Saturday, January 31, 2015

What Might've Been: The Young Ones (1982)

In the mid-80's, MTV began acquiring non-music series, such as England's Monty Python's Flying Circus and The Young Ones, for no other reason than perhaps some alleged genius decided at that point that there needed to be a change of format. Some might say the network jumped the shark at that point, because over the next 20 years, MTV began phasing out their on-camera talent (they have no VJ's these days), leaving them in the sorry state they're in now, with their slate full of reruns of 3rd party acquisitions and lame reality shows.

We're going to focus on The Young Ones, which, believe it or not, didn't last as long as you'd think it did. Only 12 episodes----2 6-episode seasons----were produced for BBC2 between 1982-4, and imported to MTV in 1985. The show gets its title from a record by British rock icon Cliff Richard and his group, the Shadows, with the cast performing a cover of said song. After the series ended, Nigel Planer (Neil) tried his hand at singing solo, doing a cover of "Hole in My Shoe", which gained some airplay on MTV after they acquired the series. Go figure.

Anyway, scope out the following video:

Apparently, the BBC felt this series was best enjoyed in small doses, but not enough people on either side of the pond were actually into the show after all. Here in the US, The Young Ones has aired on USA and Comedy Central after leaving MTV.

Rating: C.

Musical Interlude: Things Can Only Get Better (1985)

British singer Howard Jones scored a mammoth hit here in the States in the winter of 1985 with "Things Can Only Get Better". Hey, you can't go wrong with a Charlie Chaplin impersonator, plus a minor karate demonstration that goes hilariously bad.......

In terms of the weather here in the Northeast, it can get better. Just not right away, according to the forecasts.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

What Might've Been: Roll Out! (1973)

It wasn't long after M*A*S*H had become a big hit for CBS that the network and 20th Century Fox decided to create another military sitcom, this time set in WWII, with a decided African-American vibe.

Roll Out! aired on Friday nights, as I recall, during its one and only season, meaning it was airing opposite The Partridge Family, if memory serves, and that was in its final season. Stu Gilliam, Mel Stewart, Hilly Hicks, and Val Bisoglio led the ensemble cast.

For all intents & purposes, it was an African-American hybrid of M*A*S*H & You'll Never Get Rich (aka Sgt. Bilko). It failed because it was on the wrong night.

Bisoglio & Stewart would land other series gigs. In fact, Stewart came over from All In The Family, and would later co-star opposite Kate Jackson & Bruce Boxleitner in Scarecrow & Mrs. King. Bisoglio later landed a recurring role on Quincy.

Following is a sample clip:

A little bit of Bilko, a little McHale's Navy, and a little F-Troop, and they still couldn't get high ratings.

Rating: C+.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Musical Interlude: Too Hot To Stop (1986)

The Cars' Benjamin Orr spun off on his own and released the CD, "The Lace", in 1986. Two videos came from that album--the soft ballad, "Stay the Night", and the up-tempo, dance-floor-ready "Too Hot To Stop", a personal favorite of mine........

I don't quite get the space theme, but, well........

Monday, January 26, 2015

On The Air: Father Brown (2013)

I was doing some channel surfing Sunday night, nothing better to do, and happened across Father Brown on the local PBS station.

For those who don't know, Father Brown was the subject of a series of short stories written by British author G. K. Chesterton many years ago, and has been adapted into movies and television series prior to BBC One bringing the crime solving priest back in a new series in 2013. I have to believe that the Chesterton books were part of the inspiration behind the development of an American series some years back, The Father Dowling Mysteries, with Tom Bosley, Tracy Nelson, & Mary Wickes.

PBS and its member stations have mined the BBC for quite a few series over the years, most notably, Monty Python's Flying Circus, Doctor Who, and a good number of entries for Masterpiece Theatre (since shortened to Masterpiece), with Father Brown among the latest imports. Brown has slipped through the cracks, while the critics fawn over Downton Abbey, currently running on Masterpiece. It doesn't help that locally, the program airs at 6 pm (ET) at the moment on Sundays.

The first season is available on DVD, at least in England, and so this DVD trailer will have to suffice.

Good stuff. Good show.

Rating: A.

Joe Franklin (1926-2015)

Joe Franklin was a New York City institution.

That's about the best way you can describe Franklin, who passed away over the weekend at 88. Franklin, whose talk show aired mostly on WOR up until its end in 1993, had claimed to have conducted more than 4,000 interviews with celebrities, politicians, athletes, and regular folks. He also claims to have invented the talk show format, though that might be disputed.

Franklin was such an icon in New York that Billy Crystal, when he joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in the 80's, would do skits impersonating Franklin on the show, raising Franklin's profile even higher.

Following is a sample clip of The Joe Franklin Show:

Let's see if Jimmy Fallon and/or David Letterman salute Franklin on their shows later tonight. Rest in peace, Joe.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

What Might've Been: The Chuck Barris Rah Rah Show (1978)

The Gong Show, despite having ratings and/or schedule issues in some parts of the country, merited its first spin-off in the winter of 1977-8. Unfortunately, it only served as a vanity vehicle for host-producer Chuck Barris, more than anything else.

The Chuck Barris Rah Rah Show brought back past contestants from Gong, as well as some more serious acts. Frequent Gong panelist Jaye P. Morgan did some musical numbers from her cabaret act, but the show was on at the wrong time. On the wrong night. As a result, it was fed, if you will, to ABC's comedy juggernaut (i.e. Happy Days/LaVerne & Shirley), and done in a couple of months.

As Gong itself was a parody of The Original Amateur Hour, best remembered for its TV run, hosted by Ted Mack, Rah Rah, taped on the same stage, came across as a self-serving shrine to Barris. If any one person could "jump the shark", Barris did it here.

I never saw the show, so there won't be a rating, but Gilmore Box offers an open:

Note that the band, which was off to the side on Gong, was more front & center here. More's the pity.

Updated, 12/4/18: I've found a network promo for the debut. Voice-over by Hanna-Barbera's Don Messick in what was probably his only studio job for NBC.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Musical Interlude: Set Adrift on Memory Bliss (1991)

Remember PM Dawn? Prince Be and DJ Minute Mix released a few CDs in the 90's, then dropped out of sight before a greatest hits CD dropped in 2000.

Anyway, let's take you back to when it all began, back in 1991, with "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss", with a heapin' sample of Spandau Ballet's "True" in the backbeat. Dig it, yo'.

Ernie Banks (1931-2015)

I will admit I don't have any memory of seeing "Mr. Cub", Ernie Banks, play against the Mets at the end of his career. However, the Cubs could use a few more men like Banks to rejuvenate their current roster, as the Cubs have become near-perennial doormats in the National League Central.

Banks passed away Friday at 83. To honor his memory, I located a video montage of Banks hitting home run numbers 498-500.

I might've seen Banks at a few Mets Old Timer's Day events on TV, but that's about it.

Rest in peace, Mr. Cub. You've earned it.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Musical Interlude: Down Under (1981)

G'day, mate.

Australia's Men at Work charmed American audiences with their first album, "Business as Usual", released between 1981-2. The first two singles, "Who Can it be Now?" and "Down Under", received heavy airplay on MTV, and hit #1 on the charts.

"Down Under" has the band on a road trip, and we learn exactly what a vegemite sandwich is. We think.

Dunce Cap Award: Terry Hendrix

Mr. Hendrix is in a Colorado prison, but he's also a Dallas Cowboys fan, and, like the rest of Cowboy Nation, was upset with a controversial call that went against Dallas in the NFC Divisional Playoff against Green Bay nearly 2 weeks ago. You know the one, where Dez Bryant was denied a catch, just because, according to the NFL's current rulebook, he "didn't complete the process of a catch".

Hendrix, apparently speaking for Cowboys fans everywhere, filed a lawsuit on Thursday for $88 billion dollars, naming referee Gene Steratore, Director of Officiating Dean Blandino, and others, but, let's face it, this is the most frivolous suit ever filed. There is just no way Hendrix wins this case, claiming some sort of "injury" was done to the Cowboys. The only "injury" is that they were denied a spot in the NFC title game, ultimately won by Seattle.

Hey, all this guy's doing is getting his 15 minutes of fame, or infamy, take your pick, but if it wasn't for the newest scandal surrounding the AFC champion Patriots, this probably would've gotten more play than it has. Just the same, the cause Hendrix supports is a lost one. Small wonder, then, that he gets the Dunce Cap this week.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

What Might've Been: Flash Gordon (1954)

Alex Raymond's iconic comic strip, Flash Gordon, had successfully conquered movie screens in serials in the 30's. However, the first attempt to mount a live-action TV series based on the strip was produced overseas in 1954, and lasted just 1 season, failing to find enough viewers to warrant a second season. Then again, after Buster Crabbe had played the definitive Flash on the big screen, Steve Holland, cast for television, wasn't even close to matching.

From what I'd seen in a DVD sample a while back, the scripting was weak, and Holland and his co-stars had to make do. Small wonder, then, that Holland didn't headline another series after this. Scope out the open:

SyFy brought Gordon into primetime a few years back, but that didn't last too much longer. Seems the strip translated better in animated form (NBC, 1979, '81).

Rating: D.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Musical Interlude: Here it Comes (1992)

After the success of 3rd Bass' "Derelicts of Dialect", MC Serch ventured out on his own in the summer of 1992, and released a solo CD, "Return of the Product". Unfortunately, only the first single, "Here it Comes", managed to get any major airplay. Check it out.......

Hey, I can dig the use of old commercial jingles (Wisk, Jell-O) in the lyrics. Too bad there wasn't a follow-up.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What Might've Been: B. A. D. Cats (1980)

Even Aaron Spelling has produced a clunker or three.

In the winter of 1980, Spelling tried to grab a piece of the Dukes of Hazzard's audience with B. A. D. Cats, which was a melding of two earlier series, Mod Squad (3 cops, 2 guys and 1 girl) and Starsky & Hutch (a cool car and an African-American informant).

Asher Brauner came over from General Hospital for his only lead role, but the series is better remembered for one of the earliest roles of future Hollywood superstar Michelle Pfeiffer. Jimmie Walker (ex-Good Times) was plugged into the "Huggy Bear" spot as Rodney, an ex-con trying to go straight. LaWanda Page (ex-Sanford & Son) turned up as the owner of a neighborhood bar. Whodathunk? 10 episodes were produced, but only six aired before ABC gave up.

Scope the open:

No rating. We watched the Dukes at my house back then.

Sports this 'n' that

Baseball is still a month away from spring training, but the biggest news came from the reigning National League East champion Washington Nationals on Monday, when they signed former Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer away from Detroit, reuniting Scherzer with former teammate Doug Fister. Figure that GM Mike Rizzo is another easy mark for the world's greediest agent, Scott Boras, who represents Scherzer. Scherzer gives Washington a formidible rotation that is now 7 men deep when you factor in returnees Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, and Fister, plus Tanner Roark and Ross Detwiler. However, there are also reports that the Nats are open to trading Strasburg, another Boras client, away. That would rank right up there with some of the bonehead moves of all time, in this writer's opinion. Yes, Strasburg has had injury issues, but you'd be better served if you're Nats manager Matt Williams and/or Rizzo to have some insurance in case one of the others is injured. Just sayin'.

A month ago, Troy High's women's basketball team was off to a terrible start, winning just 2 of their first 7 games. However, they've reeled off 8 wins in a row headed into a rematch tonight vs. Albany, which won the last two Big 10 titles before that league folded. The Lady Falcons have won at least 5 in a row from Troy. and looking to make it 6 tonight. The boys of Albany, though, are so bad (How bad are they?), the women would beat them in a scrimmage with ease. Going into tonight's game vs. Troy, the Falcons have won just 1 game this season, while Troy has won 4 in a row.

Also, The Record gave Friday's Troy-LaSalle game just 3 short paragraphs, and didn't even mention the knee injury sustained by star guard Zach Radz in Sunday's editions. Well, I didn't see any TV cameras or photographers, and there was someone with a video camera, likely a parent, during the JV game.........

Should it surprise anyone that there's a controversy surrounding the New England Patriots in the wake of another blowout win over Indianapolis? Hmmm, well, of course not. The NFL is conducting an investigation into the possibility that someone on the Patriots bench, likely an unpaid underling who can be thrown under the bus, just like Spygate, deflated some balls during Sunday's game, as if New England really needed to go there.

Not that it's going to matter, anyway. Seattle will become the 1st team since the Pats to repeat come February 1. 'Nuff said.

However, the NFL cannot just fine the Pats and take away draft picks. That amounts to a slap on the wrist and a warning. Chump change. Instead, bar them from the draft for the next 2 years, and reduce their home schedule down to 3 divisional games, plus 1 selected patsy (Washington, anyone?), and send them on the road for 12 instead of 8. If you've got any other ideas, just let me know, okay?

And, then, there are rumors linking "Wisteria" Lane Kiffin to an offensive coordinator's job with, I believe, San Francisco, after 1 year at Alabama? Part of the reason Kiffin was sacked at USC in 2012 was because a student manager got caught deflating balls vs. Oregon, which hardly mattered at the end, as the Ducks won that game. Kiffin tried to deny having anything to do with it, but that, apparently, amounted to crying wolf.

Would someone please give syndicated columnist and ESPN announcer Norman "Dangling" Chad comedy lessons? His column, appearing Tuesdays in most places, is about as amusing as watching grass grow. In the Sahara.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Celebrity Rock: South Rampart Street Parade (1967)

In doing some recent reading on Hogan's Heroes, I had discovered that some of the cast had recorded an album of covers of WWII songs. I just hope that turns up on CD somewhere. Anyway, series star Bob Crane was also quite the drummer. Perhaps not quite on the level of, say, Buddy Rich, but Crane did take advantage of his success with Hogan to bring his other interest to the fore.

Here, Bob appears on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, pounding a beat on "South Rampart Street Parade", in this episode from 1967. Tom Smothers provides the intro, as it was presented some 30 years or so later on E!:

When we get around to Christmas again, I have to pull up a clip from The Hollywood Palace of Werner Klemperer & John Banner dueting on a Austrian language rendition of "Silent Night". I promise, you'll love it.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

On DVD: Vendetta For The Saint (1969)

During the final season of The Saint, the series adapted Leslie Charteris & Harry Harrison's 1964 novel, Vendetta For The Saint (credited solely to Charteris, but ghost-written for the most part by Harrison), into a 2-part episode, which was later molded together into a feature film, and, as such, can not only be found in a DVD compilation of the series itself, but as a stand-alone DVD.

Simon Templar (Roger Moore) is on vacation in Italy when he witnesses a confrontation between two men, and thus is thrust into a war with the Mafia. Here's the trailer:

Ironically, Ian Hendry would later succeed Moore as Templar in Return of the Saint a few years later.

Rating: B.

Musical Interlude: Kung Fu Fighting (2008)

From the movie, "Kung Fu Panda", comes a remake of Carl Douglas' 1-hit wonder, "Kung Fu Fighting". This time, Cee-Lo Green, 1/2 of Gnarls Barkley, sings, with backing vocals by the film's lead star, Jack Black, 1/2 of Tenacious D. Maybe they should've billed themselves as Tenacious Barkley, or something. Black doesn't sing on camera, but instead is shown doing some martial arts training, suggesting that there was some motion capture involved with his characterization as the title character........

A full review of "Kung Fu Panda" can be found over at my other blog, Saturday Morning Archives.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Classic TV: Tattletales (1974)

After He Said, She Said bit the dust, Mark Goodson & Bill Todman dusted off the concept in 1974, this time for CBS, and under a new title, Tattletales.

As before there would be three celebrity couples, but this time, each had a section of the studio audience that would have a "money stake" on the outcome of the day's game. Actor Bert Convy served as host for both incarnations of the series (it was brought back in 1982 for a brief run). Personally, the best part of the show was the jazzy theme song.

Anyway, let's scope out a sample episode, as Convy welcomes Allen Ludden (Password) & Betty White (The Mary Tyler Moore Show), Bill & Anne Cullen, and Chuck Woolery (a year away from Wheel of Fortune) and Jo Ann Pflug (ex-Fantastic Four).

Oh, this was so much fun to watch during summer break from school, let me tell you.

Rating: A.

In the end, it was just another night

If it hasn't sunk in yet at LaSalle and/or Troy High that Friday's basketball game between the two schools would be the last regular season meeting, due to them going to different leagues next season, it probably will when the school year is over.

The local press virtually whiffed on this plot point, if you will. The Record & the Albany Times-Union didn't list the game on their schedules for Friday, although there was a mention in the latter paper in a separate article. Today's Times-Union provided only a box score, with the game recap likely reserved for their website. We'll know by tomorrow if The Record, which shares printing space with the Times-Union, follows suit.

The house wasn't quite full at McCornick Hall, but the LaSalle fans were loud in support of the hosts. Then again, the acoustics in the gym aren't that good, when the tacky buzzer is jacked up to about 12, louder than it has any right to. Having been at Troy and Times-Union Center for games, I can tell the difference.

Anyway, Troy led virtually the entire game, even after senior star Zach Radz went down with a knee injury just before halftime. Radz bravely tried to continue, checking back in with about two minutes left in the 3rd quarter, but sat out the 4th. Radz was held to two 3-point goals, while teammates Dyaire Holt & Maurice Watson each had 20 to lead Troy. Joe Germinerio, who transferred from Troy after the 2013 football season, led all scorers with 24, but ran into foul trouble in the 2nd half, and was pulled with 2 minutes left in regulation. Even with Troy pulling away, LaSalle still had a chance, but couldn't take a chance on Germinerio fouling out with the game on the line. Troy extends its winning streak to 4 after they closed 2014 with 4 straight losses.

When I paid my admission, I had mentioned to the ticket-takers that this was the end of an era. The response was, well, they accepted the reality of it, but had no real idea that, unless the two schools can schedule each other in at least 1 non-league game a year going forward, this was it. LaSalle will play in the Colonial Council next season, while Troy moves to the tougher Suburban Council. Their last test vs. a Suburban team will be against Bethlehem in approximately 2 weeks.

Right now, reviving the in-city basketball tournament at the start of the season is still very appealing. It's just a matter of whether or not the athletic directors at the 4 schools (Troy, LaSalle, Catholic Central, Lansingburgh) can agree on it. For the sake of the city, and the schools' alumni, they should.

Friday, January 16, 2015

What Might've Been: Matt Helm (1975)

If you only know of Matt Helm from the campy adaptations of Donald Hamilton's novels that starred Dean Martin in the 60's, you probably never saw an updated version which surfaced on ABC in 1975.

Tony Franciosa (ex-The Name of the Game) was cast as Helm, now retired from the spy business and working as a private eye. In short, it was a by-the-numbers detective drama of the day, and ABC already had plenty of those. Helm was in a troublesome spot on Saturday nights, airing opposite The Carol Burnett Show after a pilot film aired in May that brought big ratings. Sam Rolfe, who had developed shows such as Man From U.N.C.L.E. for MGM, served in the same capacity for Columbia Pictures Television (now Sony Pictures Television) on this series.

After Helm was cancelled, it would take almost a decade for Franciosa to land another series, and that, too, lasted 1 season (Finder of Lost Loves).

The Rap Sheet uploaded the open:

No rating.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Musical Interlude: Cruel to be Kind (1979)

If you were around at the dawn of MTV, chances are you saw this next video in heavy rotation, though it was 2 years old.

Nick Lowe's "Cruel to be Kind" gained a whole new audience thanks to the then-fledgling channel, after peaking at #12 on the US & British pop charts.

An era is ending, but shouldn't

On Tuesday night, Troy High's women's basketball team avenged an earlier loss to Catholic Central on the latter's home court. I am not sure, however, that the players were aware that this would be the last time the two schools would play each other in a regular season game.

In today's edition of The Record, it was reported that, as had been speculated, Troy will play in the Suburban Council next season, while Catholic Central will be in the Colonial Council. Cross-town rival LaSalle joins the Crusaders in the Colonial, which now has 3 of Troy's 5 high schools, counting the women-only Emma Willard School, which plays in a different league. Troy will be joined in jumping into the Suburban by Christian Brothers Academy, Albany High, & Schenectady High.

This marks Friday's rematch in boys' basketball between Troy & LaSalle as the last meeting between those two schools as well. While Troy Athletic Director Paul Reinisch, a CBA graduate, talked about the Suburban being a geographical fit, it really isn't. The closest schools to Troy in the league would be Shaker (Latham), Averill Park, &  Columbia (East Greenbush). They would retain the long running league rivalries with CBA, Albany, & Schenectady, but for fans yearning for the continuance of games vs. LaSalle and/or Catholic Central, right now, they're S-O-L. The reports are that neither the Colonial nor the Suburban has enough wiggle room for non-league games that would allow for the traditional rivalries to continue unabated. With 4 new teams, the Suburban, already one of the biggest leagues around, expands to 16 teams, to be split into two or four divisions, which will be decided upon soon, perhaps as early as a league meeting later this month.

My personal feelings remain the same. While Troy vs. Shaker or Shenendehowa in the regular season has appeal the first time around, for novelty's sake, the Flying Horses will be the odd team out in the home town, with LaSalle, CCHS, & Lansingburgh all in the Colonial. All of those schools are accessible within city limits by bus. You'd need 2 buses to get to Albany High, for example, but for everyone else in the Suburban, you need a car.

Not that I'd need to do this again, but I feel even more strongly than before that the home town needs the revival of an in-city high school hoops tournament involving the 4 schools (with Emma Willard replacing LaSalle in a women's tournament). As the traditional rivalries between Troy and LaSalle and CCHS are fading away, it is time for the ADs at each school to consider the prospect of a pre-season, 2-night tournament. I don't think it'd be too much to ask Hudson Valley Community College, virtually a next-door neighbor to LaSalle (actually across the street), to host the event unless the high schools can rotate hosting duties. I personally think it's possible. The question is, do they?

Weasel of the Week: Vince McMahon

Vince McMahon has long claimed that WWE has no competition. Fans of TNA, Ring of Honor, and independent promotions in general tend to disagree. So, if McMahon doesn't see any competition, why in the blue hizell is he trying to stop independents from running shows in the general area where Wrestlemania 31 is set to take place this spring?

The "Show of shows" is set for Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Ca., home to the San Francisco 49ers of the NFL, on April 5. In recent years, ROH and others have booked shows on the weekend of Wrestlemania, particularly ROH the last two years. What McMahon wants to do is make sure his company has the terrain all to itself that weekend. Legally, I can't see how he can, since he'd be opening himself up to lawsuits charging unlawful restraint of trade, a charge that could be applied in any number of WWE storylines in recent years because of corrupt administrators abusing authority without reprisals.

But, the news is already out there that this is exactly what the insane Chairman/CEO wants to do. He fails to realize that the independents working that weekend are making themselves available to be scouted for future signings with WWE. After all, it is the exposure that ROH had in New York & New Orleans the last two springs that led to Kevin Steen signing last year, and changing his ring name to Kevin Owens for copyright reasons. WWE has signed a number of wrestlers from ROH since 2005 (CM Punk, now with UFC, was the first), and has 4 (Steen, Daniel Bryan, Cesaro, & Seth Rollins) on their rosters presently.

What McMahon is deathly afraid of, obviously, is being shown up by ROH and others yet again on what is supposed to be the biggest weekend of the year for his company. The growing chorus of critics knows that as he approaches 70, McMahon isn't the creative genius he once was, and they point to recent promos he's written for a rising star like Roman Reigns.

Let's bottom line it. Time has passed Vincent K. McMahon by, but as long as he remains comfortable in his bubble universe, where he can recycle the same stale reams over and over again, he's going to continue to lose viewers, who are losing patience with his product. Instead of being the lead villains, Triple H & Stephanie should be the official corporate faces of the company, benevolent instead of bullying in front of the cameras. The act is tired, stale, and needs to be expunged. The only way to do that, and send a message to everyone else, is to force McMahon, this week's Weasel, into retirement, kicking & screaming. I hear Bellevue is calling.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Classic Reborn: Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

Star Trek's loyal, devoted fanbase was rewarded during the 80's.

Reruns of the original series, airing in syndication in the 70's, led Paramount to relaunch it as a series of feature films. Three of those movies were in the books, and reaping big bucks at the box office, before the studio decided to create a new Trek, more than 20 years after the Enterprise's initial mission had begun.

Star Trek: The Next Generation not only outlasted the original Trek, but achieved iconic status of its own, such that there would be a couple of feature films, and another series, spinning out of this show.

Patrick Stewart was cast as Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, the commander of a reincarnation of the old Enterprise, but much larger in size, enough to hold an entire community. Advances in real-life technology allowed for the introduction of new additions, such as the holodeck, where crew members could live out their own personal fantasies. For example, Picard would use the holodeck to play out the role of private investigator Dixon Hill.

The success of Next Generation was such that when Deep Space Nine was launched a few years later, cast members Colm Meaney (O'Brien) and Michael Dorn (Worf) were spun off to the new show. Today, Next Generation remains a cable fixture, airing on BBC America, among others, on a daily basis. Sadly, the three series that have followed (Deep Space Nine, Voyager, & Enterprise) are all in the Paramount vaults.

Hulu has made season 1 available for everyone, but you have to have Hulu Plus for the rest of the series. Methinks this season 1 entry might be a nod to The Untouchables as well as a classic Trek from another generation......

Rating: A.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What Might've Been: The Smothers Brothers Show (1965)

Here's another fantasy sitcom from the freshman class of 1965.

The Smothers Brothers might be better known for their controversial comedy-variety show that followed in 1967, but they tried a straight-up sitcom, also for CBS, in '65. In this show, Dick is an executive for a magazine. Tom was lost at sea, and resurfaces as an apprentice angel (think along the lines of "It's a Wonderful Life"), whose attempts at good deeds end up in disaster, forcing Dick to cover and clean up the mess.

The Smothers Brothers Show, produced by Four Star as one of the studio's last entries for CBS, was last seen on Nick at Nite during the network's early days in the 80's. Gilmore Box offers up a sample clip, leading up to the open, with Tom & Dick singing the title song.

Following the legendary cancellation of their variety show, the Smothers Brothers would get one more series opportunity, this time for NBC, with Fitz & Bones, a comedy-adventure series in the 80's.

No rating.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Musical Interlude: The Doctor (1989)

The Doobie Brothers returned in 1989 after a lengthy hiatus. Like, did you really think they would actually break up? Anyway, original lead singer Tom Johnston returned to the fold, after Michael McDonald had left to begin a successful solo career.

Here's the Doobies, with the first single for Capitol, "The Doctor":

Football this 'n' that

It surprises no one that the New England Patriots are not being wholly celebrated for pulling out an obscure---as in, hasn't been used in eons----play to befuddle Baltimore Ravens defenders and game officials on Saturday. I didn't see the game at all, not a single highlight, but what I take from it is that the Pats' detractors will, as per usual, see some reason to villify the AFC East champs based on their reputation alone.

Rather than describe what I didn't see, let me just say this. The game officials, as noted, were caught off guard just as much as the Ravens were, and it took the league office to clarify the legality of the play the morning after. Oh, sure, some will claim. The league has a vested interest because of the fact that the Patriots are being protected at all costs. If New England gets past Indianapolis, which defeated Denver and an ailing Peyton Manning on Sunday, they won't beat the NFC champion, likely Seattle.

The controversy surrounding the Pats overshadowed the Seahawks' 31-17 win over Carolina later in the night, and that was more fun because of the athleticism of Seahawks defensive back Kam Chancellor. Before a game clinching 90 yard interception return for a TD, Chancellor, taking his cue from division rival St. Louis, hurdled the Panthers' offensive line in an attempt to block a field goal try by Graham Gano. Carolina was called for a false start, and pushed back 5 yards, negating a successful kick. Chancellor hurdled the line again and this time barely grazed the ball, which sailed wide left. However, this time, Chancellor was called for going offside, mistiming his advance. Gano ultimately nailed the 3rd attempt, leaving the Panthers down 14-10 at halftime. It'd be the closest they'd get.

Last month, the Rams did the same thing against the Giants, and succeeded with the blocked kick on the first try. No flags. Did Fox announcers Kevin Burkhardt & John Lynch remember that play? Nope.

The Colts played a brilliant defensive game against former teammate Manning and the Broncos, but, yep, that was overshadowed, too. This time, it was a little karmic justice being issued to the Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay. Replays show that Dallas receiver Dez Bryant was ruled down at the 2 yard line, even though Bryant extended his arm to allow the ball to rest just on the fringe of the goal line. Turned out that Bryant had lost control of the ball long enough for the catch to be nullified. Ballgame over, as it was on 4th down. Aaron Rodgers, doing his best Willis Reed impersonation, lives on to fight another day, though it's likely his season will end in Seattle.

Tonight sees the end of the college football season, which now is threatening to match the length of the NFL season. It was better when it was a 10-11 game schedule, bowl included. However, television has made it such that the college schedules are getting longer, the better to prepare the players for the NFL. Still, too  many kids are declaring too early for the draft. It isn't that they're physically ready. In the cases of Jameis Winston & Johnny Manziel in particular, it's a lack of maturity, trumped by the lure of big bucks.

That said, Marcus Mariota, a junior QB at Oregon, likely will play his last game tonight, as the first College Football Playoff championship goes to Oregon. Too bad most of the country won't see the ending, since the game will finish after midnight in the east.

I'm making it official now. Colts vs. Seahawks in the Super Bowl.

If Bill Belichick thought he was rid of Rex Ryan, think again. Ryan has signed on as Buffalo's new coach, replacing Doug Marrone, who bailed after 2 seasons due to the sale of the Bills to the Pegulas, also the owners of the NHL Sabres. Now all Rex and every other coach in the league needs is to hire private investigators to prove that the Patriots are up to something shady.

Well, it could be worse. It could come out that Vince McMahon might have a stake in the Patriots. Belichick has been painted as being Vince's kind of guy, after all.

And if that happens to be true (though I doubt it), don't say I didn't warn you.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

What Might've Been: My Mother The Car (1965)

Fantasy sitcoms were the rage in the 60's. 1965 saw the debuts of not only I Dream of Jeannie, which lasted 5 seasons, but also My Mother The Car, also for NBC, which has been ranked as one of the worst sitcoms of all time.

Lawyer Dave Crabtree (Jerry Van Dyke) buys and restores an antique Porter, then discovers that the car talks. Specifically, his late mother, Gladys (Ann Sothern), has been reincarnated as the car. Now, that does stretch things, doesn't it? Sure, it does. Gladys will only talk to her son, not any of his family, but Dave ends up spending much of the season seeing to it that the vehicle doesn't fall into the hands of a fanatical collector, Captain Manzini (Avery Schreiber).

Series creators Allan Burns & Chris Hayward had also worked on The Munsters, Get Smart, and Rocky & His Friends. Smart was also part of the freshman class of '65. Seems Mother ended up with a creative dunce cap by comparison. Hayward would later write and produce episodes of Barney Miller. Burns also found later success elsewhere.

Right now, we have the open & close for the pilot.

Never saw the show. No rating.

Dynasty Pro Wrestling @ Troy Boys & Girls Club, January 10

Pro wrestling returned to my hometown of Troy, NY on January 10 with the return of Dynasty Pro Wrestling at the Troy Boys & Girls Club. The first Troy show in October drew roughly 100 people or so. This time, the number, I'd venture to say, tripled, maybe quadrupled, due to headliner Tommy Dreamer.

Ring announcer Matthew James barely started with the necessary pre-show announcements when Vik Dalishus, the lone champion of the last indy promotion in the city, came out wearing a white 2-piece jumpsuit. In true heel fashion, Dalishus claimed he returned for our benefit. He noted, accurately, that he'd been the champion of the defunct Ultimate Wrestling East for 787 days, referencing the promotion's original name, 787 Pro Wrestling. He challenged promoter Chris Envy to find someone to challenge him before the end of the night.

1. Travis Dorian (w/Mr. Mann) vs. Shady.

It looked like a TV squash. Dorian dominated, but just when he thought he had the match won, Shady reversed the pin and picked up the win. Think Razor Ramon vs. 1-2-3 Kid back in '93.

Winner: Shady.

Post-match, Dorian laid out Shady, and made the ref raise his hand.

2. House of Hardcore invitational triple threat: Fungus vs. C. J. Mira vs. Ben Ortiz.

James garbled Mira's name. Ortiz was one of the guys who worked the UWE/787 promotion during its 6 momths of existence 2 years ago. Fungus, an African-American wearing a green feathered robe, got some attention from the ringsiders, but not enough. Ortiz destroyed them both, and finished Mira with a reverse T-bone suplex. Taz would be proud.

Winner: Ben Ortiz.

Color commentator Fenris Fortune left the desk, attempting to do an interview with Tommy Dreamer. He heeled the crowd, saying he was going to interview Raven, but of course Raven wasn't there. Dreamer acknowledged that "without Raven, there is no Tommy Dreamer". Respect, man. Dreamer issued an open challenge of his own, and Foxx Vinyer answered for the main event.

3. The Monarchy (William King & Zachary Pierre Beaulieu w/Marshall McNeil) vs. Kyle Brad & Chuck Deep.

Brad & Deep were billed as the "Hometown Heroes", even though Brad has previously been billed as hailing from NYC. The Monarchy were the UWE/787 tag champs, and never lost those belts. Maybe another day. McNeil, like Mr. Mann, is another Bobby Heenan/Johnny Valiant wannabe with all the charisma of a broken toothpick. Good back & forth match, ending when Brad, not the legal man, reverse positions with King, leaving King to eat a double-foot stomp from Beaulieu, who was subsequently schoolboyed by Deep.

Winners: Kyle Brad & Chuck Deep.

Post-match, South Philly's Finest attacked the winners. Brad Wesley, a friend of Deep's, hit the ring to make the save, then, while Brad had his back turned, Wesley turned on Deep and laid him out. Brad chased the ungrateful Wesley out.

4. Captain Wayno (w/Travis Dorian & Mr. Mann) vs. Alden Andrews.

Matt James garbled another name. Wayno was a face last time, but now is working a Eugene-esque gimmick (think summer 2004) where he's been led astray by Mann & Dorian. He also has a "squshie" doll, kinda like George Steele's "Mine" in the late 80's. Andrews slapped the doll halfway up the bleachers, and Wayno went off, finishing him with a reverse falcon arrow.

Winner: Captain Wayno.

5. Dalton Castle vs. Sean Burke.

Castle is a local radio personality who recently worked the Ring of Honor tapings for the Top Prospect tournament, so his name will appear here again soon. They stalled for time with some comedy to start, but then they got down to business. A wee bit sloppy, but they picked up the intensity. Castle won with a German suplex & bridge.

Winner: Dalton Castle.

6. Ultimate Wrestling East title: Vik Dalishus vs. "The Real" (Rob Coleman).

Dalishus came back out after the last match, now with an African-American valet and a crown of thorns. The blasphemy of the latter didn't generate enough heat. Dalishus & Coleman met 2 years ago, starting a storyline that now is reaching its conclusion with UWE having folded in the interim. Dalishus used a cannonball for 2, a wrecking ball for 2, but couldn't close the deal. Coleman came back with a splash and a wrecking ball of his own, the finished it with a swank T-bone suplex. The title finally comes home. "The Real" was Coleman's nickname all along.

Winner & new champion: Rob Coleman.

7. Alexis Neveaah vs. Davienne.

Women's action in this venue for the first time since 2011. If you've never seen her, Alexis is a trim, fit, blonde bundle of energy. Another back & forth match. At the end, Davienne argued with the ref over a count, and Alexis hit a schoolgirl rollup for the pin.

Winner: Alexis Neveaah.

8. Hardcore rules: Tommy Dreamer vs. Foxx Vinyer.

This was the match they all wanted to see. A local hero vs. a hardcore legend. Westchester County vs. Upstate (Vinyer has been alternately billed as being from Watervliet or Troy). Oh, this was fun. Dreamer borrowed a crutch, a water bottle, and a cane. The barricade came into play. So did a chair or two. Dreamer went for the evenflow DDT, but Vinyer slid out of the way, and Dreamer landed back first on the chair. Dreamer hit all of his spots, but no Dreamer Driver on this night. He finally landed the DDT to end the party.

Winner: Tommy Dreamer.

Next show is set for April 4, site TBA.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Classic TV (?): The Liars' Club (1969)

1969 might be a year that Rod Serling would like to forget.

The mastermind behind The Twilight Zone had branched out. He'd written the screenplay a year earlier for the original adaptation of "Planet of the Apes", and before the Zone-esque Night Gallery bowed on NBC, Serling tried his hand with a different kind of drama, developing The New People for ABC and producers Aaron Spelling & Danny Thomas (their last collaboration). People, some now say, was a precursor of a sort to the more recent Lost, but lasted just 1 season.

On the other hand, Serling also took a chance on being-----wait for it-----a game show host. I've wasted the opportunity to invoke any Zone-isms in the description, so let's just jump into it. Serling was tapped by producer Ralph Andrews (You Don't Say) to host The Liars' Club, in which a celebrity panel would describe various oddball items. Contestants had to discern who was telling the truth. Sort of like To Tell The Truth, but in reverse.

Unfortunately, Liars' Club lasted just the one season with Serling, who moved on to Night Gallery and narrating The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau soon after. Liars' Club, however, was reopened in 1976 for a 3 year run, with actor Larry Hovis (ex-Hogan's Heroes) not only as a regular panelist, but as a producer. We'll cover that period another time. I never saw any of the Serling episodes, but we'll put one up, sans closing credits, for your perusal.

If it were to be revived today, I'd say it'd be on Comedy Central, wouldn't ya think?

Friday, January 9, 2015

Football this 'n' that

In a move that shocks absolutely no one, Florida State QB Jameis Winston declared for the NFL Draft on Wednesday, six days after the Seminoles were routed by Oregon at the Rose Bowl.

Personally, I think Winston's making a mistake. He's fallen into the same trap as others before him, including Cleveland QB and fellow Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. Specifically, he let the success he enjoyed as a freshman go to his head, and his off-field antics, sometimes still on campus, demonstrate a lack of maturity. Character issues like that will not guarantee that Winston will be a high 1st round pick. There's still the specter of allegations of sexual assault against a fellow FSU student, who now is threatening a lawsuit against the university. For all of his talent, Winston is not 100% ready for the NFL. Period.

Tampa Bay, which has the #1 pick, would be better served going with Oregon's Marcus Mariota, especially if the Ducks beat Ohio State for the national title on Monday, or addressing another need altogether. They don't need the media circus that Winston would bring.

Here's a thought. Why not lure Tim Tebow back from broadcasting, and let him be the QB for Tampa Bay?

NFL picks for this week:

Ravens over the Patriots. The Evil Empire of the NFL must fall, and Joe Flacco & the Ravens have beaten Crybaby Brady's bunch @ Foxborough twice. Few teams can actually say they did that.

Seahawks over Panthers. I disagree with the point spread, since the idiot oddsmakers forgot that Seattle failed to cover the last time these two teams met.

Packers over Cowboys. The only way Dallas continues its road winning streak is if Aaron Rodgers' injured calf gets worse. Hans & Franz won't be available to help.

Broncos over Colts. 2nd of 2 rematches this week (Seahawks-Panthers is the other). Same result. Maybe as a gesture of goodwill, Peyton Manning can treat his former mates to pizza after the game.

The Giants dismissed defensive coordinator Perry "Heavy" Fewell after the defense was among the worst in the league this year. Defense is Rex Ryan's bag. Why not bring him in, if you can't bring back Steve Spagnuolo? That way, you have a coach-in-waiting if ownership finally decides to cut Tom Coughlin after next season.

We think Oregon will, in fact, win the College Football Playoff on Monday, and we see this being another high scoring affair. We also recommend that ESPN should reconsider the starting time. I get that it's all about milking ad dollars, but if you want the next generation of kids to play the game, you're better served with a 7:30 (ET) kickoff. Period.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Classic TV: The Millionaire (1955)

Have you ever received any amount of money from a stranger you'd never met?

In essence, this was the premise behind The Millionaire, which lasted 5 1/2 seasons on CBS (1955-60). The concept revolved around a reclusive millionaire, John Beresford Tipton (voiced by Paul Frees, who went uncredited), who sent his executive secretary, Michael Anthony (Marvin Miller), out to deliver cashiers' checks of $1,000,000 each to various individuals that Tipton had never met. Tipton was heard, but never completely seen, by the viewers during the course of the series.

The series was a staple of syndication, at least in New York, during the 70's, as WOR used it to fill time after movies or Mets games. In recent years, the program has resurfaced sporadically on cable, on Me-TV, TV Land, and other networks.

Right now, here's a sample episode, with guest star Betty White, who had been under contract to producer Don Fedderson's production company at the time.

We previously covered this series over at Saturday Morning Archives due to Miller & Frees' extensive backgrounds in voice work. CBS wanted to revive the series in the 80's, but it didn't get past the pilot stage.

Rating: A.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Musical Interlude: Centuries (2014)

If you've been watching ESPN/ABC's college football coverage during bowl season, you've probably had Fall Out Boy's current hit, "Centuries", drummed into your brain. WWE also used it earlier for the 15th anniversary episode of Smackdown.

While I'm not sure of the exact religious faith of frontman Pete Wentz or any of the other band members, the use of Biblical themes, such as David vs. Goliath, drives the video. I'll forgive them for hiring an African-American to portray Jesus. Some wiseguy in Hollywood might offer Dwayne Johnson that gig down the line, and use this video as inspiration........

On The Air: Agent Carter (2015)

ABC & Marvel Comics are giving Agents of SHIELD a little winter vacation this month & next. Filling the void is Agent Carter, which is spun off from the first 2 Captain America movies. In fact, Cap himself (Chris Evans) appears in flashbacks during the first hour.

ABC decided to take advantage of a Flash rerun on CW to air back-to-back episodes of Agent Carter, leading into a teaser for "Ant-Man", which hits multiplexes in July. More on that later. However, maybe that was a little bit too much for one night.

Margaret "Peggy" Carter (Hayley Atwell, reprising from the movies) is still in mourning over the seeming death of her boyfriend, Steve Rogers, aka Capt. America. However, her superiors don't think she can handle field duty, and keep her busy with menial tasks. That is, until word gets out that Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper, reprising from "Iron Man" & "Captain America") is being branded a traitor because some of his inventions have fallen into the wrong hands. Stark heads overseas to try to find some of the missing inventions, leaving Carter stateside with Stark's butler, Edwin Jarvis (James D'Arcy), and her own devices, particularly, a talent for disguise.

Agent Carter, while set in post-WWII America, is the first comics-related series in nearly 40 years to be set in what amounts to comics' Golden Age. The other? The first season of Wonder Woman, which also aired on ABC at the time. Before we go any further, let's give you a taste.......

Carter & Jarvis work well together, and in a reversal of England's iconic Avengers of the 60's, Jarvis is married, but I get the feeling we'll see Mrs. Jarvis ere long, if at all, kept in the dark about Edwin's new side gig. I also get the feeling that Agent Thompson (Chad Michael Murray, ex-One Tree Hill) will not only finally come around to Carter as an adept field agent, but there might some stirring of emotions, too. Just a guess.

Of course, I could be wrong.

"Ant-Man", starring Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, the character introduced in the late 70's, and Michael Douglas, looks promising as another summer sleeper, like "Guardians of the Galaxy" last year. That's more than I can say for the reboot of "Fantastic Four", but we've already gone over that atrocity...........!

Rating: B+.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

What Might've Been: Mr. Box Office (2012)

In 2012, entertainer-turned-mogul Byron Allen (ex-Real People) decided to branch out his into more of a legit production company. The first fruits were a trio of scripted series, only one of which remains in production as of press time, and that is Justice For All With Cristina Perez (previously reviewed).

Mr. Box Office was 1/2 of a hour-long syndicated comedy block that had a floating weekend timeslot, depending on where you lived. A hot star (Bill Bellamy, formerly of MTV and Fastlane) is sentenced by a judge to be a high school teacher for a misdemeanor. Meanwhile, his agent (Jon Lovitz, ex-Newsradio, The Critic) is trying to get him back on track. Viveca A. Fox & Tim Meadows co-star. Here's the open.

What we saw didn't impress us, and currently, Centric has the cable rights. It appears the series is out of production.

Rating: C.

Monday, January 5, 2015

On The Air: Catch a Contractor (2014)

Before embarking on a successful career in show business, Adam Carolla was a carpenter. The comedian & radio personality returns to his roots in a Spike TV reality series, Catch a Contractor, which launched last spring.

Working with a pair of detectives, Carolla (ex-The Man Show) locates shady contractors who've fleeced clients. The format is similar to MTV's now defunct Bully Beatdown, except there's no violence involved. Well, that's the intent, anyway. Carolla doubles as one of several executive producers for the show, at least as listed in the credits. The show was so popular at its launch that Spike expanded it from a half-hour to a full hour for the 2nd "season" in the fall.

Speaking of the 2nd season, here's a sample clip:

Good stuff, but unfortunately, Viacom was hit with a lawsuit earlier this year due to a crew botching a clean-up job. It may only be a mere pothole in terms of the series' longevity.

Rating: A.

Stuart Scott (1965-2015)

He was, in his own words, "as cool as the other side of the pillow".

Stuart Scott infused ESPN's SportsCenter with some hip-hop attitude when he joined the network's franchise program in the 90's, and phrases such as the one quoted above and "Holla at a playa when you see him in the street" made him a fan favorite.

In 2007, Scott was diagnosed with cancer of the abdomen after he had been pulled from an assignment on Monday Night Football for an emergency appendectomy. The disease went into remission twice before it finally claimed Scott over the weekend at 49.

Last summer, Scott was honored at the ESPY Awards with the "Jimmy V Perseverance Award", named for Jim Valvano, the North Carolina State basketball coach who succumbed to cancer. Following is the ceremony and a speech by Scott, with an introduction by Kiefer Sutherland.

Fellow anchor Hannah Storm, and Sunday NFL Countdown panelists Tom Jackson & Keyshawn Johnson broke down & wept on the air on Sunday. It's hard to imagine any dry eyes at the funeral.

Rest in peace, Stuart.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Donna Douglas (1933-2015)

Well, it didn't take long for the celebrity trifecta of deaths to complete this week, didn't it now?

Word has come across the wires that Donna Douglas, who was sweet, innocent Elly May on The Beverly Hillbillies, the peak of an acting career that included a movie with Elvis Presley and a memorable appearance on The Twilight Zone, passed away Thursday at 81. Her passing leaves Max Baer, Jr. (Jethro) as the last member of the core cast still with us.

Here's a clip from her appearance on The Twilight Zone.

Rest in peace, Donna.

Classic TV: McMillan & Wife (1971)

It just happens to be a coincidence that Me-TV recently acquired a 2nd component of the former NBC Mystery Movie. Sure, Columbo's been a Sunday fixture for a while now, but as of January 1, viewers will spend some of their late nights with McMillan & Wife, a lighter crime drama that was Leonard Stern's 1st entry for Universal after moving his Talent Associates studio under the Universal banner.

Film star Rock Hudson was cast as San Francisco police commissioner Stewart McMillan, with Susan Saint James as his young bride, Sally, who was mostly used as a damsel in distress, it seems. Rounding out the ensemble were John Schuck as McMillan's aide, Sgt. Enright, and Nancy Walker as the McMillans' maid. Walker left the series to do Rhoda, and was later replaced by Martha Raye (ex-The Bugaloos).

Talent Associates & Norton-Simon also developed another Mystery Movie entry, The Snoop Sisters, for Universal, but that didn't have the staying power of McMillan.

Following is a sampler from the episode, "Murder by the Barrel", directed by John Astin (ex-The Addams Family). Kenneth Mars (ex-He & She) guest stars.

I spent many a night in my bedroom listening as my folks would watch. Now, I have the chance to catch up whenever possible.

Rating: None.

Mario Cuomo (1932-2015) & Edward Herrmann (1942-2014)

If you live in New York, you probably opened your paper this morning to read of the passing of former Governor Mario Cuomo, father of the current governor, at 82. Coincidentally, Andrew Cuomo was sworn in for his 2nd term as governor, also on Thursday, and his first act, likely, was to have the flags lowered at half-staff in his father's memory. The elder Cuomo served as governor for most of the 80's, and was referred to by the press as a "liberal lion", much like Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, in Hollywood, actor Edward Herrmann, most recently in the TV series, Gilmore Girls, passed on at 72. Herrmann's film career is mostly defined by his portrayal of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, but there was also this little Disney entry from 1979. You might remember this commercial for "The North Avenue Irregulars", narrated by Gary Owens:

I'm begging Disney to reissue this to honor Herrmann.

Rest in peace, gentlemen.