Tuesday, September 30, 2014

On The Air: Gotham (2014)

If there is any real difference between comic book giants DC & Marvel, it isn't on the big screen, but rather, on the small one.

While Marvel has tied its 2nd year series, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to its "cinematic universe", DC is doing the exact opposite. As has been demonstrated with Arrow the last two seasons (season 3 begins next week), DC is letting the producers of their adaptations at Warner Bros. have carte blanche over their universe of characters, with each creative team developing its own, ah, pocket universe, if you will. This outside-the-box thinking also allows DC to save the more tried & true versions of their heroes and villains for the big screen, without risking any irrevocable damage to their television product.

Case in point: Gotham. Fox's new Monday night drama is meant to be a prequel to the entire Batman canon, but the focus, in truth, is on the city itself. The choice of characters surrounding a young James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) illustrates the cherry-picking mentality DC is allowing its writers to use. For example, most of the supporting cast, with the exception of Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett-Smith, ex-Hawthorne, A Different World), are taken from the Bat-books dating back to the early 80's. Of course, this does not include the future villains being showcased, whose history goes back even further.

Gotham Police Captain Sarah Essen, for example, was one of the characters in the post-Crisis On Infinite Earths era of the late 80's-early 90's, and, in the books, had actually married Commissioner Gordon before being killed off. Corrupt detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue, ex-Sons of Anarchy, Grounded For Life) made his first appearance in 1983, and his history was later ret-conned such that he & Gordon were actually partners early in their careers, which is the base point that Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon are using in this series.

And, then, there are the villains-to-be. Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor), ironically, doesn't like the nickname, Penguin, which is, of course, his more famous ID. Instead of being stout, Oswald is more of a slender, nebbishy type, subservient to Fish before she discovers he betrayed her by revealing that a man who had supposedly killed Thomas & Martha Wayne in the opener had been framed for the crime in order to close the books on the case as quickly as possible. Gordon only pretends to kill Cobblepot, who instead swims away. Having had his kneecap broken earlier, Oswald develops the distinctive gait that gives more meaning to the name, Penguin. Edward Nygma, later to be the Riddler, is, of all things, working in the coroner's office. Who'dathunk? I'll give them points for that one.

As for Selina Kyle, the future Catwoman already has the aviator goggles that artist Darwyn Cooke bestowed upon her a decade or so ago-----at the tender age of 13.


Apparently, the idea here is to place Selina, or "Cat", as she's known here, as Bruce Wayne's childhood sweetheart, to further the whole dynamic of their adult relationship. They have yet to meet, but, rest assured, that seems to be part of the grand plan. The whole girl-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks thing, y'know?

The problem that exists, however, is that Gotham is trying to be two shows at once. One's a procedural crime drama, the other a soap opera. You really can't have or be both.

Fox has its own YouTube channel, which gives us a trailer:

One wonders, then, if DC has green-lit the same kind of formula for Constantine, which bows in 3 1/2 weeks on NBC, or for a future project like, say, Supergirl, which has been optioned at CBS. We know that The Flash, debuting next week, will, since it's a spin-off from Arrow, which will set it apart from an earlier version of the series nearly 25 years ago. Oh, yeah, there's that other advantage DC has over Marvel. They've been doing this more often, and longer, and with more success. A full chart will be up before the debut of Flash next week.

Gotham gets a B+.

Baseball's silly season begins

Tonight begins the 2014 Major League Baseball post-season, with the Wild Card round, also known as a play-in game, because, quite frankly, that's all it really is, isn't it?

The last time the Kansas City Royals were in the playoffs, they won it all in 1985. After years of being among the dregs of the AL, much like the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League, the Royals finally were able to put it together this year, and even led the AL Central for a while. Had the Oakland A's won the West, the three consecutive division titles would've mirrored their similar run 40 years ago, except for one thing. They haven't won a World Series this time around. This year, though, the A's are in decline, such that they traded outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to Boston to get pitcher Jon Lester for what amounted to a rental, since everyone thinks Lester will return to the Red Sox as a free agent. A deep postseason run might change his mind, especially if the A's decide to finally open the checkbook.

However, I don't see that happening. Kansas City acquired James Shields from Tampa Bay for this sort of scenario. Now, he gets to earn his money. That's the good news for the Royals. The bad? They get the top seeded Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim next. We like the Royals tonight, but then, the ride ends as the Angels advance to the ALCS in 4 games.

The other ALDS matchup puts Central Division winner Detroit against Eastern champ Baltimore in what should be a classic series. Should be, of course, being the operative phrase. 2-time reigning MVP Miguel Cabrera, however, hasn't put up the same kind of numbers this season as he has in the past, and the Tigers' offense is no longer a one-man show. That should make them better, but their Cy Young rotation hasn't exactly been consistently spectacular. After all, didn't the Yankees smack them around? We like the Orioles in 5.

Over in the National League, there are those who think the San Francisco Giants will win it all again, as they did in 2010 and 2012. Maybe, but I don't see it. The Pittsburgh Pirates have to take the Wild Card route again, and, like the Royals, they spent some time atop the Central division this year. Then again, so did the Milwaukee Brewers, and they had an epic collapse worthy of Boston 3 years ago. The Pirates, though, are a team on the rise, and it's a matter of time before they dethrone the St. Louis Cardinals as the kingpins in the division. This time, though, the Bucs will have to go through Washington if they want their first NLCS appearance since 1992. The Nationals have a pitching staff on a par, shall we say, with Detroit, as well as a 1st year manager in Matt Williams, who is finishing the job Davey Johnson started.

That said, we see Pittsburgh over San Francisco on Wednesday, but the Nats move on to the LCS in 4.

The other LDS in the National League sees the Cardinals match up against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now, don't ya think that the success Don Mattingly's enjoying in LA might prompt the Steinbrenner brothers to bring him back to the Yankees if/when they decide to dump Joe Girardi? Of course. I can see the headlines already.

I'm of two minds here. I can see a Washington-Los Angeles LCS, with the Dodgers disposing of St. Louis in 4, which would mirror the Orioles-Angels ALDS. Same result, too. I'd be happy with the first-ever Beltway Series between the Orioles and the Nats. Yep, that's how it'll play out, pilgrims. Of course, I could be wrong.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Musical Interlude: Xanadu (1980)

2 years after "Grease", Olivia Newton-John headlined another musical. However, "Xanadu" was a colossal flop, and that was despite the fact that Olivia was paired this time with screen legend Gene Kelly, and fronted a soundtrack that also featured the Electric Light Orchestra and Cliff Richard.

Here, Olivia sings the title song, backed by ELO, although Jeff Lynne and the band are nowhere to be found.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

If they say "no more", will you listen? (2013)

The following PSA is a long-form version (well, it's a minute long), part of a series of ads put together by the Joyous Heart Foundation, and directed by Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit), who not only also appears, but she recruited several of her castmates, past & present, including Ice-T, Christopher Meloni, and Dann Florek, all of whom appear in the following, along with Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), and Amy Poehler (Parks & Recreation).

Ironically, given the situation in the NFL, and not shown in the ad, Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Chris Canty took part in the PSA series as well.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

What Might've Been: Coronet Blue (1967)

Larry Cohen was hailed by critics as a talented, prolific writer, but why didn't any of the series he had go too far beyond one or two seasons?

The reasons vary, depending on what show you're talking about. As we previously discussed, Cohen's central theme to virtually all of his works was having a lone protagonist on a mission of some kind. In Branded, it was a disgraced Army soldier seeking redemption. In The Invaders, you had a man trying to prove to a disbelieving world that aliens had arrived on Earth, seeking to take it over.

Then, there's Coronet Blue, which was actually produced in 1965, but CBS was forced to sit on it for 2 years before it could finally hit the air. By the time it did, in May 1967, any hope for renewal was gone, since star Frank Converse had moved on and signed with David Susskind's Talent Associates to star in N. Y. P. D. for ABC that fall. Converse played Michael Alden, an amnesiac who was really a Russian spy sent to the US. However, he grew to like it here, and decided to defect. His superiors didn't like it, and decided to kill him. The open has Alden pulling himself out of the river, the drugs his former comrades put into him having wiped his memory.

The memorable title song was performed by Lenny Welch, who was asked to emulate, if not imitate, the stylings of fellow singer Johnny Rivers, who'd scored a chart hit with "Secret Agent Man". Ironically, Secret Agent, aka Danger Man, was also airing on CBS.

No rating.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Musical Interlude: Johnny & Mary (1980)

Before Robert Palmer's breakthrough CD, "Riptide", came out in 1986, Palmer had already been a minor presence on MTV.

Palmer released the album, "Clues", in 1980, and, in addition to the title track, released the single, "Johnny & Mary", which was still getting a decent amount of airplay on MTV when the network debuted in my market in the winter of 1982. Husband & wife mimes Robert Shields & Lorene Yarnell are the title characters, while Palmer sings into an old school radio microphone, taking a break from writing.

Weasel of the Week: the New York Yankees

For 20 years, Derek Jeter has been portrayed as a total team player with the Yankees. So why would the Yankees, and authorized ticket resale agents such as StubHub, overprice tickets for Jeter's final home game, set for Thursday?

Greed, of course. The Yankees have spent all season hyping the final season for Jeter, the current team captain, and the last link to their dynasty of the late 90's-early 00's, hoping to punctuate it by making another post-season run. As of this writing, though, it doesn't appear as though that is going to happen, and Jeter, like Mariano Rivera last year, will go out without making the playoffs in his final season.

There are people, I'm sure, who are tired of all the excess hype. Rivera didn't get this kind of genuflecting last year. Jeter's been a playboy, having dated the likes of Mariah Carey and Minka Kelly, among others, but has stayed above all the scandal and controversy that goes with working---and living---in New York. He is the opposite, then, of disgraced teammate Alex Rodriguez, and one tabloid went so far as to suggest that he get the same treatment next year, assuming it's his final season. Please.

The late George Steinbrenner took care of his stars, sure, but he'd be turning in his grave, seeing how the excess hype and genuflection is being done on his sons' watch. Did they authorize it? Or were they fleeced by some slick marketing rep looking for the ultimate easy payday? We'll never know. The bottom line, though, is that the Yankee "high command", and the ticket brokers authorized by the team, including StubHub, which has paid for advertising on game broadcasts, will get a box full of Weasel ears for cheapening the retirement of one of their greatest players by letting greed get in the way. Shame on you all!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Classic TV (?): Soap (1977)

Soap operas were ripe for parody long before Soap hit the air in 1977. While ABC courted controversy from the go because of the content, such that a number of affiliates refused to air the series, those narrow-minded folks, especially in the South, could be accused of practicing hypocrisy, since they weren't complaining about daytime soaps, which this sitcom was parodying.

As it was, Soap lasted 5 seasons as part of ABC's powerhouse Tuesday sitcom block, and helped create a number of new stars, including Billy Crystal, who'd starred in the movie, "Rabbit Test", ventriloquist Jay Johnson, Katherine Helmond, Ted Wass, and, most importantly, Robert Guillaume, whose Benson was so popular, he was spun off into his own series after the first 2 seasons, resulting in veteran character actor Roscoe Lee Browne being brought in after Benson hit the air.

Johnson, meanwhile, moonlighted during season 3 as host of the short-lived game show, Celebrity Charades, which raised his profile. Post-Soap, Johnson landed one more series gig, in the crime drama, Broken Badges. Helmond moved on to another hit, Who's The Boss?, and, well, as for Billy Crystal, he moved on to Saturday Night Live, where he introduced viewers to a self-serving talk show host named Fernando, and, then, a string of hit movies, including "Running Scared", "City Slickers", "When Harry Met Sally", and "Analyze This".

Announcer Rod Roddy nearly didn't land the gig. The story is that the producers approached radio icon Casey Kasem, who turned them down after seeing a script. I guess the content offended him. Listen to Roddy's narration, and you can picture Casey reading those same lines with almost the same inflection. Roddy would go on to work a number of game shows, including Price Is Right, and even dabbled in cartoons (Disney's House of Mouse) before he passed away a few years back.

Here's a sample open:

Rating: B-.

Monday, September 22, 2014

On The Air: Celebrity Name Game (2014)

Craig Ferguson may be leaving CBS' Late, Late Show at the end of the year, but he's not leaving our TV screens anytime soon. Well, at least for now.

Ferguson will keep busy as a game show host, following in the footsteps of pal Drew Carey (Price Is Right) with his first game show, Celebrity Name Game. I guess swapping shows with Carey back in April convinced the CBS and Fremantle Media brass that Ferguson was ready to helm his own game. Ferguson serves not only as host, but as an executive producer, along with Courtney Cox (Cougar Town) and her ex-husband, David Arquette, among others.

Basically, Name Game is a variant of a sort on one of TV's most beloved game shows, Password, except that each round plays like a Lightning Round from that show's glory days in the 60's & 70's. Two teams of contestants are paired with a celebrity partner (Joely Fisher & Mena Suvari in the opener), up until the final round, at which point Ferguson takes over giving the clues. In the end game, the winning team gives clues to the celebrities, who are teamed up, to help the contestants win up to $20,000 (same grand prize as on Family Feud, another Fremantle entry).

The series also has its own YouTube channel, which gives us a preview......

In most markets, Celebrity Name Game faces a tall order, as it's opposite Jeopardy!. In my area, the series will air 4 nights a week (Monday-Wednesday and Friday) due to football on Thursdays through November, which will stretch out the initial 65 episode order, unless those CBS affiliates carrying the show will run it on Saturdays instead of Thursdays until CBS wraps its commitment to primetime football.

You could probably have more fun playing this at home with your friends.

Rating: B.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Musical Interlude: It Doesn't Matter (2000)

At the height of the Rock's popularity in 2000, the "People's Champion" went into the studio to cut a rap single with ex-Fugee Wyclef Jean. The result, "It Doesn't Matter", peaked at #3 on the UK chart, but research doesn't tell us how far it went here in the US. Go figure.

Rock (Dwayne Johnson) was so inspired, he recorded a rap of his own for a WWE (then-World Wrestling Federation) CD, titled after his favorite dessert dish, "Pie". Needless to say, that CD flopped.

What Might've Been: Occasional Wife (1966)

Harry Ackerman, head of the comedy division at Screen Gems, was taking ideas for just about any scenario you could dream up in the mid-60's. The studio had successfully transitioned from The Donna Reed Show & Hazel to the likes of Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. In 1966, the same year that The Monkees had joined Jeannie on NBC, there came a "modern fable" about a bachelor who pretends to be married in order to gain a promotion.

However, such a gimmick as what fueled Occasional Wife, in an era of wacky ideas in television, ended up failing, probably because there were too many wacky concepts. Michael Callan starred along with Patricia Harty as the titular periodic spouse. Harty would try again 2 years later, signing with Universal and King Features to adapt the latter's Blondie, co-starring opposite Will Hutchins, who'd flopped with Hey, Landlord for NBC the same year that Occasional Wife arrived. Got all that?

Don Kirshner, brought in along with the Monkees, was tapped as music supervisor for Screen Gems for a couple of years and is credited as such here, as well as on Bewitched, beginning with season 3. Along with the swinging theme music, one surprising hook in the series, as demonstrated in the pilot, is the use of baseball icon Vin Scully as the narrator.

No rating.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Musical Interlude: Into The Night (1980)

Benny Mardones only had 1 big hit, and it was a hit twice over.

"Into the Night", a tale of young, perhaps forbidden, love, debuted in the summer of 1980, and peaked at #11. 9 years later, after DJ Scott Shannon, then based in LA, added the song to his playlist, "Night" charted anew, but only got as far as #20. Co-author Robert Tepper would end up a 1-hit wonder himself, scoring with "No Easy Way Out" from "Rocky IV" in between releases of "Night".

What Might've Been: The Asphalt Jungle (1961)

The Asphalt Jungle is not a true spinoff from the movie of the same name, sharing only the title and the studio (MGM). As it happened, it was a summer replacement series in 1961 and lasted just 13 weeks when it could've gone longer, but for the fact that it was just another crime drama.

Jack Warden and William Smith headlined a promising ensemble cast, and would each go on to greater successes. Seeing this show for the first time via YouTube, I can see just what the problem was. As noted, it really had 0 to do with the movie, and instead focused on the same subject matter as other crime shows, with a few exceptions, one of which being a case study, if you will, on the American Nazi Party, as demonstrated in the episode, "The Scott Machine", with guest stars Robert Vaughn and John Astin.

Uploaded by robatsea:

Rating: B.

Friday, September 19, 2014

A new collection of dunces & weasels

The turmoil surrounding the NFL has produced a veritable cornucopia of Weasels and Dunces this week, to borrow some of the late Howard Cosell's preferred vernacular.

However, we start with baseball.

Philadelphia Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon may have written his ticket out of town with a lewd gesture aimed at the homies on Sunday. After blowing a save, Papelbon was lifted by manager Ryne Sandberg, who had to be embarrassed, along with the rest of the team, by what happened next. Upset over being booed by the hometowners, Papelbon decided to grab a hold of his, ah, package, if ya will. Umpire Joe West wasn't digging, and proceeded to further Papelbon's exit by ejecting him from the game.

While West isn't one of the most popular umpires, he got praise from the press for taking matters--literally---into his own hands, although that cost West 1 game. Papelbon gets set down for 7, and the Phillies might as well begin the process of auditioning new closers for next year, and see about trading Papelbon, who's nearing the end of his career. Papelbon gets a set of Weasel ears and a Dunce Cap.

Next stop is Minneapolis. Vikings owner Zigy Wilf really earned a Dunce Cap this week by first reinstating running back Adrian Peterson on Monday, a day after gift-wrapping a win for New England. Then, under pressure from the league, sponsors, and Lord knows who else, Wilf reversed field by Wednesday, and Peterson was placed on the exempt/commissioner's permission list. Wilf, thanks to Peterson's attempt at old school discipline being exposed for all the world to see, may have mortgaged the Vikings' chances at a playoff spot, but what else could he do? Even a former Viking from a by-gone era, Fran Tarkenton, took a shot at commissioner Roger Goodell's sudden bumbling and stumbling on domestic issues off the field. To borrow the title of Tarkenton's lone primetime series, That's Incredible! That exempt list is getting longer. In Charlotte, Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, no relation to the Hardy brothers of pro wrestling, is appealing a July domestic abuse conviction, and was allowed to play the first two games. Carolina went 1-1, but Hardy was put on the exempt list, also on Wednesday. Shouldn't Goodell have thrown the book at him in preseason? Yep, but the common theme the NFL is using in these cases is that they would rather wait for the legal system to run its course in each case through due process. The media isn't that patient, and now, neither are sponsors such as Anheiser-Busch, makers of Budweiser and the biggest advertiser in sports for years. Hardy gets a set of Weasel ears for trying to appeal when the evidence is obviously there.

Moving west, the Arizona Cardinals had a pair of former Pittsburgh Steelers running backs on their roster at the start of the season, neither one named Rashard Mendenhall, who decided to retire after 1 season in the desert. Former mates Chris Rainey and Jonathan Dwyer followed him to Phoenix, but at mid-week, Rainey had followed Mendenhall out of town, as the Cardinals cut him, while placing Dwyer on the exempt list after he was arrested for---wait for it---attacking his wife. Rainey's stay in Pittsburgh was short, too, as he didn't even finish his rookie season in 2012, and, yep, he too has had a history of domestic troubles. Dwyer gets a set of Weasel ears because he should've known better, considering his act was more recent.

Goodell gets a Dunce Cap for having his head in the sand so long, he could've been making out with an ostrich for all we know. Today, he surfaced for a press conference, only to have that crashed by some jackass named Benjy Bronk, a writer and performer on Howard Stern's satellite radio show. Bronk was there for one reason, to get the so-called "King of All Media" trending on Twitter. Mission accomplished, but did Stern really need to resort to this kind of guerrilla stunt after all these years? No, but it seems he's not happy about not being relevant enough in social media, and that's despite the charity work his wife Beth does.

Face facts, Howard. These kinds of stunts were so last century. Captain Janks' act got old, and he apparently isn't the type to appear in public, so you send some jabroni no one's heard of. Are you that homesick for old school radio? I'd say yeah, but here's a set of Weasel ears. If you don't know what these are for, ask Beth. She'd probably model them for you.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Musical Interlude: Me & Julio Down by the Schoolyard (1972, 1988)

In 1972, Paul Simon scored his first #1 solo album with his self-titled release, from whence we get the top 5 hit, "Me & Julio Down by the Schoolyard". To this day, I still can't quite get the lyrics. Simon was, perhaps intentionally, vague about the circumstances behind the crime supposedly committed at the start of the song.

Fast forward 16 years, and Simon, in support of his greatest hits CD, "Negotiations & Love Songs", shoots a video for "Me & Julio", with guests Big Daddy Kane & Biz Markie laying down a beat before the song starts, and a trio of guest stars from the sports world: Yankee icon Mickey Mantle, NBA star Anthony "Spud" Webb, then with Atlanta, and former Oakland Raiders coach-turned broadcaster John Madden, who gets the Rodney Dangerfield treatment from a group of kids he calls into a huddle at the end of the clip. Well, what didja expect? He was a football coach, not a basketball coach. Big diff!

From Simon's VEVO channel:

What Might've Been: Crusader (1955)

More than a decade before Family Affair made him a major TV star, Brian Keith made his debut in the crime drama, Crusader, which lasted 52 episodes between 1955-7.

Keith played journalist Matt Anders, a freelancer whose millieu went beyond investigative reporting.

Edit: 1/4/21: We've changed the video again. This time, we have the episode, "Fear", with Oscar winner Bobby Driscoll.

Revue (now NBC-Universal) churned out crime dramas like they were on an assembly line. The angle of using an investigative reporter was just a variant on the usual procedurals of the period. Believe it or else, before I ran across the above video, I wasn't even aware of this series, and assumed that Keith's debut series was the Four Star oater, The Westerner, which we will cover at a later date.

No rating.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Musical Interlude: Mr. Blue Sky (1977)

Not long after I'd settled into my current abode in downtown Troy, I went to what was a literal garage sale. That is, they held a flea market inside the open air parking garage across from the mall.

Among the items I picked up that day was a 2nd hand copy of Electric Light Orchestra's double album, "Out of the Blue", from 1977. For someone who was raised on country music, a band like ELO was an acquired taste. Curiously, the promotional clip produced for "Mr. Blue Sky" never made it onto MTV back in the glory days, insofar as I know.

Jeff Lynne would later move on to work with Tom Petty, and both were charter members of the supergroup, the Traveling Wilburys.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Classic TV: Meeting of Minds (1977)

Steve Allen was always a thinking man's comedian. Credited with inventing the talk show concept, Allen took it one step further with a PBS entry, Meeting of Minds, which launched in 1977.

The history books tell us that Meeting's genesis actually was some 20-odd years earlier, while Allen was doing a sketch comedy show, and he wanted to incorporate Meeting as a segment on the show. A sponsor objected, and the segment was never produced. In the interim, a similarly themed Canadian series, Witness to Yesterday, bowed in 1974, and Allen appeared on the show as George Gershwin in 1976.

Bolstered by the fact that the idea for Meeting, had, in fact, come to fruition after all, Allen re-mounted plans for Meeting, and while you think PBS was perhaps not the first choice, consider that in later years, Allen would become a bit of a moral zealot, associating himself with the likes of the Parents Television Council. Clearly, the broadcast networks wanted no part of Meeting, so PBS was, in truth, the only option.

Meeting of Minds lasted for four years, but today, languishes in the vaults somewhere, awaiting a DVD release, depending on who holds the rights. It might be Allen's estate, or PBS, or someone else. Until then, let us consider this sample episode:

Rating: A.

So when does State Farm start sponsoring Saturday Night Live? (2014)

Someone at the ad agency producing State Farm's ad campaign must be a big time fan of Saturday Night Live.

Last year, it was the Bears' "Superfans" (Robert Smigel & George Wendt). On opening night of the NFL season, we saw Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers take abuse from Hans & Franz (Dana Carvey & Kevin Nealon). Now comes this piece of fluff, in which an agent brings a pair of clients into the office, but who's that guy at the corner desk?

The name plate reads "Richard Lamer", aka the "Richmeister" (Rob Schneider), whom we thought would be a more likely candidate to do one of those Ace Hardware spots. Just what we don't need. The creepy guy from the copy center. And I do mean creepy.

All this proves is that Schneider, whose movie career stalled, can't count on being buds with Adam Sandler forever in order to get steady work.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sports this 'n' that

The WNBA ended its season on Friday with Phoenix completing a 3-game sweep over Chicago to claim the title. All well & good, but the stigma remains that the WNBA is a short-season spring-summer league that serves as a buffer for ESPN while the NBA is on summer vacation. The season starts during the NBA playoffs, you see. That needs to change. The NBA season starts in late October-early November, and stretches all the way into June as the league and its media partners (ESPN/ABC, TNT) milk the playoffs more than the regular season. In an era where women's sports have gotten attention (i.e. soccer, basketball), almost as much as the men, the feeling is that more folks will respect the WNBA more if it's allowed to stand on its own without the stigma of being the NBA's "kid sister", if you will.

In all sports, we have to remember that game officials are human and fallible, just like the athletes. Unfortunately, that fallibility strikes at the most inopportune times.

Take for example what happened in Milwaukee on Thursday. You know how Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton was drilled in the face by Milwaukee pitcher Mike Fiers and had to be removed from the field on a stretcher. The sadder part is that plate umpire Jeff Kellogg ruled that Stanton, in attempting to swerve out of the way, swung at the pitch.


That ain't the end of it, though. Instead of being awarded 1st base, Stanton gets carted off, and Marlins skipper Mike Redmond has to send up a pinch-hitter to finish the at bat. Veteran outfielder Reed Johnson comes up, and Fiers hits him, too. Kellogg exacerbates things by calling Johnson out on strikes because, in the umpire's blurred vision, Johnson also swung to avoid getting hit. Redmond would eventually be ejected, but not for protesting the bogus calls. Instead, after a Marlins pitcher plunked Brewers star Carlos Gomez, said hurler and Redmond were sent packing. I haven't seen the full video of this folly, but I read enough to know that Kellogg didn't do his job correctly. Therefore, he gets the Dunce Cap Award this week.

But if you think that was bad, think again.

After the NFL extended Ray Rice's 2-game suspension for domestic assault to ad infinitum, the Baltimore Ravens cut ties with the Super Bowl hero, whose otherwise sterling reputation has been forever tarnished. What bothers me more is the amount of time between the night of the assault (February 15 in Atlantic City) and when TMZ, a gossip site founded by lawyer Harvey Levin, first released footage of the incident, in July. A 2nd, more detailed, video surfaced on Monday, and Rice was dismissed. He's lost endorsement deals as well as the respect of his teammates and the league. Commissioner Roger Goodell, on the other hand, is taking heat for his Keystone Kops approach to the entire case, and is hearing it from the media as well as the predictable activist groups, such as the National Organization for Women (NOW). Another group plans to rent planes and fly a message over selected NFL stadiums on Sunday, calling for Goodell to resign.

It gets worse. It's been reported that Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson was accused of beating his 4 year old son with some old school discipline. Peterson took a tree branch, stripped off the leaves, making the branch a "switch", and proceeded to spank the child around the legs, and, reportedly, around the genital area. That approach might've worked when Peterson or any of us were kids, but not today in our hyper-sensitive society. Gary Myers, writing in today's New York Daily News, called for Goodell to throw the book at Peterson, too, treating this case the same as the Rice case in terms of punishment. The Vikings acted quickly, ruling Peterson inactive for tomorrow's game vs. New England. Peterson turned himself in to police overnight, and was quickly released.

The message sent? Our role models in sports cannot afford to let darker, baser natures overcome them off the field. Of course, it could get worse after they retire. They could end up like former Cincinnati star Ickey Woods, now shilling for GEICO.....

Mr. Woods, The Biggest Loser is calling.........

Friday, September 12, 2014

Musical Interlude: Go All The Way (1972)

The Raspberries may have sounded like a British band, but they were decidely American. With Eric Carmen on vocals, the band scored a top 5 hit with "Go All The Way" in 1972. Carmen would later enjoy some success as a solo act, but today, the Raspberries are back together with their original lineup as a nostalgia act.

From The Mike Douglas Show comes a performance of "Go All The Way":

Retro Reads: Archie's Weird Mysteries (1999)

In 1995, Archie Comics had obtained a license to produce comics featuring some of Hanna-Barbera's classic characters, including Scooby-Doo. However, this didn't last very long, and the company missed a golden opportunity to have Scooby and his friends meet Archie Andrews and his Riverdale buds, who shared many a Saturday morning on CBS between 1969 (Scooby's 1st year) and 1976.

Four years later, DIC brought the Riverdale kids back to television in a series that was best described as a cross-section between Scooby-Doo and The X-Files, Archie's Weird Mysteries. 40 episodes were produced, giving the Pax network (now Ion) the option of running the show weekdays or Saturdays. Had it been weekdays, it would've been worth 2 months of episodes, and the network could stretch the weekly format out across two years if needed.

In October 1999, Archie Comics released a comics version of Weird Mysteries, written by Paul Castiglia and drawn by Fernando Ruiz. Sure, it's drawn in the predictable house style, and formatted similarly to other books in the line through the years. There was even a crossover with the company's premier superhero team, the Mighty Crusaders, in one issue. However, DIC wasn't able to use the Crusaders, and instead created their own superhero, Supreme Girl, for a 1-shot episode. The half-human, half-vampire Scarlet, however, made her comics debut, appearing in a couple of issues, leaving the door open for a spin-off series that never happened.

15 years later, Archie Comics is celebrating Weird Mysteries with a trade paperback compilation of selected issues of the comic book, including Scarlet's appearances, plus an amusing left handed homage to Scooby-Doo, with the kids using familiar catchphrases. The reprints appear to be out of order, and the MIghty Crusaders crossover, issue 3, was left out, likely because it wasn't Weird enough to fit. The book underwent a cosmetic change with issue 25, dropping the Weird from the title and shifting to being a teen clone of CSI, which was building its franchise at the time. After a year of "Teen Scene Investigations", the series was cancelled. Sales of this volume will determine if Archie will bring those issues back.

The Archie's Weird Mysteries trade paperback is comfortably priced at $9.95, and is a smaller size than most trades. It's nice to look back and remind yourself of how much fun this was. In recent years, the company has gone back to outside-the-box ideas, such as the current Afterlife With Archie series, and have found themselves a new audience. Weird Mysteries is for the younger readers who might be creeped out by Afterlife. It's nice to have alternatives.

Rating: A.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

What Might've Been: Young Dan'l Boone (1977)

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

4 years after CBS & 20th Century Fox had misfired with a revival of Perry Mason, the two combined to attempt a prequel to the studio's hit series, Daniel Boone. Yes, I said prequel.

Young Dan'l Boone didn't get very far in the 1977-8 season, likely because it was running on the wrong night or something. If I recall correctly, it aired Mondays, opposite Little House on the Prairie. Case closed.

Rick Moses was cast as Daniel in this series that purported to tell of Boone's exploits as a young man, years before the period depicted in the earlier series with Fess Parker. However, the prevailing mentality among viewers was that, despite this being a prequel, they would only accept Parker as Boone. That attitude continues today with some of the failed revivals we've seen in recent years. Moses would recover and gain fame in daytime, particularly on General Hospital in the early 80's.

I never saw the show, so there's no rating, but we'll leave you with a sample clip.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Musical Interlude: Shambala (1975)

Three Dog Night released "Shambala" in 1973, and scored yet another top 10 hit. Two years later, the band appeared on PBS' Soundstage, from whence we get the following performance clip. It's significant now, because the original studio version's being used in a Bank of America commercial making the rounds.

Like, groovy, man.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Weasels of the Week: Ohio ice bucket pranksters

I don't think anyone should be surprised that some heartless soul would take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and subvert it to play a prank on someone.

Last month, a group of teens in suburban Cleveland tricked an autistic 15 year old into taking what he thought was a legit ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, only to dump a bucket filled with urine, spit, feces, and, according to one account, cigarette butts, onto the youth, who'd stripped down to his skivvies. This wasn't for a good cause. This was an absurd means of bullying the young man.

Subsequently, Cleveland native Drew Carey (The Price Is Right) offered to put up $10,000 toward the apprehension of the pranksters. On Sunday, actor-singer Donnie Wahlberg (Blue Bloods, New Kids on the Block) and his new bride, Jenny McCarthy, late of The View, each added an additional $10,000. McCarthy has an autistic son of her own, so she understood what this kid was going through. Earlier today, it was reported that police had identified the punks, but have not made the ID's public as yet, suggesting that the bullies were either the same age as the victim, or at least a year older. It's been reported, also, that these kids could be brought up on assault charges. If that's going to be the case, then they should be tried as adults. No juvenile court for these guys. They need to deal with the fact that not only did they bring shame and humiliation on an unsuspecting autistic boy, but their own families, who must wonder what motivates these kids to pull stupid stunts like this on special needs kids.

That all having been said, the pranksters get the Weasel ears this week, and they certainly deserve them.

Celebrity Rock: A father-daughter duet on That Girl (1971)

Marlo Thomas never did another series after That Girl ended its run in 1971 after 5 seasons. Today, she carries on the work of her father, Danny, with St. Jude's Children's Hospital in Memphis.

Father & daughter would appear together in two episodes of That Girl, but only once would they sing together. I don't know the name of the song used here in the episode, "The Friars", but Danny appears as himself attempting to buy an old trunk from Ann Marie (Marlo). Milton Berle also makes a bid, and ends up trapped in the trunk. He's heard from, too, in the following clip. If anyone can tell me the name of the song (also performed by Maureen McCormick & Florence Henderson on The Brady Bunch), please contribute to the comments section. Thanks.

Oh, by the way, I'm not sure if Marlo herself or a fan using her name as a screen name has the YouTube channel from whence we get this gem.

Monday, September 8, 2014

What Might've Been: Custer (1967)

In the 60's, 20th Century Fox experimented with scripted dramas about historical figures. The first of these, Daniel Boone, was a huge hit for NBC. Two subsequent series, both produced for ABC, never got too far out of the starting gate. We previously had discussed The Legend of Jesse James, but this time, the subject is Custer.

Custer lasted just half a season, a victim of protests from Native American activist groups. Which makes one wonder what might've happened if they had decided to raise a ruckus over a certain NFL team back then instead of now. Digressing. Wayne Maunder top-lined as Major General George Armstrong Custer, who, by the time this series started, had been demoted to Captain, then promoted back to Lieutenant Colonel. We all know how Custer's story would end, but the series was cancelled before they could depict the battle of Little Big Horn.

Maunder, and co-creator Samuel Peeples, for that matter, would bounce right back with Lancer, another Fox series, this one for CBS, that bowed the very next year. We'll discuss that another time. If I didn't know any better, I'd think there was a certain stigma attached to anything that had Larry Cohen's name on it. Cohen, a prolific writer in the 50's & 60's, "suggested" the idea of Custer to Peeples. Given that Cohen had failed previously with Coronet Blue, and had modest success with Branded and The Invaders, the latter of which was in its 2nd and final season by this point, one would hope that this would've succeeded, were it not for ABC bowing to pressure.

Dwighttfrye uploaded the episode, "Suspicion":

Co-star Robert F. Simon would return a decade later, cast as newspaper publisher J. Jonah Jameson in CBS' adaptation of The Amazing Spider-Man. Peter Palmer, a football hero at Illinois, is still better known for starring on Broadway and in film in an adaptation of Al Capp's seminal comic strip, L'il Abner.

No rating.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Modern Classic: The Nanny (1993)

It wasn't the second coming of Nanny & The Professor, only because 1) there was no magic involved, and 2) The Nanny lasted three times as long as the Juliet Mills-Richard Long entry that ran from 1970-2 on ABC.

The plot is laid out rather quickly. Bridal consultant Fran Fine (Fran Drescher, who also served as a producer) gets a double shock when she learns that her prospective fiance, who's also her boss, has been cheating on her, and decides to end their personal and professional relationships at the same time, firing her so that his new squeeze can take Fran's job. Well, he did look like a punk, anyway.

However, the theme song plays before the first commercial break and spoils the rest of the plot. Not a good move, but somehow, they got around it. Anyway, Fran winds up at the home of British millionaire Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy) and is hired on as a housekeeper, tasked to mind her new boss' 3 children.

While Fran Drescher might've had an annoying, nasal voice, it was offset by her hourglass figure. However, it was Daniel Davis (Niles) who stole the show with some of the funnier putdowns. It's too bad he didn't land another series gig after The Nanny ended a six year run in 1999. Drescher has had two series since, neither of which lasted very long, and reruns are airing in a block on weekends on TV Land.

Here's the intro:

Rating: B+.

On the Shelf: A long awaited team-up comes a'cropper

A little history lesson to start things off, pilgrims.

Ever since Scooby-Doo changed networks from CBS to ABC in 1976, and after the Super Friends franchise was reactivated the following year, you'd have to imagine that fans of both franchises were hoping the two would meet. After all, it was Scooby who helped set the wheels in motion, if you will, with Batman & Robin guesting in 2 episodes of the New Scooby-Doo Movies in 1972.

It never happened, however, until now. Unfortunately, that's about all the positive that can be said about it.

In the latest issue of Scooby-Doo Team-Up, Scooby and the gang are summoned to the Hall of Justice, which means the Dynamic Duo will make their 4th appearance out of 6 issues, while Wonder Woman makes it 2 in a row, after appearing in issue 5. The plot: Superman has disappeared, and the Hall is supposedly haunted. The "rainbow ghosts" on the cover are a call-back to a Scooby-Doo episode from his early days, but they're a cover for the Legion of Doom. Oh, how clever. Any fan worth their salt can figure out the rest fairly quickly.

Where writer Sholly Fisch fails is in taking a minor little shortcut. Robin explains what supposedly happened to Wendy & Marvin, at least in this context, but their signature outfits end up with Velma & Shaggy. As for the Wonder Twins? No go on them, either, but spare costumes, with convienently available wigs, were given to Fred & Daphne. Oh, what a rip-off. I've always envisioned Scooby & Shaggy getting freaked out by the Twins' shape-shifting powers, only to have Jayna pour on the charm to win them over. I get that it's a 1-&-done, but Fisch did a disservice not only to the target audience, but to fans of both franchises. Suffice it to say, had this been left in the hands of a more capable writer, such as Jeff Parker (Batman '66), maybe it works out a little bit better. If it's true fan-service you're looking for maybe issue 7, out in November, will help. In that one, Scooby and friends take a trip way back in time to meet Hanna-Barbera's 1st icons of the 60's, The Flintstones.

Scooby-Doo Team-Up 6 gets a D.

Dynamite Entertainment is known for taking liberties with licensed properties. I stopped reading the current Doc Savage book because writer Chris Roberson insists on moving the series forward in time with each succeeding issue. That's not how it's supposed to work. Dynamite, as previously reported, signed on Howard Chaykin to do a new Shadow miniseries, set in the 50's. Not my cup of tea.

So now, they bring in Lester Dent's other creation, Richard Henry Benson, aka The Avenger, to team with Doc & the Shadow in the 6-issue Justice Inc. miniseries. Justice Inc. was first published under that title in comics by DC in the 70's, with the inestimable Jack Kirby doing the first issue. A subsequent late-80's miniseries, by Kyle Baker, didn't exactly break cash registers. What Dynamite intends to do is explain how Benson became the pale-skinned Avenger in a manner that I don't think fits his true origins, although it does have to do with the death of his family. I've got reservations about this one, given the time travel angle. The rating, therefore, is incomplete.

Celebrity Rock: Johnny Angel (1962)

Shelley Fabares is better known for her acting (i.e. Coach, The Donna Reed Show) than her singing. But she does have a #1 hit on her resume, just the same.

"Johnny Angel" hit the top of the charts in 1962, during season 4 of The Donna Reed Show, from whence we get this choice clip of Shelley, in character as Mary Stone, performing the song:

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Videos of Summer: Beach Baby (1974)

Now, if this doesn't define "one hit wonder", I don't know what does.

First Class was a British studio band that scored their only major hit with "Beach Baby" in 1974. The curious part about it all was that the band who went on the road wasn't the one that recorded the song in the first place. Singer Del John, for example, took the place of Tony Burrows, who apparently was the original singer on "Beach Baby".

If ya don't believe me, pilgrim, scope it for yourself.:

Friday, September 5, 2014

Only in the South: A student is forced to wear a "shame suit" for not meeting the dress code

Apparently, school administrators in Florida don't know the difference between discipline and outright humiliation. They think humiliating a student for an innocent error in wardrobe counts as discipline.

Take the case of Miranda Larkin, 15, a transfer student from Seattle, who experienced a bit of a culture shock, I'm sure, when she was told that her skirt was in violation of her school's dress code. Supposedly, she was given three options: 1) suspension, 2) calling home to have some fresh clothes brought over to change into, and 3) a "shame suit", which consists of a yellow shirt and a pair of red sweats, both of which read "dress code violation". However, as Miranda & her mother told ABC, she wasn't given a choice. Administrators at Oakleaf High in Orange Park forced her to wear the "shame suit". The Larkins claim Miranda was bullied. Oakleaf faculty have refused to comment. Gee, what a shock, eh?

I spent 2 years at a private academy, and the only error in appearance was pointed out to me by a teacher the first week. I was asked to trim my nails, so I did after school. If the shirt-tail wasn't tucked in, well, a quick stop to the men's room could fix that in a jiffy. Ah, but that was more than 35 years ago. Miranda said she broke out in hives, she was so upset. I get the feeling lawyers will soon get involved, and Oakleaf will end up the laughing stock of the district, trust me. Treating teenagers, especially transfers who've barely gotten settled into their new district, like babies is not the way to go. The Larkins had only arrived in Florida a scant more than a week before the start of the school year.

Here's an idea. Let the teacher who forced Miranda into a shame suit wear one, too. I hear clown shoes would look nice.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Celebrity Rock: Nothing My Love Can't Fix (1993)

While Joey Lawrence was starring on Blossom, and, predictably, adorning covers of teen magazines, someone convinced him he could make a go of being a pop star on the side. As it ended up, Lawrence was a one-hit wonder in 1993 with "Nothing My Love Can't Fix". The following video premiered at the end of an episode of Blossom, two years after NBC had done the same thing with DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince's "Summertime" (attached to Fresh Prince of Bel-Air).

The song was also used in the Burt Reynolds movie, "Cop and a Half", later that same year. Seeing as how I never saw the movie, I wouldn't have known without reading comments on YouTube.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Three Stooges in Outer Space Jitters (1957)

The Jump 'N' The Saddle Band knew what they were doing when they ignored Joe Besser (ex-The Abbott & Costello Show) in the lyrics to their 1983 hit, "The Curly Shuffle". Besser fit with the Three Stooges about as well as a square peg in a round hole. His sensitivity to physical violence didn't mesh with the team.

To that end, fans never warmed up to Besser, who was chosen to succeed Shemp Howard, because the Stooges' first choice, Joe DeRita, was unavailable, working on his own series of shorts for Columbia. However, once the shorts ended, DeRita would join the team for the feature films and subsequent cartoons.

Besser's only positive contribution to Stooge history would be the more gentlemanly look the Stooges sport in "Outer Space Jitters", in which the guys are on a research trip to Senuv (Venus spelled backwards) as assistants to Professor Jones (Emil Sitka). However, it turns out the Senuvians intend to invade Earth, and that means the guys are thrust into the role of heroes.

The part of the goon was played by Dan Blocker (Bonanza), totally unrecognizable under the makeup, and credited as "Don Blocker". Not so sure about the babysitter........!

Rating: C.

NFL 2014 preview, conclusion

With the 2014 season 2 days away, we're wrapping up today.

AFC South:

There is a changing of the guard in Houston. Coach Gary Kubiak is gone, and so is QB Matt Schaub (Oakland). Ryan Fitzpatrick takes over as the starter, and Ryan Mallett was picked up from New England over the weekend to be the backup. Bill O'Brien (Penn State), a former Patriots assistant, is the new head man, and that should prove interesting down the line, assuming the Texans have to face the Pats this year. Bill Belichick ain't exactly very accomodating to former assistants-turned-head-coaches (i.e. Romeo Crennel), if ya get the drift.

Meanwhile, it's year 3 in Indianapolis for QB Andrew Luck, and I'd have to believe Colts fans won't be satisfied with just a division title. Just not sure if they really have the firepower they usually do, on offense or defense. Tennessee picked up Shonn Greene from the Jets last year, so what happens? Chris Johnson bolts via free agency to join Gang Green. Go figure. It's also year 3 for Jake Locker, and while the Titans were on the cusp of a breakthrough last year, it's virtually mandatory this year. And, then, there's Jacksonville, whose new owner is ignoring the fans' pleas to sign Tim Tebow, who played his college ball a few miles away in Gainesville (Florida), and is still a hero there. Maurice Jones-Drew is gone (Oakland), and so is Blaine Gabbert (San Francisco). Blake Bortles may not be ready.

Projected order of finish:

1. Indianapolis

2. Tennessee

3. Houston

4. Jacksonville

AFC West:

After getting shellshocked by Seattle in the Super Bowl, Peyton Manning and the Pizza Salesmen, aka the Denver Broncos, will be motivated to prove that blowout loss was more of an aberration than anything else. However, receiver Wes Welker has been hit with a suspension for using performance enhancing drugs. It ain't enough he was recovering from a concussion. PEDs? Well, he used to play for New England. Makes ya wonder........! Defensively, the rich get richer, with DeMarcus Ware coming over from Dallas.

In addition to Maurice Jones-Drew & Matt Schaub, Oakland drafted Derek Carr, who will be their opening day quarterback, and picked up Lamarr Woodley (Pittsburgh) and Justin Tuck (Giants) to shore up the defensive line. Tuck returns to the Meadowlands right away, as the Raiders play the Jets on Sunday. Lucky, isn't he? Oakland could surprise, creating sleepless nights for both San Diego & Kansas City. The Chiefs signed Alex Smith to a 4 year extension last week, impressed with his work last year. Expect more of the same.

Projected order of finish

1. Denver

2. Kansas City

3. San Diego

3. (tie) Oakland

Wild cards: Kansas City, Cincinnati.

NFC South:

Madison Avenue finally realized the value of New Orleans QB Drew Brees over the last couple of years. Brees has done ads for Procter & Gamble (Vicks Nyquil), Wrangler, and Verizon. Wrangler hired him, ostensibly, to succeed Brett Favre as Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s wingman. Meh. However, the Saints let Darren Sproles go, which was a big mistake. Trust me. Carolina parted with Steve Smith (Baltimore), who had been there seemingly forever. They still have Cam Newton. Enough said. The Greg Schiano era is over in Tampa Bay after 2 seasons, with Lovie Smith back on the sidelines after a year off. However, the Buccaneers lost defensive back Darrelle Revis, who goes back to the AFC East (New England). Bad move. Didn't like what I saw from the defense last year, and this will not help. In Atlanta, Matt Ryan may not be "Matty Ice" anymore, but the Falcons are still a threat to win the division regardless.

Projected order of finish:

1. New Orleans

2. Carolina

3. Atlanta

4. Tampa Bay

NFC West:

Seattle's "Legion of Boom" defense took a hit when Walter Thurmond took the free agency route and went East (Giants). With the noise the "12th Man" generates, I'm wondering if they actually use the Road Warriors' old theme music when they take the field. Digressing. The Seahawks opened some eyes with their dismantling of Denver in the Super Bowl. I'd like to see them do that to New England, and see if Tom Brady cries like a spoiled child after the beatdown. San Francisco looked awful in their first two preseason games, but then turned things around. Could it be that Colin Kaepernick has peaked? Maybe. Mario Manningham returned to the Giants, but I'm not sure he made their opening day roster. The 49ers, though, still have enough weapons on both sides of the ball. Arizona picked up kick returner Ted Ginn, Jr. from the Niners, who should've known better. Carson Palmer, like Kurt Warner before him, has found new life in the desert.

St. Louis made waves drafting Michael Sam in the 7th round. Unfortunately, it now looks like little more than a publicity ploy, as Sam was cut on Saturday, despite 3 sacks & 11 tackles in 4 games. Word is Dallas is taking a flier on Sam, and they do need defensive help. Maybe Jerry Jones is campaigning for sainthood. Naaaaah. The Rams, though, need help on offense, with Sam Bradford gone for the year after a knee injury.

Projected order of finish:

1. Seattle

2. San Francisco

2. (tie) Arizona

4. St. Louis

Wild cards: Washington, Carolina.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Classic TV: The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (1959)

Any good parent will tell you that good grades will bring you everything you really want, like a job and the love of a beautiful girl.

Max Schulman's teenage dreamer, Dobie Gillis, was introduced in a book of short stories, which, in turn, led to a 1953 feature film with Bobby Van in the title role. Six years later, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis debuted on television, with Dwayne Hickman in the title role. Gillis had it totally backwards. He was more interested in wealth & love ahead of furthering his education. His best friend and sidekick was beatnik Maynard G. Krebs (Bob Denver), who was, well, phobic when it came to jobs and girls. Go figure.

The series lasted four seasons, ending in 1963. Of course, Denver moved on to Gilligan's Island, after a year's break, and cemented his iconic status. The gang got back together for a TV-movie several years later, with Dobie still trying to better himself while continuing to fend off Zelda, who was as interested in him as he was in Thalia Menninger (Tuesday Weld) in season 1. Another future Hollywood icon, Warren Beatty, co-starred in season 1 as well.

After sporting blond hair in season 1, Hickman dyed it black for the rest of the series. From season 4 comes "Vocal Boy Makes Good", in which Dobie is a temporary member of the Lettermen, as the vocal group are the special guest stars.

Currently, Me-TV holds the cable rights to the series. Not sure about other channels.

Rating: B.

On The Air: Let's Ask America (2012)

Most of the country hasn't seen the latest twist on a survey-driven game show. Luckily, GSN is doing something about it.

Let's Ask America allows contestants to play the game from the comfort of home, aided by a weblink between them and the studio. Kevin Pereira hosted the first two seasons, but apparently, Scripps and WB/Telepictures wanted a change, so ex-MTV personality Bill Bellamy, late of Mr. Box Office, will take over when season 3 begins next week. GSN has the reruns from the first two seasons currently running, with back-to-back episodes weekdays at noon (ET).

If it wasn't for GSN, you & I wouldn't even know this show exists, as it airs mostly in the midwest and selected southern and western states. No northeastern affiliates. Man, doesn't that suck?

Here's a sample episode:

Bellamy's got a tough act to follow. Rating: A.