Friday, September 21, 2018

Musical Interlude: Secret Agent Man (1974)

For those of you who think Devo was a product of the late 70's punk rock-new wave era, think again.

Turns out the Akron, Ohio natives had been around for a few years before 1980's "Whip It" climbed the Hot 100 chart. In 1974, the band released "Secret Agent Man", which is not an exact cover of Johnny Rivers' #3 hit from 1965-6. Instead, some new lyrics were written, and the chorus only has a cosmetic adjustment. Also, Bob Mothersbaugh, rather than brother Mark, is the singer.



"Secret Agent Man" was rerecorded and reissued five years later with a quicker beat closer to the band's now-familiar sound.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

On Stage: Catastrophe Carnivale: An Evening of Beckett Shorts (2018)

The Troy Foundry Theatre opened its 2nd season tonight with the debut of Catastrophe Carnivale: An Evening of Beckett Shorts. Beckett being legendary playwright Samuel Beckett. The production is housed in the historic Gasholder Building in South Troy, and will continue through the end of the month.

Everyone attending the show received three tickets that would admit them into three of the five tents surrounding the main stage, each tent housing a smaller Beckett play, such as Play, Catastrophe, or Act Without Words. The centerpiece was Beckett's 1958 play, Krapp's Last Tape, a 1-man production with the Dean of Capital Region theatre, John Romeo, as Krapp, a 69 year old revisiting some 30 year old audio tapes. As Krapp pauses, the other plays begin.

Catastrophe, written in 1982, focuses on the manipulation of a young man by a Director and her Assistant. The burlap hood the man wears reminds one of the early 80's Broadway sensation, The Elephant Man, which later became a feature film starring John Hurt.

Play, a 1962 piece, deals with a man, his wife, and his mistress, each in an "urn" (garbage barrels were used here), rotating in speech, speaking at a rapid fire pace, not quite unintelligible.

Act Without Words I & II were performed in separate tents. Act Without Words II is not in silence, but rather with minimal sound, perhaps because it can't be helped in this case.

The atmosphere resembled the outdoor carnivals we all grew up with in our youth. Beckett's plays were given a great deal of care, with the surreality of, say for example, Rod Serling, and the creative genius of Orson Welles mixed in. The end result is a brilliant mix that holds the viewer spellbound through the course of the evening.

Here's a trailer, for those of you wishing to see it before the end of the month:



Rating: A.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Sports this 'n' that

Three days after it happened, they're still talking about a controversial call that cost the Green Bay Packers a win vs. Minnesota on Sunday. Here's the play in question:



Like, seriously?

I get that the NFL and the team owners are concerned about bottom lines, particularly protecting the investment each team has in their starting quarterbacks. Ironically, one account I read the other day points to an injury to Packer QB/State Farm pitchman Aaron Rodgers last year as the impetus for rule changes designed to further protect the health of quarterbacks.

BOLLOCKS & BALDERDASH!!

As the above shows, Clay Matthews, Jr., Rodgers' partner in the State Farm ads last year, did what he was taught to do. Now, in 2018, it seems, the league has forgotten the very definition of what tackling the quarterback means.

You know that a certain diva in Foxborough will get the benefit of these kind of calls later in the season if the pea-brains in the league's New York office don't get their heads out of the sand and make emergency amendments. Former heads of officiating Dean Blandino and Mike Pereira, both now with Fox, declared that ref Tony Corrente's crew botched it. Minnesota ended up in a 29-29 draw with the Packers, which only muddies the waters in the NFC North.
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The Mets were officially eliminated from the post-season Monday, despite beating Philadelphia. The team has already gone past the point of waving the white flag well before this, but it was just a mere formality. As you already know, the Mets will move the Triple A team back to the International League next year, to Syracuse. The Mets are the new owners of the Chiefs, so that figures to be a long term arrangement.

The Las Vegas 51's, meanwhile, will be the top farm team of the Oakland A's next season. On the other hand, the Washington Nationals, instead of keeping their Triple A team in the IL, will move it to the Pacific Coast League, as they've decided on an agreement with the Fresno Grizzlies. So now it'll be the Nationals who'll have the cross-country call-ups. You'd think they'd learn from what the Mets went through with Las Vegas.
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Troy High's women's soccer team couldn't stand the prosperity of winning.

Coach Justin Haviland's club has been shut out in back-to-back games since beating Schenectady, 3-0, last Thursday. Fittingly, it was by the same score that they lost to Averill Park on Saturday and, last night, in a non-league game vs. Catholic Central, which leaves the Lady Horses 1-8 overall on the season (1-6 in the Suburban Council). The boys, meanwhile, are still looking for their first win after getting swept in a weekend road trip to Oneonta, dropping a 6-0 decision to Island Trees on Sunday.
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The Troy Fighting Irish's season ended Saturday with a 30-13 loss to Syracuse, the only team in the Northeastern Football Alliance to beat the Irish this season. Troy finishes the season 9-3. Unfortunately, they've been ignored by the local press throughout the season, save for a season-opening puff piece from El Cheapo Media, which otherwise couldn't be bothered to send a reporter to cover home games. Any chance they had of adding fans for a 1st round playoff win over Auburn evaporated, as previously noted, when the Tri-City Valleycats made the NY-Penn League championship series, and subsequently beat Hudson Valley to win their 3rd league title.

What needs to be done next year is for El Cheapo and the rest of the local press to at least make an honest effort to give semi-pro football some ink. Sure, it ain't like it was in the 70's, when you had the Metro Mallers at the peak of their powers and the Troy Uncle Sams, but doing more than just a preview would be a good start.

Classic TV: The Movie Loft (1980's)

Here in the hometown, we were blessed with cable television in the 70's. (W)WOR, WPIX, & WNEW (now WNYW) in New York, & WSBK in Boston gave viewers extra programming options, so it wasn't uncommon to find the parents watching movies either before dinner or in the early evening, if there wasn't sports or any network programming that caught their fancy (i.e. Little House on The Prairie, All in The Family, etc.).

In the 80's, WSBK, at the time the broadcast home to the Boston Red Sox & Bruins, came up with a novel idea for their evening movie.

The Movie Loft aired as much as 6 nights a week, sometimes 7. Long time station announcer Dana Hersey served as host, and during commercial breaks would offer some factoids about the film and/or its stars and creative personnel, as well as some interviews, which would stretch the film's broadcast time to up to three hours if needed. Movie Loft was cancelled after Hersey left WSBK to work for, if memory serves, American Movie Classics (now simply AMC). The only pre-emptions that I can recall were for Bruins or Red Sox games during the seasons.

Thus, the Loft was a regional forerunner to the current Turner Classic Movies, whose hosts introduce each film, but unlike Hersey do not turn up mid-film, as TCM runs their films commercial free.

From 1986, here's a collection of bumpers for a Movie Loft broadcast of "Silver Streak", starring Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor, & Ned Beatty.



Rating for The Movie Loft: A.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Weasel of The Week: Donald Trump, Jr.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree in the Trump family.

Donald Trump, Jr., 40, like his father, the President, has this annoying tendency to lie via Twitter to push his dad's agenda against "fake news" (i.e. CNN).

Unfortunately, this time, it was time to push back.

What this week's Weasel did was post a 10 year old picture of CNN's Anderson Cooper covering Hurricane Ike in Texas, and try to pass it off as Cooper in North Carolina this past weekend, covering Hurricane Florence, dismissing Cooper's reporting as, of course, "fake news". This time, though, Trump, Jr., also earning a Dunce Cap for his stupidity, tripped himself up, as Cooper explains in the following video from last night's AC360 broadcast:



Cooper pointed out that the cameraman on site in Texas had passed away a year ago, so it'd be impossible for him to be in North Carolina with Cooper covering Florence.

About the only smart thing Donald Trump, Jr. has done in the last 10 years was avoid getting embarrassed on national television in concert with his father, who subbed in actor Darrell Hammond (Saturday Night Live) for his son to do an Oreo commercial with NFL QB's Peyton & Eli Manning.

Maybe President Trump should leave one of his Bibles with Junior to see if he learns anything.......

Monday, September 17, 2018

A Classic Reborn (?): Gambit (1990)

In 1980, Merrill Heatter & Bob Quigley revived Gambit, but 1) moved the show to Las Vegas (where Hollywood Squares was also being taped) and 2) changed networks to NBC, to replace David Letterman's daytime talk show. Las Vegas Gambit lasted barely over a year before being cancelled.

Undaunted, and with Quigley retired after the failed Vegas experiment, Heatter decided to try Gambit again in 1990. However, there were more cosmetic changes this time around. For one, Bob Eubanks (ex-The Newlywed Game, Card Sharks, et al) stepped in for his friend, original Gambit host Wink Martindale. That was the first mistake. The second was that instead of couples playing the game, as was the case in the CBS & NBC series, this Gambit had individual contestants playing the game, but the questions were lamer than ever.

Scope the pilot.



Martindale had been brought back by Heatter three years earlier to helm the revival of High Rollers, since Alex Trebek was busy with Jeopardy!. Why Martindale wasn't brought back this time, I don't know, but I think he may have been working on another project at the time of this Gambit pilot.

Fortunately, Heatter didn't give up, but a few years ago, he decided to retire the Gambit name in selling the Gambit-inspired Catch 21 to GSN.

Rating: C.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Classic Reborn (?): You Bet Your Life (1988)

We've previously referenced the revivals of You Bet Your Life that hit the air, with Buddy Hackett and Bill Cosby. In between them, however, was an unsold pilot that NBC passed on in 1988. Oh, did they ever screw up, or what?

It'd been a couple of years since Richard Dawson had ended his first run on Family Feud, and someone figured he'd be the perfect candidate to try to bring You Bet Your Life back. As you'll see in the video, Dawson even admits he's not thrilled with his name above the show's title on the marquee.

The game play changes in the second round, as the two couples who had been out separately are brought together to play against each other, which wasn't done in the Groucho Marx or Buddy Hackett versions, and I don't think Cosby tried this angle, either.

Scope.



As we all know, Dawson would eventually return to Family Feud a few years later.

Rating: A.

High school this 'n' that

Troy High's volleyball team snapped a four match losing streak Thursday in beating Schenectady in straight sets. That brings the Flying Horses' record to 1-4 in the Suburban Council, and 2-4 overall.  Meanwhile, in soccer, the Lady Horses finally broke into the win column with a 3-0 verdict over Schenectady at Picken Field. Abby Burns, daughter of football coach Bob Burns, had two goals to lead Troy.

Unfortunately, the boys' soccer team is still looking for their first win, as they played to a 3-3 draw at Schenectady on Thursday afternoon, then dropped a 5-2 decision to West Hill in Oneonta on Saturday. They finish a weekend trip in Oneonta this morning against Island Trees before returning to league action on Tuesday.

The Troy boys are now 0-5-1 overall (0-4-1 Suburban Council), while the girls are at 1-6 overall (1-5 league), not including yesterday's home match vs. Averill Park.
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Just when you thought things couldn't get worse for Lansingburgh after losing their home opener, the Knights remain winless through three weeks after falling, 38-8, to Hudson. Lansingburgh has given up an average of 45 points a game in the three losses. As previously documented, the Knights are fielding mostly underclassmen this season, and don't have a JV program. Lansingburgh returns home to open a three game homestand vs. Hudson Falls on Friday, but it doesn't look like the on-the-job training for these young Knights will get them to the winner's circle.

In contrast, Schalmont, which blasted Ichabod Crane, 63-14, is averaging just over 45 points scored per game after two blowouts in a row.

And what does that say about Troy High's defense, as they only allowed 14 points to Schalmont on opening night, 14 to Amsterdam, and 18 to LaSalle? They're allowing an average of just over 15 points a game. They'll play Green Tech next, and the Eagles are in last place in the Class A Capital division. While Averill Park fattened up on Green Tech, I don't see that happening against Troy when the two teams meet at Picken Field on October 12. Same goes for Columbia on October 5, as Troy's defense, even though it has been porous against the run, could slow down the Blue Devils & Warriors. Just sayin'.
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Former Troy star Dev Holmes added to his personal highlight reel in his first home game for UAlbany on Saturday. Vincent Testaverde, Jr., son of the former NFL QB (Jets, Tampa Bay, Dallas, Cleveland), connected with Holmes on an 88 yard scoring play to clinch the Great Danes' 1st win of the season over Morgan State. Testaverde finished with 4 interceptions, but won the game when it counted.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

On DVD: The Sandlot (1993)

The Tri-City Valleycats & Rensselaer County hosted a community movie night tonight at Bruno Stadium, the next-to-last event at the venue this year. There'll be a dog walk coming up soon to end the season.

Anyway, the feature attraction was 1993's "The Sandlot", a coming-of-age comedy-drama populated mostly with a group of unknown young actors. Writer-director David Mickey Evans also serves as narrator as the adult version of Scott Smalls, the newcomer to a neighborhood whose youth play an ongoing game of baseball during the summer.

The gang's somewhere between Our Gang and The Bad News Bears (the 70's version), but without female members. Scott has arrived in town with his mother (Karen Allen, "Raiders of The Lost Ark") & stepfather (Denis Leary, in one of his first movie roles). The core of the story centers on "The Beast", a ginormous English mastiff which captures baseballs, among other things, and when Scott makes a mistake involving his stepfather's prized autographed baseball, one signed by a certain Yankee legend.....!

Here's the trailer:



I could honestly do without the gross-out humor in the middle of the film, but it was a popular trope by the 90's. There were two DTV sequels, in 2005 & 2007, respectively, and Evans returned only for the first of those sequels. The Valleycats devoted a night earlier this summer to the film as it marked its 25th anniversary, and used clips for the rest of the season.

Rating: B+.

Same game, different flavor: Celebrity Squares (1975)

The popularity of Hollywood Squares prompted England's ATV to develop their own version. As much as British sitcoms were being reimagined here in the US during the 70's, The Brits were taking a number of American series, such as Candid Camera, Do You Trust Your Wife, & Squares, and developing them for their audiences.

Actor-comedian Bob Monkhouse was tapped to host Celebrity Squares, which arrived in 1975, nearly a decade into Hollywood Squares' run on NBC. The basic game is the same. Scope!



Like its American counterpart, Celebrity Squares has been revived twice, although the American version has gone through one extra reboot, as we've documented. The first version ran for four years, during which time Monkhouse crossed over to the US to team with the Hudson Brothers for the short-lived Bonkers! (1978), which lasted 1 season due to a strike in England, where the show was produced. American audiences were familiar with Monkhouse from a number of films, including one of the "Carry On" series. Monkhouse and Celebrity Squares would return in 1993 for another run. Just 4 years ago, after Monkhouse's passing, the series returned for a year-long run with actor Warwick Davis ("Willow", "Leprechaun") as host.

Rating: A.

Friday, September 14, 2018

High School Fridays: LaSalle @ Troy (football), 9/14/18

While it wasn't spoken publicly, one goal the administration at LaSalle had in mind when they hired former Union College coach John Audino six months ago had to be to reclaim the Collar City Cup from Troy High.

Easier said than done, of course.

Troy opened the season losing to Schalmont from Class B, snapping a 26 game losing streak.

Troy's response?

They collected a nearly 3 year old receipt on Amsterdam, 25-14, and started a new streak.

One thing was certain heading into Troy's home opener. This wasn't going to be a one-sided affair like it was the last two years. The Cadets, as far as those returning from last season were concerned, especially QB Christian Luizzi, had revenge on their minds. Luizzi's season ended with a broken leg last year at Sutton Field in a 55-7 loss, and so he was the one most hungry for revenge.

LaSalle won the opening coin toss, electing to defer to the second half. Bad idea.

On the first play from scrimmage, sophomore tailback Xavier Leigh went the distance, and just 26 seconds into the game, Troy was up, 7-0, after an extra point by Max Ellis.

Later in the first quarter, coach Bob Burns reached into his bag of tricks, and Leigh, on the halfback option, found a wide open Makai Cruel for a 58 yard scoring play. It was 14-0 after the quarter.

In the second quarter, Luizzi put LaSalle on the board, punching it in himself from 2 yards out. However, Jake Carberg's extra point sailed wide left, after he'd gone wide right on a field goal try in the first quarter, and it was 14-6 at the break.

LaSalle's defense shut down Leigh and the Troy running game the rest of the night, allowing mostly minimal gains. In the third quarter, Luizzi scored again, but Carberg missed the extra point again, leaving the score at 14-12. Those failed PAT's would haunt Audino and the Cadets the rest of the night. Keyshawn McMorris gave Troy some breathing room in the fourth quarter with a long touchdown run, but Ellis missed the extra point, giving Troy an 8 point lead at 20-12.

Back came LaSalle. Luizzi hit James Palmer with a touchdown pass, but guess what? Luizzi's 2-point conversion attempt went nowhere, and it was a 2 point game again at 20-18. The Cadets had one last chance after blocking an Ellis punt with just over 90 seconds left. However, the Cadet defense couldn't hang on to the ball, and Troy recovered. Wolfe took a knee three times to run out the clock, and Troy retains the Collar City Cup, 20-18. It wasn't pretty, but it was competitive.

Next for Troy is a trip to historic Bleecker Stadium in Albany next week to play Green Tech, which occupies the basement in the Class A Capital Division after getting hammered, 42-0, by Averill Park. The Warriors share first place with surprising Columbia, which mauled Amsterdam, 55-17.

It's not going to be easy this year. No one ever said it would be.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Musical Interlude: Whisper to a Scream (Birds Fly)(1984)

The Icicle Works had just 1 hit in the US, and it was a doozy. "Whisper to a Scream (Birds Fly)" charted in 1984. The band has broken up twice, but the current incarnation, including singer Ian McNabb, is working the nostalgia circuit these days.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

On The Air: The Talk (2010)

Earlier this week, CBS' The Talk began its 9th season without co-hostess Julie Chen (Big Brother), who has taken a leave of absence from the show in the wake of her husband, Leslie Moonves' resignation last weekend as head of the network, the latest high profile figure caught in the web of sexual harassment in the workplace.

The Talk was launched as the CBS answer to ABC's long running The View, which, locally, anyway, gets a three hour headstart on its competitor. Sharon Osbourne (ex-The Osbournes, America's Got Talent), no stranger to talk shows, having done one herself a few years back, appears to be the de facto moderator, and a succession of guests have filled Chen's chair this week, including shampoo salesperson Sofia Vergara (Modern Family) and Jodie Sweetin (Fuller House). The revolving door isn't new to The Talk any more than it has to The View, which is in its 22nd season.

Both shows however, owe their existence to earlier gab-fests such as Not For Women Only, which was the first talk show for View creator Barbara Walters, and Virginia Graham's Girl Talk, both of which date back to the 60's. Same goes for the syndicated The Real, which copies the format of its network contemporaries.

Actress-co-host Sara Gilbert (Roseanne and its forthcoming follow-up, The Conners) was elevated to executive producer status not long ago, and will probably have an even bigger voice in the proceedings going forward.

The following clip covers current events:



Seems CBS is unwilling to disclose any information that would actually strengthen Moonves' case, as he has denied many of the allegations brought before him. I would think network sponsors and shareholders might have something to say in that regard, too, in due course.

Rating: B.

Sports this 'n' that

So the Jets beat Detroit on Monday. Sam Darnold threw a Pick-6 (interception returned for a TD) on his first regular season pass as a pro, then came back and had a big game after all.

His opposite number, Detroit's Matthew Stafford, can relate. Not long ago, after getting a contract extension, Stafford also threw a Pick-6 on his first pass of the season, but that day, the Lions recovered and won the game. This time, Stafford was intercepted four times, one was for a Pick-6 by Darron Lee, and the Jets had five picks overall in a 48-17 rout.

On Sunday, the Jets play Miami. Only one of these teams will be tied with New England atop the AFC East after the game, unless New England drops their road opener to a Jacksonville team hungering for revenge after losing the AFC title game.
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The threat of Hurricane Florence has already forced postponement of three NCAA football games set for Saturday in North Carolina. Wake Forest has a Thursday game this week, and the start time has been moved up two hours to 5:30 pm (ET).

We'll see if they actually play, depending on any changes in the forecast.
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Took a peek at LaSalle's hockey schedule for this season. Turns out Albany Academy has rejoined the Capital District High School Hockey League (CDHSHL), and their website says they'll also play in the New England Prep School Athletic Association (NEPSAC). Whether it's one team or two, I don't know. Academy hasn't played in the CDHSHL in several years, but apparently, coach Dave Rider, fresh off back-to-back baseball titles with Academy, may have been persuaded to convince the school's board of trustees and athletic director to give the league another shot. The Battle of the Cadets will take to the ice in a home-&-home series, just like in baseball.

Given the success LaSalle had with Cadets For Vets last season, you think maybe Albany Academy wants a piece of that action? Stay tuned.
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Troy High's volleyball team is on a losing streak after being swept in straight sets by Ballston Spa on Monday. After a non-league win over Catholic Central to start the season, Troy volleyball has dropped four in a row. Well, at least they've won one match, which is more than the golf, tennis, & soccer teams can say combined.

The Troy women's soccer team opened a four game homestand by getting blanked by Shenendehowa, 7-0. The school website hasn't updated their season's stats in a week. Hmmmm, that's a problem. The boys, at least, tallied a goal in losing to the Plainsmen, 6-1, to fall to 0-4. They're in the middle of a five game road trip that sees them going outside Section 2 on Friday & Saturday. I recommend checking capitalregionsoccer.com for updates, because there ain't gonna be any in El Cheapo Press or any local paper. We think.

Troy's football team will finally have their home opener Friday vs. LaSalle. This will be more of a competitive game than the last two years. As a realist, I honestly believe that. We'll see at the end of business on Friday.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

What Might've Been: Arrest & Trial (1963)

Sunday wasn't always movie night on ABC, though many of us grew up with The ABC Sunday Night Movie.

In 1963, ABC had a 90 minute crime drama, Arrest & Trial, airing from 8:30-10 pm (ET) on Sundays. A procedural drama in more ways than one, Arrest combined the courtroom drama of Perry Mason with the by-the-book investigations of Dragnet.

The first half of the show chronicled the cases leading up to the arrest, with Ben Gazzara (later of Run For Your Life) as the lead detective. The second half was the trial, with Chuck Connors (ex-The Rifleman) as defense attorney John Egan. John Larch, a former radio star, was the district attorney. Larch's resume included guest appearances on Naked City, The Fugitive, and, post-Arrest, The Invaders. The ensemble also included Don Galloway (pre-Ironside) and Joe Higgins, better known for his later work in commercials for Dodge as a sheriff, which Higgins later parlayed into a gig on Hee Haw.

So why did Arrest & Trial fail? The Rifleman had, I believe, gone into syndication in 1963, and viewers still saw Connors as Lucas McCain, not yet ready to accept him in a more contemporary role. He'd have made a great Perry Mason in a remake of that series, had 20th Century Fox not chosen Monte Markham for the role.

More than 35 years after Arrest ended, Universal revived the title, and entrusted it to producer Dick Wolf (Law & Order, Chicago Fire, etc.), who opted to develop a fact-based half hour documentary series, since he had already co-opted the original Arrest format for Law & Order. The revamped Arrest, with Brian Dennehy as host, also ran for 1 season.

Speaking of producers, Arthur H. Nadel had worked with Connors on The Rifleman, and later found work at Filmation on their family of live-action adventure shows in the 70's.

Let's take a look at a sample episode, "Onward & Upward", with guest stars William Shatner, Richard Carlson, and a pre-Get Smart Edward Platt as the judge.



Connors would land two more series in the 60's, Branded & Cowboy in Africa. Branded lasted two seasons. Cowboy lasted just one. After that, Connors hosted Thrill Seekers, bringing him back to Four Star, the home of The Rifleman, before his final primetime series, Werewolf. Branded, in fact, was the only one of this group to go beyond one season. Can't see why no one else saw him as a lawyer or DA.

Rating: A.

17 years ago today......

I think everyone remembers where they were 17 years ago today, in 2001. Terrorists hijacked planes and crashed them into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. Everything stopped. The World Wrestling Federation, now WWE, postponed their taping of Smackdown, which now airs live every Tuesday, and will do so for another year before changing networks (from USA to Fox) and nights (Tuesdays to Fridays) next year. Major League Baseball shut down for a few days.

10 days later, the Mets & Atlanta Braves opened a series at Shea Stadium, a game that served as a catharsis for the people of New York. I remember sitting at home that night, watching the game. Howie Rose, Fran Healy, and the late Ralph Kiner are on the call...



Today, Rose is the radio play-by-play voice of the Mets. MLB won't allow the team to wear any caps representing the city's first responders, police, fire department, or Port Authority in games now. Some sort of corporate jibba-jabba. Their loss.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Sports this 'n' that

The Tri-City Valleycats won their 3rd NY-Penn League title Sunday night, completing a two game sweep of the Hudson Valley Renegades with a 4-2 victory in 12 innings. In contrast to the slogs we often see in the majors, the 'Cats & Renegades played those twelve innings in a little more than 3 1/2 hours. It took about that long at Bruno Stadium on Saturday for a nine inning game. Go figure.

Tri-City manager Jason Bell, thus, duplicated the feat of Ed Romero, who, like Bell, took the 'Cats to the promised land in just his first season. Romero stuck around for two more division titles after that before leaving the Astros organization. Will Bell return next year? Or will Houston move him up the ladder? We'll find out soon enough. Congratulations to the 'Cats.
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The Mets erred on the side of caution Sunday by holding back ace pitcher Jacob deGrom from pitching in the rain against Philadelphia. The Mets won the game with what amounted to "bullpen day", a pitching trend that started earlier this year in Tampa Bay. Ex-Valleycat Vince Velasquez couldn't hold the lead his offense gave him, and was tagged with the loss in a 6-4 Mets win. DeGrom, considered by many a candidate for the Cy Young Award despite an 8-8 record, goes tonight--weather permitting--vs. Miami.
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Troy's other summer sports team, the Fighting Irish, advanced in the Northeastern Football Alliance playoffs, beating Auburn for the 3rd time on Saturday night at Lansingburgh High. That's the good news. The bad? The Irish have to return to Syracuse to play the top seeded Strong, who've inflicted the only losses on Troy this season, this weekend. Bad enough that they have a small, devoted following, and that the local press ignores semi-pro football these days, but if they had any hope of increasing attendance, it evaporated thanks to the Valleycats.
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The NY Giants welcomed back former head coach Tom Coughlin on Sunday. Coughlin is now in the front office of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who beat Big Blue, 20-15. Meanwhile, the Evil Empire (New England, of course) opened their season by beating Houston. Buffalo opted to start inconsistent second year quarterback Nathan Peterman vs. Baltimore, and got blown out of the yard. On the night his latest State Farm ad premiered, Aaron Rodgers drew comparisons to basketball legend Willis Reed by returning from a leg injury in the second half to lead Green Bay past Chicago, 24-23. While everyone assumes New Orleans would win the NFC South, Tampa Bay made a statement of their own in upsetting the Saints. As my brother opined in reading the score, defense took a day off in that game.
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Two weeks into the high school football season, and we can already see how some teams are treating opponents like Little Sisters of The Poor. Shaker, for example, eager to be top dogs in Class AA again now that Troy is in Class A, has rung up 131 points (average: 65.5 per game) while allowing just 14. Schalmont, after blowing away Lansingburgh on Friday, have average 37 points a game in their two wins.

Meanwhile, over in Class A, parity seems to be the order of the day, as Troy, LaSalle, Amsterdam, & Columbia, among others, are all 1-1 after 2 weeks. Troy plays LaSalle on Friday, and will get Columbia three weeks later.

Sadly, it seems El Cheapo Media is not taking any chances, and didn't send anyone to cover either of Troy's first two games. They're focusing instead on LaSalle. Troy school superintendent John Carmello's vendetta against El Cheapo, dating back 18 months now, is to blame. Just as El Cheapo has the #3 paper in the home market, Troy High, thanks to Carmello's actions, is now the low priority for El Cheapo. Shouldn't be that way, but it is. We just have to hope things change, and soon.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

What Might've Been: The New Adventures of Charlie Chan (1957)

Earl Derr Biggers' seminal sleuth, Charlie Chan, was adapted for television for the first time in 1957 in a syndicated series that began production here in the US, but finished in England, as it was produced by ITC.

Continuing what had been a tradition of not casting Asian actors to play Chan, J. Carrol Naish (ex-Life With Luigi) was cast in the lead role of The New Adventures of Charlie Chan. Occasionally, Chan would be aided by son Barry (James Hong), who does not figure into the episode, "The Lost Face":



Naish was not convincing at all as Chan, which would explain why the series lasted just one season. 13 years later, Chan would return, this time in an animated series in which Keye Luke, who played son Lee in the Warner Oland film series, voiced Chan. The Amazing Chan & The Chan Clan had one season's worth of episodes that cycled through two years. A TV-movie with Ross Martin (ex-Wild, Wild West), "Happiness is a Warm Clue", and the feature film, "Charlie Chan & The Curse of The Dragon Queen", with Peter Ustinov, represent the last live-action attempts to adapt the character.

Rating: B-.

Forgotten TV: Amy Prentiss (1974)

In the 1974 season, ABC & NBC sought to break the stereotype that a police drama with a female lead couldn't work. NBC spun Police Woman off from Police Story, and it was a hit. ABC went one step further, gambling that an African-American lead (Theresa Graves, ex-Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In) could pull in the viewers with Get Christie Love!. Viewers had other ideas, and sent Love packing.

The same fate would befall another NBC series, Amy Prentiss, a component of the Mystery Movie wheel, as it was cancelled after just three episodes. The network had hoped that the combination of Prentiss riding the wave of momentum generated by Police Woman, coupled with its own pedigree, spun off from Ironside, would create another hit.

Golden Globe winner Jessica Walter ("Play Misty For Me") headlined as Prentiss, newly appointed as a police chief in San Francisco. Walter, despite the series being cancelled just two months after its premiere (it bowed on December 1, nearly three full months after Police Woman), earned an Emmy award for her work as Prentiss. Art Metrano (ex-The Chicago Teddy Bears) played her partner.

The opener, "Baptism of Fire", combines a pair of tropes common to crime dramas. Prentiss tries to clear an old friend accused of murder, while a mad bomber (Mills Watson) terrorizes the city after being laid off his job. William Shatner and Peter Haskell also guest star.



It had been nine years since Walter & Shatner had previously worked together (For The People). Detective Parkins (Shatner) comes off being a little like a certain starship captain that made Shatner an icon a few years earlier. Jessica Walter would reunite with Art Metrano for one episode when she guest starred on Joanie Loves Chachi a few years later. Today, she can be heard on the FX animated series, Archer.

Rating: B.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Classic TV: T. J. Hooker (1982)

The success of the first Star Trek feature film made William Shatner a valuable commodity in Hollywood again, that is, a valuable leading man, after making a zillion guest appearances here, there, & everywhere, post-Trek.

Enter Aaron Spelling. The veteran producer cast Shatner in the lead of T. J. Hooker, which premiered on ABC as a mid-season replacement in 1982, and, in all, ran for five seasons, the last on CBS when ABC decided to drop the show.

Thomas Jefferson ("T. J. ") Hooker (Shatner) is a divorced police sergeant tasked with training a pair of rookie officers, one of whom, as of the second season, is the daughter of his commanding officer. For Shatner, this more than made up for the failure of his last series for ABC, The Barbary Coast, back in 1975. After CBS dismissed Hooker, they signed Shatner to serve as host for Rescue 911, which also had a healthy run.

Following is the season 2 episode, "King of The Hill". Heather Locklear, after Hooker ended its ABC run, moved on to another Spelling series, Dynasty. Adrian Zmed would later succeed Denny Terrio as host of Dance Fever in a clear shark jumping move. James Darren (ex-Time Tunnel) not only guest starred here, but would join the show on a regular basis.



Standard police drama. Nothing special.

Rating: B.

Friday, September 7, 2018

High School Fridays: Schalmont @ Lansingburgh (football), 9/7/18

We are expanding our scope of high school coverage even further in the new season, as tonight's action takes us to Lansingburgh High for the Knights' home opener vs. Schalmont. The Sabres are coming off a 14-6 upset of Troy last week, while Lansingburgh fell to Amsterdam, 37-14.

Tonight was a different story for both sides. The Sabres' first team offense, led by QB Shane O'Dell, seemingly scored at will against a Knights defense made up mostly of underclassmen. That defense forced Knights QB Anthony Thompson into four first-half interceptions, three of them on deflections. A fifth pick led to a touchdown that was called back by a penalty. In all, Schalmont led, 39-7, at halftime, and it could've been worse, as four TD's in all were called back by penalty flags.

With just 12 seniors on their 44 man roster, Lansingburgh has the same problem that Troy has, except theirs is even worse. The Knights are not fielding a junior varsity team this year due to declining interest, and they don't have any varsity cheerleaders, at least for right now. The Knights' lone first half touchdown came from a 45 yard scamper by freshman tailback Alonzo Barrett. The Lansingburgh offense came to life in the second half, but it was too little, too late, as Schalmont improves to 2-0 with a 60-21 win. Lansingburgh drops to 0-2. Like Troy, the Knights dropped down in class this season, from Class A to Class B, but may be worse for it going forward.
================================
Speaking of Troy, the Flying Horses got back on the winning track tonight, besting Amsterdam, 25-14, and what did the trick for Coach Bob Burns was a change of quarterbacks from Michael Fazio to Alex Wolfe. Senior receiver Hunter Redden, who missed most of last season due to injury, scored his first touchdown of the season on a pass from Wolfe, who led the Horses back from a 14-0 deficit. Both the Rams & Flying Horses are 1-1 on the season, and the win comes at a perfect time for Troy, as they'll play host to LaSalle next week with the Collar City Cup on the line.

Celebrity Rock: Could it be Magic (1980)

After Wonder Woman ended its run in 1979, star Lynda Carter gravitated back to her musical roots, and CBS gifted her with a series of specials, starting in 1980.

Here, from her 2nd musical special, "Encore", Carter performs a cover of Barry Manilow's "Could it be Magic":



The YouTube poster got the title wrong. Ehh, it happens. Word is that Carter will return to Supergirl in the new season, starting next month, reprising her role as the President.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

What Might've Been: B. L. Stryker (1989)

By the 80's, the anthology "wheel" format had died a slow death. In the early part of 1989, ABC & Universal decided to revive the concept with the ABC Mystery Movie. The network had acquired a pair of existing Universal properties, Kojak & Columbo, and came up with three new series: Gideon Oliver, Christine Cromwell, & B. L. Stryker.

We'll look at the other newbies another day, but today, we're focusing on B. L. Stryker, which brought Burt Reynolds back to ABC for the first time since Dan August had been cancelled in 1971. Reynolds doubled as a co-executive producer with Tom Selleck (Magnum, P. I.), and directed a handful of episodes. Co-star Ossie Davis would also appear with Reynolds on his CBS sitcom, Evening Shade. Grand slam award (Emmy, Oscar, Tony, Grammy) winner Rita Moreno (ex-The Electric Company, The Rockford Files) played Stryker's ex-wife. You might not recognize him, but Alfie Wise, who played Stryker's landlord, if you will, was known to kids in the 70's as Charles Nelson Reilly's sidekick on Uncle Croc's Block, also for ABC.

Moreno figures heavily in the plot to this 2nd season entry, "High Rise", with Ricardo Montalban (ex-Fantasy Island) as the villain.



I had interest in watching this when it first came out, but then my attention was diverted elsewhere (i.e. MTV). As with Dan August & Hawk, Reynolds struck out after 2 short seasons, totaling 12 films.

We'll forego a rating in memory of Reynolds, who passed away at 82.

NFL 2018 preview

As the season starts tonight, here's a thumbnail on all 8 divisions. Your actual mileage may vary.

AFC East:

1. New England. Until Tom Brady finally decides to retire and/or Bill Belichick does the same, the division will always be the Patriots' to lose.

2. Jets. First round draft pick Sam Darnold is being asked to not only get Gang Green back to the playoffs, but save Todd "Pro" Bowles' job at the same time.

3. Buffalo. Wild card last year, back to an also ran this year. They let Tyrod Taylor walk (Cleveland), then stupidly gave up on AJ McCarron (now Derek Carr's backup in Oakland). Josh Allen is not ready for primetime.

4. Miami. They traded their best running back, Jay Ajayi, to Philadelphia, and he wins a Super Bowl.  Don Shula would never have approved.

AFC North:

1. Pittsburgh. LeVeon Bell doesn't want to play, listening to his leeches instead. Martavis Bryant chose to chase the money and go to Oakland, but he's likely suspended again. The Steelers still have plenty of weapons.

2. Baltimore. Their defense will carry them as far as they can, but Joe Flacco, in his 11th season, may be showing signs of wear.

3. Cincinnati. All Marvin Lewis needs to do is find someone to instill discipline in his defense when they're off the field. Offensively, they're fine.

4. Cleveland. At least they'll win some games this year, but color Hue Jackson gone if they don't get out of the cellar (and they won't). Last year's QB, DeShone Kizer, is suddenly an afterthought after the Brown-outs drafted Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) and picked up Tyrod Taylor from Buffalo.

AFC South:

1. Houston. Hopefully, DeShaun Watson can last the season. Unfortunately, the Texans have to play the Evil Empire (Patriots) first. In Foxborough.

2. Tennessee. Time for the Titans to rise again.

3. Jacksonville. The Jaguars won't sneak up on anyone this time.

4. Indianapolis. Andrew Luck is trying to make a comeback. Emphasize trying.

AFC West:

1. Oakland. Jon Gruden's back, and will probably have an order of Corona on call if/when the Raiders win the division.

2. Kansas City. Andy Reid let Alex Smith go (Washington), putting his trust in second year QB Patrick Mahomes II. Not a good idea.

3. Denver. They've given up on Paxton Lynch already. John Elway should've traded for Baker Mayfield, but didn't, and now he'll regret it.

4. Los Angeles. The Chargers had to bring back Antonio Gates this week due to injuries. That says a lot about the team in 2018, doesn't it?

NFC East:

1. Philadelphia. The defending champs are the Beasts of the East. And Carson Wentz isn't ready to return yet.

2. Giants. Saquon Barkley, the 1st round pick out of Penn State, can help the running game, and can catch passes out of the backfield to take some pressure off shampoo salesman Odell Beckham, Jr., but this may be the last ride for Eli Manning.

2. (tie) Dallas. What was Jerry Jones thinking, letting Dez Bryant walk? They'll be lucky to get a Wild Card, if at all.

4. Washington. Swapping out Kirk Cousins (Minnesota) for Alex Smith (Kansas City) ain't my idea of improving the team. Napoleon Snyder should be showing Donald Trump how to run the country.

NFC North:

1. Minnesota. If Dalvin Cook can stay healthy, the 2nd year RB from Florida State can help Cousins finally reach the playoffs.

2. Green Bay. They need to have Aaron Rodgers & Clay Matthews, Jr. focus on the games, not on their comedy act for State Farm.

3. Chicago. Mitch Trubisky, in his second year, has to overcome the roadblock in front of him. No, not on the field. In the standings.

4. Detroit. Meh.

NFC South:

1. New Orleans. Drew Brees has one last playoff run in him, and this is it.

2. Atlanta. The Falcons want to atone for their Super Bowl blunder of a couple of years ago. They'll contend for a Wild Card, but not much else.

3. Carolina.
4. Tampa Bay. The two are interchangeable.

NFC West:

1. Los Angeles. A new dynasty was born in Southern California last year.

2. Arizona. Sam Bradford succeeds the retired Carson Palmer at QB. They just rewarded RB David Johnson with a contract extension. A wild card awaits.

3. San Francisco. Richard Sherman leaves the Legion of Boom in Seattle. That's the good news for Niners fans. The bad? They're still not making the playoffs.

4. Seattle. The mighty have fallen.

Wild cards:

AFC: Jets, Kansas City.
NFC: Giants, Green Bay.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Is this the secret to longevity? (1977)

Dannon yogurt's ads from the late 70's clearly state that the product doesn't directly lead to a long life, but it certainly helps.

This ad was one of the first American entries filmed in the then-Soviet Union.



Bear in mind, this was well before Willard Scott began announcing birthdays of people who hit the century mark on The Today Show.

Sports this 'n' that

The NFL season officially begins tomorrow when the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles host the Atlanta Falcons.

However, the real drama remains off the field. Players are still looking to make statements regarding racial/social injustice, but continuing to use the football field as a platform won't sit very well with President Manchild (Donald Trump), who, nearly two years into his term, still doesn't understand that the White House is not a board room, and as President, he has to treat everyone equally as citizens of this country, not employees.

Here's an idea. Save the protests for off the field. The players can get themselves booked for speaking engagements to address the issue. Being on the networks that serve as the league's media partners (i.e. ESPN/ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox) won't be enough. Forget about ESPN, for that matter. Let's put Richard Sherman, now with San Francisco, on CBS' Face The Nation. Let's have the man who started this thing, Colin Kaepernick, appear on Meet The Press.

Eliminate the on-field protests, which, thanks to President Manchild, has inflamed fans enough such that ratings have gone down the last two seasons, and, contrary to a Yahoo! article circulating today, really has little or nothing to do with ex-QB-turned-insurance salesman Peyton Manning, and then, the ratings go up, and fans will return. Simple as that.
======================================
The Tri-City Valleycats return to the NY-Penn League playoffs tonight, and welcome back an old friend in the process.

Jim Pankovits, the man who led the 'Cats to their first league title 8 years ago, returns to Troy as the manager of Pinckney division champ Mahoning Valley. The Cleveland Indians' affiliate didn't play Tri-City during the regular season, so this is as fresh as a new loaf of bread. Start time is a half-hour earlier than normal, 6:30 (ET), to accomodate parents whose children have to start school tomorrow. Top seeded Hudson Valley plays Auburn in the other semi-final series.
=======================================
Troy High's soccer teams are still looking for their first wins of the season, nearly 2 full weeks into the season.

The boys have yet to tally a goal in two games, shut out by Guilderland in the home opener last night, 5-0, and have been outscored, 12-0, in the two losses. Meanwhile, the ladies finally put one up on the board, but it wasn't enough, as the Lady Horses lost to the Lady Dutchmen, 2-1. Maddie Rifenberick had 25 saves, and Abby Burns, daughter of football coach Bob Burns, broke the scoring draught. However, Troy had just 2 shots on goal the entire game, unable to consistently break the Guilderland defense.

The boys' result was not reported to the papers as of press time, but the girls' result was. Go figure. The ladies return home tomorrow night to host Shaker, while the boys are in Latham for an after school match.
=======================================
Back to Kaepernick. The former San Francisco QB has landed a deal with Nike, but the brainwashed (or, worse, brainless) Trump supporters are burning what Nike items they already have in protest. Can't these people get a clue? Kaepernick's initial reason for protest has been lost, thanks to Trump redirecting the message into disrespect for the country in order to push his own agenda. He keeps coming back to it every time something doesn't go his way. A narcissistic control freak shouldn't be in the White House to begin with, but, rather, in a rubber room, or a church confessional, take your pick.

Meanwhile, WWE superstar Titus O'Neil, one of the more civic minded of Vince McMahon's troupe, is working with police in his home state of Florida to collect unwanted Nike merchandise. O'Neil (Thaddeus Bullard, Jr.), a former football hero at Florida, would be a good candidate to represent WWE in any debate on racial injustice.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

What Might've Been: I'm a Big Girl Now (1980)

ABC had hoped to catch lightning in a bottle again. The controversial daytime drama spoof, Soap, had yielded a successful spin-off, Benson. While I'm a Big Girl Now wasn't part of the family tree, if you will, its star, second generation actress-singer Diana Canova, had left Soap after three seasons. ABC and Soap's producers, Susan Harris, husband Paul Junger Witt, and Tony Thomas, had built Big Girl around Canova's character, and, with Thomas' father, TV legend Danny Thomas, and Martin Short (SCTV) in the supporting cast, it should've been a hit. Canova even made an appearance on American Bandstand to promote her new show.

It didn't work. Big Girl lasted just 1 season. I don't recall what night the show was on. I want to say Friday, but I'm not 100% certain. There was no room for it on Tuesdays or Thursdays, that I can recall.

Gilmore Box provides the intro. Canova sings the show's theme song.



No rating. Never saw the show.

Musical Interlude: Ain't That a Shame (1980)

If you thought Fats Domino's "Ain't That a Shame" was meant to played solely on the piano, think again. At the 1980 American Music Awards, Cheap Trick demonstrated that this was meant to rock out straight up.



This wouldn't be the last cover we'd get from Cheap Trick. A few years later, they famously covered "Don't Be Cruel", with drummer Bun E. Carlos deciding to dress up as Elvis Presley for a day. If you thought their original songs ("I Want You to Want Me", "Dream Police", etc.) were something special, this is a treat.

Monday, September 3, 2018

When MTV Meant Something: Classic MTV (1989)

I can't speak for what MTV's ratings were from 1987-8, but this I do know. They might've been falling just enough to decide to do something noble and appease viewers.

That something was Classic MTV, which launched in February 1989 with a Sunday marathon, marking the return of prodigal daughter, if you will, Martha Quinn. Airing in primetime 4 nights a week (Monday-Thursday) due to the MTV Top 20 Video Countdown being a fixture on Friday nights by this point, for a half hour (repeating in late night, as memory serves, for a time), Classic MTV became appointment television.

The series started under the title, Deja Video: The 80's Revisited, but they made the change to Classic MTV after a few weeks. There would be another change, in January 1990. The series expanded to a full hour, and, to remind everyone who the host was, the title was changed again, this time to Martha's Greatest Hits, giving viewers the impression that MTV's mighty mite was also programming the show herself. Under this format, the show aired twice daily, once in the morning, in addition to its primetime berth. Like, as long as Martha was back at MTV, her legion of fans would be very, very happy. During a break in the series, of course, Martha took some time and landed a second gig, co-starring on The Bradys, but that ended up lasting just five weeks.

Martha's Greatest Hits wouldn't last too much longer after that, and for good reason. The ratings were such that Quinn was given a full three hour primetime berth (Primetime With Martha Quinn), which lasted until she was cut for the second and final time in 1992, during which time MTV gave her the TV version of Rockline (previously reviewed), which ended its run after she was gone.

Here's a network promo for Classic MTV:



Fun while it lasted.

Rating: A+.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

What Might've Been: The Runaways (1978)

For whatever reason, Quinn Martin couldn't land a hit series at NBC if his life depended on it. In the 70's, Martin sold four series to the Peacock Network, none of which lasted more than a season.

The Runaways started as a NBC TV-movie, Operation Runaway: A Prince For Cinderella, which aired in 1978. A year earlier, Martin had sold his first (and only) anthology series, Tales of The Unexpected, his first sale to the network since Banyon had bombed out four years earlier. Unexpected lasted eight episodes, spread out over 1 season. Operation Runaway had aired in the spring of 1978, marking the return of Robert Reed (ex-The Defenders, The Brady Bunch) to series television, four years after Brady had ended. Reed had taken a number of guest roles in dramatic series, including some of Martin's productions for ABC and/or CBS, in the interim, to prove he could still do drama, and shed the wholesome image created with Brady Bunch.

Unfortunately, viewers couldn't, due to Brady Bunch being in syndication by this point, see Reed as anyone other than Mike Brady. Runaways went on hiatus, and when it returned, Broadway star Alan Feinstein replaced Reed as the star, playing a totally different character. Reed would later return to the Brady franchise in "The Brady Girls Get Married", the pilot for 1981's Brady Brides. Feinstein fared no better, and Runaways was cancelled as well. Martin's last series for NBC came after his production company had been sold to Taft Broadcasting, but A Man Called Sloane, with Robert Conrad & Dan O'Herlihy, met the same fate.

Here's Operation Runaway: A Prince For Cinderella. Scott Baio (Happy Days, Who's Watching The Kids) and future pop star Terri Nunn (Berlin) are among the guest stars.



Viewers had seen stories of teen angst on ABC's Afterschool Special, NBC's Special Treat, and elsewhere, mixed amidst the daytime soaps. To them, Runaways apparently was a turn-off. It shouldn't have been.

Rating: B.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Joe Namath sells beds (1970)

One of the fringe benefits accorded to Joe Namath after the Jets won the Super Bowl in 1969 was landing commercial endorsements. Much has been made of Namath infamously landing a deal to shill pantyhose (!), but here, "Broadway Joe" is shilling for St. Mary's beds.



I wonder if he ever was asked to do a James Bond parody.......

Sports this 'n' that

The more I think about it, the more I believe Troy High's upset loss to Schalmont last night was the product of karma biting the Flying Horses on their collective tuchis.

As long as Troy schools superintendent John Carmello refuses to grant access to Troy student-athletes & coaches to The Record in a petty, vindictive vendetta over a failed attempt at an expose on the women's basketball team 18 months ago, he should expect the football team to fall in line with the rest of the school's fall sports programs. Of those teams, only the volleyball team has a win so far this season, and that was a non-league victory over city rival Catholic Central a little more than a week ago.

Granted, the football team has mostly first-year varsity players promoted from the JV's, but you'd think that after three weeks of practice, they'd have been a more cohesive unit last night. Instead, senior QB Michael Fazio threw three interceptions in the 14-6 loss. In commentary last night during the CBA-Saratoga game, James Allen suggested that the newbies might've gotten a little arrogant, thinking Schalmont would be an easy game. Ye scribe suspected all along that there might be a pothole or three in the schedule.

I hate it when I'm right sometimes.
================================
Speaking of karma, I don't know how many games the Mets have left with Atlanta this season, but the next time they play the Braves, they'll see a familiar face in Atlanta colors.

Atlanta picked up Lucas "Zip-a-dee" Duda from Kansas City. Meanwhile, the Washington Nationals have waved the white flag, sending pitcher Gio Gonzalez to Milwaukee, meaning the NL East is now a two team race between Atlanta & Philadelphia. The Brewers also acquired Curtis Granderson from Toronto for the stretch run, ending his return to the AL rather abruptly. Having to face guys they recently shipped to the Phillies in separate deals (Jose Bautista & Asdrubal Cabrera), Mets (mis)management might want to consider the philosophy of an alien wayfarer from 40 years ago (the word in question is at the end of the video):


============================
Once upon a time, Albany High could be counted on as a major player in high school sports in Section 2. Today, only the women's basketball team fills the bill. The football team opened their season Friday being treated like a case of tomato cans in a 76-0 loss to Shaker. I would say the schools in Class AA would be breathing a sigh of relief seeing Troy move to Class A, but after last night, maybe they're wishing they could collect some receipts first.
============================
Tonight figures to be the measuring stick for the future of independent wrestling.

In Chicago, the eyes of the wrestling world will be on All In, a four hour event curated and packaged by the Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) & Cody Rhodes (Runnels), aka the American Nightmare. Cody will attempt to win the NWA title, a championship his late father, Dusty Rhodes, held three times in his career, from England's Nick Aldis, formerly Magnus in TNA Impact. Cody Rhodes & the Jacksons have been able to attract talent from New Japan Pro Wrestling and Mexico's CMLL, as well as Impact and Ring of Honor, the latter of whom they're contracted with in the US, for the mammoth event. They've already sold out all the tickets for tonight's show, which tells you something. WGN America (check local listings) will have the hour-long pre-show at 6 pm (ET), and actor Stephen Amell (Arrow) will be competing on the card.

Say what you will about Rhodes & the Bucks, but give them their props.

Friday, August 31, 2018

High School Fridays: Week 1 roundup

A decrease in enrollment sent 2-time Section 2 Class AA champion Troy back to Class A this year. Unfortunately, while the Flying Horses graduated almost all of their starters from a year ago, that lack of varsity experience came up and bit them in a non-league opener against Schalmont (Class B) tonight.

James Allen sounded the warning during Spectrum News' Friday Night Matchup broadcast as he & Chris Watson reported that Troy trailed the Sabres, 14-6, in the 4th quarter with 9 minutes left. Allen attended a scrimmage between Troy and Newburgh Free Academy last weekend, and watched Bob Burns' club get knocked around. Troy returns just one starter from a year ago, sophomore DB/RB/KR Xavier Leigh, and reloaded with players promoted from the junior varsity. With less than a week between the scrimmage and tonight's game, it was clear that there are lessons still to be learned, as Troy's 26 game winning streak ends with the 14-6 final score.

Troy stays on the road, traveling to Amsterdam next week, seeking revenge for what had been the only blemish on Burns' record prior to tonight, that being in the 2015 Class A title game. Amsterdam, coming off a down year themselves, routed Lansingburgh, 37-14. The Knights will have their home opener next Friday vs. Schalmont.
======================================
Meanwhile, Friday Night Matchup began its 2018 season with a Class AA tilt between Saratoga and Christian Brothers Academy in the Spa City.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Blue Streaks drew first blood as Chris Klimek capped a second quarter drive with a 3 yard touchdown run. Saratoga led, 7-0, at halftime. In the third quarter, Deon Williams scored from in close to increase the lead to 14-0 for Saratoga. CBA's Fred Smith, making his first varsity start, found Devon Jones in the end zone. One two point conversion later, and, suddenly, the lead was six points at 14-8. However, that would be as close as CBA would get.

Later in the quarter, Saratoga QB Jake Williams took it in himself from 3 yards out, extending the lead to 21-8. Klimek finished the scoring with his second TD. Elijah Taylor and Ashton Capone registered sacks of Smith in the fourth quarter to ice it, and Saratoga, seeking their second straight Super Bowl berth, walks off with a 27-8 win.
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LaSalle won their opener for new coach John Audino, whose last game as a high school coach was as the freshman coach for CBA, all the way back in 1975, routing Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk, 43-14. If tonight is any indication, this year's Collar City Cup game, coming up in two weeks, will not be a one sided affair like it was the last two years. Remember, it'll be LaSalle seeking revenge.

A Classic Reborn: Las Vegas Gambit (1980)

Apparently, Bob Quigley had a good reason to retire after the 1980-1 season.

Quigley and long time partner Merrill Heatter, decided to relocate Hollywood Squares to Las Vegas after it was cancelled by NBC. However, the network was more than willing to take a chance on Heatter-Quigley reviving an earlier CBS series, also in Sin City.

Las Vegas Gambit bowed in October 1980, more than a month after Squares began its 15th season (1st in syndication), with Wink Martindale returning as host. Unfortunately, the viewer interests had changed in the four years since the original Gambit had ended, and NBC no longer ruled daytime. Las Vegas Gambit was inserted after David Letterman's daytime talk show was cancelled, but about a year later, this Gambit ultimately went bust, too.

Then again, the Tropicana Hotel had also been home to a syndicated game, Dealer's Choice, which went through two hosts in its two years on the air, a few years earlier. It just wasn't meant to be a place for a game show.

Here's the series opener:



Not as much fun as the original.

Rating: B.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Forgotten TV: The Movie Game (1969)

There have been a few game shows built around movies over the years. ABC tried something called The Reel Game, which didn't last long, for example. AMC gave Gene Rayburn his last game show, The Movie Masters (previously reviewed), for another.

The Movie Game, I thought, was another network show, but sources say it's a syndicated entry that went through two hosts in its three years (1969-72). In the video below, Sonny Fox (ex-Wonderama, later of Way Out Games) was tried out, with veteran Johnny Gilbert (no relation) as announcer. Subsequently, actor-turned-game show host Larry Blyden (ex-Personality) took over for Fox for the balance of the run before moving to What's My Line?'s syndicated run, where he succeeded Wally Bruner.

Independent producers Henry Jaffe & Bob Stivers packaged The Movie Game, and the use of film clips in some segments will recall another popular syndicated game show, Sports Challenge, which came along in 1971, and had a healthy run for most of the decade.

In this episode, Fox presides over Laugh-In's Dan Rowan & Dick Martin (who are on opposite teams), Greer Garson, & Sharon Farrell, with well known gossip columnist Army Archerd heard from as well.



As memory serves, Henry Jaffe later packaged Dinah Shore's NBC daytime series, Dinah's Place.

Rating: A.

On The Air: CBS News Sunday Morning (1979)

For all of the changes CBS has made with their morning news programs over the years, one constant has been their Sunday Morning news magazine, which launched in 1979. In the course of nearly 40 years on the air, the program has had just three anchors. Co-creator Charles Kuralt was the first (1979-94), giving him something to do besides his legendary On The Road pieces for the CBS Evening News. Charles Osgood succeeded Kuralt in 1994, and retired in 2016. Jane Pauley (ex-The Today Show) was lured from retirement to succeed Osgood and is the current anchor.

Designed in a way to be a visual "Sunday supplement", something you wouldn't find in, say, the New York Times, Sunday Morning mixes hard news with softer, lighter pieces, and sets the table for Face The Nation, which follows.

While CBS runs dead last in the weekday morning race, rivals NBC & ABC have developed Sunday editions of Today & Good Morning America, respectively, in recent years. I don't know what the ratings are on Sundays, but this might be the only day where CBS prevails.

In this clip from 2014, Mo Rocca (The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation) takes a look at the wit of "The Great Communicator", the late Ronald Reagan, with help from Drew Carey (The Price is Right):



Current President Donald Trump aspires to make America great again, just as Reagan did during his administration (1981-9). Unfortunately, Trump lacks Reagan's charismatic presence, wit, and humility. Would Trump use self-depreciating humor? Nope. His loss.

Rating: A.

Sports this 'n' that

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones thinks it might be in the best interests of everyone involved if they trimmed the preseason to just 2 games, 3 for the teams playing the Hall of Fame game, obviously, and expanding the regular season to 18. His son disagrees, and so do I.

Now, Jones wants to err on the side of player safety, but if he thinks most injuries occur in August, he's way wrong. The only way an 18 game schedule works, in this writer's opinion, is if you move the start of the season to before Labor Day, in lockstep with college football.

But, who is Jones kidding? Some teams pamper their millionaire stars by letting them choose when they'll play in the preseason (i.e. Patriots, Giants) to better protect them from injuries. As it is, the season starts the weekend after Labor Day, and runs through the holidays, thanks to the addition of bye weeks in recent years. In short, this ain't gonna work.
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Mets owners Fred & Jeff Wilpon have already waved the white flag on the season, and for the second time this month, made a trade with division rival Philadelphia, this time sending outfielder Jose Bautista to the Phillies for cash or a player to be named later. The Mets pulled "Joey Bats" off the Atlanta scrap heap earlier this year, and he helped the Phils in his first game Wednesday night as they beat Washington.

Meanwhile, the Wilpons are catching heat from representatives for minor league infielder Peter Alonso, who's been tearing up the minors this season. Apparently, the no-name agents don't understand the whole concept of teams preserving major league service time for prospects like Alonso, who will not be with the big club come Saturday when the rosters expand. There's already a logjam at his position, first base, as the Mets are using Wilmer Flores, who has played all four infield positions with the team, and erstwhile outfielder Jay Bruce, and Dominic Smith will likely get some time when he returns on Saturday. Then, they were also looking at Yoenis Cespedes at first before he was sidelined for the year. That said, the Mets feel there wouldn't be enough time for Alonso to get a look in the final month of the season, and he'll have equal opportunity for a shot in spring training next year.

It wasn't so long ago that baseball's biggest pain in the neck, Scott Boras, was crying the blues on the same subject when it came to the Cubs' Kris Bryant, one of his bazillion clients. Boras doesn't care about team policy. He just wants more than his fair share for himself, moreso than his clients. That's been a reality for a long time. Teams are looking to protect their investments in players before they hit the free agent market, but it wouldn't surprise me if Alonso's agents decide they want their guy moved to another team. Do yourselves a favor, guys. Your 15 minutes are already up. Go away.
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Took a look at the Class A predictions posted by James Allen in today's Albany Times-Union. Despite one returning starter (sophomore DB/RB/KR Xavier Leigh), Allen sees Troy High running the table again, winning the Capital Division. If Allen's math is right, it'd be Troy vs. old nemesis Burnt Hills in the A Super Bowl in November at Shen. LaSalle is tabbed to finish 3rd in the Capital, but I'd not be surprised if John Audino's club actually exceeds expectations.

Meanwhile, Troy High's other sports teams are looking for a win.

The boys' soccer team opened on the road Tuesday morning, and were shut out, 7-0, by Ballston Spa. The Scotties also blanked Troy's women's team, 2-0, and swept a volleyball match in straight sets. As of press time, the result of Troy's volleyball match vs. Averill Park, while it may be in today's Times-Union, isn't in El Cheapo Press just yet. The volleyball team opened with a non-league win, also in straight sets, over Catholic Central last week, so they're 1-1 on the season overall, 0-1 in the Suburban Council. The girls' tennis results have not been reported, but given recent history, I'd say they're also winless.
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As of this morning, the Tri-City Valleycats are on the verge of ending a two year playoff draught.

Jason Bell's club beat Lowell, 7-0, Wednesday, to lower their magic number for clinching the Stedler Division title to 2, meaning a Valleycat win tonight, coupled with a Vermont loss, would give the 'Cats their first division title since 2015. This after getting blown out of Bruno Stadium on consecutive nights by Aberdeen. The team is so sure of a postseason that they started selling "potential" playoff tickets a week ago. Five games remain, still enough time for a collapse, but you just never know.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Rockin' Funnies: Call The Police (1982)

After six seasons, Laverne & Shirley was uprooted from Milwaukee, and the cast relocated to LA. That included Lenny & Squiggy (Michael McKean & David L. Lander), who decided to start a talent agency. Apparently, their best clients were themselves.

This, I think, might have been the last novelty number from the boys. Here's "Call The Police".

On The Shelf: Cats, birds, ducks, and Jokers.....

As you can imagine from the header, the latest round of DC-Looney Tunes 1-shot specials landed in stores today. If you haven't gotten your copies yet, what are you waiting for?

The Joker crosses swords with Daffy Duck. Actually, at first, Daffy is hired on as a henchman after accidentally locating the Clown Prince of Crime's HQ du jour. Considering this came from the same team that put Speed Buggy with The Flash earlier this year (Scott Lobdell, Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund), this didn't have enough of the manic energy one would've expected from this pairing. Of course, the Batman makes an obligatory appearance, since his biggest enemy is involved. The backup, written by Joey Cavalieri, comes closer to the spirit intended, but why is Catwoman in Arkham in that story? That's a screw-up if there ever was one.

Rating: B-.

Joker's ex, Harley Quinn, I will maintain, would've been a perfect match for Daffy. However, she's paired with Gossamer, the giant monster who tangled with Bugs Bunny in shorts such as "Water, Water, Every Hare", and as such, is a mute, unlike his later itineration from The Looney Tunes Show. The man-child version would've been a better fit for Harl. Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti's script has Harley in a bikini for most of the story (and you know that would've excited Daffy or anyone else). If Gossamer was allowed to talk, how would he react? Joker & Batman show up here, too, as there is no continuity between these 1-offs.

The backup, by Sholly Fisch (Scooby-Doo Team-Up) and regular Looney Tunes artist Dave Alvarez, sees a different POV, and Harl mistakes the scientist for Dr. Hugo Strange. Cute. The fanboys will buy it in multiples and copy all the bikini shots of Harley.

Rating: A+.

Catwoman meets Tweety & Sylvester, but this is a wacky story all by itself, courtesy of writer Gail Simone. See, the Weird Sisters (Mildred, Mordred, & Cynthia) from The Witching Hour have made a bet with Witch Hazel involving cats & birds, even humans with feline or avian themes. Hence, a ton of cameos to support Catwoman and Black Canary. Add Klarion, the Witchboy, an old foe of Etrigan, The Demon, and this is totally cray-cray.

Rating: A+.

Speaking of Scooby-Doo Team-Up, the latest issue brings closure to The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, which, like Scooby-Doo, marks its 50th anniversary next year. We figure out the anachronistic time line between Perils and Wacky Races, and, well, ain't gonna spoil it for you, since Fisch's script is so predictable, Penelope finally learns the truth about the Hooded Claw.

The editors like predictable and generic plotting, otherwise, Fisch would've been off the book a while ago, and a better writer, like, for example, Jeff Parker (Batman '66, Future Quest) could craft better stories. I can suggest one involving a certain pair of aliens and a rubber tailed monkey, and......!

Rating: B--.

Of Recent Vintage: Lingo (2002)

In 2002, Game Show Network obtained the rights to a little seen Ralph Andrews entry from 15 years earlier. Andrews' version of Lingo lasted one season, with Andrews having to finish the season hosting the show himself.

GSN had a better idea. They called in Chuck Woolery (ex-Wheel of Fortune, Your Hit Parade, Scrabble, Love Connection), and got six "seasons" over a 5 year period (2002-7). To me, they ended the show too soon, falling short of 400 episodes produced over that span.

Four years later, actor-comedian Bill Engvall was brought in, but this attempt at reviving Lingo lasted just a couple of months before GSN pulled the plug. Engvall didn't have the charisma of his Blue Collar Comedy buddy, Jeff Foxworthy (Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, American Bible Challenge), or the presence to pull it off.

Here's an episode from the Woolery era:



Standard stuff.

Rating: A.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Origin of a Classic: Shopper's Bazaar (1973)

In 2020, Wheel of Fortune will turn 45. The show we know today would not exist if not for series creator Merv Griffin tinkering with his original idea, which was tried out in a pilot called Shopper's Bazaar in 1973. Thankfully, it didn't air, although actor-singer Chuck Woolery, brought in as MC, would eventually land the Wheel gig nearly 18 months later, after Edd Byrnes had bombed out in two pilots, largely because he was caught having to verbally memorize vowels, according to accounts.

The Byrnes pilots, with original letter turner Susan Stafford, haven't turned up online. However, there's this.....



Well, at least Griffin had enough money to spruce up the set.......

Rating: C-.

Forgotten TV: The Great Adventure (1963)

CBS took a chance on a historical anthology drama in 1963, and while The Great Adventure would make a great teaching tool today, it failed to connect with viewers, and was cancelled after 1 season.

I think the idea was that the network didn't want another sci-fi series in the vein of Twilight Zone. ABC was doing that with The Outer Limits. Originally, film star Van Heflin was the narrator, but that isn't the case in the episode, "The Colonel From Connecticut", which stars Richard Kiley, and features Howard Caine, later of Hogan's Heroes, in a supporting role. Russell Johnson, better known for Gilligan's Island, which came along the next year, subs for Heflin as narrator.



I was but an infant when this was on the air, and it wasn't until years later that I learned of its existence.

Rating: B.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Does cologne require a self-defense course? (1970?)

Hai Karate after shave & cologne was only around between the 60's & 80's, but left a lasting, indelible impression on the advertising world. Check out this sample ad.



Actress Valerie Leon of the "Carry On" series of British comedy films appeared in ads airing in the UK. Not sure if the above ad is one of those.

ABC Fall Preview 55 years ago (1963)

Ah, yas, I was but an infant in 1963. Just the same, I am obliged to offer ABC's fall preview promo reel for that year. Yas, indeed.

The "alphabet network" overhauled its lineup in '63, adding some new hits to established favorites such as The Flintstones, The Price is Right, Ben Casey, McHale's Navy, & Combat. Some of the newbies have been reviewed here before. To wit:

The Farmer's Daughter, which would trade places with Price before season's end.
The Patty Duke Show
Burke's Law
The Outer Limits
The Fugitive

The bi-weekly Edie Adams Show, aka Here's Edie, was a carryover from the previous season, as was spring replacement Hootenanny. Sid Caesar was given a slot alternating with Edie Adams. In time, we will look at:

The Travels of Jamie McPheeters, with Kurt Russell and some guest appearances by the Osmond Brothers.
100 Grand. A short-lived quiz hosted by Jack Clark.
Breaking Point
Channing
The Greatest Show on Earth. Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey Circus decided to sign off on a dramatization of life under the big top, with Jack Palance as the lead. It'd be 12 years before Palance would land another series (CBS' Bronk).
The Jerry Lewis Show. Jerry was given two hours on Saturdays in back of Lawrence Welk, but was done after 13 weeks, replaced by The Hollywood Palace, and Jerry would try again at NBC with a hour-long show a few years later.
Arrest & Trial, Chuck Connors' 1st post-Rifleman entry, and he'd have two more before the end of the decade.

The entire production of the Fall Preview was written by comedy icon Mel Brooks, who would return to ABC 12 years later with When Things Were Rotten, his first attempt at satirizing Robin Hood. Chet Gould is the announcer, and later worked for Goodson-Todman.



As you could see, Caesar was trying to recapture the spirit of fellow comedy legend Ernie Kovacs, who'd passed away a year earlier. Unfortunately, viewers weren't buying.

Rating: A.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

What Might've Been: Grandpa Goes to Washington (1978)

Fresh off Chico & The Man, Jack Albertson wasted no time landing another series gig. The problem was, NBC stuck Grandpa Goes to Washington on the wrong night.

Albertson this time plays a college professor forced into retirement due to the mandatory retirement age. He gets prodded into running for the United States Senate. With a son in the military (Larry Linville, ex-M*A*S*H), newly elected Senator Joe Kelley should have no problems navigating the potholes in Washington, right? Wrong. The friction between father & son made up some of the tension on the show.

So what was the wrong night? Tuesday, opposite Happy Days. Game over.

Unfortunately, no episodes are available now. All that's left is a network promo.



My folks & I did sample the show, but they didn't find it interesting.

Rating: B.

Sports this 'n' that

Here is the sad reality of semi-pro football in the 21st century.

Aside from a season opening puff piece that El Cheapo Media did when the season started, the Troy Fighting Irish are relegated to low priority status. It's bad enough during the balance of the regular season, when you're competing with the Tri-City Valleycats across town and, when Arena Football is in session, the Albany Empire, who have become a proven draw in their first season.

Even though Saturday's home finale vs. Auburn started well after the Travers had ended at Saratoga, no one at El Cheapo Media, or any other media outlet worth their press credentials, for that matter, could be bothered to travel to Lansingburgh High, the Irish's home field. No television cameras to be found, a far, far cry from the 70's, when the Metro Mallers, at the peak of their popularity, had a weekly half hour magazine show on WAST (now WNYT). There are no programs to be had, so, unless you were able to print the roster off the website, you had to rely on the PA announcer to see who's who.

For what it's worth, the Irish finish the regular season at 8-2 after beating Auburn, 54-28. Yes, the scores resemble the Arena game, or a lopsided high school or college game. The two teams will meet again, right back at Lansingburgh, on September 8, in the first round of the Northeastern Football Alliance playoffs.

The Irish's, and the league's, for that matter, Facebook page hasn't been updated recently. Troy's only losses were a season sweep at the hands of division champion Syracuse. Here's to hoping they'll draw a bigger crowd in thirteen days.
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Such hopes, though, could be problematic if the Tri-City Valleycats also have a post-season berth. With nine games left, Tri-City holds a four game lead over Lowell in the Stedler division after dropping a 7-6 decision in 10 innings to McNamara Division leader Hudson Valley on Saturday. The 'Cats close the home portion of their schedule starting tonight vs. Aberdeen. The regular season ends Labor Day at Vermont, with the playoffs starting two days later. After the home finale Tuesday, Tri-City returns to Lowell for a three game series that could decide the division, so, stay tuned.
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Saratoga, they say, is the "Graveyard of Favorites". That held true Saturday, as Catholic Boy won the Travers in a mild upset. Local trainer Chad Brown's duo of Good Magic & Gronkowski, the latter named for New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski, finished near the back of the pack. After all the hype, Wonder Gadot, the filly named for Wonder Woman and film star Gal Gadot, finished last. No one saw that coming.

For what it's worth, Patriot haters are probably happy Gronkowski finished 8th.
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The Little League World Series wraps today with South Korea meeting Hawaii. No one saw that coming, either. The New York tabloids wasted space hyping the team from Staten Island, but they fell in the US semi-finals to Georgia. As the late Walter Cronkite put it, ever so deftly, that's the way it is.
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Speaking of the Patriots, how is it possible that the NFL's Evil Empire can have three pre-season home games? They host the Giants on Thursday, but the starters likely won't see much action. Both are 2-1, after the Giants beat the Jets on Friday, and the Pats fell to Carolina. Let's remember that Patriots owner Bob Kraft is also on a couple of committees, and thus his team will get preferential treatment, particularly just one road game in August.

Meanwhile, the NFC East figures to be a little more competitive now that the Washington Trumpets have signed Adrian Peterson. The defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles have struggled of late, losing by a count of 5-0 the other night, and it looks like they're ready to move on from Nick Foles as their starting quarterback. Getting Carson Wentz back can't come soon enough for them, it seems.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

NBC Fall Preview 40 years ago (1978)

The following video has most, but not all, of NBC's freshman entries of 1978. Who's Watching The Kids (previously reviewed) was omitted.

NBC was the last place network around this time, and former CBS & ABC programming head Fred Silverman was brought in to try to turn the network around. Unfortunately for Silverman, he left his gold touch at ABC.

Newcomers:

Grandpa Goes to Washington (Tuesdays): Jack Albertson, fresh from Chico & The Man, stars as a college professor turned US Senator. With Roger Bowen (ex-Arnie) & Larry Linville (ex-M*A*S*H). Nicolas Coster (Another World), later of Lobo, appears in the pilot, but additional participation does not appear to extend beyond the pilot.

Sword of Justice (Saturdays): Dack Rambo (ex-The Guns of Will Sonnett) returns as an ex-con-turned-vigilante seeking to take down the white collar crooks who think they're above the law.

Lifeline (Sundays): A reality-based documentary series following various doctors.

Dick Clark's Live Wednesday: Like Grandpa, the uber-busy Clark (American Bandstand) didn't make it past Christmas with this attempt at a live variety show, seeking to recapture the earlier success he had with a variety show on ABC.

The Eddie Capra Mysteries (Fridays): Vincent Baggetta has the title role as a cerebral, street smart sleuth. Viewers didn't give him a chance.

W. E. B. (Thursdays): Network drama that would've succeeded elsewhere. Didn't know until screening the video, but it was the return of Richard Basehart (ex-Voyage to The Bottom of The Sea) to series television after 10 years away. Basehart's last TV project for NBC was the pilot for Knight Rider four years later. Basehart's voice over, carrying over from that series' pilot, was subsequently edited off syndicated reruns for some reason.

The Waverly Wonders (Fridays): Joe Namath, after making some movies during his football career, tries out television as a high school history teacher/basketball coach. Another early exit.

The rest of the time is given to miniseries such as Centennial and movies & specials.



The funny thing was, Scott Baio (Who's Watching The Kids) was included in the montage at the start of the video, but, as noted, there was no trailer for Kids due to an editing issue.

Rating: C.

Friday, August 24, 2018

A celebration of excess: Lifestyles of The Rich & Famous (1984)

Spun off from Entertainment Tonight, Lifestyles of The Rich & Famous launched in March of 1984, and ran for 12 seasons in syndication, inviting viewers to learn about the upper crust and how they lived. As if the supermarket tabloids weren't already speculating, often falsely, on that subject.

Gossip reporter Robin Leach hosted for the entirety of the show's run, joined by actress Shari Belafonte in the final season. Leach used the contacts he had in print media, and those he had acquired from working on Entertainment Tonight, to take viewers around the world in the course of an hour. Flailing ratings might explain why Belafonte was added in 1994.

Here's a sample episode from season 2:



In memory of Leach, who passed away today at 76.

Rating: B-.

High School Fridays: Scotia-Glenville @ Troy (women's soccer), 8/24/18

Last year, Troy High's women's soccer team limped into the off-season after a 2-15 campaign, eliminated in the first round of the sectionals. With just two seniors on this year's roster, coach Justin Haviland knows his team is a work in progress.

The school's website didn't bother updating their schedule to reflect a schedule change that had been announced at least a couple of weeks ago on Schedule Galaxy, the new go-to website for Section 2 sports. Troy opened the 2018 season facing one of the elite teams in the Foothills Council, Scotia-Glenville. The JV game was originally scheduled for a 4 pm start, but was moved up two hours to 2 pm, meaning the varsity game was moved to 4 pm from its original 6 pm kickoff.

It was not a good day for Troy all around. The student volunteers manning the press box either didn't know how to operate the scoreboard, specifically the game clock, or just weren't fully invested or interested in the job at hand. Worse, there was no adult supervision, thirteen days before class is in session for the new season. Twice in the first half, and once in the second half, the officials and some fans had to prod the volunteers to start the clock. Not good.

Unlike Troy, Scotia's roster is not available online, so I can't tell you who scored the goals for the Lady Tartans. What I can tell you is that the Lady Tartans played outstanding defense, cutting off offensive running lanes, and contesting virtually every pass and shot. Troy left some holes on defense, and it proved costly. Scotia led, 1-0, at halftime, then added a pair in the second half to ice the game, opening the season with a 3-0 verdict.

Troy will spend the weekend working on their defense, hoping it tightens up in time for the Suburban Council opener Tuesday afternoon vs. Ballston Spa. In a case of karmic balance, the start time for this game has also been changed. Originally, the JV's would hit the pitch at 9 am, with the varsity to follow at 11. Now, each game moves up two hours, with the JV's at 11, and the varsity at 1 pm. After that, coach Haviland's club will have a week off before their road opener at Guilderland.