Monday, October 31, 2016

Musical Interlude: Her Town Too (1981)

East met West in the recording studio when J. D. Souther joined forces with James Taylor for the duet, "Her Town Too", released as a single from Taylor's 1981 album, "Dad Loves His Work".

Souther has been in the public eye of late, with a recurring role on the TV series Nashville, but back in the day he sounded like the second coming of Roy Orbison, starting with his 1979 debut, "You're Only Lonely".



I can remember this getting a ton of airplay on adult contemporary radio back then. Probably still does.

Sports this 'n' that

Back in the day, it was fairly common for football games to end in ties. When first the NFL, then colleges and high schools, adopted overtime rules for regular season games, ties became all but extinct.

In the last two weekends, we've been reminded that sometimes it can still happen.

8 nights ago, an NFC West match between Seattle & Arizona ended in a 6-6 draw after overtime. No matter how hard the teams tried to determine who was better, the kicking game on both sides took a siesta, and we were left with a stalemate.

Yesterday, in London, where they're accustomed to stalemates in soccer, Washington & Cincinnati battled to a tie at 23-all.

The moral of the story? Sometimes, old school football still works.
============================================
Lost in the hubbub over Troy High advancing to the Section II Class AA Super Bowl with a win over CBA on Friday was the fact that earlier in the evening, the school's volleyball team was eliminated in its first round match in the sectionals, losing to Shaker. The result was not reported to The Record, and as of now, I cannot be certain if it was reported at all. All I know is that Shaker advances to play Shenendehowa in the semi-finals on Wednesday.

This again emphasizes a point that has been made to me in contact with local sports writers via e-mail over the last year and change. It's up to the schools to make sure the results of all of their athletic contests make the paper, because not everyone has internet access, and that includes a lot of alumni who might be curious about how the school is doing in the sports they used to play.
============================================
The timing of this next article is a little curious, considering that last night, for the first time ever, WWE had a women's title match headline a pay-per-view.

A headline appeared online this morning hyping the fact that a new women's wrestling promotion is being formed, founded by the daughters of WWE Hall of Famers Hulk Hogan, Kerry Von Erich, and Roddy Piper, as well as the daughters of former AWA, WCW, & WWE star Diamond Dallas Page and actor Jean-Claude Van Damme. Brooke Hogan (ex-Brooke Knows Best), who had cups of coffee with WWE and TNA, has been serving as the spokesperson for the group. Seems inevitable that she'd get into the family business after all. Lacey Von Erich, Kerry's daughter, had a brief run in TNA. Ex-WWE & TNA personality Christy Hemme has also been attached. Reportedly, they're interested in UFC stars Holly Holm and Ronda Rousey.

All this says to me is that while they want to compete with TNA, which is on its last legs, they're actually looking at a bigger picture down the road. Yes, they may think down the line that they could challenge WWE for audience attention. In the words of the late Gorilla Monsoon, highly unlikely.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

On Stage: The US Army Field Band Jazz Ambassadors at Troy Music Hall, 10/29/16

Up until a couple of years ago, it was an annual tradition for one of the military bands to play the fabled Troy Savings Bank Music Hall on the eve of the annual Troy Flag Day Parade, and The Record would sponsor the distribution of free tickets to the event.

On Saturday night, the US Army Field Band's Jazz Ambassadors brought their current tour to the Music Hall. Tickets were free, either available at the box office or online. Of course, that all but ensured a sellout, as there were a handful of empty seats.

In the course of 85 minutes, the Ambassadors played an eclectic selection of jazz standards by legends such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and George Benson. Master Sgt. Marva Lewis, on her farewell tour, sang the national anthem, and put a jazzy spin on the Carpenters' "(They Long to Be) Close to You". She closed the evening with a cover of Lee Greenwood's patriotic anthem, "God Bless the USA".

In between, a trio of students from LaSalle Institute joined the Ambassadors on stage for a rendition of "Mister Timmons", off one of the Ambassadors' "Perspectives" CD's. Tom Hoffman, Jr., father of saxophonist Patrick Hoffman, uploaded the following video:



Patrick Hoffman, Tom Ryan, and Michael Corlew blended right in with the Ambassadors. There just wasn't a down moment in the entire show. Sgt. Lewis, however, all but stole it with a 3-song mini-set that included "Close to You" and "On The Street Where You Live".

All I can say is, let's make this an annual tradition.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

What Might've Been: Meet The Family (1954)

Arthur Lake, best remembered for his radio & movie role as comic strip icon Dagwood Bumstead in the Blondie series, tried to copy Ozzie Nelson's family-centric Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet by developing his own pilot, Meet The Family, in 1954. Yes, that really is Lake's wife & children appearing with him, a son & a daughter as opposed to the Nelsons having two sons.

Unfortunately, the pilot went unsold, and has found its way to public domain. It's easy to see why this failed.



Hans Conreid, of course, is better known for his supporting role opposite Danny Thomas on Make Room For Daddy, but there was just no way he could be of any help here. Lake wanted to be Ozzie Nelson, but he was too easily identifiable as Dagwood to make this work. There would subsequently be a Blondie series, the first of two (the 2nd was in 1968 with Will Hutchins) such sitcoms, but the iconic strip suffered from a bit of camera fatigue, if you will. We'll look at the 50's Blondie another day.

Rating: C.

High School Fridays: CBA @ Troy (football playoffs), 10/28/16

The rivalry between Christian Brothers Academy of Colonie and Troy High dates back to the formation of the Big 10 Conference in the late 70's. Until Friday night, however, the two schools had not met on the gridiron in a few years.

Not only was a berth in the Section II Class AA Super Bowl on the line, but Troy coach Bob "The Builder" Burns' winning streak at Picken Memorial Field. Entering play Friday, the Flying Horses were 17-1 under Burns in 2 seasons, and 10-0 at home over that span. The flag was flying at half-staff, likely in memory of CBA assistant coach Joe Grasso, who passed away earlier this month, though nothing was said in that regard.

CBA won the toss and took the opening kickoff. However, QB Max Jones, in his first game back from injury was picked off by his counterpart, John Germinerio, setting up Troy in CBA territory. Two plays later, Joey Ward punched it in from 2 yards out to give Troy an early 7-0 lead.

The Brothers came right back, as Taurian Taylor found a hole in the defense, and ran 36 yards for a tying score. Burns had been quoted in the papers earlier Friday as saying that Troy hadn't played a complete game yet this season, and that's certainly true. The Horses were unable to answer the offensive adjustments made by CBA that sprung Taylor and Nick DiNicola for long gains.

Troy went back in front as Germinerio ran it in himself from 4 yards out, and Troy took a 14-7 lead after the first period. In the 2nd quarter, CBA took its only lead of the game, as DiNicola ran in from about 2 yards out. On the extra point, Troy's Knieco Gonzalez, inspired by seeing Seattle's Bobby Wagner hurdle across to block a field goal on Sunday night vs. Arizona, tried the same thing, but was called for offsides. CBA opted to go for 2 and the lead, and Dylan Gotay scampered in to give the Brothers a 15-14 lead at the break. The scoreboard operators were functioning at, maybe, 1/3 speed the entire night, as they were slow to update the score at every opportunity. It couldn't be the cold weather, just a night of brain cramps.

The score stayed the same until the 4th quarter. After DiNicola fumbled the ball away to Troy, Germinerio directed the offense down the field. With just under a minute to go, it appeared that Amir Taylor had picked off Germinerio to ice the game, but Ethan Evans out-muscled Taylor for the ball, and Troy retained possession. Ward scored his 2nd TD on the next play, and the Troy sidelines and bleachers were going bananas. Coach Burns opted to go for 2, and Germinerio hit Jesse Brown in the end zone to put Troy back up by a full 7 points.

Still, there was enough time for CBA to rally. After a questionable pass interference penalty moved CBA into Troy territory, there had to be feelings of deja vu, memories of the 2012 AA basketball title game, where CBA benefited from some similarly questionable officiating to win the title. Not so here. Troy shut down the Brothers, and Jones threw his 2nd interception. One kneel-down later, and the Flying Horses had punched their ticket to the Super Bowl, which this year will be a de facto home game, as it'll be just down the street at RPI's East Campus Village Stadium on Thursday.

The Super Bowl will be a rematch from September 23, as Shaker upset Empire Division champion Guilderland, 35-6, to earn a return trip to Troy. The Blue Bison have won 5 in a row since losing to Troy.
===============================
Meanwhile, LaSalle closed its season on a winning note, finishing 2-7 after beating South Glens Falls. Albany Academy, on the other hand, fell to Green Tech, 20-14. The Class A & B Super Bowls are assured of new champions this year, as Averill Park dethroned A champ Amsterdam, 21-14, and Hudson eliminated B champion Schuylerville.

Friday, October 28, 2016

What Might've Been: The Smart Alecks (1977)

Here's an unsold pilot for a game show that probably wouldn't have even lasted 13 weeks.

Michael Hill, who partnered with Bob Eubanks on All-Star Secrets, had tried selling The Smart Alecks to, presumably, NBC, in the spring of 1977. Allen Ludden, in between runs of Password, was tapped to host. After this bomb, Ludden would go on to Stumpers before NBC picked up a Password revival.

So what's the problem? The bizarre ideas being brought forth sound like rejects from The Liars' Club, another series that Ludden had worked on. And, yeah, the key word here is bizarre. Pat Carroll, David Letterman and Don Meredith are the celebrity panelists.



An ultra-sonic husband whistle? I guess Letterman devised "Stupid Human Tricks" a few years later, along with "Stupid Pet Tricks", in response.

Rating: C-.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Classic TV: This Is The Life (1956)

We've previously discussed religious anthologies such as Crossroads, Insight, & The Christophers. Now, we're taking a look at the last of the more remembered series of this genre.

This Is The Life was spun off from a relatively forgotten DuMont series, The Fisher Family, which ran for four years (1952-6). Life launched in 1956, and would continue for approximately 30 years. By the middle of the 80's, local stations were starting to change their Sunday morning programming, and shows like Insight and Life gradually faded away.

As was the case with the other shows, Life attracted a great number of familiar stars through the course of its run, including Henry Darrow, Adam West, and, in this 1962 episode, Robert Shayne (ex-Adventures of Superman), in "Side By Side":



I'm not entirely sure, but I think this is currently airing somewhere. Maybe TBN.

Rating: A.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Musical Interlude: Rock Me Gently (1974)

If you only heard "Rock Me Gently" without a DJ identifying the artist, you'd think this was a Neil Diamond record, and you'd be wrong.

Andy Kim released "Rock Me Gently" in the summer of 1974, and three months later hit #1 on the Hot 100. Like, maybe he was the Canadian Neil Diamond, eh?



Fans of a certain generation will remember that Kim teamed with Ron Dante and Toni Wine as the singing voices of the Archies from 1968-71. After that, Kim was on his own, but "Gently" would be his coda on the charts.

World Series 2016: Someone's suffering will finally end

12 years ago, Terry Francona ended the "Curse of the Bambino" when he led the Boston Red Sox to the first of three World Series titles in the space of a decade (2004-13). Francona wasn't around for the BoSox's last title three years ago, but now he has a shot at his 3rd ring as he leads the AL Champion Cleveland Indians into this year's Fall Classic against NL Champion Chicago.

Both teams have had long droughts they're trying to break.

Cleveland extended the then-Florida Marlins to 7 games in 1997 before losing, and had fallen to the Atlanta Braves two years earlier. This year's Tribe shocked a lot of experts by winning the AL Central, dethroning two-time defending AL titlist Kansas City. In addition to Francona, first baseman Mike Napoli has a little bling to show off from his time in Boston, giving the youthful Indians plenty of incentive.

Almost everyone assumed Joe Maddon's Chicago Cubs would get here after another NLCS failure in 2015. Club President Theo Epstein and pitchers John Lackey & Jon Lester came from----wait for it---Boston, though in Lester's case it was by way of Oakland, and Lackey came with outfielder Jason Heyward from St. Louis. Epstein, like Francona, wasn't in Beantown for the 2013 Series, having already left for Chicago. For Maddon, this is his 2nd shot at a ring, having led Tampa Bay to the 2008 Series, where they fell to Philadelphia.

The city of Cleveland, of course, is 4 months removed from the NBA's Cavaliers delivering the first championship to the city since the Indians did it 68 years ago. Conversely, while the Cubs have had their own historic futility, dating back to 1908, the city's last World Series champ was the cross-town White Sox just 11 years ago. Since then, the only champions in Chi-town have been the NHL's Blackhawks, who've won three Stanley Cups in the last seven years. Much has been made of the Cubs' annual failures, such that one of their most high profile fans, wrestler-MMA fighter-comics writer CM Punk (Phil Brooks), wrote a short story for DC Comics, which appeared in the Vertigo revival of Strange Sports Stories last year, mixing in supernatural elements.

The Cubs have the advantage in starting pitching. What had been a big three (Lackey, Lester, Jake Arietta) became a big four with the emergence of Kyle Hendricks, who outdueled Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw on Saturday night to get the Cubs to this point. Add closer Aroldis Chapman, a trade deadline pickup from the Yankees, and all of a sudden, there are no holes in the Cubs' staff. Cleveland is hoping to get Danny Salazar, the All-Star starter for the AL, off the disabled list to pitch at least one game in the Series. Aside from Salazar, the Indians have Josh Tomlin and Corey Kluber. Trevor Bauer, he of the drone incident, may be little more than a question mark. He lasted 1/3 of an inning against Toronto last week due to his finger wound reopening.

Due to the AL winning the All-Star Game yet again three months ago, the Series begins in Cleveland, despite the Cubs having the overall best record in baseball, creating a case for amending the stipulations for the All-Star Game again, or tweaking the post-season tournament. I'll have something about that another time. Anyway, the Indians may be looking at some old tapes of Lester, Arietta, & Lackey, as I doubt they'd be fooled. The DH will be in play in the four games in Cleveland, so it'll be interesting to see what Maddon does to fill the space, even though Arietta, who took Madison Bumgarner out of the yard in the NLDS, could be plugged in between starts, just because it's Maddon, who's not afraid to put relief pitchers in the field in a pinch. Kyle Schwarber, out since April with a knee injury, has been rehabbing in the Arizona Fall League, but the Cubs have bee thinking of activating him for the Series, adding another layer to this story.

Final analysis: Hollywood tried to salve Cleveland's baseball heartache in the "Major League" movies in the late 80's and early 90's, and there are a few wack Indian fans who want Bob Uecker, who starred with Charlie Sheen in those films, to replace Fox announcer Joe Buck. Please. Give me a break. Uecker, otherwise the long-time radio voice of the Milwaukee Brewers, could be invited if Fox wanted to reference the movies, and that's more likely. Fittingly, Fox has a TV adaptation of the 70's horror movie, "The Exorcist", on their schedule, and it'll be pre-empted Friday for Game 3. The Cubs have had the longer "curses". While Maddon plays like a chess grandmaster, albeit an insane one, Francona just wants to win one more ring, and take the same victory parade that LeBron James had in June.

The Cubs have a better all-around team. Both teams are hungry. The cities are starving (well, maybe not Cleveland as much). It's going to go the distance.

Pick: Cubs in 7.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Classic TV: The Dick Cavett Show (1969)

Dick Cavett had already had two short-lived programs in as many day-parts under his belt when ABC decided to bring him back as their latest challenger to Johnny Carson's Tonight Show at the end of 1969. Because he had done talk shows for so long, people forget that Cavett is also a comedian.

Cavett had been tried out as a morning host a year earlier, and earlier in 1969, he was given a primetime berth. The late night show would last until 1975, and after stints at CBS, USA, & PBS, Cavett would return to ABC with a twice-weekly talk show in 1986, which lasted just 3 months.

In between talk show stints, Cavett also hosted the documentary miniseries, Time Was, for HBO, which ran in 1979 for 7 episodes.

The first late night series is what we're looking at here. Musical director Bob Rosengarden would also serve in that capacity for New York-based editions of Jerry Lewis' long-running Muscular Dystrophy telethons for several years. Announcer Fred Foy, of course, is better known for similar work on The Lone Ranger in the 50's. Since it was a late night entry, I have no rating.

We'll leave you with a 1971 episode with John Lennon & Yoko Ono, which wraps with the premiere of "Imagine".

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Musical Interlude: Band on the Run (1973-4)

Paul McCartney & Wings had one of their biggest successes with "Band on the Run", which was the title song from a December 1973 album. The video  mixes concert footage with home movies. If you look close, I think you see a cameo appearance by actor James Coburn. Haven't been able to figure out the connection.

What Might've Been: Mr. Smith (1983)

NBC, desperate for a hit show not named The A-Team, Knight Rider, or Hill Street Blues for their primetime lineup, thought that going ape might solve the problem in 1983. Nope.

Mr. Smith was given the lead-off spot in the network's Friday block, as one lead-in to Knight Rider, which was entering its 2nd season. It had been a year since ABC had cancelled Mork & Mindy, but the first fantasy-sitcom to land on NBC since, well, Captain Nice, flopped badly opposite The Dukes of Hazzard.

CJ, the orangutan co-star in "Any Which Way But Loose" and "Every Which Way You Can" with Clint Eastwood, landed the title role, with co-executive producer Ed. Weinberger supplying the voice. Yes, they tried to sell us a talking orangutan, the product of the simian drinking an experimental potion. Leonard Frey (ex-Best of the West), Stuart Margolin  (ex-The Rockford Files), and Tim Dunigan, who played Templeton Peck in the pilot episode of A-Team before being replaced by Dirk Benedict, are the human stars of note.

Gilmore Box serves up the open:



No rating. My late dad might've found Mork amusing, but back then, Fridays meant Dukes at our house.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Classic TV: Daniel Boone (1964)

Fess Parker had made coonskin caps a marketing phenomenon in the 50's as Davy Crockett. And, so, it was that same headgear that helped him make another historical hero a TV icon of the 60's.

20th Century Fox signed Parker to star as Daniel Boone, which lasted six seasons on NBC (1964-70), and currently airs on cable on INSP and Me-TV. In between Crockett & Boone, Parker had been cast in a sitcom adaptation of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1962), which lasted just 1 season.

Boone was structured around the frontiersman's family, most notably wife Rebecca (Patricia Blair) and son Israel (Darby Hinton). Daughter Jemima (Veronica Cartwright) appeared during the first two seasons, but was written out of the show. Albert Salmi, who played Boone's scout-sidekick, Yadkin, left after the first season, meaning that Ed Ames, as the Oxford-educated Native American, Mingo, would become Boone's de facto partner-in-peril, at least until Ames left the series following season 4.

After that, country singer Jimmy Dean came aboard as Josh Clements in season 5, and former football player and part-time singer Roosevelt Grier joined the show in the final year as former slave Gabriel Cooper. As memory serves, Dean's time on Boone would lead to his landing one last variety show, this time for ABC.

Parker, while not formally credited, was actually a producer as well, through his Fespar Productions.

Right now, let's go back to the series opener, from 1964.



The Ken Darby Singers performed the title song for the first season, but the theme would be more up-tempo as time wore on.

Rating: A.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Musical Interlude: An American Dream (1979)

There was a time in the late 70's and early 80's when the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band went by simply, the Dirt Band. Why they dropped "Nitty Gritty", I'll never know.

As it is, the Dirt Band managed just a couple of crossover pop hits during this period. The first was "An American Dream", released in 1979. The female voice heard on the track belongs to no less than Linda Ronstadt, who unfortunately wasn't availble when the Band made the video.

High School Fridays: Ballston Spa @ Troy (football playoffs), 10/21/16

New York's Section II began football playoffs tonight, and in Class AA, form held. All roads lead to the Class AA Super Bowl, taking place November 3 at RPI's East Campus Village Stadium.

Troy High would like to make that a de facto home game.

Coach Bob "The Builder" Burns and the Flying Horses welcomed Ballston Spa to Picken Memorial Field tonight, but it seems as though the Scotties left half their offense at home. Ballston Spa took the opening kickoff and marched down the field, mostly on the legs of running back Jason McCarthy. However, Troy's defense stiffened in the red zone, and the Scotties turned the ball over on downs.

After an exchange of punts, Troy's John Germinerio contributed on defense, picking off his quarterback counterpart, Christian Leva. Germinerio, on offense, then found Jesse Brown in the end zone to give Troy a 7-0 lead with under a minute in the first quarter.

That touchdown was the wake-up call the defense needed, as despite Leva & McCarthy still gashing the run defense, the Scotties couldn't get anything done through the air. In all, Leva was intercepted twice and sacked at least three times. Joe Casale had the other interception and nearly returned it all the way, getting stopped at the Ballston Spa 2. Joey Ward scored on the next play to put the game away.

Germinerio finished with four TD passes, two to Brown, the others to Dev Holmes and Ethan Evans, and Ward finished with three rushing TD's, the last a 75 yard gallop to start the 4th quarter, and Troy shut out Ballston Spa, 49-0.

It won't be that easy next week, not by any stretch. Troy will next face Christian Brothers Academy, which routed Columbia, 55-22, to earn a berth in the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, Shaker & Guilderland will meet in the other semi-final.
===============================================
Unfortunately, the season is over for Troy's soccer teams. The women were eliminated by Bethlehem, 5-0, on Thursday. The Eagles had previously beaten Troy, 7-0, exactly one month earlier. The boys fell to Guilderland, 3-0, earlier today, ending a winless season at 0-16-1. The women finish at 4-11-1.
===============================================
Holy Trinity, the unification of Catholic Central High School and Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons, will play their first playoff game Saturday afternoon at Hoosic Valley. That will be an achievement unto itself, considering that the Holy Trinity field house, on the Bishop Gibbons campus in Schenectady, was ravaged by fire, which destroyed virtually all of Holy Trinity's football equipement. Arson is suspected, which leads one to wonder why someone would go out of their way to sabotage a team that has struggled the last few years before earning its first post-season berth. Thousands of dollars and equipment have been donated, with the latter supplied by the University at Albany. Here's to hoping the disrespectful soul responsible finds it within himself to turn himself in.
===============================================
Not every school in Section II has lights. In addition to Holy Trinity @ Hoosic Valley, Albany Academy visits Glens Falls, and Queensbury welcomes Mohonasen tomorrow as we wrap the first weekend of post-season play.

Weasel of the Week: Donald Trump

“I didn’t like the outcome of the 2008 election. But I had a duty to concede, and I did so without reluctance, A concession isn’t just an exercise in graciousness. It is an act of respect for the will of the American people, a respect that is every American leader’s first responsibility. Whatever our differences we owe each other that respect, which we express by defending the democratic values and practices that protect us all.”--Senator John McCain.

"Dumb Donald is really dumb."--Gene Rayburn, on a few occasions on Match Game in the 70's.

Yep, Republican Presidential candidate and prematurely senile businessman Donald Trump picks up another set of Weasel ears this week. He just can't keep his feet out of his mouth. For that matter, he can't go a day without saying something that is offensive or irresponsible.

Senator McCain's remarks, quoted above, followed up a statement by fellow Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, who denounced Trump as being selfish when Trump made this ridiculous statement in Delaware, Ohio:

"I would like to promise and pledge to all of my voters and supporters, and to all of the people of the United States that I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election -- if I win."

Trump, on the surface, appears to be unwilling to accept defeat of any kind. He even went so far earlier this week to claim that the Emmy Awards, handed out in September, also are supposedly rigged, just because Trump's NBC reality show, The Apprentice, has never won an Emmy. Nominated, yes, but never a winner.

Earlier this year, Trump had met with Dr. James Dobson, head of the Christian organization, Focus on the Family, and reportedly had converted to Christianity. So why does he continue to make such outrageous, irresponsible statements, contradicting his newfound faith? What person in his/her right mind would be tweeting at 3 am (ET) in the morning, anyway?

The simple answer is that Trump hasn't completely embraced his faith. If he did, his attention-grabbing stunts would've already stopped. Trump's running mate, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, has had to try to walk back some of Trump's "senior moments", but he'd be better served if he took Trump into a private room and walked him through a few important Biblical passages. In my own personal opinion, Trump has so many people snowblind to reality with his haterizing rhetoric that they don't realize that the more he rambles on with unsubstantiated claims about his opponent, former Secretary of State and NY Senator Hillary Clinton, the more likely it is he will lose the election. Trump doesn't want to admit it, but he's digging his own political grave every time he opens his mouth or takes to Twitter.

Try denying that, Dumb Donald.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Creepy TV: Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), aka My Partner the Ghost (1969)

Here's an ITC series that never saw the light of day in the home district that I know of.

Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) aired in England in 1969, and when it was imported to America, it was given the alternate title, My Partner The Ghost, which is how I remember seeing the show in the listings in the New York papers back in the day. There, it aired on WNBC ahead of NBC programming on Mondays, as memory serves.

In the series opener, detective Martin Hopkirk (Kenneth Cope) is struck and killed by a hit & run driver. He returns as a ghost, enlisting the aid of his partner, Jeff Randall (Mike Pratt) to find said killer. However, Marty has remained on the mortal plane too long, and must remain for another several years, even if his murder is avenged.



After a short-lived revival in England in 2000, NBC-Universal acquired the rights in 2010, intent on developing a new version for SyFy. So far, nothing has come of it, and likely never will.

No rating.

On The Shelf: Of Pussycats & cavemen

Time to catch up on some new releases.

Josie & The Pussycats is the 4th "New Riverdale" book from Archie Comics, and completely reboots the band's beginnings, updating the story to the 21st century (of course). Melody's not as dim or naive as we remember, but instead, in this series, she & Josie are roomies, and Melody's gone through more boyfriends than most folks have used cars. Alexandra Cabot is the same jealous, scheming beyotch as before, but, as we've documented in discussing the TV show over at Saturday Morning Archives, she's also a witch, something she couldn't be on TV, and uses the simplest of spells to try to break the band up before it gets started. Alan M (ayberry), who was Josie's boyfriend/roadie/bodyguard in the cartoons, has been upgraded. He's now a record producer. Alexandra's twin brother, Alexander, hasn't shown up yet, and writer Marguerite Bennett (DC Comics' Bombshells) may bring him on board as early as issue 2.

However, the problem that exists is, in fact, the drama Alexandra tries creating. It's not so unique anymore, and the roots of her jealousy should be addressed within the first year of the series. If not, what's the point?

I don't need high school level drama among 20-somethings in this kind of series.

Rating: C.

Dark Horse has decided to publish a separate James Bond 007 miniseries concurrent with the ongoing monthly, which likely will take another hiatus after the current arc concludes in December. Hammerhead sneak-peeks in the pages of James Bond 007 9-10, the latter being a flip book for a slightly longer peek. Any way you slice it, it's normal Bond fare, and that's enough for me.

Rating: A.

The Flintstones---and for that matter, everyone in Bedrock---got a makeover from DC this summer. As we've noted, Fred, Barney, and even Mr. Slate have been buffed up, thanks to the character designs by Amanda Connor, and brought to life monthly by artist Steve Pugh. Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm are attending middle school, and the Great Gazoo, who debuted in issue 3, appears to have been stranded on Earth after some alien kids he was supposed to supervise got out of hand. Science teacher Sargon is modeled after Carl Sagan (Cosmos), in case you didn't know. Writer Mark Russell, whose last DC series, Prez, has been outright cancelled, as the 2nd miniseries won't be published, must've been a fan of both Cosmos and the old Flintstones. The Water Buffaloes still have the iconic headgear, but you can't call them Water Buffaloes anymore it seems. Their lodge is now the Veterans of Paleolithic Wars (VPW). I guess the idea is to differentiate this series from the original show's prototype, The Honeymooners, as much as possible. The appliances, which, amazingly, includes Dino, as of issue 2, can talk, but only when the humans aren't around.

However, the attempts at sending up more recent pop culture are undermined by Russell's heavy-handed scripts. There wasn't anything funny about the alien invasion in issue 3, as some Bedrock folks were---gasp--killed off. Like, permanent like. Never saw that in a Flintstones cartoon, did you now?

Rating: C.

Noteworthy news: DC is bringing back Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth, the last of Jack Kirby's 1970's creations to get a 21st century relaunch. However, at the same time, the publisher is rebooting one of the oddest ideas of the 80's. The end result is the deluxe-sized Kamandi Challenge, launching in January. Throughout 2017, a series of writers and artists will pass the baton in completing this 12 issue limited series, a la the DC Challenge (circa 1987 or thereabouts). I guess the idea here is to test the waters for a possible Kamandi ongoing, which would launch in 2018. If memory serves, Kamandi would be marking his 45th anniversary either in 2017 or 2018.

In a case of the other shoe dropping, Archie Comics will publish a double-size 1-shot prequel of the forthcoming CW series, Riverdale. Both are due in January. Maligned writer-creative director Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is writing the 1-shot, which means it'll likely be late arriving in stores. I've said enough about Aguirre-Sacasa's unwillingness to share his vision for the horror line with other writers. Date & time for Riverdale on CW haven't been confirmed as of this writing. A Riverdale ongoing, presumably also written by Aguirre-Sacasa, will likely follow.

I have a bone to pick with the editors of Entertainment Weekly.

In their latest issue, which showcases "The 50 Most Powerful Superheroes" (you can't miss it, with Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Strange on the cover), it isn't said list that bothers me all that much. They pretty much got most of it right, with Wonder Woman at the top of the list. Hey, it's corporate synergy at work, since EW is published by Time, Inc., a sister company to DC, but on the other hand, there is a legit case for the Amazing Amazon at #1. Marvel dominates the top 10, with Spider-Man ranking at #2, ahead of both The Batman & Superman. I'm cool with that.

However, it's the back page, The Bullseye, where I have an issue. Writer Marc Snetiker just HAD to poke fun at the Wonder Twins. I won't even repeat the lame joke he used with a random still shot, other than to say there seems to be a---wait for it---double entendre there somewhere. If you don't want to spend the money to buy the issue, it's available at your local library for free reading. It was bad enough 15+ years ago when the alleged cool guys at Wizard: The Guide To Comics dissed Zan & Jayna, following along with certain internet jerks like Seanbaby, but to go to that well again? As Jayna would say, spacey, Snetiker, real spacey.

The Bullseye gets a C. The rest of the issue is worth an A-.

What Might've Been: O. K. Crackerby (1965)

The late Cleveland Amory, best known as a television critic for TV Guide for what seemed like forever, decided to develop a show of his own in 1965. Unfortunately, O. K. Crackerby, Amory's pride & joy (co-created with Abe Burrows), was a one season entry for United Artists & ABC.

The title character is a millionaire and single parent (Burl Ives, Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer) who thought that his money could elevate him into high society. Amory wanted the show to be more about Crackerby's major domo, St. John Quincy (Hal Buckley), but once Ives was brought aboard, everything changed.

The series lasted 17 episodes total before ABC scuttled it. A season earlier, the similarly themed The Tycoon, with Walter Brennan, had likewise flopped. The other common bond between Brennan and Ives, other than their musical pursuits, was that their next series would each be a greater success. Brennan with The Guns of Will Sonnett (1967-9) and Ives with The Bold Ones: The New Lawyers.

Let's take a look at part one of the episode, "Crackerby the Treasurer".



The shift in creative direction from Amory's vision to Burrows' final product, perhaps mandated by UA and/or ABC resulted in the show's low ratings and subsequent cancellation in January 1966, making room for Robert Goulet's similarly unsuccessful Blue Light.

Based on what we've seen, it's easy to understand why it failed. Money doesn't buy everything, and what was meant to be satire wasn't perceived as such.

Rating: C.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Spook Rock: The Devil Went Down to Georgia (1979)

Insofar as country music fans are concerned---heck, music fans in general---nothing says Halloween like Charlie Daniels' 1979 opus, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia". Here's the Charlie Daniels Band in a performance from The Midnight Special:



As you can tell, a certain word was censored from this clip. Daniels did record an alternate take that subbed the B-word with "gun".

Sports this 'n' that

The brooms have been locked away for now.

The Toronto Blue Jays staved off elimination Tuesday night, defeating AL Central champion Cleveland, 5-1, leaving the Indians with a 3-1 lead in games heading into today's game 5 at Rogers Centre. The series either ends today with a Cleveland win, or moves back to Progressive Field on Friday.

If Cleveland manager Terry Francona is smart, he won't take a chance on Game 3 starter Trevor Bauer again this post-season. Bauer pitched just 1/3 of an inning on Monday as an off-field injury erupted again in the first inning. Bauer was working on a drone, and got his finger caught in one of the blades. The friction of his pitching grip, I would guess, caused the wound to reopen. This wasn't Curt Schilling and the bloody sock of 12 years ago by any stretch.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs need to get past the psychological roadblock before them. The #1 seed in the NL is down two games to one, shut out in consecutive games by NL West champion Los Angeles, the latest a 6-0 beatdown at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday. In order for the Cubs to reach the World Series and end more than a century of futility, manager Joe Maddon must find a way to win the NLCS. The Cubs' most high profile NLCS flops have come in 1984 (San Diego), 2003 (Florida), and last year (Mets). Reigning Cy Young Award winner Jake Arietta was knocked out in the 6th inning on Tuesday after giving up 4 runs on 6 hits.

The Dodgers know they have to run the table, and avoid having Chicago closer Aroldis Chapman on the mound the rest of the way.
========================================
High school soccer sectionals begin for Troy High Thursday (girls) & Friday (boys) on the road. It is the hope that the Flying Horses can make some noise, but if the regular season was an indicator, the boys' team could end up one & done. Seeded 14th out of 16 teams, coach Mike Murnane's club will travel to Guilderland on Friday, looking to play spoiler, having not won a single game this season (0-15-1). The women, under coach Justin Haviland, however, have won three in a row headed into a first round rematch with Bethlehem on Thursday as the 10th seed. Both teams reached the 2nd round last year, but while that's possible for the girls, I can't see that happening on the boys' side.

The sectional tournament seems to be an open invitational in soccer. It shouldn't have to be that way. I get the idea of giving the weaker teams another chance, but for the Troy boys, this just isn't their year.

Contrast this with the football playoffs. 8 teams each advance in Classes AA-C, and just the top 4 in Class D. Thus, the Class D playoffs don't start until next weekend. The teams that don't qualify for post-season play continue their regular seasons for 2 more weeks. There will be "crossover" games, too, for the teams that are eliminated from the playoffs this weekend, as the season caps at 9 games, minimum, for most schools.

For schools like, for example, LaSalle, hockey & basketball are right around the corner......
==========================================
The New York Jets once changed their name from the Titans. Current owner Woody Johnson, he of Johnson & Johnson fame, might want to rename the team the Mules, because both he and coach Todd Bowles are as stubborn as mules.

Johnson is unwilling to cut bait on 2013 1st round pick Geno Smith, who relieved Ryan Fitzpatrick Monday in a 28-3 loss to Arizona. In a post-game press conference, Bowles hinted he might go back to Fitzpatrick, who is clearly on the back end of his career. Smith, in his 4th season out of West Virginia, isn't the answer, but Bowles for some reason is reluctant to try out 2nd year QB Bryce Petty (Baylor) or rookie Christian Hackenburg (Penn State). The Jets are unlikely to make the playoffs, and they haven't even played New England yet. At 1-5, likely to be 1-6 after an angry Baltimore Ravens team plays them Sunday at the Meadowlands, Bowles may be on the hot seat with the impatient fan base. For the Jets, the future has to be now, not next year.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Musical Interlude: Me & You & a Dog Named Boo (1971)

Lobo (Roland Kent Lavoie) scored his first hit in 1971 with "Me & You & a Dog Named Boo", which peaked at #5 on the Hot 100, then hit #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart.



Country singer Stonewall Jackson chose "Boo" for his last single, peaking at #7 later in '71 on the Billboard country chart. The kids from The Brady Bunch recorded their own version, heard on The Brady Kids the next year. I believe Maureen McCormick was on lead vocals for this version. I'll see if I can find it while scoping out episodes for future use on Saturday Morning Archives.

Creepy TV: Nightmare Cafe (1992)

The late Wes Craven described his short-lived 1992 NBC series, Nightmare Cafe, as a cross between The Twilight Zone and Cheers. Coincidentally, as memory serves, this Cafe, which was a mid-season replacement series in the winter-spring of '92, aired, I think, on Thursdays, which Cheers called home for the entirety of its run.

A year and a half after Freddy's Nightmares, the series spin-off of "A Nightmare on Elm Street", had ended its run, Robert Englund was back, this time as Blackie, the owner-manager of the ghostly eatery, whose new chef (Jack Coleman, ex-Dynasty) & waitress (Lindsay Frost), were recently deceased.

I never saw the show, so there won't be a rating. Let's take a look at a sample clip. Englund narrates the intro.



If they ever decide to remake Twilight Zone again, Englund should be the host-narrator this time. Period.

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Classic Reborn: The Twilight Zone (1985)

Some might think that Hollywood's current obsession with revisiting its past began in the 80's.

There was, for example, a feature film version of Rod Serling's seminal The Twilight Zone. Produced in the familiar anthology format, with multiple short tales comprising the movie, it did modest business in theatres, with a cast that included Scatman Crothers (ex-Chico & The Man) and Vic Morrow, the latter in his last role.

In 1985, CBS decided to bring back the Zone, with Philip DeGuere as executive producer. They had intended to air the show at 10 pm (ET) on Fridays, just like the original series. However, some genius moved the show to 8 pm. I think Dallas & Falcon Crest were still on the air at the time, which contributed to the 11th hour decision. With Serling having passed on a few years after Night Gallery ended its run, actor Charles Aidman, who'd appeared in 2 episodes of the original series, was the new narrator, but not an on-screen host, like Serling.

While the new Zone got off to a hot start, winning its time slot during the first few weeks, the ratings began to tumble. Despite this, the show was renewed for a 2nd season, expanded to an hour, just like the original series was for a time, and moved to Saturdays. The latter move was a mistake, and after 11 episodes, CBS bade goodbye to the Twilight Zone for the 2nd time.

After a year's hiatus, the Zone returned, this time in syndication, with Robin Ward (ex-To Tell The Truth) replacing Aidman, and even dubbing over Aidman's original narration when the CBS episodes from this era were included. The 3rd season was produced in Canada, as was the case with another CBS castoff, Airwolf, which was picked up by USA Network. However, this reprieve lasted just a year.

Let's serve up the series opener from 1985, "Shatterday", written by Harlan Ellison, and directed by Wes Craven, fresh off "A Nightmare on Elm Street".



I don't recall watching much of this version, so we'll pass on a rating.

The last great Greyhound commercial (1991)

Greyhound bus lines used to do regular commercial advertisements. Not so today, but let's take a fond look back at one of their last great ad campaigns.

In 1991, Greyhound hired a trio of actors, one of whom is MTV doll Martha Quinn (ex-The Bradys), to play reporters trying to find out if there's anything cheaper than Greyhound, which was touting a $68 round trip fare back in those days.



They don't make 'em like they used to, man.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Musical Interlude: Magic (1980)

Olivia Newton-John's "Magic" was one of four singles from her 1980 movie, "Xanadu", to reach the top 40, and in this case, reach the top of the charts. The video looks like it was taken from a network television special made to promote the movie and/or the accompanying album.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Creepy TV: Parkay's scarier (?) one pound bowl (1976)

Parkay was about a year or two into their "talking tub" gimmick when its then-manufacturer,  Kraft, added a one pound size, as demonstrated by actor Mel Stewart (ex-Roll Out!, All In The Family). Michael Bell, as per usual, voices the regular size tub, whose "big brother" has the voice of Thurl Ravenscroft.



Now, can you imagine kids hearing Ravenscroft's voice coming out of that big tub and not think of Tony the Tiger?

High School this 'n' that

Troy High Nation can rest easy this morning.

The Flying Horses completed their 2nd straight perfect regular season under coach Bob "The Builder" Burns and clinched the Class AA Liberty Division title with a 47-12 blowout over Columbia on Friday night. Senior QB John Germinerio threw for 242 yards and three TD's, two of them to fellow senior Nick Pastore, who saw his first game action of the season after missing the first six games due to injuries. Junior tailback Joey Ward shredded the Blue Devils defense for three TD's, the last a 75 yard romp in the 3rd quarter to put the game away.

Troy will open playoff competition on October 21 at Picken Field vs. Ballston Spa, the #4 seed in the Empire Division, and all roads lead to RPI's East Campus Village Stadium, situated behind the Houston Field House, the first week in November, for the Class AA Super Bowl, which, if form holds, will see Troy hosting Guilderland or Christian Brothers Academy, the top 2 seeds in the Empire Division. Coach Burns wouldn't mind having that extra "home cooking" in the Super Bowl, I'm sure.
==================================
Sectional play begins in soccer next week, but Troy would be wise to have the boys' soccer team close out their season today at CBA, and prepare for 2017. An 0-15-1 ledger would represent the worst record for Troy soccer that I know of, and this includes a non-league loss to Seton Catholic last month that went under the radar, unreported by the press. In sharp contrast, the Troy girls have gotten hot at the right time, having won 4 of their last 5, the last three in a row, after spoiling Senior Day for Schenectady on Thursday, 3-1. The Lady Horses could be a sleeper in the sectionals.
==================================
Speaking of flying under the radar, that would bring us to Troy's women's volleyball team, which is at 10-6 overall, 8-6 in the Suburban Council, after recording a straight set win over Albany Thursday. The Flying Horses have never fielded a boys' volleyball team that I know of, as volleyball was one of the school's stronger sports for women dating back as far as my time there. Troy has two matches left, both on the road, at Colonie on October 19, and at Ballston Spa on October 24, before sectional play begins. The rest of the league can't afford to sleep on Troy.
==================================
Meanwhile, with Troy now in Class AA in football, there's a new sheriff in Class A's Southeast Division after Averill Park defeated Lansingburgh on Friday night. If form were to hold, and as last year taught us, that's not guaranteed in Class A, the Warriors conceivably could play Northwest Division champ Queensbury in the Super Bowl. Not an easy task, by any stretch.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Old Time Radio: The Burns & Allen Show (1937)

You  might find it hard to believe, but the radio version of The Burns & Allen Show only ran for 13 years (1937-50), criss-crossing between NBC & CBS over the course of this period. Prior to this, the comedy legends' previous series ran for three years (1934-7) under the title, The Adventures of Gracie.

George Burns & Gracie Allen perfected the side-splitting act with George as the straight man or foil opposite Gracie's airheaded persona, which made them very, very wealthy. In real life, Gracie wasn't the prototypical "Dumb Dora" she played on radio and later television.

In writing about their television show (1950-8), I felt that it just didn't move me. Compared to other sitcoms that came after it, it was, well, normal. In other words, something was lost in the translation from radio to television. I think part of the reason you don't see the TV show now is because there might be some people who'd take exception to Gracie's act without understanding the role she was playing.

The episode we're presenting today is featured on a 10-CD set of radio shows selected by talk show legend Larry King. Future President Ronald Reagan guest stars, and, as you'll hear, he was already developing the quick wit that marked his presidency 30 years later.



Gracie Allen left us in 1964. George Burns soldiered on until his 100th birthday, winning new generations of fans along the way.

Rating: A-.

What hath Donald Trump wrought this time?

Less than a month before the Presidential election, and while Donald Trump is still putting his foot in his mouth on a regular basis, his dittoheads are going out of their way to all but kill his chances of becoming the world's wealthiest President, if Trump hasn't already done that.

As the press has clamped onto some old tapes from Celebrity Apprentice and elsewhere of Dumb Donald demeaning women, some Trumpites are calling for a repeal of---get this---the 19th Amendment, which, enacted in 1920, allowed women the right to vote. There is a movement afoot that ain't going to have any leverage at all, because the Trumpites are so snowblind to reality, they don't realize they're un-balancing the playing field, if you will, or they just don't care.

Trump has gotten the support of a prominent Christian evangelist, Dr. James Dobson, and reportedly has become born-again, but what Christian in his right mind would still say the things Trump does, knowing the kind of media attention it brings? The Republicans are trying to coerce Dumb Donald off the ballot, but Trump refuses to back down. To be perfectly honest, his running mate, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, would be a better choice as President than Dumb Donald.

Maybe GOP Chairman "Creme" Reince Priebus can use this animated Schoolhouse Rock video from 1977 to get the point across to the anonymous Trumpites who've earned this week's Weasel of the Week award for their blatant disregard for history:



Do those dummies realize they'd plunge us into the dark ages if they get their way? Of course not. They left their brains in mason jars.

Now it's down to four......

In the space of the last 10 days, the field in baseball's post-season tournament has trimmed from 10 to 4. The League Championship Series begin with the ALCS tonight. Let's see if we can't figure this out easier than the last round.

ALCS: Toronto @ Cleveland: The last time either team was in the World Series was in the 90's. Toronto, of course, won back-to-back titles in 1992-3. Cleveland fell to Atlanta in 1995 for Los Bravos' only title during their glory years, and also to Florida in 1997. But it's a new era, of course. The two teams match up almost evenly on offense, and Cleveland has a slight edge in pitching. Terry Francona is looking for that 3rd World Series ring, and with the Tribe picking up the momentum from the Cavaliers' NBA title four months ago, anything is possible. However, even the best pitching staff can fall to a relentless offense, as we just saw in the NLDS between Washington & Los Angeles. The upside is that both teams have had time to rest and reset their rosters.

The pick: Toronto in 7.

NLCS: Los Angeles @ Chicago: Last year, the Cubs were swept out by the Mets, who extracted revenge for being swept in 7 regular season games. This year, New York was eliminated by San Francisco, which in turn fell to the Cubs in 4 games. Joe Maddon's club has a difference maker in closer Aroldis Chapman, acquired from the Yankees over the summer. The Dodgers eliminated Washington in 5, as Dusty Baker's post-season failures continue even with a new team. As the NLCS opens Saturday, I would venture that LA will start Rich Hill, who started game 1 of the NLDS. Chicago could go with, oh, I don't know, Jake Arietta, maybe? Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw took a page from Madison Bumgarner's playbook and came out of the bullpen to close the series against Washington. Can't see him starting either game at Wrigley.

Of course, it'd be nice if, once the series goes to LA, Fox would be persuaded, if you will, to bring in newly retired Vin Scully for one last national curtain call and call a couple of innings. So not digging that Fox is farming out at least the first two games to FS1. 

This time, the Cubs clear the last hurdle.

The pick: Cubs in 6. Of course, I could be wrong.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Modern Classic: Behind The Music (1997)

When the Arts & Entertainment Network (later shortened to A&E) revived the documentary series, Biography, it set off a wave of imitators fashioned for specific genres. For example, ESPN commissioned SportsCentury. VH-1, on the other hand, still has Behind the Music, although new episodes aren't as frequent as they once were.

At its peak, the series aired weekly, but now pops up sporadically. Given that VH-1 and its sister networks are gradually re-embracing music, this could change. Everything you wanted to know about your favorite artists, past or present, was open to perusal.

Jim Forbes serves as narrator, and even guested on The Simpsons when the Fox series parodied Behind. Forbes has rarely been substituted for, most notably by former MTV personality Matt Pinfield for an episode on KISS which is now not considered part of the series in general.

Let's take a look at an episode from the first year revisiting the life & career of the late Harry Chapin.



Some episodes have been released on DVD and/or VHS, but not all, insofar as I know.

Rating: A.

What Might've Been: The Cracker Brothers (1984)

After Barbara Mandrell & The Mandrell Sisters ended its run in 1982, Sid & Marty Krofft had gone back to producing Saturday morning fare. But while they'd sell one more series to CBS (Pryor's Place), they gave NBC one more try with a different kind of variety show.

The Cracker Brothers was meant to be a pre-fabricated parody of variety shows in that the titular brothers were, well, novices when it came to the big time. Only one of the three actors involved was actually known to audiences, and that was Derek McGrath, who had appeared  on Cheers, and would later co-star with a young Jerry O'Connell on My Secret Identity.

Until recently, I didn't even know this existed. Harvey Korman not only appears, but shared directorial duties with long time Krofft director Art Fisher. There won't be a rating, so judge this for yourselves.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Spook Rock: Ghostbusters (1989)

This is the first time I've actually seen this next clip.

Run-DMC put their stamp on the "Ghostbusters 2" soundtrack. Some of Ray Parker, Jr.'s original lyrics are mixed with new rhymes. Scope how Run-DMC & Jam Master Jay are stylin' in those Ghostbuster uniforms.



Now you know who taught Dan Aykroyd & Ernie Hudson their dance moves in the movie, don't you? Naaaah.

Forgotten TV: At Ease (1983)

The sitcom sub-genre of service comedies had all but died by the early 80's. Despite the fact that he had a poor track record with half-hour sitcoms while at Four Star, Aaron Spelling decided to give it one more try.

He sold ABC a modern-day service comedy, At Ease, which lasted three months in the spring of 1983. Considering that over on NBC, the action-adventure series, The A-Team, routinely presented military officers in pursuit of the titular heroes as being inept, a sitcom that tried to be a new generation Gomer Pyle was asking for trouble. Small wonder, then, that viewers tuned it out.

The ensemble cast Spelling assembled included Roger Bowen (ex-Arnie), who had been in the feature film version of "M*A*S*H", Richard Jaeckel (ex-Salvage 1), Jimmie Walker (ex-Good Times), whose last series for Spelling, B.A.D. Cats, similarly flopped a few years earlier, Josh Mostel (ex-Delta House), George Wyner, later of She's The Sheriff, and David Naughton ("An American Werewolf in London", ex-Makin' It), the former Dr. Pepper pitchman who was returning to television. Unfortunately, this would be his last go-round.

As memory serves, At Ease aired on Fridays, as B.A.D. Cats did before it. Unfortunately, CBS still had the Dukes of Hazzard. Ballgame over.

Right now, let's take a look at the series opener, "A Tankful of Dollars":



Believe it or else, At Ease sprang from the mind of John Hughes, better known for his teen comedies later in the decade (i.e. "Sixteen Candles", "The Breakfast Club") and the "Home Alone" films. Producer E. Duke Vincent, a long time Spelling aide, had worked on Gomer Pyle, USMC. Edward H. Feldman, who directed one episode, had been a producer-director on Hogan's Heroes. Hy Averback's resume includes F-Troop and, if memory serves me, he might've also worked on You'll Never Get Rich, aka The Phil Silvers Show, aka Sgt. Bilko, from which At Ease gets most of its pedigree. Unfortunately, it was the last of its kind.

Rating: B-.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Celebrity Rock: Almost Like Being in Love (1969)

Wild, Wild West fans remember the late Michael Dunn as the wicked Dr. Miguelito Loveless. They should also know that at least during the first season, Loveless would take time out during his schemes to share a song in his heart with his aide, Antoinette (Phoebe Dorin, who was Dunn's partner in a stage act).

In 1969, Dunn went solo for an appearance on The Mike Douglas Show, and belted out a cover of Allan Jay Lerner's "Almost Like Being in Love". Scope!



Unfortunately, we lost Dunn in 1973, a versatile talent taken too soon.

Forgotten TV: Frontier Doctor (1958)

The days of the singing cowboy were drawing to a close. Three of the best known singing cowboys, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and Rex Allen, all transitioned to television. Allen, it happens, was the least successful of the trio.

Allen opted not to parlay his musical career into TV, choosing instead to try a straight dramatic role in Frontier Doctor, a syndicated series that lasted just 1 season (1958-9). It's now in the public domain, or so it would seem, as episodes are readily available on YouTube, and I'm not sure if it's airing anywhere at present, though networks like Get TV or Encore Westerns could be looking for new material.

Right now, let's take a look at the episode, "Queen of the Cimarron". Glenn Strange (Gunsmoke) guest stars. Turns out he's also Rex's cousin.



Growing up, I didn't know about any of Allen's movies, and only knew him as the narrator of Disney's "True Life Adventures" series of films. Son Rex, Jr. had a modest career on the country charts in the 70's & 80's.

So why did Frontier Doctor fail? Some will say Allen was a little too bland or vanilla. I'd say that because there were so, so many Westerns on the air, the show was choked out by the glut.

Rating: B.

Monday, October 10, 2016

On The Air: Lethal Weapon (2016)

"Lethal Weapon" turns 30 in March. Warner Bros. couldn't wait, and managed to land a small screen reimagining of the film series on Fox.

I can recall seeing only one or two of the original movies with Mel Gibson & Danny Glover. One in the theatre, one on home video. Neither was the first film, on which the series opener was based. I am not entirely familiar with Clayne Crawford, a relative newcomer who fills Gibson's gumshoes as Martin Riggs, a military veteran who's despondent and considering suicide after the death of his pregnant wife, who was killed in an auto accident en route to the hospital. From what I could see, there was potential for this series, but it's just on the wrong night. I get that Fox was looking for a reasonable lead-in to its 3rd year series, Empire, but this isn't it.

Damon Wayans (ex-My Wife & Kids, In Living Color) has previously proven he can handle a comedy-drama hybrid (i.e. "The Last Boy Scout", "Bulletproof"), and is perfectly cast as Roger Murtaugh. Viewers will warm up to him, due to his previous series.

A quick check of recent ratings shows that Weapon is already losing viewers, and it hasn't been pre-empted yet for baseball. I don't like that downward trend.

Scope the trailer, and tell me what you think.



Funny thing is, Shane Black, who created the "Weapon" movie series, is not listed as an executive producer or consultant. Bad sign? Maybe.

Rating: C.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Musical Interlude: The Man (2014)

I've been impressed with the diverse mix of music pumping out of Troy High's Ed Picken Memorial Field prior to football and/or women's soccer games. In the case of the two soccer games I've attended in as many weeks, one song stood out.

Aloe Blacc's "The Man" includes a portion of the chorus from Elton John's 1970 classic, "Your Song". Blacc, who rebooted Sammy Davis, Jr.'s "The Candy Man" for M & M's 75th anniversary promotion earlier this year, sounds like he was influenced by old school Motown, particularly the late Marvin Gaye. Judge for yourselves, kids.



Yeah, it's karaoke time. So what?

What Might've Been: The Nut House (1963-4)

Maverick animator Jay Ward had skewered silent films with the short-lived Fractured Flickers. The genius behind Rocky & His Friends then decided he could try a sketch comedy show in live-action form, all but leaving his signature animation style behind.

Unfortunately, The Nut House, an unsold pilot produced for CBS during the 1963-4 season, might've been just a wee bit ahead of its time. The offbeat humor that powered Rocky doesn't translate as well in live-action form. Had Ward opted to hire other writers outside his staff (i.e. Bill Scott, Chris Hayward), the results might've been different.

Funny thing. Four years later, George Schlatter perfected the concept with Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, which lasted 5 seasons. The common link? Actor-comedian Alan Sues appeared on both shows. You'll see Alan near the end of this clip, which is the final sketch in this episode.



Jazz musician Jack Sheldon, later of Run, Buddy, Run and Schoolhouse Rock, looks like he's right at home with a guitar in his hand just as much as he would be with his trumpet. Len Maxwell is better known for his voice acting as well (Batfink, Celebrity Deathmatch).

No rating.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

What Might've Been: The Monroes (1966)

Five orphaned siblings make do in the wild West, keeping the family unit together under much hardship after the loss of their parents. Unfortunately, The Monroes lasted just 1 season, despite having 20th Century Fox stablemate Batman as a lead-in.

Michael Anderson, Jr., Barbara Hershey, and twin brothers Keith & Kevin Schultz were among the stars in this family Western, which resurfaced when reruns aired on cable's Family Channel in the 90's  Kevin Schultz is better known, though, for his work in another short-lived primetime series, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which came along two years later.

We never saw the show, so there won't be a rating. We'll leave you with this clip with guest star John Doucette:

The beginning of a rivalry (?): Heatly @ Troy (women's soccer), 10/8/16

As we've talked about, Troy High, in its 2nd season in the Suburban Council, doesn't have any true territorial rivalries to call their own. The closest they have are Averill Park and Columbia, and both are off the beaten trail. Long time rivals Catholic Central & LaSalle are now in the Colonial Council, with Lansingburgh replacing Troy as their in-city rival.

In putting together this year's women's soccer schedule, coach Justin Haviland and AD Paul Reinisch experimented with a pair of non-league games, one varsity and one junior varsity, vs. teams from the Central Hudson Valley League, which has an existing border rivalry between Emma Willard and Heatly. Troy & Emma Willard's junior varsity teams met last week at Picken Field, but because the local press ignores JV games nowadays, we don't know how that ended.

Tonight, on the other hand, for Senior Night for the varsity, the Lady Flying Horses welcomed Heatly. As a gesture of goodwill, the Lady Hornets' two seniors were invited to participate in Senior Night activities at halftime. Troy's roster, meanwhile, has 11 seniors out of the 17 on the roster, meaning heavy turnover for next season. Given their struggles this season, that means Troy conceivably could still be a 2nd division club in 2017.

On to tonight's game. To illustrate what a difference 24 hours makes, the bleachers, which were nearly full last night on a clear night for football, were sparsely filled, with less than 100 people in attendance. During the first half, the parents of the 11 seniors stood as a group near the entrance gate to the field in preparation for the halftime presentations. Unfortunately, Troy was also short on volunteers, such that the scoreboard clock was not functioning in the first half. They needed people in the PA booth for halftime, so that problem was solved.

Troy got the only goal they needed in the first half as senior Lauren Sleicher headed in a goal. One more goal in the first half, and one in the second provided insurance, as Troy won their 2nd straight, and 3rd in their last 4, 3-0. Troy is now 3-11-1 overall, having finally broken its winless string in the Suburban Council with a win over Albany on Thursday. Heatly, according to the information we have, has just 2 wins, as two games have not been reported to local press.

The Lady Horses close the regular season on the road at Schenectady on October 13. The question now becomes one of whether or not this late season surge lifts them into the post-season. We'll see.

Friday, October 7, 2016

High School Fridays: Schenectady @ Troy (football), 10/7/16

In his 2nd season as head coach at Troy High, Bob "The Builder" Burns had not lost a regular season game. He was also perfect at home, having won 8 in a row, counting last year's playoffs. With a chance to lock down the top seed in the Liberty Division of Class AA, Burns and the Flying Horses welcomed Schenectady High to Picken Memorial Field on Senior Night.

Suffice to say, these Patriots were sent home with some rather painful parting gifts.

After the two teams exchanged punts on their opening possessions, Troy marched down the field, with Ryan Carmello scoring the game's first touchdown on an end-around. On their next possession, Troy senior QB John Germinerio hit Dev Holmes for a touchdown pass to make it 14-0.

The Patriots finally got their offense going, with QB DeSean Fortune connecting with Antonio Buskey for a long gain that put Schenectady in the red zone. However, the drive stalled at the Troy 5. Facing third and long at the 4, Coach Burns went to his bag of tricks. Germinerio handed off to Joey Ward, who then hit Ethan Evans for a 96 yard touchdown off the halfback option. Troy led, 21-0, after the first period.

Fortune scored the only Patriots touchdown of the night in the 2nd quarter. A 2-point conversion made it 21-8, but it wasn't long before Troy scored again, and led, 28-8, at the break, after Germinerio threw his 2nd TD pass, this one to Jesse Brown. The defense shut down Schenectady in the 2nd half, and forced 5 turnovers. Joe Casale was responsible for four of those turnovers all by himself, with two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Ward found the end zone to make it 35-8 in the 3rd quarter. In the 4th, Burns pulled his offensive starters, and had Casale at QB. Casale and Brandon Holmes scored touchdowns to ice the game.

You'd be forgiven during the 2nd half if you felt like queuing up not Don Meredith, because that would be too easy, but rather, Donna Summer:



The song might've been about something else entirely, but you get the idea, I think.

Troy, at 6-0,  has all but wrapped up the top seed in the Liberty Division, and will have at least one home playoff game, to be played in 2 weeks. Before that happens, there's the small matter of closing the regular season schedule at Columbia next Friday, and the winner likely wins the division. Schenectady drops to 1-5, and won't make the playoffs, finishing with crossover games in week 8 and likely also week 9. All that's left for Troy is to take care of business next week on the road, then wait and see who's the next houseguest.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Musical Interlude: Stumblin' In (1979)

Suzi Quatro might be known to most folks for her on-again, off-again gig as musician Leather Tuscadero on Happy Days, but by the time Garry Marshall brought her onto the show, Quatro was already a well known singer and bassist.

However, as it turns out, her duet with Smokie's Chris Norman, "Stumblin' In", which peaked at #4 on the Hot 100 and hit #1 in Australia in 1979, was her last Top 40 hit.



Co-author Mike Chapman is better known for his work as a producer with other acts, such as Blondie. Suzi Quatro had also worked with songwriter-producer Mickie Most, who'd produced Herman's Hermits' hits in the 60's.

Now comes the healing process.....

The Mets were eliminated from the playoffs Wednesday night, dropping a 3-0 decision to San Francisco. That might not be so bad, except for one online headline I saw earlier this morning.

24 hours after the Baltimore Orioles were defeated by Toronto in the AL Wild Card round, leading to much second, third, and fourth guessing of Buck Showalter's decision not to use his closer, Zach Britton, Mets skipper Terry Collins might be facing similar questions regarding his ace closer, MLB saves champ Jeurys Familia, whose post-season struggles bit him and the Mets again when he gave up a 3-run home run to the Giants Conor Gillaspie in the 9th, offsetting a sterling performance by Mets ace Noah Syndergaard, who'd checked the Giants on 2 hits over 7 innings, striking out 10. With a scoreless tie going into the 9th, why would Collins use Familia in this spot, knowing that Familia had struggled in non-save situations during the regular season?

Giants ace Madison Bumgarner pitched a complete game shutout, fanning six while limiting the Mets to 4 hits. The upside for San Francisco is that it gives their bullpen an extra day of rest, plus the travel day today, before opening the Division Series Friday at Chicago.

Twice in as many Octobers, Familia has let down the Mets with post-season gopher balls. Last year, it was Kansas City's Alex Gordon in the World Series. This time, it was Gillaspie, a journeyman who was filling in for injured 3rd baseman Eduardo Nunez. The New York Post was predictably cruel with a headline this morning, asking if Familia could be trusted again. It is, however, a psychological hurdle that Familia and the Mets need to overcome if they are to make it to a 3rd straight post-season in 2017.

The simple truth of the matter is that the Mets' myriad of injuries had finally caught up with them. First baseman Lucas Duda was left off the roster for this game, as were rookies Brandon Nimmo and Seth Lugo, the latter likely to be put back on had the Mets advanced to the NLDS. Now, Duda and the rest of the walking wounded have at least four months to properly heal before training camp opens in Port St. Lucie in February. While there is no guarantee that David Wright will return---his best bet would be to move from 3rd base to 1st and challenge Duda and James Loney for the starting job---the Mets would be happy to have their Young Guns back together.

At the same time, they might need to hire an exorcist to find the cause of the injury plague that has haunted Citi Field since it opened 7 years ago. Then again, the Ghostbusters might be available........!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Creepy TV: Scariest Places on Earth (2000)

Fox Family Channel (which has since been acquired by Disney and renamed first ABC Family, and, presently, Freeform) took a step outside the box with the seasonal documentary series, Scariest Places on Earth, which ran initially from 2000-06. Reruns currently air on NBC-Universal owned Chiller.

Actress Linda Blair ("The Exorcist") served as host, with Zelda Rubenstein ("Poltergeist") as the narrator-announcer. The format was like that of a news magazine, covering several locations in the course of a hour-long episode.

For example, this episode is headlined by a visit to the legendary Alcatraz Prison, just outside San Francisco. This video is taken from a rerun cycle on Sci-Fi (now SyFy).



Scary? You be the judge. The informational value made it worth a look, but the series' producers were also accused of fabricating some stories, likely to milk drama.

Rating: B-.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A Spanish lesson: Eres Tu (1973-4)

The Spanish vocal group, Mocedades (Youths in Spanish) scored a top 10 hit with "Eres Tu", which translates to "You Are", in 1974. It was released as a single, I assume, at the end of 1973. The B-side was an English translation of the same song, under the title, "Touch The Wind". American artists, such as Eydie Gorme, Perry Como, and Johnny Rodriguez, have covered "Eres Tu", and in Gorme's case, "Touch The Wind", as well.

I remember hearing "Eres Tu" on the radio back in the day. Now, we all get to see the faces of the band.

Monday, October 3, 2016

What Might've Been: The Wizard of Odds (1973)

A.: It was Alex Trebek's first American game show.
Q: What is The Wizard of Odds?

Ok, I couldn't resist getting in a Jeopardy! reference, since Trebek, when he isn't shilling for Colonial Penn Life Insurance, has hosted the iconic quiz game for 32 years and counting. However, in 1973, the Canadian-born Trebek was introduced to American audiences with the short-lived Wizard of Odds, which lasted a few weeks shy of a full year. It was also the first game show produced by Burt Sugarman (The Midnight Special), who would have greater success with Celebrity Sweepstakes.

You won't hear the lyrics, but the theme song for Wizard was composed and performed by singer-songwriter-actor Alan Thicke, making his first inroads in the US as well. Trebek would waste little time finding work after Wizard was cancelled. NBC liked him enough that they recommended him to Merrill Heatter & Bob Quigley for High Rollers, which replaced Wizard.

Gilmore Box provides the open.



No rating.

And, now, the silly season begins

Major League Baseball's post-season tournament starts tomorrow with the AL Wild Card game between Eastern division rivals Toronto & Baltimore. On Wednesday, the Mets and San Francisco will decide who will face the NL Central champion Chicago Cubs.

Let's try to sort it all out. AL first:

AL Wild Card: Toronto vs. Baltimore: Given how slowly AL games often are played this time of year, you might want to DVR the game for the kiddo's to watch after school the next day. Winner advances to play AL West winner Texas in the Division Series. Orioles closer Zach Britton was a perfect 48-for-48 in save opportunities, best in the AL, and the last time a closer had a perfect season in saves, it was Philadelphia's Brad Lidge in 2008, leading the Phillies to the World Series title over Tampa Bay. You can't bet against Buck Showalter this time of year, despite the big bats in Toronto's lineup.

Pick-Baltimore.


NL Wild Card: San Francisco @ Mets: The last meeting between the two clubs was also in primetime, a Sunday night game on ESPN. Noah Syndergaard, the starter and winner that night, goes for the Mets opposite Madison Bumgarner. There might be a betting line on whether or not one of them goes yard on the other. Bumgarner hit 4 homers this season to Syndergaard's 3. As much as I'd like to see the Mets advance and face the Cubs, especially considering that this is also the 30th anniversary of the Mets' last championship, I don't think it's going to happen. I hate picking against my beloved Mets, but let's also consider the October magic that comes to San Francisco in even numbered years of late.

Pick-San Francisco.


Let's face it. Injuries have ravaged the Mets rotation, and the newest Young Guns, Robert Gsellman & Seth Lugo, would be ripe for plucking against the Cubbies.


AL Division Series:

Cleveland vs. Boston: You couldn't have written a better script. Terry Francona, who won 2 Series with the Red Sox, now tries to take Cleveland to the promised land, and their first Series appearance in nearly 20 years. Boston wants to send retiring DH David Ortiz out a winner. While people are touting both Ortiz and Mookie Betts as MVP's, they'll end up splitting the votes along with teammates Xander Bogaerts and Hanley Ramirez. Just sayin'.

Pick: Boston in 5.


Baltimore vs. Texas: The Rangers are back in the postseason, and it's almost as if it was done with mirrors. Can't see them getting any further.

Pick: Baltimore in 5.


NL Division Series:

Los Angeles vs. Washington: Two years ago, the Nationals short-circuited against---who else?---San Francisco, but it took them another year to get rid of often-inept Matt Williams. Dusty Baker has his own post-season demons to address. The Dodgers let Don Mattingly go South (Miami), but his replacement, Dave Roberts, gets to the big dance for the first time as a manager. Something tells me that with the injuries besetting them, it's not the Nationals' time yet. Again.

Pick: Los Angeles in 4.


San Francisco vs. Chicago: If Joe Maddon is to get the Cubs their first World Series title in over a century, he has to ensure there won't be any more October magic from the Giants, who still have some key players from their 2014 title team, including Bumgarner, Angel Pagan, Buster Posey, and Hunter Pence. Maddon might be well served to call an exorcist.

Pick: San Francisco in 5.

We'll look at the League Championship Series next week. Of course, I could be wrong

Sunday, October 2, 2016

On The Air: Luke Cage (2016)

In 1972, on the heels of "Shaft", Marvel Comics introduced readers to Luke Cage, Hero For Hire. Cage, born Carl Lucas, was an escaped convict who had taken part in a prison experiment that gave him bulletproof, steel hard skin and super strength.

In 2016, the world of Luke Cage isn't entirely different. Not by any stretch. Cage (Mike Colter, reprising his role from Jessica Jones) now works by day sweeping hair off the floors of a Harlem barber shop, and at night works in the kitchen of a club owned by mobster Colton "Cottonmouth" Stokes, whose cousin is a city councilwoman trying to clean up Harlem and keep Colton out of trouble at the same time. Kind of hard, of course, as Cottonmouth is this show's answer to Wilson Fisk (Vincent D'Onofrio) over on Daredevil, a ruthless crime lord. Long time comics fans will remember Cottonmouth as one of Cage's oldest foes.

The supporting cast also includes Alfre Woodard, Frank Whaley, and, inevitably, Rosario Dawson will reprise as "Night Nurse" Claire Temple, who in the books was Cage's long-time girlfriend, long before being rebooted as the Night Nurse.

The show is augumented with a R & B/rap soundtrack featuring 90's stars Faith Evans, Raphael Siddiq, and rapper d-Nice. One gets the feeling that if there's enough interest, there will be a soundtrack CD forthcoming. Cottonmouth keeps a portrait of slain rapper Notorious B. I. G. in his office, reflecting, if you will, his musical tastes.

Scope the trailer:



You might say Christmas has come early.

Rating: A.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Celebrity Rock (?): Johnny B. Goode (1985)

From "Back to the Future":

Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox, Family Ties), who has gone back in time, fronts the band at a school dance where his parents eventually meet and fall in love. But if you think Fox did his own singing and guitar playing on a cover of Chuck Berry's immortal classic, "Johnny B. Goode", prepare to be disappointed.

Mark Campbell of Jack Mack & The Heart Attack was the actual vocalist on the following clip, while Tim May, a session musician, played the guitar solo mimed by Fox. Don't worry. Fox would finally do his own singing several months later in "Light of Day".

Sports this 'n' that

Troy High moved one step closer to clinching the Class AA Liberty Division title Friday, dispatching Colonie by the ridiculous count of 29-2. Colonie's defense recorded a safety in the 2nd quarter to avoid the shutout. The Garnet Raiders fall to 1-4 while Troy moves to 5-0.

Meanwhile, it was an emotional night for Christian Brothers Academy, more than 24 hours removed from funeral services for assistant coach Joe Grasso, who passed away on Sunday. The Brothers are also 5-0 after beating Shenendehowa, 19-7, snapping the Plainsmen's 3-game winning streak, making the road to the Class AA Super Bowl that much tougher for Shen. Grasso's son, Mike, is Troy's offensive coordinator. I can imagine Troy & CBA finally meeting this season----in the Super Bowl, provided both teams are still unbeaten come November 3.
==================================
I wrote last night about feeling the pain of a Broadalbin-Perth JV soccer player as she left Picken Field following her team's loss to Troy. I chatted with a couple of B-P fans during the varsity game, and, as noted, the Lady Patriots have struggled this season, but the boys team sits atop the Foothills Council. Should've made note of that before.
==================================
Don't look now, but for the first time since the Bobby Valentine era, the Mets will make the post-season in back-to-back years. They clinched at least a tie for a Wild Card berth in beating Philadelphia, 5-1, on Friday. After a period of adjustment (read: a prolonged slump), Jay Bruce has finally woken up his bat, giving the Mets some offensive backup behind Yoenis Cespedes. If this doesn't give Terry Collins a Manager of the Year award, what will?
==================================
What everyone is talking about this morning, of course, is San Francisco outfielder Angel Pagan's impersonation of a pro wrestler during last night's game vs. the Dodgers. I know that if I posted one of the fan videos, it'd likely get taken down from YouTube by MLB in due course, so I won't even bother.

Anyway, two fans, a young couple, actually, ran onto the field at AT&T Park with the idea of the dude, carrying flowers, proposing marriage to his honey. The girl was nabbed by security in right field. Her prospective fiance, unfortunately, ran up to Pagan, in left field, and ate a belly-to-belly suplex. Thanks for coming, dude. Security hustled over to retrieve the misguided Romeo so Pagan could get back to business at hand.

WWE's Rhyno & Bayley, both of whom use the belly-to-belly suplex, would be proud of Pagan, who must be a fan.