Monday, July 16, 2018

CBS Fall Preview 50 years ago (1968)

It won't be long before a new television season begins, and that means we will start hunting for fall previews from the past again.

Today, we'll start with CBS' fall preview for 1968, designed for affiliates & sponsors. However, in the following video, only five of the seven new shows are featured. All seven have previously been reviewed.

Mondays: Mayberry, RFD picks up where The Andy Griffith Show leaves off, literally, as Sheriff Andy Taylor (Griffith) marries long time sweetheart Helen Crump (Aneta Corsault) in the series opener before passing the baton to farmer-turned councilman Sam Jones (Ken Berry, ex-F-Troop). Series would last three seasons (1968-71).

Tuesdays: Lancer tells the story of two brothers (Wayne Maunder & James Stacy) who don't even realize until they meet that they are in fact related. Co-star Elizabeth Baur later would appear on Ironside, and Maunder would get one more series (Chase).

Wednesdays: The Good Guys, from Talent Associates, brought Bob Denver (ex-Gilligan's Island) back after a year away, this time paired with Herb Edelman and Joyce Van Patten. Lasted two seasons.

Thursdays: Another Gilligan alumnus, Jim Backus, steps into the role of Julius C. Dithers, Dagwood Bumstead's boss, in the adaptation of Blondie. Patricia Harty has the title role opposite Will Hutchins (ex-Hey, Landlord, Sugarfoot) as Dagwood. Lasted just one season. On the other hand, Hawaii Five-O began a 12 year run (1968-80) with Jack Lord (ex-Stoney Burke) as Steve McGarrett. The revival is returning for its 8th season this fall, or 2/3 of the way to matching the original.

Missing are two more Monday entries, Here's Lucy, in which Lucille Ball is joined by her two children, Lucie Arnaz & Desi Arnaz, Jr., whose father, Desi, Sr., was over at NBC shepherding The Mothers-in-Law through its second & final season, and The Doris Day Show, with Doris joined by Denver Pyle (ex-Tammy, The Andy Griffith Show, and later of The Life & Times of Grizzly Adams & Dukes of Hazzard) and James Hampton (ex-F-Troop).

As a result, this video checks in at just shy of 22 minutes. Art Gilmore, Red Skelton's announcer and a frequent contributor to NBC's Dragnet, is the narrator.

This came from an area that for some reason was not interested in Lucy or Doris. Hmmmmm.

Rating: B.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

What Might've Been: The Good Life (1971)

Here's a novel idea that should've worked, but didn't.

Take, for example, a wealthy couple, deciding they need to take a few steps back. They hire themselves out to another wealthy gentleman as his butler & maid. Sounds like a good idea, doesn't it? Well, yeah, but viewers didn't think so.

The Good Life was a collaboration between Screen Gems (now Sony Pictures Entertainment) and Lorimar, which was finding its footing at the time. Lorimar collaborated with Filmation for the 1/2-live-action, 1/2-animated special, Aesop's Fables, also in 1971, but would hit the jackpot the next year with The Waltons.

Larry Hagman, a year removed from I Dream of Jeannie, and Donna Mills co-starred, along with David Wayne, in his first sitcom since the short-lived Norby a few years earlier. The Good Life lasted just half a season, and would be replaced by Jack Webb's Emergency! in the winter of '72. Hagman & Wayne would cross paths again when Wayne joined the cast of Dallas several years later, and Mills would also find greater success, co-starring in the Dallas spin-off, Knots Landing.

Suffice to say, I never saw the show, so there won't be a rating. However, I couldn't resist this intro video from the pilot. Don Messick is the narrator.

Sports this 'n' that

The Tri-City Valleycats maintain a 2 game lead in the NY-Penn League's Stedler Division after beating State College, 2-0, on Saturday night in Happy Valley. In case you don't follow sports too closely, State College is the home of Penn State University, and is nicknamed Happy Valley.

The downside is that the Spikes, affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals, don't visit Troy this year, and neither do the Williamsport Crosscutters (Philadelphia affiliate), which won 2 of 3 from the 'Cats earlier this week. The bizarre quirks in the NY-P schedule are just mind-boggling.
Speaking of the Cardinals, they dismissed manager Mike Metheny Saturday after a loss to Cincinnati. St. Louis is barely above .500, in 3rd place in the National League Central behind the Cubs and Brewers, but haven't made the playoffs in a couple of years. Hitting coaches John Mabry, like Metheny a former player for St. Louis, and Bill Mueller, were also cut. Bench coach Mike Shildt (Who, you ask? Exactly!) was named interim manager, but immediate speculation has Joe Girardi leaving his TV gig and taking over next year. Speculation also centers on Miami bench coach Tim Wallach.
Call it karmic justice, tennis style.

After President Trump dissed German counterpart Angela Merkel the other day, Germany's Angelique Kerber captured the Wimbledon ladies' singles title, defeating Serena Williams on Saturday. The more the President tries to treat the rest of the world like it's one gigantic corporation, of which he sees himself as the CEO, the more likely it is we'll see more results like this.

On the other hand, I'd rather that Trump dumped the Ugly American act, pulled out his Bible, and started governing this country as a good Christian president should. Problem is, while former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush, to name two, were open about their faith, their decisions often left them open to ridicule and scorn, and Trump has been ridiculed ever since he took office. Now, if Ms. Kerber could duplicate her success in New York during the U. S. Open in late August-early September, we might have something......
The Albany Empire are a win away from reaching the Arena Bowl in their very first season, duplicating the Las Vegas Golden Knights' run to the Stanley Cup finals last month. The Empire needed overtime to beat Washington, 57-56, on the road Saturday night. The scene shifts to Times-Union Center next Saturday, but be warned. Should Washington finally win one over Albany by two points or better, the last place Valor would advance, and this is because it's about total points in the two-game playoff. The Valor, counting last night, are 0-5 vs. Albany this year. It would be totally embarrassing if Washington does advance.....
The Albany Dutchmen may be in 3rd place in the Eastern Division of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, but they're just 1 1/2 games behind first place Amsterdam, whom they beat, 8-0, on Saturday night. Albany has played three fewer games than Amsterdam, and four fewer than second place Saugerties. It's going to be interesting in the final weeks.
Come Friday, horse racing fans will descend upon Saratoga for the start of the thoroughbred season, which runs until September 3. City and track officials are hoping Triple Crown champ Justify can make at least an appearance, but it doesn't look like Justify will race at all this summer after suffering an ankle injury recently. Trainer Bob Baffert brought the previous Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah, to Saratoga three years ago, only to see him lose.
El Cheapo Media has brought back Sound Off!, but only in the sports sections of The Record & The Saratogian. This time, though, they'll take comments not only over the phone, but on their Facebook page. The topic du jour today is the ongoing debate over player "protests" during the national anthem. Most folks who submitted comments put on their patriotic best, with at least one dissenting voice reminding that the kneeling during the anthem was originally about protesting police brutality toward African-Americans in particular.
Monday's baseball Home Run Derby is slanted toward the National League, with only Alex Bregman of the World Series champion Houston Astros representing the American League. Defending champion Aaron Judge of the Yankees chose not to compete this year, and the same for teammate Giancarlo Stanton, who won for Miami in 2016. Whatever happened to evening things out? Should be four from each league in the eight man tournament.

The real drama for the television audience is whether or not ESPN will bring Chris Berman out of hibernation for the event......

Saturday, July 14, 2018

You'll never see this kind of commercial again (1968)

Today, Dolly Madison pastries are marketed under the Hostess brand, after both were acquired by Apollo Global six years ago. Back in the day, however, the snack company was largely associated with Charles Schulz's Peanuts characters, most of whom appeared on wrappers of Gems donuts and Zingers creme cakes. At the time, Charlie Brown and pals also were associated with Millbrook bread.

Anyway, here's a rare ad that doesn't feature the comic strip icons. Future game show host Geoff Edwards is the narrator.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Musical Interlude: Never My Love (1967)

From The Ed Sullivan Show:

The Association scored a huge hit with 1967's "Never My Love", and, like so many hits from that era, still gets airplay today on oldies channels.

You might've seen this with reruns of the show airing on Decades a couple of times a day......

Thursday, July 12, 2018

On DVD: Destry (1964)

Some genius at Universal decided that the tale of Destry could be retold on the small screen, except that this time, this would not be about Tom Destry, who'd been played in movies by Jimmy Stewart and Audie Murphy. No, this was his son, Harrison (John Gavin), who was fronting a short-lived mid-season entry for ABC.

The problem? Westerns had peaked, and were gradually fading away. Destry got 13 weeks, and no more. Gavin narrated the episodes in character, the idea being that a first-person narrative, which worked so well for crime dramas such as Dragnet (not yet a Universal property) and Richard Diamond, might work in a Western. Uh, not here, though you could understand if you knew going in that Harrison Destry had been a sheriff before being framed for a crime he didn't commit.

Here's a sample clip:

Gavin later became an ambassador to Mexico, long after his acting career had ended. I don't think he was given another TV series, but I could be wrong.

Rating: B-.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Videos of Summer: Surfin' Bird (1987)

Two years after he was boppin' to the beat of the Champs' "Tequila", Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) decides to cover the Trashmen's 1-hit wonder, "Surfin' Bird", in the movie, "Back to The Beach".

On The Shelf: A few random news items

There are quite a few comics characters from the Golden Age that hadn't had a regular home in recent years for one reason or another. Dynamite Entertainment is doing something about it.

First, they gathered some characters like Black Bat and Miss Fury as part of a pair of Masks miniseries, co-starring the Green Hornet and the Shadow a few years back. Those were fun to read. Ten years ago, Dynamite introduced Project Superpowers, which presented more forgotten heroes who were now in the public domain, like, for example, the Fighting Yank. The third volume of Project Superpowers launched with a 10 cent 0 issue 2 weeks ago, and is a good jumping-on point for readers discovering this on-again, off-again series for the first time. That's all I can say for right now, considering that the low price also brought with it a smaller page count. Issue 1 drops on August 1.

Grade: Incomplete.
Max Allan Collins is the executor of the estate of crime novelist Mickey Spillane, and, as such, has access to unfinished manuscripts of Mike Hammer by the legendary Spillane. A brand new Hammer mini dropped from Titan Books 2 weeks ago as well, and the painted artwork is just flat out gorgeous to behold. Predictably, someone's out to whack Hammer, and he's looking to get to the killer first.

Rating: A.
Archie Comics, after teasing the return of the Superteens in the pages of Jughead a couple of years ago, finally brought the heroic personas of Jug, Archie, Betty, and, yes, Veronica, in a 2-part miniseries that sees them teaming with, and briefly fighting, The Mighty Crusaders, the company's premier superteam of the 60's. It's just 2 issues, and the Crusaders' membership includes the Black Hood. This Hood is in the original black & yellow gear, so it's probably Kip Burland under the mask, not Greg Hettinger, who was introduced in the Dark Circle series 3 years ago. Given how Chief Creative Officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has corrupted the Hood and mishandled him on Riverdale, a heroic Hood is a welcome sight. Co-author Ian Flynn wrote a zillion Sonic The Hedgehog stories for Archie over the course of 20-plus years, and, while Archie & co. are drawn as they have been of late, this is fun.

Not only that, but the transformation sequences for the Superteens look like they were ripped off from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, dating back to 1993. At least it's better than PH factors and other goofy ideas 50 years ago....!

Rating: Incomplete. We'll talk more about this when the conclusion hits stores in 2 weeks.
Speaking of Archie, the current Archie series launched in 2015 will end with issue 32, out now. In September, there will be a short miniseries set during the Golden Age, but written with modern sensibilities. Also, dropping later this month is Archie Meets Batman '66, which answers the question of what pop culture icon would the campy caped crusader would meet next.

At the end of the year, however, Archie will do what DC & Marvel have done for milestone issues in recent years, and will tie up all the current storylines in Archie #699, with issue 700 kicking off a new run, written by controversial writer Nick Spencer, the new scribe for Marvel's Amazing Spider-Man. I think the idea is that Aguirre-Sacasa wants the core Archie book to be geared more toward Riverdale in terms of direction, but not quite as dark. Here's a better idea, Roberto. Why don't you take some time, figure out fans are waiting for the next issues of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina & Afterlife With Archie (it's been a year), and assign a writer like Spencer to the books so they can be back on the shelves. Then you can spend all the time you want shuttling between Vancouver (where Riverdale is shot) and Hollywood. Is that too much to ask?

As for Spencer, he's looking to undo Joe Quesada's ill-advised decision to end Peter Parker's marriage to Mary Jane Watson in the books (they're still married in the daily comic strip). Quesada made a lot of enemies when he made that move a decade ago.

As if that wasn't bad enough, DC's Dan DiDio, derisively known as DiDiot to some fans, has a similar archaic policy, which explains why Batman & Catwoman's wedding didn't come off as planned last week. Two years or so ago, DiDio did the same thing over in Batwoman, unwilling to take a chance on a same-sex marriage of the title heroine and Gotham PD's Maggie Sawyer (who was brought to life by actress Floriana Lima during seasons 2 & 3 of Supergirl as a love interest for Alex Danvers, played by Chyler Leigh), and that storyline was squelched. Since Marvel broke the ice with same-sex marriage over in X-Men a few years ago, you'd think this wouldn't be happening, but I think DiDio is more afraid of offending retailers in the Bible Belt, while Marvel clearly wasn't.

Batman writer Tom King is unfairly being maligned online, and it's not his fault. The 50th issue of his run, which came out last week, is being looked at now as a cash grab by DC's marketing department, knowing they were really doing what amounted to a bait & switch, something Marvel had done in X-Men Gold two weeks earlier. Marvel promised that Kitty Pryde would marry her on-again, off-again flame, Peter "Colossus" Rasputin, but backed off of that and instead married off Gambit (Remy Lebeau) and Rogue, spinning them off into Mr & Mrs. X, due in the fall.

At least Marvel had a fall-back plan. DC didn't. Their loss.

Finally, belated condolences to the family, assuming there was one left, of comics icon Steve Ditko, who passed away nearly 2 weeks ago at 90. Ditko's resume includes co-creating Spider-Man and Dr. Strange for Marvel, The Creeper, The Hawk & The Dove, and Shade The Changing Man for DC, and, at Charlton, he helped introduce future DC heroes Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, & The Question. Ditko's political views led to the development of independently published characters like Mr. A, but Ditko's distinctive art style began to change during the 70's, when his work regularly appeared at DC, Charlton, & Marvel.

It's amazing, really, that Stan Lee, who wrote all those Dr. Strange & Spidey stories for Ditko, will have outlived all of his primary artists (i.e. Ditko, Jack Kirby, Gil Kane). If Stan lives to be 100, that should be news all by itself.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Musical Interlude: Young Love (1957)

Ric Cartey co-wrote "Young Love" in 1956, but failed to chart with the song himself. However, three others hit #1 with it. Donny Osmond topped the charts in England in 1973. Sonny James' version, the one I'm most familiar with, topped the country charts.

Actor Tab Hunter also hit #1, but on the Hot 100, in 1957. Here's his version, as performed on The Perry Como Show:

In memory of Hunter, who passed away on Sunday.

Forgotten TV: Filthy Rich (1982)

During the 70's & 80's, the networks were not afraid to poke fun at the soap opera genre that was dominating daytime television. ABC was the most successful with Soap, which lasted four seasons (1977-81). NBC flopped with 1979's Highcliffe Manor. The syndicated Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman didn't last as long as you'd think, just a couple of years, and it copied the five-days-a-week format of the daytime sudsers.

CBS entered the picture in 1982 with Filthy Rich, which centered on the squabbling Beck family, who were hoping to gain an inheritance after their father, Big Guy Beck, had passed on. Only 15 episodes were produced before CBS pulled the plug.

Film vet Slim Pickens was originally cast as Big Guy, but health issues forced him out after the first pilot, replaced by Forrest Tucker (ex-F-Troop, Ghost Busters). Big Guy would appear via videotape, while the family was divided into factions. The cast also included soap veterans Ann Wedgeworth (ex-The Edge of Night, Another World), whose last foray into primetime was a brief run on Three's Company a couple of years earlier, and Charles Frank (ex-All My Children). Nedra Volz came over from Dukes of Hazzard to play Big Guy's first wife, who was now dealing with age issues (i.e. senility). 

Here's a sample episode:

Creator-producer-writer Linda Bloodworth would later reunite with Delta Burke & Dixie Carter in developing the more successful Designing Women, and brought back Wedgeworth to co-star with Burt Reynolds and friends in Evening Shade.

So why did it fail? Soap had been gone for a year by the time CBS green-lit Filthy Rich after its second pilot, and since the former was in syndication by this point, viewers preferred it to the new kid on the block. Even airing in front of M*A*S*H on Mondays didn't help during the 2nd season.

No rating.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Classic TV: Dallas (1978)

Lorimar Productions was known mostly for family-oriented-&-friendly dramas during the 70's (i.e. The Waltons, Apple's Way). That all changed in April 1978, when they sold CBS a miniseries that ultimately became the first primetime soap opera since Peyton Place signed off more than a decade earlier.

Dallas rewrote the rules for primetime drama. It was one hour, as opposed to Peyton, which was a half-hour, airing 2-3 times a week at its peak. It boasted an ensemble cast led by Jim Davis (ex-Stories of The Century), Barbara Bel Geddes, and Larry Hagman (ex-I Dream of Jeannie), who cemented his icon status with his portrayal of John Ross (J. R.) Ewing, Jr., a morally-challenged weasel who was business first, much to the sorrow of his wife, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray).

Dallas became a national sensation with its season 3 cliffhanger, "Who Shot J. R.?", which had fans speculating all through the summer of 1980. Six years later, the ninth season was written off as an eight month dream sequence of Pamela Barnes Ewing (Victoria Principal), after her husband, Bobby (Patrick Duffy, ex-Man From Atlantis), had supposedly died at the end of the eighth season. Now, you'd think the series had jumped the shark at that point, but Dallas soldiered on for another few years before finally shutting down in 1993.

Nearly 20 years later, Dallas returned, this time on cable's TNT, for 3 seasons. The death of Hagman was the final nail in the coffin for the franchise.

Dallas also birthed a spin-off series, Knots Landing, after Ted Shackleford (Gary Ewing) and Joan Van Ark left the parent series, and Knots had a healthy run of its own. It was also one of the first primetime series for future film star and political bloviator turned game show host Alec Baldwin. Victoria Principal cashed in on her fame in multiple ways. She became a 1-hit wonder on the charts with then-beau Andy Gibb, covering the Everly Brothers' "All I Have to do is Dream", and landed a national bestseller with a series of health & exercise books. I'll bet you anything at all more teenage boys than girls bought The Body Principal when it was released in the early 80's.

Pianist Floyd Cramer covered the show's theme song, and it climbed the country charts. Following is the season 1 intro:

I wasn't much of a soap opera guy, never was, and only tuned in occasionally when channel surfing. No emotional investment, no rating.

Sports this 'n' that

Congratulations to the Albany Empire upon clinching the Arena Football League's regular season title Saturday night after beating Philadelphia. Due to a convention of Jehovah's Witnesses having been previously booked for Times-Union Center, the first year club's next game may not be until this time next week, with the convention in town this weekend. Have to pray it's not a portent of things to come for the Empire.

Meanwhile, El Cheapo Media apparently couldn't be bothered to send a reporter to the game on Saturday, as a report in today's edition was credited to "sports staff". Ditto for the Tri-City Valleycats' win over Aberdeen, also on Saturday. El Cheapo's parent company is more concerned about its bottom line than properly serving its readers. Small wonder it's the #3 daily in the market.
Even though she's currently in the WWE, Ronda Rousey was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame prior to going on the road with WWE this weekend. The other shoe between the two promotions dropped Saturday night when former UFC and current absentee WWE Universal champion Brock Lesnar showed up at the latest UFC PPV for a confrontation with Daniel Cormier. Reportedly, he's entered the drug testing pool, making him eligible to fight again for UFC in January. First things first, though, Lesnar, who should've dropped the Universal title long ago, has to decide when his next WWE fight will be, and soon, as fans are getting antsy. The ratings aren't where they should be, due largely to a number of factors, including Lesnar's prolonged absence between matches. This is the result of the contract Vince McMahon negotiated with Lesnar six years ago, allowing Lesnar to pick & choose when he appears. It's not good for business, no matter how WWE tries to spin it.
Speaking of Ronda, here's her commercial for Twizzlers licorice candy.

The 2018 baseball All-Star teams have been announced. Your average mileage, of course, may vary:



C: Wilson Ramos, Rays
1B: Jose Abreu, White Sox
2B: Jose Altuve, Astros
3B: Jose Ramirez, Indians
SS: Manny Machado, Orioles
OF: Mookie Betts, Red Sox
OF: Mike Trout, Angels
OF: Aaron Judge, Yankees
DH: J.D. Martinez, Red Sox


Salvador Perez, Royals
1B: Mitch Moreland, Red Sox
2B: Gleyber Torres, Yankees
3B: Alex Bregman, Astros
SS: Francisco Lindor, Indians
OF: Michael Brantley, Indians
OF: Shin-Soo Choo, Rangers
OF: Mitch Haniger, Mariners
OF: George Springer, Astros
OF: Nelson Cruz, Mariners


: Trevor Bauer, Indians
RHP: Jose Berrios, Twins
LHP: Aroldis Chapman, Yankees
RHP: Gerrit Cole, Astros
RHP: Edwin Diaz, Mariners
LHP: J.A. Happ, Blue Jays
RHP: Joe Jimenez, Tigers
RHP: Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox
RHP: Corey Kluber, Indians
LHP: Chris Sale, Red Sox
RHP: Luis Severino, Yankees
RHP: Blake Treinen, Athletics
RHP: Justin Verlander, Astros

Final Vote candidates (fan ballot):

: Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox
OF: Eddie Rosario, Twins
SS: Jean Segura, Mariners
SS: Andrelton Simmons, Angels
OF: Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees



Willson Contreras, Cubs
1B: Freddie Freeman, Braves
2B: Javier Baez, Cubs
3B: Nolan Arenado, Rockies
SS: Brandon Crawford, Giants
OF: Nick Markakis, Braves
OF: Matt Kemp, Dodgers
OF: Bryce Harper, Nationals


Buster Posey, Giants
C: J.T. Realmuto, Marlins
1B: Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs
1B: Joey Votto, Reds
2B: Ozzie Albies, Braves
2B: Scooter Gennett, Reds
3B: Eugenio Suarez, Reds
SS: Trevor Story, Rockies
OF: Charlie Blackmon, Rockies
OF: Lorenzo Cain, Brewers
OF: Christian Yelich, Brewers


LHP: Patrick Corbin, D-backs
RHP: Jacob deGrom, Mets
LHP: Sean Doolittle, Nationals
RHP: Mike Foltynewicz, Braves
LHP: Josh Hader, Brewers
LHP: Brad Hand, Padres
RHP: Kenley Jansen, Dodgers
LHP: Jon Lester, Cubs
RHP: Miles Mikolas, Cardinals
RHP: Aaron Nola, Phillies
RHP: Max Scherzer, Nationals
LHP: Felipe Vazquez, Pirates

Final Vote candidates:

: Jesus Aguilar, Brewers
1B: Brandon Belt, Giants
INF: Matt Carpenter, Cardinals
INF/OF: Max Muncy, Dodgers
SS: Trea Turner, Nationals

Of course, people will gripe about certain players being snubbed (i.e. Blake Snell of the Rays, the Mets' Brandon Nimmo). The fact that the Nationals, the host team, only have three players on the roster at the moment, tells you something about the state of fan support in Washington, and the fact that the fans aren't as passionate as you'd think.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

In Theatres: Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018)

Father's Day was two weeks ago. Still, parental bonding was the underlying theme apparent in "Ant-Man & The Wasp", Marvel Studios' attempt to lighten things up after the depressing finish to "Avengers: Infinity War" a couple of months back.

Since the events of 2016's "Captain America: Civil War", Scott Lang, aka Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) was sentenced to house arrest, and is routinely visited by government agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park). The upside to house arrest is that Scott gets to spend time sharing custody of his school-age daughter, Cassie, with his ex-wife and her current beau. What Scott assumes is a dream is really the original Wasp, Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) contacting him, and, ultimately, using him as a conduit to contact husband Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly).

On the run since the last film, Hank & Hope have been trying to develop a quantum tunnel, obtaining their tech from a black market businessman, who looks more like a generic sleazy villain right out of 80's TV (i.e. The A-Team. Now, the sleazebag wants the tech for himself. And, then, there is the Ghost, an orphan whose parents were killed in a lab accident, and whose father was a former associate of Pym. Factor in another ex-associate of Pym, Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne, black-ish), whom comics fans will remember as Black Goliath, and, briefly, Giant-Man, dating back 42 years or so, and things get crazy, including a wacky car chase involving a Pez dispenser, among other things.

Scope the trailer:

Yes, they are building toward Hope & Scott as a couple, despite Scott continuing to be presented as a klutz, The comedy relief is in overdrive, literally.

Trailers include "The Darkest Things", a new "Nutcracker" movie from Disney, and Jack Black as a warlock in "The House With a Clock in Its Walls".

Rating: B.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Musical Interlude: Only The Young (1985)

The soundtrack to "Vision Quest" was loaded with hits. Tom Cochrane & Red Rider's "Lunatic Fringe" was reissued, as was Foreigner's "Cold as Ice" and John Waite's "Change". Madonna made her first film appearance, performing two singles from the soundtrack, "Gambler" & "Crazy For You", the latter of which got heavy airplay on MTV (of course). Journey's "Only The Young" should've gotten a similar amount of airplay, in this writer's view.

The video may or may not be the actual video, as it's movie footage, including a quick shot of Madonna.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Advertising For Dummies: No, you won't melt in the heat, but they'll sell you soda anyway (1991)

Diet Coke had an interesting idea for an ad campaign with NFL players in 1991.

A random group of players are working out in 104 degree temperatures. Next thing ya know, some of them, particularly Randall Cunningham and Chris Spielman, are starting to melt, thanks to CGI. That leaves Boomer Esiason to grab some Diet Coke off the sidelines....

I think the reason they didn't do this with cartoon characters was because it might scare the kiddo's.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Musical Interlude: God Bless America (1938)

If you've been to Yankee Stadium to see the Bronx Bombers play, you've probably heard this next item during the 7th inning stretch.

"God Bless America" was written by Irving Berlin in 1938, and was recorded by Kate Smith, whose recording plays at the Stadium seemingly every night. It was a favorite of the late George Steinbrenner, and the tradition has continued under his sons, Hal & Hank, in recent times.

As the US turns 242 today, let's turn back the clock.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

On The Air: Drop The Mic (2017)

James Corden figured that if Jimmy Fallon can spin a segment from The Tonight Show into a cable hit (Lip Sync Battle), so can he.

Drop The Mic is a segment from The Late, Late Show that bowed last year on TBS, coupled with Snoop Dogg's remake of The Joker's Wild (previously reviewed). Corden, like Fallon, serves as an executive producer, but not the MC. He leaves that job to Hailey Baldwin (Alec's niece) and rapper-actor Method Man, with Josh Silverstein providing the beats. The 2nd season is winding down, if it hasn't ended already, but episodes have been split up on YouTube.

A recent episode saw wrestler-singer-aspiring mogul Chris Jericho take on boxer-turned-cable personality Laila Ali, but the warm-up act saw cast members from GLOW serve up some serious burn to a WWE quartet featuring the Bella Twins (Total Bellas, Total Divas) and Carmella.

Hys-freakin'-terical, man, and Carmella got the worst of it.

Rating: A.

Classic TV: Flipper (1964)

After making some inroads in syndication (i.e. Sea Hunt), writer-producer Ivan Tors made his first network sale in 1964 with Flipper, which spent 3 seasons on NBC (1964-7).

Set up as a follow-up to the feature film of the same name, released a year earlier, and a sequel that came out earlier in '64, Flipper, shot on location in Florida, centered on not only the titular dolphin, but also Park Ranger Porter Ricks (Brian Kelly, who took over the role from Chuck Connors in the second film) and his sons, Sandy & Bud (Luke Halpin & Tommy Nordren). Bud was actually added to the mix for the TV show.

Flipper was co-created by actor-turned-author Ricou Browning ("Creature From The Black Lagoon"), based on his book. The series has made the rounds of cable, with stops including Nickelodeon and Antenna TV since ending 51 years ago. In the 90's, a remake of the original feature film, starring Paul Hogan ("Crocodile Dundee") led to a new, hour-long version of the series, which lasted two years itself.

Let's revisit the intro, along with a clip from the series.

Rating: A.

Forgotten TV: Hearts Afire (1992)

The husband & wife team of Harry & Linda Thomason blessed CBS with a trio of sitcoms in the late 80's and early 90's.

Hearts Afire may actually be the lesser known of the three series (Designing Women & Evening Shade, the latter a return to series TV for Burt Reynolds, were the others), and also lasted the least amount of time, three seasons (1992-5). Hearts brought John Ritter back to CBS after having his last three series (Three's Company, Three's a Crowd, Hooperman) all on ABC. Ritter (ex-The Waltons) and Markie Post (ex-Night Court) headed up an ensemble that included future film star Billy Bob Thornton and TV vets Edward Asner (ex-Lou Grant, The Mary Tyler Moore Show) and Conchata Farrell (later of Two & a Half Men), and future stars like Beth Broderick (later of Sabrina The Teenage Witch).

Here's a network promo.

Before turning to acting, Markie Post was a producer for Goodson-Todman, and worked on their 1976 series, Double Dare. Hearts Afire gets its title from the first line in Earth, Wind, & Fire's 1975 song, "That's The Way of The World", which was also used as the theme during the first season.

No rating.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Remember Kayo Chocolate Drink? (1974)

When this next ad was produced in Chicago, Kayo Chocolate Drink had been around for 45 years. Today, the Kayo brand exists only as powdered hot cocoa.

The product was inspired by and featured Kayo, from the comic strip Moon Mullins, on its label.

I think this was a regional-only product, as I never saw this in my area.

Sports this 'n' that

Well, that didn't take long.

LeBron James decided to chase the money again, signing a 4 year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

There are rational reasons why James would bolt Cleveland a second time.

For one, he has property in Los Angeles, and a namesake teenage son who's blossoming into a high school hoops star, just like him.

Two, he owns a small, independent studio, and likely would like to land some deals to expand his portfolio, if you will.

Three, he can be more of a rational mentor to Lonzo Ball, assuming Ball remains with the Lakers when the season begins, than Lonzo's loudmouth father, LaVar, could ever hope to be. While the Fred Sanford of stage parents will say, "I told you so", when it comes to LeBron, he's way off base if he thinks he can take credit for this decision.
The sins of his past reputation came back to haunt Tampa Bay Bucs QB Jameis Winston the other day when the NFL decided to suspend him for the first three games of the 2018 season due to an off-field incident involving a Uber driver. There were questions about Winston's maturity, just as much as there were about that other celebrated party boy, Johnny Manziel, when Tampa Bay drafted Winston in 2015. However, there are rumors that if there's another arrest on Winston's record, he may be banished from the league.

It's three strikes, and you're out, or is commissioner Roger Goodell again kow-towing to President Trump?
The Mets haven't been this wretched in years. A loss to Miami on Saturday resulted in the Mets' record for June falling to a pathetic 5-21. Luckily, they've started July on a good note, beating the Marlins, 5-2, on Sunday. I still believe that making trades to appease an impatient fan base isn't the solution. Trading away a front-line starter like a Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard is not the answer, because then you're setting the team back a few extra years.
The Tri-City Valleycats recovered from a 9th inning loss to Hudson Valley Friday by beating the Renegades, 9-2, on Saturday night. However, they began a six-game, hone-&-home series with Vermont by dropping a 9-8 decision in 11 innings Sunday night. That puts the Lake Monsters back in sole possession of first place in the Stedler Division. Still plenty of time left, though, but one wonders if Jason Bell is making too many moves when he doesn't need to......
Another night, another win for the Troy Fighting Irish, which blew away Auburn, 47-6, on Saturday night. However, you won't see any box scores for this one, since the local press ignores semi-pro football nowadays, unless it's a slow night. El Cheapo Media did a pre-season preview, but haven't sent reporters to cover home games at Lansingburgh High, and that's a shame. Their next home game is Saturday, July 7, but the Valleycats and Albany Empire will be home, too, making the Irish a third option for fans, assuming anyone remembers the team is even playing......
WWE Chairman/CEO Vince McMahon is sinking $500 million into his revival of the XFL, due to start in February 2020. With Charlie Ebersol's Alliance of American Football launching this coming February, McMahon is already behind the 8-ball, but the mindset seems to be that he's trying to lure disgruntled NFL fans away with an improved product. Sounds like he's trying to curry favor with his pal, President Trump, whose relentless Twantrums against NFL players, in turn, sound like more hyperbole to stir up his base of closet bigots.

The plan is $500 million over three years. The original XFL barely got through its lone season in 2001, so what makes McMahon think it'll work differently this time, aside from not being associated with WWE?

To paraphrase an old cliche, a fool and his brains are soon parted......
Finally, some sad news from WWE.

Tough Enough season 3 co-winner Matt Cappotelli, 38, passed away late last week due to brain cancer. Cappotelli was forced to retire just three years into his wrestling career, then became a trainer and motivational speaker himself. Let's take you back in time to the night Cappotelli earned his developmental contract.....

Co-winner John Hennegan, now known alternately as John Morrison, Johnny Mundo, or Johnny Impact, depending on where he is on a given night, will be in town at Bruno Stadium with NorthEast Wrestling on July 14.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Sounds of Praise: Battle Hymn of The Republic (1969)

In this clip from his self-titled ABC variety show, Johnny Cash, backed by wife June and the Carter Sisters and the Statler Brothers, performs the patriotic anthem, "Battle Hymn of The Republic":

Suicide prevention for career preservation: Three Stooges in Rhythm & Weep (1946)

The Three Stooges, in one of Curly Howard's last films, are struggling actors who can't land a steady gig. Coincidentally, three dance hall girls are in the same pickle. All six are looking to end it all, but a twist of fate may change everything. Here's "Rhythm & Weep":

Rating: A.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Musical Interlude: East Bound & Down (1977)

From Hee Haw:

Jerry Reed opts for casual lip-sync, seated in a rocking chair, one shoe on, one shoe off (?) to perform his hit, "East Bound & Down", from "Smokey & The Bandit".

One move too many sinks the ship (Renegades 4, Valleycats 3, 6/29/18)

When the Hudson Valley Renegades arrived in town Thursday night for their series with the Tri-City Valleycats, it was a battle of two first place teams. So far, the Tampa Bay Rays' affiliate has demonstrated why they have the best record in the NY-Penn League.

However, it was Tri-City that drew first blood in the home first. Enmanuel Valdez, with one out, laced a double, then came around to score on a single by Gilberto Celestino. Valleycats starter Cody Deason, making his first appearance, went just two innings, likely due to pitch count, but gave up just one hit in those two frames. Bryan Abreu came on in the third, but was undone by sloppy defense in the fourth. Tyler Frank led off the visiting half of the inning with a single, stole second, then advanced to third on an error by Oscar Campos. Ramiro Rodriguez tried to throw out Frank at third, but the ball sailed into the bleachers, and Hudson Valley tied the game at 1-1.

In the sixth, Chris Betts, no relation to Boston star Mookie Betts, not by any stretch, homered into the Renegades' bullpen. Unfortunately, Hudson Valley lifted starter Michael Mercado after five innings, holding the 'Cats to one run on four hits and two strikeouts. The Renegades' bullpen promptly coughed up the lead and took Abreu off the hook. Jeremy Pena reached on an error by third baseman Adrian Rondon, and Valdez cashed in with his second double of the game. A single by Austin Dennis plated Valdez to give Tri-City their first lead of the night at 3-2.

Austin Hansen gave up just two hits in his two innings of relief behind Abreu, but manager Jason Bell made a tactical error in lifting Hansen, and going back to the bullpen in the ninth. One hit, an error, and three walks added up to two runs for Hudson Valley, and the Renegades defeated the Valleycats for the second straight night, 4-3.

There's just no way to put a happy face on this loss, and Bell will be second and third guessed through the weekend on sports talk radio in this market. With the loss, one assumes Tri-City loses possession of first place in the Stedler Division back to the Vermont Lake Monsters, with whom they were tied at the beginning of play tonight.

Strangely, the park wasn't packed on a sweltering Friday night, even though the temperature cooled as the night progressed. Folks are likely saving their money for "Star Wars" Night tomorrow night.

Sports this 'n' that

Tonight, the Albany Empire are in a position where they can run the table and win the Arena Football League's regular season title. All they need do is beat Washington for the fourth time this season, this time on the road, setting up a showdown with first-place Philadelphia (The Soul & The Empire are owned by the same ownership group) at Times Union Center July 7. Luckily, the Empire do have a radio deal to go along with most of their games being broadcast on CBS Sports Network, so fans won't miss much, although with the Empire on the road, sports junkies will be gravitating to Bruno Stadium.......
The Tri-City Valleycats' hold on 1st place in the Stedler Division of the NY-Penn League is tenuous at best after losing to Hudson Valley, 3-1, on Thursday. The Renegades have the best record in the league at 10-2. The 'Cats, however, played without pitcher Chad Donato (3-0, 0.00 ERA) and Houston's 1st round draft pick, Seth Beer, who were promoted to Davenport, Iowa, earlier Thursday. so a period of transition has already begun. Expect more 'Cats to move up the ladder, as is an annual tradition, before the end of the season.
Mets GM Sandy Alderson has taken a leave of absence from the team to address some health issues. Former GM Omar Minaya will aid assistant GM's John Ricco & J. P. Riccardi in running the team, but it seems ownership is resigned to the prospect that Alderson will not return this season or beyond. The Mets could certainly use some stability at the top, though disgruntled fans are begging the Wilpon family to sell the team. Good luck with that.

One thing I don't like hearing are rumors of top players such as pitchers Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, & Jeurys Familia on the trading block. Sure, Familia has struggled this season, such that 1st year manager Mickey Calloway moved him out of the closer's role, opting, apparently, for closer by committee, and Familia was tagged with the loss after failing to record an out Wednesday vs. Pittsburgh, but that speaks more to Calloway and pitching coach Dave (Long) Eiland's general unfamiliarity with the Mets' pitching staff, making unnecessary tweaks where they don't belong. If this keeps up, Calloway will likely be leaving for the nearest golf course come October, one & done.
Congratulations to the Oregon State Beavers of the Pac-12 Conference, this year's College World Series champions. The Beavers, down 1-0 in games vs. Arkansas (SEC), came back to win the next two games, wrapping up the title on Thursday night.

The NCAA & ESPN did the smart thing by scheduling each game for a 7 pm (ET) start, something Major League Baseball should consider for the World Series. A 7:30 start is fine, as long as the pre-game is kept to a bare minimum, like, 10 minutes. Otherwise, the glacial pace of post-season games at the MLB level will keep the kiddo's away, forcing parents to DVR the games......
Happened to see in the transactions section of the sports page that former Met Gonzalez German, who had a cup of coffee in Flushing a few years back, has resurfaced with the Long Island Ducks, an independent team. If this doesn't work, his career's definitely over, although some players do use the indies as a way station toward getting back to The Show.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Musical Interlude: Big Yellow Taxi (2002)

Counting Crows just missed the Top 40, insofar as the Hot 100 was concerned, in 2002 with a remake of Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi". Some of the lyrics were understandably altered, but anyone that bought the single, thinking this was a straight-up duet between frontman Adam Duritz and Vanessa Carlton was dissed. Carlton only helps with the chorus and some harmony vocals at the end.

Bait & switch, anyone? Turned out to be the Crows' last big hit, save for "Accidentally in Love" from one of the "Shrek" movies.

Forgotten TV: The Best of Times (1981)

ABC must not like George Schlatter much.

The man who gave us Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In & Real People, two bonafide hits, for NBC, struck out in 2 attempts with ABC. Turn-On was one-&-done in 1969. 12 years later, ABC decided they wanted to work with Schlatter again, this time developing a teen-oriented comedy-variety show that they thought might complement, say, for example, Happy Days

I have to believe Schlatter came up with The Best of Times as a title from reading Dickens' Great Expectations, and not from listening to Styx's "Paradise Theatre" album, which was pretty hot back then. Of course, there was that movie with Kurt Russell and Robin Williams, too, but that's beside the point.

Crispin Glover is our genial "host", if ya will, but he'd have been better served fronting a remake of Dobie Gillis. Crispin's bedroom, as we see, reminds me of mine back in the day, except that mine was a little more organized and free of pets.

The supporting cast includes Nicolas Coppola (Cage) and Julie Piekarski (The Facts of Life), with Jackie Mason getting "special guest star" billing.

If you didn't see it, and most online sites snarkily suggest you do, you actually might be lucky. Glover actually sounds like he could've been a new generation Dobie. Looking at this for the first time, it seems that Schlatter's idea was somewhere between Dobie Gillis and one of James Komack's failed Archie pilots from a few years earlier. With Glover having achieved cult favorite status since then, this might be of interest to his most devoted fans.

Rating: C-.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Junior Basketball Association: A coast-to-coast scam

While the NBA held its annual draft last week, delusional huckster LaVar Ball launched his Junior Basketball Association, but no one could watch it on television. Why? The games are scheduled to air only on Facebook Watch.

It only gets worse. La Loudmouth is overcharging for tickets, which range from $40-99. Big Baller Brand controls all the teams, which all have been labeled the Ballers, regardless of what city they're playing for. Big Baller also controls each player's social media, and, according to one online analyst, the JBA is a glorified agent collective. In other words, the kids that signed for this league signed away any hope of playing college ball. Allow this video to illustrate:

LaVar Ball created the JBA as another revenue stream to fatten his own wallet. Reports say some kids are getting paid, but the league is supposed to be an alternative to the NCAA. Not from what I'm reading, it isn't. The first games were played in near-empty arenas. In other words, the attendance was worse than the average Albany Patroons game this year. Shoot, the Patroons charged $12 per ticket minimum for games. Three of those wouldn't exactly equal one JBA ticket, but you get the idea.

In short, in earning another set of Weasel ears, LaVar Ball is sacrificing innocent kids' dreams of NBA careers, while showcasing youngest son LaMelo, in another desperate attempt to extend his 15 minutes of infamy. As noted the other day, no NBA team drafted LiAngelo Ball, and I doubt he'll ever play in the NBA. Ditto for LaMelo, and they have their father to blame. His greed and obsession with realizing the money he never made as a player will lead to some lawsuits from angry parents, once they realized their kids were scammed.

Of course, if that happens, expect to hear about a prison basketball league in about 3-4 years.......

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Classic TV: The George Michael Sports Machine (1984)

He would never be confused with the British singer who shared his name, but George Michael was a regional sports icon whose Sunday night program went national in 1986 after being tested in select markets where NBC owned their affiliates.

In all, The George Michael Sports Machine, which began as The George Michael Sports Final as a local program in the early 80's, ran for nearly three full decades, ending when Michael retired in 2007, having spent the final three years with Lindsay Czarniak, later of TNT & ESPN, as his co-anchor.

Michael treated every subject with respect and realism, and that included wrestling. Take for example this 1987 show, which took place around Wrestlemania 3.

Locally, the program can be considered a forerunner to the NBC affiliate's current Sunday night, locally produced sports program, which is an off-shoot of their 11 pm (ET) newscast, and likely the same holds true in other parts of the country. Michael passed away in 2009, two years after the series ended.

Rating: A.

Politics shouldn't be on a restaurant menu

On Friday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a Red Hen restaurant in Virginia. She'd barely been there with her party a few minutes when the chef put in a call to the restaurant owner, Stephanie Wilkinson, who requested that Mrs. Sanders leave the premises.


This is a product of President Donald Trump's America in 2018. Reverse discrimination, if you will. Ms. Wilkinson is opposed to President Trump's policies, and, unfortunately, any of his aides are going to be treated as collateral damage if they dine at eateries whose owners oppose Trump's Ugly American policies, such as his evolving, hate-filled stance on immigration. Two other Trump aides were asked to leave separate Mexican restaurants in the Washington area, a direct push back against Trump's mean-spirited, ill-conceived immigration policy.

The President is catering to a base of closeted bigots, a bunch of Archie Bunker wanna-bes who don't see both sides of the picture. The New York Daily News photoshopped the faces of Trump and three of his offspring on a file still from All in The Family, with Trump's face on the body of Archie Bunker himself (Carroll O'Connor), the other day.

Sarah Sanders' only crime in Lexington on Friday night was guilt by association. Her father, Arkansas governor-turned-TBN talk show host Mike Huckabee, defended his daughter, as a father should in this case.

A true Christian would be looking for and working on a more reasonable, peaceable solution to the immigration issue. Donald Trump professes to be a Christian, and has been a frequent guest on Mike Huckabee's TBN show. However, the perception given to the American public is anything but Christian. That has to change, and quickly, if his supporters want to see him re-elected in 2 years.

Do I agree with his approach to immigration? Of course not. We do not want the President to be perceived as a soulless, heartless bully, especially one whose ego demands he take credit for things he didn't have a direct involvement in.

There's only three words I have to say to the President right now. GET IT RIGHT!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Musical Interlude: For Your Eyes Only (1981)

Fresh off her #1 hit, "Morning Train (9 to 5)", Sheena Easton burned up the radio airwaves in the summer of 1981 with the title song from "For Your Eyes Only".

The James Bond adventure, with Roger Moore as Bond, was released around the same time as the single and a comic book adaptation published by Marvel. Unlike "Morning Train", Easton peaked at #4 on the Hot 100 with "For Your Eyes Only".

Sports this 'n' that

It was "bullpen day" for the Mets on Sunday, as rookie manager Mickey Calloway took a page from the Tampa Bay Rays' playbook for the finale of a weekend series vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers. Scheduled starter Jason Vargas was placed on the DL on Saturday with calf issues, though with his shaky performance so far this season, I'd say the calf may be the least of his worries.

Anyway, the strategy didn't work. At all. Ex-Valleycat Enrique "Kike" Hernandez and reigning NL Rookie of the Year each mashed two home runs, the Dodgers hit 7 in all, but they needed extra innings to complete the sweep, 8-7. Kevin Plawecki forced the extra frames with a three run blast, but ex-Met Justin Turner stuck the knife in the Mets' collective backs with a game winning shot off Chris Flexen in the top of the 11th.

Injuries have knocked the wheels off the bus for the Mets since an 11-1 start, and now, they're closer to last place Miami than they are to the top of the division. Yuck.
Speaking of the Valleycats, after getting blown out, 11-4, by Lowell on Friday night, Tri-City came back to win the rubber game of their series with the Spinners on Saturday, then moved into first place in the Stedler Division of the New York-Penn League with a 5-2 verdict over Staten Island. The 'Cats come home Thursday to play Hudson Valley.

Meanwhile, the Albany Dutchmen will be back on the field on Tuesday after an off-day today. They'll have actually had three days off, since weekend games vs. Amsterdam and at Oneonta were postponed by rain. The Dutchmen sit atop the East Division of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, but, like the 'Cats, their hold on first is tenuous at best at this point.
To the surprise of absolutely no one, LiAngelo Ball, brother of Lonzo, and La Loudmouth's middle child, was not drafted by any NBA team last week. All the pundits said before the draft that LiAngelo wouldn't be drafted. The Los Angeles Lakers have made it clear that LiAngelo will not play on their summer league team. The best hope for the Lakers, and the rest of the league, for that matter, is for someone to convince La Loudmouth to seek psychiatric help, since he's still living under the delusion that all three of his kids will play for the Lakers. Not only that, but he thinks the Lakers would be making a mistake if they trade Lonzo away.

Here's the problem. La Loudmouth isn't an executive with the Lakers, just a stage parent living vicariously through his sons to realize the money he didn't make as a player, and to further that end, he makes sure he is heard from on a weekly basis, practically.

Contrast that with newly drafted Kevin Huerter, who will be in line for a roster spot at the least with Atlanta. Kevin's father, Tom, Sr., is still a radio broadcaster at last check with his alma mater, Siena College, and isn't making outrageous statements about his boys just because he never played professionally. The Huerters are going about things the right way. La Loudmouth is a profiteering hustler extending his 15 minutes every chance he gets, even though his act has already gotten past stale and moldy.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

YouTube Theatre: Cop of The Year (McMillan & Wife, 1972)

This second season episode of McMillan & Wife puts the focus squarely on Det.-Sgt. Charles Enright (John Schuck), who, after receiving an award for "Cop of The Year", is framed for the murder of his ex-wife.

John Astin, who directed a first season episode, moves back in front of the camera as a forensic scientist, in a rare dramatic turn. Charles Nelson Reilly (ex-Ghost & Mrs. Muir, Lidsville) appears briefly, as does ventriloquist-actor-scientist Paul Winchell. Kenneth Mars, a favorite of creator-executive producer Leonard Stern from his He & She days, makes his 2nd appearance in the series. Edmond O'Brien & Michael Ansara also guest.

Rating: A.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Musical Interlude: Silly Love Songs (1976)

Paul McCartney and Wings topped the pop charts in 1976 with the bouncy, disco-tinged "Silly Love Songs", off the "Wings at The Speed of Sound" album.

McCartney would re-record "Silly" as a solo track nearly a decade later for his film, "Give My Regards to Broad Street".

Friday, June 22, 2018

Sports this 'n' that

Shenendehowa graduate Kevin Huerter knew he was taking a risk by declaring for the NBA draft after his sophomore season at Maryland. Thursday night, Huerter became the first Section 2 graduate since Jimmer Fredette to be drafted, as he went to Atlanta in the first round. Given that so few players from this region have made it into the NBA, period, one wonders if the Hawks will actually give Huerter a chance to start, something his father, Tom, Sr., never had coming out of Siena years ago. As Rodger Wyland wrote in today's Albany Times-Union, the Hawks are not expected to be a contender next season, but ya just never know........
Speaking of the Times-Union, their coverage of the Tri-City Valleycats consists of a mix of game coverage and puff pieces about selected players on a day-to-day basis. I am guessing that this practice, which has been in place for a few years now, is to save space for national items in the sports section, but that's just me. The 'Cats are 4-3 after a week's play, and will continue their series with Lowell tonight. Tomorrow? With rain in the forecast, I wouldn't count on it.......
Troy High's 2-time state football champions have been recognized by the city in a few different ways. The latest of which was to have signs posted in downtown on Thursday, in much the same way other teams from other schools have gotten similar recognition in recent years. With the seniors from the 2017 team graduating on Sunday, El Cheapo Media finally got to talk to outgoing senior Matt Ashley, who will stay in the hometown, playing his college ball at RPI.

Mayor Patrick Madden gave the school some lip service, perhaps unaware of the ongoing press embargo between the school and El Cheapo Media. If Madden doesn't run again, he could take on a second job as a celebrity lookalike. Like, he could take some heat off Dr. Phil, don't you think?
WWE Chairman/CEO Vince McMahon has gotten raked over the coals by critics over the years, including ye scribe, for a number of things, including his fetish for big men. Now, it seems he also has more of an interest in making sure his women's champions are blondes. It's an image thing, you see, with the belief that these young, attractive women are more marketable to Madison Avenue than someone on the order of, say for example, Japan's Asuka, who was made to look like a fool twice in three nights earlier this week.

Most of us expected Asuka to defeat Carmella (real name: Leah VanDale) for the Smackdown women's title. However, indie star James Ellsworth was recalled, and got involved in the match, helping his on-again, off-again storyline lover retain the title.

The fact that Carmella resorted to cheating shouldn't really be a surprise, considering that VanDale was a New England Patriots cheerleader about a decade ago before swapping her pom poms for leotards & tights. It's the culture that comes with the "Patriot Way", or so it'd seem.

Meanwhile, the experiment with Nia Jax, a cousin to current star Roman Reigns (Joe Anoia) and former champion turned movie star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, as Raw women's champ, ended with Alexa Bliss (Lexi Kaufman) regaining the title after winning the women's Money in The Bank briefcase on Sunday. Bliss is another one who's been overprotected by WWE Uncreative, as during her last title run, she didn't defend the title on free TV. Commentators on a couple of message boards I frequent weren't digging, believing that Bliss has gone stale.

The truth is, WWE blew a golden opportunity with Jax & Reigns back at Wrestlemania in April. Were it not for another obsession of McMahon's, Reigns could've beaten Brock Lesnar for the Universal title. However, with McMahon bent on removing CM Punk (Philip Brooks) from the WWE record books, Lesnar was allowed to keep the title. That should change, as rumors persist that Lesnar could leave following Summerslam. Were it not for McMahon, Jax & Reigns could've had the stage to themselves, much in the same way the late Chris Benoit & Eddie Guerrero did in 2004, and current movie stars John Cena & Dave Bautista did the following year.
We close on a sad note. As reported over at Saturday Morning Archives earlier this week, former WCW & IWGP champion Big Van Vader (Leon White) passed away on Monday at 63. While he wasn't treated with any semblance of respect in WWE during his brief time there (1996-8), it's a shock that White isn't already in the Hall of Fame. That should change, perhaps as early as next year. We'll leave you with one of Big Van Vader's early appearances in WCW, from December 1990.

While with WWE, Vader became a supporting character on ABC's Boy Meets World. White portrayed Francis Albert Leslie Stecchino, Sr., father of Frankie, one of the school bullies (Ethan Suplee), and appeared in at least 3 episodes.  Rest in peace, Leon.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

What defines President Trump's immigration laws? Lies and shame

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to put an end to families being separated by immigration officials when undocumented immigrants are set to be deported to their native lands. There's been so much outcry over children being separated from their parents, so much so that Trump was forced to reverse field on his faux tough guy stance on immigration.

See, here's the thing. If a Mexican citizen wants to relocate to the US, instead of trying to cross the borders without proper documentation, he/she needs to go to the nearest US Embassy, and request asylum in the US. Too many immigrants choose to take the shorter route, crossing the borders illegally, seeking a new life, unaware that there is a safer way on their own turf, if you will. We do have an ambassador to Mexico, you know.

With so many undocumented immigrants working and living over here, establishing residency with green cards for so long, emigrating from Mexico, Honduras, Puerto Rico, etc., it is no wonder that federal immigration officials are being villified for trying to do their jobs, especially when they don't have all the facts before them.

Trump has openly lied about Germany's immigration system, claiming crime has risen, when it's actually the reverse. Germany's crime rate is lower than that of the US. No wonder German chancellor Angela Merkel appeared to have issues with Trump a couple of weeks back. When you are dealing with a President whose best friend is the nearest camera, well......!

Naturally, Trump's lies about just about everything make him fodder for late night talk shows. NBC's Seth Meyers, for example, mixes comedy with hard news in his A Closer Look feature on Late Night. A Closer Look, in truth, is simply a variation on Saturday Night Live's long running Weekend Update segment, which Meyers anchored at one time. Earlier this week, Meyers skewered the President as well as this week's Weasel of the Week, Corey Lewandowski.......

Lewandowski tried backpedaling on his remarks about a 10 year old girl with Down's Syndrome, claiming his remarks were directed at the Democrats.

BOLLOCKS & BALDERDASH! Just like Trump, Lewandowski refused to cop to the truth, disrespecting a young girl because of her condition. Please. Open mouth, insert both feet, Mr. Lewandowski, and enjoy the Weasel ears.

Back to the undocumented immigrants. The simple solution works like this:

1. If you know how to find the US Embassy in your home country, go there, and ask for asylum. They'll take care of the paperwork for you and/or your family if you're not happy with your present situation.

2. Once in the US, apply for citizenship, again with help from the proper authorities. Ellis Island, home of the Statue of Liberty, would be a good place to start.

Alas, too many people sneak across the border because they don't have the patience or time to find the embassy to address the problems they're having at home. While Trump plays Ugly American to stir up his fan base of Archie Bunker wannabes, he also demonstrates over and over again how ignorant he is of our own rules and regulations. You've heard the phrase, the blind leading the blind? It's never more true than now.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

On The Air: Celebrity Undercover Boss (2018)

Eight years ago, CBS introduced Undercover Boss, in which employers posed as prospective employees to observe the day-to-day operations of their own businesses. This year, the seasonal hit has spawned a celebrity edition, which bowed last month.

Celebrity Undercover Boss is filling MacGyver's space on Fridays for a few weeks. So far, former NFL star Deion Sanders and singer-songwriter Jewel have been featured. On June 15, WWE heiress Stephanie McMahon took her turn.

Adopting the identity of internet journalist Samantha Miles, Stephanie interviews the family of a pediatric cancer patient, a photographer who lost a leg in the military, and an aspiring wrestler whose goal was to become the first openly gay WWE champion. The episode was recorded late last year, while Jeff Hardy, now the US champion, was on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Hardy, Big Show, and the since released Big Cass appear briefly prior to the final reveal.

The episode is currently available On Demand (check with your cable service), and on the CBS app & website. All I can say is, have a box of Kleenex handy at the end of the show. As reruns of Undercover Boss are airing on OWN and other outlets, it won't surprise anyone if the celebrity edition follows suit.

Here's an excerpt.

Not sure about this, but what might've been a precursor to this episode, in particular, was WWE CEO/Chairman Vince McMahon doing some undercover work of his own on the WWE Network series, Swerved, last year. Vince & Triple H appear briefly at the start of this show.

Rating: A.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A Modern Classic (?): Sister, Sister (1994)

Imagine, if you will, an inner-city remake of Disney's "The Parent Trap". Twin sisters, brought together after being separated at birth.

Motown executive Suzanne DePasse must've been a fan, because she came up with that urban remake in 1994.

Sister, Sister started off as a mid-season replacement at ABC as part of their Friday block in the spring of 1994. A year later, the show was cancelled after two seasons due to declining ratings. The fledgling WB network took a chance, and, once again, Sister, Sister was a mid-season replacement. This time, however, it was a hit, at least by WB standards.

The show was a star vehicle for twin sisters Tia & Tamera Mowry, so there was no need for trick photography, unlike in the two "Parent Trap" films (Hayley Mills, and, later, Lindsay Lohan), or, in The Patty Duke Show, where Duke played twin cousins. Tim Reid (ex-WKRP in Cincinnati, Simon & Simon, etc.) and Jackee Harry (ex-227) were the parents.

Cable reruns have aired on ABC Family (now Freeform) and MTV2, among other places.

Let's take a look at a sample episode.

The twins' brother, Tahj, made a few appearances, the last of which was a crossover with his own series, Smart Guy, which we'll look at another time. Tia & Tamera have kept busy in recent years, and there's word that Sister, Sister may be the latest to be revived or rebooted.

Rating: B.

Sports this 'n' that

After a day off on Monday (they probably would've been rained out otherwise), the Albany Dutchmen travel to Glens Falls tonight, with first place on the line. The Dutchmen are coming off a brutal 10-2 loss to Amsterdam on Sunday afternoon at Siena College, and are now tied with Glens Falls at 7-5 in one division of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League.

In contrast, the Tri-City Valleycats are in Aberdeen, Maryland for a series with the Ironbirds, the Baltimore affiliate of the NY-Penn League, owned by former Orioles star Cal Ripken, Jr.. The 'Cats snapped a 2-game losing streak Monday with a 6-1 win in the series opener. Tri-City returns home for a quick 3-set with Lowell on Thursday night before going back on the road.

Interesting scheduling quirk this year in that the 'Cats are home on Friday & Saturday each of the first four weekends, and only have two other home weekend series. Both Camp Day matinees are in July this year, as opposed to having one each in July & August.
While I've not been able to ascertain the entirety of Troy High's football schedule in Class A for 2018, what I do know is that they have Schalmont, Amsterdam, & Averill Park on the docket. They'll travel to Amsterdam, seeking revenge for the loss in the 2015 Class A title game, on September 7. As for Averill Park, they'll be the ones seeking revenge for the beatdown administered by the Flying Horses in that same 2015 campaign. Stay tuned.
The Mets may have finally gotten out of their offensive funk.

Mickey Calloway's club split a 4-game weekend series in Arizona, and clinched the season series vs. the Diamondbacks, 5 games to 2. On Monday, it was on to Denver, and red-hot Brandon Nimmo led the way, with family & friends making the trip from Wyoming. Nimmo had 4 hits, including 2 homers, as New York thumped Colorado, 12-2. Jacob deGrom snapped a personal 2 game losing streak to run his record to 5-2. With any luck, he'd be among the league leaders in wins.
Condolences to the family of Around The Horn moderator Tony Reali. On Father's Day, Tony and his wife were expecting twins, but one of the two sons, Amodeo, died in childbirth. On Monday's episode of Horn, Reali was granted the "Face Time" segment normally awarded to the winner of each day's game:

Monday, June 18, 2018

No, they're not cops: Flat Foot Stooges (1938)

The Three Stooges are firemen in 1938's "Flat Foot Stooges". Silent film star Chester Conklin appears as their boss, and the film was written, directed, and co-produced by Charley Chase, a long time star for Hal Roach. Co-producer Hugh McCollum had worked on a number of Stooge shorts, and also worked for Roach, as memory serves.

Rating: A.

Matt "Guitar" Murphy (1929-2018)

The Blues Brothers knew what they were doing when they recruited ace blues guitarist Matt "Guitar" Murphy in 1978 for their debut album, "Briefcase Full of Blues". Murphy, whose career started all the way back in the 40's & 50's, had played with artists such as Etta James, Muddy Waters, and, in this clip, Memphis Slim.

It would've been too easy to pull another clip from the "Blues Brothers" movie from 1980, where, in the storyline, Murphy and soul legend Aretha Franklin played husband & wife and ran a diner. That clip will come at a later time. Murphy passed away over the weekend at 88.

Rest in peace.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Forgotten TV: The Ames Brothers Show (1956)

In the early days of television, it was common for some shows, including newscasts, to air for just 15 minutes, a practice that Cartoon Network revived several years back with Space Ghost Coast-to-Coast, the forerunner of their [adult swim] division.

In 1956, Revue Studios took a chance with a 15 minute show featuring the Ames Brothers, sponsored by Royal Crown Cola, at the time positing themselves as a legitimate competitor to Pepsi & Coca-Cola. Mostly musical numbers with a short dramatization of their career trajectory, this is the sort of music your parents and grandparents listened to in the 40's & 50's.

Ed Ames, the youngest of the four brothers, is the only one still around. Better known, of course, for his four year run on Daniel Boone (1964-8), Ed is still performing at 89. There is an audio clip on YouTube of Ed performing a full-length version of the Daniel Boone theme, and one of him and co-stars Fess Parker and Darby Hinton reuniting to do the shorter, more familiar version. I'll have those up soon.

Rating: A.

Rockin' Funnies: Hello, Muddah! Hello, Faddah! (1963)

Humorist Allan Sherman landed a novelty hit that put him on the Kraft Music Hall in 1963. With summer camp right around the corner, Allan takes us to Camp Granada in "Hello, Muddah! Hello, Faddah!":

The song's chart success led to Milton Bradley marketing a Camp Granada board game. Sherman, speaking of games, created another TV legend, I've Got a Secret, and was the original voice of Dr. Seuss' Cat in The Hat.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

These 'Cats have claws (Valleycats 11, Vermont 1, 6/15/18)

Wednesday's exhibition win over the Albany Dutchmen might as well have been a warning shot to the New York-Penn League.

The Tri-City Valleycats carried the momentum from their annual Education Day game into Friday's regular season opener at Bruno Stadium, in front of a packed house, and bludgeoned the Vermont Lake Monsters, 11-1.

Tri-City starter Chad Donato gave up a run without a hit in the top of the first. He had Vermont's Jeramiah McCray struck out, but catcher Oscar Campos couldn't contain the baseball, and McCray reached safely on a wild pitch. He'd come around to score on a sacrifice fly by Payton Squier, but that was the extent of the Lake Monsters' offense for the evening.

It didn't take long before the hosts answered.

With two out in the home first, Enmanuel Valdez drew a walk from Vermont starter Rafael Kelly. Then, Luis Encarnacion, cousin of Cleveland star Edwin Encarnacion, showed he has some power, too, cracking a two run homer over the left center field fence, just shy of the Valleycats' bullpen.

In the fourth, with Tri-City leading, 4-1, Kyle Davis, one of the holdovers from last year's team, crushed a Kelly pitch into the berm in left, making it 5-1. Then, in the fifth, two of the Astros' draft picks got into the act. Third round pick Jeremy Pena, out of Maine, stroked a double. The next batter was Houston's first round pick, Seth Beer, out of Clemson. The Suwanee, Georgia native slammed a two run homer into the same area in left center where Encarnacion parked his big fly earlier. That should've finished Kelly, but he stuck around to get two outs before plunking Ramiro Rodriguez and walking Davis, That finally brought a pitching change, as Kelly departed after 4 2/3 innings, charged with seven runs while walking three, hitting one, and striking out just two.

Donato, meanwhile, was brilliant. He went six in his season debut, giving up just the one run while walking one, and fanning six Lake Monster batters. In all, 'Cats pitchers racked up thirteen strikeouts on opening night.

The Valleycats are wearing memorial patches in memory of Millie Gladstone, wife of team president Bill Gladstone. Mrs. Gladstone passed away last month. It was opening night, so former Senator Joe Bruno, for whom the stadium is named, showed up to throw out the first pitch. The way Tri-City has played so far, their playoff draught may be coming to an end, but it is still early, and a lot can happen.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Forgotten TV: Glitter (1984)

Aaron Spelling had a formula for some of his ABC series, such as The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, & Hotel, a formula dating back to his days at Four Star with the original Burke's Law. That formula was to load up on the guest stars, mostly to help bolster the show's ensemble cast.

1984's Glitter wasn't an anthology series, but rather a straight drama, not unlike the cookie cutter crime dramas that Spelling was churning out, mostly, again, for ABC. The pedigree of the show's core cast should've allowed for some cohesion and continuity, but it didn't happen, simply because it was on the wrong night of the week.

Glitter was built around a magazine that fell somewhere between People and, say for example, the National Enquirer. It also brought back Arthur Hill (ex-Owen Marshall, Counselor-at-Law) to series television after a few years away. Spelling lured David Birney away from St. Elsewhere and Morgan Brittany from Dallas. The ensemble also included Melinda Culea (ex-The A-Team), Tracy Nelson (ex-Square Pegs, later of The Father Dowling Mysteries), and, in a rare dramatic role, Arte Johnson (ex-Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In).

So what was the problem? It was on Thursdays at 9 (ET), opposite Simon & Simon (CBS), and Cheers & Night Court on NBC. As a result, only 14 episodes were produced and aired. Ballgame over.

Following is a sample episode, with guest stars Lois Nettleton, Pat Harrington (One Day at a Time), & Melissa Sue Anderson (Little House on The Prairie). Uploaded to YouTube by a Nettleton fan channel.

I would say Glitter aspired to be for ABC what Lou Grant had been over at CBS for a few years, but it wasn't close.

Rating: B-.

Celebrity Rock: Shake a Tail Feather (1980)

Here's another nugget of joy from "The Blues Brothers":

Ray Charles plays a music store owner from whom the band gets their instruments, and, as per usual, it seems, they're running up a tab.

What results here is that the legend sits in with the band for an impromptu romp through "Shake a Tail Feather", which references several dances of the 60's, also referenced in "Land of 1,000 Dances". Jake & Elwood (John Belushi & Dan Aykroyd) sing backup behind Ray, while a couple of kids are dancing on the Bluesmobile. Like, wild!

Today, Ray & Joliet Jake are in music heaven.

Sports this 'n' that

La Loudmouth (LaVar Ball) is at it again.

Earlier this week, Ball went on record claiming that once the NBA free agent signing season begins July 1, LeBron James will leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for the 2nd time, this time signing with Ball's hometown Los Angeles Lakers.

What works in favor of the Lakers is that James has a home in LA, and his namesake son, LeBron, Jr., will be going to high school in the city next fall. However, would James put up with the traveling media circus that shows up every time LaVar, 50, opens his mouth? I doubt that very seriously. James put up a valiant, brave effort, despite Cleveland being swept in four games by Golden State last week in the NBA Finals, playing with a broken hand in the last couple of games.

What Ball is expecting is James to be a mentor to Lonzo, but there are some online commentators who think Lonzo will be traded instead, perhaps to Cleveland, which could do a sign-&-trade to send James and his endorsement deals (i.e. Sprite) to La-La-Land. I don't see that happening, either. James will stay in the east, and likely land, if not in Cleveland, but in Philadelphia, Boston, or even Chicago.

Unfortunately, Lonzo is drinking his pop's kool-aid, and reportedly said that brother LiAngelo will likely join him with the Lakers after next week's draft. Seriously? LiAngelo, thanks to his father, by-passed college for a pro league in Lithuania, and when things went south there, La Loudmouth brought LiAngelo and LaMelo home with some lame excuses.

Here's the problem. Ball thinks his kids are already good enough, despite the fact that he himself was a bench player in high school and college, and even had a cup of coffee in the World League of American Football in 1995, when the Jets had him on their roster. Ball also was on the practice squad of the then-expansion Carolina Panthers, also in 1995. Remember, this delusional dreamer thinks he could beat Michael Jordan and outplay Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski. Ball never played a down in the NFL with either the Panthers or Jets, and thus you can forget about a football card with his mug on it. Unless there's a WLAF 1995 set floating out there that has one.
Three weeks after acquiring him from the Jests, the Oakland Raiders cut former Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg on Tuesday. I guess even Jon Gruden couldn't figure out a way to get him on the field. Next stop for Hackenberg, methinks, is, like, Canada, eh?
The Tri-City Valleycats and Albany Dutchmen played through some raindrops Wednesday morning for their annual Education Day exhibition at Bruno Stadium, with the new-look 'Cats giving new manager Jason Bell his first win right out of the gate, 6-1. While Tri-City opens the NY-Penn League season tomorrow vs. Vermont, the Dutchmen are back in action tonight at Amsterdam after a scheduled Perfect Game Collegiate League game was cancelled due to the advancing rainstorm that hit the region later in the evening. The Dutchmen sit atop their division in the PGCBL at 6-2. Then again, they got off to a good start last year, too, and then fell out of the lead late in the season.
Football fans in the home district have a choice on Saturday. The Troy Fighting Irish (1-0), a semi-pro team, will play their second straight home game at Lansingburgh High, while the Albany Empire (Arena League) will wrap their current homestand at Times-Union Center. The Fighting Irish have lower ticket prices around the same level as the Valleycats, who, oh, by the way, are a 3rd option for local sports fans, with the Dutchmen out of town on Saturday.

Problem is, and I mentioned this before, aside from a season-opening feature piece by El Cheapo Media on opening night, the Irish don't get any coverage, as their opening victory was not reported in the papers. The revamped Northeastern Football Alliance website provided the information. El Cheapo ain't exactly pushing to send a reporter to cover the Empire, either, despite the hometown angle (former Troy High star Jordan Canzeri plays for the Empire). The Empire's game, meanwhile, is likely airing on CBS Sports Network, which would save some budget conscious fans some money.
The Mets are in the desert this weekend, opening a four game series with Arizona after getting swept by Atlanta the last two days, wasting the prosperity of a nationally televised win over the Yankees on Sunday. They didn't need to replace their trainer (Ray Ramirez was let go after last season), they actually need a staff psychologist to help them get over the mental blocks that appear when their star players (i.e. Yoenis Cespedes) are on the DL.

I'm serious. I actually believe most of the team's issues are psychological in nature, something the rabid, scandal-obsessed press and the residents of the Valley of the Stupid (talk radio) don't consider. All these armchair managers who think they've got the answers actually don't. Not saying that I do, because I don't, either, but the psych thing has me puzzled.