Thursday, February 28, 2013

Three for the reaper

Death has been busy lately.

First, there was the tragic suicide of country singer Mindy McCready, who took her own life last week, ending a struggle with substance abuse. If you believe the tabloids, Mindy might be better known for an alleged underage relationship with baseball pitcher Roger Clemens than for her music.

Algerianbanjo uploaded McCready's 1996 hit, "Ten Thousand Angels":

Concert pianist Van Cliburn is associated with classical music, and there is an annual competition that bears his name. Cliburn passed away on Wednesday at 78. Mainlymuzik uploaded this performance of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto #1, recorded in Moscow in 1962:

Finally, there is actor Dale Robertson, who also passed away on Wednesday, at 89. Robertson is known for his work in Westerns, particularly a stint as host of the syndicated anthology series, Death Valley Days, which he took over after his ABC series, Iron Horse, ended in 1968. Jpwrites uploaded the open to season 2 of Horse:

Rest in peace.

Musical Interlude: Give Me The Night (1980)

George Benson may be better known for his jazzed up cover of the Drifters' "On Broadway", but he caught my attention, and most of you, too, in the summer of 1980 with the funky, breezy "Give Me The Night". Oh, yeah, the track was produced by Quincy Jones, who'd helmed Michael Jackson's hit album, "Off The Wall", months earlier.

They may start dancing on Burdett Avenue.........

I was rummaging through my cabinets in my bedroom yesterday after work, and, then, I found what I was looking for. Still in mint condition, save for maybe some rust stains on the back, was a button I had bought during my senior year at Troy High in support of the boys' basketball team. That year, they were eliminated by Shaker High, led by future college & NBA star Sam Perkins. That year, the Flying Horses, a .500 team in the Big 10, were a decided underdog. Not this time.

Tonight, the two schools meet again, this time in the Class AA semi-finals at Times Union Center in Albany, with the winner advancing to the title game on Monday. By the time they tip off, sometime after 8 (ET), they'll know who'll be waiting for them in the title game, be it defending champion Christian Brothers Academy or upstart Green Tech, in their 3rd varsity season, playing an independent schedule, but assigned as the 3rd seed on the Big 10 side of the bracket. Green Tech reached this point by beating the once mighty Shenendehowa, whom Shaker swept during the regular season. For CBA, this would be business as usual, which brings a yawn from this desk.

Troy finished the tournament last year without Javion Oguymeni, who was injured, but he's back and healthy this time, reminding his team that they have some unfinished business. However, it's Shaker who's looking for revenge this time, as Troy eliminated the Blue Bison in the semifinals last year before getting bamboozled by CBA in the title game. No one brings up the storied history between Troy & Shaker from more than 30 years ago, once again a case of the media ignoring a potential storyline. When the brackets came out two weeks ago, I felt that, despite bleeding Troy purple & gold, I didn't see Troy reaching the title game again. Shaker is their biggest obstacle. Having seen the Blue Bison beat Shen on TV last month, I'm convinced they may pose a bigger threat should CBA also advance.

Meanwhile, on the girls' side, it has been 24 years since the Troy women won a Section II title. On Saturday, they play the Academy of Holy Names in the Class A title game at Hudson Valley Community College. The odd thing is, Holy Names is the #1 ranked team in the state, but were not the top seed in Class A. Troy somehow landed that plum position, despite finishing second in the Big 10 to Albany, which will play for the AA title on Monday as the opening act to the Boys' AA final. Rightfully, Holy Names should be the top seed, but get treated like Rodney Dangerfield instead, and will seek to earn the respect of Section II's power brokers by beating Troy.

Just think of the possibilities, come Tuesday morning. Should both Troy teams win, and in the boys' case, it would be the equivalent to Mission: Impossible, you can bet they will have one phat party atmosphere on the Burdett Avenue campus, and both teams would likely be invited to participate in the Flag Day Parade on June 9, as the football team has done several times in the past, a fitting coda for the seniors.

Maybe this will teach Section II to leave the politics out of high school hoops once and for all, but then again.........

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Classic TV: Bonanza (1959)

A good number of Westerns were centered on families. Perhaps the most famous of this sub-genre was Bonanza, which was to NBC what Gunsmoke was to CBS, its most successful Western. Bonanza lasted 14 seasons, the last ending a wee bit early when it was cancelled in January 1973.

Bonanza was built around widower Ben Cartwright (Lorne Greene) and his three sons, Eric, aka Hoss (Dan Blocker), "Little" Joe (Michael Landon), and Adam (Pernell Roberts). Ben was married at least three times, and each time, the marriage ended in tragedy, which might explain why it was so rare to find a woman on the Ponderosa. Roberts left the show after a few years, so Adam Cartwright was written out, and a ranch hand, Candy (David Canary) became the fourth star. Canary was last seen on All My Children, and thus is the last surviving member of the cast, while all four of the Cartwrights have passed on.

Bonanza provided a mix of drama, adventure, and some lightweight comedy, usually in the misadventures of Hoss & Little Joe. In this case, however, it's a piece of history. Howard Duff guest stars as Samuel Clemens in the Season 1 episode, "Enter Mark Twain".

Today, Bonanza's cable rights are shared among TV Land, Me-TV, & INSP, so there's no way you can miss the show.

Rating: A.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Musical Interlude: The Only Flame in Town (1984)

Now, who'dathunk this pairing would've worked out so well?

Elvis Costello was one of the "Angry Young Men" who came out of England in the late 70's & early 80's (along with Graham Parker & Joe Jackson) during the dawn of the New Wave movement. However, by 1984, that anger had given way to the temptations of pop stardom, as demonstrated in a duet with Daryl Hall, who was making his first record without regular partner John Oates, and would record a solo record for Costello's label, Epic, not long after the release of "The Only Flame in Town".

These days, the ideal duet partner for Elvis would be his wife, singer-songwriter Diana Krall, who's definitely Elvis' "only flame"......!

On The Shelf: Of Banshees, Shadows, and dead birds

Idea & Design Works (IDW) has acquired a license to adapt Cinemax's new series, Banshee, into a comic book, with a free preview in stores now. Decent stuff, especially if you're into crime drama loaded with F-bombs in the dialogue, as will be the case on TV. However, it's not something I would invest in long-term. Rating: C.

All we have ever known about The Shadow's origins, ever since his radio days, was that he honed his hypnotic powers and other skills in the Orient. We don't really know what his motivation was. Veteran writer Matt Wagner intends to change all that with a new miniseries from Dynamite, The Shadow: Year One. Wagner isn't drawing it, just writing, and, as with the monthly Shadow series, there are variant covers for each issue, including by the inestimable Alex Ross. If you're a true Shadow fan, you need to have this. Rating: A.

What made headlines today, however, was news of another comics character being killed off, and in this case, it may not be a case where the character could return at a later date.

DC Comics took their turn in leaking the news that the current Robin in the Batman line of books, Damian Wayne, the illegitimate offspring of Bruce (Batman) Wayne and Talia, is being whacked in the latest issue of Batman Incorporated (volume 2), out Wednesday. Writer Grant Morrison created Damian a few years ago, and has nurtured the character, molding him from a rebellious youth into a true hero. Damian was one of the few characters who remained unchanged after the start of the New 52 initiative nearly 18 months ago, and now it seems his passing is part of Morrison's exit strategy as he leaves DC at the end of his current deal. Morrison might not be too comfortable with other writers handling the youth after his departure, and that means other Bat-writers, including Scott Snyder, will be tasked to create a new Robin. That will be worth watching, but let's remember, too, that Damian has the blood of R'as Al Ghul. That means that if he does return, it'll be after a bath in the Lazarus Pit, which has revived his grandfather and mother in the past. I'd not be surprised if that does happen. I'd not be surprised, either, if another writer decides to erase Damian from the canon down the road............

Sunday, February 24, 2013

What Might've Been: The Flash (1990)

If you take a look back at the track record of DC Comics' properties adapted for primetime television, you'd find that the recently concluded Smallville is the most successful series to date, having logged 10 seasons on the air. In fact, the top three DC live-action series are all tied to Superman.

In 1990, producers Danny Bilson & Paul DeMeo picked up an option to adapt The Flash into a weekly series that aired on CBS. That was the good news. The bad? It aired on Thursdays, opposite NBC's top-rated The Cosby Show. CBS, you see, was trying to find a tentpole on Thursdays to replace Magnum, P. I., but Flash wasn't it. Not by a long shot.

Soap star John Wesley Shipp, already known to CBS audiences from The Young & The Restless, was cast as police scientist Barry Allen. Instead of bleaching his hair blond to match Allen's look in the comics, Shipp was allowed to retain his dark hair. Creative license? I suppose, but I believe Shipp was also still on Restless at the time, which would explain his reluctance to change his hair color. Amanda Pays (ex-Max Headroom) played Tina McGee, who was actually a supporting character in the comics at the time, but the anomaly was that Allen's nephew, Wally West, was the comic book Flash at the time, and Tina was having an affair with him, if memory serves me correctly.

Comics veteran Howard Chaykin and relative newcomer John Francis Moore were the principal writers for the show, with cartoon veteran Michael Reaves, who had previous written for Super Friends & He-Man & the Masters of the Universe, among his myriad of toon credits, writing the teleplay for the episode, "Shroud of Death".

Edit: 4/7/14: "Shroud of Death" has been deleted by YouTube due to copyright issues. In its place, we serve up the open. If the music sounds familiar, well, I think Danny Elfman was the show's musical director........

Co-star Alex Desert would return a few years later in the sitcom, Becker, opposite Ted Danson, and that lasted at least two seasons, as opposed to Flash checking out after 1. Unlike Warner Bros.' last adaptation for TV, Wonder Woman, we would get to see at least a couple of the Scarlet Speedster's enemies, including The Trickster and Captain Cold. Not that it helped, as a better time slot would've done that.

Rating: B-.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

What Might've Been: Rockline on MTV (1991-2)

Rockline has been a successful radio show for a number of years, but back in 1991, MTV picked up an option to adapt the series for television. It should've lasted longer than it did, but it was given the heave-ho by the network after 15 months in May 1992. It didn't help that the series went through a brief hiatus before cancellation, and back in those days, MTV had a sickening habit of making ultra-late schedule changes for no reason. You wonder if the morons in charge of Cartoon Network got their start at MTV.........

During its MTV run, Rockline went through 2 hosts. Original VJ Martha Quinn had returned to the network two years prior to Rockline's TV debut, and because she was now based in California, trying her luck as an actress (i.e. The Bradys, "Bad Channels"), MTV decided they'd save some money by launching a studio out West, so Albany area native Martha wouldn't have to commute back and forth across the country. Unfortunately, Martha's 2nd tour of duty at MTV ended before Rockline was cancelled, and newsman/part-time VJ John Norris took her place. Norris presumably had been subbing while Martha was off making a movie, but, again, no explanation was ever given. Frustrating, isn't it, given how popular Martha was back in the glory days of the 80's?

What also hurt Rockline was that, as with everything else, MTV kept moving it around, and instead of a 1 hour format, which I think was how it was set on radio, the series was confined to a half-hour. I remember when it was on Tuesdays at 6:30 pm (ET), then flipping it on one night to find Club MTV airing in its place. Aaaaaahhhhhh!!! Thankfully, then, it was only temporary, but by Memorial Day '92, it was gone for good. Not a word in the newspapers. It was almost as if MTV just gave up. If they did, they gave up too soon.

Rightfully, it should've been a 1 hour show right from the go, and heavily promoted. I think when Norris took it over, they moved the series to New York, again, in the name of economics.

Following is an excerpt of an episode with Skid Row:

The last I knew, Martha Quinn was doing a satellite radio oldies show, and of course you know what's become of MTV, or, as I'd prefer to deem it now, Empty-V, in the 21 years since Rockline was cancelled. The decline of MTV actually started with their boneheaded programming decisions in the 90's, and, as CN suits are finding out now, keeping those decisions close to the vest isn't smart.

Rating: A.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Musical Interlude: Bridge Over Troubled Water (1981)

Simon & Garfunkel's classic 1970 hit, "Bridge Over Troubled Water", has been covered by everyone from Bobby Darin to Elvis Presley to Johnny Cash to Michael W. Smith. Smith's 2005 version made it clear that it was meant to have a Christian theme to it all along.

From September, 1981, comes Simon & Garfunkel with a live version, from The Concert at Central Park, a reunion concert recorded for HBO. 

Assessing the Mets' chances in 2013: A fan's viewpoint

It ain't easy being a Mets fan these days.

As training camp has begun, and the first pre-season game takes place tomorrow vs. NL East champ Washington, the Mets are not a playoff contender by any stretch of the imagination. This much is obvious from the get-go. Consider that the fallout from the Bernard Madoff mess still has the team's finances hamstrung, such that they had little choice but to let outfielder Scott Hairston walk as a free agent, and they lost all three of the catchers that played during 2012.

The outfield, in particular, is a mess. Jason Bay is in Seattle. Andres Torres returned to San Francisco, where he'll now run alongside the man he replaced in New York, Angel Pagan, with the World Series champions. Your starting outfield figures to include Lucas Duda, coming off an off-season injury, and probably Marlon Byrd & Colin Cowgill, the latter of whom has changed teams each of the last two off-seasons. He was in Oakland last year, and Arizona the year before. Byrd is well traveled, with Chicago, Philadelphia, & Washington among past points.

The Mets traded Cy Young winner R. A. Dickey and catchers Josh Thole & Mike Nickeas to Toronto, and got catchers John Buck (who had been traded from Miami) and Travis D'Arnaud in return. Buck will be the starting catcher, that much is certain. Trading Dickey was something the fans didn't want to have happen, but then, they should be used to such boneheaded decisions by now, given that past ownership had made similarly bad moves (i.e. trading Tom Seaver in 1977). In addition, the starting rotation took a couple of other hits, with Mike Pelfrey now in Minnesota, and Chris Young, whom the Mets were hoping to bring back, just signed with Washington. Uh-oh! The Mets' other receiver last season, Rob Johnson, joins Hairston in Chicago. Infielder Ronny Cedeno spent just the one year in Flushing, and signed with St. Louis earlier this week. So much for infield depth.

Luckily, All-Star 3B David Wright ain't going anywhere, as he re-upped for 8 more years during the off-season. The starting infield figures to be the same as it was last year, with Ike Davis at first, Daniel Murphy at second, Ruben Tejada at shortstop, and Wright. For those wondering if the Mets made a mistake letting 2011 batting champ Jose Reyes walk (now in Toronto), apparently they didn't. Reyes didn't come close to repeating last year while with Miami, and the Mets kept him in check. They won't see him as often this year, and Tejada had a higher batting average!

In terms of pitching, the starting rotation has Johan Santana, Dillon Gee, Jonathan Niese, and there are questions about Matt Harvey, who suffered from a lack of offensive support after a late summer call-up despite gaudy numbers, and whether or not Zack Wheeler, who came from San Francisco in the Carlos Beltran trade in 2011, should start the season with the big club. The bullpen also took a couple of hits, as Jon Rauch went south to Miami (smart move---not!), and Ramon Ramirez followed Torres back to San Francisco.

The most hardcore fans are resigned to the fact that there won't be any playoffs in Flushing this year, but, then again, there might not be any in the Bronx if the Yankees can't get younger in a hurry, and they really need to, more so than the Mets. No, the Mets won't finish last---Miami has the basement keys for the next couple of years---but they could fight Philadelphia for 3rd place, just like last year.

We'll look at the Yankees another time.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Classic TV: The High Chaparral (1967)

There are some Westerns where you can pretty much figure out the location the show is set. For example, Gunsmoke is set in Dodge City, Kansas. Bonanza was set in the vicinity of Virginia City, Nevada. NBC, home to Bonanza, added a second Western set in the Southwest.

The High Chaparral tells the story of the Cannons, who settled in Arizona, and had to deal with the Apaches on a regular basis. The series lasted four seasons (1967-71), and reruns are currently airing on INSP on a daily basis. However, INSP has adopted the sickening practice of removing the closing credits as they originally appeared, and run the credits across the bottom of the screen, a practice also adopted by the Nickelodeon family of networks, largely for maximizing content rather than adding extra commercials, and so the only way to see the show as it was meant to be is via DVD.

Edit, 12/26/19: Had to change the video. Here, then, is a black & white pilot, previously unaired, although the story was eventually brought to air after some changes.

Co-star Henry Darrow moved on after the series ended, and would later resurface as the voice of Zorro in Filmation's animated adaptation of the Western hero in 1981, then joined the cast of the live-action version that aired on the Family Channel in the early 90's. The rest of the cast were hardly heard from, but prior to Chaparral, Cameron Mitchell had appeared in a few movies, including Mario Bava's "Blood & Black Lace".

Rating: B.

For Eddie Money, Paradise is a travel agency? (1978, 2012)

It's a sad, sad shame to see this happen.

Eddie Money's signature song has always been "Two Tickets to Paradise", which brought him onto The Midnight Special in 1978.........

In recent years, Money, a NYPD officer-turned-rocker, has done some free concerts in upstate NY, including a gig prior to the 2008 NY-Penn League All-Star Game in Troy, which I attended. So, what to make of him using "Paradise" to sell insurance? Try this 2012 ad as part of one of GEICO's current---and lame---ad campaigns.......

Whomever is writing these ads for GEICO thinks these are amusing. Emphasize thinks.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Weasels of the Week: Donald Trump & L'il Wayne

Toward the end of last year, an enterprising soul started a petition drive to have Donald Trump's line of products, sold at Macy's, removed from the shelves. At the time, it didn't seem like too big of a deal, but now, reports are surfacing that the publicity-addicted Trump has decided to sue the guy in charge of said petition, demanding that it be removed, this after he had threatened suit against comedian-talk host Bill Maher for supposedly reneging on a deal that was really a parody of Trump's own ill-advised multi-million dollar offer to President Obama before last year's election. Apparently, Trump's ego was bruised sometime around December, and it took two months for threats of litigation to circulate on the internet. Hmmmm. Considering that the next season of Celebrity Apprentice is due to start soon........!

Apparently, "The Donald" can't take a joke anymore.

Meanwhile, rapper L'il Wayne is putting the word out that he had dated the wife of Miami Heat star Chris Bosh before Bosh met her. That's one thing, but to go off and spew that the lady supposedly swindled him out of some serious cash, and that Wayne, who was a guest panelist on Around the Horn one day and won the game (proof that the subjective scoring of host Tony Reali is worked, but that is for another time). and actually has all the charisma of a tree stump, has been banned from NBA games. NBA reps, particularly those for the Heat, claim BS to the claim that Wayne's not welcome at NBA games. Apparently, Mr. Wayne  is spending too much free time letting his imagination run away.

That having been said, L'il Wayne gets his first pair of Weasel ears this week. Trump gets cited yet again, and it probably won't be the last time.........

Monday, February 18, 2013

Classic TV: Thriller (1960)

Boris Karloff had long since proved he wasn't confined to doing horror movies. He'd starred in a series of films based on Hugh Wiley's Oxford-educated Oriental sleuth, James Lee Wong, for example. So, NBC & Universal thought it might be a good idea to bring him to television to host a weekly anthology series that wouldn't be confined to horror, either.

Thriller was in the same vein as Revue Studios stablemate Alfred Hitchcock Presents in that the series dealt with ordinary crime drama more than anything else. Thriller, co-produced by Hubbell-Robinson Productions with Revue, lasted two seasons, and managed to surface in syndication during the 70's, as I recall, airing in New York on WOR. Currently, the series airs Sundays on Me-TV, meant to be coupled with 2-hour episodes of Columbo, but Me-TV is currently airing the original 90-minute Columbo episodes from the NBC Mystery Movie, and thus brackets M*A*S*H in between Columbo & Thriller.

Following is the episode, "The Guilty Men", which aired last night.

Rating: B.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Musical Interlude: Justified & Ancient (1991)

Country legend Tammy Wynette and the British studio group the KLF have little in common, save for a collaboration in 1991, which marked Wynette's last (and maybe only) appearance on the pop charts. Here's "Justified & Ancient":

787 Pro Wrestling at the Troy Boys & Girls Club, 2/17/13

The cold, blustery weather cut down the size of the crowd, but the energy was just about the same inside the Troy Boys & Girls Club earlier today for 787 Pro Wrestling's 2nd card, dubbed, "Acceleration".

The program opened with a pre-show match, what we would refer to as a "dark match" in the big leagues (WWE, TNA, Ring of Honor), as Ben Ortiz pinned Keegan Pitts in a short match with a variation on the GTS (Go To Sleep), CM Punk's pet finisher. In this case, Ortiz held his opponent as if to deliver another move, but then dropped down such that Pitts' face met Ortiz's knees. Thanks for coming.

The actual card began right on time at 2:30, with local fave Rob Coleman defeating Josh Jordan. Coleman was still selling the knee injury sustained last month vs. Vik Dalishus, so there is some continuity in this promotion, which is a good sign.

Another crowd favorite, Chris Envy, qualified for a gauntlet match for the first ever 787 Interstate title, to be awarded next month, beating Este Tipo with a flip powerbomb (think Melina Perez's LA Sunset from the latter stages of her WWE run). Good stuff, and the crowd was into Envy big time.

Next up were a two more newcomers. Kriptic Keegan took on Lenn Oddity, whose gimmick falls somewhere between recent-era Sting and any number of bizarre comic book characters. I'd not be surprised if I've actually seen Lenn out of makeup somewhere and not have known. Oddity took the fall despite having been on defense virtually the entire way.

What was billed as a 5-man scramble match was in fact a 1-fall affair that saw CJ Scott outlast Adam & Kyle Badger (not sure if these guys are in fact brothers), Coconut Jones, and Randy Walker. Luckless Randy ended up eating a package piledriver for the finish, making Scott a favorite for the Interstate title, as he advances.

During intermission, ROH star Bobby Fish was in attendance at a merchandise table. I actually got to talk to him for a bit and bought a picture of him taken in action last year in Japan. Bobby was also nice enough to sign for no extra charge. I just couldn't help but notice a 2012 Topps CM Punk card at the next table and see the slight resemblance between the former WWE & ROH champion and Fish, who challenges for the ROH tag titles March 2 in Chicago.

Back to the action, and William King was back, but with a worse look than last month. He brought along a Bobby Heenan wannabe manager in Marshall McNeil, and tag team partner Zachary Pierre Beaulieu. Collectively, Beaulieu & King are known as the Monarchy (King's supposedly from England, Beaulieu from Montreal, Canada), who needed help from McNeil to steal one from the Joint Task Force (Sgt. Fury & Corporal Saint), with King pinning Saint after an inverted DDT, aided by a foot stomp off the top from Beaulieu. Sorry, guys, but the clown makeup has to go! As for McNeil, well, he carries himself like vintage Heenan, circa the 80's, but he is nowhere near the "Brain"'s class.

Last month, Cloudy had to deal with the fans taunting him about his slight resemblance to singer Justin Bieber. Not as many chants this time, and Cloudy resorted to using an umbrella and putting his feet on the ropes to beat Kyle Brad. Lame finish, especially from an indy veteran who should be doing more. Billed as hailing from "Electric City, NY" (read: Schenectady), which sounds like he's another comics geek. Wynantskill's Bert Williams, now billed as hailing from Troy itself, made it 2-for-2 for the home team beating Nick Ando in a comedy match. Williams' "Buttery" gimmick, unfortunately, isn't going to get him far.

Williams & Cloudy join Scott & Envy in the Interstate gauntlet match, and right now, if I had to pick a winner, my money's on either Scott or Envy.

Earlier in the day, another former ROH star, Oman Tortuga, 1/2 of a team known as the Outcast Killaz, was being interviewed when his opponent du jour, Watervliet's Foxx Vinyer, confronted him, and they did a short brawl. The match itself was the semi-final, and the best on the show. Tortuga hit a backdrop driver to end Vinyer's bid for a win, and Vinyer again blew off an attempt at an interview post match.

Vik Dalishus' 1st title defense was against local DJ Dalton Castle. Vik had his fans in the back rows of the bleachers behind me, and he acknowledged them with a modest nod of the head before the match. Castle gave Dalishus all he could handle, but the champ retains with a wicked superkick that nearly knocked Castle all the way back to the radio station.

Next month's show, billed as "Chase For the Championship", will crown the Interstate champ, plus the first 787 tag champs (likely the Monarchy), and will take place on Palm Sunday, March 24, two weeks before Wrestlemania. Show time is the same as before, 2:30 pm (ET), and tickets are already on sale. Looks like 787PW's here to stay, folks.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

What Might've Been: Honey West (1965)

In the early days of television, few dramatic series were headlined by women. The first crime drama to be toplined by a female lead was the short-lived Decoy, whose star, Beverly Garland, would later shift into sitcoms, joining the cast of My Three Sons late in that series' run. Nearly a decade later, there would be another attempt to prove that the ladies could catch the bad guys just as efficiently as their male counterparts, with mixed results.

In 1965, ABC debuted Honey West, a spin-off, via back-door pilot, from Burke's Law, which made the unfortunate mistake of enduring a format change to Amos Burke, Secret Agent, that same year. Both shows were produced by the late Aaron Spelling for Four Star. West (Anne Francis, "Forbidden Planet") was a private eye who swapped out her glamorous wardrobe for midnight black "casual gear", if ya will, when she went out on a case with her partner, Sam (John Ericson).

The first time I knew or read of Honey West was when the character was name-checked in an issue of Plastic Man when his series was revived a second time by DC in the mid-70's. It wasn't until FX came along that I finally got to see the show. Me-TV currently holds the rights, but the bad news is that they've buried Honey, along with Burke's Law, in deep late night to accomodate the DVR crowd.

So what killed Honey after one season? You really can't say viewers weren't really ready for a female crime buster. NBC debuted Get Smart, which featured Barbara Feldon as Agent 99, partner and later wife to title hero Maxwell Smart (Don Adams), the same year. Between Honey & 99, the door was ultimately kicked open for more women to lead dramatic series. Spelling, for one, would build a modest cottage industry in the 70's with Charlie's Angels, and had a near-miss with Kim Basinger in Dog & Cat, coupled with Lou Antonio, which didn't even finish its one and only season, if memory serves. Ratings, or lack thereof, did Honey in.

Here's the open:

Rating: B.

Video Valentine: True Love Is On Its Way (1977)

StreetKnight1 uploaded this item, taken from season 2 of the Saturday morning anthology series, The Krofft Supershow. Here, Super Chick (Debra Clinger) sings lead on "True Love Is On Its Way".

A little bit about Kaptain Kool & The Kongs. The band was originally a quintet, featuring Albany native Bert Sommer (as Flatbush) on guitar, but Sommer apparently had a falling out with the Kroffts and wasn't invited back for season 2, cutting the band down to a quartet. They crossed over onto Krofft stablemates Donny & Marie (before the Osmond family took over production on the show) and The Brady Bunch Variety Hour, as well as Saturday anchor show American Bandstand, before the Supershow was cancelled after 2 seasons. The Kroffts moved the series to NBC, with half the band moonlighting in primetime on CBS (Michael Lembeck, aka Kaptain Kool, joined One Day at a Time, and Clinger co-toplined the short lived American Girls), under initially the title, Krofft Superstar Hour, before it was trimmed to a half hour to showcase the new house band, the Bay City Rollers.

Now, here's "True Love Is On Its Way":

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sports this 'n' that

Yahoo! is reporting that there is some talk of the NFL moving Super Bowl 48 from Sunday to Saturday next year in the event of a major winter storm hitting the New York-New Jersey area. I've got a better idea. Stop catering to television and move the game back to the end of January where it belongs. The only reason the game is now played on the first Sunday in February is for ratings, as February is a sweeps month in the television industry, where networks and their affiliates can set advertising rates for the next quarter. It's an unfortunate fact of life that has taken hold over the last decade.

Even more galling is the news that the International Olympic Committee decided that wrestling would not be a part of the 2020 Summer Games.


Wrestling has been part of the Olympics from day one, all the way back in ancient Greece. The IOC took into account television ratings (there's that again), as well as concerns about doping, among other factors in deciding to drop the sport. That decision is an injustice to those who've competed at the Games, such as Rulon Gardner, Dan Gable, Kurt Angle, and the late Jeff Blatnick. Speaking of Angle, it doesn't surprise anyone that his current employers, TNA Wrestling, have started a petition drive to convince the IOC to reverse their decision, and the petition likely started with Angle, who's traded on his gold medals ever since he first was called up to WWE in 1999.

That the IOC took not only ratings but the spectre of doping into account discounts any notion that they are out of touch. Just getting that out there. However, you know the Olympics are trying to hard to be hip when they keep adding extreme sports to the mix, as if the X Games weren't enough......

Last Friday's storm wreaked havoc with high school sports across New York & New England. In my home district, several schools ended up rescheduling Friday's games on Monday, resulting in teams playing on back-to-back nights, which is very, very rare at the high school level in a non-tournament environment. For example, Troy High's boys team closed the regular season on the road with games at Amsterdam on Monday and in Albany last night, finishing a 3-game road trip that started a week ago at bitter rival Christian Brothers Academy, which clinched the Big 10 on Sunday by beating Bishop Maginn, unwilling to let history repeat itself from a year ago.

What bothers me more is that the Albany Times-Union and The Record took the lazy way out. The T-U sent their primary reporter to cover a game between Albany Academy & Green Tech, but couldn't spare anyone else? The Record was even worse. Both papers ran a half-page of summaries, culled likely from scores being called into the sports editor's offices. It's not like anything more important was going on Monday night (and it wasn't). I just don't get it.

Today's back page in The Record highlighted the women's regular season finale between Albany & Troy, as the Lady Falcons spoiled Senior Night for THS, wrapping up the Big 10 title and a perfect regular season. It probably evens out, assuming Troy's boys did the same at Albany, in their case securing 2nd place behind CBA. While everyone seems to think Troy & CBA will meet again at Times-Union Center next month for the Class AA Boys title, I wouldn't put too much stock in it just yet. CBA has the biggest bullseye on its collective backs, having won 4 straight Section II titles, and engendering a great deal of antipathy among certain pockets of fans, based on what I discovered last year, when a fan at the TUC said that supposedly "everyone" hates CBA.

Well, if they took the politics out of sports, we wouldn't have such issues at the high school level.

Spring training for major league baseball started this week, but if you follow the New York tabloids, it seems they're more interested in who isn't in Florida, and that would be Yankee 3B-turned-pariah Alex Rodriguez, remaining in cold, snowy NYC to rehab in surgically repaired hip. La-de-freakin'-dah. Meanwhile, retired slugger Mike Piazza is back in the news, not for being denied entry into the Hall of Fame last month, but for the fact he's written a book, and has to defend himself against the predictable insinuation that maybe, just maybe he took PED's. He says he didn't. The HOF voters seemed to throw him under the bus with their decision not to vote him in just yet. Who do you believe?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Classic TV: Adventures of Superman (1952)

The Adventures of Superman marked another milestone for DC's best known hero, who had previously conquered radio and had starred in a series of theatrical shorts for Paramount in the 40's, plus two movie serials.

Superman (George Reeves) was the first comic book hero to be adapted for television when British media mogul Robert Maxwell brokered a syndication deal for the series in 1952. However, anyone thinking they would see adaptations of stories from the comics or the newspaper strip were sorely disappointed. Instead of Lex Luthor or the Prankster, Superman instead fought generic gangsters and common crooks. The show was so popular, such that Reeves would appear as Superman on I Love Lucy, of all places.

The series lasted six seasons, ending in 1958, and ensuring a healthy life in syndication. Of course, the Man of Steel would return again and again, mostly in cartoons, over the following 50-plus years. In the comics, Superman's been revamped and tinkered with enough times, more recently with DC's controversial "New 52" reboot, which wiped away Supes' mid-90's wedding to reporter-girlfriend Lois Lane, which, to my knowledge, was not met with as much antipathy as Marvel's decision to wipe out Spider-Man's marriage to Mary Jane Watson (save for the newspaper strip) a few years prior. These days, DC's writers would rather consider what a lot of people have considered for years, pairing Superman with Wonder Woman. Now, if that isn't good enough for a movie all by itself, I don't know what is.

With Superman soon to return to the big screen in "Man of Steel", due this summer, let's take a look back, with help from CptColumbo, at the original open to Adventures of Superman.

As a kid, I must've seen every episode at least a half-dozen times each in syndication over the years. Today, it really doesn't hold up as well, since most fans would prefer to see Superman battle the same foes as he did in the books. For whatever reason, it just didn't happen in the 50's.

Rating: B-.

On The Shelf: DC trims some more books off the roster

Even though it's the 2nd week in February, DC is doing some spring cleaning in its "New 52" universe. Between April & May, 8 "New 52" books are being cancelled.

In April:

I, Vampire gets staked after 19 issues. Maybe turning Andrew Bennett evil, while Mary Seward, formerly Mary, Queen of Blood, regained her humanity, wasn't the smartest idea after all. Nothing says jump the shark quite as succinctly, don't you think?

DC Universe Presents ends after 19 issues. More proof that the anthology format just isn't manageable in this day and age. May's cut list brings another example........

Sword of Sorcery, revived in September as a home for 80's heroine Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld, and written by TV & comics veteran Christy Marx, ends after 8 issues. DC finds out again that a double-size anthology series, priced at $3.99 per issue, just won't sell. If you missed out, don't despair, there will be a trade paperback likely out before the end of the summer.

As for the rest of the May cuts:

The Savage Hawkman, Deathstroke, & Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Men all end with issue 20. Former boy genius Rob Liefeld had been attached to the first two as of last year, when his first "New 52" books bit the dust. Hawkman will be part of the new Justice League of America (separate from the other Justice League), debuting later this month. Firestorm & Deathstroke will turn up again elsewhere in due course. In fact......

Team 7, Deathstroke's other series, ends with issue 8. The former Image property didn't catch on at all. One gets the feeling that the lone remaining book that crossed over from Image, Stormwatch, being shoehorned retroactively into DC history, per a coming storyline in All Star Western, isn't long for this world, either, and will likely take All Star Western, Jonah Hex's current home and the lone anthology still being published, with it when it does go. The Ravagers, which features another Image refugee in Caitlin Fairchild (formerly of Gen13), is also gone in May, but bank on Fairchild, Beast Boy, et al, to hook up with the Teen Titans ere long.

In semi-related news, Cartoon Network confirmed what a lot of fans had suspected might happen, opting not to renew Young Justice & Green Lantern, clearing room for Teen Titans Go! & Beware the Batman, rather than let all 4 series air together in an expanded DC Nation block. Expect the current comics based on the Young Justice & Green Lantern cartoons to be gone as well, probably by the end of the summer for the same reason.

As long as this summer's mega-event, built around the Justice League & Phantom Stranger, among others, doesn't affect the lone DC book I'm still reading, All-Star Western, I'm happy. Otherwise, I'm going to do some trimming of my own. Stay tooned.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

What Might've Been: The Powers of Matthew Star (1982)

By the early 80's superheroes were no longer in vogue in primetime. The Incredible Hulk had ended its run after 5 seasons. Wonder Woman & The Six Million Dollar Man and its companion series, The Bionic Woman, were long gone into syndication. NBC decided to roll the dice, and, well, let's just say they didn't exactly have good fortune.

The Powers of Matthew Star was penciled in to lead off NBC's Friday lineup when it launched in 1982, a year later than planned when production was halted due to injuries sustained by its star, relative newcomer Peter Barton (now a soap actor, most recently on The Young & The Restless). If memory serves, 1982 was also the first year for a more successful action series that followed---Knight Rider, which somehow flourished despite the lead-in being a catastrophic failure.

Creatively, the show had a strong pedigree. Bruce Lansbury had worked on shows as diverse as Wonder Woman & The Fantastic Journey. Another executive producer, Harve Bennett, had worked on Six Million Dollar Man. Steven DeSouza was the series creator, and was later attached to other series, which I can't recall at the moment. Barton also had an Oscar winner to play off of in Louis Gossett, Jr. ("An Officer & A Gentleman"). Halfway through the series, with the change in producers came a format change, with Matthew (Barton) & his mentor, Walter Shepherd (Gossett) now government agents. Initially, the mentor-student relationship between Shepherd & Star was similar to that of Billy Batson and his Mentor (Michael Gray & Les Tremayne, Shazam!, 1974-77), but the changeover to government agents recalls the final season or two of Wonder Woman, or right around the time Lansbury came aboard that series. Hmmmm.

As memory serves, what hurt Matthew Star, besides the format change in midstream, was the opposition, particularly The Dukes of Hazzard. Enough said.

Kinder uploaded the open, narrated by Gossett.

I tried watching the show at first. I didn't stick around for the format change, which really didn't help.

Rating: D.

Video Valentine: Cinderella (2009)

Four years ago, gospel singer Steven Curtis Chapman released "Cinderella", which wasn't exactly based on the classic tale, but rather told from the point of view of a father concerned about his daughter going to a big dance of some kind. It fits as a Video Valentine because of a father's love for his daughter.

Uploaded through EMI's YouTube channel:

Saturday, February 9, 2013

What Might've Been: The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo (1979)

It's funny how things work in television sometimes.

Sheriff Elroy P. Lobo (Claude Akins, ex-Movin' On), from Orly County, Georgia, was introduced as a corrupt lawman on B. J. & The Bear, and it didn't appear as though Lobo had any real scruples. However, after the runaway success of The Dukes of Hazzard on CBS, which bowed in February 1979 as a mid-season replacement, NBC suits were convinced to end the feud between Lobo and B. J. McKay (Greg Evigan), and spin Lobo off into his own series.

The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo debuted in September of '79, and we would find that there were a few parallels between Lobo and his Hazzard County counterpart, Rosco P. Coltrane (James Best). For starters, while Rosco's sister was married to his boss, Hazzard County Commissioner Jefferson Davis "Boss" Hogg (Sorrell Booke), Lobo's sister was wed to his deputy, the mono-monickered Perkins (Mills Watson), who was about as sharp as a box of broken thumbtacks. In some respects, Lobo & Perkins were the flopped negative of another sheriff-deputy combination of an earlier generation, Andy Taylor & Barney Fife (Andy Griffith & Don Knotts, The Andy Griffith Show). Lobo was using his position for personal gain, but they couldn't let that go on, so producer Glen Larsen added a second deputy in naive, well-intentioned Birdwell "Birdie" Hawkins (Brian Kerwin), the yin to Perkins' yang, if ya will. Somehow, some way, Lobo got his man every week, either through straight detective work (Lobo & Hawkins) or through Perkins bumbling his way into finding important clues.

While the series was in fact renewed for a second year, holding its own on Tuesdays against ABC's powerhouse sitcom lineup, headed by Happy Days, it underwent a cosmetic change, with the title shortened to Lobo, and our intrepid lawmen transferred to Atlanta as part of a anti-crime task force, but now Lobo had someone to answer to, with his boss played by soap veteran Nicholas Coster (ex-Another World). The change of scenery was the cue to jump the shark, as Lobo was cancelled at the end of the 1980-1 season.

Had the series aired on another night without strong competition (and, well, that was hard to find back then), maybe it'd have lasted much, much longer. However, the combination of declining ratings, the format change, and too many comparisons to the Dukes in general concept, proved to be too much to overcome.

Zoobers uploaded the theme everyone knows, sung by Frankie Laine. The second season saw a theme change, too, to Ray Charles' iconic "Georgia on My Mind".

Sheriff Lobo was a career breakthrough of a sort for Watson, a veteran who had played mostly villains in the course of his career, but after the series ended, he wasn't heard from much again, and not because of typecasting, in this writer's opinion. The second season also introduced viewers to singer-actress Nell Carter, who'd later rebound with a hit sitcom, Gimme A Break!, that would outlast Lobo by a few years.

Now, don't ya think Cloo, one of NBC-Universal's cable networks, should dust this show off, say, around April Fool's Day?

Rating: B.

What Might've Been: Barbara Mandrell & The Mandrell Sisters (1980)

In 1980, country music was making a bit of a comeback in the mainstream, thanks to the movie, "Urban Cowboy", starring John Travolta, and while Travolta didn't even try to record a track for the soundtrack---he didn't need to, really----the movie boosted the profile of artists like Johnny Lee ("Looking For Love"), among others. It also convinced executives at hit-starved NBC that they could take a chance on a country-centric variety show.

While Hee Haw was thriving in syndication, NBC landed one of the hottest artists in Nashville at the time, Barbara Mandrell, who would headline a Saturday night show alongside her sisters, Irlene & Louise. The subsequent Barbara Mandrell & The Mandrell Sisters would also mark the return of producers Sid & Marty Krofft to the network, one year after their last Saturday morning series for the network, another variety series starring the Bay City Rollers, had crashed.

Like Hee Haw, the Mandrells made sure to include a gospel number in every show. In my district, Hee Haw, while airing on another channel, aired at 7 (ET), providing a perfect lead-in for country fans, who could flip to NBC for Mandrell at 8. There was, sadly, a downside. The constant touring and production of the TV show had caused some vocal problems for Barbara, and, on the advice of her doctors, she ended the series in 1982 after just 2 seasons.

Following is a sample episode with Tennessee Ernie Ford, Jon "Bowzer" Bauman (Sha Na Na), and R. C. Bannon (Louise's husband). Early on, you'll see comic Bill Kirchenbauer (ex-Make Me Laugh), who'd later land his own series, Just The Ten of Us:

Rating: B.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Video Valentine: In The Heart of a Woman (1993)

Billy Ray Cyrus followed his debut CD, "Some Gave All", which gave us the infamous "Achy Breaky Heart", and the accompanying line dance which has since faded into obscurity, with 1993's 'It Won't Be The Last". The first single was "In The Heart of a Woman", which, admittedly, was a much better song than "Achy" was a year or so earlier.

Uploaded from the artist's VEVO channel:

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Video Valentine: Love Song (1989)

Here's a different kind of musical valentine. The Cure released "Love Song" on their 1989 CD, "Disintegration", which was originally released on Elektra Records. I should know. I had the vinyl single. I loved the melody, despite the melancholy vocals of singer Robert Smith.

Rhino Entertainment now controls the Cure's discography, and thus we get the video from Rhino's YouTube channel:

Only in the South: Mama steals a Letter of Intent, then lawyers up! Say What?

There are things that you wish were made up, but aren't. This is one of those sad cases.

Alex Collins, 18, made a verbal commitment to play football for Arkansas next fall for new coach Bret Bielema. On Wednesday, when Collins was ready to sign his National Letter of Intent, and make it official, on national television, no less (ESPNU spent the whole day glorifying this once mundane rite of passage), said letter was nowhere to be found. Turns out, his mother took the letter and ran.


What parent would be that dense, if not overprotective above & beyond the call of duty, to pull a stunt like that? Mrs. Collins wanted her son to attend Miami, ignoring the fact that Alex had already made a commitment, and was standing by his word. Real men do that. It's an honor thing. Today, a day later than planned, with his father present, Collins finally signed the Letter. Mother wouldn't attend. She was, instead, according to Yahoo!, meeting with.........lawyers. Specifically, a firm founded by the late Johnnie Cochran, which says that they're representing not only Mama Collins, but "the family interests".

Let me repeat myself.......SAY WHAT?

This case doesn't need lawyers, mediators, Dr. Drew, or even Judge Judy. Dr. Phil, maybe, but my money'd be better off having Steve Harvey, best-selling author, game-and-talk-show host, and busiest man on the planet at the moment, getting the two sides together on his talk show, not Family Feud. We know Mama Collins is all kinds of wack, perhaps scared that her son is leaving the nest a wee bit too soon, but all I know is that, all kidding aside, someone in that family has some growing up to do, and it ain't the college boy.

Let's face facts. Miami is trying to dig out from under another scandal. So is Arkansas, which has gone through two coaches in as many seasons, with Bielema becoming the third in three years, but what's a kid to do when he makes a verbal or handshake deal with a coach? Reneging is not an option, though something might come along later that might change that mindset. We've seen that happen before.

All Mama Collins has earned, besides becoming the laughingstock of her hometown, is a set of Weasel ears for spoiling her son's moment, delaying it a day, then spending the next day at a lawyer's office instead of sharing her son's joy. As a high school senior, Alex Collins has the right to decide where he wants to continue his education. He is obligated, however, to have a parent present when he signs his Letter, and I imagine he wanted Mama there, but his father was there for him today. If I find out Alex is an only child, then we've got the motivation for Mama's folly. There's nothing worse in sports or entertainment than a stage parent. One thing's for sure. Alex ain't getting any Chunky Soup for a while, even if he makes the pros.........

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Classic TV: Ironside (1967)

It hadn't been very long since Perry Mason ended its run when star Raymond Burr returned to television, this time on NBC, and playing a very different character in another crime drama.

Ironside began with a TV-movie which explained how former San Francisco Chief of Detectives Robert Ironside (Burr) was paralyzed from the waist down by an assassin's bullet. He's eventually back on the force after a forced retirement, and lands a team of three assistants. Ironside lasted 8 seasons, and in more recent times had aired on Retro when they had the Universal library. The series' current cable whereabouts are unknown.

It has been reported that NBC-Universal is planning a remake of the series, but it looks like they hadn't learned a valuable lesson from USA Network's ill-fated Kojak revival of a few years back. That is to say, they are looking at casting an African-American in the lead role this time around. Blair Underwood (ex-LA Law, The Event) has been mentioned. Didn't they learn anything from casting Ving Rhames as Kojak in that revival? Apparently not. Trying to be politically correct with casting is one thing, but network executives keep making the mistake of forgetting that older viewers still watch TV, and will be wary of such casting missteps.

If the remake goes through, it'll be 20 years since the original cast had reunited for a TV-movie that should've closed the books on the series. We'll see soon enough.

Rating: A-.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Video Valentine: I Want To Know What Love Is (1984)

I originally found this classic Foreigner cut on YouTube a couple of years ago around this time. Next thing I know, the YouTube user lost the video due to copyright issues. Let's try this one again, then, shall we? It happens to be a personal favorite of mine.

Here's "I Want To Know What Love Is":

Classic TV: GE College Bowl (1959)

Many a television show in the early days made the transition from radio. Take, for example, Gunsmoke, The Jack Benny Program, Gang Busters, and......The GE College Bowl.

In 1959, General Electric decided to move the College Bowl to television. Initially, the series aired not on NBC, mind, but on CBS. Its initial host would later go on to greater fame hosting another quiz show for the same network------Password. Yep, Allen Ludden presided over the College Bowl for its first three years on TV. PhiloFarnsworth uploaded this clip from 1959.

After Ludden departed for Password, GE found a new MC in Robert Earle, who would host for the rest of the series' run, ending in 1970. One of the most famous games in the history of College Bowl took place in 1966, by which time, yes, the series had moved to NBC. Princeton University vs. Agnes Scott College became the stuff of legend. Hmmmmmmmm2 uploaded the episode.

Earle was not heard from much again, save for a failed pilot a few years later. Since 1970, the College Bowl has lived on in regional tournaments on various campuses, and the periodic radio or television specials, which have been hosted by game show icons such as Pat Sajak (Wheel Of Fortune) and the late Art Fleming (Jeopardy!). Time will tell if there is a need for College Bowl to return to television. After all, the perception a lot of television executives have of college life has changed in the last 43 years.........

Rating: A.

Proof that "anything can happen in the WWE": Bruno Sammartino is heading for the Hall of Fame

Ever since he ended his long association with the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) in the late 80's, Bruno Sammartino, the face of the promotion in the 60's and early-to-mid-70's, had become disenchanted with what the company had become, such that he no longer wanted anything to do with Vince McMahon. At the end of his run, Sammartino was one of McMahon's broadcast partners (along with Jesse Ventura) on Superstars of Wrestling. Today, while Sammartino still can't stand McMahon, he joins Ventura and so many others in the WWE Hall of Fame, and will be inducted on April 6 at Madison Square Garden, where Sammartino drew sellout crowds seemingly forever during his career.

How was this all made possible?

That's easy. While McMahon, 67, isn't exactly the sharpest tool in the shed these days, changing his mind more often than parents change their babies' diapers, son-in-law Paul LeVesque, aka Triple H, was the point man in negotiations to bring Sammartino back into the WWE family. Triple H was trained by one of Sammartino's contemporaries and rivals, the late Walter "Killer" Kowalski, who was inducted into the Hall himself a few years ago. While "The Cerebral Assassin" essayed the role of a sinister mastermind or master prankster, depending on the situation, he also is an old school purist, and understands how older fans, like himself, would like to see their childhood heroes enshrined. LeVesque has also been campaigning to have an actual, physical Hall of Fame building constructed, so that fans will have a tourist attraction on a par with counterparts in baseball (Cooperstown), football (Canton, Ohio), & basketball (Springfield, MA). One can hope he gets that done, too.

Sammartino joins a 2013 Hall of Fame class that also includes two more former champions in Bob Backlund (1978-83 & 1994) & Mick Foley (1999-2000), and 7-time women's champion Trish Stratus, who won all 7 of her titles from 2001-6. With 2 months before Wrestlemania, and with the event set for Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, this figures to be the biggest Hall of Fame class, fitting for the biggest city in the world.

As for McMahon, he now is recovering from hip surgery, which actually took place on Friday, and was present backstage at Monday Night Raw in Atlanta last night on crutches. While Sammartino has been reported as saying he doesn't want to interact with McMahon at the Hall of Fame, it may require Triple H pulling off another miracle, this time playing peacemaker in forging a burying of the hatchet between Sammartino & McMahon, kind of like Frank Sinatra surprising Jerry Lewis at the latter's MDA telethon one year by bringing in Dean Martin to stage a reunion of the former comedy team.

Whatever you might've thought of Triple H before as a wrestler, it has given way to a junior executive on the verge of virtual sainthood. He's delivered Sammartino to the Hall of Fame. He is trying to have a HOF building created. For someone who blasphemed God in promos a decade ago, he certainly is earning his penance.

It's just too bad that Vince McMahon couldn't have made it happen sooner.

Monday, February 4, 2013

It was a great game, again, but so were some commercials......

Perhaps it was just meant to be that the halftime entertainment at Super Bowl 47 included a reunion of the 90's girl group Destiny's Child. Destiny fell on the side of the Baltimore Ravens, and not the San Francisco 49ers, despite a furious comeback by the Niners in the 3rd quarter. San Francisco never led, and could only get within 2 after a failed 2-point conversion following a touchdown run by QB Colin Kaepernick in the 4th quarter.

Baltimore sacrificed two points on a self-induced safety with 4 seconds left, and stopped San Francisco return specialist Ted Ginn, Jr. at midfield to end the game, a 34-31 Ravens win.

San Francisco had waited 18 years to get back to the Big Game. It took the Ravens 12. It was also the last stop on the Ray Lewis Farewell Tour, and like John Elway & Michael Strahan before him, Lewis goes out a winner. Unlike those others, however, Lewis is still dogged by controversy that will continue to dominate sports headlines for another few weeks.

San Francisco made their comeback after a power outage that lasted more than a half hour in the 3rd quarter, outscoring Baltimore 17-3 from that point. However, once the Ravens got it back in gear, they did just enough to win the game. There were so few penalties called, as usual, it wouldn't have mattered if the referee was Jerome Boger, working his first Super Bowl, or Steve Harvey. I'm surprised there weren't too many Family Feud jokes headed into this game. I may've been the only one.

Of course, there were the commercials, which get more attention. The best of this year's group came from Ram Trucks, now a separate entity as part of Chrysler. Ram pulled up a 1978 speech by the late radio legend Paul Harvey, and set it against a montage of clips of, well, farmers. Uploaded by Ram's YouTube channel:

And, then, there is the ridiculous, like M & M's Red (Billy West) doing a sendup of Meat Loaf's "I Would Do Anything For Love". From M & M's YouTube channel:

And Beck's new Sapphire beer, featuring a clip of Blackstreet's 1996 hit, "No Diggity":

The advertisers spend all that money, and most of the ads, while imaginative, are about as appealing as watching paint dry, except for the Ram spot. Maybe Vince McMahon should hire some of the ad writers for his WWE staff.........

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Maybe Mork should've made a comeback..........(2013)

The latest "You're not you when you're hungry" spot from Snickers features Oscar winner Robin Williams, warping back in time to the early years in his career with a manic turn as a football coach. The addition of Bobcat Goldthwait as a cheerleader, though, was actually overkill.

On DVD: Thunderbirds Are Go! (1966)

The following review also appears on my other blog, Saturday Morning Archives.
Today's generation only knows of the late Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds from a seemingly ill-advised live-action movie produced a few years ago. However, the original Thunderbirds had made it to the big screen during their golden years in the 60's.

"Thunderbirds Are Go!" pits the Tracy family against a saboteur who's trying to stop a mission to Mars. However well developed the plot, there is also a distraction in the form of a dream sequence in a space nightclub involving one of the Tracy brothers and Lady Penelope, supposedly on a date, and entertained by the "son" of British pop star Cliff Richard (Richard voices his own "offspring", of course). I can actually see why the more recent incarnation tanked.

Anyway, here's the open to the film, complete with the score by Anderson's faithful music director, Barry Gray:

Watching this film, I recognized the chauffeur, Walker, from series clips that were used in Wax's music video for "Right Between The Eyes", released some 20 years after this film. Andrew Gold & Graham Gouldman must've been fans.

Rating: C.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Super Bowl 47----a preview and a prediction

The result of Sunday's Super Bowl will tell us of either the resurrection of a proud dynasty, or the triumphant final lap of a proud champion.

For Baltimore's Ray Lewis, this is the last mile. The last game. He has promised he will not perform his signature pre-game dance, which says he doesn't want to call any more attention to himself on the biggest stage. As it is, Lewis, the only one left from the 2000 Ravens team that beat the Giants in Super Bowl 35, has enough on his plate. As we documented earlier this week, Mitch Ross, from Sports With Alternatives To Steroids (SWATS), claimed he gave Lewis deer antler spray to help accelerate his recovery from a torn bicep injury. Ross, however, has dug himself a deeper hole by claiming he also supplied a number of other athletes, including the Giants' Steve Weatherford (who, like Lewis, has denied any association with Ross) and golfer Vijay Singh. No one had actually heard of deer antler spray before this week, and ESPN's Around The Horn poked fun at it via panelist Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times, who did a brief comedy skit on the show while on location in New Orleans, where he's covering the game for the Times. Ross' 15 minutes will wind down soon enough.

The San Francisco 49ers were The team of the 80's, with Joe Montana leading them to 4 titles. They added a 5th with Steve Young (now with ESPN) at QB in 1995, beating San Diego. Now, they are poised to return to the elite level with a 2nd year QB, Colin Kaepernick, who has become quite the sensation. In the regular season, Washington's rookie superstar, Robert Griffin III, befuddled the Ravens' defense with the read-option offense, which is what the Niners also use. However, as was suggested elsewhere, the Ravens can use what they learned in that loss to Washington to their advantage, and prepare a defense to stop Kaepernick, or, at the very least, slow him down. Otherwise, it'll be an air show between Kaepernick and Baltimore's Joe Flacco, the 5th year signal caller out of Delaware. Flacco didn't exactly endear himself to the New York press earlier in the week when he implied that next year's game, scheduled for Met Life Stadium at the Meadowlands, was a "retarded" decision. Bad choice of words. The Super Bowl has been played in warmer climates or in domed stadiums. For all the flak he's taken for some of his decisions, commissioner Roger Goodell, truth be told, got it right by experimenting with playing the Big Game in a cold climate. Like, why not? A good number of playoff games are contested in frigid temperatures, so why should the Super Bowl be any different?

Because it's more about the entertainment aspects of it all, as far as the league's television partners are concerned. The game is now played the first weekend in February because that month is one of the "sweeps" periods during the television season, where networks set ad rates for the following quarter. This, and not the expanded playoffs, is the underlying reason for moving the game out of its traditional late January berth.

Strip away the halftime entertainment and the overhyped, obscenely expensive commercials geared mostly for the casual, inebriated armchair quarterbacks in the audience, and it's all about the game, as it should be. It's gotten to the point where, in the last several years, they've added halftime concerts to games played on Thanksgiving! What's next? NBC's Football Night In America suddenly gives its halftime to the WWE? Perish the thought, as scary as that sounds.

Back to the game. If it comes down to the passing game, or special teams, it becomes a track meet. Baltimore's Jacoby Jones (who came over from Houston) vs. San Francisco's Ted Ginn, Jr., the former speed burner from Ohio State whom Miami gave up on. Kaepernick & Flacco will light up the sky for sure. Ray Rice, Frank Gore, et al, will chew up yardage like most of us will be chomping down on pizza and/or chicken wings during the game. In the end, it'll come down to the kicking game. San Francisco's David Akers has not been his usual All Pro self this season. Baltimore's Justin Tucker was a hero when the Ravens upset New England in September, and has played like a veteran, not the rookie he really is. This is Ray Lewis' last game, but it may also be fini for Akers in San Francisco if he doesn't deliver. My advice to him is to keep his Twitter account closed for about a month, win or lose.

The pick---Ravens 31, Niners 28.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Ed Koch (1924-2013)

In some respects, he was "America's Mayor" before Rudy Giuliani, which is ironic since the two were bitter rivals back in the day. In addition to serving three terms as Mayor of New York City, Ed Koch served in World War II, and has also been, in no particular order, a NYC Councilman, a Congressman, a radio talk show host, and a TV judge (he served two seasons on The People's Court immediately following the retirement of the series' original jurist, Joseph Wapner, in 1997).

It just happens to be another bitter irony that on the day when a documentary on the life of Koch was being released in theatres throughout New York City, Koch passed away early this morning at 88 due to heart failure.

Koch was first elected Mayor of NYC in 1977, succeeding Abe Beame. The city was mired in a deep financial crisis at the time, and Koch brought the city back by instituting budget cuts to save the city's credit, and became the city's biggest and most high profile champion. "How'm I doin'?" became not only his signature, but almost a national catchphrase.

If there was a downside to Koch, it was the fact that he was unwilling to allow the Giants to hold a ticker-tape parade down New York's fabled Canyon of Heroes after their first Super Bowl win in 1987, suggesting that Big Blue, which had moved out of the city a decade earlier and were now playing their home games in New Jersey, as they do today, hold their victory parade in suburban Moonachie, just outside of the team's home base in East Rutherford. Obviously, he never forgave the Giants---or the Jets, for that matter---for moving to New Jersey, believing that they no longer represented the city, even though technically they still do. Koch's penchant for speaking his mind also cost him a shot at becoming governor in 1982 when he told Playboy that he considered living in Albany to be "a fate worse than death". Small wonder, then, that there's been a political chasm between NYC's 5 boroughs and Albany ever since.

The funny thing is, even though he was born in the Bronx, Koch spent his formative years in New Jersey. Now try figuring out why he'd turn his back on the Garden State when the Giants won the Super Bowl.

Rest in peace, Ed.