Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What Might've Been: Riptide (1984)

In the 80's, Stephen J. Cannell was churning out action shows, one right after the other, for both ABC & NBC, including The A-Team and Hunter for NBC and Hardcastle & McCormick, Tenspeed & Brown Shoe, & The Greatest American Hero for ABC.

As 1984 began, Cannell added another notch on his belt at NBC with Riptide, about a pair of Army buds (Perry King, Joe Penny) who start a detective agency after mustering out of the military. Aided by a computer whiz (Thom Bray) whom they met while in the Army, the sleuths, operating out of the titular houseboat, took on the bad guys for 3 seasons total (1984-6).

Could it have gone longer? Maybe, but halfway through the 3rd season, NBC moved the show from Tuesdays to Fridays. At that time, they parodied ABC's Moonlighting, which conceivably could've been a jump the shark point. NBC's mistake was moving it off Tuesdays, where it had stablemate A-Team as a lead-in. After Riptide was cancelled, NBC doubled down on the stupidity by moving A-Team for Fridays for its final season.

Chuck Collins supplies the intro:

Currently, reruns are airing on Get TV (check listings).

Rating: B.

Baseball's silly season has begun

With baseball's trade deadline now less than 2 weeks away, teams are making deals either to enhance their chances for the post-season, or, if you're, say for example, the Chicago White Sox, building for the future.

Last week, the ChiSox sent pitcher Jose Quintana across town to the World Champion Cubs, and paid immediate dividends in his first start. Tuesday, the White Sox made another deal, sending closer David Robertson back to the Yankees, along with relief pitcher Tommy Kahnle and infielder Todd Frazier, for Tyler Clippard and some minor leaguers. Thus, Clippard ends his 3rd tour of duty in New York (2 with the Yanks, 1 with the Mets), while Robertson begins his 2nd go-round with the Yankees. Kahnle was, as memory serves, drafted by the Yankees, then shipped to Colorado a ways back, so he too comes home.

In a way, the trade is also a homecoming for Frazier, the 2015 Home Run Derby champ. As a youth, the New Jersey native led his team to a Little League World Series title. A 3rd baseman by trade, Frazier will likely move to 1st base, with Chase Headley the starter at 3rd, while the Yanks wait for Greg Bird to finally be healthy enough to play.

Kahnle, like Colorado's Jeff Hoffman, has local ties as he's a graduate of Shaker High in Latham.

That should kill the online rumors that had the Yankees eyeing the Mets' Lucas Duda, but that doesn't mean that the Mets won't still shop Duda, as it's more likely that they won't make the post-season this year. The usual wags are suggesting that veterans like Curtis Granderson, Addison Reed, and Jay Bruce, all in their walk years, could be moved. Bear in mind, too, that the Mets acquired Bruce at the deadline last year. To trade away the veteran leaders, however, would send a sign to the fan base that the Mets are giving up on the season. A lot can still happen in the final 2 1/2 months of the season to overcome the injury plague that keeps haunting the Amazin's. Just sayin'.

Meanwhile, former Tri-City Valleycat J. D. Martinez, who became a big star in Detroit, was sent to Arizona for some prospects. Why Houston gave up on Martinez, I'll never know, but now he's got a new sandbox to play in, now that he's in the National League, joining infielders Paul Goldschmidt & Jake Lamb to create a potent middle of the order that could reignite the Diamondbacks' offense in the stretch run as they attempt to chase down the Dodgers.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Musical Interlude: You're So Right For Me (1963)

I have read of the chemistry Judy Garland & Mickey Rooney shared on screen in the movies. Admittedly, the only one of Garland's films I can remember watching from start to finish as a youth was, of course, "The Wizard of Oz". I don't remember seeing any of the films she made with Rooney.

Just the same, Rooney was her first guest when she launched her self-titled variety show, troubled as that was, in 1963. It was actually the first show taped, but the 10th to be broadcast. Don't ask.

Anyway, from that episode comes this little number, "You're So Right For Me", which also appears on an album of duets.

I don't get the idea of Judy kicking her shoes off to dance. Still, the old magic was still there in this sequence. I can only imagine if the two of them actually did the entire series together. I'd think it'd be an upgrade from the buzzkill of having Jerry Van Dyke as the show's only regular aside from Garland. Just sayin'.

Sports this 'n' that

When the Colorado Rockies salvaged the final game of their series with the Mets at Citi Field Sunday, they actually had a cheering section rooting for starter Jeff Hoffman, who ran his record to 4-0 on the season in a 13-4 win.

Hoffman had 30-40 family members & friends who made the trip from Latham for the game. Hoffman was a graduate of Shaker High School. and the local media has made a point of running highlights of his starts whenever possible. Colorado sent Mets starter Steven Matz to an early shower, knocking him out in the 2nd inning, as Matz just didn't have it on Sunday. Hoffman may get another shot at the Mets when the scene shifts to Denver in a week and a half.
Back at home, the Tri-City Valleycats had a rare 1:00 (ET) Sunday start in Batavia, and made the most of it, beating the Muckdogs, 13-8. Monday's home game vs. Connecticut was suspended in the 2nd inning due to rain & lightning, and they'll pick things up today. Under minor league rules, they'll play it like a double-header, with each game going 7 innings instead of 9. The Tigers led, 1-0, when play stopped. Tri-City, which has won 2 straight, needs to make a big run if they want to get back to the playoffs this year.

Next month's All-Star FanFest in downtown will have a country beat, as the Eli Young Band has been signed to headline. 9 years ago, when the 'Cats first hosted the All-Star game, they had Eddie Money headlining the Monday festival. Well, at least they've moved up to current sounds.....
So Roger Federer won at Wimbledon for the 8th time on Sunday. Excuse me while I yawn. No, seriously. Federer is one of the best grass court players in the world, but this just doesn't excite me, and, yes, tennis has been known to put me to sleep from time to time. Just sayin'.
The Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League will have their All-Star game tonight in Amsterdam, but after that, there are only 11 regular season games left for the Albany Dutchmen, who sit in 3rd place, 5 1/2 games in back of front running Amsterdam. What that says is that the league might need to see if they can move the game so that it comes halfway through the season. Yes, it's a 2 month regular season, but still......!
Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball is actually inviting a bidding war among major shoe companies, after wearing Nike & Adidas shoes during Summer League games last week. Seems he realizes his father's Big Baller Brand is doomed to an epic fail because of overpricing, a by-product of Lavar Ball's sudden need for 15 minutes of fame, which are quickly evaporating. Smart move by the kid. Even smarter would be to move out of the nest and let a more experienced agent handle his business affairs, largely because pops has become a toxic presence.
Interesting read in the paper yesterday where a number of backstretch workers from Latin countries won't be at Saratoga Race Course when the season starts on Friday due to fears that immigration officials may be looking at deporting them if they don't have work visas or haven't been naturalized as American citizens. This is the world we live in now under President Trump, who still thinks he can have a wall built to block people from sneaking across the border from Mexico into the US. Even if it is built, people will find a way. Just sayin'.
Ever since WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle was appointed as GM of Monday Night Raw in April, you knew sooner or later the show's uncreative team would develop some lame storyline to build drama where it doesn't need to be.

Well, it's happened, but not in any way that had been teased since.....well, last week.

After dropping hints of an illicit affair with former TNA president Dixie Carter (who was interviewed for a WWE Network special on Angle last week) or Stephanie McMahon (who has been off TV since Wrestlemania, aside from non-WWE functions), they swerved and revealed that Angle "has a son" on the roster. Jason Jordan, 1/2 of American Alpha, was moved from Smackdown to Raw for this purpose, weakening the Tuesday show's tag division.

All that says to me is that, with ratings at an all-time seasonal low, CEO/Chairman Vince McMahon thinks recycling an old storyline with new players would solve the ratings problems. No, it doesn't. While a lot of people assumed that Angle would eventually serve as a mentor to Jordan and Chad Gable, McMahon decided to break up American Alpha and push Jordan & Gable as individual talents on each brand. It's another knee-jerk decision borne out of frustration over the low ratings. One more reason, though, why McMahon has to step down and let Stephanie and her husband, Triple H, who has a firmer grip on things per the success of NXT, take over full-time while he enjoys his sunset years. Vince just doesn't get it, doesn't want to, and doesn't care.

And, so, we are all poorer for his decision making deteriorating before our eyes.

Monday, July 17, 2017

George A. Romero (1940-2017) and Martin Landau (1928-2017)

Hollywood is mourning 2 legends this morning.

Zombie meister George A. Romero passed away early Sunday at 77. Best known, of course, for the rise of zombies as movie monsters nearly 50 years ago, Romero would transition to television in the 80's with Tales From The Darkside & Monsters. As fellow blogger Sam Wilson notes in Mondo 70, Romero was not at all happy with how the undead have been portrayed in recent times, particularly in Robert Kirkman's smash hit comic book & TV series, The Walking Dead. Seems Romero felt insulted that he was invited to direct an episode or two of The Walking Dead, which, in his mind, went against his overall vision of zombies.

A day earlier, Oscar winner Martin Landau passed away at 89. Landau earned his award for Tim Burton's bio of "Ed Wood", opposite Johnny Depp. However, Landau is still remembered more for two iconic TV series. Landau was an original cast member of Mission: Impossible, alongside wife Barbara Bain, but left the series after three seasons. The Landaus would return in the 1975-7 sci-fi series, Space: 1999, their last regular series work.

Landau won his Oscar on his third try, after being nominated in supporting roles in "Tucker: The Man & His Dream" and "Crimes & Misdemeanors" before scoring in 1994 for "Ed Wood". What you might not know is that Landau, at 17, began his career as an assistant to writer-artist Gus Edson on his comic strip, The Gumps.

Here's a clip from Mission: Impossible with guest star Steve Ihnat:

Landau was nominated for Emmy awards all three seasons he appeared on Mission, but didn't win.

Rest in peace, gentlemen.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

What Might've Been: It Takes a Church (2014)

On the heels of the success of American Bible Challenge (since cancelled), Game Show Network ordered up another Christian-themed "game show", this one with a reality bent.

Singer Natalie Grant was tapped to host It Takes a Church, which bowed in June 2014, during the 3rd and final season of Bible Challenge. The concept saw Grant travel to small towns where the congregations of local churches collectively played matchmakers for young couples.

Once it was decided that American Bible Challenge would not return for a 4th season, Church was essentially left to fend for itself, and, after 13 months on the air, was also cancelled. To be perfectly honest, it didn't belong on GSN anyway, but rather on TBN or Daystar or INSP.

Here's a sample clip:

No rating. I'm not big on reality shows, even this.

On The Air (for now): Talking Smack (2016)

These days, WWE is all about getting viewers over to their online network after Smackdown & Monday Night Raw, as well as "pay-per-view" events. WWE Network is also home to 205 Live, NXT, and various special events, such as the forthcoming Mae Young Classic.

To that end, as part of last year's Brand Extension 2.0, WWE launched a pair of weekly talk shows. Raw Talk now airs Mondays. On Tuesdays, well, until last week, there was Talking Smack, Smackdown's post-show, which instantly became a fan favorite after GM Daniel Bryan and current Intercontinental champ Michael "The Miz" Mizanin, both also on Total Divas, engaged in a verbal sparring match for the ages when Bryan called Miz out for his character's cowardice. Backstage reporter Renee Young hosts, with Bryan and Commissioner Shane McMahon alternating as co-host (color analyst John Layfield has also sat in), but the object of the show is to let the talent let their hair down. There is no script. This is, in effect, SportsCenter for wrestling fans.

Unfortunately, after the July 11 broadcast, CEO/Chairman Vince McMahon decided to be Donnie Downer and terminated Talking Smack as a weekly entity. The next episode airs following next week's Battleground show, but online observers believe it's a matter of time before Vince McMahon, who will be 72 next month, pulls the plug altogether.

That begs to ask. Just why does he have a problem with a show that steps away from the script and lets the wrestlers be themselves? Hey, I've tried psycho-analyzing Chairman Wackjob for the last 15 years from a safe distance, and concluded that you simply can't reason with a man who has played an insane person in front of the cameras for most of that period. The fact that the elder McMahon has again demonstrated his ignorance of his audience earns him another set of Weasel ears, by the way.

It's just a matter of time before Raw Talk similarly is phased out, just because. Just sayin'.

For right now, scope this sample clip as Shane chats up John Cena.

I've got one question for Vince. Jealous much?

No rating. I don't have WWE Network, and the above sample isn't enough for me to give a fair rating.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Classic TV: M*A*S*H (1972)

Two years after Robert Altman had adapted a novel into a feature film, 20th Century Fox decided to revisit the 4077th's Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, or, M*A*S*H for short.

It had been one year since CBS' infamous rural purge had wiped out The Beverly Hillbillies, Hee Haw, Green Acres, and even The Ed Sullivan Show. The network had already reloaded with All in the Family and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. At first, M*A*S*H was moved around the schedule before settling into a permanent berth on Mondays, where it ended its run in February 1983.

For anyone that didn't really learn anything in school about the Korean War in the 50's, M*A*S*H, to an extent provided some semblance of a history lesson, as seen through the eyes of the 4077th's staff. The ensemble cast experienced quite a bit of turnover in 11 years, more befitting a daytime drama than your average primetime show. Before the series had ended, four core cast members (Wayne Rogers, McLean Stevenson, Gary Burghoff, & Larry Linville) had all left. While the parts were not recast, new characters were created to take their places, or, in the case of Walter "Radar" O'Reilly (Burghoff), Max Klinger (Jamie Farr) was promoted to company clerk, and swapped out his cross-dressing attempts to get a section 8 discharge in favor of a different kind of R & R---respect & responsibility.

M*A*S*H was just a sitcom at first, but as time progressed, the laugh track was phased out gradually, and so the series was reclassified as a comedy-drama, as it dealt with not only the realities of war, but also social & political issues.

With the exception of Burghoff, who didn't land another series, Rogers, Linville, & Stevenson all landed with new projects. Linville wound up with a pair of bombs. First, he was cast opposite Jack Albertson in Grandpa Goes to Washington, then opposite Marla Gibbs in the Jeffersons spinoff, Checking In. Neither series was a success. Rogers (ex-Stagecoach West) tried drama anew and flopped with City of Angels before getting a fresh stethoscope in House Calls.

Stevenson signed on to M*A*S*H after a run on The Doris Day Show, and it can be argued that maybe he left a wee bit too soon. As it happened, of the series that followed, the closest to a real success Stevenson would enjoy was NBC's Hello, Larry before becoming a regular panelist on Match Game PM.

The two rocks at the front of the ensemble were Alan Alda and Loretta Swit, who were there from start to finish. The professional relationship between Hawkeye (Alda) and Margaret (Swit) went gradually from adversarial to one of respect. Maybe the friction might be because "Hot Lips" was in an affair with a very much married Frank Burns (Linville), who was portrayed as a jingoistic patriot who was also gullible and often dumber than a bag of hammers, before finding Mr. Right herself.

After Stevenson left, Harry Morgan came over from Hec Ramsey as Colonel Sherman Potter, and, in hindsight, was the final piece of the foundation.

Let's take a look at a sample clip. It's Halloween, and Major Charles Winchester (David Ogden Stiers) has to treat a patient (a pre-Cheers George Wendt) with an unusual malady.....

All the fresh parts added during the course of 11 seasons managed to fit in seamlessly. Again, kind of like a soap opera.

Rating: A.

What Might've Been: Calucci's Department (1973)

Yesterday, we talked about the workplace comedy, Many Happy Returns. My correspondents, Hal Horn at The Horn Section and TV trivia maven Mike Doran, noted that our next subject, Calucci's Department, while another workplace comedy, was actually set at a branch of the NY Department of Unemployment. I think now you know why this show lasted just 3 1/2 months. Being reminded that there are people out there not being able to earn a living can be depressing.

Of course, it didn't help that the competition consisted of Sanford & Son and The Brady Bunch. Enough said.

Calucci's Department came from Ed Sullivan's production company, with Robert Precht as executive producer. James Coco was cast in the title role as Joe Calucci, the supervisor for this particular branch office. Supporting players Rosetta LeNoire & Jose Perez might be better known for later work. Perez was part of an ensemble in the prison comedy, On The Rocks, just a couple of years later, and LeNoire scored her biggest career success as part of the ensemble of Family Matters. Coco, it turns out, was in line to have another go at fronting a sitcom, this one spun off from Who's The Boss?, but he passed away in 1987 before that could come to fruition.

In this clip, Calucci and his secretary (Candy Azzara) have an awkward discussion, as Calucci's having trouble expressing his feelings......

No rating. My folks were more into Sanford & Son.

Friday, July 14, 2017

What Might've Been: Many Happy Returns (1964)

A workplace sitcom in the 60's wasn't always guaranteed to be a sure thing.

Such was the case with Many Happy Returns, which spent a season on CBS (1964-5), filling a vacancy on the schedule created when Danny Thomas ended his sitcom after 11 seasons. John McGiver top lined as Walter Burnley, head of a complaint department in a department store. Today, that would be known under a broader umbrella as customer service.

Now, I've never seen the show, so there won't be a rating. Anyway, CBS, undaunted, tried a department store comedy again nearly a decade later with James Coco in Calucci's Department, and that also lasted a season.

So why is that?

At the time, audiences were simply not ready for laughs in a consumer marketplace.

Here's the intro:

Co-star Mark Goddard moved on to Lost in Space the next year. Elena Verdugo would later turn up on Marcus Welby, MD. Elinor Donohue (ex-Father Knows Best, The Andy Griffith Show) didn't land another series, I think.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Celebrity Rock: Somebody's Gonna Pay (2013)

She's back with WWE now, but when Mickie James left in 2010, she sought to pursue a career in country music. She had already begun work on a CD, so the stories went, but WWE wasn't willing to support her venture. That fall, she signed with TNA, and of course they got behind her debut album, "Strangers & Angels".

Three years later, James went back in the studio, and recorded "Somebody's Gonna Pay". The title cut may be her strongest track yet. The video features future husband Nick "Magnus" Aldis, and former WWE rival Trish Stratus, who plays a bartender.

During her TNA tenure, Mickie also appeared, along with wrestler James Storm, on one of Cowboy Troy's CD's. She released a new single last year, but not a full album.

Family Feud goes to the mat (1990)

The original Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling was nearing its end in 1990. WCW was still a part of the National Wrestling Alliance. Somehow, some way, the two groups would meet---on Family Feud.

Then-host Ray Combs was a wrestling fan, such that he would make an appearance later on at the Survivor Series, which ultimately led to a World Wrestling Federation cross-over with its short-lived sister promotion, the World Bodybuilding Federation. Here, however, a NWA-WCW team, led by then champion Sting takes on a team from GLOW, captained by co-founder Jackie Stallone.

Original host Richard Dawson never had to deal with any of this. There would be a rematch, with a different WCW team featuring Sid Vicious and Dutch Mantel vs. GLOW, and WWE & TNA would also have weeks to themselves during the Steve Harvey (current) era. You wonder, then, if ABC would persuade NBC, whose cable sister, USA, has TV rights to the WWE today, to let current WWE stars appear on Celebrity Family Feud......

Rating: None. Didn't see it the first time.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Forgotten TV: Oh, Nooo! Mr. Bill Presents (1998)

Walter Williams' Mr. Bill returned to television in 1998, this after appearing in a number of commercials for sponsors such as Pringles, Burger King, & Lexus. This time, though, the little guy top-lined a Fox Family entry, Oh, Nooo! Mr. Bill Presents, which lasted 1 season of 42 episodes (August 1998-sometime in 1999).

Now, here's a little fact that I didn't previously know about the Mr. Bill skits from Saturday Night Live. I had been under the assumption that Williams himself was Mr. Hands, but that's not the case. Those hands belong to comedian Vance DeGeneres (Ellen's brother), who returns in this series as well.

Bill (Williams) serves as a host introducing some British comedy skits, including Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean, which had, I believe appeared on HBO previously.

In this sample clip, Bill goes bowling, but not in the way he thinks......

I'm not so sure this kind of absurdist humor would still work today. The above was my first look at the show.

No rating.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Does T-Mobile realize they're encouraging and enabling bad fan behavior? (2017)

You've seen the ads throughout the baseball season so far. A MLB super-fan shows up here, there, and everywhere, shilling for T-Mobile. Two ads have featured Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper, including this one:

I mean, seriously? Does Joe Fan realize he could get into some, well, legal trouble? Not the least bit funny.

Sports this 'n' that

The way the MLB Home Run Derby was being marketed for last night, you'd think defending champion Giancarlo Stanton of the host Miami Marlins would reach the finals and face Yankees rookie phenom Aaron Judge.

A funny thing happened. The Marlins & Yankees were the only teams to have 2 players in the tournament, making up 1/2 of the 1st round matchups. Judge dismissed Justin Bour. Stanton, on the other hand, was unable to repeat, as he couldn't get past Judge's teammate, last year's phenom, Gary Sanchez.

They were dancing in the Bronx, and drowning in tequilas along South Beach.

Sanchez, however, ran out of gas in the semi-finals, losing to Minnesota's Miguel Sano. Judge, meanwhile, dispatched fellow rookie Cody Bellinger, the Dodgers' slugger, whose father, Clay, was a relief pitcher with the Yankees many moons ago. Bellinger had advanced by beating Colorado's Charlie Blackmon. Judge, then, completed the gauntlet by beating Sano to become the first Yankee since Robinson Cano to win the Derby.
The Mets are floundering in 4th place in the NL East after losing 2 of 3 to St. Louis over the weekend. Worse, a report has come out quoting pitching coach Dan Warthen as saying that pitcher Matt Harvey's injured shoulder has "atrophied", which Warthen chalks up to the Thorasic Outlet surgery Harvey underwent last year.

What this suggests to me is that the so-called "Dark Knight"'s days as a starter are over, if not also his career. The more pessimistic Mets loyalists will remember how the much-hyped "Generation K" of the 90's (Paul Wilson, Bill Pulsipher, Jason Isringhausen) fizzled quickly, due also to injuries. A separate article suggests that Noah Syndergaard could hasten his return by working out of the bullpen, the better, I suppose, to aid the overtaxed relief corps. Becoming a reliever saved Isringhausen's career, and led to a brief reunion with the Mets 6 years ago.

For now, the Yankees own New York again.
We know New Jersey Governor Chris "Chins" Christie is a Mets & Dallas Cowboys fan. We also know he's not the most popular guy in New York or New Jersey these days.

So what happens when he sits in for his buddy, WFAN afternoon yakker Mike Francesa? He alienates listeners, almost as badly as Francesa does. It could be worse. He could've had a seat in President Trump's Cabinet.
The late Johnnie Mae Young was never a women's champion, that I know of, but because she revived her career as a recurring player on WWE programming during the Attitude Era, she's being honored with a women's tournament named for her. The Mae Young Classic will begin unspooling soon, which should resuscitate the women's division in NXT, which is lacking depth after losing the likes of Alexa Bliss, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Carmella, Nia Jax, Bayley, & Sasha Banks in the last 2 years. Folks are waiting for current NXT women's champ Asuka to get promoted to the main roster, but that may not happen until near the end of the year at the earliest.

Long as we're talkin' NXT, Saratoga Springs resident and former Ring of Honor TV & tag champion Bobby Fish made his debut with the developmental brand last month in a losing effort vs. Aleister Black. Fish is scheduled to be in town Saturday as part of the Northeast Wrestling show at Joe Bruno Stadium, but the next time we see him in a local venue after that may be under the NXT flag in Albany.
I hate to keep harping on it, but the only way to keep up with the Northeastern Football Alliance, which has a few teams here in New York, including the Troy Fighting Irish, is to go online to the NFA's website. Local press can't be bothered to cover the Irish, even when the primary summer attraction, the Tri-City Valleycats, are out of town. The Irish are in the midst of a 3 game homestand that continues Saturday vs. Watertown, whose Red & Black dates back to the Empire Football League back in the 70's, when they were rivals of the Metro Mallers. Day of game ticket prices are the same as the 'Cats (lowest price is $7), and although Lansingburgh High is off the bus line, getting there isn't a problem. Now, if only the press could actually show up for a game.......

Monday, July 10, 2017

What Might've Been: Home Run Derby (1960)

With Major League Baseball's annual Home Run Derby taking place tonight in Miami, let's take a look back at when there was a TV series that featured the biggest sluggers of their day competing for cash prizes.

Home Run Derby, a syndicated series that ran during the 1st half of 1960, but taped in September 1959 in Los Angeles, was equal parts game show (because of the cash bonuses) and athletic competition, a forerunner, if you will, to today's annual exhibitions on the eve of the All-Star Game. Actor-broadcaster Mark Scott was the host, and chatted amicably with each player while the opponent was in the batter's box.

Unfortunately, Scott passed away before production could begin on a prospective 2nd season, and so Ziv, which packaged the series, decided to end it.

In later years, ESPN acquired the series, and aired the reruns for a brief period. The series would later move to ESPN Classic. Today, MGM, and, by extension, Sony, owns the series, so you wonder if MLB might have to pay royalties for their annual competition.

Anyway, let's go back to January 1960, and the series premiere, featuring future Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle & Willie Mays. Play ball!

The "other" Wrigley Field, in Los Angeles, was the site of the show. I wonder what they'd have done if the series went "on tour", if you will, to other major league parks during the off-season for tapings.......

Rating: A.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Musical Interlude: Skin Trade (1986-7)

Duran Duran's bouncy "Skin Trade" was the 2nd single off their 1986 CD, "Notorious", and released as a single in January 1987. Naturally, it landed in heavy rotation on MTV back then. I think you can see why.

Duran Duran also landed on Soul Train to perform "Skin Trade" and the 3rd single, "Meet El Presidente". Unfortunately, the clip isn't available to be used here for now.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

In Theatres: Spider Man: Homecoming (2017)

"With great power comes great responsibility."

No one has learned that lesson more than Peter Parker over the course of 55 years. The lesson is reinforced in more ways than one in "Spider-Man: Homecoming", the web-head's 6th feature film in 15 years, and with the 3rd actor to don the webs over that span, Tom Holland, who was introduced last year in "Captain America: Civil War".

In fact, a key scene from that film is revisited, this time through the eyes of the rookie hero, who is recording it for posterity. In that sequence alone, you can see just how in over his head Spider-Man is in this context. He's convinced himself he's ready for the big leagues, but he comes across more as a wanna-be who has to be scolded from time to time by his patron, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.). To that end, instead of designing the classic costume himself, Peter is given a tech-riddled suit by Stark, as the home-made costume Peter wears early on, before the epic meeting with the Avengers, looks more like something created for one of those needless Spider-spin-offs, the Scarlet Spider.

So consumed by his new powers is Peter that he gives up his after-school responsibilities, which turns out to be not the best of ideas.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton). We meet Adrian first on a salvage job in the aftermath of "The Avengers". However, Toomes has his contract terminated by a government agent (Tyne Daly), representing Damage Control, which is being funded by Stark. I cannot speak to how Damage Control was actually coordinated in the books back in the day, so I can't say if this is an accurate depiction. Anyway, Toomes goes underground, shall we say, keeping some of the alien tech he's already acquired for his own use. His crew includes non-costumed versions of three more members of Spidey's rogues gallery--Scorpion, Shocker, & Prowler. Hmmm.

The story fast-forwards not five years, but eight, which would suggest this movie is set three years into the future. With Marvel-time, you just never know. Anyway, Peter is 15 in this story, and I cannot recall if being a sophomore here correlates with where he was in the books initially. Not sure if he was a sophomore or a junior when he debuted in Amazing Fantasy back in 1962. His circle of friends is different, too. Yes, there's Betty Brant, but she's a reporter for the school's television station. Flash Thompson is on the same academic team as Peter, which is an interesting improvement. And, then, there is Ned, meant to be an analogue for Ned Leeds, who was introduced as an adult reporter for the Daily Bugle back in the 60's. This Ned is also on the academic team, and totally geeks out when he's chillin' in Peter's bedroom, waiting for his pal, only to discover the biggest secret of his life.

Peter's crush here is Liz, who happens to be Toomes' daughter. See, in this story, Toomes is also a family man looking to provide for them any way he can. Having been screwed over by the government, and there's a valid reason to believe he was wronged, Toomes is keeping secrets from his family, just like Peter has kept his secret hidden from Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), so he can actually relate to Peter.

Sam Raimi had intended to use the Vulture, had Sony not decided to reboot five years ago. Not sure if this was the direction he wanted with Toomes, but the Everyman businessman that Toomes was before turning to crime is consistent with his portrayals in the books. You don't expect to feel sorry for Toomes, but Keaton all but steals the movie. Then again, nobody believed Keaton could cut the mustard as a hero in "Batman" nearly 30 years ago, but he proved his doubters wrong. Coming off "Birdman" a couple of years ago, Keaton has positioned himself in line for another Golden Globe and/or Oscar nomination, though voters might forget by the end of the year.

Trailers, aside from "Dunkirk", which we've referenced before:

"Maudie": Sally Hawkins & Ethan Hawke star. From what I can gather, the title character (Hawkins) may be disabled or autistic. Just don't know enough about the film to be sure.

"Step is Life": Set in Baltimore, a college step team looks for their ticket out of the ghetto.

"An Inconvienent Sequel: Truth is Power" (July 28): The follow-up to Al Gore's "An Inconvienent Truth", with copious doses of Presidents Obama & Trump, the latter on the campaign trail last year.

Here's the "Homecoming" trailer:

Here's to hoping when Spidey returns, he's done some growing up. While there are some legitimately funny moments, and a few unintentional ones, Spider-Man is too much of a klutz to actually merit his rookie status. I don't like the idea of a tricked out costume with an on-board AI. Not every hero is meant to be outfitted like Iron Man.

Rating: B--.

On The Air: Battle of the Network Stars (2017)

When Battle of the Network Stars began in 1976, it was part of a sub-genre of sports entertainment known as "trash sports", which some would argue began with another ABC series, The Superstars, but it lasted for more than a decade, despite diminishing returns.

It may seem like an odd choice to be the middle part of ABC's Summer Fun & Games Thursday block, but there it is. Battle of the Network Stars isn't about the networks battling each other this time, though. Instead, the weekly rosters are a mash-up based on specific themes.

ESPN's Mike Greenberg and Joe Tessitore have been given the yellow Wide World of Sports blazers used for the original Battle, and one variant on the Wide World intro, complete with the late Jim McKay's narration, plays in the open of Battle. I'd think ESPN & ABC may be testing the waters of a Wide World revival for down the road, but we'll see. Because of the hour-long format, not all of the events are shown in their entirety. The original Battle was given either 90 minutes or 2 hours, twice a year.

The 2017 opener sees a team of "TV Sitcom" stars, headed by Tom Arnold and Dave Coulier, taking on "TV Kids", led by Facts of Life alums Kim Fields and Lisa Welchel, the latter of whom was last seen on Survivor a couple of years back. NFL star DeMarcus Ware and UFC ace Ronda Rousey are the team captains who will get different combos each week.

Let's take a look at week 1's rowing competition:

Amusing to some, but your actual mileage may vary.

Rating: B.

Friday, July 7, 2017

What Might've Been: The Weakest Link (US edition) (2001)

At the turn of the century, with "reality" shows becoming a thing, so too were evening game shows coming back into favor. ABC started it by importing Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, which is still running today in a compacted syndicated form.

In 2001, NBC picked up the US rights to The Weakest Link, a more challenging quiz game in which 8 strangers are asked to join together to build a bank that could reach as much as a million dollars. While the original UK Link ran for 12 years (2000-12), its American counterpart could only last two seasons on NBC, and almost as long in syndication.

Anne Robinson came as part of the package for the NBC version, but for the syndicated half-hour edition, comic George Gray, now the announcer on The Price is Right, filled the MC's position. Whereas Robinson brought her tart tongue and insults, Gray was a little more watered down, since his Link tended to air in the daytime.

Inevitably and predictably, as ratings began to sag for the NBC version, the network resorted to stunts, including 2 crossovers with WWE (it was still the World Wrestling Federation during Link's run on NBC), using celebrities and themes with charities winning the cash.

Here, though, is a sample episode with a cast of average folks.

By the time Link had arrived in the US, the networks were already oversaturated with "reality" shows, and began adding new games to try to counter Millionaire, which, at its peak, ran as many as 4-5 nights a week. NBC opted to keep Link a weekly series in primetime, which made sense, but resulted in a too short run.

Rating: A-.

Sports this 'n' that

Normally, the tennis Championships at Wimbledon start in late June, and finish the Sunday after July 4. Not so this year, as the 2017 edition began on Monday, and will wrap on July 16, a wee bit later than normal. Come to think of it, the French Open last month might've been a little later than usual, too. Just sayin'.
So Manny Pacquiao lost a fight last weekend. As soon as I read that ESPN had assigned in-house bloviator Stephen (Screamin') A. Smith to cover the fight, if only because he's a Howard Cosell wanna-be, and boxing was one of the two major sports Cosell regularly covered, I had a feeling Smith, who wouldn't know a right lead from a right guard, was there just to get ratings. His current First Take partner, Max Kellerman, was a boxing commentator for HBO and ESPN during his first tour of duty at the latter, and would've been a better fit. I can only imagine what had happened on Monday's broadcast, because something tells me Max would've taken Screamin' A. to school again.
It must be a slow news day today, because one online piece I read this morning bemoaned the fact that, save for manager Joe Maddon  and his coaches and closer Wade Davis, the defending champion Cubs won't have any of last year's World Series heroes (Davis was with Kansas City last year) in the All-Star Game on Tuesday in Miami. Kris Bryant lost out on the NL Final Vote to the Dodgers' Justin Turner. The only way Bryant or any of his mates joins Davis on the roster is by injury replacement over the weekend. It might not sound fair to Cubs Nation, but credit Maddon for not stuffing the reserve portion of the roster with his players, opting for more of a melting pot mix. I'm sure, though, that Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, et al, would be the first ones called if someone pulls out due to an injury over the next 3-4 days.
Women's roller derby doesn't get the same kind of press coverage as, say, pro wrestling, but today's Record is promoting tomorrow night's match between the Albany All-Stars and the Troy Hellions, the latter of whom play their home matches in Rotterdam because they can't afford to pay the rent on either the RPI-Houston Field House or either of the city's rinks (Frear Park and the Knickerbocker Ice Arena in Lansingburgh). The Hellions called Frear Park home their first year, but because they apparently didn't draw enough people to the games (Frear Park is off the bus line), they didn't renew the lease for the next season. As previously documented, the All-Stars now play at the new Capital Center, just up the hill from Times Union Center, where last year's game was played. Now, let's see if someone sends a camera crew.......
The Mets' NY-Penn League affiliate, the Brooklyn Cyclones, just wrapped their first visit to Troy last night (they return August 19-21) wishing they'd saved some of Wednesday night's offense. After blowing out the Tri-City Valleycats, 10-1, on Wednesday, the Cyclones were given a receipt last night, as the wind was blowing out to left field at Bruno Stadium. The 'Cats erupted for 5 home runs, two of them by Reid Russell, in a 13-0 rout to take 2 of 3 from the Cyclones. Tri-City is back on the road tonight, heading to Aberdeen, Maryland to play the Ironbirds. The upside to the last two games, even though they were blowouts, was that both games were played in just over 3 hours. The July 4 game, won by Tri-City, went more than 4 hours to play 9 innings, delaying the post-game fireworks show to nearly 11 pm.

Pace of play, kids. Let's get with the program.
The Mets are hoping Michael Conforto will be ready to be in Miami on Tuesday, as he comes off the disabled list tomorrow----we think. Otherwise, the Amazin's are in the same boat as the Cubs. It's that kind of year.

Meanwhile, after being rained out of the series finale vs. the Mets Wednesday, the Washington Nationals made their fans wait 3 hours and change before starting Thursday's game vs. Atlanta. Why? They thought a rainstorm headed for the DC area would land as scheduled. Someone at Nationals Park clearly had a Chicken Little moment, and the Nats are taking some serious heat for their overly cautious approach. Some jabroni on suggested that the Nats players voted to the All-Star game (i.e. Bryce Harper) be banned from the game, but that's just being petty and stupid. Not Harper's fault, although we'd have to question his or Scott Boras' sanity for putting him in that lame T-Mobile commercial.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

What Might've Been: The Investigator (1972)

From the vivid imagination of Gerry & Sylvia Anderson comes an unsold pilot that mixes the couple's use of puppets with human actors.

The Investigator is an alien being who recruits and miniaturizes a pair of Earthlings to act as his agents in a mission to make the world a better place. Sylvia Anderson wrote the script, with Gerry directing, and also voices Julie, one of the two agents.

This would've been better had it been done entirely with human actors. The fact that Julie and her partner, John, were already shrunken as this story begins tells us that there is more to this than had been told.

Could it be done today with modern technology? I think so. An all-human cast with CGI effects makes more sense.

No rating.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Forgotten TV: Dundee & the Culhane (1967)

Filmways' greatest successes came with sitcoms (i.e. Addams Family, Green Acres, Beverly Hillbillies). Until their final drama, Cagney & Lacey, came along in the early 80's, the studio had next to no luck with dramas.

In 1967, the studio signed British legend John Mills to star in a Western, Dundee & The Culhane, for CBS. The network loved the pilot, they say, but subsequent episodes exposed some flaws, leading to a quick hook, two weeks before Christmas.

Series creator Sam Rolfe came over from MGM, and wrote some of the episodes himself.

All that's available right now are sample clips, like this one:

No rating.

Musical Interlude: I Remember The Feeling (1976)

There was a time in the mid-70's when we almost had a full-on Monkees reunion.

Micky Dolenz & Davy Jones joined forces with songwriter buds Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart for a 1-shot album, "Dolenz, Jones, Boyce, & Hart", released on Capitol in 1976. The other Monkees, Mike Nesmith & Peter Tork, were invited, but declined. They, in turn, would record with another set of songwriters, the husband & wife team of Gerry Goffin & Carole King.

Around this time, Dolenz was doing mostly cartoon work at Hanna-Barbera (i.e. Funky Phantom, Devlin), but had "I Remember The Feeling" raced up the charts, things would've been looking up, 10 years after The Monkees.

The energy was there, but radio wasn't interested, it seems.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

On The Air: GLOW (2017)

In the mid-80's, David McLane, a midwestern ring announcer, came up with the idea of an all-female wrestling promotion. The final product, the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, ran for 4 seasons (1986-90), filled with a mix of camp comedy skits and less than perfect wrestling. Ursula Hayden, one of the "wrestlers" on the show, now holds the rights to the franchise, and had to have given the green light to Netflix to develop a fictionalized account of how the show came together.

GLOW has a completely new cast of characters, including director Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron), who has to not only put the cast together, but find some actual grapplers to teach them the finer points of the mat game. Of course it's awkward, especially for Ruth (Allison Brie), an out of work actress who needs a job of any kind to make ends meet. After being cut initially by Sylvia, Ruth is bullied and robbed by a trio of kids, and winds up being rehired. Her former best friend, Debbie, a soap opera actress, gets into the act when she learns her husband's been cheating on her with Ruth.

The 10 episode series builds toward the inevitable in ring confrontation, in front of an audience, between Ruth & Debbie in their new personas. Former NWA & TNA women's champ Kia "Awesome Kong" Stevens lends some credibility to the cast. Tough Enough alumnus John Hennegan, aka current Lucha Underground champ Johnny Mundo, guest stars in the opener, but his character is quickly written off as having been fired by Sylvia off camera.

Check out the trailer:

As with Iron Fist, GLOW walks a rickety tightrope, as there are some rough spots, and plenty of face-palm inducing moments. If you've ever wondered just how difficult it was to mount the original series, well, your questions will be answered.

Rating: B--.

Monday, July 3, 2017

President Trump vs. the Media----only in his warped mind

When you're elected to public office, you expect to hear it from all sides, positive or negative. It comes with the territory.

President Donald Trump doesn't understand that being the Chief Executive of the entire country means curbing his ego and not taking offense to criticism at every turn. He's accused CNN and other media outlets of "fake news", as if CNN's chief rival, Fox News Channel, isn't biased itself, and some might think it is.

Trump's meritless accusations are only getting worse when illustrated through videos, especially one that a Reddit user and Trump dittohead posted on Sunday. You've probably seen it already, I'm sure. A 10 year old video of Trump taking down WWE Chairman and fellow nutcase Vince McMahon at WrestleMania 23, edited to fit the CNN logo over McMahon's head, surfaced, and has made the rounds, including on CNN itself, as Brian Stetler describes things on Reliable Sources:

A year ago, Inside Edition did a puff piece on then-candidate Trump, which included the actual WrestleMania footage, including an interview with wrestler Bobby Lashley, now with Global Force Wrestling (Formerly TNA/Impact Wrestling).

So, what is the President's point? He doesn't trust the media, the same news media that has covered him since his emergence on the national scene as a NYC businessman more than 30 years ago. As Stetler put it so aptly, CNN and the rest of the news media will move on, and Trump should just let go of his childish Twitter tantrums and go about his business as a President should, instead of picking fights for no other reason than to feed his own scarred ego.

Baseball this 'n' that

The All-Star rosters are out. The only question I have is, well, what's wrong with this picture?

American League:


Outfield: Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
Outfield: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

Outfield: George Springer, Houston Astros
Catcher: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
First Base: Justin Smoak, Toronto Blue Jays
Second Base: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
Shortstop:  Carlos Correa, Houston Astros
Third Base:  Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians
Designated Hitter: Corey Dickerson,  Tampa Bay Rays


Mookie Betts, outfielder, Boston Red Sox
Michael Brantley, outfielder, Cleveland Indians
Avisail Garcia, outfielder, Chicago White Sox
Gary Sanchez, catcher, New York Yankees
Yonder Alonso, first baseman, Oakland Athletics
Jonathan Schoop, second baseman, Baltimore Orioles
Starlin Castro, second baseman, New York Yankees
Francisco Lindor, shortstop, Cleveland Indians
Miguel Sano, third baseman, Minnesota Twins
Nelson Cruz, designated hitter, Seattle Mariners
Chris Sale, starting pitcher, Boston Red Sox
Ervin Santana, starting pitcher, Minnesota Twins
Jason Vargas, starting pitcher, Kansas City Royals
Corey Kluber, starting pitcher, Cleveland Indians
Andrew Miller, relief pitcher, Cleveland Indians
Craig Kimbrel, relief pitcher, Boston Red Sox
Dallas Keuchel, starting pitcher, Houston Astros
Luis Severino, starting pitcher, New York Yankees
Yu Darvish, starting pitcher, Texas Rangers
Michael Fulmer, starting pitcher, Detroit Tigers
Lance McCullers Jr., starting pitcher, Houston Astros
Dellin Betances, relief pitcher, New York Yankees

National League:

Outfield: Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies
Outfield: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

Outfield: Marcell Ozuna, Miami Marlins
Catcher: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
First Base:  Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals
Second Base:  Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals
Shortstop: Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds
Third Base: Nolan Arenado,  Colorado Rockies


Cody Bellinger, outfield, Los Angeles Dodgers
Giancarlo Stanton, outfield, Miami Marlins
Michael Conforto, outfield, New York Mets
Ender Inciarte, outfield, Atlanta Braves
Yadier Molina, catcher, St. Louis Cardinals
Paul Goldschmidt, first baseman, Arizona Diamondbacks
Joey Votto, first baseman, Cincinnati Reds
Josh Harrison, second baseman, Pittsburgh Pirates
DJ LeMahieu, second baseman, Colorado Rockies
Corey Seager, shortstop, Los Angeles Dodgers
Jake Lamb, third baseman, Arizona Diamondbacks
Clayton Kershaw, starting pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers
Max Scherzer, starting pitcher, Washington Nationals
Carlos Martinez, starting pitcher, St. Louis Cardinals
Robbie Ray, starting pitcher, Arizona Diamondbacks
Greg Holland, relief pitcher, Colorado Rockies
Kenley Jansen, relief pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers
Zack Greinke, starting pitcher, Arizona Diamondbacks
Stephen Strasburg, starting pitcher, Washington Nationals
Wade Davis, relief pitcher, Chicago Cubs
Brad Hand, relief pitcher, San Diego Padres
Corey Knebel, relief pitcher, Milwaukee Brewers
Pat Neshek, relief pitcher, Philadelphia Phillies

The lone Met on the list, Michael Conforto, is currently on the DL, and might not be ready for the game next week. The Mets' best pitcher, Jacob deGrom, was given the el-snubbino by NL manager Joe Maddon, whose defending champion Cubs have just 1 player on the roster, too, in closer Wade Davis, which is, pardon the pun, maddening. The Yankees, meanwhile, have just 1 starter, rookie sensation Aaron Judge, and 5 players in all. So why are the Mets & Cubs getting the Rodney Dangerfield treatment? The starters are still voted on by the fair weather fans who will spam the internet with multiple votes. Fair weather because of this season's trendy teams (Colorado & Arizona in the NL, Houston  in the AL). Worse, there's no way deGrom gets on the team unless he's named at the last minute by Maddon, since he's not part of the Final Vote (which is a farce unto itself). Maddon, surprisingly, didn't pull rank to add more Cubs, although Kris Bryant is in the Final Vote, but there's always going to be someone getting snubbed for the big dance. There's no way around it.

On the upside, this year's game will not determine home field in the World Series. That farcical stipulation enacted by former commissioner Bud Selig was excised after last year's game.
It's going to be a long summer for the Tri-City Valleycats. They've already lost the first two games of their series with Staten Island, and entering play tonight, are in 3rd place in the Stedler Division, in danger of falling into the cellar. Friday's game at Connecticut was suspended due to rain, and will be made up next month, when the 'Cats make their final trip to Connecticut. Tri-City comes home for their annual July 4 clambake Tuesday vs. Brooklyn. Too bad Spectrum Cable can't be bothered to give the 'Cats a TV deal.....!
More Mets. After posting a respectable 4-2 ledger vs. Miami & Philadelphia last week, they go back on the road at Washington tonight, then St. Louis this weekend before the All-Star break. Terry Collins' crew needs to figure out how to shut down ex-teammate Daniel Murphy, who has had a hit in every game vs. the Mets dating back to last year. Someone should've taken away his playbook, because how else to explain it? They can't go a week without someone going on the DL, which makes one wonder if there really is someone putting a curse on the team.....!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Old Time Radio: Mr. & Mrs. North (1942)

Mr. & Mrs. North ran on radio for 12 years (1942-54), the last two concurrent with their television run. After Richard Lockridge's novels had been adapted for Broadway and the big screen, Jerry & Pam North transitioned to radio, with Joseph Curtin & Alice Frost in the title roles.

In "Who Killed Mr. Stefano?", the Norths are pulled into a tangled web that goes from a domestic dispute to murder.

On radio, the series was not too different from other mysteries of the period. Nothing special, which might explain why the TV series only lasted two years.

Rating: B.

A Modern Classic: Empty Nest (1988)

Sitcoms had been done before built around widowers and their kids. The difference between those and Empty Nest was that on this show, the kids were all grown up and working for a living, coming home to give their father some company after their mother passed on.

Empty Nest was a spin-off from The Golden Girls that went to series the second time around. The first backdoor pilot, in 1987, featured Paul Dooley, but it didn't get the reaction that Touchstone Television & NBC wanted, so back to the drawing board they went. The final product reunited stars Richard Mulligan and Dinah Manoff with their bosses from Soap, executive producers Paul Junger Witt & Tony Thomas, and series creator Susan Harris. The show was built around Mulligan as widowed Dr. Harry Weston, whose only companion at the start was his dog, Dreyfus. Soon, Weston's daughters (Manoff and Kristy McNichol) come home to set the stage for the series.

Isuzu pitchman David Leisure was cast as Weston's neighbor, Charley, who, based on the description I read, would routinely show up in the Westons' apartment unannounced, a la Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards) on Seinfeld, which came along roughly around the same time. Some plots centered around Weston at work in his clinic with his nurse (Park Overall). In season 6, Dr. Weston had retired from his practice, but now had a new assistant (Marsha Warfield, ex-Night Court), although Overall's character would soon return after she'd left the clinic. In adddition, Estelle Getty joined the cast full-time, reprising her Golden Girls role as Sophia. Golden Girls had ended its NBC run in 1992, and made the ill-fated move to CBS, where, as The Golden Palace, it had ended after the 1992-3 season.

Let's take a look at the pilot.

Kristy McNichol had left the show after 4 seasons, only to return for the series finale in 1995. Disney holds the rights to the series, but good luck finding it on cable these days.

Rating: B.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

What Might've Been: City Beneath The Sea (1967)

The year was 1967. Irwin Allen had gotten renewals for Lost in Space & Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, which would enter their final seasons that fall. Time Tunnel, however, was cancelled after 1 season at ABC, and Land of the Giants, intended for the 1967-8 season, was delayed a year, where it would eventually replace Voyage on ABC's schedule.

NBC, understandably, wanted a piece of the action. Network VP Herb Schlosser, showing little or no faith in Star Trek, commissioned Allen to produce a series for the Peacock Network, meant to replace Trek. Of course, as we all know, Trek had already become a fan favorite despite being a little challenged in the ratings, and would forge ahead for 2 more seasons.

City Beneath The Sea wound up being passed over when Trek was renewed. Undaunted, Allen would try again 4 years later, but with a different cast. In addition, he took City to WB for his 2nd attempt, which at least saw the pilot film air, but no series.

The 1967 version is headlined by Glenn Corbett (ex-Route 66) and James Brolin. Lloyd Bochner was posited as the villain of the piece in much the same way Jonathan Harris was as Dr. Smith on Lost in Space 2 years earlier, and Kurt Kasznar would have that same distinction in Giants.

The fight scene between Corbett & Bochner, or at least their stunt doubles, resembled a generic Trek fight scene (the monkey flip spot is the dead giveaway) in its concept. The basic premise, though, would tip the direction Allen would take with his disaster movies in the 70's.

Surely, NBC could've found room for both City and Trek, but didn't. Something tells me Schlosser was looking at profit margins, thinking City wouldn't cost as much to make as Trek, but I can't be certain of that at all.

Rating: B-.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Weasels of the Week: Vince Russo and ..........take a guess who got another set

Less than six months into his term in office, and President Donald Trump has proven over and over again that he cannot smoothly transition himself into his new role.

Like a petulant child, President Trump picks fights via Twitter when it is not appropriate to do so, if only because he's so accustomed to drawing attention to himself for whatever.

The latest example of the Presidential immaturity came in another set of tweets directed at Joe Scarborough and his fiancée, Mika Berezinski, hosts of Morning Joe. dismissing the couple as crazy (Mika) and psycho (Joe), and even poking fun at what he assumed had been some plastic surgery done on Mika. Even fellow Republicans have ripped the President to shreds over this one.

Reportedly, the Trump administration is alleged to have resorted to using blackmail, specifically sending a reporter from the National Enquirer to dig up some dirt. The once respected tabloid is owned by David Pecker and American Media. Pecker is a friend of the President, and more than willing to stain his tabloid's reputation more than before in service to the President. The Enquirer ran a minor piece alleging that Scarborough was drinking multiple six-packs of beer, which Scarborough denies.

I hate to bring it up again, but for someone who reportedly became a born-again Christian a year ago through Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, President Trump is not behaving in a Christian manner. At 71, the President continues to behave like an immature child, one who is growing drunk with power.

Three Dog Night's 1970 hit, "Liar", is thus dedicated to the President and the tabloid media willing to enable his childish tantrums.

Translated, the President is getting another set of Weasel ears for abusing his office and continuing to perpetuate his childish antics in full public purview.

You say you're a Christian, Mr. Trump. Start living like one.
Meanwhile, veteran wrestling personalities Vince Russo and Jim Cornette have been waging a verbal feud for nearly 20 years, dating back to when both were employed by the then-World Wrestling Federation. Both have podcasts now, but their ongoing verbal jousting is hardly on the order of the old Jack Benny-Fred Allen feud on radio back in the day. Not even close.

Russo broke into the wrestling business 25 or so years ago, a video store owner and radio talk show host out of Long Island, hired as a writer for what is now WWE. He left the company in the fall of 1999, and, with his success having gone to his head, tried to recreate some of his lame, outlandish ideas in WCW, and, later, TNA (now Impact Wrestling). Cornette has ripped him to shreds repeatedly for being out of touch with reality, among other things.

So what happens? Within the last week, Cornette, who lives in Louisville, was served with a restraining order to stay away from Russo, who currently lives in Indiana. Seems Russo thinks Cornette, who offered to fight Russo to settle their issue, means to kill him, or something like that.

Cornette, for his part, is Xeroxing copies of the restraining order, autographing them, and selling them online, with the proceeds going to local charities. The funny part about this is that Cornette is an avowed atheist. Russo, like President Trump, claims to be a Christian. Like the President, Russo now has a thin skin from all the insults Cornette has hurled his way since both left the WWE. They last crossed paths in TNA several years ago, but the feud isn't ending anytime soon.

To Russo, we offer this 1965 1-hit wonder by the Castaways:

This is because Russo, the other recipient of the Weasel ears this week, is taking more credit than he should for some of the things he did during the Attitude Era. If not for Vince McMahon editing and filtering Russo's nuttier ideas, we wouldn't have WWE today, to tell you the truth.

As the saying goes, you reap what you sow. I'm sure you can look it up in the Bible, Mr. Russo. If you can remember you have one.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

When 2 classics join together (Sanford and Gong, 1976)

Sanford & Son was in its final season. The Gong Show was in its first year. Someone at NBC decided to have Chuck Barris bring his daytime show to primetime with a guest appearance on Sanford & Son.

In "Sanford & Gong", Fred (Redd Foxx) gets on Gong with son Lamont (Demond Wilson) on drums, but with Bubba (Don Bexley) filling in for their friend, Rodney, at the last minute. Fred & Bubba split vocal chores on "Exactly Like You". Of course, it gets chaotic at the end.

I can't remember for the life of me if any of the Sanford cast returned the favor and served as judges on Gong to return the favor.

Rating: A.

Meet the President's role model (1986)

The New York Times and other media outlets, as well as millions of American citizens, seem to think President Trump is a compulsive liar who thinks anything he says is pure political gospel.

The truth is, President Trump reacts to things he sees or reads the way an immature child does in a lot of cases. As for lying, well..........

One can point back to Isuzu's ad campaign from 1986-90, featuring actor David Leisure as Joe Isuzu, who was an unashamed, bald-faced liar whose statements were refuted with graphics during the course of his ads, like this sample.

Leisure parlayed Joe Isuzu into a gig on the sitcom, Empty Nest, and even revived Joe Isuzu near the end of the 20th century.

It wouldn't surprise me at all if President Trump doesn't remember Joe.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Musical Interlude: Made in Japan (1972)

Buck Owens reached #1 on the country chart in 1972 with "Made in Japan", which references the growing--at the time--expansion of Japanese companies into the US. As Buck sings, his "transistor radio comes from far away", which would mean it was either from Panasonic or Toshiba. I think.

"Made in Japan" turned out to be Buck's last #1 single as a solo act, regardless of what he recorded after. Go figure.

Advertising For Dummies: Hawaiian Rice Krispies? (Puffa Puffa Rice, 1967)

Kellogg's thought that uniting the elements of Rice Krispies with Puffed Rice, the latter a rival brand, into a variant on the former would be a hit.

Puffa Puffa Rice, however, didn't even make it to 10 years on the shelves, retired in 1975.

Puffa Puffa Rice debuted in 1967, with an ad shot in Hawaii. Actor William Christopher, at the time a recurring player on Gomer Pyle, USMC, and 5 years away from his iconic role as Father Mulcahy on M*A*S*H, narrates.

Anita Aloha was a featured hula dancer in the ad. I remember seeing the product on store shelves up until around the time it was discontinued. It's a pity. Kellogg's now has just regular Rice Krispies, Cocoa Krispies, and some later variants, but had Puffa Puffa Rice been bigger on the mainland.....!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What Might've Been: Medical Story (1975)

NBC thought they had the next great medical drama in 1975. Oh, were they ever wrong.

Medical Story, from producer David Gerber (Police Woman, Police Story) and Kojak creator Abby Mann, was an anthology series, much like Police Story, but set in a hospital. NBC placed it on Thursday nights, inheriting Dean Martin's old perch at 10 pm (ET). Unfortunately, Medical Story didn't make it past Christmas.

So, where did it go wrong? The competition at the time consisted of Harry O, David Janssen's latest series, on ABC, coupled with The Streets of San Francisco, and The CBS Thursday Night Movie. 2 2-hour episodes bookended the 12 episode run.

In the following promo, narrated by Lloyd Bridges (Joe Forrester, another David Gerber entry), we see portions of the series opener, with Bridges' son, Beau, plus Jose Ferrer, and, in a rare dramatic role, Carl Reiner.

I never saw the show, so there's no rating.

Sports this 'n' that

Y'think  maybe WWE regrets their latest attempt at a SportsCenter moment?

With the Monday Night Raw troupe in Los Angeles, CEO/Chairman/head wackjob Vince McMahon thought he saw extra ratings in bringing in America's worst stage parent, LaVar Ball, and sons Lonzo & LaMelo, to appear during the Miz TV portion of the show. Intercontinental champ Mike "The Miz" Mizanin welcomed the Balls, and they teased a throw-down between Miz and the elder Ball. Unfortunately, less than 12 hours later, WWE had to issue a statement regarding LaMelo's use of a racial slur during the segment. You won't find it on WWE's YouTube channel, as they've edited it out, claiming the slur was "unscripted" (DUH!). LaMelo forgot he was in a more public setting than he's accustomed to, less than a week after big brother Lonzo had been drafted by the Lakers.

Here's a thought. While Lonzo is playing in the NBA, LaVar & LaMelo can star in a remake of Sanford & Son. Meantime, we'll send LaMelo a Dunce Cap.
It was news when Georgetown University brought back one of their 80's stars, Patrick Ewing, to be their new coach after axing John Thompson III at the end of the 2016-7 season. Now, Ewing has hired a former Knicks teammate, former Siena & Seton Hall coach Louis Orr, as an assistant coach for next season. Good luck to both as the Hoyas look to return not only to the top of the Big East, but back to the NCAA tournament next spring.
Major League Baseball's pace of play initiatives haven't quite sunk in at the minor league level.

How else to explain the glacial pace of the Tri-City Valleycats' first week of games, including last night's win over Vermont, snapping a 3 game losing streak? This was the longest game to date, clocking in at just under 4 hours for 9 innings, and I can't tell if that includes a 46 minute rain delay that was noted in the box score. To date, they've played just 1 game under 3 hours, and that was over the weekend vs. Vermont, and that just missed the 3 hour plateau. Granted, most of the players are coming in from college, and didn't have enough time to practice together before the season started. By this time next month, the length of games will gradually decrease. Well, at least we're hoping.

I neglected to mention in reporting on Friday's loss to Lowell that 'Cats rookie Connor MacDonald, from Australia, is greeted with---what else?----Men at Work's "Down Under" as his walk-up music. 35 years later, that song still resonates.
A certain local sports anchor has publicly given up on the Mets due to all the injuries, joining the chorus of downstate types who think the team will be sellers instead of buyers at the trade deadline next month. I have to disagree. Think back to 2015, when the Mets netted Yoenis Cespedes at the deadline, and how that turned their season around. One move can still make a difference.

Meanwhile, the Mets finished the California leg of their road trip at 3-4 after sweeping the equally moribound San Francisco Giants. As for the Los Angeles Dodgers, I think a receipt is nigh when Dave Roberts' crew hits New York later this summer. Next stop is Miami, but the Marlins may already be in sell mode themselves, shipping shortstop Adeiny Hechevarria to Tampa Bay for prospects on Monday. Speaking of receipts, the Mets still are looking to collect from the Marlins......!
The College World Series could wrap up tonight or tomorrow, but the NCAA should also think about pace of play. Every game I've seen so far has gone over 3 hours or better. Today's kids have the mentality, or so it'd seem that a flashy play will get them on SportsCenter just as much as a clutch hit or home run. Just play the game.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Forgotten TV: The Zoo Gang (1974)

I wish I had been able to see this show.

The Zoo Gang was a 1974 ITC series that ran for just six episodes, airing in the spring of '74. An eclectic ensemble cast, including Brian Keith (ex-Family Affair), Barry Morse (ex-The Fugitive), and John Mills, brought to life Paul Gallico's tale of a team of World War II resistance fighters who reunite 30 years later to fight crime.

A year later, The Zoo Gang aired on NBC as a 3-night miniseries, and that's the last anyone's seen of it here, as it's on DVD in the UK only.

The other notable thing is that the theme music was composed by Paul & Linda McCartney, and performed by McCartney & Wings.

The Zoo Gang was the first of Gallico's works to be adapted into series form of any kind since The Adventures of Hiram Holliday some 20 years earlier. I believe there've been one-shot adaptations for the likes of Hallmark Hall of Fame, but there has to be more in the library waiting to be brought to life. Of course, if the Zoo Gang were to be revived today, the setting would understandably be updated to reflect more recent times.

This was Barry Morse's 2nd series for ITC, coming a couple of years after co-starring with Gene Barry in The Adventurer, and by the time NBC picked up Zoo Gang, Morse had moved on to Space: 1999.

Now, let's scope the intro and that kickin' Wings beat.

No rating.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Musical Interlude: Something's Burning (1970)

From The Johnny Cash Show:

Kenny Rogers and the First Edition landed in the top 20 with the Mac Davis-penned "Something's Burning", which would be one of their last hits.

A year later, the group landed their own show, Rollin' On The River, taped & produced in Canada, but once that series ended, it wasn't long before the First Edition went their separate ways.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Forgotten TV: McCoy (1975)

Four years after he teamed with Roger Moore in the British series, The Persuaders, Tony Curtis returned to television, this time in a NBC Sunday Mystery Movie entry, McCoy.

McCoy is a con man who, with the aid of a few close friends, turns the tables on other con artists and assorted other bad guys. Unfortunately, Universal had also developed a similar series, Switch, for CBS, which bowed the same season (1975-6). In a way, McCoy also had a spiritual ancestor in Four Star's short-lived The Rogues, 11 years earlier. This is significant when you look at the following video montage, which collects clips from each of the episodes.

Lloyd Bridges (Joe Forrester) narrates. Roscoe Lee Browne co-stars with Curtis, and you'll see Larry Hagman as a villain in the montage. Hagman had joined the cast of The Rogues during its run, before I Dream of Jeannie turned him into a cultural icon.

Curtis would fare a little bit better when he joined the cast of Aaron Spelling's Vega$ a few years later.

No rating.

Let's not blame it on the rain (Lowell 7, Valleycats 2, 6/23/17)

The Tri-City Valleycats entered play Friday night tied with Connecticut for first place in the New York-Penn League's Stedler division, and sought a sweep of division rival Lowell. The game was played under overcast skies at first pitch, right at 7:00, but the clouds should've been a harbinger of things to come.

Tri-City starter Cristian Javier only went three innings, giving up 2 runs on 2 hits, striking out 6, while walking 4. In fact, it was the walks that were a real problem. You have to remember that in this era, pitch counts are just as important as a pitcher's effectiveness on the mound.

NCAA home run champion Jake Adams gave 'Cats fans a taste of what to expect when he wasted little time hitting his first pro homer with one out in the 2nd. In the 3rd, with Lowell leading, 2-1, Connor MacDonald tied the game with a base hit off Lowell starter Nick Duron, but Abraham Toro was thrown out at 3rd to end the inning. That would also be the end of the 'Cats' offense for the night.

The Spinners jumped on Ben Smith when he took over in the 4th. Smith went just 1 1/3 innings, giving up 5 runs while walking 4. All but one of the runs were earned due to a 'Cats error. Nathan Thompson came in and calmed things down, striking out 7, but first year manager Morgan Ensberg couldn't get the offense going again, and Lowell salvages the final game of the series, 7-2. The Spinners will return to Bruno Stadium in August.

Tri-City opens a 3-game series with Vermont tonight before heading out on the road. Connecticut also lost, so the 'Cats remain tied for first at 2-2.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Classic (?) TV: Battle of the Network Stars (1976)

The success of ABC's Sunday series, The Superstars, which pitted pro athletes from various sports in very different competitions, spawned a primetime, celebrity-driven companion series, Battle of the Network Stars, in which the Alphabet Network would invite stars from NBC & CBS' shows over for a friendly competition. For the next decade, we'd see this take place 1-2 times a year, up until 1985.

Howard Cosell anchored the coverage, with the exception of the May 1985 broadcast. At that point, Cosell had a falling out with ABC, and had seemingly hung up his microphone. However, he'd return for a 1-shot revival in 1988, which would be the last Battle for 29 years.

That's because someone at ABC thought it'd be a good idea to revive Battle anew, this time as a weekly summer series as part of a Thursday block that sees Battle sandwiched in between Boy Band and the revived Gong Show, the latter of which we reviewed earlier. Somehow, I don't think a weekly format works quite so well. Consider also that ABC had revived The Superstars in 2009 to tepid response.

Let's go back to 1976. The Dragnet-esque narration at the beginning is by Lorne Greene.

CBS saw the results, and decided to do their own network-exclusive series on weekends as a component of CBS Sports Spectacular. We'll try to locate some video of that for another time.

Rating: A. It's a guilty pleasure, after all.

A Classic Reborn: The Gong Show (2017)

Chuck Barris passed away back in March, but, trust me, he'd be very proud of the new Gong Show.

Gong becomes the latest classic to be resurrected at ABC, following Sony stablemate The $100,000 Pyramid, and Fremantle's reworkings of Goodson-Todman legends To Tell The Truth & Match Game. Actor-comedian Will Arnett ("The Lego Batman Movie", ex-Arrested Development) not only was one of the judges on opening night, but also serves as executive producer. The MC duties were entrusted to "legendary British comedian" Tommy Maitland (actually Mike Myers, ex-Saturday Night Live, whose makeup turns him into a cross between Benny Hill and Robin Williams), who keeps the show moving at a faster pace than Barris and previous successors ever did.

The judging scale is now 0-10, instead of 1-10, so you don't need to be gonged to get a 0 score, as was demonstrated in the opener. Airing at 10 pm (ET), just like Comedy Central's take on the series 9 years ago, allows for more risque acts to appear, the kind of envelope pushing that Barris wanted to do 40 years ago, but fought with censors at NBC because his was a daytime show (with a syndicated night edition). In all, this was silly, but fun.

Sony offers the trailer:

Why did I invoke Benny Hill? There's a point in the show where Maitland uses a open hand salute, a la Hill's Fred Scuttle persona, during an act. Watch it On Demand, and you'll see what I mean.

Rating: A.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Origin of a Classic: The Gong Show (1976)

With a new version of The Gong Show bowing later tonight, let's take a look back at where it all began.

The story is that co-creator/co-executive producer Chuck Barris didn't plan on hosting the show himself. Instead, John Barbour, later of Real People, was tapped to host. However, Barbour wasn't keen on the idea of satirizing talent shows, and, as you'll see, he plays it straight. NBC suits eventually convinced Barris that the only way to save the show was for Barris himself to take over if he wanted to dismiss Barbour.

The rest, as they say, is history.

We'll see if the new version measures up.

Rating: A.

Musical Interlude: Don't Go Breaking My Heart (1976)

One of Elton John's earliest duets was with Kiki Dee on 1976's "Don't Go Breaking My Heart", which was mostly a vehicle to introduce radio listeners to Dee, who was signed to Elton's Rocket Records, a subsidiary of MCA. That label was also home to Neil Sedaka during his 70's comeback.

Aw, don't they make such a cute couple? Of course, back then we had no idea that Elton wasn't really into Kiki. Strangely, this wasn't on any albums at the time, although it was recorded during sessions for the "Blue Moves" album.

Nearly 20 years later, Elton went back and re-recorded the song, this time with RuPaul, for his 1994 "Duets" CD. In between, he had Miss Piggy sit in as a partner on The Muppet Show.

Anyway, here's the 1994 version:

Compare, folks, and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Classic Reborn: Extreme Gong (1998)

10 years after the first revival, Sony brought back The Gong Show, but with a new name, a new format, and a new host.

Extreme Gong was developed for Sony-owned Game Show Network (GSN),  but lasted exactly 1 calendar year (October 1998-99). So, then, why did this Gong fail? Because it was too different from its forebears.

The celebrity panel of judges was excised in favor of viewers using a 900 phone line to cast votes. Don't know how well that fared, since I didn't have GSN at the time, and wouldn't for another decade. Anyway, comic George Gray landed one of his first host gigs, cranking it up to 11 1/2. As this sample video shows, eliminating the elements that made the original Gong a cult classic turned out to be a big mistake.

A few years later, and before Sony sold Comedy Central an even shorter-lived Gong (previously reviewed), the studio tried to posit a revival for the WB. No sale. Now, 9 years after Dave Attell's attempt at reviving the franchise failed, The Gong Show is back, this time on ABC, with the relaunch tomorrow night. We'll have a review of it this weekend.

No rating for Extreme Gong.

Sports this 'n' that

Let's remember that the Tri-City Valleycats aren't Troy's only summer sports team.

Troy's semi-pro football team, the Fighting Irish, had their season opener on June 17, thrashing Lockport, 41-24, at Lansingburgh High. Problem is, due to the usual press issues (lack of manpower, etc.), the game was never reported to the hometown paper. Coverage of the Fighting Irish has been spotty right from the go. It's not the same as it was back in the 70's, when the Captial Region had at one point two semi-pro teams. Albany's Metro Mallers are still around,  but the Irish, if ya will, have risen from the ashes of the short lived Troy Uncle Sams, and have exceeded the latter's successes.

Up next for the Irish will be a road test vs. Broome County in Binghamton on Saturday before coming home July 1 to host Auburn.
The Valleycats open the home portion of their season tonight vs. Lowell, but the opener last night at Connecticut was even worse than their exhibition loss to the Albany Dutchmen last week. The Tigers shut down the 'Cats, 9-0. I've noted in the past that the teams in the New York-Penn League that gell the fastest are often there at the end, and this may be one of those years where the Valleycats will struggle. Everything runs in cycles in the minors, especially in a short-season league such as the NYPL.
Could the Yankees have peaked too soon?

The Bombers have lost 7 in a row, something that hasn't happened a similar stretch from October 2011-April 2012, and they hadn't lost 7 straight in the midst of the season in 10 years before losing, 8-3, to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Tuesday. Of course, it was also the Angels that started the Yankees on their current skid, winning the last two in Anaheim last week. The losing streak has knocked the Yankees out of first place in the AL East, overtaken by Boston.

On a happier note, rookie outfielder Aaron Judge, who leads the majors in homers with 24, has been invited to participate in this year's Home Run Derby, set for July 10 in Miami, where defending champion Giancarlo Stanton could seek to repeat. Judge hasn't yet accepted the invitation, but don't be surprised if he's pushed toward doing so, not just by the team, but also by ESPN, which will carry the event. Ratings, you know.
After an 8-game winning streak ended with a loss to Adirondack on Sunday, the Albany Dutchmen got back on the winning track Tuesday, shutting out Glens Falls, 8-0. The Dutchmen are playing their home games this season at Siena College in Loudonville, moving away from the Bellizzi Sports Complex in Colonie. Bleecker Stadium is the home of the Albany Twilight League, but now might be a good time to find a more fan-accessible venue for both the Twilighters and the Dutchmen. Just sayin'.
As Aaron Judge is tearing up the AL, the Dodgers have his NL counterpart in Cody Bellinger, who leads the NL with 22 homers, three of them the last two nights against the Mets at Dodger Stadium. Seems the Amazin's left most of their bats in New York, as the Dodgers have outscored the Mets, 22-6, the last two nights. Corey Seager burned the Mets for 3 dingers in a 12-0 win last night. What is more galling is how many times in the last month that the Mets have given up 10+ runs.

Much as I hate to say it, but I think the clock is finally ticking on Terry Collins' tenure in New York.
Spectrum Cable sounded the warning a few weeks back, and now it's a reality. The cable company has discontinued its local sports channel, and it was reported a while back that their Friday night High School Football Game of the Week, which returns September 1, would shift over to Spectrum News (cable channel 9). I'll hazard a guess, but too many folks were complaining that they were getting minor league and college games from the Western part of the state (i.e. Syracuse), and not enough coverage of local teams. The upside there is that we'd get to see Triple A teams like Syracuse (Nationals), Buffalo (Blue Jays), and Rochester (Twins), but Charter-owned Spectrum, and Time-Warner before it, barely raised ripples with the Valleycats.

Figure, too, that Siena and UAlbany games will also shift to channel 9 this season, but if Charter is doing this to save money, now we know why Ivan Shreve, Jr. over at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear refers to them as "Charred Her". Just sayin'.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Origin of a Classic: Love and the Television Set (aka Love and the Happy Days--Love, American Style, 1972)

From season 4 of Love, American Style:

It was originally titled, "Love and the Television Set", largely because writer Garry Marshall and the producers didn't initially believe this slice of 1950's nostalgia would take off the way it did. As you'll see, the episode was retitled, "Love and the Happy Days" when Style entered syndication, the end result of Happy Days being spun off in the winter of 1974.

As we've noted, character actor Harold Gould was the original Howard Cunningham, but when it was decided to spin Days off into its own series, Gould was unavailable due to movie commitments, enabling Tom Bosley to take his place and gain icon status. Marion Ross, Ron Howard, & Anson Williams carried over from this episode.

Only the first portion airs, narrated by Howard in character as Richie Cunningham.

Not sure if the poster has the rest of the episode. Somewhere along the way, Warren "Potsie" Weber (Williams) was dumbed down into a nearly clueless imbecile who also was pursuing a musical career in the course of the series.

Fast fact about Style: Co-producer Arnold Margolin also co-wrote the some of the music for the show, and cast his younger brother, Stuart, later of The Rockford Files, as a member of the show's repertory company for the blackout sketches.

Funny thing. Throughout its run, Style aired at 10 pm (ET). Happy Days aired earlier in the evening throughout its 11 season run.

Rating: B. It would get better.