Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Forgotten TV: Me And The Boys (1994)

Today, Steve Harvey is one of the busiest guys on the planet. Between a self-titled talk show, Family Feud, a radio show, commercial endorsements, beauty pageants, seasonal projects such as Little Big Shots and Funderdome, and occasionally hosting TBN's Praise The Lord, one wonders if Harvey ever gets any sleep anymore.

In 1994, though, that wasn't the case. Back then, Harvey was another stand-up comic looking to break through on television. ABC took a chance on him with the sitcom, Me And The Boys, which was neatly tucked into their Tuesday lineup, in between Full House & Home Improvement. It was a top 20 show, yet ABC dumped it after one solitary season.

Of course, we know the rest of the story. A self-titled sitcom on WB did for Harvey what Me And The Boys should've done, and made him a big star.

Anyway, what may have caused the cancellation was that, in a way, it was too similar to Full House, except that Harvey, while playing a widower, did have his mother-in-law (Madge Sinclair, ex-Trapper John, MD) to help him raise his two sons. As was the case in his later series, Harvey's character was also a former musician, and that came into play in one episode.

Here's the series opener.



Had it been on a different night, maybe it succeeds.

Rating: A.

Sports this 'n' that

LaSalle failed in its bid to repeat at Section II hockey champions Tuesday night. Instead, the Cadets were shut out, 7-0, by Bethlehem. The Eagles & Cadets had played to a 4-4 draw last month, but Bethlehem was not about to let LaSalle hang around this time, oh no. While Casey Boone had 33 saves in goal for LaSalle, he was challenged the entire night, and coach Tim Flanigan couldn't risk lifting him for freshman Leo Paul, otherwise the end result would've been much worse.

A year removed from their men's basketball team capturing its first sectional title in several years, this year, it was the skating Eagles' time to shine. They went undefeated against Section II teams, but now advance to the state quarterfinals against Massena (Section X) on Saturday at home. If memory serves me correctly, it was Massena that ended LaSalle's season last year in the state tournament.
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Speaking of hoops, the Class AA title game is now set for Saturday at Glens Falls' Cool Insuring Arena. Colonie upset top ranked Saratoga, ending the Blue Streaks' 19 game winning streak, while Shenendehowa dismissed CBA. To think that the Garnet Raiders managed to pull the upset despite having leading scorer Isaiah Moll in the locker room for a good chunk of the second half with a back ailment.
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America's Idiot, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, put his foot in his mouth again on Tuesday.

On First Take, Smith whined about Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson taking batting practice with the Yankees, and clobbering six home runs in the process.



For one thing, I don't think Screamin' A. would have a problem if his pal LeBron James took BP with the Yankees. For another, Wilson was drafted for baseball before being drafted out of Wisconsin by the Seahawks six years ago. The Texas Rangers traded their rights to Wilson to the Yankees a few weeks back, a fact that somehow got past Smith, who gets a Dunce Cap for not having all the facts in front of him.
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For readers in the home district, if you pick up a copy of today's edition of The Record, you'll see that their manpower-challenged sports department ends up getting a set of Dunce Caps for misleading their readers.

You see, there's an action shot from a recent regular season game between LaSalle & CBA, but nothing to actually hype last night's title game. For that matter, the editors didn't send anyone to Union College to cover Sunday's semi-finals (yes, LaSalle got Rodney'd again). This is what happens when El Cheapo Press doesn't do right by its readers in this market.

Not only that, but they've ignored the resurgent Albany Patroons, again using their lack of manpower and finances to explain why no one's covered Patroons home games this season. In truth, ignorance is not a valid excuse.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Musical Interlude: I Beg Your Pardon (1988)

Nearly 20 years after Lynn Anderson crossed over between the pop & country charts with "Rose Garden", Canada's Kon Kan sampled the chorus, among other things, and reached #15 on the pop chart with "I Beg Your Pardon".

Sports this 'n' that

Basketball season is over at Troy High & LaSalle. Both teams were eliminated in Class AA men's quarterfinal action on Saturday. LaSalle fell to top-seeded Saratoga for the second time this season, 59-44. The Blue Streaks ran their winning streak to 19 in a row, and will play #4 Colonie next. The Garnet Raiders maintained their hold on Troy, but once again had to hold the pesky Flying Horses at bay before prevailing, 51-47. Troy is now 0-4 vs. Colonie since entering the Suburban Council.

The upside for Troy, of course, is that Colonie will graduate their leading scorer, Isaiah Moll, this June, and I believe Will Aybar as well. Maybe things change next season. Troy finishes 14-8 on the season, a solid first season for head coach Greg Davis.
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The other semi-final in Class AA sees old foes CBA & Shenendehowa meet. Both have already fallen to Saratoga, but don't think the sectional title is a sure thing for Saratoga just yet. Stranger things have happened. The semi-finals & finals will be contested at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls.
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Meanwhile, LaSalle has moved one step closer to repeating at Section II hockey champs, but needed overtime to eliminate Shaker-Colonie, 6-5, Sunday night. Tom Ryan had 2 goals, while Jack O'Bryan had a goal & 4 assists. Sam Brendese, Christian Rudd, & Taylor Nitz also scored for LaSalle, which now faces #1 Bethlehem on Tuesday night at Union College. The Eagles eliminated CBA, this coming after the two teams had played in a Class AA basketball quarter-final, won by CBA, on Saturday.

Remember, too, that Bethlehem & LaSalle skated to a 4-4 draw last month. Again, there's no guarantee that the Eagles, who have not lost to a Section II team all season, can keep that streak going.
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Hard to believe, but pre-season baseball has already started. The regular season begins Thursday, March 29, this year, and so the hype will begin. Meanwhile, Major League Baseball has put a limit on mound visits in another attempt to try to speed up the game. That won't go over very well. They've talked about a pitch clock, but that isn't going to be put into effect-----yet.
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Three years ago, MMA ace-actress Ronda Rousey appeared at Wrestlemania, giving Triple H and his wife, Stephanie McMahon, a SportsCenter memory they'd rather, in character, forget. Last night, at Elimination Chamber, Rousey officially signed on the dotted line to be a part of Monday Night Raw's women's division, but the seeds have been planted for her first match to be at this year's Wrestlemania. The previous confrontation in Arlington, Texas may or may not have been referenced, but figurehead GM Kurt Angle stirred the pot, teasing that he may be Rousey's partner in a tag match vs. the WWE's power couple. Three years ago, people were speculating about a team of Rousey and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, but since the People's Movie Star will be busy the weekend of April 8, either Angle or someone else will stand beside Rousey. Regardless, HHH & Stephanie have inherited the Vince McMahon Curse, meaning that by remaining corrupt, tbey're assured of losing at the big dance. Vince never won at the Show of Shows, and HHH has lost his last two bouts at the big event, soon to be three.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Musical Interlude: Come Saturday Morning (1969)

The Sandpipers peaked at #17 on the pop chart in 1970 with "Come Saturday Morning", used in the 1969 Liza Minelli movie, "The Sterile Cuckoo".

What you might not know is that some pressings of the track credit studio singer Patrice Holloway (Josie & The Pussycats) as a background vocalist. Judge for yourselves here, effendis.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

YouTube Theatre: I Know That Voice (2013)

I've been meaning to do this for a while, and it's finally underway.

What "it" is, friends, is YouTube Theatre, our newest feature. Sure, we've pulled full movies off YouTube before, and some were unceremoniously deleted due to copyright issues, but this is something I think can work in the long term.

First up is a documentary that takes viewers behind the scenes in the world of voice acting. One of today's busiest voice actors, John DiMaggio (Futurama, Kim Possible, Batman: The Brave & The Bold, etc.), co-wrote and serves as executive producer for "I Know That Voice". It's available on DVD, but, rather than risk mail order, I just got lucky and found it on YouTube. The documentary pretty much sells itself, so let's get started:



The poster dedicated this to the late June Foray, who passed away last summer. I'd also put this over at Saturday Morning Archives, except for the language.

Rating: A.

Nanette Fabray (1920-2018)

It would be easy to say Nanette Fabray led a full life. She began her show business career at a very young age, performing in vaudeville, then appearing with silent film icon Ben Turpin. By her early 20's, she discovered that she had a significant loss of hearing, which she overcame to become not only an Emmy & Tony Award winning actress and dancer (she studied under Bill "Bojangles" Robinson), but an advocate for the hearing impaired.

Television audiences know Nanette from roles on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Coach (in which she acted with her niece, singer-actress Shelley Fabares), & One Day at a Time, and as a frequent panelist on the original Hollywood Squares. Nanette also had a lengthy career in films, dating back to her days with Turpin.

In memory of Nanette Fabray, who passed away at 97, we serve up this morning an a capella rendering, with sign language, of "Over The Rainbow", from season 1 of The Carol Burnett Show:



During the70's, Nanette also did some PSA's about hearing loss. I'll see if I can find one to post another day.

Rest in peace, Nanette.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Musical Interlude: Rose Garden (1970)

Country songbird Lynn Anderson cracked the top 5 on Billboard's pop & adult contemporary charts in addition to hitting #1 on the country chart with 1970's "Rose Garden". The Joe South-penned ballad has been covered in years since by artists as diverse as k.d. lang and---believe it or not---comedy icon Carol Burnett.

Here, Lynn traveled to London for an appearance on Top of the Pops. Unfortunately, she left the band behind.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

What Might've Been: Trivia Trap (1984)

The emergence of the board game, Trivial Pursuit (which was later adapted for television), led to Mark Goodson deciding to develop his own trivia game. Unfortunately, Trivia Trap lasted just 6 months in 1984-5 on ABC, stuck in a morning slot opposite one of Goodson's classic games, The Price is Right, as well as Wheel of Fortune on NBC.

Bob Eubanks served as host, and I think this might've been his last effort for ABC, after The Newlywed Game and Rhyme & Reason. Two months into the show's run, the format was altered from what you're about to see after Goodson received feedback from a focus group.

The late Charlie O'Donnell, better known for his work on Wheel and American Bandstand, was the 2nd of three announcers used on the show, and is heard in this sample show.



In ye scribe's opinion, ABC kept cutting itself short in the morning, giving their affiliates 2 hours in between Good Morning, America and their daytime lineup. It also allowed CBS & NBC, which programmed from 10 am (ET) forward back then, a huge advantage in terms of ratings.

Could this return? That's open to debate.

Rating: A.

High school this 'n' that

Readers of The Record have complained about the slanted coverage given to Saratoga County, home to The Saratogian, on a number of topics, sports included.

Suffice to say, the hometown paper now has no choice but to give the defending Section II hockey champs, LaSalle, major coverage as they defend their title this weekend at Union College.

The skating Cadets defeated Saratoga, 3-1, on Wednesday night in their final home game of the season at Hudson Valley Community College. Tom Ryan, Ryan Murray, & Sebastian Geiger had the goals for LaSalle, which beat the Blue Streaks for the 3rd time this season.  Up next for the Cadets will be Shaker-Colonie, which upset 3rd seeded Shenendehowa, also by a 3-1 count. This will be the nightcap of the Sunday doubleheader at Union's Messa Rink.

Form held on the other side of the bracket as Bethlehem shut out Adirondack, and CBA defeated Burnt Hills-Ballston Spa for the second time in as many weeks. Recall that Bethlehem upset CBA in last year's tournament, and swept the Brothers in the regular season. That alone would be motivation  for CBA to knock off the top seed. They will drop the puck at 4:30 on Sunday, with LaSalle vs. Shaker-Colonie ticketed for a 7:15 start.
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LaSalle's basketball team is the only non-Suburban Council team left in the Class AA boys' tournament after beating Ballston Spa on Wednesday. That's the good news. The bad? What amounts to a de facto home game at HVCC on Saturday night will have the Cadets facing top seeded Saratoga, which has won 18 in a row. The Streaks may have some extra motivation to avenge the losses foisted on their hockey brethren, as well as keeping their winning streak intact. 

Meanwhile, Troy beat Guilderland for the 2nd time this season, and will have a chance to avenge their earlier loss to Colonie in the opener of a AA quadruple-header on Saturday. Not only that, but Greg Davis' club will be looking to snap a 3-game losing streak to the Garnet Raiders. As with LaSalle, Saturday's game is a de facto home game for Troy, though due to seeding, they'll be the visitors, same as with LaSalle.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Billy Graham (1918-2018)

When I was growing up in the 70's, evangelist Billy Graham would buy air time at least 2-4 times a year for his crusades. He toured the country and the world many times over, preaching the Gospel to millions. The televised, syndicated 3-4 night crusade specials stopped airing sometime in the late 80's or early 90's, I'm not sure which. His celebrity was such that he actually was invited to appear on the Dean Martin Celebrity Roast, and was on the talk show circuit.

Graham also had a weekly radio program, The Hour of Decision, which son Franklin took over a few years back, as memory serves.

God called Dr. Graham home today, 9 months shy of his 100th birthday. I cannot be certain if he ever met President Donald Trump, but this we do know. He has worked with other presidents over the years, including Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

In 1957, then-Vice President Richard Nixon was a guest when Graham preached at the original Yankee Stadium before 100,000+ people.



Oh, if Dr. Graham knew what would happen to Nixon nearly 20 years later. If he did, I wonder if he counseled Nixon, or if "Tricky Dick" turned his back on God at that point. I guess we'll never know.

Rest in peace, Billy. God bless you always.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Can we sign these guys up for Lip Sync Battle? (2018)

If you didn't see this during the Super Bowl 2 weeks ago, where were you?

Frito-Lay & Pepsi joined forces for this star-studded spot. On the Doritos side, you have Peter Dinklage and Busta Rhymes. For Mountain Dew Ice, it's Oscar winner Morgan Freeman and Grammy winner Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott.



Wack, man. Totally wack.

What Might've Been: Makin' It (1979)

When the 1978-9 season began, ABC had Donny & Marie, in its 4th & final season, leading off its Friday lineup. Somewhere along the way, ratings began to slide, and the series was moved to Sunday nights in January '79. So how does ABC fill the void? They commissioned Garry Marshall to come up with another sitcom.

Marshall and his crack staff had spun Mork & Mindy off from the former's 1-shot appearance on Happy Days, so executive producers Thomas Miller & Edward Milkis were starting to move out of the familiar confines of Milwaukee. With Mork set in Boulder, Colorado, the producers began to look to the northeast.

Makin' It was a cheesy knockoff of "Saturday Night Fever", set in New Jersey. It was also a star vehicle for actor-singer David Naughton, who sang the title song, and saw it enter the Billboard chart after the show was cancelled! "Makin' It" peaked at #5. Between Makin' It & Angie, Miller, Milkis, Marshall, and co. were hoping to find a new gold mine of comedy in the tri-state (New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania) area. But with both shows built around Italian families, viewers may have found them to be too similar. Angie, as we discussed previously, managed to earn a 2nd season. Makin' It was lucky to last two months.

Music producer Robert Stigwood, the man who helped put the Bee Gees back atop the charts, lent his aid as his production company co-produced the show. Marshall surrounded Naughton with an experienced supporting cast, including Greg Antonacci (ex-Busting Loose), Denise Miller (ex-Fish), Lou Antonio (ex-Dog & Cat), and Ellen Travolta.

Here's the intro:



Denise Miller would later join the cast of Archie Bunker's Place. Ellen Travolta would return in another Garry Marshall entry, Joanie Loves Chachi, and later in Charles in Charge. I think it was around this time that Naughton also landed his famous endorsement deal with Dr. Pepper, and later starred in "An American Werewolf in London" before returning to television in Aaron Spelling's ill-fated service comedy, At Ease.

When I moved into my current pad, there used to be a youth disco next door. It's now a bartending school. Disco was, in fact, dying out by the winter of '79.

No rating.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

What Might've Been: Condo (1983)

After leaving M*A*S*H, McLean Stevenson must've been cursed by a gypsy or something, because every series he tried as a lead ultimately failed, the most successful of which was Hello, Larry, which ran for 2 seasons.

Condo was the last of those series. One of several Spring 1983 replacements for ABC, Stevenson and Luis Avalos (ex-The Electric Company) were cast as neighbors in adjacent condominiums. What producers Paul Junger Witt & Tony Thomas (Benson, Soap) and John Rich tried to do was create a show that would have the same kind of racial tension as, say for example, All in The Family or The Jeffersons, the latter of which was still on the air at the time.

So what killed Condo? Trying to reinvent the wheel, if you will. Co-producers Saul Turtletaub & Bernie Orenstein had also worked on Sanford & Son and What's Happening!, but everything else they developed for ABC (i.e. 13 Queens Boulevard) flopped.

Here's a sample episode. Game show host Peter Tomarken (Press Your Luck) guest stars in a parody of The People's Court.



Marc Price, at the time, was only a recurring regular on Family Ties, and would land a full-time deal with that series the following fall. James Victor would be better known for his role as Sgt. Mendoza in the 1990 remake of Zorro.

Rating: C.

Sports this 'n' that

So Lindsey Vonn failed to medal in a Super G ski race the other day at the Olympics. Normally, that wouldn't be such a big deal, but because she spoke out against President Trump, some of the president's brain-dead followers took to social media to bash Vonn. These sheep elected a 70-something businessman-turned-celebrity, who's being presented by certain of the media as a petulant man-child, based on their perceptions of how he responds to things on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Fox News' Laura Ingraham decided she had issues with Cleveland Cavaliers superstar and soft drink salesman LeBron James over his anti-Trump comments. It didn't take long for other basketball players, as well as second generation defensive lineman Chris Long of the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, to blow back at Ingraham. We know Fox News is in the tank for Trump, feeding his spoiled child persona, which puts to lie their slogan that they're "fair & balanced". Small wonder, then, that the average Joe Sixpack's IQ is down.......
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The season's over for Troy High's women's basketball team. Coach Paul Bearup's club renewed a dormant in-city rivalry Friday night at Catholic Central High, and were blown out of Monsignor Burns Gym, 82-51. Troy finishes 6-15 on the season (5-11 in the Suburban Council). Jenalyse Alarcon was virtually a one woman team for Troy, finishing with a game high 24 points. At 6-15, it's easily the worst record the Troy girls have had in quite a while, if not ever. Next for the Lady Crusaders will be #3 Shaker on Wednesday night. That same night, the Troy boys begin sectional play vs. Guilderland. The Dutchmen, like the Lady Horses, are in rebuilding mode, and lost to Troy earlier this season. Revenge is not out of the question, as all Troy coach Greg Davis needs do is remind his team of what Albany did to them last year.
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To the surprise of, well, no one, LaSalle's firm of Ryan (Murray) & (Tom) Ryan were named to the Section II all star team on Friday. Goaltender Casey Boone was named a second-team all star, as Bethlehem's Alex Breine was named the top netminder in the league. Christian Rudd, Sebastian Geiger, & Jack O'Bryan were given honorable mention, but Taylor Nitz ended up with the el snubbino. Simply put, there's just too much talent in the league as a whole, so, just like in the pros, some deserving players are going to be left out. The defending Section II champs open defense of their title on Wednesday vs. Saratoga, as the Blue Streaks, on a down year, will try to salvage the season, having already been swept in the regular season by LaSalle.
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There's a bidding war going on between ESPN & Fox for the services of future Hall of Fame QB and insurance salesman Peyton Manning. ESPN wants Manning to replace Raiders coach Jon Gruden on Monday Night Football, and then comes word that they're talking about also reassigning play-by-play man Sean McDonough, likely back to college football & basketball. Fox wants the telegenically challenged Manning for their newly acquired Thursday night package, as they've already said they won't use their #1 team of Joe Buck (who wouldn't be available in October anyway) and Troy Aikman on Thursday Night Football. Didn't they learn anything from Manning's insufferably embarrassing series of commercials for Nationwide this past season, where he treated country singer Brad Paisley, who should know better, like a common bumpkin? Manning is better served as a studio analyst. End of story.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

In Theatres: Black Panther (2018)

In 1966, Stan Lee & Jack Kirby introduced Wakandan King T'Challa, the Black Panther, in the pages of Fantastic Four. The Panther would become an ally of Marvel's First Family, as well as becoming a member of the Avengers. 50 years later, the Panther was brought to life in "Captain America: Civil War", and his story continues in "Black Panther".

T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) inherited the throne after his father, T'Chaka, was assassinated in "Civil War", and remains committed to preserving the secrets of Wakanda's advanced technology. However, his cousin, now going by the handle, Erik Stevens, aka Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan, "Fantastic Four", "Creed"), who has spent most of his formative years in the US, has returned home, seeking revenge after his father had been murdered years earlier. While here, Killmonger served in the military, developing his craft.

Added to the mix is Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), better known to comics fans as Klaw, the master of sound. Instead of his signature sonic blaster, Klaue has a prosthetic arm with a retractable blaster mounted on it. It's not the same, and it's not as if Marvel/Disney suddenly decided to go el scrimpo.

What fans will see here is an amalgamation of other heroic icons such as Tarzan, Wonder Woman, and James Bond. You'd just have to see it to believe it and get the picture. Speaking of which, here's the trailer.



Of course, Stan gets his cameo in. It almost wouldn't be a Marvel Studios movie without him.

Rating: A.

Friday, February 16, 2018

High School Fridays: Section II hockey playoff preview

The annual meeting of the coaches in the Capital District High School Hockey League (CDHSHL) on Thursday was a mere formality, due to the simple fact that the pairings for the Section II hockey playoffs were finalized on Wednesday night. Queensbury, which finished second in the CDHSHL, is in Division 2, and thus advances directly to state tournament play---we think---starting in 2 weeks.

Tonight, there are two play-in games to slice the remaining field from 10 teams down to 8.

#7 Saratoga hosts #10 Gulderland-Mohonasen-Scotia-Glenville. That's the good news. The bad news? The winner has to go to Troy to play #2 LaSalle on Wednesday. The defending champs are staggering into the playoffs, having lost two of their last three, closing the regular season with a 4-1 loss to Queensbury on Tuesday. By the time they play again, Coach Tim Flanigan should have his team out of their lethargic, end-of-the-regular-season malaise.

#8 Adirondack plays host to #9 Niskayuna-Schenectady. Winner plays top-seeded Bethlehem, which went undefeated in league play.

Let's assume form holds tonight, and look at the pairings for the quarter-final round on Wednesday:

Adirondack @ Bethlehem.
Saratoga @ LaSalle. The Blue Streaks were swept by the Cadets in the regular season, but could the 3rd time be a charm?
Shaker-Colonie @ Shenendehowa.
Burnt Hills-Ballston Spa @ CBA. These two teams met on Monday, with the Brothers winning, 4-2.

Again, form should hold, but, as noted above, there's cause for concern with LaSalle, which won both of their meetings against Saratoga by identical 2-1 scores. If there's going to be an upset in this round, it's in this game. Shenendehowa will be waiting in the semi-finals, taking place February 25 at Union College. Figure CBA-Bethlehem as the other semi-final. It was the Eagles that eliminated CBA in last year's tournament, so, assuming they win their quarter-final, CBA will be looking for revenge.

My take: LaSalle recovers from their recent slump, and runs the table again to their 2nd straight Section II title.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Musical Interlude: December 1963 (Oh, What a Night)(1975)

The Four Seasons' final #1 hit landed atop the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1976, and was a change of pace for the band.

Drummer Gerry Polci is on lead vocal, while regular lead singer Frankie Valli was heard on the bridge portion. "December 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" was written by producer Bob Gaudio and his then-sweetheart, Judy Parker, and, in  a way, reflected their own beginnings as a couple.



While the Four Seasons swam against the tide of the British Invasion in the 60's, and incorporated a sort-of disco sound on "December 1963", this would be the end of their run on the charts, just when we all thought they were making a major comeback.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Video Valentine: You're The Inspiration (1984)

1984's "Chicago 17" was the last album by the iconic group to feature bassist-vocalist Peter Cetera. And while the band continued to produce records for a few years after Cetera left to pursue solo success, "You're The Inspiration", the 3rd single from the album, may have been their best video.

I wonder how many people took notice of the young couple at the early stages of the video dressed as Billy Idol & Madonna and tried shipping them. At the time, Madonna was a stablemate of Chicago's, as Sire, Madonna's label, and Full Moon, Chicago's label, were both part of the Warner Bros. chain. Idol at that time was recording for Chrysalis.

The politics of basketball sectionals

The pairings for this year's Class AA men's basketball tournament in Section II have been announced. Political favoritism reared its head, as the top two seeds come from the Suburban Council's Blue Division.

Division champion Saratoga has the league's best mark at 18-2 overall. Shenendehowa, which finished 16-4 overall, gets the #2 seed ahead of Gray division champion CBA (17-3), when it should be the other way around. Rightfully, the division champions should be seeded 1-2. The two AA teams in the Colonial Council, LaSalle & Catholic Central, are both in the bottom half of the bracket. The Crusaders will be fed to old rival CBA in the first round, while LaSalle, which has skidded in the second half of the season, must travel as the #9 seed to #8 Ballston Spa next week. CCHS, by the way, is seeded 14th.

Troy High, which finished 2nd in the Gray division for the 2nd straight season (13-7), is the #5 seed, and will host #12 Guilderland, a team they've beaten already this season, next week. Here's how the brackets break down:

1. Saratoga-bye.
2. Shen-bye.
3. CBA v. 14. CCHS.
4. Colonie vs. 13. Albany.
5. Troy vs. 12. Guilderland.
6. Bethlehem vs. 11. Columbia.
7. Shaker vs. 10. Green Tech.
8. Ballston Spa vs. 9. LaSalle.

Green Tech plays an independent schedule, not bound to any league, and, remember, they won their only Section II title 4 years ago.

If you're a LaSalle fan, you're asking why the Cadets have a low seed. LaSalle finished 2nd behind Schalmont in its division in the Colonial Council. They have a better overall record than Ballston Spa, so the seeding should be reversed. It comes down to politics, pure & simple. Why that is, I don't know.

As it is, not all of the Suburban Council's AA teams are entered in the tournament, as Niskayuna and Schenectady declined to accept bids. Albany had a worse record, but they're in. Schenectady won't be in the women's sectionals, either. Speaking of which, the pairings are as follows:

1. Shen-bye.
2. Colonie-bye.
3. Shaker-bye.
4. Bethlehem vs. 5. Saratoga-February 21.
6. Catholic Central vs. 11. Troy
7. Albany vs. 10. Guilderland.
8. Columbia vs. 9. Niskayuna.

Projections for Troy: The girls will end their season on a downer as they renew a long standing city rivalry with Catholic Central on Friday. I can't see them beating CCHS, but if they were to pull the upset, another meeting with Shaker would be next. As for the boys, they have to avoid repeating a 1st round fade-out, as Guilderland will be looking for an upset, just like Albany last year. The Falcons won't have that luxury this time, as they'll be sent packing by Colonie. If Troy beats Guilderland, they'd get another shot at knocking a monkey off their collective backs, as the Flying Horses have never beaten Colonie in boys' regular season meetings since joining the Suburban Council in 2015.

In addition to Schenectady, Ballston Spa will not have their women in the tournament. Mohonasen, Averill Park, & Burnt Hills would be in the Class A tournaments.

Projections for the first round:

Girls:

Friday:

CCHS over Troy.
Albany over Guilderland.
Columbia over Nisky.

Next Wednesday:

Shen over Columbia.
Colonie over Albany.
Catholic Central upsets Shaker.
Saratoga upsets Bethlehem.

Boys:

Next Wednesday:

CBA over CCHS.
Colonie over Albany.
Troy over Guilderland.
Bethlehem over Columbia.
Green Tech upsets Shaker.
LaSalle over Ballston Spa.

Boys' quarterfinal pairings, assuming those projections are accurate (to be played Feb. 24 at Hudson Valley Community College):

Saratoga vs. LaSalle.
Shen vs. Green Tech.
CBA vs. Bethlehem.
Colonie vs. Troy.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

As the parade passes......

Death's been busy lately. In the last 48 hours alone, we've lost some talented folks.

Country singer Daryle Singletary may not be a household name now, but he was a fixture on the charts dating back about 20-25 years. Passed away at 46.

Crooner Vic Damone got a ringing endorsement from no less than Frank Sinatra himself early in his career, especially considering he was one of many who modeled their singing styles after "The Chairman of the Board". More modern audiences might remember that he was married for a time to actress-singer Diahann Carroll (ex-Julia, Dynasty). Damone was 89 when he was called home.

And then, there's Marty Allen.

World War II veteran. Actor. Comedian. Humanitarian. Allen outlived his former partner, singer-comic Steve Rossi, and was still very active in civic and social causes when he passed away Monday at 95 from pneumonia.

What you might not realize is that Allen was not just a comic actor. He could do drama, too. An example of this comes from season 4 of The Big Valley. Allen plays a hapless fellow named Waldo Diefendorfer, who lands a job on the Barkley ranch......



Up in Heaven, Marty will be saying, "Hello dere", for the rest of his life. Rest in peace, gentlemen.

Sports this 'n' that

Tonight is supposed to be the end of the regular season for high school basketball & hockey,  but teams are rescheduling games in order to get them played before sectional pairings are announced later this week.

Troy High & LaSalle have no such worries.

LaSalle's basketball team closed its regular season with a win over Cobleskill-Richmondville last night, and the skating Cadets, defending Section II champions, wrap their season tonight, hosting Queensbury. Since the Spartans are a Division 2 school in hockey, they won't play in the Section II tournament that starts with a play-in game between "Guilderville" & Niskayuna-Schenectady on Friday. Assuming they beat Queensbury, LaSalle would be the #2 seed and play #7 Saratoga next week in the quarterfinals.

Troy's basketball teams close the regular season tonight. The boys are home for Senior Night vs. Schenectady. It's the opposite for the girls, as they visit the Pat Riley Center for the Lady Patriots' Senior Night. Both Schenectady teams are looking for revenge after losing to Troy right before Christmas. On the boys' side a Patriot win would lock up the Suburban Council Gray division for CBA, although the Brothers could do that all by themselves on their Senior Night vs. Albany.

Sectional pairings for basketball will be announced tomorrow, hockey on Thursday.
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Those of you who live in the home district know that the Schenectady High Patriots are a merger between Linton (Pat Riley's alma mater) and Mont Pleasant. However, in the early 20th century, there was a Schenectady High, too, but back then, their team name was the Dorpians, per The Record's daily history column. Apparently, the name change was needed because no one in today's society would understand what a dorpian is.
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Hard to believe, but pre-season baseball is right around the corner, and the requisite pre-season preview books are already on shelves. With so many free agents still out on the market, there are rumors suggesting that the owners are again trying collusion.

Of course, the one agent with the most clients, Scott "20 Mule Team" Boras, is raising a ruckus, but what he doesn't realize is that the owners are tired of getting fleeced by this failed minor leaguer-turned-lawyer-turned agent/con artist. Get with the program, Boras, and go away.
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Boras' counterpart in basketball is not an established agent anymore, but stage parent LaVar Ball. La Loudmouth is at it again, making comments about having all three of his sons play for the Lakers at some point, and eldest son Lonzo, who's been battling injuries of late, ain't exactly trying to stop the tirades. The tone of La Loudmouth's comments, using "I want" instead of a more responsible "I'd like to see" to describe his wish to see Lonzo & his brothers, LiAngelo & LaMelo, together with the Lakers.

To recap this sad saga of a parent in need of therapy, La Loudmouth pulled LaMelo out of high school just because he doesn't like the basketball coach there. Doesn't care about his youngest child's education. After LiAngelo was suspended from the UCLA basketball team after the shoplifting imbroglio in China, LaVar pulled him out of school. And he thinks the Lakers will draft LiAngelo in June? There's no question he's delusional. He doesn't care about his boys' education, or lack of same, as I don't think LaVar finished school, either. Nobody that I know is buying his overpriced shoes, and now I hear he's peddling bottled water? We already have a premium brand of bottled water on the market. You know, Evian? Knowing La Loudmouth, he'd charge $5 a bottle and $20 for a 6-pack.

Then again, LaVar's never met this guy......



What La Loudmouth doesn't get is that Lonzo is under contract to the Lakers for 3 more years, with club options on the last two, and it'd be that long minimum before he becomes even a restricted free agent, meaning Los Angeles can match any offer. LaVar isn't happy unless he's controlling what his sons do on the court. That's the problem. He doesn't know how to cut the apron strings and let his kids mature. He's already screwed LiAngelo & LaMelo out of their education, though LaMelo could apply for and get a GED.

This kind of drama doesn't happen here in the home district, and never will.




Monday, February 12, 2018

Musical Interlude: The Candy Man (1971)

From 1971's "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" is a version of Anthony Newley & Leslie Bricusse's "The Candy Man" that may not be as familiar as Sammy Davis, Jr.'s cover, which topped the charts in 1972. British actor-singer Aubrey Woods sings "The Candy Man" in an early sequence in the film.




Would Jack Benny drive anything but a Maxwell? (1966)

I don't know all the details, but after his self-titled sitcom ended its run on CBS in 1965, Jack Benny switched networks to NBC, for whom he made several specials, and appeared on Dean Martin's Celebrity Roast before his passing.

From his 1966 Christmas special comes an in-show advertisement for American Motors, the original makers of the Jeep brand. Jack is joined by Peter Hansen (General Hospital) and frequent pain in the tuchis (to Jack, anyway) Frank Nelson.



Now, to answer the question at the title of this post, we know that Benny did drive other cars, the Maxwell being part of his radio act. One of these times I'll have a bit that Jack did with Dennis Day for Texaco.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

On The Air: The Punisher (2017)

The one element that separates Marvel-Netflix's family of series from CW's DC Universe line of adventure series is realism. Oh, sure, Black Lightning is grounded in realism, a break from the norm for the CW, and rightfully so. Meanwhile, Marvel has finally found a forum fitting for The Punisher.

Three feature films in 15 years didn't exactly inspire mainstream interest in ex-Marine-turned-vigilante Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal, reprising his role from Daredevil). Here, understandably, Castle's story has been updated to modern times, his Marine hitch served in Afghanistan instead of Vietnam, but otherwise the tragedy is the same. Castle's wife & kids were murdered, setting Castle on a familiar career path.

The biggest change comes in Castle's long-time right-hand man, Microchip, now known simply as Micro, and rebooted from a balding, middle aged weapons expert to an ace hacker who, like Castle, has a wife & kids. As the story unfolds, we'll find that this season's big bad is a foe familiar to long-time fans, but whose origin story is being told over the course of the season. Hint: he was in the last "Punisher" movie 10 years ago.

Frank's case, of course, gets the attention of reporter Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll, Daredevil), who seems to have a semblance of an attraction to Castle.

If anything at all, Punisher snaps the string of Marvel-Netflix failures, as Iron Fist & The Defenders were not well received by critics. Proof of this is the fact that Punisher has already been renewed for a 2nd season, likely no later than 2020-21.

Here's a trailer.



While the writers of DC's shows, save for Black Lightning, have suddenly forgotten how to develop sensible overarching plots, The Punisher reminds us how it can be done right.

Rating: A-.

Video Valentine: Forever (1991)

From Full House:

Jesse (John Stamos) & Rebecca (Lori Loughlin) have just gotten married, and at the reception, Jesse serenades his new bride with a solo cover of the Beach Boys' "Forever" on the piano.



We'd hear different versions of "Forever" over the course of the next year, including "Jesse & The Rippers" (Stamos with the Beach Boys' Carl Wilson, Mike Love, & Bruce Johnston) with a version after the birth of twins Nicky & Alex at the end of season 5. As we've documented, Stamos has played with the Beach Boys frequently over the years, even appearing in a few music videos.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

What Might've Been: Buffalo Bill (1983)

It seemed as thought Dabney Coleman was typecast after acting opposite Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, & Dolly Parton in 1980's "9 to 5". 1983's summer replacement series, Buffalo Bill, was renewed that same fall for ratings-starved NBC, which shifted the series from Wednesdays to Thursdays, landing a plum spot on the latter night in between Cheers & Hill Street Blues.

Bill Bittinger (Coleman) is a egocentric talk show host in Western New York who can't help but alienate his own staff, including floor manager Woody (John Fiedler) and producer Jo-Jo (Joanna Cassidy). His Ugly American viewpoints, however, would likely be embraced today by a certain President.

The series' supporting cast also included Meshach Taylor (later of Designing Women & Dave's World) & Max Wright (later of Misfits of Science & Alf).

In this sample clip, Bill is imagining being confronted by a group of angry African Americans after making some racist remarks. Set to the beat of Ray Charles' "Hit The Road, Jack", with Charles' vocals lip-synched by Coleman.



Unfortunately, Buffalo Bill lost viewers in season 2, and was cancelled with only 26 episodes produced. Coleman would try again with The Slap Maxwell Story (ABC) & Madman of the People (NBC), but wouldn't fare too much better.

Rating: B.

Hail to the Seniors: Adirondack @ LaSalle (hockey), 2/10/18

The skating Cadets of LaSalle Institute were playing on consecutive days for the first time since the Mohawks tournament on December 26-27. Not only that, but they were coming off a disappointing loss to Burnt Hills-Ballston Spa last night, and, so far this season, LaSalle has not had a losing streak.

The Adirondack (formerly Tri-Falls) Rivermen provided the opposition on Senior Night, in front of a raucous crowd at Conway Rink, inside the McDonough Sports Complex at Hudson Valley Community College. The game was mistakenly advertised for a 6:45 start, but that was actually meant for Senior Night ceremonies. The game itself got underway shortly after 7, although the program read it would be the usual starting time of 7:15.

The Rivermen came out with an aggressive, swarming defense that frustrated the Cadets. However, after a scoreless first period, Matt Luke put the hosts on the board, knocking one past Adirondack goalie Cory Parker for a 1-0 lead. Later in the period, after having served a penalty, Sam Brendese rifled a shot past Parker to increase the lead to 2-0. Just before the end of the period, Ryan Murray added a power play goal to give LaSalle a 3-0 lead through two periods.

When the third period started, senior goalie Casey Boone was lifted in favor of freshman Leo Paul, the only other netminder on the Cadets' roster. Boone finished with 12 saves, but Paul couldn't preserve the shutout. With his team trailing 4-0 after Luke netted his second goal of the game, Willis Bickford scored for Adirondack. However, Murray answered just 14 seconds later with his second of the night. Ballgame over. With Queensbury idle, LaSalle moves back into second place with a 5-1 verdict.

LaSalle closes its home schedule vs. Queensbury on Tuesday, with a chance to lock down the 2nd seed in the playoffs. At 11-2-2 (13-4-2 overall), LaSalle should still be considered a favorite to repeat as Section II champs.

Sports this 'n' that

Entering the final days of the regular season, Troy High's boys' basketball team knew they had to run the table, and hope that Suburban Council Gray division leader Christian Brothers Academy would stumble to have a shot at their 2nd division title in 3 years.

On Tuesday, CBA clinched at least a tie for the division title in beating Schenectady, while Troy took care of business and beat Albany, extracting some payback for a first round exit in last year's sectionals. Last night, the top two teams in the division met at Ned McGraw Gym on the CBA campus in Colonie. I don't know what would be the high school equivalent of champagne after winning a division title, but the Brothers were not going to have a party after the game. Jordan King led all scorers with 20 points, but he was the only CBA player in double figures. Nazaire Merritt & Latyce Faison led Troy with 18 points each. Alonzo Alexander added 11, and Troy completed a season sweep of CBA, 53-48. The season closes on Tuesday, with Schenectady at Troy, and CBA plays Albany.
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Earlier in the week, I said LaSalle was assured of at least a #2 seed in the Capital District High School Hockey League (CDHSHL) playoffs, which begin with a play-in game next Friday. The key words were "at least", it turns out, as Burnt Hills-Ballston Spa ended the Cadets' 8 game unbeaten streak (7-0-1) with a 2-1 upset last night. LaSalle returns home tonight to close the regular season with Senior Night vs. Adirondack before finishing Tuesday at home vs. Queensbury. The Spartans have moved into 2nd place after beating "Guilderville". Bethlehem, meanwhile, clinched the regular season title by shutting out Saratoga, 8-0. The Eagles will close their season vs. Niskayuna-Schenectady on Tuesday in a game rescheduled after the snow forced a postponement on Wednesday. Bethlehem leads Queensbury by 4 1/2 points, and LaSalle by 5 going into tonight's action.
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The Boston Herald suspended sports columnist Ron Borges on Friday after he fell for a phone scam perpetrated by a Valley of the Stupid representative on WEEI in Boston. "Nick From Boston" pretended to be Don Yee, the agent of New England Patriots QB Tom Brady, and claimed that after Brady's ex-teammate, Jimmy Garoppolo, was rewarded with a new 5 year contract by San Francisco earlier in the week, Brady wanted some more money. Borges fell for the scam, and ran with the story, which the Herald was forced to retract, issuing an apology to Yee, Brady, and the Patriots.

While Borges gets a Dunce Cap for not following his instincts on this phony story, I am reminded of a similar case a few years ago here at home. A caller to WTMM ran a scam on then-producer Brian Cady, claiming to be former major league baseball player Shane Spencer, who spent time with the Yankees & Mets. Cady lost his job, and was last heard from working for The Dynasty, a local pro wrestling promotion. Something tells me Borges may have written his last story for the Herald, which may send him a pink slip next.
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Nice to see that new Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia cleaned up his image on Wednesday. Trimmed off his Duck Dynasty starter beard to look more professional. Hey, he's an RPI guy, what did you expect? Lions vs. Patriots this fall should be mighty interesting.
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The NBA is still buzzing about the mid-week trade that sent Isaiah Thomas (Jr.) from Cleveland to the Lakers. Los Angeles needed some insurance with rookie Lonzo Ball dealing with injuries. I'm reading where LeBron James has expressed his desire to finish his career in Cleveland, despite repeated claims in the press about leaving as a free agent. He delivered a championship to Cleveland when the baseball Indians couldn't, and the NFL Browns can't, at least not until the next decade. Why would he still chase the money when he's got enough to buy the Cavaliers from current ownership once he retires?
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And to all the jabronies whining and crying about the latest fire sale in Miami with the Marlins, and blaming it on Derek Jeter, like, step off! Jeter is the face of the ownership group, but that doesn't mean he's the one making the final decisions. Jeter aside, it looks like business as usual in Miami. Giancarlo Stanton (Yankees), Marcell Ozuna (St. Louis), and Christian Yelich are gone, so the Marlins will have a new outfield in 2018, but likely flushed their playoff chances down the tubes. Saw a headline the other day that suggested that catcher J. T. Realmuto wants out, too. You'd think that with Jeter and his five World Series rings on board, they'd be going in the opposite direction, keeping that outfield intact, largely because it was the backbone of their defense the last two seasons, but, nope.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Forgotten TV: Moonlight & Magnolias (1990)

By 1990, Mark Rothman, who'd worked for Paramount in the 70's, and had a hand in developing Laverne & Shirley and Busting Loose, among others, was for all intents & purposes out of the television business. Instead, he was teaching acting in California, but wasn't getting paid. Instead, that class led to an unsold pilot entitled, Moonlight & Magnolias.

As you'll see, this was a little bit different than the average pilot. It's like trying to sell a public access show to a network.



You might remember cast member Ronnie Claire Edwards from The Waltons, and, truth be told, aside from Rothman, she was the only familiar name here. This, to me, defines what a grass roots project in television should be. The cast did the best they could, but couldn't convince network suits to take a chance.

No rating. Just a public service.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

A Classic Reborn: Beat The Clock (2018)

This time, it's for the whole family, as if it wasn't before.

Well, actually, if you are old enough to remember the original Beat The Clock, they actually had families on the show, but only the adults played while the kids watched. This time, it's different.

Fremantle Media has revived Clock for a new generation, with the set now resembling a child's playroom, as the clock is larger than ever. Universal Kids (formerly Sprout), a unit of NBC-Universal-Comcast, has the revival, which bowed on Tuesday night. To promote the show, host Paul Costabile appeared on Today with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford, joined by guest-co-host John Cena (Total Bellas, American Grit, etc.). I should be able to find a clip of that before long.

The game is essentially the same as it has been over the course of nearly 70 years. UK's YouTube channel offers a teaser.



UK has added more live-action programming to their schedule in an attempt to compete with Nickelodeon, Disney Channel/DisneyXD, and Discovery Family. Never mind Cartoon Network, which is tripping over themselves with stupid decisions. Beat The Clock, an established franchise, is a step in the right direction.

Rating: A.

Video Valentine: The Next Time I Fall (1986)

Former Chicago frontman Peter Cetera scored his 2nd #1 hit with 1986's "The Next Time I Fall", which also introduced mainstream radio to Christian singer Amy Grant.



Cetera has since had duets with Cher ("After All") and actress-singer Crystal Bernard ("Forever Tonight"). After crossing over with "Find a Way" in 1988, Amy Grant reached the top of the charts again in 1991 with "Baby Baby", the 1st single from "Heart in Motion".

What Might've Been: Angie (1979)

Garry Marshall's sitcom factory at Paramount churned out what should've been another winner for ABC in the winter of 1979.

Angie was placed on Thursdays, airing in back of Mork & Mindy, and was an immediate hit. The story of a Philadelphia waitress (Donna Pescow) finding love with a pediatrician (Robert Hays) should've lasted a little longer than it did. However, it can be argued that the producers jumped the gun a wee bit by marrying Angie off too soon. With Mork moving to Sundays for its sophomore season to avoid NBC's Buck Rogers, Angie was moved to Tuesdays, hammocked in between Happy Days & Three's Company, with Laverne & Shirley moved to another night. Bad idea. Angie ended after two seasons, and deserved a better fate.

To refresh your memory, here's the intro. The theme song, "Different Worlds", sung by Maureen McGovern, peaked at #18.



Angie drew comparisons to CBS' Rhoda due largely to similar themes, though when Angie, in all fairness, debuted, Rhoda had ended its run. The supporting cast included Debralee Scott (ex-Welcome Back, Kotter, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman), Doris Roberts (later of Remington Steele & Everybody Loves Raymond), and, during the 1st season, Tammy Lauren, who was "reassigned", shall we say, by the studio, turning up on Who's Watching The Kids? the following fall. Donna Pescow most recently guest-starred on The Flash, and, well, who knows? With the way Hollywood is recycling old series these days, maybe Angie's story will be retold with a 21st century spin (with Pescow filling Roberts' old role as the mother figure)?

Rating: A-.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

KFC jumps the shark! (2018)

You can tell when an ad campaign has jumped the shark.

The ad agency hired by KFC thinks that having different actors play the late Colonel Harland Sanders to promote KFC would be good for business. As 2018 began, after trying out an African-American Colonel (David Alan Grier, ex-In Living Color, The Carmichael Show), the ad agency is going in a different direction, turning to country singer-actress Reba McEntire to be the new Colonel.



Yes, Reba's worn the white suit in another ad. However, it's time to retire the gimmick.

Weasel of the Week: Josh McDaniels

"Those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it."--George Santayana

In 2000, Bill Belichick opted out of his contract to coach the New York Jets. Rather than succeed his mentor, Bill Parcells, with Gang Green, Belichick signed with AFC East rival New England, and the rest is, of course, history.

So what possessed Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, after the Indianapolis Colts had announced that he would accept their head coaching vacancy to replace Chuck Pagano, to bolt hours later? New England had already said goodbye to defensive coordinator Matt Patricia (Detroit), and it was assumed that McDaniels, who flopped as the head man in Denver (2009-10), would follow Patricia out the door. Patriots owner Robert Kraft probably gave McDaniels the same sales pitch he gave Belichick 18 years earlier, perhaps promising a phat contract with a lifetime guarantee and a supply of Velveeta cheese on the side, and, in this case, perhaps sweetening the pot by designating McDaniels as the coach-in-waiting if Belichick decides to end his Hall of Fame career after next season or whenever.

To fans outside of New England, it's reeking of heinosity. McDaniels never signed the contract, and a press conference was scheduled for today in Indianapolis. Apparently, Kraft felt he couldn't let both of Belichick's most trusted aides go at the same time, and had to do something to lure McDaniels back in. Patricia, an RPI product, looks like a refugee from Duck Dynasty, even though his beard is way shorter than the Robertson boys, and as such, didn't fit the profile to be the next Patriot coach, even though he was a big contributor to their success. With branches of the Patriot famuly tree in place in Houston (Bill O'Brien), Detroit (Patricia), and Tennessee (former player and Super Bowl hero Mike Vrabel), Kraft didn't want a 3rd branch in the AFC South for some reason.

However, the Weasel ears go to McDaniels for reneging on his deal with the Colts before signing on the dotted line. If McDaniels wanted a raise from Kraft, he probably got one at the last possible minute, plus that promise of a promotion I referred to earlier. One more reason for the Patriots to be booed out of the building the next time they're in Indianapolis.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

What Might've Been: Life With Lucy (1986)

Lucille Ball's final series turned out to be her least successful.

It had been 12 years since Here's Lucy had ended, and with it CBS' long standing partnership with the comedy legend. Lucy made a TV movie here and there (i.e. "Stone Pillow"), and had been feted by Dean Martin on his Celebrity Roast.

So what lured Lucy back to television in 1986?

ABC was looking to duplicate what NBC had done two years earlier, welcoming back prodigal son Bill Cosby, whose Cosby Show was about to enter its 3rd season. CBS, for some reason, wasn't interested in bringing Lucy back, though they wouldn't have a problem bringing back another of their older stars, Dick Van Dyke, a few years later (Diagnosis Murder). Lucy had never done anything for ABC outside of perhaps being interviewed by either Dick Cavett and/or Barbara Walters.

Lucy's 2nd husband, Gary Morton, co-produced Life With Lucy with Aaron Spelling, whose golden touch didn't extend to sitcoms, a problem he'd had dating back to his days at Four Star. ABC slotted Life With Lucy on Saturday nights, as they had no room on Mondays, which Lucy ruled back in the day for CBS, due to Monday Night Football, although Lucy as a lead-in to football might not have been so bad an idea.

Long time foil Gale Gordon was lured from retirement to work with Lucy one last time.



ABC gave up after 2 months and cancelled the show. An inglorious finish to a legendary TV career.

No rating. Being on Saturdays meant I wasn't home when it was on.

High school sports hits the winter homestretch

In 9 days, the coaches of the Capital District High School Hockey League (CDHSHL) will meet to determine the pairings for the league/sectional playoffs, which would begin a few days later. In this league, its points that matter more than wins. Most teams play a semi-independent schedule, and thus don't play as many league games.

Bethlehem (9-0-2 CDHSHL, 13-3-2 overall) can lock up the top seed in the tournament with a win Wednesday night (weather permitting) vs. Niskayuna-Schenectady. Going into the final days of the season, the Eagles have a three point lead over the defending Section II champions from LaSalle, who sit in 2nd place despite having more wins (10-1-2 CDHSHL, 12-3-2 overall) in the league. The Cadets are idle until Friday, when they travel to Burnt Hills for their final road game of the regular season. LaSalle closes with a 2 game homestand starting Saturday with Senior Night vs. Adirondack, and finishing next Tuesday vs. Queensbury. LaSalle is assured of at least one home game in the playoffs as they begin their quest to repeat at Section II champs. If anything, Bethlehem & LaSalle could meet in the finals three weeks from tonight at Union College in a rematch from January 26, which ended in a 4-4 draw.

I'm personally begging Spectrum Sports to show the CDHSHL some love and air the finals live.
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At Troy High, the disparity between the boys' & girls' basketball teams was ridiculous this season, as evidenced by the records.

The women sit near the bottom of the Suburban Council's Gray division with a 4-9 league record (5-13 overall) after beating Columbia on Friday. The season ending road trip continues tonight at Albany, which has given Troy nothing but problems the last few years, before wrapping up next week at Schenectady. Coach Paul Bearup's Lady Horses beat the Lady Patriots back in December, and played the Lady Falcons tough in a 10 point loss on January 3 at home.

Personally, I believe Coach Bearup should do a solid for his senior-less club, and decline a bid to the sectionals to spare his team further embarrassment.

Projected finish: 6-14 (5-10 in league play).
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In all honesty, the Troy boys, under 1st year head coach Greg Davis, may have cost themselves a 2nd Gray division title in losing to Colonie last week. Yes, they bounced back and beat Columbia, but dropped a non-league game to Middletown on Saturday. All Christian Brothers Academy has to do tonight is beat Schenectady to clinch a tie for the division, and wrap it up by beating Troy on Friday night. However, if the two teams finish in a tie, the tiebreaker would go to Troy by virtue of having previously beaten CBA earlier this season. Troy would have to run the table, and have Schenectady pull the upset tonight. Somehow, I just don't see that happening.

Projected finish for Troy: 12-8 (12-5 league).
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Back to LaSalle. I honestly feel that because they're the defending champions, the Cadets, and not Bethlehem, are the team to beat in the playoffs. Like Troy's basketball team, Coach Tim Flanigan (a Troy graduate) doesn't have one go-to scorer. He has at least three or four. That diversity of offense has been key to the Cadets' turnaround the last couple of years. As long as there's not a break in the pipeline, the Cadets will remain contenders for a few more years.

Projected finish: 15-3-2 (13-1-2 league).

Monday, February 5, 2018

What Might've Been: Hawkins (1973)

In 1973, CBS decided to reboot their Tuesday Night Movie, in a questionable attempt to replicate what NBC & ABC were doing. What they tried to do was combine the made-for-TV movies in a every three week rotation with Shaft and our next subject, Hawkins.

Billy Jim Hawkins (James Stewart) was a lawyer from West Virginia whose Southern gentleman charm and legal skills took him across the country to solve cases. His only operative was his cousin, R. J. (Strother Martin).

Coming as it did two years after Stewart's first TV series, a self-titled sitcom, had failed, Hawkins was the last production from producer Norman Felton's Arena Productions for MGM. Felton had been the driving force that got Dr. Kildare & The Man From U.N.C.L.E. on the air for NBC in the 60's, but he had previously sold Jericho to CBS in 1966, and that lasted just 1 season, just as Hawkins would.

So why did it fail? Sources say that alternating Hawkins and Shaft, the latter with Richard Roundtree reprising his movie role, with the made-for-TV movies, would confuse viewers. ABC had succeeded with its Movie of the Week, which entered its 5th season in 1973, because they only ran movies on those particular nights. NBC's Mystery Movie wheels on Sundays & Wednesdays had their own distinctive identities developed with each component (i.e. Columbo). Hawkins would prove to be James Stewart's last attempt at television, though he would be a regular on the Dean Martin Celebrity Roast.

The Rap Sheet provides a sample clip:



Nearly 15 years later, Andy Griffith would land his final hit series as a Southern lawyer, albeit from Georgia instead of West Virginia or even Griffith's native North Carolina. Matlock perfected the formula that had actually started, if you think about it, with Hawkins.

10 year old me never got to see Hawkins, so there's no rating.

A new champion arises (Super Bowl LII: Eagles 41, Patriots 33)

For once, I'm happy to be wrong.

The Philadelphia Eagles avenged their previous failure vs. the NFL's Evil Empire in the Super Bowl by beating the New England Patriots, 41-33, in one of the most thrilling Super Bowl games. Ever.

For the most part, defenses took a night off. Few penalties were called as the officials decided to let the teams play. Not even a couple of instances of dead air, one being localized, could slow the momentum.

New England won the toss and, as expected, deferred to the second half. The Eagles marched down the field, but could only manage a field goal for an early 3-0 lead. The Patriots came right back, with the same result. Late in the quarter, QB Nick Foles connected with Alshon Jeffrey, one of the Eagles' biggest off-season acquisitions for a touchdown, but the extra point failed, and it was 9-3 after the first quarter.

The Patriots decided to try something different and daring in the second quarter. Operating out of the shotgun formation, Tom Brady set up a reverse, then went out as a receiver. Unfortunately, Danny Amendola's pass slipped through Brady's fingers on 4th down, and the Patriots turned it over. Later in the frame, the Eagles decided to try the same thing, and Trey Burton found Foles for a 1 yard touchdown. Still, Philadelphia only led, 15-12, at the break.

Back came the Patriots. If there was a fault with Philadelphia, it was their zone defense. Brady kept finding open receivers on the left side of the field all game long. The Eagles should've gone to a straight-up man-to-man defense right from the jump. Midway through the fourth quarter, New England finally had the lead, but it would not last. Foles threw one last touchdown to Zach Ertz, which had to survive a replay review. This time, the call went Philadelphia's way. A late field goal forced Brady to have to win the game yet again, but a desperation heave on 4th down to Rob Gronkowski fell incomplete in the end zone.

The halftime show wasn't my cup of tea, since I'm not a Top 40 guy anymore. Justin Timberlake paid homage to Minneapolis music legend Prince in the course of his set, which of course lacked the controversy of 14 years ago, when he had that infamous moment with Janet Jackson.

As for commercials, well, it was the usual theatre of the absurd. One of the sillier spots came from M & M's, which had this gem:



Danny DeVito's desperate for work now that It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is over. But he couldn't have been that desperate, could he? Ram Trucks, which blessed us with a classic bit a few years ago utilizing an old Paul Harvey radio commentary, went for the downs again, this time honoring the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. I'll see if I can find that spot online. Procter & Gamble decided to annoy people with a running gag for Tide detergent with actor David Harbour. Pepsi & Frito-Lay joined forces for some shameless silliness featuring Morgan Freeman, Missy Elliott, Peter Dinklage, and Busta Rhymes.

Of course, we could hope that the folks at Bud Light can say good night to that goofy "Dilly Dilly" ad campaign. It peaked when WWE announcer Corey Graves invoked the phrase on Monday Night Raw two weeks ago.

Back to the game. It was the last one for RPI graduate Matt Patricia as a defensive coordinator for the Patriots. Next stop is Detroit, where he takes over as head coach for the fired Jim Caldwell. The Patriots play the NFC North next season. Hmmmmm. Patricia would be better served getting a razor and some shave cream. My brother, who is a Patriots fan (TRAITOR!), poked fun at Patricia, calling him Captain Caveman. I'd like to think he was auditioning for Duck Dynasty as a long lost Robertson brother before that series ended. Problem is, his beard's too short. The closest Al Michaels came to any humor was in a snarky analogy linking Bill Belichick's reluctance to explain why Super Bowl 49 hero Malcolm Butler was on special teams and didn't start on defense to East Germany during the Cold War.

In the end, it was a great game, and all the conspiracy theorists were put to bed. For now.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Classic TV: The Lawrence Welk Show (1955)

The Lawrence Welk Show ran against the rising tide of rock music when it went from being a regional program to national in 1955. In the course of its 16 seasons on ABC (1955-71) and 11 more in syndication (1971-82), Welk and his musical family ultimately began covering pop standards of the day, even resorting to a bit of network cross-promotion when the band covered "Flight of the Bumblebee", otherwise known as the theme from The Green Hornet. Problem was, they tried it without horns. As the kids say today, that would be an epic fail.

The series began its ABC run as the Dodge Dancing Party, and Welk was given a 2nd night of programming for a few years. However, it's better known as a Saturday night staple, which it was for most of its run. You probably have read about how the show's original "Champagne Lady", Alice Lon, was dismissed for wearing a shorter than normal dress or skirt, replaced by Norma Zimmer. The format was not entirely all about music, though. There would be some tap dancing bits, mostly with either Arthur Duncan or Bobby Burgess (ex-The Mickey Mouse Club), perhaps one of the most famous Mouseketeer alumni, after Annette Funicello and Don Grady (My Three Sons).

A few years after first-run episodes had ended, the series began airing in rerun form on PBS, after an Oklahoma group acquired the rights to the show. Locally, WMHT continued the standing tradition of running Welk on Saturdays, except it was in late afternoons, usually around 5 pm (ET), or two hours earlier than it had during its syndicated days.

There would be times when Welk was more than willing to poke fun at himself, though he didn't take too kindly to being parodied by others, such as Stan Freberg. Here's a 1969 commercial for the show that illustrates just how Welk was willing to play for laughs. Narrated by William Schallert (ex-The Patty Duke Show):



My Three Sons producer Don Fedderson took on the task of handling distribution of the series when it went into syndication, and it would be the last series to bear his name in the credits. Once first-run production ended in 1982, Fedderson, for all intents & purposes, had retired from television.

Rating: A.

Super Bowl 52: A new champion? Or the same old, same old?

As Bill Parcells' defensive coordinator with the Giants 31 years ago, Bill Belichick won his first Super Bowl ring. He'd win his second just four years later, then leave for his first head coaching job in Cleveland. Unfortunately, even Belichick, as brilliant as he is, couldn't take the original Browns to the promised land. Just when it looked like he'd succeed his former mentor, Parcells, with the Jets, Belichick opted to take a lifetime supply of free cheese and Miracle Whip from Robert Kraft, and, well, you know the story by now.

However, most of America suffers from Patriot Fatigue because they're tired of seeing New England dominate the AFC year after year. To them, it seems someone in the league office not named Roger Goodell thinks it's good business to have the Patriots in the playoffs every year, even if it's by hook or crook. Because of that, New England has gotten corporate slaps on the wrist for Spygate and Deflategate, and life goes on. As the saying goes, controversy creates cash, and the NFL and its media partners like nothing better than fattening their coffers, essentially telling Joe Fan, it doesn't matter what you think.

13 years ago, Tom Brady and the Patriots defeated a Philadelphia Eagles team that had Donovan McNabb at QB and a diva receiver in Terrell Owens, who was just named to the NFL Hall of Fame Class of 2018. Today, Brady's a diva himself, preferring to pad his own stats instead of doing the right thing and balancing the offense. He was just named NFL MVP, but didn't really deserve it or need it. America met this announcement with a collective yawn outside of New England. The sheep there don't understand that Brady isn't and never will be the greatest of all time. In this writer's view, he is way down the list behind the likes of Joe Montana, Roger Staubach, Terry Bradshaw, and even Jim Plunkett.

Tonight, the Eagles & Patriots meet again. This time, the us-against-the-world attitude belongs to the NFC champions, who find themselves as underdogs for the third straight game despite being the NFC's #1 seed. Three weeks ago, they spoiled plans for a possible rematch between New England and Atlanta by beating the Falcons, then carved up Minnesota in the NFC title game, preventing the Vikings from making history as the first team to not only host a Super Bowl, but play in it, too. New England & Philadelphia last met in a regular season game a couple of years ago, a game won by Philadelphia.

QB Nick Foles didn't play that day, as he wasn't an Eagle at the time, having been exiled. He returned this year as a backup to second year QB Carson Wentz, out for the year with a torn ACL. Foles will hand the ball off to LeGarrette Blount, who won a ring last year with New England, but was discarded after the season because that's what Belichick does. No rhyme or reason to personnel decisions. No loyalty to anyone other than the diva at QB or the future WWE wrestler at tight end (Rob Gronkowski), who, unsurprisingly, returns having cleared concussion protocols. Blount will get more touches this time than he did last year because it's not running back by committee in Philadelphia.

That committee in New England includes one of last year's heroes, James White, who, in Brady's own opinion, should've been game MVP instead of the diva, but the fix was in for MVP, and Brady knows it. Albany native Dion Lewis also returns kicks, and had his Eagles career cut short by injuries. He, too, spent a bit of time in forever cursed Cleveland, so he & Belichick have something in common. The number of Patriot fans in upstate NY has grown exponentially since Lewis signed with New England, and the Patriots would be fools to let him walk in order to keep that fan base here. Belichick signed Rex Burkhead away from Cincinnati as a free agent, and likewise lured Mike Gillislee away from Buffalo. Those two have been hurt most of the season. Still, Brady would rather throw the ball. Gronkowski pushes off on most plays and gets away with it because of his star status. At least he, unlike Brady, has commercial endorsements, and his party boy image makes him a Madison Avenue darling. Brady just has a supermodel wife whose attitude was also called into question after New England lost to the Giants six years ago.

Philadelphia's waited its entire league existence for a NFL championship. Unfortunately, that hunger is counter-balanced by a lack of offensive depth. Foles must play the game of his life----again---to have a reasonable chance. In order to keep the conspiracy theorists quiet, the referees have to call the game correctly. If you're going to let them play, let it be so, but don't hesitate to drop the flags on New England as well as Philadelphia when it's too obvious to ignore. Yeah, we're looking your way, Gronkowski. If the Patriots get out to a big lead, people will reach for their remotes rather than risk falling asleep from boredom. Just have the No-Doz handy just in case.

Then again, New England has never blown anyone out in a Super Bowl. If as some people wanted to suggest in the press at the end of the regular season that this is the last ride for Belichick & Brady, and in the latter's case it's just as well, because at 40 he's still a selfish player, they will go out on top. If it isn't, it may be because Brady won't retire until he can prove he's beaten a certain NFC East team that has been his Super Bowl Kryptonite.

My heart says go with Philadelphia, but my brain says otherwise. The pick: Patriots 34, Eagles 31.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Classic TV: Good Times (1974)

When is a spinoff not a true spinoff? When it is inexplicably disassociated from the parent show for no rational reason.

That, in a nutshell, describes Good Times, a branch of Norman Lear's sitcom tree that was actually broken off in order to tell a different kind of story.

Florida Evans (Esther Rolle) was introduced as a housekeeper on Maude. When it came time to spin Florida into her own series, Lear, either on his own volition or that of network suits at CBS, I don't know, decided to relocate Florida from Long Island to Chicago. Once there, the focus gradually shifted to Florida's oldest son, JJ (Jimmie Walker), who became the breakout star thanks to his catchphrase, "Dy-no-mite!". However, this created hardship between Esther Rolle and the producers, and after the 4th season, Rolle departed. Florida's husband, originally Henry, rechristened James (John Amos, ex-The Mary Tyler Moore Show), was written off early in the 4th season after Amos had been let go in a dispute with Lear over the show's direction being rebuilt around JJ.

In season 2, Johnny Brown (ex-Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In) joined the show as Bookman, the building superintendant. In season 5, future pop star Janet Jackson joined the cast. In all, Good Times ran for six seasons (winter 1974-1979), ending due to the inevitable decline in ratings. Following is the intro from the final season.



Janet had previously appeared with her brothers on their short-lived variety show, also for CBS, and would later join the cast of another Norman Lear sitcom, NBC's Diff'rent Strokes, for a time as a love interest for Willis (Todd Bridges). Jimmie Walker gave drama a go in a rare Aaron Spelling crime drama failure, B. A. D. Cats. Amos moved from Good Times to Future Cop, then Roots, and found big screen success co-starring with Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, and James Earl Jones in "Coming to America".

Rating: B+.

Someone doesn't know how to crunch numbers

I've alluded to this in a couple of recent entries so now we'll take a closer look at the issues facing the Albany Times-Union's online proofreaders.

If you take a look at the Suburban Council standings, which aren't entirely up-to-date as some games haven't been reported, you'd see that some of the numbers are wrong. I double and triple checked, and this is what I came up with:

Suburban Council Blue division (the paper has the divisions reversed, with Troy, CBA, et al in the Blue, and Saratoga, Shenendehowa, etc., in the Gray, when it should be the other way around):

Saratoga Springs 13-1, 14-2 overall. This is correct.
Shenendehowa 12-2, 14-3.
Colonie 11-3, 13-4.
Bethlehem 10-4, 10-6.
Shaker 10-4, 12-5.
Columbia 6-8, 7-9
Guilderland 4-11, 4-13
Niskayuna 1-14, 1-15

Some non-league games are incorrectly listed as league games, which skews the numbers.

Gray Division:

CBA 12-2, 15-2.
Troy 10-4, 10-6 (the T-U has them at 9-5 in the league, which is wrong)
Mohonasen 6-8, 9-8
Schenectady 5-8, 5-9
Averill Park 3-12, 5-12
Burnt Hills 2-12, 3-13
Albany 1-14, 1-16

The records for the bookend teams in each division are correct. The teams in between are the victims of what was known in the GW Bush era as "fuzzy math". That said, Troy is two games behind CBA with three to play, but the schedule favors the Brothers. As of press time, the result of today's Troy-Middletown game had not been reported. Otherwise, that would be included.

So why the mix-ups? I'm not sure. I'd say the people assigned to input the numbers are easily confused, or are using confusion as a convienent excuse, which gets the department the dreaded Dunce Cap Award for this week. With sectionals a little more than 2 weeks away, you'd think they'd finally get a clue.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Video Valentine: You're The Only Woman (You & I)(1980)

Ambrosia created an enduring Valentine's Day treat with 1980's "You're The Only Woman (You & I)", the 2nd single off the album, "One Eighty". Let's see how many requests this gets as we draw closer to Valentine's Day.

High School Fridays: Columbia @ Troy (boys basketball), 2/2/18

Flashback: December 4, 2015: Troy High, in its first season in the Suburban Council, had lost its first league game to Colonie, then came home to thrash Columbia, 76-37, spoiling the homecoming of Blue Devils coach and former Troy player Curtis Sankey. 

Twenty-six months later, the scenario is the same. Troy is hosting Columbia after a heartbreaking loss to Colonie three nights earlier. Would lightning strike twice in the same place?

It all depends on how you look at it.

Going into tonight's game, the Blue Devils were a much improved club, even if they were still below .500. Given how the Albany Times-Union's website has the records in both men's & women's basketball all screwed up, let's just say that Columbia is closer to .500 than they were at this time last year, and leave it at that.

Indeed, just a couple of minutes in, Columbia junior Alex Adams started the scoring with a 3-pointer, as Columbia ran out to a 7-2 lead. However, Troy then went on a 10-0 run, and would lead, 18-17, after 1, and 44-40 at halftime. Adams had 15 points by halftime. Troy's Nazaire Merritt had 12 at the break to lead the Flying Horses.

In the third quarter, Troy's defense shut down Adams, while Merritt and Alonzo Alexander heated up. Adams would spark back up and score 10 points in the fourth quarter, and led the Blue Devils with 25 points. Cooper Zwanka added 15. Merritt finished with a season high 28 points. Alexander had 19, and Troy beat the Blue Devils for the third time in as many tries, 76-67.

If it's any consolation for Columbia supporters, their JV's defeated Troy, 56-50.

Coach Greg Davis' club will be on the road tomorrow at Middletown before returning home to play Albany on Tuesday night. With 4 overall games left, Troy stands at 10-6 (10-4 in league play).
===================================
Meanwhile, the Troy women finally defeated Columbia, 56-39, as Juliana Valenti led Troy with 15 points, and Jenalyse Alarcon added 12 for the winners. Troy now sits at 4-9 in the league, 5-13 overall, with two games left.

On the ice, LaSalle completed a season sweep of Saratoga, 2-1, and this time, they didn't need overtime. The firm of Ryan (Murray) & (Tom) Ryan did all the scoring for the Cadets, who now are three points behind idle Bethlehem in the standings. The front-running Eagles are at Mohawk Valley tomorrow, while LaSalle has a week of practice before visiting Burnt Hills-Ballston Spa next Friday.


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Sounds of Praise: I Will Follow Him (1992)

It's amazing what a change in lyrics will do to a song.

In "Sister Act", two pop songs of the past were given slight makeovers. Mary Wells' "My Guy" became "My God", and, in the finale, Little Peggy March's "I Will Follow Him" takes on a whole new meaning, sung by a church choir of nuns, led by the film's star, Whoopi Goldberg.



More than 25 years later, you'd think more Christian artists would've jumped at the chance to do the reworked "Follow", but I haven't heard any other renditions.

Of Recent Vintage: Becker (1998)

Becker, Ted Danson's comeback vehicle, doesn't qualify as "Classic TV", even though it ran for six seasons (1998-2004). It flew under the radar until it went into syndication, which is when I ran across it for the first time.

Danson's John Becker is a psychologist who's got anger issues of his own. His office manager, Margaret (Hattie Winston, ex-The Electric Company) may have been the only one to keep him under control, outside of his girlfriends. Yes, it's in plural, because over the course of the six seasons, Becker had two. The first, Reggie (Terry Farrell, ex-Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), left after the 3rd season. Nancy Travis joined the show for the rest of the run, and part of the reason Farrell was let go was because Paramount suits were afraid of reprising the Sam-Diane dynamic between Danson & Shelley Long from Cheers in the 80's. Those same suits were responsible for Farrell leaving ST:DS9 because they wanted her on Becker in the first place.

Alex Desert (ex-The Flash, circa 1990) co-starred as a blind newsstand owner who was Becker's best friend and confidant.

Let's take a look at a sample episode.



"Of Recent Vintage" is our newest feature, and will cover more shows from the last 10-20 years that don't fall into any of our other categories.

Rating: B.