Saturday, December 31, 2016

Forgotten TV: 704 Hauser (1994)

Norman Lear thought he could, in a sense, reinvent the wheel.

His groundbreaking All in the Family, based on a British sitcom, was well settled into syndication, and, ultimately, cable reruns by the time Lear decided to return to Queens in 1994 with the short-lived 704 Hauser. That, friends, was the street address of Archie & Edith Bunker back in the day, but in 1994, a new family had moved in.

Ernie Cumberbatch (John Amos, ex-Good Times, The Mary Tyler Moore Show) and his wife have bought the Bunkers' former home, but now, the shoe is on the other foot in terms of political and racial humor. As you'll see in the opening moments of the first episode, Cumberbatch's son, Thurgood, or, "Goodie", has a white girlfriend, which by 1994 was so very acceptable.



T. E. Russell (Goodie) wasn't heard from again after the series ended. Maura Tierney, however, went on to the more successful NewsRadio the very next year. I think this was John Amos' last series.

If Lear hoped to capture the magic of All in the Family all over again, it didn't work.

No rating.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Rockin' Funnies: Boogie Fever (1977)

Frank DeVol is best remembered for composing the themes to Family Affair, My Three Sons, & The Brady Bunch, among others. In 1977, DeVol was put in front of the camera as Happy Kyne, musical director of Fernwood 2-Night (and, later, America 2-Night), and every so often, Kyne and his band, the Mirth Makers, would do a number during the show.

In this case, it's a cover of the Sylvers' #1 hit, "Boogie Fever", which topped the charts a year earlier. As you'll see, Barth Gimble (Martin Mull) isn't too thrilled with Kyne's singing.......



Where was Chuck Barris when you really needed him?

Would gossip mongers care about insurance? (2016)

Progressive Insurance has turned out some clunkers of late (i.e. anything with the talking box), but using Flo (Stephanie Courtney) in a parody of shows like Dish Nation and TMZ? We can get behind that. Just can't figure out the Robin Leach mimic doing the voiceover.....



Now, if they can just find a way to get rid of Flo's new, moronic sidekick, Jamie.......

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Musical Interlude: Try a Little Kindness (1969)

Now, here's an early video from Glen Campbell with a twist.

That twist is the use of a puppet doppleganger of Campbell for a good chunk of "Try a Little Kindness". Actually, the puppet is better classified as a Muppet. Yes, Jim Henson created the puppets for the video, and not long after Sesame Street launched in the fall of 1969, this video was used on the show.



The message in this song still resonates today. A certain President-elect might need to learn the lyrics............

On The Shelf: Beware the pop culture ides of March!

News first, then reviews.

IDW is rolling the dice by bringing the two Ghostbusters teams together in a miniseries launching in March. No, the "Real" Ghostbusters aren't crossing paths with their Filmation counterparts, though if IDW can get the rights to that crew....! Instead, Peter, Ray, Egon, & Winston meet the women from this year's feature film "reimagining" of the franchise. Ghostbusters 101 brings the two teams together at last. Like, you knew it was inevitable, didn't you?

Over at Dynamite, James Bond 007 relaunches with a new #1 in March, with Benjamin Percy (Green Arrow, Teen Titans) taking over as series writer. Warren Ellis' run ended this week, but rather than just take two months off and resume with issue 13, the dimwits at Dynamite have fallen prey to the #1 syndrome, a la Marvel. It's one of three Bond books in March, as Andy Diggle's Hammerhead miniseries wraps, and Felix Leiter reaches the halfway point. Seeing some preview pages of the latter's first issue, I'm not feeling the vibe.

Also from Dynamite, the former WB series, Charmed, returns to comics. I wonder if this would foreshadow the rumored reboot of the series for television. Also, Dynamite has acquired the license for everyone's favorite teen sleuths, The Hardy Boys & Nancy Drew. They're reimagining the latter as a "femme fatale", which suggests that the kids are a little bit older here. The plot? Frank & Joe Hardy's dad, Bayport detective Fenton Hardy, is dead, and his sons have been accused of murder. To clear themselves, they need Nancy's help. Hmmmmm........

Meanwhile, Marvel is testing the waters with Man-Thing again, this time in a 5 part miniseries written by youth horror master R. L. Stine (Goosebumps, The Nightmare Room, The Haunting Hour), who also gets to write some original stories for the backups. An extra hook is that somehow, a previous writer---I think--has endowed Man-Thing with the ability to speak, all the more to copy DC's Swamp Thing further. This might actually be worth the $4 per issue, which is more than I can say for a lot of Marvel product lately.

As we noted last time, the duo of Art Baltazar & Franco are reimagining Little Archie as one of four 1-shots arriving from Archie in March. Franco is also co-authoring the Sabrina 1-shot, and he & Baltazar are also responsible for DC's new Super Powers miniseries, the first volume under that title in 31 years. I guess DC just wasn't comfortable jumping right in with a Justice League Action tie-in book, which, for all intents & purposes, is what this really is.
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Time to hit the reading list.

After a 4 month delay, Harley's Little Black Book #5 finally hit stores, and the reason for the delay may just be artist Neal Adams, who was asked to draw the issue, a sort-of sequel to 1978's monumental Superman vs. Muhammad Ali treasury 1-shot, but with Harley Quinn subbing for the late boxing legend in the ring with the Man of Steel. Adams has kept busy doing variant covers for Green Arrow and Titans of late, and likely ran into deadline issues. The passing of Ali earlier this year might've been another factor, and the issue is dedicated in Ali's memory.

Anyway, the husband & wife team of Jimmy Palmiotti & Amanda Conner did their best to be faithful to Adams & Denny O'Neil's original concept, and Adams kept his end of the bargain, considering it's the 2nd Superman-related project he's worked on in as many years. Having never read the original story didn't matter. The odd couple dynamic between Supes & Harley was meant to be the biggest selling point. In cases like this, DC editorial can be forgiven for giving Harley that rouge white skin makeover (courtesy, of course, of the Joker), which actually makes her look hotter in a bikini.

Now, for their next trick, maybe Conner & Palmiotti can be, ah, persuaded to have Harley meet her spiritual cousins. You know, Bugs Bunny & Daffy Duck.

Rating: A.

Timed to coincide with the release of the "Suicide Squad" movie back in August, the Harley Quinn's Greatest Hits trade paperback collects material as diverse as Harl's comics debut in The Batman Adventures all the way back in 1993, and the New 52 launch of Suicide Squad in 2011, which has been reprinted at least twice previously already in the last 5 years, plus a chapter of Jeph (Ear) Loeb & Jim Lee's infamous "Hush" arc from Batman, and an issue of Gotham City Sirens, which, oh by the way, is reportedly being adapted into a feature film. A deliciously delirious mix of mirth & mayhem. Just not enough toon Harley.

Rating: B--.

The Flash was one of the first heroes reimagined at the dawn of the Silver Age in the late 50's, and even though some of those early tales have been reprinted at least once or twice, DC has seen fit to collect them in a new series of trade paperbacks. The Flash: The Silver Age, Volume 1 starts with the seminal issues of Showcase (1st series), leading to the relaunch of the original Flash Comics with a slightly altered title, but the numbering kept intact. It went monthly sometime in the late 70's and continued until the early 80's, stopping short, I believe of 400 issues before ending due to Crisis on Infinite Earths. John Broome & Carmine Infantino's original tales have a certain amount of simplicity to them, right down to Barry Allen being the eternally henpecked beau of reporter Iris West. It makes one wonder, though, why both TV Flashes have been dark haired (Barry was a blond in the books).......

Most of the Rogues you know and love are here, except for Heat Wave, The Top, & Captain Boomerang, likely to be saved for volume 2.

Rating: A.



Wednesday, December 28, 2016

What Might've Been: The Debbie Reynolds Show (1969)

NBC took a chance in 1969, thinking that actress-singer Debbie Reynolds could carry a sitcom, especially one that borrowed so heavily from one of the most iconic series of the 50's.

The Debbie Reynolds Show, however, lasted just 1 season, in large part because the star objected to the show being sponsored in part by a tobacco company. R. J. Reynolds, at the time, also was the corporate parent behind the Mott's line of applesauce products. Signed to a 2-year deal and given partial ownership of her show, Reynolds opted to walk away rather than continue the series. Detractors dismissed her show as being derivative of I Love Lucy, due largely to series creator Jess Oppenheimer, who had co-created Lucy, and brought in writers Bob Carroll, Jr. & Madelyn Davis, who came over from The Mothers-in-Law.

Director Ezra Stone and musical director Jack Marshall were better known for working at Universal, primarily on The Munsters.

No episodes are available online at present. However, we do have a trailer that comes from NBC's 1969-70 fall preview special, which was previously reviewed. Said trailer is narrated by Hugh Downs.



Filmways had previously collaborated with game show mogul Bob Stewart on Eye Guess for NBC, but this might've been the end of their primetime output for NBC, aside from the fact that Filmways at the time also owned Heatter-Quigley, whose Hollywood Squares had a primetime berth as well as a daytime one.

The above trailer is in memory of Reynolds, who passed away earlier today at 84 from a stroke, likely caused by stress over the death yesterday of daughter Carrie Fisher ("Star Wars", "The Blues Brothers") at 60.

No rating.

Sports this 'n' that

So the Buffalo Bills dumped the Ryan twins, Rex & Rob, on Tuesday, with one game left in the season. The Pegulas couldn't wait any longer, and reached a mutual agreement with Rex, who some say might be better suited for television instead of another head coaching job. Rob, meanwhile, may be done, as he's been jettisoned from his 3rd different team in the last decade (Dallas, New Orleans), and might be better served in the college ranks going forward.

The Bills close the season at the Meadowlands on New Year's Day against the Jets, hoping to avoid a season sweep. You'll recall the Bills swept the Jets in 2015, but it's looking like it could go the other way this time. However, the Jets have chosen to go with past-his-prime Ryan Fitzpatrick for the finale at QB over rookie Christian Hackenburg after Bryce Petty was placed on injured reserve, also on Tuesday.

That decision alone might seal Todd Bowles' fate after 2 seasons (remember, he was signed to replace Rex Ryan with the Jets), due to his reluctance to use Hackenburg even in garbage time, similar to Jeff Fisher's refusal to use top draft pick Jared Goff, and that, more than a sub .500 record, led to Fisher's departure in Los Angeles earlier this month. Color Bowles gone come Monday, win or lose.
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Meanwhile, after Jacksonville had sacked Gus Bradley last week, speculation had them talking to their original head coach, Tom Coughlin, about a reunion with the Jaguars. Now, with Ryan gone, Coughlin's name has come up in Buffalo, and you can bank on the tabloid press in New York stirring the pot for a return to the Meadowlands if in fact the Jets send Bowles packing next week. Just sayin'.
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Some jabroni posted on a WWE fan blog about 2 1/2 weeks ago claiming that the Big Show (Paul Wight) had died in an auto accident. Nuh-uh. The former champ is alive and well and training for a likely match with ex-NBA star and current Icy Hot salesman Shaquille O'Neal for Wrestlemania 33 in April. The only thing Show has lost of late has been weight, and lots of it, tipping the scales at last check at under 400 pounds. Trust me, that'll help him in Hollywood if in fact his wrestling days are nearing the end........
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Nothing speaks to the state of print journalism in 2016 than the lack of coverage of yesterday's games in the Niskayuna-Schenectady Mohawks hockey tournament at Union College. LaSalle avenged a final round loss to Essex Junction of Vermont in last year's final with a 4-3 verdict Tuesday afternoon, while host Niskayuna-Schenectady finished last in their own tournament, losing to West Seneca in the consolation game.

The scores weren't posted on Section II's hockey page until well after the LaSalle-Essex Junction game had ended, but as of this writing, it's still not complete, and that, perhaps, is the reason why there is no box score in either The Record or the Albany Times-Union this morning. Each paper will cite limited resources in terms of manpower availability, even though Monday's LaSalle-West Seneca game was on the front page of Tuesday's Times-Union sports section. Basketball at the high school level remains priority one during the winter season. In the case of The Record, their editorial staff chose not to assign a reporter for the tournament at all, this after the Cadets had finally gotten a feature article in the hometown paper a week ago. I don't think anything else needs be said.
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Meantime, the December 21 bowling match at Uncle Sam Lanes between Troy High and Christian Brothers Academy went unreported as well. Given how Troy is locked in the basement of the Suburban Council in bowling, I'd guess they didn't want to embarrass themselves any further if CBA actually blew them out. Troy has yet to win a match this season, and likely won't until they hire a coach who actually knows and understands the game. Based on what I've heard from friends, and this is just ye scribe's opinion, mind you, it seems bowling has become so low a priority at Troy High, they'd have to discontinue it as a winter sport unless they can find someone who can treat this as something other than a casual side gig. Just sayin'.
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Assuming CBA beat Troy on the lanes, it would salvage a horrific 24 hour period for the Brothers in the Collar City (December 20-21), which started with a 6-1 loss to LaSalle in hockey, and ended with a 15 point loss to Troy in basketball. CBA closes the regular season at home in the latter vs. Troy on Valentine's Day.

Meanwhile, Troy's boys host the annual Troy Holiday Classic basketball tournament tonight & tomorrow. Tonight's headline game, according to the Times-Union, at least, is a rematch of the Class A final from March between the Flying Horses and Lansingburgh. Troy, of course, is now in Class AA, so this will be the only meeting between the two schools this season. The women were supposed to play on December 10, but that game was cancelled for unknown reasons, presumably scheduling conflicts. The Troy girls dropped a heartbreaker to Glens Falls on 12/23, and will return to action on Friday, hosting Shaker.
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While all six teams in the AFC playoff tournament have been finalized, the seedings have not. Well, at least they've a leg up on the NFC, which still has to decide the North division in the season's final game between Detroit and Green Bay. The Lions currently hold the #3 seed in the NFC, while Green Bay is the #6 seed. If Green Bay wins Sunday night, and Washington beats the 5th seeded Giants, then Green Bay moves to #3, and Washington would have to travel to Lambeau Field the following week. Granted, the AFC West hasn't been decided, either, pending the outcome of play on Sunday, with Oakland, currently holding the #2 seed in the AFC, playing Denver. If they lose, the Raiders would drop down to #5, with Kansas City winning the division and the #2 seed. Worse, a New England win over 6th seeded Miami would ensure that the road to the Super Bowl would again go through Foxborough.

After New England ran it up on the inept, injury-depleted Jets on Christmas Eve, maybe Bill Bellichump should apply for a college job should he ever leave the Patriots. Either that, or a few rules changes should be made to level the playing field.......

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Musical Interlude: Somebody's Knockin' (1980-1)

In the course of music history, there've been a few blind singers that have had enormous success. Stevie Wonder & Ronnie Milsap are still around. Of course, we can't forget about the "Genius of Soul", Ray Charles.

Then, there is Terri Gibbs.

Perhaps the only blind female musician to hit the charts, Terri debuted in the fall of 1980 with "Somebody's Knockin'", which peaked at #13 on the Hot 100 and #8 on the country chart. It's a tale of being tempted by the devil, and it caused quite a stir upon its release.

For those who've knocked Terri's piano playing---some uninformed souls questioned the legitimacy of her playing at the 1981 Music City Awards---she learned to play the piano at 3, and, as Barry White explains in the intro, it was guitar legend Chet Atkins, head of country music at RCA for many years, who convinced Terri to relocate to Nashville---where she signed with MCA. Go figure.

The following clip appears to come from Solid Gold, where White is a guest co-host with Dionne Warwick.



Terri turned to Christian music and released a trio of Christian CDs before the end of the 80's, retiring in 1990.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Forgotten TV: Duffy's Tavern (1954)

A good number of radio shows made the transition from radio to television in the early years of the latter medium. However, for every Jack Benny Program or Dragnet or Gunsmoke that succeeded, there were others that failed, spectacularly, like The Shadow, or, in this case, Duffy's Tavern.

Series creator-star Ed Gardner thought Duffy, which had previously been adapted into a feature film, could succeed in television, and sold Hal Roach, Jr. on the idea. Unfortunately, it also resulted in career death for Gardner, who didn't land another significant gig in either radio or television, as this version lasted just 1 season.

Gardner's vocal patterns as bartender Archie were the inspiration for Daws Butler's feline sleuth, Snooper, on The Quick Draw McGraw Show just a few years later. Least-ways, now I know why Snooper talked like some ill-educated Noo Yawkah.

Anyway, let's get to the series opener, "Grand Opening", as Archie and faithful customer (if you can call him that), Finnegan (Alan Reed) discover the reason why no one's going to the tavern.



The problem? Gardner wasn't as good an actor as he thought he was, and made a terrible transition to television. He played his role the same as he did on radio, and did nothing to try to advance the concept for television. Duffy was never seen nor heard, just someone Archie talked to on the phone at the start of every episode, both on radio & television. As it happened, Jackie Gleason perfected the idea for his Joe The Bartender skits, which introduced the world to his Finnegan, one Crazy Guggenheim (played by actor-singer Frank Fontaine). Maybe Gardner should've gotten lessons from the original "Great One".

Rating: C-.

Musical Interlude: Careless Whisper (1984)

First off, hoping everyone had a Merry Christmas.

In the music industry, however, they're in mourning.

George Michael, 1/2 of Wham! in the early 80's before going solo, passed away over the weekend at 53. While Wham!, his partnership with Andrew Ridgely, didn't last very long, Michael soldiered on as a solo act, but as people's musical tastes began to change in the 90's, Michael's star began to dim.

"Careless Whisper", off Wham!'s 1984 album, "Make It Big", hit #1 both in the UK and the US, the latter in February 1985, and the video, of course, got heavy airplay on MTV. Co-written by Michael & Ridgely, it's actually Michael's first solo single. His first solo CD, "Faith", would appear 3 years later. I'm sure, however, that it would come as quite the shock to many of his female fans to discover that while Michael played the part of a playboy in the following video, and played it well, it would later come out he was working the other side of the street, having come out as gay a few years later after a brush with the law, as memory serves.

Here's "Careless Whisper":

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Musical Interlude: 2000 Miles (1983)

This is not your average Christmas song.

"2000 Miles" comes from the Pretenders' 1983 album, "Learning to Crawl".



Merry Christmas, everyone. We'll be back on Monday.

Countdown to Christmas: Christmas in Hooterville (The Beverly Hillbillies, 1968)

Here's the other half of the two-part Christmas story arc from The Beverly Hillbillies from season 7 (1968). The episode, "Christmas in Hooterville", starts in Beverly Hills at the Clampett mansion, but it's not long before Jed packs up the family and heads for Hooterville. The show intro on this print was deleted to keep the copyright police away.



Rating: B.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Countdown to Christmas: The Big .22 Rifle For Christmas (Dragnet radio program, 1949)

We've previously shown you the television adaptation of this next Dragnet episode.

"The Big .22 Rifle For Christmas" was first broadcast in 1949, and would be replayed for the next three years before being replaced by "The Big Little Jesus". Both holiday episodes would subsequently be adapted for television. Here, though, is where the tradition started......



Maybe this shouldn't be a surprise, but Jack Webb and staff received complaints from----wait for it----the National Rifle Association. Apparently, the NRA wasn't paying attention.

Rating: A.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Countdown to Christmas: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, a la WWE (2016)

You ain't heard or read Clement Clarke Moore's A Visit From St. Nicholas, aka 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, (since most folks only remember that opening line) until you've seen how a group of WWE superstars, from The New Day to The Miz to Bayley, offer their interpretation. Referee John Cone adds some comedy relief, as does Heath Slater, who is a little confused since Rudolph wasn't included. Then again, someone should explain to the 4-time tag team champion that Rudolph didn't come along until several years after Moore's poem....



Now, that is campy.

Dunce Cap Award: Grayson Allen

Duke University has a rep for feasting on non-league opponents prior to the start of Atlantic Coast Conference play. Sure, everyone does it, and the tomato cans are handsomely rewarded.

However, the Blue Devils have a problem child on their hands who could be a liability to the team in the long term.

On Wednesday night, in front of a national television audience watching on ESPN 2, Duke's Grayson Allen tripped an Elon player---on purpose, according to game officials---as he was falling out of bounds. He was assessed a technical foul, and sat the remainder of the first half, then returned four minutes into the second half.

This morning, Allen was suspended indefinitely from the team, as this is his third tripping of an opposing player in this calendar year. The first two came in February. And while Allen has already gotten necessary punishment from the school, additional sanctions from the ACC are not only also likely, but necessary as well. In this writer's opinion, unless Allen gets some counseling to properly channel his emotions and intensity on the court, he's likely played his last game at Duke.

Yes, Duke ultimately won the game, but the last thing they need is for one player's inability to maintain emotional focus on-court to paint the Blue Devils with a wide brush as a dirty team. I can see it if they argue that Allen was physically out of control as he went out of bounds and couldn't help himself, but the argument here is that because he had gone out of his way to trip players on two opposing teams last season, he has gained a bad reputation in such a short period of time.

For now, Allen gets the Dunce Cap for his fool's folly, as his actions could still have long term consequences for Duke.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Countdown to Christmas: This Christmas (1992)

From In Living Color:

The cast gathers around the piano to wish family and viewers alike a Merry Christmas in 1992. Then, Jim Carrey queues up an original number, sung by Jamie Foxx, in one of his first musical performances on the show. Here's "This Christmas". The closing credits roll halfway through the song.



To think that 4 years later, Jennifer Lopez would be climbing the charts, and Jamie would follow some time later in a collaboration with Busta Rhymes and P. Diddy, if I recall correctly.

Weasel of the Week: John R. K. Howard and friends

14 months ago, a mentally disabled African-American high school student in Idaho fell victim to a gang assault that allegedly involved one of the perps jamming a coat hanger into the victim, causing severe injuries that required hospitalization. Presently, the victim is in a psychiatric hospital, but his family filed a lawsuit against Dietrich High, where the incident took place, and its faculty for failing to protect the victim.

Deputy Attorney General Casey Hemmer claimed that while the actions of John R. K. Howard were egregious, it wasn't a sex crime.

SAY WHAT?

Howard pled guilty to a lesser charge, and will be sentenced in February. Prosecutors have recommended 300 hours of community service, and the plea bargain allows Howard to maintain his innocence despite the evidence against him.

BOLLOCKS & BALDERDASH!

The victim's family filed at $10 million dollar civil lawsuit alleging "deliberate indifference" toward the safety of the victim. But, then, there's this gem, courtesy of Raw Story, that might explain the AG's office's lame position:

“Mr. Howard is a relative of prominent individuals in the community and, at least in part due to his athletic ability and community connections, the Defendants ignored or were deliberately indifferent to the behavior of Mr. Howard which included aggression, taunting and bullying of The Plaintiff and other students in the District. With deliberate indifference, the Defendants did nothing to curb the vicious acts of Mr. Howard who brought with him from Texas a culture of racial hatred towards the Plaintiff.” (bold italics mine)

Roughly translated, Howard comes from a wealthy family of influence, and likely is another punk with affluenza. He & his family relocated to Idaho from Texas, and, as noted above, brought with them the negative attitude that got him in trouble. Someone's palms got greased to get this dweeb off, but there's nothing to save him, or his associates, or even the moronic Hemmer, from getting the Weasel ears for this week.

How much d'ya wanna bet this will bring the usual agents provocateur (i.e. Al Sharpton) to Idaho?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Countdown to Christmas: Christmas Canon (1998)

I'd heard Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Christmas Canon" on the radio in recent years, but never knew it was a TSO track, as the artist wasn't always identified on the air. This version comes from TSO's 1998 CD, "The Christmas Attic". Six years later, the group would reissue it with a harder rock edge.

Sports this 'n' that

With two weeks left in the regular season, the playoff picture in the NFL is starting to take shape.

Predictably, the New England Patriots clinched the AFC East title after beating Denver on Sunday. With divisional games left vs. the Jets (Christmas Eve) and Miami (New Year's Day), the Pats, whose only two losses came at home, would be wise to rest Tom Brady and some of the other starters to protect them from injury, but if history is any barometer, coach Bill Belichick isn't one to do things the right way in the name of player safety. TE Rob Gronkowski, on injured reserve presently, ended the 2012 season on IR after suffering an injury whilst the Patriots were running it up on Indianapolis. New England is hoping their star party boy can return during the post-season, but don't hold your breath.

The other divisions are a little too tight at the moment. First place in the North will be on the line when Baltimore & Pittsburgh meet on Christmas Day, one of just 2 games on Sunday, as NBC will have the Kansas City-Denver rematch. Both AFC West teams are trying to catch Oakland for the division title. There stands the chance that neither Denver nor Carolina will reach the playoffs after being in the Super Bowl 10 months ago.

Over in the NFC, Seattle wrapped up the West, but, again, the other divisions will come down to the wire. Dallas needed Detroit to beat the Giants to clinch the East, but, nope. Now, the Cowboys will have to beat the Lions themselves next Monday to put the division to bed, provided Philadelphia doesn't do them a favor and beats Big Blue on Thursday. Got all that?
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After mostly reading about the Keystone Kops approach to officiating this season (i.e. too many missed calls), it certainly looked like the fix was in last night when Carolina had to overcome a couple of missed calls to beat the Washington Americans. Quarterback/yogurt salesman Cam Newton was called for taunting despite the fact that he took a shot to the head as he slid on a play. Retired referee Gerald Austin, now a rules expert for ESPN, said that Washington should've been flagged for unnecessary roughness to offset the taunting call. Two plays later, after Washington gained possession on a punt, what looked like a false start on Washington was ignored in favor of an offsides against Carolina.

Newton has gone so far as to meet with embattled commissioner Roger Goodell about the perceptions of a double standard when it comes to a lack of personal foul flags when he's been hit by opposing defensive linemen while in the pocket. Newton is one of a small handful of African-American QB's starting for NFL teams this season, including Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay), Dak Prescott (Dallas), Tyrod Taylor (Buffalo), Robert Griffin III (Cleveland), and, briefly, Jacoby Brissette (New England). Every time a flag is thrown when someone like Tom Brady or Derek Carr or Drew Brees is hit, and a hit on Newton is ignored, you wonder what kind of backward message is being sent.

Of course, it can also be filed under, "What hath Donald Trump wrought?".
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LaSalle Institute's current 7 game undefeated streak in hockey caught the attention of the fair weather hometown press, leading to a feature article in Monday's Record. If reporter Stan Hudy did his homework,  he'd have known that senior forward-captain Logan DiScanio has recorded hat tricks in his last three games to lead the team in goals (11). The skating Cadets welcome CBA to what figures to be a noisy Conway Arena at Hudson Valley Community College on Wednesday night before taking part in the annual Mohawks tournament at Union College next week.
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Troy High's boys basketball team returns home tonight after a 2-1 road trip, and will entertain Ballston Spa and CBA this week, with just one day's break between games. I'd pay close attention to the game vs. the Scotties tonight, as there might be some lingering tensions stemming from the football playoffs two months ago. Zotto Memorial Gym figures to be packed for CBA's annual visit on Thursday night.

Meanwhile, the women sit atop the Suburban Council's grey division (billed as Division X in the Albany Times-Union for some odd reason) at 3-1, and will visit Ballston Spa tonight and will play Glens Falls on Friday before a two week Christmas break. The Lady Horses avenged a loss to Mohonasen last Friday, and with defending division champion Albany off to a slow start, there might just be a changing of the guard in the league again,

Back to the boys for a second. The last thing Troy's Daniel Buie will want over the next three nights is a distraction. Older brother Taran, who played for coach Richard Hurley at Bishop Maginn a decade ago, was arrested on drug possession charges over the weekend. Taran is still trying to finish out his college career, but keeps taking missteps along the way. Now 25, Taran is playing for a smaller school flying under the radar, though I doubt he'll finish this season if the law has its way, and likely will. You can figure the Ballston Spa and/or CBA fans will look to taunt Daniel during games to throw him off his game. That's just the nature of things. Just saying.


Monday, December 19, 2016

Musical Interlude: In the Ghetto (1969)

Elvis Presley's rendition of Mac Davis' social commentary, "In The Ghetto", became one of Presley's most successful hits of the 60's, peaking at #3 on the Hot 100 and topping Cashbox's chart. It was a change of pace for Presley, as he veered away from the up-tempo rockers of the 50's to ballads such as "Ghetto", which has since been covered by a variety of artists, from Nick Cave to Candi Staton to Dolly Parton to Zooey Deschanel, who sang "Ghetto" in character on New Girl. There's even a version recorded by South Park's Eric Cartman.

Even though "Ghetto" is set in Chicago, it could just as easily fit into any inner-city neighborhood in America.



To think that Presley's long time mentor-manager, Colonel Tom Parker, didn't want Elvis doing "Ghetto". Y'think he regretted any doubts after it hit the top 5?

Sunday, December 18, 2016

What Might've Been: Play The Percentages (1980)

The wasteland of failed game shows isn't restricted to network television, not by any stretch. Some syndicated series have bombed, too, and spectacularly at that.

Jack Barry & Dan Enright were packaging game shows for syndication on a virtually exclusive basis after CBS cut Tic Tac Dough and The Joker's Wild in the late 70's. In January 1980, Barry & Enright introduced Play The Percentages, which lasted 8 1/2 months and almost as many formats. If you wonder why it failed so badly, it's largely because the producers were impatient, hoping that the show would work.

Originally, two married couples played against each other. Two months later, that idea was scrapped, and individual contestants were matched. In other words, it quickly morphed into just another Barry-Enright game, like Joker or Dough. Geoff Edwards, perhaps still best remembered for Jackpot in the mid-70's for Bob Stewart & NBC, and helming Chuck Barris' revival of Treasure Hunt, also in syndication, was the host.

Let's take a look at a sample episode.



They tried to avoid the cookie cutter approach, but that eventually was what they went to to save the show, and it failed.

Rating: B.

On the Shelf: Two 70's icons come together

Dynamite Entertainment & DC Comics' latest collaboration pairs Wonder Woman '77 with The Bionic Woman in what will be the first of two miniseries featuring the Lynda Carter version of the Amazing Amazon. Andy Mangels, noted TV & comics historian and writer, is at the helm for this one. A collaborative effort between the OSI & IADC, the latter being the government organization Diana Prince worked for in the final season of Wonder Woman will lead the two heroines to face one of Diana's oldest enemies, and, in all probability, some fembots. I've already figured out which of Wonder Woman's enemies appears in this miniseries, even though the villain is shrouded in silhouette in the opener.

Unfortunately, the artwork looks like they were trying to avoid having issues with blurring in the course of printing. Mangels' script may be a little predictable, but should be a fun ride.

Rating: B-.

Meanwhile, let's check back on some recently concluded miniseries:

Wacky Raceland (DC) started off with promise, and even went so far as to reveal that there was more to Dick Dastardly than the scheming bumbler of yore. Writer Ken Pontac gave Dastardly a wife & son who were sacrificed, if you will, so that Dick could save his own skin well before the apocalyptic disaster. Unfortunately, Pontac's plot spun off the rails soon after. Yes, he gave Dick a win in one of the races (at long last), but there were other unpleasant shocks. The disembodied Announcer, revealed to be a female voice in the opener, was revealed in the finale as the disembodied brain of Pat Pending's late wife. Pending became the latest character to be race-flipped, for no other reason than, well, just because. Pontac was making it up as he went along, and sacrificed the goodwill of Wacky Races fans along the way. By the end, Leonardo Manco's artwork couldn't save the book from diving off a cliff. DC, apparently, saw that not everyone was interested from the get go, and cut the book to a miniseries to cut losses. However, Dastardly, likely reverting back to his traditional look, will return in his own series in 2017.

Original rating: A.
Final rating: C-.

The Shadow: The Death of Margo Lane (Dynamite), written & drawn by Matt Wagner, turned out to be a bit of a bait & switch. Of course, Wagner wasn't planning on killing off Margo after all, but the idea was to make this more of a psychological thriller to get inside the head, if at all possible of The Shadow. There are places you just can't go with pulp heroes like The Shadow, and that was one of them.

Final rating: B-.

Batman '66 Meets Steed & Mrs. Peel (DC/Boom! Studios) saw the comics debut of made-for-TV villain Lord Marmaduke Pfogg (played by Rudy Vallee on Batman) in a first-ever collaboration with Mr. Freeze to aid what we all thought was the daughter of the Cybernauts' creator. The twist ending is sure to please fans of both Batman & The Avengers. Up next for the Batman '66 franchise will be a team-up with Wonder Woman '77 (see above), debuting next month.

Final rating: A-.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Forgotten TV: Hollywood A Go Go (1965)

Hollywood A Go Go started as a locally produced music show based in Los Angeles in 1964. The following winter, the producers inked a distribution deal with Four Star Television to get the show syndicated across the country. Radio personality Sam Riddle, better known as an announcer for game shows in the 70's, and later developed the popular talent show, Star Search, in the 80's, is in front of the camera as series host.

By this point, with their output of crime dramas & westerns shrinking, and seemingly every sitcom the studio produced failing to get past a season, Four Star was no longer the major player it was a decade earlier. Hollywood represented another shift in the studio's overall philosophy. It was their first variety show, and it, too, ended up failing, cancelled after 1 calendar year. Four Star had also branched out to game shows, with the Saturday morning series, Shenanigans, having launched in the fall of '64. Their most successful game, PDQ, like Shenanigans a collaboration with Heatter-Quigley, lasted for about 3-4 years.

Let's take a look at the series finale, which featured The Byrds, James Darren, and so much more.



No rating.

Musical Interlude: Baby Come Back (1968)

The Equals only had one hit in the US, as they were much more successful in the UK and elsewhere. As it was, "Baby Come Back", released in 1968, only went as far as #32 on the Hot 100 here, but hit #1 in England.

The group's only other claim to fame is guitarist-vocalist Eddy Grant, who left the group a few years later and began a solo career that saw him return to the American charts in 1982 with "Electric Avenue". However, Grant is not the lead singer here. Derv Gordon has those chores.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Tim Conway shills for Manufacturers Hanover (1977)

In the 70's, Manufacturers Hanover bank was one of the major banks in New York City, such that they occasionally recruited celebrities to do commercials for them. I've been trying to find a spot from the early 70's, around the time cable television first came to upstate NY, with Paul Lynde, but that seems to have been lost to the mists of time.

On the other hand, here's one from 1977 with Tim Conway (The Carol Burnett Show), with a cameo appearance by local hoops icon Willis Reed.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

What Might've Been: Stoney Burke (1962)

Six years before achieving icon status with the original Hawaii Five-O, Jack Lord tried his hand as a rodeo cowboy in the short-lived ABC series, Stoney Burke. Apparently, audiences just weren't ready for this sort of drama, hence its cancellation after 1 season.

Never saw the show, so there won't be a rating. However, we can offer a sample episode, "The Weapons Man". Guest stars include Philip Ahn, later of Kung Fu, and Frank DeKova. Yes, three years before F-Troop, DeKova plays a Native American.



Musical director Dominic Frontiere doubled as an executive producer for his production company, Daystar. I have to assume writer-producer Leslie Stevens was Frontiere's business partner. The two would replace Burke on the ABC schedule the next year with The Outer Limits, which fared slightly better, running for 2 seasons. However, Daystar was dissolved after Limits ended its initial run in 1965.

Musical Interlude: Little Willy (1972)

England's The Sweet only had a few hits here in the US. For example, "Ballroom Blitz" might be better known for actress-singer Tia Carrere's cover in "Wayne's World" in 1992. 20 years earlier, the Sweet peaked at #3 here in the US with their first American hit, "Little Willy".

A little bit about Top of the Pops, from whence we get this clip. If the set looks even remotely familiar, well, it was the inspiration for MTV's Club MTV, which launched some 15 years later at New York's Palladium nightclub. "Downtown" Julie Brown, a former dancer on Pops, served as the host of Club MTV for virtually its entire run, and likely put the bug in the producers' ears to put in all those television monitors.........! Around the same time that Club MTV launched, CBS tried an American version of Pops, with Nia Peeples as host in a late night format. That lasted a year, and we'll discuss that another time.

Right now, here's "Little Willy".



I first discovered "Willy" on a K-Tel album I had in the mid-70's. What shocks me is that no one's tried covering it in the 44 years since its peak period.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Countdown to Christmas: The Christmas Song (1985)

You've never heard "The Christmas Song" quite like this.

Released as the 2nd single from Billy Crystal's 1985 CD, "Marvelous", the actor is a one-man jam, if you will, using the voices of Sammy Davis, Jr., Muhammad Ali, Howard Cosell, and, of course, Fernando, plus a few other "friends", to reinterpret Mel Torme's holiday classic, best known for having been recorded by Nat King Cole, among others.

Unfortunately, there is no actual video, so the following slide show will do. "Sammy"'s intro takes too long, if you ask me.




Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Classic begats a Classic: Lou Grant (1977)

Scholarly fans of The Mary Tyler Moore Show will recall that Lou Grant (Edward Asner) had been in the print media before moving to television, a fact noted many times during the course of the series' 7 year run.

So, in 1977, co-creators Allan Burns & James L. Brooks took advantage of that point, and sent Lou out West after being dismissed by WJM-TV. Grant lands at the Los Angeles Tribune, which, as shown in the intro, has fallen into such hard times that readers line their birdcages with it. Producer-director Gene Reynolds was brought over from another CBS hit, M*A*S*H, to work on the show, which anchored the back end of CBS' Monday lineup.

The new setting also meant a new supporting cast to go along with the transition of Grant from being a supporting player in a sitcom to a lead character in a drama. Reportedly, Burns & Brooks saw inspiration in the politically charged "All The President's Men", which had been released a year earlier, and also offered an inside look into the making of a newspaper. The supporting cast includes Mason Adams, for many years the voice behind a zillion Smuckers jelly commercials, and introduces new faces like Robert Walden, Linda Kelsey (who joined the show a month into the first season),  and Daryl Anderson. CBS wisely put Lou Grant on Mondays, perhaps knowing that putting it on Saturdays, where Moore was, might not have worked.

Asner won 2 Emmy awards, becoming the first actor to win dramatic and comedy awards in the same role. Having spent 12 seasons total in the role (1970-82), Asner also had set a different kind of record, one later eclipsed by Kelsey Grammer (Cheers, Frasier) and Richard Belzer (Homicide: Life on the Street, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit), although in those cases, those roles didn't switch genres.

Let's take a look at the series opener, as Lou arrives in L. A.:



Never saw the show, so there's no rating.

Countdown to Christmas: Malice in the Palace (1949)

The Three Stooges are Middle Eastern restaurant owners in 1949's "Malice in the Palace". A pair of customers plan a robbery of King Rootintootin, but another thief, the Emir of Shmo, has beaten them to the king's precious diamond. So, Moe, Shemp, & Larry decide to retrieve the diamond for a handsome reward.

So why does this fit into our Countdown to Christmas? Watch and see.

\

7 years later, there was a remake, except that Shemp had passed on in the interim, and studio player Joe Palma acted as a stand-in for new scenes shot to fit with stock footage taken from the original.

Rating: A-.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Countdown to Christmas: The Jolliest Fat Man (1976)

From Laverne & Shirley:

Lenny & the Squigtones (Michael McKean & David L. Lander) perform "The Jolliest Fat Man". I think you know what this is about.


Comics this 'n' that

No comic book reviews this time. That'll be later in the week, but a couple of big news stories have broken today.

DC Comics has announced that there will be 4 annuals in March linking together some of DC's most popular characters with some of Hanna-Barbera's. Some of this is just too wack to contemplate, but judge for yourselves:

Adam Strange-Future Quest: Spinning out of the current Death of Hawkman miniseries (don't ask), Strange winds up on an Earth he's not familiar with, and meets up with the Quest team. In the back-up, the Batman has a most unlikely visitor in the Batcave-----Top Cat! Marc Andreyko & Jeff Parker, the co-writers of the forthcoming Batman '66 Meets Wonder Woman '77 miniseries, co-wrote the lead feature, drawn by Steve Lieber, while Phil Winslade gets to draw Top Cat. Oh, this will be fun.

Booster Gold-The Flintstones: Mark Russell, writer of the Flinstones monthly, has Fred and BFF Barney Rubble meet up with Booster, who hails from the 25th century (no Buck Rogers jokes, please). The Jetsons, last seen in Scooby-Doo Team-Up issue 8, get a modern makeover from Amanda Connor & Jimmy Palmiotti (Harley Quinn), and it appears that the Palmiottis have cooked up an "untold origin" of Rosie, the Jetsons' robot maid.

Space Ghost-Green Lantern. Enough said. Howard Chaykin has been tasked with a back-up feature with H-B's first primetime stars, Ruff & Reddy.

Finally, there's the Suicide Squad (speaking of Harley), getting bailed out by the most unlikely rescuers of all time-------

THE BANANA SPLITS!

I'll pause while you ask......

SAY WHAT?

Yeah, as goofy as it sounds. Ben Caldwell (Prez) returns to draw this one, written by Tony Bedard. Snagglepuss is in the backup slot, drawn by Dale Eaglesham.

Some of you are asking, why doesn't Scooby-Doo merit an annual? Well, not yet anyway, but weirder things are happening. However, if Space Ghost-Green Lantern does the amount of business I expect it to, we could see the Phantom of the Spaceways meet the rest of the Justice League in 2018 or sooner.
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Over at Archie, they need to put up the "Caveat Emptor" sign with these solicitations, also due in March.

The New Riverdale line tests the waters with a Sabrina the Teenage Witch 1-shot, spinning out of her appearance in Jughead 9-11. This story, though, has Sabrina on her first day at school. Hmmmm. Also, we'll see The Archies finally come together. That's the good news. The bad? Alex Segura, who hasn't exactly won fans with his mishandling of the Dark Circle line, is writing. Speaking of Dark Circle, Frank Tieri, whose Hangman seems to only show up when its artist feels like finishing an issue, moves over to the other beleagured line, Archie Horror, for a twisted take on Jughead. The subtitle, The Hunger, suggests that ol' Juggie may either be a vampire in this continuity, outside of Afterlife With Archie, or, worse, a cannibal. Can't guarantee this will be on time, either.

Rounding out the quartet is the revival of Little Archie, in the very capable hands of Art Baltazar and Franco, who've previously done Tiny Titans, among other projects, for DC, and L'il Hellboy for Dark Horse. I've a feeling two of these books will graduate to ongoing, and I think you know which two.

Unfortunately, the revived Reggie & Me, which just launched, has been downgraded to a 5-issue miniseries, presumably due to poor advance orders. The way Reggie Mantle has been reposited as having no redeeming value at all in the New Riverdale line, should that be a surprise?


Sunday, December 11, 2016

What Might've Been: Yancy Derringer (1958)

Yancy Derringer lasted just one season, caught in a glut of Westerns. Its Christmas episode, "Old Dixie", is getting some play this month on Get TV (check local listings for forthcoming air dates).

Jock Mahoney was cast as Derringer, posited as a gentleman adventurer, sort of in the mold of Gene Barry's characterization of Bat Masterson, which was running at the same time, except that Derringer had one specific base of operations, based in New Orleans. Federal agent Colton (Kevin Hagen, later of Little House on the Prairie) was Derringer's contact, who often had to arrest Derringer if he broke the law in the course of an investigation.

The problem? This comes across as dull as dishwater. Enough said.

Edit, 2/1/17: Unfortunately, the person who posted "Old Dixie" to YouTube withdrew his account. We will sub the intro:



Rating: C.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Countdown to Christmas: Little Altar Boy (1968)

"Little Altar Boy" was originally recorded by Vic Dana in 1961. Four years later, Andy Williams covered it, and then, in 1968, Glen Campbell recorded this version. Unfortunately, there's no actual video, so you'll just have to admire the cover of Campbell's album, "That Christmas Feeling".



10 years later, the Carpenters recorded the song. Not sure how many others have other than who's been mentioned.......

High school hockey: Tri-Falls @ LaSalle, 12/10/16

In sports, regardless of level, everything runs in cycles. A team can be on top of the heap one year, then plunge from the penthouse to the basement the next.

Never is this more evident than in high school hockey.

Take for example Shenendehowa, which has one of the most elite overall programs in New York. However, after hockey coach Juan de la Rocha resigned following the 2014-15 season, the Plainsmen have moved down to the middle of the pack in the Capital District High School Hockey League (CDHSHL), and lost back-to-back road games within the last 24 hours.

In sharp contrast would be the skating Cadets of LaSalle Institute. Coach Tim Flanigan's club had gotten off to slow starts the last two seasons, only to finish strong enough to advance to post-season play. At the rate things are going now, they may not need a play-in game come mid-February.

Entering play tonight, LaSalle had completed a season opening 4 game road trip by demolishing Queensbury, 12-3, on Wednesday night, running their record to 2-0-2. Playing for the first time on their home rink at Hudson Valley Community College, the Cadets were greeted by a larger than usual student section. That's what winning will do. It gets more people interested, although certain corners of the local press still treat the Cadets like the late Rodney Dangerfield, giving them no respect. In fact, the hometown paper didn't include tonight's game on their local sports schedule in today's editions. Whose fault that might be, I cannot be certain.

Digression over. Tri-Falls took an early 1-0 lead in the first period on a power play goal by Jared Thomas as the Rivermen enjoyed a 2-man advantage. A few minutes later, Thomas lit the lamp again, whizzing a one-timer past goaltender Zach Rentz. With a little more than a minute left, senior forward Logan DiScanio put the Cadets on the board, then tied the game in the 2nd period with a one-timer of his own.

That first goal by DiScanio woke up the Cadets from an early game slumber. The defense tightened, as Thomas and the Rivermen were shut down the rest of the way. Jack O'Bryan broke the tie late in the 2nd period, putting LaSalle in front to stay. DiScanio completed a hat trick, and Sam Mulson, and Mike Baker added insurance goals in the 3rd, and LaSalle ran their unbeaten streak to 5 in a row (3-0-2) with a 6-2 win. Tri-Falls will host the return match on February 8.

Perhaps fittingly, LaSalle hosts Shen on December 14. Even though the Plainsmen are 1-0 in league play, they have struggled outside the league. Still, this will be a litmus test for LaSalle, to see just how far they've really come.

Classic TV: Trackdown (1957)

Viewers of certain generations will remember the late Robert Culp for I Spy (1965-8) or The Greatest American Hero, but before either one of those series, Culp first cut his teeth in Westerns.

Trackdown, spun off from Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre, ran for 2 seasons (1957-9) on CBS, and created a more realistic picture of the Texas Rangers of the Old West, in contrast to The Lone Ranger, which ended its run a year earlier.

Hoby Gilman (Culp) settles in as an interim sheriff in a small town, but not before traveling across the southwest in pursuit of outlaws, con artists, and thieves. Trackdown, in turn, spun off Wanted: Dead or Alive by introducing bounty hunter Josh Randall (Steve McQueen) in a 1st season episode. I wish I was able to have that particular one ready, as it was fresh in my memory, having aired earlier today on Me-TV. McQueen had appeared in an earlier episode as a set of twin brothers. Culp also wrote at least one episode himself.

Me-TV airs a full hour of Trackdown on Saturday mornings, added to the schedule back in October, as the network expanded its Saturday Western block to its current length (8 am-7 pm ET). As we previously documented, Zane Grey airs on Grit weekday mornings, so maybe they'll also take a crack at Trackdown (and vice versa, if Me-TV has an interest in Zane Grey) down the line.

Edit, 2/22/17: Had to change the video since "Law in Lampasas" was deleted by YouTube. Thanks to a tip from Mike Doran, this one may have some relevance with a certain President.




Rating: A.

Friday, December 9, 2016

What Might've Been: Johnny Ringo (1959)

It isn't often anymore that a show that generates decent or strong ratings doesn't return for another season.

Back in the early days of television, corporate sponsors controlled a lot of primetime shows, and if there was something they didn't like, they asked for the show to be cancelled, so long as the time slot could be refilled by another series they could get behind.

Such was the case with Johnny Ringo, the fictionalized account of a real life outlaw in the 19th century. Johnson Wax (now S. C. Johnson) was the sponsor, and decided they wanted a sitcom airing in Ringo's spot the next season, resulting in the series being cancelled when the network (CBS) couldn't find another spot and/or sponsor for it.

This itineration of Ringo came from the pen of no less than Aaron Spelling, who was just getting his feet wet in television. Spelling was commissioned by Dick Powell to develop the show for its star, actor-singer-songwriter Don Durant, who composed and sang the show's theme song, with the vocals playing over the closing credits.

In the series, Ringo was looking to leave his gunfighter past behind him and begin a new life. He's hired on as a sheriff in a small Arizona town overrun with corruption. This is all explained in the opener, "The Arrival", with James Coburn in an early role of his own.



Co-star Mark Goddard, of course, is better known for Lost in Space, and moved from Ringo to Robert Taylor's The Detectives.

Rating: A.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Countdown to Christmas: The Week Before Christmas (Beverly Hillbillies, 1968)

Here's the first part of a holiday crossover between The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction from 1968, which would be season 7 of Hillbillies and season 6 of Junction. Seems Granny (Irene Ryan) has been in a long-distance relationship with Hooterville's multi-tasking ace Sam Drucker (Frank Cady), and two of the Bradley sisters are swooning over Jethro (Max Baer, Jr.).

Take note of some product placement at the start, although the Kellogg's logo was cloaked from a box of Corn Flakes as Jethro's eating breakfast. I think that's because Kellogg's was no longer sponsoring Hillbillies.



If I didn't know any better, I'd think that the chimp would resurface on ABC's Lancelot Link 2 years later, since Frank Inn trained the simian cast on that series.

No rating. Have little memory of seeing this episode or the next one, which we'll have up soon.

Weasel of the Week: Lucy Richards

"Lucy! You've got some 'splainin' to do!"---Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz) to Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball), I Love Lucy.

Next week will mark the 4 year anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.. Unfortunately, some people still can't accept the fact that the one man assault conducted by Adam Lanza actually happened.

People like Lucy Richards of Tampa believe that the entire incident was a hoax, even to this day, and refuse to accept the facts as exactly that. Richards was arrested on December 5 after issuing death threats to one of the parents of a Sandy Hook student killed in the attack all the way back in January. Where people like Richards get these ideas is the real mystery.

They listen to conspiracy theorists like radio host Alex Jones, the founder of InfoWars, and other like minded types who have axes to grind against the government. Never mind the fact that President-elect Donald Trump has been a frequent guest on Jones' show, giving him credibility in the mainstream, and forcing calls for Trump to denounce Jones. That hasn't happened yet.

Lucy Richards began sending death threats to Len Pozner, who now lives in South Florida, and is still grieving over the death of his youngest child, Noah, a first grader at Sandy Hook Elementary. Dealing with disturbed people like Richards isn't helping at all.

Richards will be in court on December 19, five days after the anniversary. She's just the latest fool to continue to perpetuate the lie that the massacre didn't really happen. 27 graves, including that of Adam Lanza, say otherwise, and so does this week's Weasel award. I suspect, though, that Richards will serve her sentence not in jail, but in a mental hospital. Which actually might be the safest place for her.


Countdown to Christmas: I Believe in Father Christmas (1975)

Greg Lake's "I Believe in Father Christmas" was written not with the idea of a new traditional carol, but rather to protest the continuing commercialization of Christmas. However, it landed at #2 on the British charts for nearly 2 months.

In memory of Lake, who passed away at 69.



Let's see how many radio stations will give this heavy airplay for the next two weeks.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Countdown to Christmas: Merry Christmas, Darling (1978)

There's an interesting backstory behind the Carpenters' "Merry Christmas, Darling".

The lyrics were written by Frank Pooler in 1946, meant for his then-girlfriend, but the couple split before Pooler could present the tune to his lady. 20 years later, while teaching at California State University in Long Beach, Pooler gave the song to Richard Carpenter, who composed the music. Richard and Karen went into the studio 4 years later and released "Merry Christmas, Darling" as a single, then re-recorded the track in 1978 for a television special. It is the later version that we're presenting here and now.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Countdown to Christmas: Even monsters celebrate Christmas (2016)

Apple reached into the library for this holiday piece.

The Monster of Frankenstein is alive and well in 2016, well versed in modern tech, and enjoying the comforts of home. He ventures into a village, with a pair of Christmas lights subbing for his usual electrodes, and decides to try to sing......



That's what I call bringing the awesome to the season.

Monday, December 5, 2016

What Might've Been: Surfside 6 (1960)

Warner Bros. had the idea that what worked for 77 Sunset Strip would turn into a sort of cottage industry for the studio. Ah, but not so fast.

Surfside 6 was, to an extent, a spin-off from Bourbon Street Beat, largely with one character, Ken Madison (Van Williams) relocating from New Orleans to Miami. Lee Patterson, Troy Donohue, & Diane McBain co-starred. The series lasted just 2 seasons (1960-2), and perhaps that might be because the setting was too close to another WB crime drama, Hawaiian Eye.

I never saw the show, but the following video is being posted in memory of Van Williams, later of The Green Hornet, who passed away at 82.

Musical Interlude: Sandy (1979)

From, presumably, season 3 of Sha Na Na:

Some of you probably don't know that Sha Na Na's "Screamin'" Scott Simon penned "Sandy", which John Travolta sang in "Grease" in 1978. Going by the Lady in the Window (Jane Dulo)'s intro, this clip comes a year after the movie, as Simon sings his own composition. Better than Travolta? Judge for yourselves.

Sports this 'n' that

The power-brokers behind the NCAA College Football Playoff claim they got it right for the 3rd consecutive season in setting the pairings for this year's playoffs, to take place on New Year's Eve.

Top-ranked Alabama, the defending champion, opens its title defense against Pac-12 champ Washington. Ok, so far, so good. In the other semi-final, it'll be Atlantic Coast Conference champ Clemson, another returnee from last year, facing Ohio State.

What's wrong with this picture?

Ohio State is the only one of the four that didn't win its conference. Penn State, the only team to have beaten Urban Meyer's Buckeyes this year, is on the outside looking in, and will face Pac-12 runner-up USC in the Rose Bowl on January 2 (because New Year's Day is a Sunday). The selection committee noted the Nittany Lions' 2 losses, one being in the Big 10 to Michigan, which lost to---who else?---Ohio State, and the other a non-league loss to Pittsburgh (ACC). Ohio State & Washington had 1 loss apiece. So much for Penn State's Cinderella-esque comeback story, at least for this season.

But that's not the way it should be, not by any stretch.

There've been calls to expand the Playoff to 8 teams, to ensure that the "Power 5" leagues (ACC, SEC, Big 10, Pac-12, & Big 12) are all represented in some form. Those calls will continue while the power-brokers continue to make lame excuses older than time itself to justify their decisions. That they wasted four hours on ESPN on Sunday doesn't help.

You can't get blood from a stone. You can't milk artificial drama from one, either.
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If there's one thing I can't stand, it's the sports leagues, both pro & college, issuing fines to coaches and players for questioning officiating, no matter how obviously bad it has gotten in recent weeks.

Take for example the aftermath of the November 26 Ohio State-Michigan game. Of course Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was fined for criticizing the officials. I'm sorry, but if a coach or player has a legit gripe, and replays suggest that Harbaugh did, then fining the coach or player for airing out his gripe in public isn't the answer, and never has been. The NCAA and the pro leagues for which it's been a feeder system (i.e. NFL, NBA) need to just close the accounting department when it comes to that. The integrity that they're trying desperately to protect and/or preserve was compromised a long time ago. The horse not only left the barn, but burned it down, if you will. Saying sorry and apologizing for the goofs made by a group of men who aren't full-time arbiters doesn't cut ice anymore, either.

The simplest solution would be to expand replay to cover such egregious errors. In the NFL, however, it's doubtful that they'd take this step, because that would expose the league's dirtiest secrets. Those being, how Madison Avenue's influence on the league results in some of the playoffs each year being the same old, same old. Screw the ratings. Screw Madison Avenue. The players on the field (or court or ice, if it's basketball or hockey) are the ones who should decide the game, not a bunch of weekend warriors whom the leagues choose to protect to avoid publicly embarrassing them. Problem is, the leagues have embarrassed themselves a thousand times over.
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Speaking of the same old, same old, the NFL's Evil Empire, the New England Patriots, are a step closer to another AFC East title. Of course, it's helping that the teams in closest pursuit, Miami & Buffalo, keep tripping over themselves when they get close. However, if current form holds, New England will not be the #1 seed in the AFC. That would instead be Oakland if the Raiders hang on and win the West, breaking the Kansas City-Denver gridlock for a change. No such drama in the NFC, where Dallas figures to wrap up the East next week if they can collect a receipt from the Giants at Met Life Stadium. You'll recall that Big Blue beat Dallas at the Temple of Excess (AT &T Stadium in Arlington, aka JerryWorld) in September, otherwise Dallas would be undefeated with rookie Dak Prescott at quarterback. You might as well reserve the Offensive Rookie of the Year for Prescott, even if he has to share it with teammate Ezekiel Elliott.
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Carolina's Cam Newton wasn't on the field for the first series in Sunday's loss to Seattle. Turns out it was for a dress code violation. And you thought that stuff went away once you left college.
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In my personal opinion, San Francisco coach "Tortilla" Chip Kelly should've let Colin Kaepernick walk when he had the chance. That Kaepernick was benched in a loss to Chicago is an afterthought at this point. Kaepernick is still taking heat for his political stances this season, but it's time to let that go. The 49ers won't make the playoffs, and if they keep Kelly for next year, then Kaepernick, who's played like Kaopectate of late, given the Niners' current streak is the direct opposite of old nemesis Dallas, is done in San Francisco. Sending him to Jacksonville for Blake Bortles (& Jaymes) won't help. Bortles' predecessor, Blaine Gabbert, is Kaepernick's backup, and replaced him vs. Chicago.
===============================================
High school hockey season is just 2 weeks old, but it seems a fresh start is just what LaSalle Institute needed. The Cadets are 1-0-2 after back-to-back draws vs. Plattsburgh & Beekmantown over the weekend. It's been a while since Coach Tim "Father" Flanigan's club has gotten off to such a positive start, and they're hoping to keep the momentum going before the home opener on Saturday night. First, though, they have to finish their current road trip in Queensbury on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, while some schools began basketball season last week, or even during Thanksgiving, everyone will be on the court by tomorrow, when the Suburban Council and other leagues begin play. On the other hand, at Troy High, they may need help on the bowling lanes. The Flying Horses opened the season with a 27-5 loss to Albany last week on the road, and will have their home opener tomorrow vs. Colonie. Y'think maybe they're overdue to finally win a match? We'll see.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Garry Moore & John Banner for TWA (1966)

Here's a rare treat.

John Banner (Hogan's Heroes) plays a baggage clerk for TWA, and gets in some of his Sgt. Schultz schtick in conversing with a passenger (Garry Moore), then a plug for Hogan. Have to assume this was during season 2, as Moore had returned to primetime in the fall of 1966.



As we noted before, Moore's variety show crashed & burned, subsequently replaced by the Smothers Brothers.....

Musical Interlude: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (1970's)

Sha Na Na was known for covering a lot of classic hits from the 50's & 60's, and doing them up right. Here, though, is a rare case where it seems they've come up with an original number. Years before it was established and built, Donny York sings about the "Rock & Roll Hall of Fame".



If Sha Na Na isn't in the Hall yet, they should be.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

What Might've Been: Johnny Staccato (1959)

'Ey, lissen, bub. Lemme tell ya 'bout a gumshoe what got a raw deal from dem netwoik suits back in da day.

Johnny Staccato not only was a private eye, but a jazz musician, too. Often, he'd be sittin' in with a swingin', hotter than da 4th of July combo until a client came along to get him back on the pavement.

John Cassavetes starred as Staccato, and that slammin' jazz combo included the likes of Shelly Manne, who'd later compose the music for Ivan Tors' Daktari & Jambo, and future Oscar winner John Williams. The series lasted one season, split between NBC & ABC. Seems to me that the folks at home thought, due to the jazz music, that Staccato was ripping off that other hip-to-be-square cop show, Peter Gunn.

Now, like, let's scope out the series opener, "The Naked Truth", with guest stars Stacy Harris (a Revue Studios contract player at the time who often appeared on Jack Webb's shows, too), Ruta Lee, and Michael Landon (Bonanza), who apparently does his own singing in the first couple of minutes he's on camera.



I was hoping the Christmas episode, which aired this morning on Get TV (where it airs every Saturday), would be available, but it's not on YouTube. Maybe it's elsewhere, so we'll see within the next three weeks. Said episode, "The Unwise Men", guest starring Jack Weston, will replay later this month on Get TV (check local listings).

Rating: A-.

Friday, December 2, 2016

What Might've Been: The Rock & Roll Evening News (1986)

Imagine a newscast with a studio audience. Well, yeah, the Daily Show has that, but they weren't the first ones to try it.

In 1986, Andy Friendly, son of CBS' Fred Friendly, launched The Rock & Roll Evening News, a weekly, one hour program that was an amalgam of Entertainment Tonight and, well, American Bandstand, since there were musical performances sprinkled throughout the broadcast. Among the reporters was Eleanor Mondale, daughter of Senator Walter Mondale, who had failed in his bid for President two years earlier.

Unfortunately, while America had gotten their MTV and loved it, they weren't ready for a news magazine, airing at 11 pm (ET) or later on a Saturday night, that was posited to unseat NBC's long-running Saturday Night Live, which at the time had just started its 12th season.

The Fabulous Thunderbirds headline and bookend this sample episode. Mind the fact that the audio is a touch out of sync. Your announcer is Shadoe Stevens (Hollywood Squares).



No rating.

Musical Interlude: No News (1996)

The country group Lonestar landed their first #1 hit right out of the ol' chute in 1996 with "No News", the 2nd single off their debut album.

The video illustrates the song perfectly. A suburban schlub's lamenting the fact that his girlfriend has left him. In the course of the video, the woman goes from a demure, mousy type to a hottie, drawing the attention of passengers on a bus just by sliding on a pair of thigh-high stockings. John Rich was the band's original bassist before leaving in 1998, eventually forming Big & Rich.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Forgotten TV: The Adventures of Mark & Brian (1991)

Looking back, I'd think NBC was trying to siphon off some of MTV's audience with the short-lived Adventures of Mark & Brian, which began on Mondays in 1991, but ended up getting bumped to Thursdays, then Sundays, before being cancelled.

Mark Thompson & Brian Phelps were morning radio DJ's in California who had a popular show, such that producer Don Mischer, better known for his work on the Grammy Awards and other like specials, convinced them to bring their act to television. In a way, this was NBC's answer to Colin Quinn's Manly World (previously reviewed), which lasted half a year in 1990, with a side order of Kevin Seal: Sporting Fool, which likewise bombed.

In this episode, which presumably comes from when the series had moved off the Monday lineup, the guys return to their old high school to work out with the football team, acknowledging that when they played, the team was a flop.



Y'think maybe that these fellas were the inspiration for Full House's Jesse & Joey (John Stamos & Dave Coulier) becoming radio DJ's near the end of that series' run?

No rating. Never saw the show.

Countdown to Christmas: The Beverly Hillbillies head Home For Christmas (1962)

This is also on my other blog, Saturday Morning Archives:

They say it never rains in Southern California. It never snows, either, so The Beverly Hillbillies head home to the Ozark mountains for a holiday vacation. Here's "Home For Christmas":




Rating: B.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Is Nationwide looking to replace Peyton Manning? (2016)

You've probably noticed by now that Nationwide Insurance has recruited some singers to record new jingles, perhaps in an attempt to gradually phase out retired Super Bowl hero Peyton Manning.

First, here's country star Brad Paisley:



Next is singer-songwriter Rachel Platten, who's getting her first national exposure, insofar as I know.



Then, there's R & B crooner Leslie Odom, Jr.:



And, of course, for now, they can't do without Peyton.......



Manning is still shillin' for Papa John's pizza, too, along with Houston Texans defensive lineman JJ Watt (who also has a deal with Bose), so it seems that even though Manning has hung up his cleats, Madison Avenue still loves him.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Musical Interlude: Original Sin (1983)

The Australian band INXS traveled to New York to record tracks for their CD, "The Swing", working with producer Nile Rodgers, who recruited Daryl Hall (Hall & Oates) to sing backup on the first single off the album, "Original Sin".

Unfortunately, despite the additional star power, "Sin" failed to crack the top 40 here in the US, peaking at #58, but reached #1 at home in Australia. The video was shot in Japan without Hall, who was likely touring at the time.

22 years later, "Original Sin" was redone for a tribute album in memory of vocalist Michael Hutchence.

The election's over, but try telling that to the losers

As I write, it has been three weeks since New York business mogul and professional spoiled brat Donald Trump upset former Secretary of State and professional carpetbagger Hillary Clinton to become the next President. Unfortunately, while Trump played the jingoistic, xenophobic, pseudo-patriot and even went so far as to use misogyny in his campaign, and continues with his already stale act until he is sworn into office, the backlash is starting to look like a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

For all of Trump's accusations----with no evidence to support his claims----that the election was rigged, there are now charges that his campaign supposedly rigged the election. Trump's brainless dittoheads have accused billionaire philanthropist George Soros of being responsible for the anti-Trump protests across the country in the wake of the election. Again, there is no evidence to support those lame claims.

And, then, there is Jill Stein.

The Green Party candidate finished so far behind Trump---dead last in a field of four---that she could get a headstart on February's Daytona 500. However, Stein has embarrassed the Greens by filing lawsuits in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and planning to do the same in Michigan, seeking a recount. Mrs. Clinton's camp has thrown its support behind Ms. Stein in Wisconsin. Which begs us to ask, of course, how much cheese do they want with their whine?

Trump, of course, can't resist getting his digs in, because of his addiction to attention. Consider:

"This is a scam by the Green Party for an election that has already been conceded, and the results of this election should be respected instead of being challenged and abused, which is exactly what Jill Stein is doing," ---Trump, quoted by CNBC's website, 11/27/16.

I've never known Green Party or any other independent party candidates to resort to litigation post-election. The independents have never been given a fair shake on the national stage, and if Ms. Stein wanted to file a suit, it should've been during the campaign in order to ensure she'd have an equal amount of time for herself and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson during the debates. Independent candidates were given equal forums in localized debates here in New York, but why not on national television?

Digression aside, the ladies are fighting a losing battle trying to convince the Electoral College not to confirm Trump as our next President. Granted, he'd be the first one who'd have to have a psychologist in his cabinet without an official post, but this is what Trump's paranoid rhetoric during the campaign has spawned. The last time a Presidential election was disputed was, of course, in 2000, when GW Bush won his first term despite some issues in Florida. However, that shiznit-storm died down before the holidays, as I recall.

I didn't vote for Trump, but I accept the fact that he won the election. He's presenting himself to the American people as being prematurely senile, like his pal Vince McMahon did on WWE programming for several years. The man just turned 70, after all, but behaves like a spoiled child when someone speaks negatively of him.

Hmmmm, come to think of it, maybe he should call Dr. Phil.........

Monday, November 28, 2016

Forgotten TV: Q. E. D. (1982)

CBS tried something rather, ah, noble in the spring of 1982. Unfortunately, Q. E. D. lasted just six weeks, and that was due to it airing on Tuesday nights opposite ABC's 1-2 punch of Happy Days & Laverne & Shirley. Ballgame over.

Sam Waterston headlined as the title hero, Quentin Everett Deverill (Q. E. D.), a scientific detective in the mold of Sherlock Holmes, but dismissed by his peers as a bit eccentric. I seem to recall my folks being remotely interested in the series, but I never sat down and watched the show with them. Hence, no rating. We'll leave you with the series opener.



The fact that this was also independently produced didn't help matters, either. Consolidated Productions was never heard from again.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Classic Reborn: Still The Beaver (aka The New Leave it to Beaver)(1985)

Leave it to Beaver had been a staple in syndication after its initial network run ended, then was picked up on cable. So the nostalgia factor kicked in when the Disney Channel, then a premium network, took a chance on reviving the series in the mid-80's.

Problem was, Hugh Beaumont (Ward Cleaver) had passed away in the intervening years. After co-stars Tony Dow, Jerry Mathers, & Barbara Billingsley, among others, had appeared on The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour, among other places, the idea was pitched to Universal Television (formerly Revue Studios) for the revival. Disney started with a TV-movie, leading to Still The Beaver hitting the air as a weekly series in 1985.

Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver (Mathers), and his brother, Wally (Dow), had gotten married, and in Beaver's case, divorced, since the series ended, as did Wally's best buds, "Lumpy" Rutherford (Frank Bank) and Eddie Haskell (Ken Osmond). Each have two kids. In fact, Eddie's boys are played by Osmond's real life sons. Greedy, sleazy Eddie owns a contracting business that isn't exactly on the up-&-up. Wally is a lawyer. Lumpy & Beaver go into business together, spinning out of working for Lumpy's dad.

After the first season, Disney decided to drop the show, which would move to basic cable, specifically to TBS, which rechristened the series as The New Leave it to Beaver. In its new home, the show lasted three more years. This wouldn't be the last time Disney misjudged a program. Around the same time that the new Beaver ended its run, Disney pink-slipped another sitcom that found greater success elsewhere. That would be Saved by The Bell, which was known as Good Morning, Miss Bliss at Disney.

Now, let's take a look at the series premiere of Still The Beaver:



While this series was on the air, Barbara Billingsley was also doing some voice work on Jim Henson's Muppet Babies for CBS, which outlasted The New Leave it to Beaver, but not by much.

No rating.

Countdown to Christmas: The Twelve Pains of Christmas (1988-2008)

Radio personality Bob Rivers, not to be confused with former VH-1 VJ Bobby Rivers, released the silly "Twelve Pains of Christmas" in 1988. Twenty years later, the enterprising lads of Third Hour Productions produced a music video, but were unable to secure the services of Rivers and his crew to participate. And, so, the Third Hour boys lip-sync Rivers' warped lyrics in this fan-made video:



WFLY-FM played this pretty regularly back in the day, not sure about now, and you can imagine if Dr. Demento's still around, he's got this on cue.....

Edit, 12/7/16: I've located the original video:

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Troy is Titletown once more.....and so are Cambridge and Glens Falls......

James Allen must love the taste of crow.

For the 2nd time this season, the Time Warner Cable/Albany Times-Union high school sports reporter predicted defeat for Troy High. For the 2nd time, coach Bob "The Builder" Burns and the Flying Horses proved him and all the other doubters wrong.

To refresh everyone's memories, Allen had written at the start of the season that Troy would go 6-1 in the regular season, the lone loss presumably against Shaker. On Homecoming night, September 23, Troy weathered a halftime rainstorm to defeat Shaker, 20-13. 

On the eve of the Class AA championship game at the Syracuse Carrier Dome, Allen had a video posted on the Times-Union's website where he predicted that Victor Central, which is actually from suburban Rochester, would clip the Flying Horses' wings, to the tune of 24-21.

Suffice to say, Allen got half the score right.

After Cambridge and Glens Falls had clinched state titles within the previous 24 hours, Troy took the field vs. Victor knowing that they had every reason to believe they could complete a 3-game Section II sweep in the finals.

In the first half, it was the Dev Holmes show, as the senior receiver scored two touchdowns to give Troy a 13-7 lead at halftime, and one of those touchdowns was as a running back on a reverse. In the 3rd quarter, Troy extended its lead as Joey Ward broke loose for a touchdown. John Germinerio hit James Kelley for the 2 point conversion, and Troy led, 21-7.

However, on the ensuing Victor possession, Zack Estabrooks bulled through the defense for an 80 yard touchdown to cut the lead to 7. Estabrooks caught a break from the local officials in the first half when they didn't throw a penalty flag on him for yanking Germinerio's helmet off. In the 4th, Victor scored again, but missed the two point conversion, leaving Troy with a tenuous 21-20 lead with more than 5 minutes left. The ensuing kickoff pinned Troy at the 7 yard line, but a key 4th down conversion gave the Horses some breathing room. Troy continued to chew up the clock, and then Germinerio hit senior tight end Jesse Brown for 57 yards to ice the game. Victor was out of timeouts, and was helpless to stop the clock as Germinerio took two kneel-downs, despite the desperate efforts of the Victor defense to force a turnover, and Troy had ended a 18 year drought between state titles in football.

On Friday, Cambridge won just their 2nd state title, the first coming in 1999, beating Maple Grove, 22-21, in double overtime. Earlier this afternoon, in the first half of the double-header at the Carrier Dome, Glens Falls, behind Joe Girard III, won their first state title, breaking Chenango Forks' 25 game winning streak. Chenango Forks had won the last three state titles, and the disparity in penalties accepted during the game suggested that maybe, just maybe, there were some who thought Chenango Forks would make it 4 in a row. Nuh-uh. After Chenango Forks got within 1 point, Andrew Murphy returned an onside kick for a touchdown to ice the game, 47-39.

To the players & coaches in Troy, Cambridge, & Glens Falls, we dedicate the following music video:



For Troy's Ryan Carmello, Ethan Evans, Joe Casale, & Brandon Holmes, the shoulder pads and helmets get put away, swapped for basketball jerseys, as Suburban Council play begins in 10 days at home against Colonie. Coach Burns will reload for next season, knowing he'll have key players such as Casale, who figures to be the starting quarterback next season, Ward, and defensive ace Derrick Cipriani, as well as placekicker Jordan Audi, who is just as sophomore.

The basketball teams, men's & women's, now have a tough act to follow.

Friday, November 25, 2016

What Might've Been: Casey Jones (1957)

Screen Gems obtained a license to do a series dramatizing the exploits of real-life railroad engineer Casey Jones in 1957. However, if you have trouble locating it in reference books about primetime shows of the past, there's a good reason for it. It began the season airing in England on the BBC before being syndicated in the US in the spring of 1958.

Character actor Alan Hale, Jr., 7 years before Gilligan's Island, was cast as Jones, the engineer behind the wheel of the Cannonball Express. The series could've continued for another season, except that Hale had accepted a recurring role in Rory Calhoun's The Texan the following season. Insofar as I know, the series' last American home was the FX network in its early years, when it had more of a variety of programming than it does now.

Right now, let's take a look at a sample episode, "The Silk Train":



No rating. Didn't see it when it was on FX too often.