Saturday, May 27, 2017

Musical Interlude: I'm No Angel (1987)

Gregg Allman spun himself off from the Allman Brothers Band in 1987 with the release of "I'm No Angel", the first release from the Gregg Allman Band. If the basic core sound seems familiar, producer Rodney Mills had also been working with one of the bands influenced by the Allmans, :38 Special, around that same time.



One commentator on YouTube cracked that there wasn't enough whiskey at the bar to offset Allman's failed marriage to fellow superstar Cher. Oh, I don't know.

Dedicated in memory of Allman, who has passed away at 69.

What Might've Been: The New Bill Cosby Show (1972)

Ya know, it turns out that Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids may've been part of a package deal to bring series creator Bill Cosby to CBS, after his first two series had aired on NBC.

Cosby left the original Electric Company after 1 season, though some of his skits would apparently be re-used over the final five seasons, to begin work not only on Fat Albert, which was his most successful and longest running series (13 seasons), but a variety show.

The New Bill Cosby Show, however, ran for just 1 season, due to the fact that it aired on the wrong night. Its primary opposition in the fall was Monday Night Football, but, of course, that only lasted three months out of the year, so whatever else ABC put up in the interim, coupled with movies on NBC, resulted in Cosby's second shortest series. The shortest? Another variety series, Cos, which lasted two months on ABC in 1976.

Cosby retained musical director Quincy Jones from his 1969-71 NBC sitcom, and Lola Falana pulled off the feat of performing a dance routine and her announcer duties at the same time, as you'll see in this sample clip:



Falana accompanied Cosby for Cos 4 years later, and that would be Cosby's last attempt at fronting a variety show.

No rating.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Forgotten TV: The Hero (1966)

With Get Smart in its 2nd season, producer Leonard Stern sought to expand Talent Associates' comedy roster. As we already know, Run, Buddy, Run was a decided flop for CBS. Stern's next entry for NBC was, too.

What Stern sought to do with The Hero was illustrate how different the real world was from show business. Sam Garret (Richard Mulligan) was the star of a Gunsmoke-like Western, Jed Clayton---US Marshal, but at home, he was a bumbling klutz.

And that's where the show fell apart. Viewers were already accustomed to a bumbling klutz on another network, namely ABC's F-Troop (Ken Berry as Capt. Wilton Parmenter), and both characters, you can say, could owe their existence to Peter Sellers' Inspector Cleuseau in "The Pink Panther", which made the art of slapstick pratfalls trendy again. The show-within-a-show concept, though, was different.

Unfortunately, as I've been told, The Hero barely aired in the home district, if at all, as then-NBC affiliate WRGB opted for other programming in order to pick up some advertising revenues for themselves. As a result, The Hero barely got past Christmas.

Gilmore Box provides the intro:



No rating, obviously.

Sports this 'n' that

The Yankees postponed their Thursday matinee vs. Kansas City a full five hours before game time due to inclement weather. The Mets, who were also home, should've taken the hint.

Instead, the injury-cursed Mets dropped their 2nd straight to San Diego, as the team was determined to get the game in, such that Thursday's scheduled starter, Jacob deGrom, was held back to tonight at Pittsburgh because of the same threat of rain that forced the Yankees to postpone their game until September 25. The enigmatic Rafael Montero, who's never had the same kind of success with the big club that he's had in the minors, went just three innings due to a high pitch count (nearly 90 pitches, half of them in the first inning alone), giving up three runs and took the loss. The way announcers Gary Cohen & Ron Darling were discussing Montero, neither believes Montero will be long for the team once Seth Lugo and Steven Matz return from the DL. The Mets have gone 3-10 in their last 13 games, which doesn't bode well in the long term.
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They say half a loaf of bread is better than none at all.

They also say you don't let facts get in the way of a good story.

Unfortunately, those homilies don't apply to the financially challenged hometown paper.

Reading reporter Nick Topping's account of Wednesday's Albany Academy-Saratoga Central Catholic Class B title game in Thursday's Record, I could see that, due to deadlines, Topping didn't have time to conduct interviews with players & coaches on both teams. Topping only talked to SCC coach Alphonse "Phonsey" Lambert. Yes, that's right. The losing coach.

SAY WHAT?

I went online and re-read the account of Saturday's LaSalle-Niskayuna game. Again, only the losing team was profiled, not the winners.

That is not good journalism, especially not the way I was taught in high school nearly 40 years ago. Now, I get that Topping was rushing to get the story in, and despite the fact that readers have complained often over the last few years about the early deadlines getting in the way of timely reporting, the core principles of reporting the news have been cast aside. It wouldn't hurt to take a few extra minutes to get both sides of the story, and let the deadline go, thus allowing a more detailed account to appear a day later. Readers such as ye scribe have reminded the editors via Pulse of the People and/or Sound Off frequently that not everyone has internet access, but if this is the editors' idea of meeting us halfway, contrary to what the Partridge Family sang nearly 50 years ago, in this case, it's not better than no way.
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Thursday's rain also affected the Class AA baseball title game, which was postponed to tomorrow afternoon, giving Shenendehowa and Niskayuna two extra days of rest. In all probability, Nisky's Nick Insognia, who twirled a 1-hitter vs. LaSalle, will be right back on the hill for the Silver Warriors.

And that leads me to one more rant.

New York's Section II Baseball Committee schedules the 5 sectional title games (AA-D) across a 3 day period, failing to recognize that the 4 pm (ET) games will be sparsely attended, as Albany Academy vs. SCC was on Wednesday, due to parents and alumni being at work, although some parents will take vacation days. It would make more sense, and minimalize the potential for rainouts, if they scheduled the games across a 5-day period, one game per night, to ensure everyone has a chance to come to the game after work and/or school. Section II's basketball committee has similar scheduling issues during sectional play at Hudson Valley Community College (where Bruno Stadium is located), although in that case, it's mostly not giving the paying customers enough time to leave when their team's game is finished before fans of the teams in the next game are filing in.

Now, last Saturday's Class AA double bill didn't exactly fill up Bruno Stadium the way it usually is during Valleycats games, but the nightcap was delayed 25 minutes to give LaSalle & Nisky more time to prepare while fans were in transition in and out of the stadium. That's exactly what they should be doing during the basketball tournament. I don't know who's on the committee, but I picture in my mind that they've probably been on the committee seemingly forever. Kind of like the Supreme Court, or the Seven Dwarves, take your pick. There's still room for change, guys.
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Finally, condolences to the family of Seattle Seahawks Hall of Fame DL Cortez Kennedy, who passed away earlier this week. A seemingly perennial Pro Bowl selection, Kennedy's only regret perhaps was retiring before the team won its first Super Bowl.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

What Might've Been: South of Sunset (1993)

In the history of television, there've been a small handful of shows that have been one-&-done. That is, only one episode aired before the network pulled the plug. Jackie Gleason had to publicly apologize for You're In The Picture on an empty set the next week. George Schlatter's Turn-On, which ABC asked for in the wake of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, was an even bigger bomb. CBS had the teen comedy, Co-Ed Fever, which tried to mine the audience that had so enjoyed "National Lampoon's Animal House", but was DOA.

And, then, there is South of Sunset.

At a time when CBS had the rights to the World Series, the network believed that Eagles vocalist-guitarist Glenn Frey, whose majority of acting experience was a recurring gig on Miami Vice a few years earlier, was enough of a draw to front his own show. Ehhhh, no.

Despite all the hype, South of Sunset was one-&-done. The network wasn't willing to take a chance that the show could improve, despite the fact that the pilot was pre-empted in much of the west coast due to breaking news the night of the broadcast. It wasn't until years later, when VH-1 ran five episodes of the series, as part of a salute to the Eagles, that anyone got to see the rest of the finished product. By that time, comedian Aries Spears had moved on to a gig on MadTV, for which he's better known. Maria Pitillo (ex-Ryan's Hope) would later appear in the remake of "Godzilla" that nearly ruined that franchise, and a few other films.

Here's the intro. I believe that's also Frey singing the theme song.



No rating.

Celebrity Rock: "Laura Ingalls" sings & dances (American Bandstand, 1978)

Of course, I'm referring to Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura on Little House on the Prairie. Imagine the surprise finding this next video.

Melissa appeared on American Bandstand to perform a cover of "If My Friends Could See Me Now", which disco singer Linda Clifford had recorded earlier in 1978. Melissa's version never made it onto vinyl, nor did it get any kind of radio airplay at all.



This also appears on my other blog, Saturday Morning Archives.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Forgotten TV: Suspicion (1957)

With his self-titled anthology series entering its 3rd season, film legend Alfred Hitchcock tried to complement it with a 2nd anthology on NBC. Suspicion, however, lasted just 1 season. Hitchcock was the executive producer, and directed a handful of episodes, including the opener, "Four O'Clock", with E. G. Marshall and Richard Long.



Actor Dennis O'Keefe was meant to be the host, but was gone after just 2 weeks. When the network recycled the show for summer reruns, Walter Abel took over as host. O'Keefe's appearance appears to have been edited off the above print.

No rating.

Section II baseball Class B championship: Albany Academy vs. Saratoga Central Catholic, 5/24/17

After two thrilling games decided the Class C & D titles Tuesday, the Class B championship kicked off the Wednesday double-header at Joe Bruno Stadium. Albany Academy, the last team representing the Colonial Council in baseball, squared off against Saratoga Central Catholic, out of the Wasaren League, which covers Washington, Saratoga, & Rensselaer counties.

The Cadets jumped on SCC starter Terel Tillman in the first inning. With one out, Ethan Duda drilled a triple down the line in left. With E. J. Birch at the plate, Tillman threw a wild pitch to plate Duda. Tillman then gave up a single to his opposite number, Ben Seiler, to make it 2-0. The Cadets were up, 4-0, before Seiler took the mound.

SCC clawed back with three runs in the 3rd, aided by a wild pitch by Seiler. Meanwhile, Tillman had settled down, retiring eight in a row up until the 5th inning. In the visiting 5th, Young led off with a walk. Birch doubled, and Seiler singled to make it 6-3. That forced SCC coach Phonsey Lambert to make a pitching change, sending Tillman to 3rd, and putting Connor Farrington on the mound. That didn't help, as the Cadets batted around, adding two more runs in the frame, and then four more in the 6th. In all the Cadets batted around three times. Kaden-Philip Learch put the fire out in the 6th, and gave up just a single to Seiler in 2 innings of work.

Seiler pitched into the home 7th before swapping places with Birch, as SCC tried to rally, getting a run on 2 hits, a wild pitch, and a sacrifice fly. Learch drew a walk, but Cadhan McFadden grounded into a double play to end the game. Cue the dogpile at the mound.

Up next for Albany Academy will be state tournament play, against an opponent to be determined.

Musical Interlude: Love (Changes Everything) (1987-8)

Climie Fisher, the collective name for British popsters Simon Climie and Rob Fisher, just missed the top 20 on Billboard's Hot 100 in 1988 with "Love (Changes Everything)", which peaked at #23. The song was initially released a year earlier to tepid response in the Netherlands and their native UK, but after taking "Love" back to the shop, if you will, for a remix, Climie Fisher gained some significant airplay.

30 years later, an up and coming singer-songwriter, Parker Harrison, covered "Love" on his debut EP, "Clear Conscience, Part 1", but doesn't have a video. So let's take a trip back in time with Climie Fisher's original version:



Climie Fisher intended this originally for Rod Stewart, but were turned down. For Fisher, this was a second chance at pop stardom, having previously been with Naked Eyes, which had a couple of hits earlier in the decade.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Classic TV: The Defenders (1961)

Now, here's a show I've always wanted to see, but never got the chance.

The Defenders, which ran for 4 seasons on CBS (1961-5), was spun off from a 1957 episode of Studio One, "The Defender", written by Reginald Rose, the man who also was responsible for 12 Angry Men.

The Defenders had just two regular characters, a father & son team of lawyers played by E. G. Marshall & Robert Reed. Although it is a courtroom drama, much like another CBS staple of the period, Perry Mason, the focus of the show is the law itself, not the how's & why's of crime and what leads to trial. In other words, it wasn't a procedural crime drama, as Mason was.

After the series ended, Marshall would make a guest appearance, reuniting with Reed on The Brady Bunch. I believe this might've been when Marshall was still working on The Bold Ones.

Surprisingly, The Defenders was revived in 1997 by premium cable giant Showtime. Marshall returned, but Reed had passed on five years earlier, so while his role was not recast, Marshall would now be teamed with Beau Bridges and Martha Plimpton, the latter playing Marshall's grand-daughter. Suffice to say, this has no connection, other than the title, to a 2010 CBS dramedy that starred Jerry O'Connell & Jim Belushi, which was a flop, or the forthcoming Netflix series, which has its roots in Marvel Comics instead.

Following is a sample clip from the episode, "Killer Instinct". Guest star William Shatner had starred with Ralph Bellamy on Studio One four years earlier.



Shatner would later headline another courtroom drama from the same producers, For The People, which bowed during The Defenders' final season. This, too, failed, else Shatner would never have gotten icon status with Star Trek a year and a half later. He would, however, revisit The Defenders in an episode of his later series, Boston Legal, many years later.

No rating. The above clip wasn't enough of a sample.

Sports this 'n' that

This is how the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim rewarded C. J. Cron after he hit his 1st home run of the season on Sunday in a 12-5 win over the Mets. The Angels optioned Cron to their AAA affiliate in Salt Lake City on Monday. Why? Cron is hitting .232 on the season, and manager Mike Scioscia is looking for offense. Future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols missed the series due to a hamstring injury, and the Angels salvaged themselves on Sunday with the win to avoid being swept. 

Add the Mets. They'd snapped a 7 game losing streak on Friday. Their bullpen needs help from being overworked the first two months of the season. The Citi Field injury curse returned with a vengeance this season, and won't let up. Ya wonder if someone in Washington is responsible, fearing that the Mets at full strength could challenge the Nationals, who are threatening to run away and hide in the NL East.
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I've got two words for LaVar Ball: Shut up.

Less than a month before the NBA Draft, and after the Lakers wound up with the #2 pick, Ball apparently will hound them until they agree to draft his son, Lonzo. He's living vicariously through his son, we all know that, but he's already become a stale act.
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Lacrosse season is over at Troy High and LaSalle.

Both teams were defeated Monday in the Class B sectionals. LaSalle dropped a heartbreaker, 9-8, to Burnt Hills. Troy, meanwhile, was blown out by Ballston Spa, 15-4. The Flying Horses trailed 9-1 at halftime, and 11-3 after three quarters. You can say that they were outplayed, and they were, but six days off between games, despite practices virtually every day, may have been too much. Coach Brian Benner's club finishes 6-11 for the season, an improvement over 2016, but one wonders how they'll fare next year.

The softball sectional in Class AA between Ballston Spa & Troy was rained out, but they'll try again today, knowing that the winner moves on to Malta tomorrow for the semi-finals.
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Live professional wrestling returns to the home district in July. Northeast Wrestling has landed a booking at Joe Bruno Stadium for "Wrestling Under the Stars" on Saturday, July 15. WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley, newly inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, will be on hand, along with WWE alums Ryback (who otherwise bills himself as The Big Guy) and Cody Rhodes, who goes by Cody, the American Nightmare since WWE owns the trademark on the Rhodes name. Rhodes, though, is also coming off a pair of appearances on the CW series, Arrow, the most recent one being three weeks ago. An autograph session precedes the card, which begins at 7 pm. Tickets went on sale last Friday, starting at $20. It's been over a year since there's been live wrestling in Troy (Dynasty Pro Wrestling is running other parts of the state after an apparent falling out with the Boys & Girls Clubs in Albany & Troy last year), so figure on the crowd size being about as big, if not bigger, than the average Valleycats game.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Classic TV: The Joey Bishop Show (1961)

At various points during the 50's & 60's, each member of the Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford, & Sammy Davis, Jr.) had their own series, with varying degrees of success. To that end, Lawford would be at the bottom of the deck, as his two series (Dear Phoebe & The Thin Man) were not successful. Dean would be at the top, since his 2nd variety show, which led to his Celebrity Roasts being spun off, kept him on NBC for nearly 2 decades.

Somewhere in the middle is Bishop. While most people remember his ABC talk show, which introduced America to Regis Philbin, Bishop's 1st series was a self-titled sitcom that was spun off from Make Room For Daddy, aka The Danny Thomas Show. In the pilot, Bishop was a klutzy public relations rep, but when he landed his own series, he now was an assistant to a Hollywood press agent.

The final three seasons served as a sort of precursor to the talk show that would follow. Joey Barnes (Bishop) was now married and had changed careers, becoming a stand-up comic and talk show host. While Joey had relatives to support (Danny Thomas' daughter, Marlo, later of That Girl, landed one of her first TV roles playing Joey's younger sister) during the 1st season, that was all swapped out in favor of sitcom trappings that mirrored The Dick Van Dyke Show. Show within a show? Check. Hot wife? Check. (Abby Dalton played Joey's wife for the rest of the series) Goofy friends? Check. Joe Besser (ex-The Abbott & Costello Show) was the building superintendent. Corbett Monica replaced Guy Marks as Joey's agent in season 3.

Speaking of season 3, one episode never made it to air in the wake of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. JFK's most famous impersonator, Vaughn Meader ("The First Family"), was scheduled to appear, but the episode was scrubbed, and Meader's career was virtually destroyed as a result of Kennedy's death. Co-executive producer Danny Thomas and NBC felt that running the Meader episode would be inappropriate, and it's believed the episode was "wiped", or destroyed, per network practices of the time.

The series moved to CBS for the 4th & final season, but the viewers didn't, and the show was cancelled in the spring of 1965.

From the 3rd season, here's "Double Play: Foster to Joey to Durocher". As in, Phil Foster (later of Laverne & Shirley) and baseball player turned manager Leo Durocher, who would also appear on The Munsters the following season.



Antenna TV has The Joey Bishop Show airing weekdays from 1-2 pm (ET).

Season 1's supporting cast, aside from Marlo Thomas, moved on to better things, too. Joe Flynn, of course, moved on to McHale's Navy for the next 4 years. Madge Blake would later resurface on Batman for the better part of the series' 1st 2 seasons. Warren Berlinger might be better remembered as a character actor who did a lot of television and movies.

Rating (based on what I'd seen on TV Land when they had the rights): B.

What Might've Been: The Cosby Mysteries (1994)

After flopping with a remake of You Bet Your Life, Bill Cosby returned to NBC in January 1994 with a TV-movie that served as the pilot for his first dramatic series since I Spy.

Unfortunately, there was still a bit of audience fatigue with Cosby, two years removed from his award winning The Cosby Show (1984-92), which would explain why his version of Bet failed. The Cosby Mysteries suffered also from the fact that there was an increasing amount of crime dramas seeking to duplicate the success of CBS' Murder, She Wrote, which was still on the air. That series' co-creator, William Link, co-created The Cosby Mysteries.

Cosby doubled as an executive producer, as had been the case with Bet and The Cosby Show. His supporting cast included rapper-actor Mos Def (credited under his real name), Lynn Whitfield, and Rita Moreno, marking the first time Moreno & Cosby had worked together since season 1 of the original Electric Company.

So, where did it go wrong? NBC smartly avoided putting it on Thursday, where Cosby had thrived with The Cosby Show and I Spy. They opted for Wednesdays, but got 18 episodes out of Cosby Mysteries before putting it to bed for good. Cosby had ended his association with Marcy Carsey & Tom Werner, the folks behind The Cosby Show and the 1993 You Bet Your Life, among other things, and switched studios to Columbia Pictures Television (Now Sony Pictures Television). While I never saw the show, I think folks just weren't buying into Cosby as a retired forensic scientist with the NYPD who gave up the gig when he hit the lottery. They saw it as a knock-off of not only Murder, She Wrote, but also Dick Van Dyke's CBS hit, Diagnosis: Murder. Ironically, when Cosby tried another series two years later, it was another sitcom, this time for CBS, and that managed to last a while.

The Rap Sheet offers the intro:



After being a steady presence, between a grand total of 7 series (he only lasted 1 year on Electric Company, but it counts) and a zillion commercials for Jell-O, America was telling Cosby they needed a break.

No rating.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Celebrity Rock: Bang Bang (She Shot Me Down) (1967)

Most people think of Raquel Welch as an actress whose resume included "Hannie Coulder", "Kansas City Bomber", "1,000,000 Years B. C.", and "Fathom", as well as trying television, guest-starring, for example, on Mork & Mindy in the late 70's. What you might not know is that the lady can also sing.

Raquel appeared on The Hollywood Palace in September 1967, on an episode hosted by actor-singer Sammy Davis, Jr., and covered "Bang Bang (She Shot Me Down)", which in this case has the subtitle changed to "My Baby Shot Me Down". "Bang Bang" was also recorded by Frank & Nancy Sinatra (separately), and Cher, among others.




A Classic Reborn: The New Bob Cummings Show (1961)

Emmy winner Bob Cummings returned to series television in 1961 with---wait for it---The New Bob Cummings Show. Unlike his earlier self-titled series, this lasted just 1 season, the last first-run episode airing in March 1962.

While the character's name had changed, the basic makeup of the character hadn't, reflecting Cummings' real-life background as an Air Force pilot. In fact, it took CBS & Revue Studios until after Christmas to finally add the New to the show's title, as apparently folks were confused since the earlier Bob Cummings Show was in syndication at the time under the alternate title, Love That Bob. That late decision, coupled with viewer indifference, led to cancellation three months later.

Gilmore Box provides an intro:



Not shown was Roberta Shore (later on The Virginian), who played Hank, the tomboy daughter of Bob's boss, who was crushing on Bob. The intro is all that is available on YouTube at the moment.

No rating.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

What Might've Been: Mason (1975-7)

In the 70's, there were two boys who captured America's collective hearts by appearing in commercials. Rodney Allen Rippy, for one, shilled for Jack in the Box restaurants, and parlayed that into a gig with the Harlem Globetrotters for their short-lived Saturday morning comedy show.

Mason Reese, on the other hand, attracted the attention of other sponsors, including Underwood deviled ham and Dunkin' Donuts, and was a frequent guest on The Mike Douglas Show. In 1975, he attracted the attention of Filmways, which shopped a sitcom pilot headlined by Reese. ABC bought said pilot, but it sat on the shelf for 2 years before it finally saw the light of day in 1977.

In Mason, Reese is a child prodigy attending a special school in New York, but otherwise is a handful for his parents and older sister. Reese, now 52, has his own YouTube channel, from whence we get the pilot.



I think you can see why ABC waited two years before this aired. There are some good moments early on, but confining most of the action to the home doesn't give this much room to maneuver.

Rating: C.

Section II Class AA baseball semi-final: LaSalle vs. Niskayuna, 5/20/17

As the lone Colonial Council representative in the Class AA baseball sectionals, LaSalle could be considered a Cinderella team, having beaten Columbia and Ballston Spa to reach the semi-final round vs. Niskayuna tonight at Joe Bruno Stadium.

Sometime after the 5th inning, however, Cinderella's glass slippers turned into lead boots.

But, we're getting ahead of ourselves.

The Cadets drew first blood in the top of the 3rd against Nick Insognia. With DJ McMahon on 3rd, Kyle Borey grounded to second, but the throw to the plate was wide, and McMahon scored to give LaSalle a brief 1-0 lead. As it was, McMahon's single leading off the frame was the only hit the Cadets could muster against Insognia, who overcame early wildness, and got stronger as the night wore on.

Niskayuna tied the game in the bottom half on a base hit by Tyler Senecal, plating Conor Graham. Matt Toy, who'd reached on a fielder's choice, tried to score all the way from first, but center fielder Noah Grandjean threw him out at the plate to keep the game tied. Toy finished 3-for-4 on the evening, having reached base in all 4 at bats.

Unfortunately, LaSalle starter James Rubino ran out of gas in the 5th inning, and walked in the game winner with the bases loaded. The Silver Warriors tacked on one more run in the inning, then added two more in the 6th against Quentin Crudo to ice the game. When the Cadets took the field in the bottom of the 6th, the body language of some of the players suggested that their confidence had taken a major hit, unable to muster any kind of comeback against Insognia, who struck out the side in the top of the 7th to finish a complete game 1-hitter.

Niskayuna now moves on to play Suburban Council rival Shenendehowa, as the defending champions staved off a late rally in the bottom of the 7th to beat Saratoga, 5-3. The title game takes place Thursday at Bruno Stadium.
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Also on Saturday afternoon, the championship games in the other classes were set. In Class A, it will be Mohonasen vs. Scotia-Glenville in a battle between the Suburban and Foothills Councils. Mohonasen routed Amsterdam, 17-3, while Scotia shut out Burnt Hills, 3-0. Over in Class B, top seeded Saratoga Central Catholic, out of the Wasaren League, will face Albany Academy (Colonial Council), as both teams posted shutouts on Saturday. Academy, in fact, is the last Colonial Council team left after beating league rival Voorheesville, 5-0. Class C saw two more shutouts, setting up Hoosic Valley vs. Greenwich in the title game on Tuesday. Also Tuesday, it'll be a battle of the Forts, as Fort Ann & Fort Plain will meet.
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Section II has finally set the schedule for the boys' lacrosse sectionals, which will begin on Monday. Troy High & LaSalle are both in Class B (there is no Class AA in lacrosse), and could meet in the semi-finals if they beat their opening opponents on Monday. LaSalle travels to Burnt Hills, while Troy's laxmen will accompany the softball team to Ballston Spa. If Troy & LaSalle both win, the two teams would meet at LaSalle in the semi-finals.




Remember the Lite Line "mouse"? (1980)

We all know that mice love cheese. Rather than obtain a license to use, say for example, Speedy Gonzales, Borden opted to create their own rodent(s).

What they did was hire an anonymous actress, and dressed her in a grey & white mouse bodysuit to do a series of spots for Lite Line cheese. As the brand name implies, this has fewer calories than regular sliced cheese.

In this 1980 spot, Borden's ad agency upped the babe quotient by adding a few extra "mice" at the end.



Unfortunately, Lite Line is not around anymore, and, for that matter, neither is Borden, which discontinued Lite Line and other food products a few years back, while other familiar brands, such as Wyler's juice mix and Cracker Jack, were sold off to other companies. Wise potato chips was spun off into its own company.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Classic TV: Your Hit Parade (1950)

Ah, the days of innocence that were the 1950's. Before rock music took over the public's conscience, lighter pop standards ruled the airwaves.

Your Hit Parade started on radio in the 30's, and moved to television in 1950, airing on NBC. Snooky Lanson seemed to be the one constant among the lead vocalists on the show, which also included Dorothy Collins, and, for 4 years, Gisele McKenzie.

Now, I never saw the show, as it was before my time, and I totally missed out on a summer revival in 1974, which aired on CBS, and was the first and only series that Chuck Barris had sold to the network, this after Barris, better known for game shows, acquired the rights to Parade. The revival featured Kelly Garrett and a pre-Wheel of Fortune Chuck Woolery, who otherwise had been appearing occasionally on the children's series, The New Zoo Revue.

Let's take a trip back to June 1956:



No rating.

High school sports this 'n' that

As of this writing, the brackets for Section II boys' lacrosse sectionals haven't been announced, which is weird, as those brackets were supposed to have been made public as of Wednesday. However, the girls' lacrosse tournament is underway. As of now, most of the attention is on the baseball sectionals, and rightfully so, as some of the top seeds in Classes AA, A, & B have already fallen.

We'll start with Class AA. Christian Brothers Academy was the #1 seed, but despite a late rally, lost for the 2nd time this season to defending champ Shenendehowa, 11-8, on Thursday. Seeded 8th, Shen now moves on to the semi-finals, where they'll play Saratoga in the first half of the Saturday double-header at Bruno Stadium.

The nightcap will see de facto host LaSalle, the #6 seed, as the road team vs. #2 Niskayuna, which routed Colonie, 16-7. LaSalle upset #3 Ballston Spa, 3-2, to reach the semis and play at least one more game in front of the home fans. The winners return to "The Joe" next Thursday night for the title game.

In Class A, defending champion Queensbury, the top seed, fell to Burnt Hills, 10-8, ending Queensbury's string of sectional titles. Up next for Burnt Hills will be another Foothills Council foe in Scotia, which beat Lansingburgh (Colonial Council), 5-4. Mohonasen (Suburban Council) defeated South Glens Falls, 12-6, and await the winner of a suspended game between Amsterdam and Gloversville, which will conclude tonight after the game was halted due to heavy rain on Thursday night.

Ichabod Crane, which won a division title in the Colonial, fell in Class B to Colonial rival Voorheesville, 6-4. Up next for Voorheesville will be Albany Academy, which upended Hudson, 12-8. In the other bracket, top-seeded Saratoga Central Catholic will meet Johnstown, which won a rain-shortened 6 inning affair, 8-1, over Broadalbin-Perth. SCC crushed Tamarac, 14-6, to advance.

In Class C, Chatham needed extra innings to eliminate Greenville, 5-4. Chatham will play Hoosic Valley next, while Greenwich & Lake George will meet in the other semi-final. Over in Class D, Fort Plain & Salem will finish their game today as well, as they were suspended in the 4th inning by rain. The winner, then, will play either New Lebanon or Germantown, as the result of that game was never reported to the local press by deadlines for today's editions. Whitehall & Fort Ann will meet in the other semi-final.

Barring any further weather issues, all the title games will be at Bruno Stadium Tuesday-Thursday next week.
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As previously noted, Troy High's softball team will begin their quest for another sectional title, this time in Class AA, on Monday at Ballston Spa. For 1st year head coach Sean Geisel, it's been an easier transition than for any other new coach, as Geisel had been an assistant under former head coach George Rafferty, who coached at Hudson Valley Community College this season. Troy finished the regular season 14-5, but they're going through the same Suburban Council teams they played earlier in the season. The big question is whether or not the Lady Horses can flip the switch, like Shen did on the boys' side, and make a run to the title game, set for next Friday in Malta. We'll find out beginning on Monday.
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To illustrate how bad Troy's tennis & track teams were, the school didn't qualify for sectionals in either sport, or so it'd seem.

In exchanging e-mails with James Allen of the Albany Times-Union & Spectrum Sports over the last week, I've learned the harsh truth about the lack of amenities for spring sports at most high schools, Troy included. There's just not enough money in the school budgets to add additional items such as electronic scoreboards and lights. It's just not going to happen any time soon.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Musical Interlude: Black Hole Sun (1994)

The irony of Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun", released in 1994, is that while singer Chris Cornell conveys the morose emotion of the lyrics, the actors over-emote to the point where you'd swear they'd been visited by the Joker.

Scope it out, and you'll see what I mean.



In memory of Cornell, who passed away overnight while on tour with Soundgarden in Detroit at 52.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

What Might've Been: Street Hawk (1985)

Universal had found what they thought would've been a gold mine with a sub-genre of adventure shows in the 80's. That trend started with Knight Rider, which was in its third season on NBC, and continued with Airwolf, which had just taken off at CBS. The common thread was that you had ordinary men operating extraordinary machines.

For ABC, Universal was commissoned to create Street Hawk, which boasted a high-tech motorcycle, piloted by a helmeted vigilante. It would actually represent Universal's return to superheroes, three years after The Incredible Hulk ended its run at CBS.

Street Hawk had been bumped from the fall lineup due to the success of a summer series, Call to Glory, which resulted in Glory, starring Craig T. Nelson, getting a full season order. Hawk finally bowed in January 1985, with actor-singer Rex Smith in the title role. Jesse Mach (Smith) had been a motorcycle cop until an accident pulled him off the road and into the office as a public relations officer. A chance meeting with a technical genius (Joe Regalbuto) leads to Mach adopting the identity of Street Hawk and continuing his fight against crime, albeit in secret, which leads in turn to the predictable condemnation from his superiors.

Here's the pilot, with guest stars including James Avery and Christopher Lloyd.



The poster is a fan of Sledge Hammer!, which is why Hammer (David Rasche) appears above before you click the video on.

Anyway, Street Hawk lasted just 1 season, and after a subsequent cable run, hasn't been heard from much since. However, that cannot be said for its stars. Rex Smith would be the first man to don the red costume of Daredevil just a couple of years later when ol' hornhead would team with the Hulk in a TV-movie. Joe Regalbuto might still be better known for his supporting role on Murphy Brown. A clip of Regalbuto, taken from an episode of Happy Days, was included in Weezer's 1994 video for "Buddy Holly".

Rating: B-.

No rest for the weary: sectional play begins sooner than assumed

I think everyone in the home district assumed that sectional play would begin Thursday at the very latest. We know that the Section II softball committee, and presumably also the lacrosse committee, would meet today. What we didn't know was that the baseball committee met at mid-morning on Tuesday, with tournament play in classes AA, B, & C to start later that afternoon.

So imagine my surprise, reading the Record this morning, and finding that out. The only explanation I can think of was that the committee members, recognizing that the weather forecast calls for rain Thursday and/or Friday, needed to start the tournaments ASAP in order to get to the title games, scheduled for Joe Bruno Stadium May 23-25. Due to state tournaments scheduled to start June 2-3, there was no room for error.

Anyway, Troy High & LaSalle, having had their regular season meeting cancelled on Monday due to weekend rains and wet grounds at THS, had their first round games Tuesday afternoon. As expected, Troy was on the road, seeded 9th, and returning to Clifton Park to play defending AA champ Shenendehowa for the 2nd time in as many weeks. Shen was seeded 8th, as they weren't the dominant team in the Suburban Council's Blue division this season. Their quest for another AA title began by beating Troy again, 5-3. The Flying Horses, then, finish 10-10 for the season, a marked improvement over last year.

Meanwhile, LaSalle, playing at home at Geer Field,  rallied in the 7th inning to force extra innings, then defeated Columbia in 8 innings, 5-4. The Cadets now advance to the quarter-finals to play 3rd seeded Ballston Spa on Thursday. Shen, meanwhile, will face top-seeded Christian Brothers Academy, also on Thursday. Weather permitting, of course.

We'll know later today where Troy's softball team will play their first sectional game. As for the lacrosse team? After finishing the regular season 6-10 (4-10 in the Suburban Council) following a 13-7 loss to CBA on Tuesday, there's no guarantee the Flying Horses will be in the sectionals, as the Suburban has enough teams over .500 without including Troy or CBA, but we'll see. The committees are likely meeting as I write, so the pairings will be announced later today.

Updated, 1:04 pm (ET): Troy's softball team will be on the road, drawing the #6 seed in an 8-team field in class AA. Their first round game will be at Ballston Spa on Monday. Semi-finals and finals, as in recent years, will be in Malta at the Luther Forest Complex.

Updated, 5/20, 8:10 am (ET): Troy's lacrosse team joins the softball team in Ballston Spa on May 22 for a first round game in Class B sectionals (No Class AA in lacrosse). Winner faces the winner of LaSalle at Burnt Hills later in the week.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What Might've Been: Martial Law (1998)

As far back as the 90's, Saturday nights meant quality television, not reruns and sports.

In 1998, CBS needed another crime drama to lead into Walker, Texas Ranger, which was occupying the 10 pm (ET) slot that had been held in years past by shows as diverse as Mission: Impossible & The Carol Burnett Show. Early Edition was holding the lead-off spot at 8, so something was needed at 9. That something came from Nash Bridges creator Carlton Cuse.

Martial Law introduced American audiences to Sammo Hung, a respected martial arts movie star in Hong Kong. CBS & Cuse initially wanted Jackie Chan, but Chan wasn't interested. However, Martial Law was inspired by one of Chan's "Crime Story" movies. Hung wasn't fluent in English, so the supporting cast had to carry more of the dialogue than normal. Viewers, though, might've been more interested in seeing the fight scenes.

After about a month and change, actress Tammy Lauren left the show, as her character was written out. Two months in, Arsenio Hall joined the show as a PR rep-turned-detective, as CBS now wanted to copy the success of Chan's "Rush Hour", with Hall occupying Chris Tucker's spot as the sidekick to the fish-out-of-water sleuth from the Far East.

With ratings beginning to fall, the network felt, since they co-produced all three shows, to have Martial Law cross over with both Walker and Early Edition, albeit separately. Unfortunately, Hung wasn't thrilled with a change in show-runners and writers in the 2nd season putting more emphasis on the action and not enough on detective work, and decided to walk away after 2 seasons.

Following is a montage of clips from the show, as there isn't a lot of actual episode footage available. The video is set to the beat of Alan Tam's "Midnight Rider":



Co-star Kelly Hu followed up, of course, with the feature film, "The Scorpion King", opposite Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Hall went back to doing comedy, and tried reviving not just his own talk show, but Star Search as well, and neither was successful. Hung, I think, is still making movies in Hong Kong.

Rating: B.

Now comics fans can plan their TV viewing virtually every night of the week

Network "up-fronts", industry jargon for announcing fall schedules, began Monday with Fox, and continued today with ABC. CBS, NBC, & CW will weigh in before the week is out, but for comic book fans, the news is a little mixed.

At Fox, they're breaking up the DC/Vertigo block on Mondays, with Gotham moving to Thursday nights, opposite Grey's Anatomy, among other things. This scheduling decision may be sending the series to jump-the-shark territory for season 4. Lucifer moves up an hour to 8 (ET) for season 3,  clearing room for Fox's latest Marvel Comics entry, The Gifted, which is just a way of getting around the fact that it is at least inspired by the X-Men line of books. After 2 seasons of vying with Supergirl for viewers' attention, Gotham, which has increasingly ignored DC Comics canon as it's gone on, may be fighting a losing battle, given that Anatomy has a loyal following.

We'll find out by the end of the week if CW will move Legends of Tomorrow back to Thursdays for season 3, or leave it on Tuesdays, or if Riverdale, the illegitimate love child of Peyton Place and Saved by the Bell, if ya will, moves up an hour, since it has more soap opera content. Personally, I'd rather have Legends back on Thursdays, allowing a full season of iZombie, but that's just me.

Over at ABC, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will start season 5 on the bench, while Inhumans, technically a spin-off, will air on Fridays at 9 (ET). Inhumans, however, is a short-season series by design, just 8 episodes, same as was for Agent Carter for its 2 seasons (2014-15). Folks are already groaning that ABC/Disney may have decided to cut their losses, opting to make Tuesdays more of a comedy night, as it was in the past. So was Friday, but Friday ain't optimum viewing for most folks anymore, and as NBC has found out over the last few seasons, genre shows don't really do very well, although Grimm, which just concluded, lasted six seasons, going against the grain.

Fox will couple Gotham with a hour-long sci-fi comedy from Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane, who will top-line The Orville, which, based on the publicity photo already available, looks like a parody of a certain 50-something sci-fi franchise, that being, of course, Star Trek. Meanwhile, ABC is moving their fairy tale hit, Once Upon a Time, to Fridays as a lead-in to Inhumans. As MacFarlane has become a very important player at Fox, Anthony Anderson is in a similar position at ABC, as he'll also have two series on the schedule in the fall. Black-ish shifts to Tuesdays, while the revived To Tell The Truth will once again air on Sundays.

Digression over. For comics fans, only Saturday remains empty for primetime viewing, although locally, the CW affiliate has run repeats of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., while that series has also had repeats run on MyNetworkTV this season. For now, it looks like this:

Sundays: The Walking Dead/Fear The Walking Dead (AMC)
Mondays: Lucifer & The Gifted (Fox), Supergirl (CW)
Tuesdays: The Flash & either Legends of Tomorrow or iZombie (CW)
Wednesdays: Arrow (CW), Legion (FX)
Thursdays: Riverdale (CW), Gotham (Fox)
Fridays: Inhumans (ABC)

Yet to be scheduled: Black Lightning (CW), Krypton (SyFy).

The list doesn't include premium cable shows like Outcast, which, like Walking Dead, is based on an Image comic created by Robert Kirkman, and likely has a floating broadcast schedule.

We'll have more by the end of the week.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Origin of a Classic: Emergency Hospital (1962)

Ok, kids, ya might wanna talk to your mother, maybe even grandma, about this one.

General Hospital is ABC's only daytime soap opera, 54 years and counting. Ah, but what you don't know is that it nearly hit the air under a different title. You won't see too many familiar faces in Emergency Hospital.



Denise Alexander would be a part of the General Hospital cast during the 70's and, I think, the 80's. And, yes, that's Stafford Repp, 4 years before he was cast as Chief O'Hara on Batman, as Officer Muller, manning the info desk.

No rating. This is just a public service.

Sports this 'n' that

It should surprise absolutely no one that the tabloid press in New York is already beating the drums, calling for wholesale changes with the Mets, after the injury-cursed orange & blue crew were swept by NL Central insurgent Milwaukee over the weekend. Closer Jeurys Familia is the latest to fall victim to the injury bug, as team doctors discovered a blood clot in his shoulder. Thus, Addison Reed moved back into the closer's role, or so we thought, but Reed was called on in the 8th inning Sunday, and served up a game winning home run to unheralded Manny Pina.

Let's face facts. Due to Familia's suspension the first two weeks of the season, manager Terry Collins had to use more of his bullpen than he would've liked, and now Reed, Fernando Salas, and others have been overworked just a month into the season. The Mets need bullpen help, not tabloid jockeys calling for heads to roll. The road trip continues tonight in Phoenix against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
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Let's give Tom Brady some credit for humility.

In a recent interview with ESPN.com's Ian O'Connor, the 5-time Super Bowl champ claimed that he's not the greatest quarterback of all time, but rather a product of coach Bill Belichick's system. I've said all along that Brady wasn't the greatest---that title belongs to Joe Montana, in my opinion---but Brady can try to convince the provincial sheep in New England who think he's the greatest thing to come along since sliced bread, John F. Kennedy, and John Havlicek, not exactly in that order.

Unfortunately, the media hordes who think Brady is the greatest of all time also convinced the folks at EA Sports, makers of the Madden NFL video games, to put Brady on the cover of Madden '18. Supposedly, there's an curse associated with the status of being the cover model for the game, involving either injury, legal issues, or loss of playing time/status with the team. Chalk all that up to some eerie coincidences, and leave it at that. EA, sad to say, is making variant editions playing up the false hype of Brady as the greatest. Those won't sell so well outside of New England, trust me.
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For all intents and purposes, the high school spring sports regular season is over, save for a few games on tap today and tomorrow.

For Troy High, the regular season is over in baseball & softball sooner than expected. Today's Senior Day varsity baseball game vs. LaSalle was cancelled earlier today due to rain and wet grounds, and won't be made up, meaning Troy closes the regular season with a 10-9 ledger after dropping the Suburban Council finale to CBA on Friday, 7-2. Still, it's a marked improvement from last season. The softball team's non-league finale at South Glens Falls was also cancelled, as the Bulldogs had to make up a Foothills Council game on Friday that had been postponed a week earlier. Again, the game won't be made up, so the ladies finish 14-5 for the regular season.

As noted previously, sectional seedings will be announced later this week, perhaps as early as tomorrow or Tuesday.

The Troy lacrosse team, also enjoying a better season than last year, closes the regular season at CBA tomorrow. Admittedly, 6-9 is a lot better than where the laxmen were at this time last year.
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Let's give some props to the University at Albany's lacrosse & softball teams, which all won regular season titles in the America East conference. The men's lacrosse team, as I'm sure you know by now, upset defending NCAA champ North Carolina Saturday night, and will play Maryland on Saturday, seeking to avenge a home loss to the Terrapins during the regular season.

The women's lacrosse team earned an at-large bid for the NCAA's, while the softball team won the school's 100th conference title since UAlbany moved to Division 1 several years ago. That combines championships in both the America East and the Northeastern Conference.
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The only reason Derek Jeter's retirement ceremony got more attention than the rest of the "Core Four" that won 5 World Series titles between 1996-2009 was because ESPN had already scheduled a Sunday Night Baseball broadcast of last night's game vs. Houston, and was only too happy to carry the ceremony, which otherwise would've been on the YES network, and not have the national reach of ESPN. The Yankees, after all, still command big ratings based on reputation alone.

Unfortunately, the Astros spoiled the party, gaining a split of a day-night double dip by hanging on for a 10-7 win in a game that slogged through nearly four hours, due largely to the visitors roughing up starter Masahiro Tanaka in the first inning. The doubleheader resulted from the Yanks doing a Chicken Little and cancelling Saturday's game in advance of the rain, thinking it'd be worse than it was. More fools they, although the Yanks did win the day game......

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Musical Interlude: In The Year 2525 (1969)

Singer-songwriters Denny Zager & Rick Evans had their only hit record reach #1 in 1969. Here's their peek into the far future, "In The Year 2525":



A follow-up single, "Mr. Turnkey", never charted, and that was pretty much it for Zager & Evans. The producers of Cleopatra 2525 used a revamped version of the song as its theme, sung by series co-star Gina Torres.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Forgotten TV: I Love a Mystery (1967-73)

Now, here's an interesting conundrum.

I Love a Mystery, which had been a successful radio program in the Golden Age (1939-44), then adapted into a feature film series beginning in the 40's, was being brought to television by Universal for NBC.

However, the Peacock Network got cold feet after a pilot movie had been shot, and shelved the film for six years before it finally aired as a  NBC World Premiere Movie in 1973. By that time, director Leslie Stevens (ex-The Outer Limits) had moved on, and would helm Search, one of the network's fall premieres for 1973 (originally titled, Probe, and previously reviewed) for Warner Bros..

Even though one of the central characters had been killed off the radio show, the trio of detectives were back together for this 1-shot adventure. David Hartman, after the movie was completed, moved on to The Virginian, then, The Bold Ones, which had finished its run by the time I Love a Mystery finally aired.

NBC also engaged in a little misdirection by hyping Don Knotts as one of the stars, but he only had a brief cameo at the end of the movie, a waste of his talent.

We'll take a look at the radio series another time, but for now, scope out I Love a Mystery. Not sure who the narrator is, as I can't place the voice.



I remember reading about this movie when it did air, but it was on past my bedtime. Could it work today, upgraded with modern technology? Can't say for sure.

No rating.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Musical Interlude: Dance the Night Away (1998)

Raul Malo and the Mavericks put some fun into a typical day at the supermarket in this clip for 1998's "Dance the Night Away", the first single off "Trampoline". Not much more need be said.....



Why can't we have anything like this in upstate New York when a new market opens? Just askin'.

Any more sectional titles for Troy High?

Baseball, softball, & lacrosse sectionals will begin around this time next week in New York's Section II. Troy High's baseball & lacrosse teams have improved from last year, making an adjustment to playing in the tough Suburban Council. Softball has always been one of THS' premier sports, even when I was a student there back in the day. As the regular seasons for all three teams wind down (the tennis team ended a winless season earlier this week), I'd like to think that, depending on seeding, any or all three could make a decent, deep run to the sectional title games.

The lacrosse team is 6-9 with one game left after closing the home portion of their schedule Thursday night with a 10-5 win over Schenectady on Senior Night. Coach Brian Benner's squad closes at Christian Brothers Academy on Tuesday. Like the Flying Horses, CBA struggled in their first season in the Suburban Council, but they're always a tough team to beat in any sport.

How far can Troy go in the lacrosse sectionals? Again, it depends on where Troy will be seeded, but I suspect that if they get a low seed, bottom half of the bracket, they're likely one-&-done.

After a horrid 2016 campaign, baseball coach Will Whitty has turned his team around as well. Troy sits at 10-8 after beating Schenectady on Wednesday, and travels to CBA today. Weather permitting, Senior Day is Monday as Troy closes with a non-league tilt vs. city rival LaSalle. Last year, 10 wins would've been a pipe dream, for Troy, but again, it's their 2nd season in the Suburban Council, and the style of play has improved. They've won six of their last seven, the only loss being at Shenendehowa on Tuesday.

Troy will likely end up on the road in the sectionals, but we'll know for sure by this time next week. I think the selection committee meets either Tuesday or Wednesday.

The softball team saw their four game win streak snapped by---who else?----Shen, 12-1, on Thursday. The girls close today with a non-league game vs. South Glens Falls on the road. Troy celebrated Senior Day on Wednesday by crushing Schenectady, 29-1 (OUCH!), scoring 24 runs in the second inning, and, as was the case vs. Albany on Monday, the game ended after 5 due to the mercy rule.

Troy is likely to gain a favorable seeding in the sectionals, and a return trip to the championship round, this time in Class AA. As I wrote earlier this week, I think they will get at least one more home game in the post-season. At 14-5, Troy conceivably could end up with a top 5 seeding.

I'd think this would be a longshot, but a dream I have is seeing Troy vs. LaSalle in the AA title game at Joe Bruno Stadium in 2 weeks. As a Class AA team playing in a league with mostly class A or B schools (Colonial Council), LaSalle is a big fish in a small pond, but there are natural rivalries to be had (Albany Academy, Lansingburgh, Catholic Central) to justify being in the league instead of dueling with Class AA rivals in the Suburban. I think I have a better chance of seeing LaSalle reach the AA title game, regardless of opponent.

Of course, we'll all know for sure next week.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Michael Parks (1940-2017)

Just read of the passing of actor-singer Michael Parks, who recently turned 77. Cause of death is unknown, but Parks left behind a lengthy film & television resume, as well as a sojurn on the charts at the end of the 60's.

See, Parks recorded the theme to his 1969 series, Then Came Bronson, which could be best described as "Easy Rider" meets Route 66, since reporter Jim Bronson (Parks) traveled on a motorcycle as a lone crusader of the poor and less fortunate.

More modern audiences have seen Parks in Twin Peaks and films such as "Kill Bill", becoming a favorite of directors such as Quentin Tarantino, David Lynch, Robert Rodriguez, & Kevin Smith.

"Long Lonesome Highway" just missed the country top 40 in 1970, but reached the top 20 on the Hot 100. Fittingly, Parks and his folk-country sound found their way to The Johnny Cash Show. After a snippet of "Highway", Parks is on stage with a different number, followed by a duet with Cash.



Methinks I'll see if Parks' albums are available on CD.....!

Rest in peace, Michael.

On The Shelf: Ruminating on Free Comic Book Day '17 and other things

By the time Free Comic Book Day ended on Saturday, I had stopped at 2 stores and a library, and came away with a nice haul for the day. Let's take a look:

Idea & Design Works (IDW), perhaps inevitably, is setting up a Star Trek: The Next Generation line, launching with an adaptation of a classic Star Trek episode, "Mirror, Mirror". The original episode had been previously adapted for comics a number of years back, during Marvel's 2nd go-round with the franchise. This time, it is Capt. Jean-Luc Picard's Enterprise in the mirror universe. Lush, realistic artwork, which suggests an Alex Ross influence. Definitely for fans of the Trek franchise. Also previews other Trek projects from IDW.

Rating: A+.

IDW also offered up a preview of a forthcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arc. I don't follow the series, so we'll pass on a rating, though I can tell that the art seems to be close to a homage to co-creator Peter Laird.
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Scholastic has gotten into the comics business, but Time Shifters, while it might entertain the target audience, looks a little out of focus. Parents may need to take the time to discuss with the kiddo's.

Rating: C.

ABC's hit series, Fresh Off The Boat, has transitioned to comics, as the family gets into the hero business, with chaotic results. The artwork isn't great, though the story will resonate with families.

Rating: B-.

American Mythology may just give Dynamite, IDW, and other license-centered indies a run for their money.

The company started off with obtaining the rights to The Three Stooges in 2015, then added The Pink Panther last year. This year brings no less than Total Television's canine crimestopper, Underdog, whose previous ports of call in comics have included Charlton & Gold Key.

AM's preview issue introduces a new villain to Underdog's rogues gallery in Phoney Baloney. The plot, though, recalls the episode, "The Phoney Booths", but with the newbie replacing Simon Bar Sinister as the villain of the piece. Good way to reintroduce Underdog and friends to a new generation. Watch for references to other TTV properties, including Tennessee Tuxedo, hinting that AM may also make a run at the other TTV series. AM also has acquired Rocky & Bullwinkle, which will debut later this year.

Rating for Underdog: A.
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Titan Books has gained a license for Mattel's Monster High line of figures for young ladies. Looks like a lot of fun, even for the boys in the audience. If the writers of Rick Moranis at Gravedale High had this kind of imagination 17 years ago, that series might've gotten more than 1 season.

Rating: B+.

Titan also is previewing a forthcoming Doctor Who arc, but as with the Turtles, there won't be a rating, as I don't follow the series.
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DC previews the next DC Super Hero Girls graphic novel, "Summer Olympus", continuing the change in Wonder Woman continuity that has the Amazing Amazon as the daughter of Zeus AND Hippolyta, rather than having been formed out of clay. Bumblebee, currently appearing in Teen Titans, has been repackaged as more of a clone of Marvel's Wasp with her size changing powers. Bear in mind that the graphic novel will retail for $10. but will keep the young ladies entertained until the start of next school year, along with Monster High.

Rating: A.

One local shop was giving away copies of the 1st issue of the current twice-monthly Wonder Woman, with the store logo imprinted on the cover. Writer Greg Rucka makes a triumphant return to DC, but rebooting Diana as, well, bi-sexual at best, may be just for the sake of addressing the growing LGBT audience. I can't really say for sure. For what it's worth, I think the reason they made Zeus Diana's biological dad was to go right along with the similar rebooting of Cassie "Wonder Girl" Sandsmark a few years ago.

To all that, I say, meh.

Rating: B.
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We talked last week about Marvel's Secret Empire miniseries event. Flipping through the FCBD special, I see no reason to change my opinion on it at all. All this does is build toward the inevitable climax of the Captain America, Agent of Hydra arc that began a year ago, and has made Nick Spencer one of the most polarizing figures in comics today. This is an idea that should never have left the former "House of Ideas".

Rating: C--.

Meanwhile, Marvel has also hit the reset button with All-New Guardians of the Galaxy, although with the Marvel Legacy project rumored for later this year, the beancounters will have to do the math to figure out how many Guardians issues have been published since the 90's.

Anyway, in keeping in line with the current movie, Groot is now little more than a youth, although growing back to adult should happen before the year is over. Star-Lord has blond hair and a beard, which will confuse folks who have not been buying the books and have only seen the movies. Again, I say, meh.

Rating: B-.

The backup features, though, in each of the above books offer more promise.

41 years after the original series launched, Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man, returns. I get that Marvel wants to pimp out the webhead with the new movie coming up, and the kid-friendly Spidey was a victim of poor sales last year, so this is your replacement. Given a choice, I'd rather read the ongoing Renew Your Vows book.

Rating: B.

With a Netflix series coming in August, The Defenders gets dusted off, but the big diff between this book and the upcoming show is that Luke Cage & Jessica Jones are husband & wife, and have been for a while now. That would make Willis "Diamondback" Stryker Jessica's, ah, 1/2-brother-in-law, and he ain't kind to anyone associated with Luke, as we'll see in the first arc. The Judas bullets used on Luke in his Netflix series come into play in the preview. Uh-oh. I'm sold.

Rating: A.
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For all I've written & said about Riverdale, which wraps its freshman season tonight, Archie Comics' 1-shot prequel, released in the winter, offered some backstory leading into the series, which bowed in January. The current monthly debuted last month, but I can't recommend it, despite some nice artwork. Dark? Subversive? Check & check. Archie purists will hate it for sure. And I don't think writer/creative director Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has done due diligence to address the issues thus far ignored, including the off-air death of iconic teacher Geraldine Grundy, whose ID was co-opted by a 30-something music teacher in the show. Said identity thief pulled a vanishing act within a month.

Rating: C--.
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CW has added a 6th Greg Berlanti entry, as Black Lightning has been picked up for likely a January launch. The question is what night will it air? Cress Williams top-lines as 40-something retired hero Jeff Pierce, who is now a high school principal, which wasn't his original vocation (he was a teacher) when Tony Isabella & Trevor Von Eeden introduced Pierce some 40 years ago. Cue the inevitable Black Lightning: Rebirth from DC, preferably written by the inestimable Mr. Isabella, whose Bloggy Thing is a must-read.

Fox has finally gotten around to renewing Gotham for a 4th season. Lucifer will return for a 3rd season, but they'll now be joined by The Gifted, a X-Men series that Fox will introduce next season. Cable cousin FXX has picked up an animated Deadpool series for 2018, with plans to couple Deadpool with Archer. More details when they become available.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Forgotten TV: Snoops (1989)

Tim Reid's post-WKRP in Cincinnati career, after the original series, that is, saw him find steady work. Problem was, save for landing a supporting role on Simon & Simon, Reid wasn't able to duplicate the success he had with WKRP until Sister, Sister in the 90's.

While 1987's Frank's Place was a critics' darling, it didn't generate enough ratings to merit a 2nd season. Undaunted, Reid and his wife, Daphne Maxwell Reid, were given another chance, this time with a hour-long comedy-crime drama, Snoops, once again for CBS. This time, Reid not only starred, but also co-created the series, best described as an urban cross between The Thin Man and Hart to Hart. In this case, Reid played a college professor who moonlighted, along with his wife, as an amateur detective. CBS must've figured that a crime drama about an author-turned-amateur sleuth was a monster hit (Murder, She Wrote), another show about amateur detectives could duplicate the success. I never saw the show, so I wouldn't know, but I'll guess that Reid used what he learned while working on Simon & Simon in developing Snoops. Unfortunately, this series lasted 11 episodes in all, and was a bust.

The Rap Sheet provides the intro, with the theme song sung by the "Genius of Soul", Ray Charles.



John Karlen (ex-Cagney & Lacey) was the exasperated police contact. The irony here was that on Simon, Reid was the titular sleuths' police contact. Tim & Daphne's son, Tim II, played one of the students.

No rating.

Musical Interlude: I Know a Place (1965)

Don't know the exact year of the following clip, but British songbird Petula Clark scored a monster hit in 1965 with the bouncy "I Know a Place".



Now, that's what's known as getting into a groove.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Forgotten TV: Morning Star (1965)

Not only did NBC receive the long running Days of Our Lives from Screen Gems (now Sony Pictures Television) & the Corday family in 1965, but there were two other soaps that arrived around the same time.

Unfortunately, Paradise Bay and our next subject, Morning Star, each lasted less than a year due to low ratings. The two shows arrived together in late September 1965, with Days following less than 2 months later, and proving to be a far more successful product.

The concept of Morning Star centered on fashion designer Katy Elliot, who'd moved from the fictional Springdale, Connecticut, to New York to begin her career. Apparently, with the show airing in mid-morning opposite game shows, it's a wonder this lasted as long as it did.

Right now, let's take a trip back to May 1966.



I believe, though not 100% certain, that is long-time Quinn Martin announcer Hank Simms handling those chores here. Sure sounds like him.

No rating.

High school homestretch

".....and down the stretch they come!"

The high school sports season is in the stretch run this week, although some teams will finish play next week, leading into sectionals. For Troy High, three of their teams are assured of moving on to post-season play, and, yes, that includes their lacrosse team, which goes into tonight's road match vs. Albany with a 4-9 ledger, having gone 1-9 since opening the season 3-0. Senior night for coach Brian Benner's club is Thursday vs. Schenectady, and then the regular season ends one week from tonight at Christian Brothers Academy. Can Troy make a deep run in the sectionals? No. One and done seems likely, depending on seeding.

Troy's baseball team caught a massive break when Friday's game at Shenendehowa was rained out, That enabled the Flying Horses to run their winning streak to 5 in a row after thumping Albany, 13-6, on Monday afternoon. However, the Shen game will be played today, weather permitting, of course. After that, the boys come home to play Schenectady tomorrow, then travel to CBA on Friday, and senior day is next Monday vs. in-city rival LaSalle.

Conceivably, coach Will Whitty's team could possibly win at least 1 out of the last 4, as I don't see them beating Shen, CBA, or LaSalle, and they'll finish at 10-10 heading into the sectionals. That's just being realistic.

As for the softball team, after two straight blowout losses to Shaker & Guilderland last week, the Lady Horses took their frustrations out on Albany, needing just 5 innings (mercy rule) to rout the Lady Falcons, 22-0. Ouch! This came after sweeping a Saturday double-dip from Lansingburgh at home. Senior day is tomorrow vs. Schenectady. After that, the girls close on the road with Shen (makeup game from last Friday) and South Glens Falls. Not an easy road.

So, how far can the baseball & softball teams go in the sectionals? Again, it depends on the seedings. The Section II committees will meet next week to determine seeding. The Troy softball team figures to get at least 1 home game. The baseball squad? I think they'll be on the road, despite the prospect of 10 wins, and that's a big improvement from last year. They'd be a longshot to reach the championship game at Joe Bruno Stadium. In this writer's opinion, LaSalle has a better chance of returning to the Joe.

Of course, I could be wrong.......

Monday, May 8, 2017

Musical Interlude: Join Together (1972)

The Who's 1972 top 20 hit, "Join Together", was supposed to be on a studio album, but the planned record was never released, and "Join Together" and two other singles were released anyway.

For what it's worth, all four members of the band actually played versions of the harmonica on the track. The only one who doesn't in the video that I can see is drummer Keith Moon.



The harmonica Pete Townshend uses has to be one of the biggest known to man. Period.

Advertising for Dummies: This is NOT how you make mini donuts (1980)

Back in the day, when Dolly Madison was affiliated with Millbrook bread and not Hostess, the company mounted a modest advertising campaign to promote their Gems mini-donuts. Now, I have to tell you that I'm only seeing this ad for the first time today.

Character actor Fritz Feld is the "Gem-cutter". Robbie Rist (ex-The Brady Bunch) appears in the ad as well. The announcer is Michael Rye.



In my area, the Gems were pretty much pre-sold, if only because of ties to the Peanuts comic strip. Dolly Madison was a primary sponsor of the Peanuts specials that aired on CBS at the time. As memory serves, Charlie Brown appeared on the wrappers.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

What Might've Been: Judge For Yourself (1953)

Not everything Mark Goodson & Bill Todman did turned to gold.

The game show icons tried a talent show of a different sort for NBC in 1953 with Judge For Yourself, which lasted six months on the air. Comedian Fred Allen served as host, and while Don Pardo was the off-camera announcer, Dennis James, who'd host a few game shows of his own later on, was the one to introduce Allen. Don't ask me why that is.

Allen would start with a monologue, and it was clear he wasn't accustomed to being in front of the camera to do a television show live, as opposed to his long running radio show, Allen's Alley. The nerves were obvious in the opener. What NBC and sponsor DeSoto hoped for was something that could capture the spirit of Groucho Marx's hit, You Bet Your Life, which DeSoto also sponsored. Didn't happen. As was the case with a lot of shows that needed help back in those days, the format was tweaked in mid-stream, and that didn't exactly help things along.

Post-Judge, Allen switched networks, and joined the panel of another Goodson-Todman show, What's My Line?, until his passing in 1956.

Following is the series opener, edited to eliminate commercials, and taken from a GSN broadcast several years later, with an intro by Orson Bean.



I mentioned the tweaks made mid-stream. Chief among those was the elimination of professional judges, which might not have been the right move to make under the circumstances.

Rating: B-.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

In Theatres: Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (2017)

The central theme of "Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2" may very well be family.

The core members of the Guardians consider themselves a family. Then, you have the issues between Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and her adopted sister, Nebula. In the first film, both seemed to have same goal, to kill their father, Thanos. This time, as was the case in the animated series, Nebula is also out for Gamora's blood, her past failures resulting in Thanos turning her into a cyborg, piece by piece.

And, then, there is Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), aka Star-Lord, and his quest to find his father. Oh, is he in for a shock.

You see, the writers decided to discard what had been comics canon, and mess with theology. That is to say, Quill's mom ended up in a union with the embodiment of Ego, the Living Planet (Kurt Russell). In a way, it's a back-handed jab at the Biblical birth of Jesus by the Virgin Mary. Ego adopted human form, came to earth, found a mate, etc., except that, as he explains himself in the course of the movie, he only returned to earth three more times because he needed to return home to replenish his energies. Contrived? You bet. It does, though, explain away how Yondu ended up raising Peter himself, instead of carrying out the assignment to deliver Peter to Ego years ago.

Russell was de-aged via a mix of makeup and CGI for the flashback in the beginning of the movie.

Yondu (Michael Rooker) has his own issues, though, as the Ravagers have betrayed him, and he's been exiled. That doesn't sit well with Stakar (Sylvester Stallone), who disowns Yondu himself.

Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper) has to tend to Baby Groot (Vin Diesel), who now serves as more of a connecting line for the little ones because of his naivete and innocence, although he begins to mature as the movie progresses. The subplot of a romantic link between Gamora & Peter continues, although in between movies, Marvel thought they were being cute by marrying Peter off to the X-Men's Kitty Pryde, or at least a version of same, for a time. Since they can't use Kitty in these movies.....! Meanwhile, Drax (Dave Bautista, "Spectre") opens up and reveals some personality, although his idea of humor is a little ill-timed. Still, he does seem to find a kindred spirit in Ego's "pet", Mantis, an empath who looks the same as she did in the comics dating back to the 70's, still naive to other customs, but fits in with Ego about as well as a pickle in a martini. You know, like a square peg in a round hole.

Check out this trailer:



Fortunately for Groot fans, he's fully grown in the cartoon.

Other trailers:

"The Book of Henry" (June): Naomi Watts is a parent whose 11 year old son fears his next door neighbor/prospective girlfriend is being abused by her father, the police commissioner. Creepy.

"The Mummy" (June 9): Universal reboots the franchise again, this time with Tom Cruise pursuing a female mummy, this after he's been raised from the dead himself. Only a hardcore Tom Cruise fan (How many of those are left?) would want this.

"Star Wars: The Last Jedi" (December). That brand sells itself.

"Thor: Ragnarok" (November): Chris Hemsworth returns as the Thunder God, who now is forced to battle the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) on a strange world. Tom Hiddleston returns as Loki.

"Spider-Man: Homecoming" (July 7): Tom Holland's first headline gig as the web-spinner pits him against the Vulture (Michael Keaton) and his high tech wings. With Robert Downey, Jr. returning as Iron Man.

Back to discussing the movie. There's a cameo in-film this time by Howard the Duck (Seth Green, Family Guy, Robot Chicken), the obligatory appearance by Stan Lee, this time with some Watchers, and a look at what was in comics the original Guardians of the Galaxy (Ving Rhames, Michelle Yeoh, Michael Rosenbaum). In the books, Yondu was part of this group, which marks its 50th anniversary next year. Plus, an uncredited voice cameo by singer-actress Miley Cyrus (keep an ear for it). Of course, there's a swinging soundtrack, loaded with music from the 60's (Sam Cooke) and the 70's (Fleetwood Mac, Looking Glass, Cheap Trick, The Sweet), plus a more up-to-date number that features 80's icon David Hasselhoff.

In all, a wilder thrill ride than the first film, and funnier, too.

Rating: A.

On The Air: Brockmire (2017)

It started as a product of the Funnyordie website. Executives at IFC thought they might have a hit series on their hands.

Brockmire launched shortly after the start of the baseball season last month, offering a different kind of comeback story. You've heard of major league ballplayers trying to rekindle their careers in the minors, as former Philadelphia slugger Ryan Howard is doing now in Triple A for Atlanta. But what about announcers?

Jim Brockmire (Hank Azaria, The Simpsons, ex-Mad About You) had a meltdown on the air 10 years ago, so the story goes, and shared with an unsuspecting audience how he found his wife in a group orgy at home. Brockmire drinks on the job, which is actually a no-no, but that's the point of this parody of baseball announcers. Brockmire dresses like, say for example, the late Lindsey Nelson, with the loud sport coats, but Azaria modeled Brockmire's voice after newly retired Vin Scully without doing a full-on impersonation of the legend.

To sell the show, Azaria has done the interview circuit----and conducted a few interviews himself---in character. You can argue that his Brockmire voice could also be recycled from one of his Simpsons characters. It wouldn't surprise me in the least bit. He also serves as an executive producer with Funnyordie co-founder Will Ferrell, among others. Wouldn't be too surprised to see Ferrell, after his stunt in preseason a ways back, turn up, if he hasn't already.

Here's a trailer.



While Fox's Joe Buck has guested on the show, I'd not be surprised if Azaria, as Brockmire, returns the favor on a Fox or FS1 broadcast this season, or tours the majors to help promote the show. A parental advisory should accompany the show when it's On Demand, due to language. Airing as it does at 10 (ET) on Wednesdays would attract the attention of the media nannies if it was on a broadcast network. I've seen one workplace comedy fail this year (Powerless), and after watching about 5 minutes of the opener, I couldn't get behind Brockmire. You want to root for the guy to succeed, but in order to do so, he has to put his vices down for the count. Can he do that? I'm not so sure.

Rating: C-.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Celebrity Rock: Quizas, Quizas, Quizas (1960)

From The Jack Benny Program:

Here's proof that Americans could celebrate Cinco de Mayo, although this next clip first aired on Christmas Day, 1960. Jack Benny & Mel Blanc dust off their "Si/Sy/Sue" routine, as Sy (Blanc) brings in the Tijuana Troubadours for Jack's "Amateur Show" to perform the Cuban standard, "Quizas, Quizas, Quizas", the melody of which would be co-opted by ABBA several years later for their hit, "Fernando".



There were no Mexicans involved, as the two guitarists were members of Jack's in house vocal group, the Sportsmen. Not so sure about Sue.

Blanc & Benny would bring the band back, this time as the Tijuana Strings (sans Sue) for one of Benny's NBC specials in the late 60's. The Strings perform "The (Spanish) Flea", soon accompanied by Jack on violin. Although Jack voiced his concern about the Strings being a little too close to Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass (whom they were parodying), "Spanish Flea" would later be used by Chuck Barris for The Dating Game.



Y'know, I'm not sure if Jack ever had Alpert on any of his specials, which would explain using Blanc and a pre-fab band.

Weasel of the Week: LaVar Ball

He is, from what I have read of late, the worst kind of stage parent. I've heard of putting the cart before the horse, but this is flat out ridiculous.

LaVar Ball has been in the news quite a bit lately, due largely to his son, Lonzo, having played this season at UCLA, then declaring for next month's NBA Draft. He also owns a shoe company, Big Baller, which just introduced a shoe made for his son, and set to be sold in stores in time for the Christmas rush.

The problem? Ball is asking nearly $500 a pair for the shoes, with no refunds or exchanges permitted if the shoes don't fit. Another shoe is to be sold for nearly $1000.

BOLLOCKS & BALDERDASH!!!!!

Lonzo Ball is another seemingly NBA ready prospect who's leaving school way, way too early for the pros, and the only real leech around him in this case is his father, who's exploiting his son's talent, and, unless common sense gets into his head between now & November, when the shoes are due to go on sale across the country, he's going to soak the consumers for as much as he can. Greedy? Yep.

You and I have read the stories of how kids have been killed over expensive shoes from Nike, the industry leader. Nike & Big Baller don't care about the demographics. All they care about is the profit margin. In LaVar Ball's case, he's trying to realize the money he never made in his own athletic career, but he's going about it the wrong way. Consumers, I would think, would be looking for an alternative to the greed merchants like Nike, but Ball seems to think he can overtake Nike.

I have a saying for people like this week's Weasel, LaVar Ball. A fool and his brains are soon parted, and that's already happened. While a $400+ pair of sneakers might sell in bigger markets like New York, Boston, and Los Angeles, it won't work so well in Albany. LaVar Ball has six months to change his, ah, game plan, before consumers are not only hurt in the pocketbook, but physically, as well.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Musical Interlude: I Am...I Said (1971)

It is one of Neil Diamond's most personal songs. "I Am....I Said" was recorded & released in 1971.

Comics this 'n' that

We wrote before how DC is bringing back the popular Legion of Super-Heroes. It's a soft reintroduction, starting with the previously announced 1-shot with Bugs Bunny next month. July then sees the Legion moved into the campy world of Batman '66 in another 1-shot, illustrated by Mike Allred.

Something tells me that the inevitable Rebirth of the Legion will follow in short order, no earlier than August. We'll know for sure when solicitations for August comics go live in about 2-3 weeks.
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While I've never watched AMC's adaptation of Robert Kirkman's acclaimed The Walking Dead, I do realize that the show's passionate fan base can get out of hand, just like fans of anything else.

According to Yahoo!, actor Josh McDemitt, who plays Eugene on the show, is getting death threats from fans after Eugene had crossed over to side with the series' big bad, Negan. Like, seriously? It sounds to me like the "fans" wishing McDermitt ill probably haven't read the series, and are just fans of the show who are over-reacting. McDermitt, for his part, has closed his social media accounts in the wake of the threats. Understandable, but watch. Once this blows over, and the people making the threats make apologies after getting their mental priorities straightened out, McDermitt will re-embrace Twitter, Facebook, et al. It happens.
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Meanwhile, the suits at Marvel didn't exactly salve the frayed nerves of their fan base as it relates to Captain America. Writer Nick Spencer's controversial story arc, which had Cap turn his back on the USA and side with Hydra, going so far as to say he had been a sleeper all along, should finally end with the conclusion of the Secret Empire miniseries, Marvel's latest "event" designed to get their marks to cough up more cash. Given how slowly these stories tend to finish, that is to say, they don't always meet deadlines like they're supposed to, expect resolutions and mea culpas sometime around Christmas.

To get everyone up to speed, Steve Rogers (Captain America) has been brainwashed by the Cosmic Cube. Adhering to the theory that controversy creates cash, Marvel is doubling down, maybe even tripling down, by delaying the inevitable reversal of events. Marvel suits claim they have "heard" fan concerns. If they really did, they'd have cut this off months ago, but apparently too many marks are blindly following along. I'll have more to say about Secret Empire when we recap Free Comic Book Day next week.
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As the broadcast TV season is winding down, recent reports suggest two current series are on the bubble, meaning that renewal is not guaranteed, but, then, neither is cancellation.

CW's brilliant iZombie didn't begin its 3rd season until last month, left on the bench because the network stupidly thought first year series No Tomorrow & Frequency were more of a priority. As a result, iZombie will only have 13 episodes this season, ending on June 27, after the rest of the comics-related shows have been put to bed for the summer. However, an article published about 2 weeks ago, citing the poor ratings when the series returned on April 4, suggested iZombie was on the chopping block. I really doubt that is going to happen. Besides, I can argue that a case can be made for co-stars Rose McIver (Liv) and David Anders (Blaine) to be nominated for Emmy awards. Both are doing their best work to date, and Anders has made himself a candidate to turn up on The Flash next season when they get around to doing another musical episode. If you've been following the show, you know what I'm talking about.

Meanwhile, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is wrapping its 4th season, and is also on the bubble. Since I haven't followed the show since season 1, I wouldn't know. However, reruns are now plentiful, as the series is airing on MyNetworkTV and in syndication. No word yet from ABC about renewal, although The Inhumans is in the pipeline as a spin-off/replacement if it's decided that S.H.I.E.L.D., which dropped to 10 pm (ET) this season, is done.

CW renewed its other comics-related series already, and potentially could add a series based on the 70's hero Black Lightning if the pilot works to the network's satisfaction.

My prediction: Black Lightning would debut in the winter, just as Legends of Tomorrow did a year ago. Given how sloppily written Legends has been in 2 seasons, maybe it finally goes down for the count in season 3. All producer Greg Berlanti has to do is find better, more competent writers not only for Legends, but for the rest of the line.

Forgotten TV: Joe's World (1979)

Character actor Ramon Bieri landed his only leading role in the 1979 sitcom, Joe's World, after years of yeoman's work in supporting roles, including as a vice principal on Room 222.

The show revolves around a Detroit painter (Bieri) and his family, but the scheduling at NBC was scatter-shot at best, inserted at the last minute in December 1979 to replace the failing Joe Don Baker crime drama, Eischeid, then shifted to Wednesdays to cover for McLean Stevenson's Hello, Larry, which hastily returned soon after. Joe's World wrapped with a Saturday night summer run in 1980.

Other facts: This was the first non-Brady Bunch series for Christopher Knight, who'd later join the cast of the soap opera, Another World, during the 80's. Co-star K. Callan may be better remembered for her recurring role years later as Martha Kent on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. The theme song, which you'll hear shortly, was composed and performed by Alan Thicke, who'd later move in front of the camera himself.

Here's the intro:



No rating.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Neutrogena finds its "voice" (1995-7)

Neutrogena is one of the more expensive brands of skin cleanser on the market today, depending on where you shop. Back in the 90's, the manufacturer realized that in order to attract the target audience, Neutrogena needed someone who could connect with said target demo (teenagers).

Enter Martha Quinn.

The former MTV doll was no stranger to commercials, having shilled for Domino's Pizza, Greyhound, and other products before, during, and after her two stints with MTV (1981-6, 1989-92). Check out this first spot, which got heavy airplay in 1995.



Then, playful Martha shills for Neutrogena Clear Pore Treatment:



Two years later, Neutrogena introduced a multi-vitamin acne treatment, and brought Martha back to sell the product:



Neutrogena has since had actresses Emma Roberts, Bella Thorne, and current Capital One pitch-babe Jennifer Garner shilling for them. As I noted above, the product is a wee bit pricy for some of today's teens, in this writer's opinion, and needs to be lowered.