Sunday, June 30, 2013

Rockin' Funnies: Farmer Style (2013)

Last year, Korea's Psy captured everyone's imagination with "Gangnam Style". Leave it to some boys from the Midwest to poke fun at it.

The Peterson Farm Brothers came up with "Farmer Style", which turned up on the video screen at Joe Bruno Stadium Saturday night in between games of the Tri-City Valleycats' doubleheader vs. Connecticut. They also have a YouTube channel, where the video can be found........

Hysterical, ain't it?

Who should be an All-Star?

On Saturday, MLB Network will unveil the 2013 Major League Baseball All-Star Teams for this year's game, taking place on July 16 at Citi Field. Since fan balloting is always skewed toward either home city favorites or perennial stars getting in on reputation more than current performance, it isn't an exact science by any stretch.

That having been said, I will prove that I am not a mark for the Mets and present whom I feel should be playing in this year's game.

American League:

1st base: Chris Davis, Baltimore. Davis is having a career year. Yes, he's also been a DH of late, but how do you deny the man who is leading the majors in homers?

Alternates: Albert Pujols, Los Angeles; Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto; Prince Fielder, Detroit.

2nd base: Robinson Cano, Yankees. Cano also will captain Team AL in the Home Run Derby for the 2nd straight year, and has been the only consistent source of offense for the injury-plagued Yanks.

Alternates: Dustin Pedroia, Boston; Jose Altuve, Houston.

3rd base: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit. Enough said.

Alternates: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay; Manny Machado, Baltimore; Adrian Beltre, Texas.

Shortstop: J. J. Hardy, Baltimore. A default pick, since the glamour boys in the league (Derek Jeter, Jose Reyes) missed most or all of the first half.

Alternates: Erick Aybar, Los Angeles; Jed Lowrie, Oakland.

Catcher: Joe Mauer, Minnesota. End of story.

Alternates: Jason Castro, Houston; Carlos Santana, Cleveland.

Outfield: Mike Trout, Los Angeles; Jose Bautista, Toronto; Ichiro Suzuki, Yankees; Adam Jones, Baltimore; Desmond Jennings, Tampa Bay; Austin Jackson, Detroit.

Pitchers: Max Scherzer, Detroit (likely starter); Chris Sale, Chicago; Felix Hernandez, Seattle; Hiroki Kuroda & Mariano Rivera, Yankees; Yu Darvish & Joe Nathan, Texas; James Shields, Kansas City; Glen Perkins, Minnesota.

National League:

1st base: Joey Votto, Cincinnati. He's a better all around player than, say, Ryan Howard, for example. If he was in a bigger market, more people would know who he is.

Alternates: Anthony Rizzo, Chicago; Ryan Howard, Philadelphia.

2nd base: Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati. See Votto.

Alternates: Daniel Murphy, Mets; Chase Utley, Philadelphia.

Shortstop: Andrelton Simmons, Atlanta. He hit the ground running playing for his native Netherlands in the WBC, and hasn't stopped.

Alternates: Ian Desmond, Washington; Troy Tulowitzski, Colorado.

3rd base: David Wright, Mets. Like Cano, he's a captain in the Home Run Derby, but there is question as to whether or not he'll actually compete after his near miss a few years back.

Alternates: Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco; David Freese, St. Louis.

Catcher: Buster Posey, San Francisco. Were he not injured in '11, the Giants would be going probably for their 4th World Series title in a row, so they say.

Alternates: Yadier Molina, St. Louis; Russell Martin, Pittsburgh.

Outfield: Dominic Brown, Philadelphia; Andrew McCutcheon, Pittsburgh; Carlos Beltran, St. Louis; Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles; Marlon Byrd, Mets; Justin Upton, Atlanta.

Pitchers: Jordan Zimmermann, Washington; Adam Wainwright, St. Louis; Jason Grilli, Pittsburgh; Matt Harvey, Mets; Cliff Lee, Philadelphia; Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles; Patrick Corbin, Arizona; Steve Cishek, Miami; Huston Street, San Diego.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Classic TV: My Three Sons (1960)

Don Fedderson's most successful series had to be My Three Sons, which lasted 12 seasons (1960-5 on ABC, 1965-72 on CBS). If you have never seen this show, you don't know what you're missing. Today, Me-TV owns the cable rights to the show, airing early in the morning Monday-Friday. I recommend checking it out.

Anyway, Sons marked the series debut of film veteran Fred MacMurray ("Double Indemnity", the original "Absent-Minded Professor"), cast as widower Steven Douglas, who had enough to deal with as his three boys, Mike (Tim Considine), Robbie (Don Grady, ex-The Mickey Mouse Club), & Chip (Stanley Livingston) were growing up. William Frawley (ex-I Love Lucy) was cast as "Bub" O'Casey, who served as the boys' housekeeper for the first few years. Failing health forced Frawley to leave the series, with William Demarest brought in as Bub's brother, Charley, for the rest of the run.

Grady wasn't the only one with a Disney connection. Considine appeared in the Spin & Marty serials on Mickey Mouse Club, but wasn't a full Mouseketeer, like Grady was. Of course, as noted, MacMurray had made the original "Absent Minded Professor" for Disney, and it's sequel, "Son of Flubber". Some of you may have heard that MacMurray also was reputedly the model for Fawcett's take on Captain Marvel, later acquired by DC, but that's kind of hard to prove, to tell you the truth.

Like many sitcoms of the day, Sons was repurposed in daytime reruns for a time near the end of its run, which is where I first became acquainted with the show. That just doesn't happen anymore as today's comedies are picked up not only for syndication distribution, but cable networks get their share of the action, too.

Here's the intro:

Perhaps the best thing about the show is Frank DeVol's kickin' theme song.

Rating: A-.

Friday, June 28, 2013

A Classic Reborn: Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1993)

After four feature films with Christopher Reeve, it seemed like the right time for Superman to return to television. Warner Bros., flush with excitement over the success of the Fox series, Batman: The Animated Series, opted for the live-action route with Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, which spent 4 seasons anchoring ABC's Sunday lineup (1993-7).

Adhering to modern (at the time) convention, Lex Luthor (John Shea) not only is the corrupt businessman we were seeing in the comics then, but he'd also been involved, however briefly, with Lois Lane (Teri Hatcher). Enter Superman (Dean Cain). Enough said.

Of course, the series got a little trippy in the final two seasons. What did you expect? As with most shows based on comics these days, the producers played it fast & loose with the comics, opting for an African-American Toyman (Sherman Hemsley, ex-The Jeffersons, Amen) as a 1-shot villain who eventually reformed, something that couldn't be said about the comic book Toyman at the time. The hook, of course, was Hemsley reuniting with Jeffersons co-star Isabel Sanford one last time in primetime.

Currently, reruns air on The Hub (check listings). Since the series ended, both Dean Cain & Teri Hatcher have moved on to other things. Hatcher recently ended another successful Sunday night entry, Desperate Housewives, while Cain currently hosts the latest reincarnation of Bloopers (check listings again).

Following is a montage of opens for all 4 seasons. Note that Justin Whalin (Jimmy Olsen) joined the series in season 2, after Michael Landes was let go.

The only quibble might be that Cain's Superman was too close to being Superboy instead, but he managed to make it work for four years.

Rating: B+.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A little of this 'n' a little of that

Apparently, it doesn't matter when someone has used a racial slur. If that person is a celebrity, such as Paula Deen, there are consequences regardless.

Deen's contract with Food Network expires on Sunday, and she's losing sponsors left & right, all because she acknowledged using a racial epithet when giving a deposition in response to a lawsuit filed by a former employee of one of her restaurants. I had read or heard that the slurs were supposedly uttered years ago, but it doesn't matter in these politically correct times. As a celebrity, you're held up to a higher standard as a role model of sorts. Predictably, there has also been much complaint about how African-American recording artists haven't been cited for using the same slur in their own lyrics.

Now, does that make any sense? Of course not. However, it's just a matter of time before the climate changes there.

Amazingly, the New England Patriots decided to cut bait and cut tight end Aaron Hernandez after he was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of murder. Couple Hernandez's departure with the persistent injuries plaguing fellow TE Rob Gronkowski, and, well, a roster spot does open up for Tim Tebow, who certainly isn't going to get too many snaps at quarterback. Tebow at TE? Yep. Maybe he can reward coach Bill Belichick by leaving a tract or two under his office door.........

It doesn't matter that the New York Mets are in 4th place in the National League East. A quick check of their interleague record says they're among the best in play against the American League so far, sporting an 8-2 record, with the only losses coming against the Chicago White Sox (they split 2 games in New York before splitting 2 in Chicago the last two nights). They still have games left vs. Kansas City, Cleveland, & Detroit. Could they play spoiler in the AL Central? Yep.

Speaking of surprises, the Tri-City Valleycats are off to their best start in recent memory, sitting atop the Stedler Division in the New York-Penn League at 8-2 going into play tonight, and a perfect 4-0 at home. Whodathunk? Caution, though, is advised, as others have gotten off to quick starts in recent years, and faded faster than New Coke. It's on new manager Ed Romero to maintain the momentum and focus if the 'Cats want to win their 2nd straight division title.

Ring of Honor Wrestling is in a difficult situation, as champion Jay Briscoe's contract has expired. The company did an injury angle at the tapings on Sunday to buy time while they negotiated a new deal for Briscoe and his brother, Mark, who challenged Jay at Best in the World last weekend. Rumors have them moving to the WWE, right in the midst of a challenging angle that has copied what WWE & TNA have done in the past. A disgruntled veteran wrestler, Steve Corino, is leading a maverick gang of thugs to try to destroy ROH from within. Ultimately, he will fail, because he's charismatically challenged, over the hill, and irrelevant to most of today's audience, who've seen this tired act before. At a time when wrestling needs something of an alternative to the dreck offered by WWE & TNA, ROH is suddenly falling right into line. Not good.

Finally, the folks at Men's Wearhouse have decided that company founder and former CEO George Zimmer, the man behind the catchphrase, "You'll like the way you look. I guarantee it.", was not a viable piece of the company's future, and terminated him last week. Zimmer founded Men's Wearhouse 40 years ago, and has been the frontman for their ad campaigns since I don't know when, and this is the thanks they give him? Instead of a gold watch or a new car and a pension, they pink-slip him and stonewall the media when they're looking for rationale behind the decision.

Edit: 4/12/14: Here's a vintage Men's Wearhouse ad with Zimmer:

Men's Wearhouse will suddenly lose a lot of business if they don't reverse field and bring Zimmer back with at least a mea culpa, a pension, and the gold watch. Otherwise, he can always take a line from David Lee Roth, and tell them, "I'll have a bottle of anything and a glazed donut to go."

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What Might've Been: Firehouse (1974)

Firehouse was another series spawned by an ABC Movie of the Week, but this one only existed because the network was looking for something akin to NBC's popular Emergency!, which had already been on the air for a while.

Firehouse starred James Drury (ex-The Virginian) and Richard Jaeckel, the latter of whom also appeared in the pilot, and was the only cast member to continue in the series. Unfortunately, it lasted just 8 months as a mid-season replacement series. What did it in? Well, it aired on Thursdays, and at the time, CBS owned the hour with The Waltons. Enough said there.

ClassicTelevisionFan provided the open:

Metromedia Producers Corporation, which co-produced the series, rarely made 1st-run series for network television, and was better known for being in the syndication business. Firehouse was better off in syndication, as it might've had a better chance.

Rating: C.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Only in the South: A 12 year old girl's dream of playing football is shattered because of fears of lust.

This is too silly to resist.

Yahoo! is reporting that a Georgia Christian school has forced a 12 year old girl off their football team. It's not that she isn't talented, because the coaches love her ability. What the problem is, as interpreted by the school's Chief Executive Officer, is that the school officials are afraid the boys on the team will begin to have impure thoughts and lust after their teammate.

Strong Rock Christian School in Locus Grove, Georgia is, like most Christian schools, privately run, and while they have each athlete's best interests at heart, it is the moral concerns that have forced Maddy Blythe off the football team, despite the fact that her coach went to bat for her to save her spot on the roster. CEO Patrick Stuart even went so far as to use Biblical terminology to explain his decision.

We've seen young women try out for high school & college teams, and one girl actually had the distinction of being named homecoming queen and kicking a game-winning field goal in the same night. In Maddy's case, Stuart is afraid that as her body begins to mature, it will lead to the boys on the team letting their hormones get in the way. It doesn't have to be that way. I'm assuming that when she played, Maddy was given a separate space in the locker room, bordered by a partition to prevent any accidental or intentional peeping while she changed clothes. If that isn't already the case, it should be. According to Maddy's mom, Stuart told her he'd prayed about the situation, and felt that cutting Maddy from the team was the right thing to do, even if it was strictly for moral reasons.

On one hand, I can understand Stuart's rationale here. He's trying to protect his players from temptation. However, if they've already trained their minds to cast aside impure, lustful thoughts, there isn't an issue, and that Maddy should be treated as an equal as a teammate. So far, there's not been much complaint to the effect of cries of sexual discrimination. As noted, the Strong Rock football coach has supported Maddy. On the other hand, in any other part of the country, this might not be as big an issue. It is in the Southern states where they're most overzealous when it comes to the Bible. They're the ones who need to wake up and join the 21st century.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Classic TV: The Golden Girls (1985)

These days, you can't escape reruns of The Golden Girls.

The series aired on NBC from 1985-92, and then shifted to CBS, where it underwent a title change to The Golden Palace, but bombed out after less than a year.

Set in Miami, the series was built around four seniors, including a mother-daughter tandem, facing typical sitcom situations, with equally typical results. The odd thing was, the mother figure, Sophia, was played by a relative newcomer, Estelle Getty, whie everyone else was, in truth, an old friend. Betty White (Rose) has been a TV staple seemingly forever, rapidly becoming the female equivalent of George Burns, as she looks like she could work until she reaches 100. Beatrice Arthur (Dorothy) & Rue McClanahan (Blanche) had previously teamed on Maude more than a decade earlier, so there was some chemistry there.

Currently, reruns air on TV Land, which means it might be cross-promoted on sister network Nick at Nite in due course, after stops at Lifetime, Hallmark, WE, & INSP. TV Land seems appropriate, largely because the venerable Miss White now stars in Hot in Cleveland, which just started its 3rd season last week.

Here's the open:

Betty White is the only one left out of the core cast, and, as noted, shows no signs of slowing down.

Rating: B.

Weasel of the Week: Janice Cotrill

Father's Day was a week ago, but this week's Weasel certainly isn't treating her father with any kind of respect.

I first learned of the sad story surrounding 92-year-old John Potter of Zaleski, Ohio via an article on Yahoo! on Thursday. Sometime this week, Mr. Potter is being evicted from his home, barring a last minute injunction or divine intervention, whichever comes first, leaving him with little choice but to move in with his granddaughter. What makes this so sad is that Mr. Potter's own daughter, Janice Cotrill, is the one forcing the eviction issue.

According to Yahoo!, Mr. Potter and his granddaughter, Jaclyn Fraley, had raised more than $100,000 on the website in hopes of making an offer to reacquire the house that Potter himself built some 50-odd years ago. Cotrill and her unnamed husband rejected the offer, finding the offer unacceptable. How selfish can some people be, especially with their own family?

On Wednesday, there is an eviction hearing scheduled. It will require a last minute miracle for Potter to avoid being booted from his own home by his own daughter & son-in-law, who apparently, for whatever reason, however irrational it might be, don't take into consideration age and health. It smacks of selfishness & greed, nearly a decade after Cotrill was given power of attorney. That power has gone to her head, and now she'll find a pair of Weasel ears adorning that dome. Serves her right for being so cruel and forgetting how much her father meant to her.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Videos of Summer: Montego Bay (1970)

You folks don't know how long I've waited to hear this song again.

As a 7 year old in 1970, I was listening to pop & country music, and often times, there would be a song that would stick in my head, yet I couldn't tell you the name of the artist or the song.

"Montego Bay" was one of those songs, a 1-hit wonder for singer-songwriter Bobby Bloom that hit #8 on the Hot 100. Bloom was mostly writing for other artists, including the Staple Singers and, believe it or else, the Archies (he co-wrote "Sunshine" with Jeff Barry). Bloom passed away 4 years later from an accidental, self-inflicted gunshot while cleaning his gun. A tragic loss of a talent taken far too soon.

Now, let's take a trip to "Montego Bay":

Classic TV: The Rifleman (1958)

Some might say that Chuck Connors made a wise decision by swapping baseball for Hollywood. But were it not for the success he enjoyed in five seasons of The Rifleman, maybe folks would be looking for his vintage baseball cards.

The Rifleman aired on ABC from 1958-63, with Connors in the title role as homesteader Lucas McCain, a widower raising his son, Mark (Johnny Crawford) all by himself. Justice was served with a rapid fire rifle, and the people of North Fork stopped short of nominating, if not appointing outright, McCain as sheriff. Then again, he did have a lot to do with revivng the career of Marshal Micah Torrence (Paul Fix), who became to Lucas what Commissioner Gordon was to Batman, a trusted ally, after taking office in North Fork in an early season 1 episode.

My first exposure to the series was when I was a wee lad, airing in the early afternoons in the days when local stations could program their networks' afternoon programming at their discretion, something that is back in effect now, after a fashion. I seem to recall Rifleman airing for a time on the local NBC affiliate of the period in back of the original Match Game. Today, Rifleman airs in a block of repeats on Saturday mornings on AMC, and 6 days a week on Me-TV. Sad to say, for those of you who are into studio logos, the Four Star banner has been cut from seemingly every print available, and the heirs to series producers Jules Levy, Arnold Laven, & Arthur Gardner are the rights holders to the series at present.

Here is the episode, "Day of the Hunter":

To prove that television was a funny business in the 50's, The Rifleman was spun off from Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre, which aired on CBS, and in turn, a backdoor pilot led to Law of the Plainsman airing on NBC instead of ABC. Go figure.

Rating: A.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

On DVD: Facing the Giants (2006)

The Shiloh Eagles hadn't been to the postseason in several years under coach Grant Taylor. The coach had other issues to deal with at home, so you'd understand if this was too much to bear. However, it is Coach Taylor's faith that carries him through, and leads the Eagles to an amazing turnaround in "Facing The Giants".

"Facing", released in 2006, is equal parts "Friday Night Lights" & "Hoosiers", but with a decided Christian bent. The Eagles learn to trust each other as a team, and reach the playoffs for the first time in six years. It appears as though they'll end up one & done, but a loss turns into a win when the opposing team is disqualified from the tournament for using ineligible, older players, and it sends the Eagles on an improbable journey to the state finals.

Crackle UK provided the trailer:

As sports movies go, this is one of the most underrated films of the last three decades, if but because it didn't play in a lot of theatres, and most critics tend to shy away from Christian movies. Their loss.

Rating: A.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Upstate Mets affiliate to viewers: you need cable to watch the games

It didn't have to be this way, but the harsh reality of one local station holding rights to carry both the Mets & Yankees set in tonight.

The schedule has both teams' games airing on broadcast TV in New York. WWOR, the Mets' former flagship station, has the Yankees, while WPIX, the former Yankee flagship, has the Mets. WCWN is the primary local carrier for both teams as of this season, when the station, in conjunction with sister station WRGB, acquired the rights to the Yankees from WNYA. Until tonight, that wasn't a problem.

Any Mets fan in my market would assume that tonight's tilt against Philadelphia would air on WCWN. Nope. The CW affiliate chose the Yankees-Rays game, and Mets-Phillies was moved to WRGB's digital sub-channel, which normally houses This TV. Why is this? Simple. Just like in New York, the vast majority of baseball fans in the upstate region are Yankees fans. The Mets are treated like second class citizens. Then again, there are also Red Sox fans, and Boston currently leads the AL East. Last year, WOFX-AM, which for a number of years was the local radio home of the Mets, switched to the BoSox, and the Mets are on a weaker channel now. Worse still, you have to be extra fortunate at night to pick up WFAN's signal from New York to catch the radio broadcast. To that end, the Mets are the Rodney Dangerfield of sports teams here, if you get my drift.

The message that the programmers at WRGB/WCWN are sending to Mets fans is, simply, if you want to follow your team, you have to have digital cable. Yes, there have been Yankees games that were farmed out to This TV, and the scenario will play itself out again as this season progresses. This unlikely conflict we face tonight is just a rare bird, but what is even more galling for Mets fans is that with the Yankee package added to WCWN's roster is the inclusion of a locally produced pre-game show, as was the case at WNYA. The Mets don't get that privelege at all. Talk about no respect.

There's no point in complaining to WCWN/WRGB. You're not going to get an answer at game time. The Yankees are and always will be #1 with baseball fans in upstate NY, and that's just the way it is.

Classic TV: Wagon Train (1957)

Critics referred to Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek derisively as "Wagon Train in space" because of the various guest stars appearing aboard the Enterprise from week to week. After seeing Wagon Train itself, which signed off a full year before Trek launched, it's easy to understand why.

Wagon Train lasted 8 seasons between two networks, NBC (1957-62) and ABC (1962-5). For much of its run, it was a 1 hour show, but experimented with a 90 minute format for a time as well, which might've asked a little too much of viewers.

Each episode focused on one particular character, usually played by the guest star du jour. Comedian Lou Costello, in one of his last roles, appeared in a season 2 episode, for example. There are recurring, consistent themes, usually involving mistrust, which is certainly evident in "The Doctor Denker Story", from season 5, and starring Theodore Bikel in the title role.

Uploaded by

Currently, the Train airs Saturday afternoons on Me-TV. Not sure who else might have the rights.

Rating: B.

Musical Interlude: Drive (1992)

It took R. E. M. 2 days to shoot the video for "Drive", the first single from their 1992 CD, "Automatic For The People". The Georgia-based band had crossed into the mainstream at the end of their run with IRS Records 5 years earlier with the release of "Document", and thus had become a staple of Top 40 radio as well as album-oriented rock (AOR) and college stations.

So if you've ever wondered why people find body-surfing to be so cool, maybe this video is partially to blame.........

Thursday, June 20, 2013

On DVD: Dollar a Second (1953)

People of my generation only know Jan Murray as a frequent panelist on game shows like Hollywood Squares & Break The Bank, but he was also a former host himself.

Murray helmed two game shows in the 50's, and both were included in Alpha Video's "Lost Quiz Shows of the 50's" single disc set. Both were also acquired by maverick producer Chuck Barris. Dollar A Second is the lesser known of the two shows, but lasted four years, from 1953-7. Barris attempted a pilot in 1981 that went unsold, which illustrates just how obscure the show has become.

In truth, aside from the rapid fire questions read by Murray to contestants, the stunts those players have to perform often will remind some of Truth or Consequences, which lasted much, much longer than Second did. Factor in the curiosity that Mogen David wine was a sponsor of Second, something you won't see today, except maybe on a risk-taking cable channel.

Following is a sample episode:

Soon enough, we'll take a look at Jan Murray's other game show, Treasure Hunt.

Rating: B-.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What Might've Been: Stories of the Century (1954)

Some Westerns crossed genre territories, hoping to stand out from the rest. Some succeeded, others failed.

Stories of the Century was a little known series that bowed as a mid-season replacement in January 1954, and lasted 14 months on the air, produced by Republic Pictures under the Studio City Television Productions label. It dramatized true stories taken from newspaper accounts, mixing in one recurring character, railroad detective Matt Clark (Jim Davis) with actual events.

Take for example the tale of Geronimo:

The television landscape was already flooded with Westerns, and folks must've tired of Stories rather quickly, hence its demise a shade more than a year after its debut. Jim Davis would return in an early 70's series, The Cowboys, spun from the John Wayne movie of the same name, before landing the iconic role of Jock Ewing on Dallas, which he'd be identified with for the rest of his career.

Rating: B.

Slim Whitman (1924-2013)

It has been learned that country singer Slim Whitman had passed away a week ago after a lengthy bout with cancer. Some sources list Whitman as being born in 1924, and yet still said he was 90 when he passed, which suggests, of course, that he was actually 89. Others have him as being born in January 1923, which would make 90 the correct age.

A mail order house began selling a compilation of Whitman's greatest hits in the early 80's, which won the crooner a new generation of fans. I seem to recall a few of my high school classmates being enamored of him, though his career peak was actually before any of us were born.

Anyway, here's Whitman with one of his most famous hits, "Rose Marie":

Rest in peace.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What Might've Been: The Deputy (1959)

Movie icon Henry Fonda landed his first TV gig in 1959, but you'd hardly notice him in The Deputy, which lasted two seasons. Fonda wasn't around much of the time due to movie commitments, and the title role was given to an up & coming star, Allen Case. If Case was getting by on just being a matinee idol type, well, that didn't work, either.

Deputy was created by two men who'd later go on to better things. Roland Kibbee, for example, returned a decade later with the spy adventure, It Takes A Thief, which cemented Robert Wagner's icon status. Norman Lear followed soon after by turning to sitcoms, especially converting British fare into American classics (i.e. All In The Family). So what caused Deputy to ultimately fail? Well, that's easy. Too many Westerns on the air at the time made this seem a little too generic, and Revue (Universal) was throwing them out there, trying to make them as different as possible. However, the studio managed just 2 tentpole Westerns during the 50's & 60's. The Virginian & Wagon Train. Everything else seemed to bottom out after a year or two. uploaded the episode, "The Return of Widow Brown", which has the Revue logo attached. The copy I have on a DVD compilation from Platinum edits out the closing logo, for those of you who care about such things.

Fonda would have one more series gig, The Smith Family, for ABC in the 70's, and that lasted just one year. Allen Case would land one more starring role, as ABC & 20th Century Fox took a chance on him in The Legend of Jesse James in the mid-60's, and that too was a 1 year wonder.

Rating: C.

The fun starts again

The Tri-City Valleycats opened their 12th season of play Monday night, picking up right where they'd left off last season, when they won their 4th Stedler Division title. The difference is, in addition to the annual player turnover, the entire on-field management team had changed as well.

Stubby Clapp was promoted after 2 seasons as manager, taking pitching coach Gary Ruby with him. Another ex-big leaguer, Ed Romero, who'd logged time with Milwaukee, Boston, Atlanta, & Detroit in his playing days, took over, and the results, at least on opening night, were fabulous, as Tri-City dispatched Vermont, 9-3.

It was just a month ago when Tony Kemp was lighting up the basepaths in the NCAA baseball tournament for Vanderbilt. The 'Cats and their fans are happy to have him playing 2nd base and leading off. Kemp got off to a fast start, going 3-4 with a run scored and 2 RBI's. A couple of Little Leaguers seated behind me wondered if he's related to Los Angeles Dodgers star Matt Kemp. I think so, but I'm not entirely certain.

Not every seat in the house was filled, but the afternoon rains had long since passed, and a brief sun shower early in the game didn't deter the action, barely noticed by the players. For no reason other than to call attention to their own sorry selves, a couple of drunken adults began razzing Vermont left fielder B. J. Boyd, but couldn't get his attention, which makes Boyd smarter than the idiots in the stands. I've a feeling there may be more of this as the season progresses.

Given that the Valleycats had come together as a team so quickly, after barely a week of training camp, perhaps the 'Cats can achieve a first this year. That being, back-to-back division titles. If last night was an indicator, it's certainly possible. However, I'm not too keen on the parent Houston Astros playing keep away with the media on certain roster details. The only thing I can figure is that new Astros owner Jim Crane isn't pulling something from the Bill Belichick CIA wannabe playbook, but rather his player development people just weren't sure until just a couple of days before the opener who'd be on the roster. Troy ain't exactly a media capital, like scandal-crazy New York, but the 'Cats have built more than a decade of goodwill & trust with their fans, knowing that such ersatz cloak & dagger stuff will be under-reported instead of micro-analyzed.

One game is but a small sample, and the 'Cats have 2 months and change to go. It's going to be a fun summer. Like, it's better than fussing through the morass that the WWE has become..........

Monday, June 17, 2013

Classic TV: Sugarfoot (1957)

Tom Brewster wanted to be a lawyer when he traveled West. What he got instead was a lifetime of wandering the country as the lowest form of cowboy---a Sugarfoot.

Sugarfoot spent four years on ABC from 1957-61, but isn't remembered quite as fondly as some of Warner Bros.' other Westerns, such as Cheyenne & Maverick. That may be largely because the series, though it was in syndication when I was growing up, wasn't readily available in a lot of areas. It mixed comedy with adventure, much like Maverick, but series star Will Hutchins wasn't quite as popular as Maverick's James Garner, nor did he have the post-series resume to build.

After the series ended, Hutchins tried his luck with a couple of short-lived sitcoms, including an adaptation of the classic comic strip, Blondie, which we've previously covered. In fact, Blondie was Hutchins' last series.

Now, scope out the following promo video. Mind the picture quality, as it hasn't held up well.

Rating: C.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Classic TV: The Love Boat (1977)

The late producer Aaron Spelling had two distinct and equally popular formulas in the 70's & 80's. On one side, you had the crime dramas (i.e. The Rookies, Charlie's Angels), which, despite each being different, had cookie cutter plots that seemed to be recycled over and over again. On the other, there were the ensemble anthologies. In the 80's, there was Hotel, but before that, Spelling used ABC's Movie of the Week to develop his first two anthology series, Fantasy Island & The Love Boat.

It took three TV-movies, produced between 1976-7, before Love Boat became a weekly series, and it took almost as long, before the core cast came together.

For example, Gavin McLeod wasn't the original Captain, having missed the first two movies due to commitments to The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Future Congressman Fred Grandy wasn't in the first movie, either, presumably due to being on the children's series, The Monster Squad. However, there was a veteran presence, thanks largely to well-traveled veteran Bernie Kopell, whose resume includes Get Smart, That Girl, & When Things Were Rotten. Ted Lange had one previous series, the short-lived That's My Mama, before becoming an icon as bartender Isaac Washington.

As it ended up, Love Boat (which dropped the The in the final season), lasted nearly a decade, and became a destination point for viewers, coupled with Fantasy Island for most of the run, on Saturday nights. In fact, one plot thread crossed between the two shows one night, involving guest star Loni Anderson. Crooner Jack Jones recorded the familiar theme song, but was replaced by Dionne Warwick in the final season. Frequent guest Charo even recorded her own version sometime in the 80's.

After a healthy rerun cycle on cable, the series returned in the 90's with a new cast, including one of Spelling's favorite actors, Robert Urich, but the revival, sub-titled The Next Wave, failed to get past one season on UPN.

Chuckcollins uploaded a sample open, with the theme sung by Jack Jones.

The theme was composed by Paul Williams, who for some reason didn't get the credit he deserved. Go figure.

Rating: B.

On Stage: Reunion in Bartersville (2013)

In 1985, Celeste Bedford Walker wrote Reunion in Bartersville, a two-act comedy-mystery set a couple of years prior, as the survivors of a small town high school's 1933 graduating class gather for a reunion. And the fact that there are five surviving alumni pretty much tells you how small the town was.

Nearly 30 years later, a start-up theatre group, Soul Rebel Performance Troupe, chose Reunion as their initial production in their new home, Waterviliet's Jermain Presbyterian Church, where the production closes today.

The entire play is set in the home of Janie Mae Hopper (Barbara Howard), a retired school teacher, whose father was the school principal. Janie is an excitable type, but at the same time, she worries about how things will turn out. Pollina (Rebekah Brisbane) has become a cougar whose latest husband is 40 years her junior. Cous, hard of hearing and loose of lips, is a touchstone for much of the humor, brilliantly played by Colwyn Allen. Perry (Jean-Remy Monnay, who also directed) is an out of work actor with familiar issues, and brings his latest wife with him to the party. Rounding out this odd group, and late to the party, is A. J. Hamm (Alphonso Boyd), who takes over the show in the 2nd act. Hamm had supposedly died in prison, convicted of a crime he never committed, and while he's got murder on his mind, Hamm is also looking for the real killer. Not exactly a heart-of-gold type, but, well............!

Suffice to say, Hamm gets the answer he's looking for, with the most unlikely of suspects stepping forward. The twist, in that regard, is stunning and tragic at the same time.

Albany Times-Union critic Steve Barnes, who should know better, wasn't kind to the cast, having reviewed Reunion the first night. A week later, everyone is more polished and on point. Jonathan Campbell, a novice as an actor, acquits himself very well, to the point where you'd swear he'd had at least 5 years or better experience. Soul Rebel will return with another production in the same venue, sometime in September, and could benefit from getting some assistance from other theatre groups in mounting future productions.

Rating: A.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Musical Interlude: Sweet Freedom (1986)

After leaving the Doobie Brothers, Michael McDonald forged a solo career, and got off to a relatively good start with "I Keep Forgettin'" in 1982. However, it seemed as though McDonald was destined to detour to the adult contemporary chart, since that's where you're bound to find most of his Motown covers of recent vintage.

From 1986, here is Michael with what would be his last top 40 solo hit of the decade, "Sweet Freedom", from the movie, "Running Scared". The intro with the film's stars, Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines, has been edited off this copy.

In Theatres: Man of Steel (2013)

As Superman marks his 75th anniversary this year, it is also the 35th anniversary of his first feature film in the modern era. The biggest question awaiting the release of "Man of Steel" was, simply, could it fit in with the first two of the late Christopher Reeve's four movies as Superman?

The answer, as of today, is yes.

Director Zack Snyder ("300", "Watchmen") sends us spinning back and forth between the present and various points in the life of Kal-El, aka Clark Kent. Co-producer & co-author Christopher Nolan, fresh off his Bat-trilogy, took more creative liberties with the familiar mythos. While we all know that Jor-El (Russell Crowe, in one of his best performances) and Lara died with the destruction of Krypton, Nolan and co. would have us believe that Jor-El was slain at the hand of mad General Zod (Michael Shannon), while Lara remained alive long enough to send the rocket bearing her son into deep space before her world went boom.

In Nolan's vision, Clark Kent took on a number of odd jobs before settling down, inevitably, at the Daily Planet. A little weird, I know, but that's why they invented creative license, or so it'd seem.

Not all of the familiar supporting cast is present. No Jimmy Olsen (yet). No Lex Luthor (though I would hazard a guess we'll see him in the next film). We are told that Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) was killed when he sacrificed himself in the path of a tornado tearing through Smallville. Meh, whatever.

The scenes with a now ghostly Jor-El, first with Clark, then with Lois Lane (Amy Adams), will recall the "Star Wars" movies after Obi-Wan Kenobi was killed off. Zod and his followers had been banished to the Phantom Zone, but were released when Clark began to learn his true origins. That sets up a series of battles, including one that recalls the climatic fight in "Thor" 2 years ago between the Thunder God and the Destroyer. More small town destruction? Yeah, anything to justify the money spent. Whatever.

As Zod, Michael Shannon is a worthy menace, but not on the order of Terence Stamp, who achieved icon status with his portrayal in "Superman 2" 32 years ago. He's a pompous, obsessive-compulsive despot who was, get this, bred to be a warrior in service to Krypton. He just didn't get it. With Krypton having been destroyed while he was in the Phantom Zone, Zod really has nothing left to fight for, other than a misguided belief that he can recreate Krypton at Earth's expense.

As for the rest of the casting, well, we are in an age where one iconic hero was recast by his own publisher as African-American, and in a coincidental twist of fate, the model for his new look was cast to play him in the movies (Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury). So, the producers figured, let's try something different with one of Superman's closest allies. And, so, you get Laurence Fishburne (ex-CSI) as Perry White. The only thing disturbing about that is the ear piercing. Next thing you know, some genius at DC will write a story that has ol' Perry getting his ear pierced for the first time, just for the sake of doing so and conforming to what was in the movie. Not that it's really needed, but when has common sense ever stopped some of today's creative types, hmm? Unsung hero award goes to Christopher Meloni (ex-Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) as Colonel Hardy, who's won over by the "strange visitor from another planet" by the end of the movie, so I suspect we'll see him in a sequel somewhere.

From WB's YouTube Channel comes this recent trailer:

And speaking of trailers, we had these at the theatre where I watched "Man of Steel":

"The Butler": Forest Whitaker heads an all-star ensemble that includes Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding, Jr., & Robin Williams.
"Paranoia"-with Harrison Ford.
"Despicable Me 2"-with Steve Carell (ex-The Office), Russell Brand, and Kirsten Wiig (ex-Saturday Night Live).
"The Lone Ranger"-Armie Hammer is the Masked Man, and Johnny Depp gets top billing as a war-painted Tonto.
"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"-Peter Jackson's latest is due in December.
"300: Rise of an Empire"-due in March 2014.
"Turbo"-From the folks behind "Kung Fu Panda" & "Madagascar" comes the tale of a super-fast......snail. Voice talent includes Ryan Reynolds & Snoop Dogg (nee Snoop Lion).

So, I ask again. Was "Man of Steel" worth it? Yep.

Rating: B.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Weasels of the Week: Leyla Ghobadi & Kanye West

This is just too easy.

It must've been a slow news day on Wednesday, because the New York Post decided their cover story would involve a heretofore unknown Canadian model who claimed she'd slept with rapper Kanye West, who ain't exactly up for sainthood himself.

Citing an article in the Star, due to hit shelves tomorrow, the Post reports that Ghobadi had a relationship with West even though he's currently attached to reality starlet Kim Kardashian (who happens to be due any week now), and that, according to Ghobadi, West's liason with Kardashian was simply for publicity purposes, as if he needed any more. Seems to me that he was more than willing to be a party to another made-for-TV relationship for Kardashian, who apparently doesn't know the first thing about playing the field like most folks do.

Today, the New York Daily News blew holes in Ghobadi's story, but the Post, perhaps stupidly, decided to continue the charade. Both papers acknowledge Ghobadi was paid handsomely for her tale, to the tune of $20,000, according to the News, but meanwhile, West went on the defensive and denied Ghobadi's claims. Since the Star's editors didn't administer a lie detector test to Ghobadi to corroborate her story, they may be staring down the barrel of a libel suit down the road.

Like I said, West ain't any more of an angel than Ghobadi. A Yahoo! article I read had West, promoting his new CD, putting himself over as being up there with the likes of Michael Jordan and the late founder of Apple, claiming to be the "Steve Jobs of culture". Please. Get off the high horse already! He ain't apologizing at all, nor does he have any regrets or remorse, for crashing the party on Taylor Swift at an awards show a few years back. He claims that led to "awesomeness", again putting the attention on himself. I'm sorry, but I'd just as soon wait for a MC Hammer greatest hits set to drop before I'd spend any money on this weasel.

Little known women like Ghobadi turn up all the time, but while she has some remorse for what she supposedly did----Wednesday's Post article quoted her as saying she feels bad for Kim Kardashian---she's just looking to cash in on someone else's gravy train, and that's a tired act in itself. West, meanwhile, also picks up a set of Weasel ears for letting his ego get in the way of common sense. Refusing to answer questions about his pending fatherhood? Ok, fine, but one thing he should've addressed is whether or not he'd be willing to take a chance on committing to a marriage with Kardashian, who doesn't know thing one about true love any more than he does. (Or so it would seem) If you get fleas from sleeping with dogs, what would you get from sleeping with Weasels?

Classic TV: It Could Be You (1956)

It Could Be You wasn't a traditional game show, even though it was included in Alpha Video's "Lost Quiz Shows of the 50's" DVD compilation. Actually, it fell more into line with a series more closely associated with its producer, Ralph Edwards, namely, This Is Your Life.

It Could Be You was a daytime staple on NBC for 5 years (1956-61), and also aired in primetime for the final three years of its run on an irregular basis. Host Bill Leyden focused on people's foibles, but often there would be the shmaltzy reunions, such as military detachments being reunited after years apart, which is what I saw.

Stefan Hatos, better known as the other half of the production team (with Monty Hall) behind Split Second and Let's Make a Deal, served as a producer. GilmoreBox uploaded the open:

Rating: B-.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Classic TV: The George Gobel Show (1954)

"Lonesome" George Gobel is known to folks from my generation and upward from many appearances on game shows like Hollywood Squares, but well before then, he'd hosted his own primetime show.

The George Gobel Show lasted a bit in the mid-50's, thanks to Gobel being laid back and quiet in his humor, the antithesis, if you will, of contemporaries like Milton Berle. Alpha Video released an episode on DVD, but not the one sampled below. Alpha paired ol' George with Morey Amsterdam, whose series was reviewed last time. An eclectic mix, to be sure. DentelTV1 uploaded this sample clip:

Nearly 30 years later, George returned to primetime, this time in a supporting role on NBC's Harper Valley PTA, based of course on the song by Jeannine C. Riley and starring Barbara Eden. That series lasted two seasons, and it'd be the last time Gobel would see a primetime gig.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

What Might've Been: The Morey Amsterdam Show (1948)

Most folks know Morey Amsterdam mostly from his role as comedy writer Buddy Sorel on The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-6). However, 13 years before that, Amsterdam headlined his own radio & TV shows.

The Morey Amsterdam Show began on CBS Radio, then moved to CBS TV in 1948, lasting just four months before being cancelled. Network suits didn't see Amsterdam as a viable, marketable commodity. DuMont took a chance, and the show was relaunched in April 1949 for an 18 month run, ending in the fall of 1950. Amsterdam's supporting cast on both networks included future best selling author Jacqueline Susann (Valley of the Dolls) and Art Carney, better known for his Emmy winning, iconic role as Ed Norton on The Honeymooners, which launched a couple of years later. Here, in this clip, Carney plays Newton, the waiter at the Silver Swan Club.

After The Dick Van Dyke Show ended, Amsterdam would hit the game show circuit, including frequent appearances on Hollywood Squares, but did you know that Amsterdam was a point man behind Four Star's ill-fated revival of Can You Top This? in 1970? It's true. Not only was he a panelist on the show, but he was a producer as well! I'll have to pull that up sometime.

Rating: B-.

On DVD: The Suicide Club (1960)

Normally, I'd have spent Monday night watching WWE, but I just ain't digging a lot of things there these days, so I decided to put the DVD player to work, and over the next few days, I'll have plenty of reviews to share.

We'll start off with The Chevy Mystery Show's adaptation of one of Robert Louis Stevenson's lesser known works, The Suicide Club, which was a collection of three shorter tales, the first of which was the basis for this one hour drama. The ensemble cast is headed by Cesar Romero, Barry Kroeger, & Everett Sloane. Vincent Price is the genial host who moves the story along......

I would've thought that Price would've doubled as the President of the Suicide Club, but that was not to be. Most folks of a certain age only know Everett Sloane as the original voice of comic strip hero Dick Tracy, whose 1st series bowed a year after this program aired. The days are long gone where these kind of works had a televised stage to play on, and that is the cruelest trick of all.

Rating: A.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Hollywood mourns two more

I was remiss in posting an obit on actor Steve Forrest after he'd passed on a couple of weeks back, but this will more than make up for it.

However, first off, we will mark the passing of Esther Williams, who passed away on Thursday. Largely known as a swimming champion, Esther transitioned to films, with almost every movie requiring a scene or two with her in the pool, most famously a synchronized swim sequence with toon legends Tom & Jerry in "Dangerous When Wet".

Poeticjustice2345 uploaded this tribute video, which was made using music composed by James Horner for the 80's movie, "Krull".

Most folks would remember Steve Forrest for S.W.A.T., which we reviewed the other day, but that wasn't his first starring gig. That came nearly a decade earlier in ITC's The Baron, which lasted one season (1966-7), and was later syndicated in the US. Themelover provided the open:

Rest in peace.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Classic TV: In Search Of..... (1976)

Conspiracy theorists might love this show.

In Search Of..... bowed in 1976 as a half-hour documentary series that took a close look at unexplained phenomenons and unsolved mysteries, among other things. The series lasted six years, and then, was brought back 20 years after the end of its original run. However, the revival didn't last, ending after a year or so.

Producer Alan Landsburg had produced a trio of documentaries, such as "In Search of Ancient Astronauts", prior to the launch of In Search Of..... What you might not know is that Leonard Nimoy (ex-Star Trek, Mission: Impossible) wasn't Landsburg's first choice to serve as host-narrator. Given the subject matter in a lot of episodes, it seemed as though this would've been a perfect comeback vehicle for another 60's icon---Rod Serling. The man behind The Twilight Zone & Night Gallery had passed away prior to the launch, and so Nimoy was chosen to serve as host. Nimoy even wrote one episode himself, on Vincent Van Gogh, since he'd already done extensive research on the famed painter before performing a 1-man show prior to In Search Of.....

The following episode was pulled from a 1990's broadcast on A & E, which explains the new logo, opening, and theme music. In 2002, Sci-Fi (now SyFy) attempted a revival, with actor Mitch Pileggi (ex-The X-Files) as host-narrator, but, as noted, that didn't take. Here, Nimoy examines the mystery behind the disappearance of aviatrix Amelia Earhart..........

Landsburg wrote a number of books spun from the show, with forewards by Nimoy. Good luck trying to find them these days, even at the local library.

Rating: A.

Ultimate Wrestling East Summer Spectacular @ Troy Boys & Girls Club, 6/9/13

Summer doesn't officially start for nearly 2 weeks, but that didn't stop Ultimate Wrestling East from billing this month's show as their Summer Spectacular. As it turns out, there was a pretty good reason for that. Tell you about it at the end.

The start time of this show was pushed back to 3:00 (ET) to accomodate Troy's annual Flag Day parade, which ended just before showtime. As it turns out, there wasn't much spillover from the parade, if any. The pre-show opened with the Joint Task Force finally hitting "tha pay window", as Dusty Rhodes used to say in WCW back in the day, defeating newcomer Jay Flyler and Randy Walker. Flyler looked great in his local debut, but ended up taking the loss.

In the other warm-up match, Ben Ortiz defeated Harley Cruise in a decent bout. However, that would not be the last we'd see of Mr. Ortiz on the day. Not by a longshot.

Ring announcer and local radio talk show host Brian Cady finally came out to the ring at 3:07 pm with GM J. P. Black, the latter carrying a shiny new UWE championship belt, to be presented to Vik Dalishus. Vik came out in street clothes, but before Black, who acted like he was reluctant to go through with this, could make the presentation, Bill Carr, the challenger du jour, came out. Predictably, after Carr got his hands on the belt, Dalishus demanded that Carr give it to him. Of course he did---right upside the head, to set up the main event----or so we thought.

Now, on to the show:

1. Dalton Castle def. Diablo Santiago-DQ. Santiago low-blowed Castle right in full view of the referee, who called the DQ immediately. Apparently, the feud between the OutKast Killaz and the Peacock Experience is far from settled.

2. Kriptic Keegan def. Timmy Aight, which was Keegan's 1st win in UWE.  Aight is not new to Troy fans, as he last appeared a couple of years back for another indie promotion that worked the Boys & Girls Club. Scary finish, as Keegan won with the curb stomp, but Aight had to be assisted from the ring. Aight has a new look, wearing a headband and shades in the ring. With the attention given to concussions, both real & worked, in WWE these days, the timing of this, while coincidental, couldn't have been worse.

While Ring of Honor's next IPPV, Best in the World, is headlined by a brother-vs.-brother match for the ROH title in less than 2 weeks, UWE kind of jumped the gun........

3. Kyle Badger def. Adam Badger. Kyle lives in Albany, while Adam is in Queens and recently was in line for a tryout during Wrestlemania week in April. The finish was a bit sloppy as Kyle hit a gutbuster, but Adam apparently might not have been ready for the move at that point. Can't say for sure.

Back came J. P. Black, this time with the Interstate title. Coconut Jones was the first champion, having won the title in March, but never defended it. Jones was sidelined with a concussion after winning the title, but this time, he asked for, and was granted, a period of bereavement after the loss of a friend. C. J. Scott wanted the title handed to him as the #1 contender, but Black had other ideas.........

4. Interstate title: Kyle Brad def. C. J. Scott to win the vacated title. Prior to the show, Brad was given a homemade sandwich board and went to the parade to try to bring people to the show. Apparently, this was the reward for his dedication and acting above and beyond the call of duty. Scott tried the package piledriver twice, was blocked both times, and on the 2nd try, Brad rolled him up, jackknife style, to pick up the pin and the title. Scott was furious. Twice now, he's seen the title slip right through his fingers.

While Scott was fuming and making threats, Kyle Badger & Ben Ortiz came out and also made challenges. Sounds like a fatal 4-way may be in the offing, or at least, a triple threat for the #1 contender's spot.

Brad gets points for dusting off the 2nd theme song from In Living Color as his entrance theme. Nothing like the late, great Heavy D to pump up the crowd on a sunny day, I gotta tell ya.

5. Lenn Oddity vs. Chris Envy ended in a double disqualification. Oddity got the ball rolling, attacking Envy backstage with a Caution board used for janitorial work. Neither man seemed interested in a pinfall. Black hinted post-match that maybe a strap match is in the offing.........

6. UWE tag titles: The Monarchy def. Pure Dynamite in a surprisingly short match, which might've been cut short because someone got cut legit. Both Brad Wesley of Pure Dynamite & William King of the Monarchy had blood on their backs by the end of the match. The ref in this one used too much discretion, letting Marshall McNeil get away with pulling Wesley down off the apron, leading to the finish. McNeil, at the very least, should've been ejected on the spot.

Oh, by the way, here's an open note to McNeil. Sgt. Pepper called. He wants his jacket back.

7. Foxx Vinyer def. Rob Coleman in a No-DQ match. This was also kept rather short, when any other time, these two could've gone longer. Vinyer hit a TKO on a chair to pick up the win after preventing Coleman from doing the same. Good stuff.

The title match was scheduled next, but Dalishus claimed he'd been sent to St. Peter's Hospital with a concussion (here we go again), and was not cleared to wrestle. Dalishus had a pink slip in hand, but refused to give it to Black for verification, which told the audience that Dalishus, who might've left his gear at home, was stalling, and could've been cited for breach of contract. However, the best laid plans of mice and cowards always go astray..........

8. Bill Carr def. Ronnie Castillo in a squash with the Black Hole Slam. Dalishus wasn't digging, and teased the title match, but sent Ben Ortiz out......

9. Carr def. Ortiz after a clothesline from hell. Dalishus interfered with a belt shot while Ortiz had the ref distracted, the same ref who let McNeil go unpunished earlier. Post-match, Dalishus tried another belt shot, only to be met with the Black Hole Slam. One of Dalishus' flip-flops went flying. In the space of 2 hours, Dalishus may have flushed what credibility he had as champion down the drain.

It was announced that the next show won't be until September. This is a good idea, really, because the UWE would be hard pressed to fill the Boys & Girls Club in the interim, especially with the Tri-City Valleycats soon to begin their season, and horse racing at Saratoga looming on the horizon, among other things. After getting off to a hot start, attendance has dropped to an average of 100-125 people for the last 4 shows. Taking July & August off allows UWE to recharge the creative batteries, if you will, and get things ready to roll for the fall. Then again, there's this little thing called the NFL that might get in the way..........

Friday, June 7, 2013

What Might've Been: S. W. A. T. (1975)

Everyone knows this theme song:

But what folks might not know about S. W. A. T. is that it lasted just 14 months (February 1975-April 1976), and its demise might be attributed to the high level of violence, which the real life SWAT team in LA, which was the model for the fictional team on the show, disapproved of. Then again, there was a growing glut of high-octane crime dramas on the air, so S. W. A. T. didn't stand out from the crowd as much as it wanted to.

The series was spun off from The Rookies (which we reviewed recently), but lacked the staying power. Steve Forrest (ex-The Baron) led the ensemble cast, and was one of two cast members to return for the 2003 feature film reboot with Samuel L. Jackson & LL Cool J (Rod Perry was the other). As for the rest, Mark Shera moved on to Barnaby Jones, and Robert Urich's resume grew with each passing year. Soap. Tabitha. Vega$. Gavilan. Spenser For Hire. Need I say more?

There currently exists a reality series entitled S. W. A. T., which owes its existence more to Cops than the original series. As a result, Sony is in no hurry to try to mount a rebooted version of this series. As for the iconic theme song, it became a #1 hit for Rhythm Heritage, but the version heard on the show was composed by Barry DeVorzon, better known for composing the theme to the soap, The Young & The Restless, which became an iconic anthem itself after gymnast Nadia Comaneci used it as her theme at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, hence "Nadia's Theme", and that enabled DeVorzon to climb the charts after all.

Rating: C.

On the Shelf: A forgotten concept returns to life

In 1975, DC Comics' anthology series, First Issue Special, introduced readers to The Green Team, a quartet of pre-teens whose common bond was that they were all ridiculously wealthy, yet wanted to go and do more extraordinary things than common boys would do. Comics legend Joe Simon, who'd returned to DC a couple of years earlier, and artist Jerry Grandenetti, who'd collaborated with Simon on his last DC series, Prez, created the Green Team, and there were two unpublished issues in the can. Apparently, sales on this issue didn't warrant the title going to full series, but those two stories were later released in the limited edition Cancelled Comics Cavalcade, which came along in the wake of the 1978 "DC Implosion".

Fast forward to 2013. Writers Art Baltazar & Franco, whose last DC book, Tiny Titans, vanished from shelves a couple of years back, revived The Green Team, this time updating the concept for the 21st century, and making the kids into "Teen Trillionaires" in an all-new series which launched 2 weeks ago. Only two of the original characters remained intact---sort of. J. P. Houston (formerly Huston in the original book) is now of Latino descent. Commodore Murphy is into electronics, and not ships. Cecil Sunbeam, an aspiring filmmaker in the original, is now Cecilia Sunbeam, an actress.

Why the gender flip? Baltazar & Franco must've felt they couldn't let this be an all-boys' club this time, and they also wanted to make a statement regarding the tabloid-magnet starlets of today (i.e. Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Bynes), and so we have Cecilia. Cue Simon & Garfunkel, would you please?

Rounding out the team is Mohammad Qahtanii, a prince of Middle Eastern origins, whose father doesn't approve of his being part of Murphy's group. Uh-oh. Mohammad also has a bodyguard that will come in handy, I'm sure, when things get sticky. Mohammad replaces Abdul Smith, an urban shoeshine boy in the original book, who came into his fortune by luck. Smith, then, either has been retconned out, or will eventually appear. Time will tell.

Ig Guara, a relative newcomer, is the artist on the series, and captures everything perfectly. The bad guys in this first arc are a low-rent, seemingly amateur bunch who drew their false faces on their masks. Looks to me like there's some jealousy to be had, and since Murphy now has a superhero suit that he himself designed, I'd not be surprised if there's a meeting with the Justice League nigh.

I read the original book, which is why I was drawn to this new Green Team. It will be interesting to see how far Baltazar & Franco, whose next project is a Hellboy series for Dark Horse that will be along the lines of their Tiny Titans work, and not with the monster-detective we all know, will go with these kids.

Rating: A.

Meanwhile, Marvel isn't waiting until "Thor: The Dark World" opens at the end of the year. They've released a 2-part prequel comic, the first half of which hit stores this week. All I can say is that they may have hit the ground a little too early, unless they've managed to push the movie closer to a fall release (last word I had was that it's around Thanksgiving or Christmas). I will hold off on a full review until the second half arrives next month.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

On The Air: The Hero (2013)

So far, 2013 has been, to Hollywood anyway, the Year of the Rock.

Dwayne Johnson may have just lifted the title of "Hardest Working Man In Show Business" from the late James Brown. In the first 5 1/2 months of the year already, Johnson has been in 4 movies, headlined 2 WWE PPV's, and now serves as host/co-executive producer/narrator of The Hero, TNT's first foray into reality television.

9 contestants, including an aspiring pro wrestler and a New England Patriots cheerleader, compete for a million dollar first prize in this competition, which combines elements of past shows such as The Mole, Fear Factor, and the current SyFy series, Total BlackOut, at least in the opener.

Given all the bickering among the players in the opener, one can suggest that Johnson & company (ex-wife Dany is also an executive producer) also tossed in elements of MTV's long running Real World. However, this mishmash of diverse personalities are about as entertaining as a rainstorm, and that's just being kind.

Judge for yourselves, then, by scoping the trailer, uploaded by (wait for it) tntweknowdrama:

My brother works for a local newspaper, and said paper obtained a screener copy of the opener, which is how I was able to review the show before it went on the air. Sometimes, you can get lucky. On the other hand, if this bombs, it'll rank up there with "Tooth Fairy" as one of Johnson's less successful ventures. For what it's worth, Shaun Ricker, the wrestler, was recently signed by WWE. Hmmmmm........

Rating: C.

Classic TV: Beat The Clock (1950)

GSN is relaunching the former NBC series, Minute To Win It, later this month, but, truth be told, that series wouldn't even have been a thought in a network executive's mind if it wasn't for Beat The Clock.

Mark Goodson & Bill Todman introduced Clock in 1950, hiring Clayton "Bud" Collyer, better known as the voice of Superman on radio & theatrical cartoons in the 40's, as host. Clock would run for 11 seasons, ending in 1961, at which time Collyer had already started on another game, To Tell The Truth.

Here's a sample from the Collyer era:

In 1969, Clock returned, this time in syndication, and in a weekday format. Jack Narz hosted for the first three years, but after the series relocated to Canada for taping, the expenses were such that Narz could not continue. Announcer Gene Wood, who hosted a Canadian produced knock-off of Clock, Anything You Can Do (previously reviewed), moved in front of the camera to replace Narz. The gimmick to this version was the addition of celebrity guests, who would appear for all 5 days. Adam Curry presents an episode from the Wood era with that world-famous ham actor and one of Canada's best known exports, William Shatner:

If I didn't know any better, I'd swear Wood had gone to John Byner's barber. Their hairstyles look the same.

Anyway, CBS got the Clock back in 1979, and lured Monty Hall (Let's Make A Deal) in as host. Halfway through the run, the show went to an all-star format, the sure sign that it was destined for failure.

Here's a sample episode:

After skipping the 90's altogether, the series returned one last time in 2002, this time on cable's PAX (now Ion), with former Saturday Night Live regular Gary Kroeger as the host. As with the Hall era, this lasted just one year. Thewhammy83 uploaded this episode.

Nickelodeon's Double Dare, part quiz show, part stunts, may also owe part of its lineage to Clock, but we'll cover that another time.

Rating: B.

Here there be weasels

I've got plenty of Weasel of the Week awards to hand out today, so bear with me.

We'll start with high school tennis. In New Hampshire, Bow High School's Sunday Swett won a state championship-----via forfeit----over Briana Leonard, representing Bishop Guerin High in Nashua. Swett won the first set, but when officials decided to move the match to another court, Leonard and her parents bailed, claiming the crowd was too partisan against Leonard.


This is because Leonard, even though she's enrolled at Bishop Guerin, actually lives in Massachusetts. How they allow this to happen in the New England states, I don't know, but I think it has to do with open enrollment. The problem the Leonards had was that they felt the crowd simply hated their daughter just because she's not a New Hampshire native. What about the support from Bishop Guerin? Yahoo! doesn't report anything on this matter.

The bottom line is this. The audience is supposed to remain silent, offering polite applause when necessary, during a tennis match. It's not the fault of Briana Leonard that she had gotten as far as she did, but she did let Bishop Guerin down when they needed her the most. She took the coward's way out by forfeiting. She left the match and just gave up, unable to channel out the heckling from the partisan crowd.

The fans in attendance will also get Weasel ears, along with Ms. Leonard, because of violating tennis protocols. If you've got a problem with a kid who is essentially "carpetbagging" by coming across state lines to attend one of your schools, bugging her during an important match isn't a proper way of expressing your anger. If parents knew before this that Briana was not a New Hampshire resident, then that should've been brought to the attention of the school board in the city of Nashua, or state authorities.

Let me stress this. In New York, there are open enrollment schools in Section II that admit kids from outside the school's home district. I cannot be certain if that open enrollment includes admitting students from Vermont, New Hampshire, et al, as if this was a college. I cannot be certain, either, if that same policy is expanded at Bishop Guerin.

Now, on to baseball.

The Biogenesis scandal just won't end. ESPN's Outside The Lines had a report on Tuesday which claimed Major League Baseball would suspend at least 20 players, including Ryan Braun (Milwaukee) and Alex Rodriguez (currently on the DL with the Yankees) for 100 games. This wouldn't be about positive drug tests, but rather that the players somehow perjured themselves in earlier cases. Toronto's Melky Cabrera, whose season with San Francisco ended last year with a 50 game ban, has been mentioned as well.

What brought this about? How about Anthony Bosch, the head of Biogenesis, cutting a deal with MLB to essentially turn state's evidence against the players who'd been at his clinic. Braun, you'll remember, fought off a 50 game ban last year, but has been struggling this season. Rodriguez, of course, has yet to take the field for the Yanks as he recovers from hip surgery, and wouldn't be back until next month at the earliest. The NY tabloids made it clear on Wednesday where they stood. The Daily News splashed A-Rod on their front page, and the talk started again about whether or not the Yankees can void his contract. Good luck with that. It's understood that the Players Association would appeal the suspensions because of excessive length and whether or not MLB is overstepping its bounds by dropping the hammer without sufficient evidence.

Three months ago, MLB filed suit against Bosch for interfering with their internal investigation. Now, Bud Selig's office is working with Bosch, basically betraying the players if only to make an example of certain ones who've defied the rules on performance enhancing drugs (PED's), with Rodriguez the most high profile of the lot. The suit has apparently been dropped, but that gets Selig a set of Weasel ears for essentially getting in bed with Bosch. Rodriguez, according to today's Daily News, supposedly refused to pay Bosch, who was supposedly in financial distress himself. Bosch, of course, gets a pair of ears, and so does Rodriguez for deceiving the public when he claimed he was off the garbage. And it could go on and on..........

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Classic TV: I've Got a Secret (1952)

Back in television's Golden Age, producers Mark Goodson & Bill Todman dominated the landscape with a seemingly endless line of game shows. Today, only two of their series continue---The Price Is Right, which is anchoring CBS' daytime lineup, and Family Feud, which has found new life in syndication, though their hosts tend to change every few years, and passed its 35th anniversary 2 years ago.

But, back in the day, game shows were plentiful at night before venturing into daylight. One of the more successful G-T series was I've Got a Secret, which bowed in 1952, and continued for 15 seasons with just 2 regular hosts----Garry Moore (1952-64) & Steve Allen (1964-7).

Alpha Video acquired some early episodes of Secret and coupled them with G-T stablemate Beat The Clock on a DVD release that I recently acquired. Moviesmoviesmoviesla uploaded one of the two Secret episodes from the set, with special guest stars Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz (I Love Lucy, natch). Lucy is subbing for regular panelist Faye Emerson, joining Bill Cullen, Henry Morgan, & Jayne Meadows (Mrs. Steve Allen).

In 1972, to mark the series' 20th anniversary, Secret returned as a syndicated series, hosted once more by Steve Allen, as Garry Moore was busy with To Tell The Truth. Excuseyou77 presented the series opener, which returns panelist Henry Morgan, and features special guest Paul Lynde (Bewitched, Hollywood Squares):

The 70's version didn't last very long. In 2000, the cable network, Oxygen, decided to revive the series in a more intimate setting with hostess Stephanie Miller. Once again, this comes from excuseyou77:

The last incarnation came in 2006, airing on GSN (Game Show Network), and hosted by former ESPN personality-turned-actor/game show host Bil Dwyer. The leanings, it seems, were working toward the other
side of the street, if you get my drift.

I never saw that last series, and barely remember the Oxygen version.

The overall rating is B+.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Classic TV: Emergency! (1972)

Jack Webb wanted to branch out and create another kind of drama series as a companion to Adam-12. What he did became one of the more popular shows of the 70's.

Emergency! was the 2nd 1 hour series Webb had developed during the 1971-2 season. The first, O'Hara: US Treasury, was a comeback vehicle for David Janssen (ex-The Fugitive), and bowed in the fall on CBS. However, it couldn't find an audience opposite ABC's Partridge Family & Room 222, and thus would be the only series Webb sold to CBS after it was cancelled. Emergency! bowed in January 1972 with a 2 hour movie, "The Wedsworth-Townsend Act", then went right into a weekly 1 hour format the very next week.

Emergency! was a spin-off from Adam-12, whose stars, Martin Milner & Kent McCord, appeared in the opener, with cast members from Emergency! subsequently returning the favor. Oddly, one storyline had paramedic John Gage agonizing over missing the end to an episode of----wait for it---Adam-12. Go figure. William Boyett, a regular on Adam-12 as Sgt. McDonald, made periodic appearances as a fire battalion captain on Emergency!. Tim Donnelly was known from having previously appeared on Dragnet, but the real shock was real-life fireman Mike Stoker appearing as himself as a series regular. Talk about lending authenticity!

The action often bounced back and forth between the paramedics on scene and Rampart General Hospital and its staff, populated by the likes of cast members Robert Fuller and the husband & wife team of Julie London & Bobby Troup, whose daughter, Ronnie, was a regular on My Three Sons at the end of its run.

Emergency! spawned a spin-off of its own, namely, a Saturday morning series, Emergency! Plus 4, which lasted exactly two seasons (1973-5), also on NBC, and co-produced by Universal, Mark VII Limited (Webb's production company), and independent producer Fred Calvert. During season 2, series regular Ron Pinkard moonlighted as a voice actor, as he was heard on Sealab 2020, which Plus 4 ultimately replaced.

Currently, reruns air 6 days a week on Me-TV, but apparently, the network doesn't have all the episodes, and that would include the 6 TV-movies produced between 1977-9, after the series had ended.

Here's the intro that we all know, with the kickin' theme by the inestimable Nelson Riddle:

Rating: A.

Dunce Cap Award: Vince McMahon

Monday Night Raw's ratings have been falling in recent weeks. Of course, the NBA & NHL playoffs, coupled with college baseball/softball tournaments, might have something to do with it, but try explaining that to WWE's senile chairman, Vince McMahon, the recipient of this week's Dunce Cap.

As we wrote here a while back, current WWE World champion Dolph Ziggler (real name: Nick Nemeth) was sidelined after suffering a concussion thanks to rival and former tag partner Jack Swagger on Raw. A couple of weeks later, Triple H (Paul Levesque) was given a worked concussion after an accumulation of blows to the head at Extreme Rules and on Raw. Swagger (Jake Hager) has been off the last two Mondays now due to a combination of real-life legal troubles, which prevented him from traveling with the troupe to Canada last week, and likely punishment from management for reckless, careless behavior in the ring.

However, because he doesn't know any other way----in his own warped mind, anyway----to try to boost ratings, McMahon, who will be 68 in August, decided to interject himself and daughter Stephanie (HHH's wife) into Triple H's storyline. With Raw in the shadows of WWE HQ last night, McMahon decided to turn himself and Stephanie heel in front of the home state fans, but that was the wrong move to make.

Stephanie is caught in the middle. On one hand, she knows Triple H wants to exact revenge on Curtis Axel (Joseph Hennig, son of the late Curt "Mr. Perfect" Hennig) for putting him on the shelf, since Brock Lesnar is on sabbatical for a couple of months, and with a slice of vengeance saved for Axel & Lesnar's manager, Paul Heyman. At the same time, Stephanie also realizes that, at 43, Triple H cannot afford any more major injuries and it may be time for him to hang up the tights and boots and spend more time with their three daughters.

The problem is that the storyline portrays Stephanie and Vince as being almost as bad, if not worse, than the villains in the ring. In this writer's opinion, at this juncture, that is wrong.

Lost in all of this is Ziggler, who was activated from the DL last weekend, but held off TV last night, when his real-life situation could dove-tail with the pretend injury of his boss (HHH is also a junior executive in the company), which, while it might gradually turn Ziggler into a babyface, it would serve well to educate viewers about the impact of concussions in sports (and sports entertainment), which has been magnified in recent years. If anyone on the roster could empathize with the latest McMahon family soap opera, it'd be Ziggler, who's much younger and is being counted on as one of the keys to the company's future. However, it's McMahon's ego that is getting in the way.

So, how would one go about rewriting this angle to make it seem more sensible and realistic? Well........

I'd put Stephanie in the tweener role here, trying to empathize with her husband's plight, while at the same time, weighing the pros and cons of sending him back into battle too soon after the concussion. I'd move Ziggler and storyline love AJ Lee into the tweener category as well, to test the waters of Ziggler turning babyface, which he's way overdue to do anyway, considering he's been a heel in every role he's played since being called up (as Nick Nemeth) in 2005, and I'd leave the mad chairman out of it. Period.

Eventually, Triple H will get his revenge on Curtis Axel and the rest of Heyman's mob. Now isn't the time, and it would be prudent to wait until November's Survivor Series PPV to extract that revenge. However, McMahon being McMahon, he doesn't have the patience to let the story play out correctly.

For letting his ego get in the way of common sense again, McMahon picks up the Dunce Cap. This one has a chin strap attached to it, so that Vince has to wear it in public to embarass himself for being so insensitive and blind to reality, especially when it's right in front of him.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Celebnty Rock: Fool, Fool, Fool (1964)

Our next clip can also be seen over at my other blog, Saturday Morning Archives.

Roosevelt "Rosey" Grier was a feared defensive lineman for the then-Los Angeles Rams of the NFL before embarking on an acting career that saw him join the cast of Daniel Boone near the end of that series' run. It was well known in the 70's, too, that Grier was into needlepoint, seeking to prove that this pastime wasn't limited to women. But, did you know the man could sing, too?

The only time I knew of this other talent was when Grier appeared on the Marlo Thomas special, Free To Be..You & Me, little knowing about his foray onto the R & B charts in 1964, which brought him to American Bandstand to perform "Fool, Fool, Fool". Now, I don't know how far this song got on the charts, but suffice to say, if you asked for it on an oldies radio channel now, chances are, depending on the DJ, you're likely to get the response of "Never heard of it."

Uploaded by NRRA Archives2:

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Musical Interlude: Bad To The Bone (1982)

In the early 80's, you just couldn't go a day without hearing George Thorogood's classic "Bad To The Bone". A delicious mix of blues and hard rock that is still popular enough to warrant airplay 31 years later.

What I don't get is the concept portion of the following video. Concert footage aside, George is playing a marathon game of pool with no less than Bo Diddley, a music legend in his own right. I'm guessing the pool scenes are Thorogood's way of saluting the 1960 film, "The Hustler", with Paul Newman & Jackie Gleason, which begat a sequel, "The Color of Money" (Newman & Tom Cruise) that came out four years after "Bone" was released as a single. Neighborhood kids are gathered outside the pool room, quietly cheering on George. I guess these kids didn't know Bo.

A few years later, the producers of the "Problem Child" movies used "Bone" as the theme for Junior (Michael Oliver) in a number of scenes. Sorry, but being "Bad to the Bone" doesn't fit a juvenile.

Uploaded by EMI's VEVO channel:

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Jean Stapleton (1923-2013)

News has come over the wires of the passing of Jean Stapleton, best remembered as Edith Bunker on All In The Family, at 90, due to natural causes.

It would be too easy to just put up a Family clip, so I sought something different. That something is this number from The Muppet Show, during season 3. Here, Jean teams with Fozzie Bear (Frank Oz) to perform "A Simple Melody".

Jean had acted in commercials and other shows long before being cast as Edith, the loyal but often naive wife of Archie Bunker. Now, she joins Carroll O'Connor in sitcom heaven. Rest in peace, Jean. You have earned it.