, while the others (Andrew Luck, Eli Manning, Drew Brees) all lost, and Eli & Romo were head-to-head. Luck's "out of control beard" could have him mistaken for WWE wrestler Luke Harper if it was shorter than it appeared (thanks to CGI).

Vocally, though, Luck could be mistaken for the late NFL player-turned-announcer-turned-actor Merlin Olsen. Just sayin'.
===============================================
While Troy High's football team is off to a 2-0 start after crushing Scotia on Friday, the school is experiencing the expected growing pains as a 1st year member of the Suburban Council. Headed into play today, the school's men's & women's soccer teams have two wins between them, which I think puts them in the cellars of their divisions in the league. I can only imagine the anguish the alumni will be feeling come basketball season in December. With Homecoming 10 days away as I write (September 25, not October 2 as I had thought), the football team could be 3-0 if they dispatch Amsterdam this Friday, in their only televised game in the regular season. Hmmmmmmm.
===============================================
Perhaps the one matchup in NFL week 1 that actually was under the radar, and I do mean, under, was Tampa Bay vs. Tennessee. Little did the schedule makers, who put this together before the draft in the spring, realize that this would end up being a rematch of a college bowl game from January, except that the two quarterbacks involved were now playing in the NFL.

Jameis Winston was drafted #1 overall by Tampa Bay, but played as if he hadn't learned thing one from his last game with Florida State, throwing a pick-six on his first NFL pass. Marcus Mariota, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner from Oregon, hit Kendall Wright with a touchdown bomb on his first NFL possession with Tennessee, and the Titans all but blew away the Buccaneers. I said all along that Winston was coming out too early, as was 2012 Heisman winner Johnny Manziel (now with Cleveland), due largely to the off-field baggage he carried with him to Tampa. Manziel, meanwhile, threw his first pro TD, a bomb to Travis Benjamin, but the Browns couldn't hold the lead, and lost to the Jets. Ex-Steeler running back Merril Hoge, now an analyst for ESPN, is calling for the Browns to cut Manziel now, feeling that in his 2nd season, Manziel isn't going to change his ways. Dare we think Hoge feels the same way about Winston after his first game in Tampa?

The one thing Winston & Manziel have in common, besides the Heisman and their early departures from school, is a lack of maturity. That can still change. Problem is, for that to happen, they have to get rid of the leeches that encouraged them to turn pro too soon.

Monday, September 14, 2015

What Might've Been: Three's a Crowd (1984)

Three's Company was based on the Thames series, Man About the House, created by Johnnie Mortimer & Brian Cooke. It outlasted House, which lasted just 3 years (1973-6), while Company lasted nearly a decade. Each series had two spinoffs, neither of which were exactly equal to its parents.

In the case of Company, the failure of The Ropers should've been a warning sign that trying a second spin-off, mirroring the House pattern, was not a good idea. Undaunted, ABC went ahead with Three's a Crowd for the 1984-5 season. That was the good news. The basic concept of the series was being tweaked, as Jack Tripper (John Ritter) now was a one-woman man at last, that one woman being Vicky Bradford (Mary Cadorette, who never landed another series), whose father (Robert Mandan, fresh from Soap) was now their landlord.

Unfortunately, ABC rolled the dice by putting Crowd opposite NBC's The A-Team. Ballgame's over, sucka. Crowd was cancelled after just 1 season. I get that they needed a tentpole at the front of the lineup to replace the 1-2 punch of Happy Days & Laverne & Shirley, which had ended their runs, but moving the more adult comedy of Crowd to the front of the line made no sense.

Ultimately, the demise of Crowd began a string of failures for Ritter, whose next ABC entry, Hooperman, Steven Bochco's attempt at a modern dramedy, was a critics' darling but a ratings failure. Ritter would only snap the string by moving out of primetime and on to kids' programming, as he was the original voice of PBS' Clifford the Big Red Dog, and that was before his last primetime series, 8 Simple Rules (For Dating My Teenage Daughter).

Following is the intro:



No rating. Never saw the show.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Forgotten TV: Here Come the Stars (1968)

George Jessel attempted a TV comeback in 1968, which is ironic considering the last series he hosted was The Comeback Story, 15 years earlier, and he was ousted from that gig before the season was over.

Four Star signed Jessel, billed as "Toastmaster General", which explains the military uniform he wears in the following clip, serving as host of Here Come the Stars, a syndicated series of celebrity roasts, which predated Dean Martin's series by 5 years. Martin was in year 4 of his NBC variety show when Stars took to the air. Four Star was slowly fading away, as the only other show they had on the air that season was the returning Big Valley on ABC. In fact, after Stars & Valley were cancelled, Four Star never sold another series to the networks, going exclusively into syndication until the company finally folded in the late 80's.

Following is a black & white clip of the series finale, honoring Bob Hope, and the only roaster at the lectern in this clip is Bob Crane (Hogan's Heroes). The clip comes from a Crane fan channel.




I had heard of the show, but didn't watch it. I know my folks had tried it out at least once, but I was off to the side in one of the other rooms. No rating.

Classic TV: The Flip Wilson Show (1970)

Clerow "Flip" Wilson became the first African-American to headline a variety show with The Flip Wilson Show in 1970 on NBC. You know, I'm sure, Wilson's two best known characters, Geraldine Jones (Wilson in drag) and Reverend Leroy, the pastor of the Church of What's Happening Now!, which some folks might've taken for an elaborate con. Amazingly, Geraldine was used more often, resulting in lines like "The Devil made me do it" or "What you see is what you get" becoming iconic phrases.

In all, Wilson was part of a television revolution in the early 70's, as more shows spotlighting African-Americans were hitting the airwaves. By 1970, Room 222 was a hit for ABC, and Julia had wrapped its run on NBC. In the wake of Wilson's success, impressionist George Kirby headlined a half-hour syndicated series, but managed only a season by my reckoning, and the similarly mega-hot All in the Family would boast not one, but two series in its family tree that would be just as successful in The Jeffersons, a direct spinoff, and Good Times, which was spun-off from Maude. Checking In, spun from The Jeffersons as a solo vehicle for Marla Gibbs, bombed.

Wilson also produced a pair of animated specials that chronicled his upbringing, but those specials haven't seen the light of day in over 40 years.

Right now, let's scope an episode from 1973 with guests Richard Pryor & Tim Conway. Conway introduces the episode from a DVD release:



Reruns have been aired in half-hour increments, likely due to how it was distributed in syndication after cancellation. Today, TV One & Aspire share cable rights (check listings). Unfortunately, it's still in the half-hour format.

Rating: B.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Celebrity Rock: The Ballad of Thunder Road (1958)

Robert Mitchum not only starred in 1958's "Thunder Road", but wrote and recorded the theme song, "The Ballad of Thunder Road". However, singer-songwriter Randy Sparks, later of the New Christy Minstrels, was heard in the movie performing the song. Mitchum's version, based on a Norwegian folk song, got some airplay as late as the 80's on country radio.

The video is a compilation of car chase scenes from the movie.




To my knowledge, it was Mitchum's only recording.

What Might've Been: Pat Paulsen's Half a Comedy Hour (1970)

Pat Paulsen's Half a Comedy Hour was a mid-season replacement series that bowed on ABC in January 1970, but lasted just 13 weeks. Viewers, for whatever reason, just couldn't get into Paulsen fronting his own show. A non-descript, average comedian who aspired to be President, and made a run for the White House in 1968, Paulsen's lone mistake was going with the 30 minute format, rather than a full hour like other variety and comedy shows of the day. Future Grammy winner Steve Martin was a writer, as he was for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, from whence Paulsen had also gained his first fame.

Paulsen was more than willing to be a foil, as demonstrated in interviews with a pair of Looney Tunes legends, Foghorn Leghorn & Daffy Duck. This video also appears over at Saturday Morning Archives.




Hard to picture Daffy and Porky Pig doing an act in Las Vegas, but......!

One episode I scoped on Hulu demonstrated that some of the best ideas that Martin and the other writers had didn't translate well on screen, and that Paulsen was lacking something.

Rating: C.

Friday, September 11, 2015

On The Air: Wheel of Fortune (1975)

Very, very quietly, one must assume, Wheel of Fortune turns 40 this year. The current syndicated version has been around since 1983, but the show started off as a network entry 8 years earlier on NBC.

Actor-singer Chuck Woolery was tapped as the show's initial MC, with Susan Stafford as the letter-turning co-hostess. This was after creator-producer Merv Griffin had tried out Edd Byrnes (ex-77 Sunset Strip) as host in not one, but two pilots,  but Byrnes was sacked because he had to remind himself what the vowels were. Woolery lasted six years (1975-81), before being replaced by a Chicago-based weatherman, Pat Sajak, who, except for a nearly 2 year period (1989-91), has been at the helm ever since. Stafford left in 1982, succeeded by Vanna White, who's now the longest tenured at 33 years and counting. As we previously documented, Sajak left to try his hand at doing a talk show. Wheel eventually followed Sajak to CBS, but was back at NBC in due course. During this time, Griffin tried to fill Sajak's role with former San Diego Chargers kicker Rolf Benirshke, who lasted six months before being replaced by Bob Goen. After Wheel ended its 2nd NBC run (w/Goen) in 1991, it's remained exclusively in syndication ever since.

Let's take a trip back in time to New Year's Eve 1979, with Chuck and Susan.




The game format has long since changed, but I thought it'd be a nice idea to give you a look at what it used to look like. Eliminating the shopping portion of the game, in ye scribe's opinion, might've been a mistake, but without the change, would Wheel still be on the air today?

Rating: A-.

Musical Interlude: Walk of Life (1985)

Everyone loves watching blooper reels. The British band Dire Straits knew that, so when they needed to shoot a music video for "Walk of Life", off "Brothers in Arms", they created a new version for American audiences, filled with an assortment of flubs from the NFL, NBA, and MLB. There's a quick shot of the late pitcher Tug McGraw, then with the Phillies, whose son, Tim, would go on to forge a career as a country singer.




As we all know, the Houston Oilers later became the Tennessee Titans, and I'm sure you can figure out the rest for your trivia quiz at your next party.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

What Might've Been: Sable (1987)

In the 80's, Mike Grell had left DC Comics and took his talents to other publishers. One of his creations, Jon Sable, Freelance, was good enough to be adapted for television. Unfortunately, the transition was botched.

Originally, the producers envisioned Kiss bassist-vocalist Gene Simmons, who was doing some moonlighting as an actor away from the band, as Sable, but early rushes showed that Simmons wasn't in as good physical condition as they would've liked, so a relative unknown, Lewis Van Bergen, replaced Simmons.

There were other issues. Feeling that Grell's vision struck too close to Marvel's Punisher to risk any litigation, the producers decided to add a touch of The Fugitive by deciding that Sable was wanted for killing the man responsible for killing Sable's family. Implausible? Yep.

First Comics, which acquired the rights to Sable, relaunched the series, although one of the supporting characters, Maggie the Cat, would move to Image in the 90's, to coincide with the TV show, which lasted 7 episodes, ending in January 1988.

The other problem? Wrong night of the week. ABC aired it on Saturday nights, at 8 (ET), perhaps a wee bit too early, since this was definitely not for the kiddo's to latch onto.

Here's the intro:




Ironically, around the time Sable ended, Grell returned to DC to write & draw a Green Arrow miniseries, perhaps inspired by his Sable work.

Rating: B.

Remember Edgar Kennedy?

In the 70's, while Laurel & Hardy and Our Gang (aka The Little Rascals) were in syndication practically everywhere, some markets featured RKO shorts featuring Leon Errol or our next subject, Edgar Kennedy.

Kennedy had moved to RKO from the Hal Roach studio in 1930. With Roach, Kennedy acted opposite Laurel & Hardy and Our Gang, and also directed a pair of L & H silents, and additional shorts for Charley Chase and The Boyfriends. At RKO, Kennedy got to headline his own series, The Average Man, until his passing in 1948. WSBK in Boston carried the Kennedy & Errol shorts, usually on weekday afternoons before 1st run syndicated cartoons became the in thing in the 80's.

Keep an eye out for Kennedy's trademark "slow burn" in "Mutiny in the County", from 1940.



Kennedy also had some dramatic roles on his resume, and before turning to acting, had boxed and was a singer. Like, who knew.

I never saw "Mutiny in the County", that I can recall, and I can barely remember seeing any of the others. For that reason, we'll forego a rating this time.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Musical Interlude: Shadows of the Night (1982-3)

Pat Benatar imagines herself as a WWII espionage agent in the video for "Shadows of the Night", the 1st single off her 1982 album, "Get Nervous". One of her best.





A Classic Reborn: You Don't Say (1975, 1978)

Seeing the success Goodson-Todman enjoyed by reviving and revamping Match Game into a star-driven panel show, producer Ralph Andrews decided to do the same with You Don't Say. Like Match Game, You Don't Say started on NBC in the 60's (1963-9), but the revival landed first at ABC for 5 months in 1975, hosted, as before, by Tom Kennedy.

Then, in 1978, Andrews landed a deal to put Say in first-run syndication, with some alterations to the adjusted format. 4 celebrities, instead of 6 on Match, provided the clues for contestants. Take a look at a sample show from November 1978, and you'll see how challenging it really is. Jim Peck serves as host.




Some might think that Heatter-Quigley's To Say The Least, which Kennedy hosted on NBC some months earlier, was derivative of You Don't Say, but in truth, it had its own gimmick, not that it worked.

Rating: C.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What Might've Been: The Object Is... (1963)

American Bandstand host Dick Clark added a second gig at the end of 1963 with his first game show assignment. The Object Is... premiered on ABC on December 30, 1963, and lasted just three months, falling victim to declining ratings.

Perhaps the problem prevalent with Object was that it was too derivative of the popular Password, which, at the time, was airing on CBS, and would move to ABC nearly a decade later. You'll see what I mean when you look at this episode from March 1964, the pentultimate episode.




As it happened, ABC acquired Missing Links from NBC, and gave Clark the MC's job, since Ed McMahon was contractually bound to NBC (The Tonight Show). That didn't last, and it would be nearly a full decade before Clark landed another game show (The $10,000 Pyramid). Originally, Object had three teams instead of two, but downsized in an effort to save the show. All that did was make it more obvious that it was based on Password.

Rating: A-.

Forgotten TV (?): Freeze-In (1969)

With Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In a huge hit, Sears-Roebuck decided that the best way to pitch their Kenmore freezer to their sales people was with an elaborate video presentation starring two Laugh-In cast members---Judy Carne and Arte Johnson.

The "informercial", if you will, starts on the familiar Laugh-In set with Judy, wearing a temporary Sears tattoo on her back, doing a dance routine.




From there, it's a time trip, as you can doubtlessly see. Too bad this was never made available to the general public until now.




Dedicated to the memory of Judy Carne, who passed away a week ago at 76. No rating.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Classic TV: Route 66 (1960)

It was originally intended as a spin-off from Naked City, but it didn't happen that way. Contrary to what a lot of us thought, Nelson Riddle's iconic instrumental theme is not a cover of the Bobby Troup-penned "(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66", but rather a homage, particularly of Nat King Cole's version of that song. In the end, Route 66 was as much an icon and a trailblazer.

Route 66 spent 4 seasons on CBS (1960-4), and told the story of two young travelers, Tod Stiles (Martin Milner) and Buz Murdock (George Maharis), who drove around the country, and, as they passed through, they helped people with their struggles. Not long into the 3rd season, Maharis left the series, and was replaced by Glenn Corbett, as Buz was written out. When the show ended, Tod got married, which was the coda for the series.

Sony decided to revive Route 66, this time on NBC, in 1993, with MTV jock Dan Cortese as one of the stars. It tanked, and was cancelled after a month of poor ratings. Apparently, reviving the show with completely new characters, because you couldn't recast the original leads, and risk fan apathy that way, was not the way to go, either.

Today, Me-TV, and for a time, Retro, have had cable rights. In Me-TV's case, they tended to bury the show in overnights for the DVR audience. Referring to the original series, that is.

I didn't watch enough of the show to merit rating it. We'll leave you with a sample episode, "To Walk With The Serpent", in memory of Martin Milner, who passed away today at 83.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The end of an era: Muscular Dystrophy Telethon (1966-2014)

What started as a regional event in the 50's in New York became a national phenomenon by the end of the 60's, but reached an unfortunate end after last year.

Behind the clowning antics of Jerry Lewis laid the heart of a man who took up the cause of raising awareness of Muscular Dystrophy in its various forms. In 1966, after doing fund raising events for a number of years, and plugging said events in making appearances on shows like What's My Line?, Lewis launched the MDA Telethon in New York, where it aired on WNEW (now WNYW). 2 years later, the telethon went national in syndication, where it would remain until 2013. By that time, however, Lewis was gone, having been removed as national chairman and telethon host. While Lewis & the MDA never really offered a reason why, one can speculate that Lewis, in his advanced age, may have sunk his own ship with some disparaging remarks about two of his co-hosts for 2011, Nigel Lythgoe (So You Think You Can Dance, American Idol) and Allison Sweeney (Days of Our Lives, The Biggest Loser). Just connect the dots.

After it had been a nearly 24 hour marathon from 1966-2010, the MDA reduced the telethon's length in 2011 to six hours, airing in primetime in much of the country. They then sliced it in half the next year, and retitling the event, MDA Show of Strength. This approach reflected the new attitude of the MDA, particularly the people in charge taking aim at 21st century society. The Show of Strength, however, lasted just two more years, and moved to ABC in 2013, cut again, this time to 2 hours. MDA announced earlier this year that there would not be a Show of Strength this year or ever again. Instead, the organization will focus its energies in collecting donations online, taking its cues perhaps from the success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, initiated last year.

Locally, WRGB, which was a NBC, later CBS, affiliate as a member of the MDA Love Network, began producing a short-form special, Capital Region Cares, the last two years, to keep their interest in the telethons, despite the dissolution of the Love Network. As of press time, it doesn't appear as though this will continue this year, either.

The dissolution of the MDA telethon means there are no more annual events of this nature on a national scale. United Cerebral Palsy tried to be the winter answer, but their national appeal ended after a few years in the 80's. Locally, the Fox affiliate continues with a regional event every January for the Center for Disability Services, which widens the scope. Takes place a week before the Super Bowl.

And, so, all that is left are the memories, some of which can be found on YouTube, including this treasure from 1976:



Obviously, from a health standpoint, Jerry got the better of that deal.

Once upon a time, there were telethons for sickle cell anemia and arthritis, too, but they're gone. I can't speak for the rest of the country, but I haven't seen firemen with their collecting boots raising money. Couldn't that still continue on a regional level, even if MDA discontinued the telethons? What do you think?

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Celebrity Rock: Twist & Shout (1986)

Three years after "Rappin' Rodney", Rodney Dangerfield went back to the recording studio and cut a cover of "Twist & Shout", which was the last video released off the soundtrack to his film, "Back to School". Kinda makes Rodney the patron saint of karaoke, doesn't it?




The Isley Brothers and the Beatles have disavowed any knowledge of this cover.

Sports this 'n' that

As noted in the NFL preview on Thursday, New England QB Tom Brady had his suspension voided by Judge Richard Berman, who ripped into NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, saying that the NFL didn't really have enough evidence to prove Brady had anything to do with Deflategate. Unsurprisingly, there is talk that the league will file an appeal. Why bother?

In hindsight, they went after the wrong guy. The Patriots had already punished their two sacrificial lambs. Brady was held up to scrutiny because the league, and in particular, Goodell, wanted a high profile guinea pig to prove that no player, no matter the status, was above the league. Brady was it, and he helped them out by destroying a cell phone that potentially had or didn't have damaging evidence. Had he kept the phone, he  might've saved the league the embarrassment if they discovered that there was nothing incriminating to be had. Ultimately, Goodell's case was exposed as a glorified witch hunt, and a waste of everyone's time. Given how competitive Brady and coach Bill Belichick are, they'll just take it out on their opponents, starting with the season opener vs. Pittsburgh on Sept. 10. They love running up the score, so look for that to happen, what with Pittsburgh's defense weakened by the retirement of Troy Polamalu, among others.

If they wanted to nail someone, the league should've just swallowed corporate pride and gone after one of its biggest patrons, Pats owner Robert Kraft. This was all happening, from Spygate to Deflategate, on his watch, and he has to be held accountable for the actions of a few idiots in his employ. The Patriots have already lost a draft pick for next year and were fined, but the league should've gone after Kraft in this case. Brady? Why not retroactive discipline for a post-game tantrum in Charlotte after a loss to Carolina in November 2013? He was never fined for that.
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The Tri-City Valleycats won their 4th straight Stedler Division title Thursday. Now, the priority in their final home series, starting tonight vs. Connecticut, is securing home field for the 1st round, which begins Wednesday. Presently, the V-Cats are the #2 seed in the New York-Penn League. It's not going to be easy. Staten Island, which beat the V-Cats on Friday, is in a 3-team race with Aberdeen & Hudson Valley in their division, and it's looking like two of the three will make the playoffs, one as a Wild Card.

Still, there's no denying the Valleycats' accomplishments of late. 5 division titles in 6 years. Two league titles in that span. It will surprise no one, then, if manager Ed Romero, 3-for-3 in division titles, is promoted, and the Valleycats have a new man in the dugout next summer.
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While the Mets lead the NL East by 5 lengths (games) headed into today's action, no one's favorite agent, Scott "20 Mule Team" Boras is at it again.

It got out in the media on Friday that Boras, who represents a large chunk of major league players, including Mets ace Matt Harvey, wants the Mets to shut Harvey down before the playoffs, once he reaches 180 innings pitched. Presently, Harvey, who suffered from dehydration in his last start, vs. Philadelphia, is at 166 1/3 innings, meaning he has 13 2/3 innings left, if Boras is telling the truth. Boras claims this is what Harvey's doctors, including orthopedic specialist James Andrews, want done. Allow me this, then. I call BS on Boras, because it's all about losing potential future money to the greedy scum. Allow me also to quote yet again a certain piece of literature:

Those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it.---George Santayana.

Three years ago, Boras bullied the Washington Nationals into prematurely ending then-ace Stephen Strasburg's season, leaving him out of the playoffs. Strasburg, like Harvey, was coming off Tommy John surgery. Washington was eliminated in the division round. Mets GM Sandy Alderson hasn't forgotten, and if he did, the local papers, especially with people writing to the letters pages, will remind him and Boras of that. Leave it to a self-serving dirtbag like Boras to throw shade on the Mets' run to the playoffs. For that, he gets another set of Weasel ears. Stop trying to say you're protecting your clients, Boras and tell the truth, otherwise, take a piece of advice from a certain movie star.........


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Saratoga Race Course is known as the "Graveyard of Favorites". A week ago, Triple Crown winner American Pharoah found that out, losing to Keen Ice in the Travers. Trainer Bob Baffert had waited until the last possible minute to ship his star horse back East for the third time in as many months, and the fatigue in the summer heat, coupled with the law of averages, caught up with American Pharoah. If you look at the three previous head-to-heads between American Pharoah and Keen Ice, you'd see that Keen Ice was getting closer. In those three races, he finished 7th, 3rd, & 2nd.

Ahmed Zayat, American Pharoah's owner, is pointing his champion toward the Breeders' Cup on Halloween as the last race before retiring to stud. Keen Ice will be waiting, I'm sure. Horse of the Year could be on the line.

Friday, September 4, 2015

On DVD: Don't Look Back (1967)

In 1967, D. A. Pennebaker directed folk icon Bob Dylan and friends in "Don't Look Back", a documentary that covered Dylan's 1st major overseas tour. Fellow folk singer Joan Baez is along for the ride. It'd be easy to just pop in a video of "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and go from there, but the proper video is not available on YouTube presently.

Anyway, "Back" is a travelogue of Dylan & Baez's tour, with some behind the scenes footage. On a lark, I got it at a tag sale a few weeks back, then struggled to stay awake watching it. Oy!

Roughly translated, if you're not into Dylan, this may not be for you, unless you're willing to take a premature nap. The clip available has Dylan doing some Hank Williams Sr. covers.....




There are those of us who mock Dylan now, but there are reasons why he sometimes doesn't sound so coherent.

Rating: C.

Friday Night Lights: Troy High vs. Queensbury, 9/4/15

If the local press had any real imagination at all in re.: Troy High, you might've seen these headlines earlier this week, in preparation for tonight's home opener vs. defending Section II Class A champ Queensbury:

Prepare for Germ Warfare

Or:

Return of the Prodigal Sons

Both of these unused headlines refer to Troy quarterback John Germinerio, who'd returned to THS after playing last year at LaSalle. The second one also refers to coach Bob (The Builder) Burns, who returned after a year away to take his first head coaching job. Burns spent 12 seasons as defensive coordinator under Jack Burger. A case could be made that the school opted for one of his former players, Mike Hurteau, over Burns last year. The result? 4-5. Hurteau stepped down in January to spend more time with his family. Burns was hired soon after.

Anyway, I got there way early, well before most fans did. Decent size crowd at Picken Memorial Field on the Dudley Van Arnam memorial campus that covers both Troy High and Troy Middle School. Queensbury takes the opening kickoff------and fumbles! Troy, however, can't do anything, and turns it over on downs. On the 2nd possession of the 1st quarter, Germinerio takes it himself and runs 45 yards for the first score of the game. 2-point conversion fails. Next possession, after a Queensbury punt, Germinerio hit Tavin Moore for his first TD pass of the game. Troy led, 13-0, at halftime.

Things got dicey in the 3rd quarter. Germinerio, looking for style points perhaps, hurdles a defender, but is caught from behind and fumbles. Queensbury recovers. Brett Rodriguez runs it in from about 40. 13-6, Troy, after 3. In the 4th, Germinerio limps off the field after a run. Joe Casale takes over at QB after an interception earlier on defense. However, on 4th down. Germinerio, channeling perhaps Kirk Gibson and Willis Reed, hobbles back in, and finds Dajuan Hudson in the corner of the end zone, for the last score of the game. Germinerio would not return after that. Troy takes down the defending champs, 20-6.

One local paper projected Troy finishing 5-2. Dare we think they could run the table? Except for the lapse in the 3rd that netted Queensbury their only points, they shut down the defending champions, providing a blueprint for the rest of Section II. Up next for Troy is a 2-game road trip vs. Foothills Council schools Scotia & Amsterdam before returning to play Bishop Maginn at home on 9/25. It doesn't seem fair that Troy has just 3 home games this year, barring the playoffs, but then, if tonight was any barometer, it may not matter after all.

On The Shelf: Is nothing sacred at Marvel anymore?

In the course of the last year alone, Marvel has repackaged some of their pre-established characters with new faces, mostly in the name of cultural diversity. To wit:

Captain America: Sam Wilson, formerly the Falcon, was promoted, if you will, late in 2014, which in a way marked the 45th anniversary of Wilson's debut, before he even became Falcon.

Thor: Writer Jason Aaron asserted that the name of Thor isn't really a name but a title, which now has been transferred to the Thunder God's long-time mortal love, Jane Foster, who now is a cancer patient.

In both cases, as we've documented, the writers opted to use pre-existing characters known to the fans of each franchise. Of course, out of the two, don't expect Natalie Portman to replace Chris Hemsworth as Thor in the movies. That just ain't gonna happen, effendis.

Spider-Man: In the Ultimate Universe, Miles Morales, a African-American-Latino teen, became the new web-head after that world's Peter Parker perished. Once the current Secret Wars comes to an end, and that's been delayed for no other reason than to milk sales, Morales will exist on the same plane as the Spidey we've known since we were kids. Again, this is all about attracting underserved minority readers.

Ms. Marvel: Carol Danvers has long since graduated to become Captain Marvel, so a Muslim teenager, Kamala Khan adopts the Ms. Marvel role that Carol took on nearly 40 years ago. The big diff? As seen in A-Force, at least in that context, Kamala can stretch like Mr. Fantastic. This and the gender flip with Thor are aimed at attracting female readers who apparently aren't getting enough options.

And, now, prepare for an Asian-American Hulk.

Amadeus Cho, whose first name was inspired by Mozart and a certain Falco song of the 80's, debuted a few years back, created by Korean-American writer Greg Pak. Cho has run with the Hulk (Bruce Banner) and Hercules, and now gets to be a Hulk himself, beginning in December's Totally Awesome Hulk, drawn by Frank Cho (no relation, obviously). So what happens to Banner? You'd have to read & find out.

Now, Marvel has had, in case you wonder, Russian heroes other than Black Widow. They've previously established they had heroes all across the globe, from Israel (Sabra, who debuted in Incredible Hulk in the early 80's, as did the Arabian Knight) to China (The Collective Man) to Ireland (Shamrock). If the current trend keeps up, they'll find some excuse to reboot Daredevil with someone other than Matt Murdock. Just watch.

Meanwhile..........

As part of their Operation SIN event last year, Marvel issued a miniseries that preceded Agent Carter, and, like the show, is set post-WWII. The photo cover of Hayley Atwell, a publicity still used to promote the show, is nice, and is used on the trade paperback volume. Unfortunately, the plot comes across as being a bit weak, and having decent artwork won't save it from being a total dog.

Rating: C.

We all know wrestlers are comics fans, too. CM Punk, in transition from wrestling to MMA, made his comics debut earlier this year, writing a Thor short for Marvel, and a brilliant, twisted ode to his beloved Cubs in Strange Sports Stories. He wraps the year with his first ongoing series, Drax the Destroyer, debuting in November and spun from, of course, Guardians of the Galaxy. Punk's not writing it alone, though, as he'll be joined by a busy scripter in Cullen "Hot Cross" Bunn. This will be a trip. Other than that, a popular book on the independent scene, both in wrestling and comics, is Headlocked, written by Mike Kingston. The storyline follows an aspiring grappler as he makes a career decision to follow his dream, leaving college, amid the fact that his mother won't speak to him. WWE Hall of Famer Jerry Lawler has contributed covers, and current stars such as Christopher Daniels (Ring of Honor) have also lent their aid. If your local shop ain't carrying Headlocked for some reason, they and you are missing out on something special.

The first trade paperback collection gets the story started for new readers. To sum it up, as Ringo Starr famously sang more than 40 years ago, you've got to pay your dues if you want to sing the blues, and you know it don't come easy.

Rating for Headlocked: A.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Hollywood loses two more

Hollywood is mourning the passing of horror legend Wes Craven and actor-singer Dean Jones this week.

Craven, of course, was the brains behind the original "Nightmare on Elm Street" film series, as well as "Last House on the Left", and the horror-satire "Scream" series, which has been adapted into a TV series at MTV.

Jones, a star of both film & Broadway, is better known for a string of Disney movies in the 60's & 70's, including "The Love Bug", "The Ugly Dachshund", and "The Shaggy DA", but also logged a intermittent TV career as well, including the TV adaptation of Herbie, The Love Bug, The Chicago Teddy Bears, and 1962's naval comedy, Ensign O'Toole. Jones succumbed to Parkinson's disease at 84 on Tuesday.

Following is a clip from O'Toole, which includes a short bit with a pre-F-Troop Ken Berry.



Rest in peace.

2015 NFL Forecast

I haven't watched much preseason football, so we're just going to roll the dice.

AFC:

East:


1. New England. Crybaby Brady's been exonerated in the DeflateGate debacle, so he'll have a bigger than usual chip on his shoulder, more arrogant than usual, and that's trouble for the rest of the league.

2. Buffalo. Rex Ryan has changed teams, but the quest to unseat the Evil Empire remains futile.
3. Jets. Todd Bowles came from Arizona to pick up Rex's mess, but it won't be enough.
4. Miami. Just because.

North:

1. Cincinnati.
2. Baltimore.
3. Pittsburgh.
4. Cleveland.

South:

1. Indianapolis.

2. Tennessee. They cut ex-Jet Shonn Greene, but will still be in play for a Wild Card.
3. Houston.
4. Jacksonville.

West:
1. Denver. Ho-hum. Federal marshals will be at Invesco when the Evil Empire comes in for a primetime game, just in case the Patriots try something stupid.

2. Oakland.
3. Kansas City. Andy Reid's running out of magic.
3 (tie). San Diego. Is this Philip Rivers' last run?

NFC:

East:


1. Philadelphia. Tortilla Chip Kelly is slowly turning the Eagles into Oregon East. Too bad he couldn't draft Marcus Mariota (Tennessee).
2. Giants. Big Blue will nose out the Jones Boys for a Wild Card.
3. Dallas.
4. Washington. This year, we'll just call them the Congressionals.

North:
1. Green Bay. Ho-hum.
2. Minnesota.
2 (tie). Detroit.
4. Chicago.

South:


1. New Orleans.
2. Carolina.
3. Tampa Bay. Jameis Winston will get his act together---but not in time for the playoffs.
4. Atlanta.

West:

1. Seattle. Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson, & Co. will be hungering for revenge for letting the Patriots escape in the Super Bowl.
2. Arizona.
3. St. Louis.
4. San Francisco. Too many losses on the defense, plus swapping out Frank Gore for Reggie Bush, will hurt the Niners.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Musical Interlude: Help is on Its Way (1977)

In retrospect, don't you think that an action movie soundtrack in the late 70's could've used Little River Band's "Help is on Its Way"? It just seems so appropriate.

Anyway, the following video has the LRB in an Australian studio......



It wasn't long before LRB became big here in the US and became Adult Contemporary staples.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Forgotten TV: All About Faces (1971)

Screen Gems took a chance with All About Faces, which was a bit of an early bird, debuting before Labor Day in 1971, but lasting just 1 year. The series was produced in Canada, and distributed in both Canada & the US by Screen Gems. As memory serves, one of the local stations coupled Faces with the syndicated revival of What's My Line? in an early afternoon block.

The concept was part quiz, part Candid Camera, with the use of a hidden camera. Richard Hayes (ex-The Baby Game) served as host. To me, the show deserved a better fate than it got. I can't speak for the rest of the country, but I'd guess that Faces failed because Candid either was still on the air or had recently ended, and was still fresh in people's minds.

Here's a sample all-star episode, with Steve Allen, Jayne Meadows, Jacqueline Susann, and & Irving Mansfield.




By the time GSN got its hands on Faces, they were, as you can see, compressing closing credits for ad purps. Not good.

Rating: B-.