Monday, August 31, 2015

Forgotten TV: Greatest Heroes of the Bible (1978)

From the same folks that brought you The Life & Times of Grizzly Adams comes the first modern-day series to adapt stories from the Bible. Unfortunately, NBC's Greatest Heroes of the Bible, due largely to poor promotion leading to even poorer ratings, was a colossal flop, and marked the end of Schick Sunn Classic Pictures' foray into television.

The mid-to-late 70's were awash with miniseries based on classic Biblical tales. CBS had Moses the Lawgiver, which was co-produced by an Italian network as memory serves. NBC answered with Jesus of Nazareth. If you're lucky, either TBN or Daystar or INSP will air these shows sometime.

The same goes for Greatest Heroes of the Bible. Seven episodes were ordered, but four aired, including an adaptation of Joshua and the battle of Jericho. Robert Culp (ex-I Spy) stars. Brad Crandall is the announcer, but Victor Jory is the narrator.

I'd love to have the DVD's for my personal collection. However, it's been so long since I'd seen any of these shows, I can't remember if I had seen them all. We'll pass on a rating for now.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Musical Interlude: My Maria (1997)

Brooks & Dunn resurrected B. W. Stevenson's 1-hit wonder, "My Maria", on their 1997 CD, "Borderline". The concept has Kix Brooks as a cowboy trying to find a lost love. Ronnie Dunn, on lead vocals, appears be at an old church.

Today, Brooks has swapped his guitar for a DJ's microphone as the host of radio's American Country Countdown, having replaced Bob Kingsley some time back. Not really sure what the rationale was behind the change, as it might not be so dissimilar to how Casey Kasem ended his first run on American Top 40 (same syndicator) in favor of Shadoe Stevens in 1988. Dunn? Well, suh, you just never know.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Modern Classic: In Living Color (1990)

Launched as a spring replacement series in April 1990, In Living Color was an instant hit for Fox, and would be part of the network's Sunday lineup for 4 years (5 seasons).

Following the success of "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka", Keenan Ivory Wayans was approached by Fox suits about developing his own show. He envisioned Color as an urban version of Saturday Night Live, albeit with more of a hip hop beat. It was a family affair, too, with brothers Marlon, Damon, & Shawn, and sister Kim joining the fun. The series also launched the careers of Jamie Foxx, Rosie Perez, Jennifer Lopez, & Carrie Ann Inaba, among others. Perez, before turning to acting, was the choreographer for the Fly Girls troupe, which featured Inaba and Lopez. Jim Carrey (ex-The Duck Factory) resurrected his career thanks to Color, and left after the 4th season.

Currently, cable rights for the series are held by BET/Centric (check listings), and, as FX did before them, episodes are usually run in a hour-long block or more. However, some of the material is dated due to current events of the period, such as the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill scandal. On the other hand, the first skit in this sample episode actually foreshadows some current events of today........

We previously featured the East Hollywood Squares skit, which featured original Hollywood Squares host Peter Marshall. He wasn't the only one to contribute to a parody. The late Ray Combs, at the time the emcee of Family Feud, was similarly brought in for skits related to that series.

Rating: B.

Dynasty Pro Wrestling presents Diamonds Are Forever II, 8/29/15

Dynasty Pro Wrestling returned to the Troy Boys & Girls Club tonight for the first time in nearly 5 months with "Diamonds Are Forever II", marking the promotion's 2nd anniversary. The first champion would be crowned, but was he really deserving? We'll soon find out.

Play-by-play announcer Brian Cady doubled as ring announcer, in place of the absent Matt James. That might actually be a good thing, since the sound was better this time.

1. DPW title tournament, 1st round: "The Elite Athlete" Mike Orlando def. Wolfgar, the Dragon Slayer.

Orlando has been making waves on the independent circuit, and this was his Troy debut. Wolfgar impressed in his Troy debut in April, beating Foxx Vinyer. Not so this time. Wolfgar gave up nearly 80 pounds, and spent too much time talking and playing to the crowd. Orlando was easily the crowd favorite, and took his time before dispatching Wolfgar to advance to the semifinals.

2. The Southern Boys def. Fungus in a "gauntlet match".

This started with Fungus vs. Matt Druse, which Fungus won. Bull Hightower, Druse's partner, was at the commentary desk, but then the shenanigans started when Cady announced this was now a gauntlet match. WWE did this several months back. It violates the spirit of competition, but then, common sense took a backseat to nonsense.

3. DPW title, 1st round: Chris Envy def. Ben Ortiz.

When last seen in town, Ortiz was confronted by the Hurricane, but nothing came of that. Since then, he made a cameo appearance on Ring of Honor television. You would think Ortiz was one of the favorites to win the tournament. In hindsight, maybe he should've. Envy tried the impossible, hitting a flip powerbomb, which looked sloppy, for the win. An angry Ortiz attacked after, and this would have an effect on Envy going forward.

4. DPW title, 1st round: Mike Verna (w/PJ Stackpole) def. Kyle Brad.

The other recurring theme on the card was Verna relying on Stackpole to get him a key advantage when simple power moves & domination wouldn't do. Stackpole hyperextended Brad's leg behind the ref's back, and Verna applied the Sharpshooter for the submission.

5. Foxx Vinyer def. Shawn Carr & Talon in a triple threat match.

If this leads to Vinyer getting a title shot, that would be fine, but what was he doing in with two cruiserweights? Vinyer's new gimmick is he has a glove that lights up at the touch of a button. He applies a brain claw, then switches to an STO, something Kenzo Suzuki did in WWE 10 years ago. Carr was pinned.

6. DPW title, 1st round: Capt. Wayno def. Travis Dorian.

Poor Mr. Mann. The Mann-Sons were matched against each other, and on paper, you'd think Dorian would go over and move on. Not so fast. Dorian dragged this out more than he needed to, and Wayno wrapped him in a cradle to pick up the surprise win.

Post-match, Verna & Stackpole came out, and Verna beat up Wayno. Uh-oh. See the pattern here, kids?

During the intermission, I had a chance to talk to Dorian, who was working a merchandise table. He acknowledged that, yes, he took the nickname, "The Goods", from the Jeremy Piven movie of the same name, which he put over as hilarious. Prior to the show, WWE Hall of Famer Jimmy Hart was in the house, along with Tatanka. Both are represented by Scott Wilder Promotions. Tatanka was also booked for Fantacon in Albany, and made the stop before, presumably returning to Albany. Both Hart & Tatanka were gone after the first match.

7. DPW semi-finals: Orlando def. Envy.

Envy sold the beatdown from Ortiz by appearing to have suffered a concussion. Orlando didn't want to fight, out of respect & concern, but Envy kept coming after him. Orlando finally ended it with a spinebuster-bomb (Titus O'Neil's Clash of the Titus).

8. DPW semi-finals: Verna def. Wayno.

Same formula, different submission result. Somehow, Stackpole got a hold of Mann's cane, and whacked Wayno with it. Verna locked on a crossface, and Wayno tapped. Post-match, Wayno shoved Mann away. Is this the end of the Mann-Sons?

9. Chuck Deep def. Brad Wesley in a table match.

This feud started back in January, and this was the blow-off. Wesley knew he had to man up and fight. One ref was bumped when Wesley ducked a dropkick off the middle rope, and the ref went through a table on the other side. That had me thinking someone else would come down, besides two extra refs, but nope. Wesley came off the top rope, but Deep met him with a spinebuster and drove him through.

After, Wesley cut a promo, and buried the hatchet. For now.

10. Mistress Belmont def. Arlene.

Arlene was the newcomer, and was greener than grass. She had a size advantage on Belmont, but one eye rake, followed by a schoolgirl with a handful of pants, gave Belmont the win. Like, seriously?

11. DPW finals: Verna def. Orlando to win the title.

Lame. Just way beyond stupid. The fans were already accepting that Verna couldn't win a match without Stackpole's help. Stackpole was knocked around pretty good, even getting nailed on an errant suicide dive by Verna. However, Stackpole held Orlando's attention long enough for Verna to hit a low blow, and use the same spinebuster bomb finish that Orlando had used. Post-match, Orlando made a comeback and laid out both heels.

Next show will be right back in Troy on October 24, appropriately billed as "Redemption".

Friday, August 28, 2015

A Modern Classic: Dave's World (1993)

Humorist Dave Barry became the subject of a sitcom, and they didn't invite him to appear as himself. Not that there was anything wrong with that, but would it have hurt if Barry actually tried dramatizing his own life?

Dave's World spent 4 seasons on CBS, but at present, for whatever reason, is not available anywhere, except maybe on DVD. Harry Anderson (ex-Night Court) returned to television to play the fictional Barry, a far cry from Judge Harry Stone, of course, but a breath of fresh air nonetheless. Anderson is joined by Meshach Taylor (ex-Designing Women) and Shadoe Stevens (American Top 40, ex-Max Monroe, Loose Cannon, Hollywood Squares).

In this sample clip, off Stevens' YouTube channel, Dave is forced out of the house when his son comes down with the mumps, and takes refuge in Kenny's (Stevens) bachelor pad.......

Anderson hasn't had a series since. Meshach Taylor moved on to To Tell The Truth, then Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide (for Nickelodeon). Stevens eventually left American Top 40 and, prior to becoming Craig Ferguson's announcer-sidekick, took his last acting job in animation, spending a year on UPN's animated Incredible Hulk.

Rating: A-.

Would you win a car from a crash dummy? (1980's)

It's been 30 years since the Ad Council introduced a pair of talking crash dummies, Vince (Jack Burns, ex-The Andy Griffith Show) & Larry (Lorenzo Music, ex-Rhoda), in a series of short PSA commercials. Amazingly, the characters turned out to be very popular, extending the series for a few years, to the point where they were spun off into comic books, toys, and an animated special for Fox, which aired in 1993.

Of course, Lorenzo Music would delve further into voice work, doing the first season of Real Ghostbusters, while Garfield graduated from a series of primetime specials into a Saturday morning series. Jack Burns' only other known toon gig was on Animaniacs.

Here's Vince & Larry as game show hosts:

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Videos of Summer: Key Largo (1982)

Based on the lyrics, Bertie Higgins' 1-hit wonder of 1982, "Key Largo", was an ode to movie legends Humphrey Bogart & Lauren Bacall, except that Higgins was referring to his own failed relationship. The song title, of course, comes from a Bogart/Bacall classic from way, way back in the day.

The line, "Here's looking at you, kid.", though, comes from another Bogart film, "Casablanca".

Remember when pollution was worth a commercial? (1971)

It is one of the most famous ad campaigns of the 1970's. A lone Native American on horseback (Iron Eyes Cody) rides through a modern day America filled with trash & pollution. The closing shot of Cody shedding a tear has become one of the most enduring images of the decade.

William Conrad (Cannon) narrates.

Enough said.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Classic TV: The Doctors (1963)

Before the current syndicated talk show, The Doctors had been a daytime drama that lasted nearly 20 years (1963-82) on NBC.

It wasn't your typical soap opera at first. Instead, NBC and Colgate-Palmolive decided to experiment with an anthology format, but when that didn't bring the desired results, the program gradually began to morph into the traditional soap format.

The majority of the series was set at fictional Hope Memorial Hospital, whose chief of staff, Dr. Matt Powers (James Pritchett), was the moral center for storylines. What I remember most is the traditional Christmas party episode, which would end with Pritchett stepping out of character to wish viewers a Merry Christmas.

Future stars such as Paul Michael Glaser and Brooke Shields made their earliest appearances on The Doctors before moving on to greater things.

Unfortunately, all good things eventually come to an end, and in the late 70's, NBC found itself finding greater favor with Procter & Gamble, one of Colgate's biggest rivals. P & G packaged the long running Another World and its various spin-offs, but when given a chance to add a 2nd entry to the Doctors tree, if you will, NBC turned Colgate down flat. Flailing ratings and shuffling timeslots, mostly to accomodate P & G, culminating with the P & G-packaged Search For Tomorrow shifting to NBC from CBS, led to The Doctors ending its run in 1982 after nearly 20 years.

Fortunately for soap fans, all is not lost. Retro TV (no longer available in upstate NY, but check your listings) acquired The Doctors a year ago. If there was ever a reason for Retro to return to Time Warner Cable in the home district, this would be it.

Following is a sample open, complete with the NBC Peacock.

I'm digging the new Retro logo. Pruf, a C-P product showcased above, isn't around anymore. I wonder why.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Advertising For Dummies: Remember the talking Parkay tub? (1973)

How Kraft let Parkay margarine get away, I'll never know. Maybe Patriots owner Bob Kraft hated the stuff. Just kidding. Kraft Foods sold Parkay to ConAgra at the end of the 90's, around the time they tried reviving the talking tub gimmick with comedian-turned-politician Al Franken.

But, back in 1973, the talking tub was a hip, happening advertising gimmick. Actor Michael Bell was the voice behind the tub, which he demonstrated a year later when he appeared on the game show, Showoffs.

Here's a spot from 1974. Ernie Anderson is the announcer.

Later spots would feature NFL great Deacon Jones, and actors Vic Tayback and Tracey Gold, among others.

Wrangler Jane rides off into the sunset (Melody Patterson, 1949-2015)

For millions of young boys who grew up in the 60's, this has to hurt. Another punch to the gut, if you will, perhaps too close to the heart.

Less than a week after Yvonne Craig, best known as Batgirl from Batman, and a sci-fi icon, had passed, we're saying goodbye to another actress from the same period who became a heart throb.

Melody Patterson was just 16 when she was cast as Wrangler Jane on F-Troop in 1965, but you wouldn't know it by her performance. Admittedly, when I first caught up with reruns of Troop on cable in the 70's, I thought she was actually a wee bit older, perhaps in her 20's. As Jane, she came across as so mature, especially in her scenes with Ken Berry as Capt. Parmenter. Post-Troop, Melody gradually moved away from show business, especially after marrying James MacArthur, with whom she'd appear in three episodes of the original Hawaii Five-0. Yes, that made Helen Hayes Melody's mother-in-law. Unfortunately, the couple divorced in 1975.

Edit, 5/24/23: Had to change the video, as several Monkees videos were deleted. Here's a clip from F-Troop that shows Jane in something other than her buckskins for a change:

Rest in peace, Melody.

Baseball this 'n' that

Last weekend was a study in contrasts between the Mets & Yankees.

In the Bronx, the Yankees dropped three of four to Cleveland, and fell out of first place in the AL East. Oh, sure, the Bombers came back and beat Houston, 1-0, on Monday, but suddenly, the pitching staff, aside from Nathan Eovaldi, is starting to resemble a MASH unit. CC Sabathia went on the DL on Monday due to knee issues. Wouldn't shock me if he's done for the year.

Meanwhile, the Mets are suddenly doing their impersonation of the glamour power teams of the 70's, like, for example, Pittsburgh's Lumber Company and Cincinnati's Big Red Machine. It's too soon to think they have a modern day Murderer's Row, even with the return of David Wright, considering that Lucas Duda is on the DL (back), but after completing a season sweep of Colorado with a relatively sedate 5-1 win on Sunday, the Orange & Blue Wrecking Crew rolled into Philadelphia, picking up Wright along the way, and continued their domination of their former arch nemesis, the Phillies, with a 16-7 rout. Bear in mind that reigning Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom looked mortal, unable to get out of the 3rd after giving up 7 runs, 6 earned, on 3 Phillies HR's. The offense had his back. You might say they spotted the Phillies the 7 runs, then ran them out of the yard, scoring the last 14 unanswered runs. They had broken team records for extra base hits (15) and homers (8) in a single game.

The Mets still have three games left in their current series, and then, the Phillies come to Citi Field next week. They still have six games left with Washington, their closest pursuers. They still have six interleague games, 3 each with Boston and the Yankees, all at home. I wrote a week ago about their kryptonite being the NL Central, after going 0-13 vs. the likely wild card entrants, the Cubs & Pirates. Their record vs. the AL East isn't too shabby by comparison, a mere .500 (7-7) with those six games left. The Yankee series at Citi Field will be bigger than usual.

Closer to home, the Tri-City Valleycats needed some late inning magic to beat Connecticut Monday night, 7-6. They have to stave off the Tigers and Lowell in order to secure their 4th straight Stedler division title, and have less than 2 weeks left now in the regular season.

But I do have a nit to pick. I am so tired of the farce that the hot dog race has become. Yes, it's another derivative of Milwaukee's popular sausage races, but the way "Relish" gets screwed every night is getting tiresome and pathetic. Yes, the race is a work, but it is more blatantly so than the Mayors' race, which at least rotates the winners a little more evenly. Of the condiments represented, "Relish" is getting treated like Rodney Dangerfield, or even worse, a bug on a windshield. This ain't Zippy Chippy, the most famous loser in horse racing history, y'know.

So this is what I'm proposing. Drop the worked results, and let these kids in the hot dog suits actually run it out in true athletic competition, not every night, but make it more of a special attraction, something to be brought out a few times out of the season. The 'Cats have dropped other promotions, reducing the birthday race, where kids will outrun team mascot Southpaw from first to third, usually with ease, to a few times a year. The Harlem Globetrotters made the mistake of doing WWE-style gimmicks when they were at Times Union Center 5 years ago, and it turned me off. Haven't been back since. The race is discontinued during the playoffs, so there's now just 8 home dates left. It's time to show "Relish" some love.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

What Might've Been: Cliffhangers (1979)

Desperate for a hit series not named Little House on the Prairie in the winter-spring of 1979, NBC decided to pay homage to the thrilling melodramatic cereals of the Golden Age with Cliffhangers. This anthology series squeezed three different serials into a 1 hour block, which was the first mistake. The second was starting each serial with the storylines already in progress. The third? It was airing opposite ABC's 1-2 punch of Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley. Ballgame over. Cliffhangers lasted two months and change with only one of the three serials wrapping, that being Curse of Dracula, which starred Michael Nouri. In this version, the count is over 600 years old, and decides to give up immortality to find a wife. How? By becoming a college professor in California. Real swift, y'think?

Cliffhangers sprang from the mind of producer Kenneth Johnson (Incredible Hulk, Bionic Woman). As I mentioned, this was meant to pay tribute to the serials of the past, some of which were from Universal, which also packaged Cliffhangers. In addition to Dracula, whose TV history hasn't been good at all since, there was Secret Empire, which riffed on Gene Autry's "Phantom Empire" (which later aired on Matinee at the Bijou), and Stop Susan Williams, with singer-actress Susan Anton as a crusading reporter in a riff on "Perils of Pauline".

Brad Crandall, of Sunn Classic Pictures trailer fame, is the show's announcer. Brick Mantooth serves up the open.

I tried watching this on opening night. I didn't quite get the idea of starting the serials in progress, but in hindsight, it might've made more sense if NBC & Universal waited and lined this up for the fall lineup----on a different night. I think they were looking for hits on Saturday nights, too.

Rating: C.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Forgotten TV: The Trials of O'Brien (1965)

Filmways, until it was absorbed by Orion Pictures after the first season of Cagney & Lacey, didn't have much of a track record with dramas pre-1982.

In 1965, they gave it a shot with The Trials of O'Brien, with Peter Falk, 3 years before Columbo, as a lawyer. Perry Mason, it wasn't. Not even close. And I don't think America was ready for a lawyer who had more of an interest in horse racing than in defending his clients.

Unfortunately, no complete episodes are available on YouTube. What we can offer, however, is this sample clip:

Trials had potential. It was just probably on the wrong night, or folks just weren't ready for a flawed attorney.

No rating.

Celebrity Rock: Sunday Kind of Love (1982)

Robert Klein is one of the most respected and regarded comedians of our time. However, did you know that he started out as a doo-wop singer? Hey, I didn't, either, 'til I ran across this next item.

I was looking for something to justify a posting on Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour, which, at the end of its run on CBS, was airing on Sunday afternoons, early enough to air ahead of both the news and Ed Sullivan. One wonders how many acts that first gained national exposure with Mack would later appear on Sullivan's stage. Klein, surely, was one of them, but by the time he was booked to appear with Sullivan or anyone else, he had swapped doo-wop for stand-up comedy.

In this concert clip from 1982 at Yale University, Klein recalls his doo-wop days with the Teen Tones (Never heard of them? Join the club!), and their entry for Mack, "Sunday Kind of Love". 25 years after Mack, Klein reposits "Sunday" as a potential adult contemporary cut----if he cared to record it.

Like, who knew?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Moron TV: I'm Dickens....He's Fenster (1962)

Leonard Stern had perhaps envisioned The Three Stooges, minus one, when he created I'm Dickens....He's Fenster for ABC in 1962. A successful comedy writer for Steve Allen and Jackie Gleason, among others, Stern thought he saw comedy gold in pairing John Astin and Marty Ingels as a pair of bumbling construction workers. The series even got a ringing endorsement from no less a comedy icon than Stan Laurel, from what I understand.

So what went wrong? ABC slotted Dickens opposite Sing Along With Mitch, which was on NBC. Ballgame over. Dickens lasted just one season, and was never heard from again until a 2012 DVD release marking the show's 50th anniversary. There's only selected clips and montages, no complete episodes, on YouTube. The pilot, which featured a pre-Batgirl Yvonne Craig, is available in three parts.

Gilmore Box supplies the open, which perhaps illustrates the problem prevalent with the show.

Ingels never landed another series gig outside of animation. Astin, of course, rebounded with The Addams Family 2 years later, and, aside from joining Phyllis Diller on her show halfway through the 1966-7 season, didn't get another regular gig until joining the cast of Night Court in the 80's. Emaline Henry, who played Harry Dickens' (Astin) wife, later resurfaced on I Dream of Jeannie. A sharp eared commentator on YouTube noted that the announcer was Johnny Jacobs, better known for his work on game shows for Chuck Barris and Jack Barry (i.e. The Dating Game, Joker's Wild).

No rating.

Videos of Summer: Pretty Little Lights of Town (1985)

Time for a little Texas twang from 'bout 30 years ago, pardnuhs.

The LeRoi Brothers' only major hit on the charts came back in '85 with the boppin', swingin'  "Pretty Little Lights of Town", whut tells the tale of a purty barmaid who decides to leave her beau and job and head for the big city.

Seems Lonestar mined a similar vein a few years later with "No News", which was just as rockin', but the LeRoi Brothers have been keepin' it on the down-lo since their brush with fame, know whut ah mean?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

What Might've Been: The Hathaways (1961)

Now, this is what you'd call monkey business.

In 1961, ABC introduced The Hathaways, which by all rights should've appealed to the kiddo's as a complement to The Flintstones. Why? The show was built around the Marquis Chimps as the adopted "kids" of their managers. You figure the small fry would get a healthy dose of the yuk-yuk's.

Peggy Cass (To Tell The Truth) and Jack Weston are the human stars of this 1-season wonder. Chalk up the failure to some poor schedule placement and marketing. That's all I can figure.

There won't be a rating, so we'll leave you with this sample clip.

Here be some Weasels

You may never look at Subway the same way again for a while.

Jared Fogle was a feel-good story several years ago when he extolled the virtues of Subway's line of sub sandwiches as a means by which he had lost a ton of weight. In terms of advertising, Fogle became the face of Subway as the 21st century began.

It's all come crashing down over the last month. First, an associate tasked with helping Fogle run a charity foundation was arrested on child porn possession charges. Within the last few days, Fogle has himself been arrested, and plead guilty to possession of child porn, as well as sexual relations with underage girls. His wife plans to file for divorce, and Subway has cut its ties with Fogle, who had interacted with a number of pro athletes and appeared on WWE Monday Night Raw on a couple of occasions.

Could it be that the sudden fame enabled Fogle's darker, baser nature to be, well, nurtured in secret all this time? Possibly. The last thing we needed, though, was another role model being taken down in shame. Let's see how Jared likes Weasel ears.

Next stop is Washington state. South Snohonish Little League thought they had a sure fire means of ensuring they'd reach the final four of the Little League Softball World Series. The coach had his players essentially lay down for a North Carolina team on Monday, getting no hit in an 8-0 loss, just so a team from Iowa, which lost to South Snohonish, 3-2, earlier, would be eliminated. While this sort of tanking goes on and is allowed in pro sports (i.e. NBA), it's frowned upon in amateur competition. The Iowa coaches complained, so Little League International forced a "tiebreaker" game on Tuesday. Iowa earned its way into the final four, and South Snohonish goes home instead, finishing 5th.

Now, ask yourself this question. Why would South Snohonish take the easy way out? Was it because Iowa played them tougher than the other teams in their bracket? Quite possibly. Less than a full year after the Jackie Robinson West LL scandal, LLI didn't need another black eye, but got it anyway, because someone decided that what works in basketball and football would work in Little League. Wrong! The coaches get Weasel ears. The girls on the softball team would likely get a case of Kleenex apiece for being led astray and having their dreams shattered by their self-serving mentors.

Finally, another set of Weasel ears, plus a tail, headed to a certain New Jersey blowhard who is set on displacing Alec Baldwin as the biggest bloviator in the Northeast. Yep, you guessed it. Donald Trump gets yet another set, demonstrating yet again why he won't be on the ballot 15 months from now.

Apparently, either Trump doesn't believe in hiring speech writers, or just thinks that it's his world, and we just live in it. First, he ragged on Fox's Megyn Kelly after her line of questioning at the GOP debate last week seemingly offended him. Next, model/TV personality Heidi Klum was described by Trump as being "no longer a 10". What? Doesn't he have time to DVR Project Runway anymore, or look at the gossip columns when his mug's not there? Heidi's having some fun with this, being a good sport, but Trump just doesn't know when to shut up. Especially when he's bloviating on topics he really doesn't know anything about.

Mark my words. Dumb Donald won't be at the GOP convention next year at this rate, but I doubt very seriously that Swillary Clinton will get the Democratic nod, either. She's better off trying out for a gender-reversed remake of Pinocchio.

Musical Interlude: Strange Way (1978)

Firefall had a nice run in the latter half of the 70's with hits like "You Are The Woman", and this little nugget of joy, "Strange Way".

Still gets some airplay from time to time, so it does hold up nearly 40 years later.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Classic Reborn: The New Love, American Style (1985)

Reruns of Love, American Style had aired as part of ABC's daytime lineup during the 70's before it went into syndication. I question, however, the wisdom of the programming jabronies who decided a 1985-6 reboot would air first-run episodes in the daytime.

By the 80's, the networks were gradually doing away with repurposing primetime reruns to fill daytime space. ABC suits felt they had no room for the new Style in primetime, though it could've easily been plugged in for a dud or two. Based on the following promo from a Maine TV station that was an ABC affiliate at the time (and might still be), it seems ABC was willing to laugh at itself, since it suggests parodies of their soap opera lineup, then billed as Love in the Afternoon.

See how many familiar faces you can spot, besides Arsenio Hall..........

Another revival was attempted in 1999, but didn't get past the pilot stage. As recently as two years ago, CBS-Paramount had been looking at trying again. Well, they've got the outlets for it on cable (TV Land, Comedy Central)......!

Edit, 6/6/19: We've added a story from one episode, as shown on a Virginia ABC affiliate. The theme song is performed by R & B legend Lou Rawls. Future talk show icon Arsenio Hall appears in a short skit.

No rating.

Yvonne Craig (1937-2015)

Holy heartbreak, Batman! (Had to say that.)

News came across the wires this morning of the passing of actress-dancer Yvonne Craig, the first actress to play Batgirl, at 78, due to complications resulting from breast cancer.

Yvonne already had an impressive TV & movie resume when producer William Dozier cast her as librarian Barbara Gordon, secretly Batgirl, in season 3 of Batman in 1967, after an intended pilot for a spin-off series failed to sell. She'd already made guest appearances on Perry Mason, The Man From U.N.C.L.E, and The Wild, Wild West, among others, plus movies and commercials, by that point. The resume also includes appearances on The Big Valley and, post-Batman, The Six Million Dollar Man, Star Trek, Emergency!, Love, American Style, and The Courtship of Eddie's Father. Film roles included "Mars Needs Women", with Tommy Kirk, "How To Frame a Figg", with Don Knotts, and 2 pairings with Elvis Presley; "Kissing Cousins" & "It Happened at the World's Fair".

I would imagine that Me-TV, which holds the rights to Star Trek, Emergency!, and a share of Batman, could do a tribute in her honor, but they haven't done that for anyone else of late, so.....! Maybe Svengoolie can favor us with "Mars Needs Women".

Anyway, rather than do the obvious and pull something from Batman, we'll turn the dial back to 1958, and a clip from Perry Mason, which would also be the first time Yvonne would share the screen with Neil Hamilton, who'd later play her father on Batman.

Rest in peace, Yvonne. We'll miss you.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Classic TV: Cagney & Lacey (1981)

TNT's Rizzoli & Isles wouldn't be around today if it weren't for Cagney & Lacey.

Charlie's Angels had faded out, but had proved that a crime drama could work, carried by multiple female leads. Cagney & Lacey began with a CBS TV-movie that aired in October 1981, with Loretta Swit (M*A*S*H) & Tyne Daly, daughter of James Daly (ex-Medical Center) in the title roles. The movie was a big enough hit that it was ordered to series the following spring, with Meg Foster replacing Swit. After the first six episode order was completed, CBS, citing low ratings, cancelled the show.

Executive producer Barney Rosenweig and a growing fan base had other ideas. It got out prior to the fall upfronts that the real reason CBS axed Cagney wasn't so much ratings, but rather the perception, caused by the "aggressiveness" of the titular detectives, of a lesbian subtext. Public pressure forced CBS executives to reverse the decision, and Cagney returned, with Sharon Gless (ex-Switch) becoming the 3rd actress to essay the role of Christine Cagney, the goal being to change the perception of Cagney, and make her more feminine in appearance. Once again, CBS cancelled the show, this time legitimately due to ratings, but fan pressure forced another reversal. This, you see, explains why even today, passionate fans will campaign via letters, social media, et al, to keep their favorite shows on the air. Gless' previous series, House Calls, where she took over for Lynn Redgrave as a female lead opposite Wayne Rogers, was axed instead of Cagney to allow Gless to move to Cagney.

The supporting cast was like a revolving door. Carl Lumbly, later better known for other character roles, such as in Alias and M.A.N.T.I.S., left around the 4th or 5th season. By season six, the series served as a comeback vehicle for Robert Hegyes (ex-Welcome Back, Kotter).

Cagney & Lacey was also the last series to come from Filmways, a once successful studio that actually had a poor track record with dramas, being more successful with sitcoms (i.e. Mr. Ed, Beverly Hillbillies, Addams Family). After the first season or two, the studio was absorbed by Orion Pictures, which has since in turn been bought out by MGM.

Following is the intro:

No rating.

Monday, August 17, 2015

On DVD: Batman: The Movie (1966)

Holy height of cheese!

Released in between seasons 1 & 2 of the series, Batman moves to the big screen for the first time since the serial days of the Golden Age.

In what otherwise would've amounted to a 4-part, 2-week story arc on TV, Batman (Adam West) & Robin (Burt Ward) must face their four greatest enemies, united together for the first time in the series--The Penguin (Burgess Meredith, ex-Mr. Novak), The Riddler (Frank Gorshin), The Joker (Cesar Romero, ex-Passport to Danger) & Catwoman (Lee Meriwether, subbing for Julie Newmar). A convoluted plot leads to mass confusion on a global scale.

After the predictable, often nonsensical traps you'd expect from the show, and minimal narration from William Dozier (not heard from after the first few minutes of the film), we learn that the "United Underworld" plans to abduct 9 dignitaries for ransom, but with a twist. Lorenzo Semple, Jr.'s script's final act will have folks reaching for their Bibles for a reference point. Something having to do with the Tower of Babel. If you've seen the movie, and chances are you have in the last 49 years, at least once or twice, you'll get it.

Any Bat-Cat shippers among you will get some service, but not enough to suit. In this story, Catwoman goes undercover as a Russian journalist, and gets a date with Bruce Wayne. Unfortunately, the romantic subplot is all part of the main criminal agenda, and not Catwoman acting independently out of love & respect for the Caped Crusader. Meriwether's dialogue as Catwoman falls flat, but she affects a servicable Russian accent to make up for it. Bat-scholars looking at this today will dismiss the obvious rubber shark early in the movie as a product of a low budget, and leave it at that. Made today, the shark would likely be either mechanical or CGI.

Does the United Underworld get along? Hmmm, welllllllllllllll, of course not! There is nearly endless bickering because the Dynamic Duo escape every trap set before them.

The trailer's just as cheesy. Check it.

Until today, I had not seen the movie in its entirety, and I have seen all 7 Bat-movies released theatrically since. You know how critics are quick to complain when a movie based on a Saturday Night Live skit doesn't come across as little more than extended television fare? That conceit applies here, too. Small wonder, then, that there wasn't a sequel, and fans would have to wait 23 years before the next Bat-movie.

Rating: C.

Sports this 'n' that

The Mets have encountered a severe dose of kryptonite when playing the NL Central.

This much was evident again as the NL East leaders were swept by Pittsburgh over the weekend. Between the Pirates and the Chicago Cubs, the Mets were an embarrassed 0-13. Factor in that they went a combined 6-6 vs. Milwaukee & St. Louis, and swept Cincinnati at home earlier this summer, the Mets are just 9-19 against the Central, and they still have a return match vs. Cincinnati looming on the horizon. To be honest with you, I don't foresee the Washington Nationals remaining in a funk for too much longer. Fate likes to screw around with the Mets like that.......!
I had a thought about seeing the Troy Fighting Irish's game on Saturday night, but a late afternoon thunderstorm squashed those plans. Football is meant to be played in the rain, of course, even the semi-pro variety. The Irish, finally able to play in front of the home fans at Lansingburgh High School after 4 years in Schenectady, completed another undefeated regular season on Saturday night, and, lo & behold, the Record actually bothered to send a reporter to cover the game, when there's been a glaring lack of press coverage all season!

There was a time when semi-pro football was big around these parts. I can recall when WAST (now WNYT) had a half-hour magazine show devoted to Albany's Metro Mallers back in the 70's, but money, more so than ratings, precluded continuing the program into the present day. The Irish are Troy's 2nd semi-pro team, after the Uncle Sams played in the 70's, but disbanded at the turn of the 80's. Home playoff games are at Lansingburgh High as well, so I may still take in a game.....!!
With WWE's Summerslam taking place in Brooklyn this weekend, ESPN decided it'd be a good time to do a follow-up on one of their recent specials, and assigned ex-WWE announcer Jonathan Coachman, who has been a part-time anchor on SportsCenter of late, to cover the event. No shock there. The NXT brand will have a show at the same building, the Barclays Center, on Saturday night.

So why would ESPN even give this event a look? Two words: Brock. Lesnar. The former WWE & UFC champ is still a headline maker on his 2nd tour of duty with WWE. There's also the prospect via rumors of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson showing up. And who knows? Maybe Ronda Rousey could turn up, for all we know.
After sitting in an ESPN studio last year, Tim Tebow is back on the field, this time with the Philadelphia Eagles, hoping to win a job as a 3rd string QB behind Sam Bradford & Mark Sanchez, and bumping 2013 draft pick Matt Barkley out of a job. Granted, Barkley hasn't been given much opportunity, but perhaps "Tortilla" Chip Kelly sees Tebow as the last piece of the puzzle that gets the Eagles to the Super Bowl. Tebow's been out of the NFL since New England made him one of the last cuts in 2013. We'll see how the notoriously tough Philly crowd takes to Tebow-mania.
I had to explain a simple reality to a couple of regular fellas the other day, as they were debating whether or not Crybaby Brady should be playing in the preseason while he's trying to weasel his way out of a 4-game suspension, mostly for being a spoiled brat refusing to cooperate with the Deflategate investigation. Suspended players are allowed to play in preseason games, as the suspensions only apply to regular and playoff games. I still think Roger Goodell will end up falling on his sword before this is all done.
Less than 3 weeks now to the start of high school & college football season. Are you excited already?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Celebrity Rock: Greased Lightning (1978)

Does anyone here detect a bit of Elvis Presley in John Travolta singing "Greased Lightning" from "Grease"? Judge for yourselves.

A modern classic: Amen (1986)

Sherman Hemsley made his career playing weasels.

It wasn't long after The Jeffersons had ended its run before Hemsley landed another series gig. Amen, set in Hemsley's hometown of Philadelphia, and produced by Johnny Carson's production company, cast the actor as a variation on his iconic alter ego of George Jefferson. Instead of owning a dry cleaner in New York, Ernest Frye (Hemsley) was the deacon of the First Community Church in Philadelphia, and a practicing lawyer. Hmmmmm. Makes one wonder if the wackos in a certain Kansas "church" got their ideas from Deacon Frye.....!

Counter-balancing Frye was Rev. Reuben Gregory (Clifton Davis, ex-That's My Mama), who ultimately became the show's moral center, and married Frye's daughter, Thelma (Anne Marie Horsford) at the end of season 4. In real life, Davis is now an ordained minister himself, and has frequently served as host on TBN's Praise The Lord through the years, perhaps even during Amen's run.

The late gospel singer Andrae Crouch composed the show's theme song, "Shine on Me", and served as musical director. Co-producer Peter Noah is the son of game show producer Robert Noah. Casting director Ruben Cannon doubled as co-producer, perhaps to help Carson save money on staffing.

Amen enjoyed a healthy 5 season run on NBC (1986-91), virtually all of it on Saturday nights, which would give viewers some motivation to head off to services the next day.

Following is a sample episode:

Most recently, reruns have aired on Up (formerly Gospel Music Channel), among other places.

Rating: A-.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

In theatres: Fantastic Four (2015)

11 years ago, acclaimed writers Brian Michael Bendis & Mark Millar sought to create, or, actually, recreate Stan Lee & Jack Kirby's seminal super-team, The Fantastic Four. Bendis & Millar lasted just six issues on the book, but their initial story is part of the framework of Tim Story's 2005 adaptation as well as Josh Trank's version. What Bendis & Millar sought to do was update the classic origin story for a new, more contemporary audience, substituting dimensional travel for stealing a rocket bound for the stars.

In their vision, Reed Richards is a child genius who, by the 5th grade, had already developed a teleportation device. It gets him laughed out of class. Ben Grimm is Reed's best friend, but in the books, they had a mutually beneficial partnership. Ben would be Reed's bodyguard, protecting the boy scientist from bullies, whilst Reed served as Ben's math tutor, suggesting that Ben wasn't as bright as the more traditional version.

The experiment that unfolded in the book takes place in the movie when Reed is presumably 19 instead of 21. He'd been disqualified from a science fair because of a disbelieving teacher who thought Reed and Ben were attempting magic. Oh, that would be a bad omen, wouldn't it, now?

Undaunted, Reed (Miles Teller) is offered a scholarship from the Baxter Foundation by Dr. Franklin Storm and his adopted daughter, Sue. Son Johnny is a bit of a rebel, preferring to race cars, specifically in a game of chicken in one case. What Dr. Storm discovers is that Reed has unwittingly created the final piece of a project started by another prodigy, Victor Von Doom.

One night, Reed, Victor, Johnny, & Ben use the teleporter to enter another dimension. Sue is left behind, but discovers their covert operations too late to stop them. When she brings them back, the results create the familiar personae........!

So, then, where did Trank and co-authors Simon Kinberg & Jeremy Slater ("X-Men: Days of Future Past") go wrong? If you believe Trank, per a since deleted tweet issued on the film's opening day, Fox suits got in the way. "Fantastic Four" clocks in at a relatively speedy 100 minutes as opposed to the 2005 version, though the movie does actually drag in spots. Trank had been hot off his debut effort, "Chronicle", three years ago, but he'd lost out on an opportunity to direct a pending "Star Wars" movie due to some "issues", if you will.

The problem is two-fold. On one hand, Trank, Slater, & Kinberg updated Millar & Bendis' original story, pushing things forward by a few years in order to fit it into the present time, which is understandable, but there are holes in the plot. Particularly, the need to obsess with details over how the team came together in the first place. I get the idea of appealing to the casual moviegoer, but this is filed under too much information.

The other problem is the performances of the cast. Jamie Bell (Turn: Washington's Spies) and Teller lack charismatic screen presence. Kate Mara gave an interview several months back stating that Trank didn't want the cast researching their roles, if you will, by referencing the source material. She & Michael B. Jordan ("Chronicle") did the best they could with the script they were given, but that's really about the best way to describe it. Of course, Ms. Mara, one of the heiresses (with sister Rooney) to the New York Football Giants franchise, could light up a room just by being there.

Millar had a hand in the production of the film. Bendis didn't. Big difference.

The following trailer has some scenes that looked like they were edited out of the final product:

Like, couldn't they have given The Thing pants?

Other trailers:

"Deadpool" (February): Ryan Reynolds toplines a spin-off from 2009's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" as the "Merc With a Mouth", Wade Wilson, aka Deadpool, who is now nothing more than a mutant court jester at Marvel.

"No Escape" (Aug. 26): Owen Wilson and Lake Bell in a thriller, the teaser of which doesn't tell us much.

"The Martian" (December): Matt Damon & Jeff Daniels in a Ridley Scott sci-fi epic.

"Point Break": A reimagining of Kathryn Bigelow's 1991 action film. The original starred Keanu Reeves and the late Patrick Swayze. This edition? As they say in the carnival, you pay your money, you take your chances.

"The Last Witch Hunter" (fall): Vin Diesel and Michael Caine star.

We've previously talked about trailers for "Everest" & "Goosebumps".

"Fantastic Four" gets a C--.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Videos of Summer: Sunrise (2003)

"Sunrise" was Simply Red's last radio hit, released on the 2003 CD, "Home".  Vocalist Mick Hucknall wrote new lyrics set to the beat of Hall & Oates' "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)", which was a hit some 20 years earlier. An unnamed female vocalist sings some of the lyrics from "I Can't Go For That" in mid-song. The video, meanwhile, was shot in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Enough said.

On the Shelf: DC reimagines World War II history, and other things to talk about

DC has issued a series of figurines under the umbrella heading, "DC Bombshells", in recent months. Apparently, these figurines are selling so well, such that DC decided to create a comic series based on them.

DC Comics' Bombshells is set in the early days of World War II, and the artistic style reflects some of the poster art of the period. Variant covers on some of this month's DC books are tied to this theme in order to call attention to the new book. What they're doing is creating an alternate universe where some of the heroines we know existed in World War II, but in different ways, making this, really, not all that different from the concurrent Justice League: Gods & Monsters series, which we'll get to shortly. For example, it's suggested that Kara (Supergirl, not Power Girl) wound up in Russia, along with Stargirl. Batwoman and her life partner, Maggie Sawyer, are here, too.

The problem that exists, however, is the setting. Hasn't management figured out that a book set in wartime isn't selling anymore? Even though revivals of GI Combat, Men at War, & Star Spangled War Stories all crashed & burned over the last four years due to poor sales, Dan DiDio, Jim Lee, Geoff Johns, and company are convinced that reimagining some of the company's better known females in a WWII setting can break the spell. Granted that the above war revivals were all set in more recent times instead of WWII, consumers weren't interested, period. Does that change here? Maybe. By the way, each of those revivals failed to reach a full year's worth of issues. If Bombshells can get past 8 issues, then maybe it works after all.

Grade: Incomplete. We'll need to study this further.

Speaking of Justice League: Gods & Monsters, we looked at the Batman 1-shot when it came out three weeks ago, with Kirk Langstrom as a vampiric Dark Knight. Time to talk about the other 1-shots before we get to the miniseries. The DTV was reviewed over at Saturday Morning Archives.

The movie explains how Superman, in this alternate reality, was the product of an unholy liason between Lara and General Zod, and, after being sent to Earth, wound up not in Smallville, but somewhere near Mexico. Wonder Woman's origins have her on New Genesis instead of Themyscira, a New God instead of an Amazon. To be honest, I wasn't totally on board with Wonder Woman's story, as it was the weakest of the three 1-shots. The miniseries is interesting. I was reading the first issue as I watched the movie. I'll just have to re-read it before assigning a grade.

Our next DC entry is Gotham By Midnight. On a lark the other day, I decided to sample this series, just to see where this fits in with the rest of the Bat-books. Writer Ray Fawkes is using this series to bring back the Spectre, once again an agent of the Wrath of God, something that has been consistent for over 40 years, dating back to Michael Fleischer's run in Adventure Comics. All that says to me now is that Fleischer, and most of the writers who've followed this tack, are ignoring the New Testament, and insisting on Spectre dispensing Old Testament justice. That is just SO last century.

It didn't help that DC brought in Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night) to draw the first 5 issues, which were just difficult to read. Templesmith's style just doesn't fit. Subsequent issues have gotten better artistically, but I fear that the series isn't going to be around too much longer, barring of course a crossover with the rest of the Bat-line, which I believe is nigh.

Rating: C.

Archie's Dark Circle line is expanding further with The Hangman bowing in November, and The Web after the first of the year. Not sure if Dean Haspiel and Mark Waid have another miniseries with The Fox on the drawing board for next year. Took a glance at issue 4 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina the other day and came away satisfied with my decision to walk away after the 1st issue. Seems to me that Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is better suited to writing fan fiction, and that's all I'm going to say.

In four of the last five issues of Scooby-Doo Team-Up, the Mystery, Inc. crew has met various Hanna-Barbera characters, including the Flintstones, Jetsons, Jonny Quest, and, in issue 11, Secret Squirrel. Unfortunately, Sholly Fisch either doesn't know Secret is marking his 50th anniversary this year, or doesn't care. Regardless of who's on a case with Scooby and friends, Fisch treats all of the stories the same, and I fear the same fate will befall Atom Ant, should Fisch decide to use him. Batgirl, Harley Quinn, & Poison Ivy guest in next month's issue, but why should I waste any more money on this series?

To sum things up, it's pretty obvious who the villain is in the Scooby-Secret team-up, and Morocco Mole gets the Rodney Dangerfield treatment, as in, no respect. Fisch is going through the motions, and, I'd imagine the same holds true for Scooby's monthly series. The Johnny DC line needs better writers that won't insult the audience's intelligence. Period.

Scooby-Doo Team-Up 11 gets a D.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Videos of Summer: Magic (1984)

It may only seem like Ric Ocasek, lead singer of The Cars, is walking on water, but in truth, Ric is on a carefully hidden platform set up in the swimming pool in the video for "Magic", off "Heartbeat City".

I've always thought that with a little makeup, Ocasek could've been cast as the son of Mr. Spock in a "Star Trek" movie. What say you?

What Might've Been: Richie Brockelman, Private Eye (1978)

There's a good reason why Dennis Dugan turned to directing, rather than continue his acting career.

Dugan was supposedly a hot commodity in the late 70's after appearing on The Rockford Files, which led to a spinoff series, Richie Brockelman, Private Eye, that served as a placeholder while Rockford went on vacation in 1978.

The problem? The boyish Dugan lacked the charisma of Jim Rockford himself, James Garner, and despite the creative pedigree involved (Stephen J. Cannell & Steve Bochco), Richie Brockelman flopped---badly. Seems NBC wanted their own Hardy Boys, but got a bumbling solo act.

The Rap Sheet offers a sample intro, including a quick appearance by Garner as Rockford, a sponsor tag, and closing credits:

Today, Richie Brockelman is a distant memory, though Dugan has avoided the temptation to revisit the character----if only to give the part to Adam Sandler for a movie.

Rating: C.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Musical Interlude: Space Age Whiz Kids (1983)

Joe Walsh's "Space Age Whiz Kids" got plenty of airplay on MTV back in 1983. It's Walsh's cynical take on the emerging video game boom of the period.

Today, the song might be about those same kids playing their games online.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Classic Reborn: Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (1993)

Some twenty-odd years after the original series helped jumpstart interest in martial arts in this country, David Carradine returned to his star making role as Caine in Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, which aired in syndication for four years (1993-7) before moving to cable for a rerun cycle on TNT.

This time, the series is set in the then-present day, and Caine (Carradine) is the great-grandson of Kwai-Chang Caine, whom Carradine portrayed in the original series. This Caine has a son, police detective Peter Caine (Chris Potter), who now mixes the lessons his father taught him with police work.

There were the requisite flashbacks, just like the original series, this time to Peter's formative years. This plot device is used today by WB, with their DC Comics family of dramas on CW.

I find it disturbing that not even ABC, which was home to the original Kung Fu in the 70's, was interested in the sequel series, and, oh, did they miss out.

I'm not going to take a chance on posting a full episode, knowing that WB's copyright enforcement unit will eventually take it down. Instead, we'll go with the open. Richard Anderson (ex-The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, Dan August) is the narrator.

I have fonder memories of seeing the weekday repeats on TNT than I do of the first-run airings. Meh. You'd think that El Rey, which has been running "classic" kung fu movies, would pick this show up, along with the original, but so far, they haven't.

Rating: A.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Videos of Summer: Hot, Hot, Hot (1987)

David Johansen swapped out his punk rock threads from his days with the New York Dolls for a pompadour and formal wear, morphing into lounge lizard Buster Poindexter in 1987.

Unfortunately, Johansen/Poindexter found the going just as tough as it was in the 70's with the Dolls. He'd only manage one more hit after "Hot Hot Hot", and that was a cover of Ray Charles' "Hit The Road Jack", used in the 1989 action comedy, "The Dream Team", with Michael Keaton & Christopher Lloyd, among others.

This video starts with a little history lesson.........

Johansen would, in between albums, appear in the 1988 comedy, "Scrooged", with Bill Murray, and the feature film remake of Car 54, Where Are You, which would be the extent of his film career, methinks.

The Democratic "clown car" is parked in Troy

In three months, the home town will elect a new mayor, as current mayor Lou Rosamilia decided at the beginning of the year he would not seek a second term.

The Democrats chose Patrick Madden, who is not enrolled in the party, as their candidate. His only claim to fame is on the other side of the aisle, if you will. His sister is Rensselaer County Executive Kathleen Jimino, a Republican. The Whiner Squad that calls into The Record's daily Sound Off column has pointed out this disparity enough times, suggesting that local Democratic Party chairman Tom Wade may be doing some back-door dealing, or, in layman's terms, telling Jimino, I'll scratch your back if you'll scratch mine.

Madden is a political neophyte and a cipher, crossing party lines where the only benefit would be to bring the two sides together on certain city quality of life issues.

However, there are two others vying for the Democratic nod. One is City Council President Rodney Wiltshire, who, if you believe the Whiner Squad, has been ignored by Wade in favor of Madden. Then, there is Ernest Everett, the prodigal son returning home to make a run for City Hall. Wiltshire and Everett are African-American, and have been set against each other in recent days. Twice in as many weeks, there've been challenges to signatures on Everett's petition to be added to the Democratic ballot for the primary next month. In both cases, the trail leads back to Wiltshire, who is denying any and all involvement.

First, a former City Council candidate, Russell Ziemba, filed an objection, which was dismissed in court a week and a half ago. Then, exactly a week later, city businessman Kevin McCashion, who otherwise is a rabble rouser on Twitter, raised the issue anew. Supposedly, some of the signatures were from people who either didn't have their signatures witnessed by Everett or don't live in the city, in violation of the city charter. McCashion, in an article that appeared in The Record on Saturday, claimed to have sources to back up his claims. Being on Twitter doesn't make you an armchair detective or journalist, and McCashion has raised enough political hackles on both sides of the aisle in recent times, such that his credibility can and probably will be called into question.

The Republican candidate is City Councilman Jim Gordon. Surprisingly, the local media has not succumbed to the temptation to make references to his fictional namesake from the comic books and the TV series, Gotham. In any case, Gordon stands to benefit from the divisive infighting among the Democratic candidates. Similarly, Rosamilia locked up the election 4 years ago after the campaign staff of his opponent, Carmella Mantello, resorted to a last minute smear campaign, airing an attack ad four days before the election. Game, set, and match. This year, Mantello is opting to run for City Council, her second attempt in the last three years to return to the Council, but if she's employing the same morons on her campaign staff this time......!

On Saturday, I e-mailed a letter to The Record, challenging McCashion to provide proof of his claims against Everett. I'm waiting to see if 1) the letter is printed, and 2) if word gets back to McCashion, whether or not he'll take the bait. I'm otherwise waiting until November to cast my vote (I registered as an Independent all the way back when I was first eligible to vote), and by then, the Democratic clown car will have been emptied.

If only the GOP one for President was that easily emptied.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Musical Interlude: Lowdown (1976)

"Lowdown" came off Boz Scaggs' 1976 album, "Silk Degrees", and to this day still gets a good amount of airplay of adult contemporary radio. This is the kind of soft rock we're all missing otherwise.

Frank Gifford (1930-2015)

I would not be at all surprised if prior to tonight's NFL Hall of Fame game between Pittsburgh & Minnesota, there was a moment of silent prayer & remembrance of Hall of Famer Frank Gifford. The former running back of the Giants, and, later, ABC sportscaster, passed away today at 84, one week shy of his 85th birthday.

I didn't get to see Gifford play on TV. However, I had read of him, and was acquainted with his work at ABC via Wide World of Sports and, of course, Monday Night Football. Gifford replaced Keith Jackson in season 2 of MNF, though some people might think the smarter move would've been to displace the overly talkative Howard Cosell. Gifford remained on MNF until 1998. He covered other sports on Wide World, and also covered several Olympic Games for ABC.

Let's take you back to 1971, a preseason game between Kansas City and the Jets, and Gifford's debut in the MNF booth.

I would imagine the Giants will honor him with a patch on their uniforms, starting with their first preseason game next weekend.

Rest in peace, Frank.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Forgotten TV: The Man Who Never Was (1966)

20th Century Fox did its best to cover all the bases during the 1966-7 season. Unfortunately, casting a wider net of genres didn't have the desired results. While Batman was in its 2nd season, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea in its 3rd, Fox added to their ABC slate with some fresh shows. Out of this class, however, only the crime drama Felony Squad (previously reviewed) made it past the 1st season. Irwin Allen's Time Tunnel and William Dozier's adaptation of Green Hornet fell after 1 season apiece.

So did The Man Who Never Was, which took its title from a 1956 Fox film and a novel that served as the movie's source material, but went no further. 

American intelligence agent Peter Murphy (Robert Lansing) is in Germany (couldn't tell if it was East or West) on assignment, and is ready to head home. However, he is pursued by an enemy agent, who kills Murphy's wife. On the run and exhausted, Murphy staggers into a bar, where he finds an exact double, businessman Mark Wainwright (Lansing again), who exits the bar a few minutes later, and is killed by the enemy agent.

From that point, Murphy becomes Wainwright, and his mission has become even more dangerous. Unfortunately, the show's title might've been a bit unwieldy for viewers, who could easily get into Mission: Impossible, which launched the same year on CBS, or The Man From U.N.C.L.E., in its 3rd year on NBC, or even the spy satire, Get Smart (2nd year on NBC). Factor in another WWII spy series also on ABC, Blue Light, and, well, I think you get the idea.

Following is the series opener, which sets the story up rather nicely.

As you all know, Lansing would be given another pilot, but Gene Roddenberry's Assignment: Earth went no further than a backdoor pilot on Star Trek, and it'd be a while before Lansing landed another series gig.

Rating: B.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Musical Interlude: Cinnamon Girl (1970)

The Gentrys are best remembered for their 1965 hit, "Keep On Dancing". The band split 2 years later, but vocalist and future WWE Hall of Famer Jimmy Hart reformed the group in 1969 before he turned to wrestling.

"Cinnamon Girl" didn't quite crack the top 40, peaking at #52 before Neil Young's version hit the charts in 1970. Unfortunately, there isn't a video of any kind of the Gentrys, version 2.0 with Hart up front, performing the song. For what it's worth, Larry Raspberry was the band's original lead vocalist, and had gone on his own after the band initially broke up in 1967.

Anyway, we have this audio-only clip. Why? Hart will be coming to town not to sing, but as a guest of Dynasty Pro Wrestling on August 29.

Now, you tell me if you think this is on a par with Young's better known version.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

On DVD: The Love We Make (2011)

Paul McCartney was in New York on September 11, 2001, when the infamous terrorist attacks took place. He headlined the Concert For New York City just a few days later. In between, a film crew recorded the former Beatle's whirlwind media tour, that included interviews with Howard Stern, Dan Rather, and others, leading up to the concert.

Those interviews were culled together 10 years later for a Showtime special, The Love We Make, now available on DVD. There's also footage from the concert itself, with performances by David Bowie, Billy Joel, Elton John, Mick Jagger & Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, The Who, and James Taylor, plus brief shots of Billy Crystal & Jim Carrey.

Following is a promo video from Showtime.

It all speeds by in a shade more than 90 minutes---it was made for cable, after all---, and the concert itself may still be available on DVD by itself, though I'd fast forward past Stern's on stage antics.

Rating: B-.

What Might've Been: McClain's Law (1981)

After doing almost exclusively Westerns (Gunsmoke, How The West Was Won), James Arness' final series was a contemporary crime drama, McClain's Law, which aired on NBC in 1981. Amazingly, none of the critics thought to refer to this as Arness essentially reprising his signature role as Marshal Matt Dillon (Gunsmoke) in a late-20th century setting. Maybe it's for the best that they didn't, since the show lasted just six months.

So why did McClain fail? Hard to say, really. NBC had the show coupled at one point with Angie Dickinson's comeback vehicle, Cassie & Co., on Fridays, but at the time, NBC was struggling to find a hit drama other than Little House on the Prairie, and while Hill Street Blues was part of the same freshman class as McClain, viewers found that more to their liking, perhaps because it didn't have a familiar face headlining the show.

Here's the intro. The supporting cast also includes Carl Franklin (ex-The Fantastic Journey, Caribe) and George DiCenzo (Helter Skelter):

Rating: B.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

What Might've Been: Finder of Lost Loves (1984)

Here's a detective drama with a bit of a twist.

Finder of Lost Loves lasted just 1 season on ABC (1984-5), and starred Tony Franciosa (ex-The Name of the Game) as a newly widowed sleuth who specializes in bringing couples back together. Something tells me that this concept might've been just a wee bit ahead of its time.

Dionne Warwick (ex-Solid Gold) and Glenn Jones recorded the Burt Bacharach-Carole Bayer Sager-authored theme song. After Finder bit the dust, Warwick was asked by executive producer Aaron Spelling to record a new version of the Love Boat theme, replacing Jack Jones' version for the final season of that series.

Today, a show about a detective bringing couples together would not be a work of fiction, but rather another cookie-cutter reality show. Think about that while you scope the intro:

Finder would be Tony Franciosa's final series, and the fourth one (Valentine's Day, Search, Matt Helm) to go just one season.

No rating. Never saw the show.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Videos of Summer: Endless Summer Nights (1988)

There was a period in the late 80's-early 90's where Richard Marx was one of the biggest acts in pop music. His songs were not only Top 40 ready, but catered to the adult contemporary crowd as well.

Unfortunately, Marx appeared to have peaked in 1991 with the haunting story song, "Hazard", which was about an unsolved mystery. The attempt to address social issues was ignored by most folks.

Meanwhile, let's go back to 1988, when Marx ruled the charts, and celebrate the dog days of August with "Endless Summer Nights", an ode to the summers of our youth.

Separating baseball's haves & have-nots---maybe

Here we are, three weeks removed from the All-Star Game. Based on the standings in each of Major League Baseball's six divisions, the pre-season preview guides have proven to be a waste of time and consumer dollars.

Let's take the American League East, for example. Seemingly everyone and his brother picked Boston to win the division. I might've been one of the few that didn't buy into it, as I picked Toronto. Everyone had the Yankees in either 3rd, 4th, or 5th, nowhere near a wild card, much less a division title. Instead, the Bronx Bombers sit atop the division after blowing away the White Sox on Sunday. You can make more of a case for Mark Teixiera winning comeback player of the year in the AL, as opposed to teammate Alex Rodriguez, but if they give it to A-Roid, well, it will come off in some circles as hollow, shallow, and more about keeping A-Roid's name in the papers.

But what could doom the Yankees is a lack of depth in pitching. They never should've let David Robertson go to the ChiSox as a free agent. Michael Pineda is hurt, and on the DL. CC Sabathia isn't a front-line starter anymore. All it will take is Baltimore and/or Toronto making a late run, especially the Blue Jays after picking up David Price last week, and the Yankees could plunge out of the playoffs after all.

Boston? Let's just say that if they don't escape the cellar, John Farrell's 2nd run in Beantown, this time as manager, is over.

Robin Ventura's White Sox were picked by certain scribes to win the AL Central. No one but me picked defending AL champ Kansas City, who are now threatening to run away with the division. The Royals haven't made repeat trips to the playoffs since the glory years of the late 70's, when they played the Yankees in the ALCS four times in five years (1976-8, 1980). The Royals are for real. Detroit's run at the top is over.

Over in the National League, don't dismiss the Washington Nationals, just because they were swept out of Flushing by the Mets over the weekend, and now have to do the chasing again. The Mets, after the soap opera of nearly dealing away Wilmer Flores & Zack Wheeler last week, blew into Miami, and in the words of a certain movie star, laid the smack down on the Marlins' collective candyasses on Monday, to the tune of a 12-1 beatdown. The addition of Yoenis Cespedes from Detroit has energized the offense, which had been slumbering like a bunch of bears hibernating in the winter. Not anymore.

Is it possible that the Mets could have back-to-back Rookies of the Year? Noah Syndergaard shared Player of the Week honors last week with teammate Lucas Duda, and his numbers vs. San Diego & Washington were just flat ridiculous. Pre-season, everyone assumed the Nationals had the best pitching staff in the division. The Mets, with their young guns (Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Jacob DeGrom, and the injured Wheeler & Steven Matz), are basically pulling a Lee Corso and telling folks, not so fast, my friends. Bear in mind that Syndergaard out-pitched Jordan Zimmermann on Sunday. The two teams will play six more times, with 3 in Washington next month, and the season finale at Citi Field in October.

Of course, the Nats have been beset with injuries, just like the Mets, but before he was put on the DL, Stephen Strasburg proved he was mortal after all, anyway.

For all the moves the San Diego Padres made in the off-season, it hasn't translated the way folks thought it might, and the Pads are in a familiar spot, chasing the Dodgers, and trying to get back above .500.

The lesson learned? What happens during Hot Stove season (off-season) gives sports writers a rose colored view of things, but when the season starts, the hype gives way to pressure, and, well, if you're in Boston, Miami, San Diego, or Chicago, you might want to start getting rid of those pre-season magazines.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Musical Interlude: (I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden (1970-3)

Joe South wrote & recorded "(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden" in 1969, but couldn't crack the charts. Neither could Billy Joe Royal or Dobie Gray. However, it took Lynn Anderson's cover, released in 1970, to make it a huge hit. Anderson hit #1 on the Billboard Country chart, and peaked at #3 on the Hot 100, meaning it was heard on American Top 40.

In memory of Anderson, who passed away Thursday at 67.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

DirecTV doesn't get it, so they go back to the well again (2015)

To promote the new season of NFL Sunday Ticket, DirecTV has resurrected the controversial ad campaign that featured actor Rob Lowe. Only this time, Lowe has been replaced by some NFL quarterbacks, including professional glutton for punishment Eli Manning of the Giants:

Manning's not alone. While we haven't seen his camera-happy brother, Peyton, do one of these dumb spots---yet, DirecTV was able to convince Dallas QB Tony Romo to join the party. I'll spare you the pain of seeing Romo attempt to act. We'll see plenty of Peyton in ads for Buick, Nationwide, Papa John's, and whomever else wanted him as an endorser over the next few months, anyway.