Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Musical Interlude: It's Easy to Say (Song from 10)(1980)

"10" put British comedian-musician Dudley Moore on the map in the US. At the 1980 Academy Awards, Moore teamed with Australian singer Helen Reddy to perform the "Song from '10' (It's Easy to Say)", which Moore had recorded with Julie Andrews for the movie soundtrack a year earlier.

We lost Dudley nearly 20 years ago, and while American audiences became accustomed to him as an actor and comedian, he was actually much more than that, having released jazz albums in the 60's.

What Might've Been: The Oregon Trail (1977)

NBC thought they could put together a solid Western block----in 1977, when Westerns were no longer in vogue.

Apparently, no one bothered to explain to the programmers that The Life & Times of Grizzly Adams, which led off the block, wasn't a Western per se, and that ill-conceived thinking may have doomed The Oregon Trail.

Rod Taylor, last seen in Bearcats! six years earlier, not only co-starred, but, along with co-star Charles Napier, co-wrote the show's theme song with vocalist Danny Darst. Too bad "Oregon Bound" didn't make the charts, as that would've made Darst's career. Andrew Stevens (Stella's son) was the 3rd lead. 14 episodes were produced, but NBC pulled the plug a wee bit early. All 14 episodes did air----in England.

Never saw the show, so there's not going to be a rating, so we'll leave you with a sample episode, "Suffer The Children", which didn't air here, with guest stars Brandon Cruz (ex-The Courtship of Eddie's Father) and Robert Fuller (Emergency!):

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

ABC Fall preview, 50 years ago (1966)

We conclude our 50th anniversary fall preview series with ABC's lineup, hosted by Batman & Robin (Adam West & Burt Ward). Like NBC's Two in a Cab, the Dynamic Duo are asked to determine which of ABC's freshman entries was left out of a tape provided to Commissioner Gordon for safekeeping. Dick Tufeld (Lost in Space), the announcer for Hollywood Palace, narrates the bulk of the show, while Michael Rye, the voice of CBS' The Lone Ranger, is heard during a promo for the ABC Sunday Night Movie.

We've previously covered most of the freshman class, including Milton Berle's short-lived comeback series. Berle would encounter the Caped Crusaders twice in the 3rd season of Batman as Louie The Lilac, perhaps the result of his cameo here.

Wild Country was rechristened The Monroes, and Men Against Evil was retitled The Felony Squad, both shows produced by 20th Century Fox.

We'll be watching for the following:

ABC Studio '67
The Rounders
The Monroes

Rating: B--. Not even close to being on a par with a regular episode of Batman.

Sports this 'n' that

"All good things must come to an end"---Geoffrey Chaucer.

The Tri-City Valleycats won't win their 5th straight Stedler Division title in the NY-Penn League this year, and the chances of making the playoffs are growing slim. The 'Cats sit in 3rd place, 8 games behind division leader Lowell with 7 games left, and with Staten Island holding the Wild Card at this point, the Valleycats have to win out, including the final home series of the season against Staten Island, beginning on Thursday.

So what was the problem? Unlike in past years, when players have been promoted within the Houston Astros' organizational chain, the 'Cats didn't have enough depth in talent to fill the voids created with 16 player promotions since mid-July. Manager Lamarr Rogers is almost certain to return next year, but we'll see what the future holds after the 'Cats finish their season on Labor Day.
In contrast, the Citi Field injury curse continues to plague the Mets, and yet the Amazin's keep finding ways to win. Today, they are 9 games behind NL East leader Washington, tied with Miami after beating the Marlins in 10 innings Monday night.

The key for the Mets down the stretch is keeping slugger Yoenis Cespedes, who won Monday's game with a walk-off homer, and infielders Asdrubal Cabrera & Neil Walker, healthy long enough to make a run for at least the Wild Card. However, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a miracle this time.
With the Valleycats' season drawing to a close, the attention of local sports fans shifts to high schools and colleges. Some schools in Section II have already begun playing golf & women's volleyball, with soccer getting underway yesterday. Football season begins on Friday. Time Warner's season opening High School Game of the Week sees defending Class A champ Amsterdam playing Burnt Hills, but the real marquee matchup is in Class AA as Shenendehowa visits Troy. Time Warner cameras will be at Troy in week 4 when the Flying Horses host Shaker.

For Troy coach Bob "The Builder" Burns, the ascension to Class AA from Class A may seem like a reward for a job well done last year, but I would suspect that there are still some ill feelings among fans over the Class A title game loss to Amsterdam, during which the game officials did their best impersonation of the Keystone Kops, such was their confusion over a penalty call that went ultimately against Troy. A 4th quarter rally came up short, and Troy was denied their first Super Bowl in more than a decade.

Count on this. Ed Picken Memorial Field could conceivably be packed on both sides of the bleachers on Friday, as Shen's fans travel well by reputation, and on Sept. 16, when in-city rival LaSalle comes in to resume the recently dormant series between the two Troy schools. It won't be easy, but no one ever said it would be.
We have to close on a sad note.

WWE Hall of Famer Mr. Fuji (Harry Fujiwara) passed away Sunday at the age of 82. Cause of death is not yet known at press time. Fuji won 5 WWWF/WWF tag titles with 2 partners (Professor Toru Tanaka and Mr. Saito) during the 70's and early 80's before turning to managing. He led Demolition to the tag titles, and mentored the late Yokozuna (Rod Anoia), a Samoan passed off as a Japanese sumo, to two WWF titles in 1993.

With perhaps a knowing wink to former partner Tanaka, who left the WWWF for Hollywood, Fuji and Don Muraco embarked on a series of parody sketches on Tuesday Night Titans in 1985. Perhaps the most popular skit was Fuji Vice, a send-up of the popular Miami Vice. While Muraco looks like Don Johnson's buffer brother, Fuji might as well have been a fish out of water----which might have been the idea.

Fuji's 80's look was borrowed from another wrestler-turned-actor, Harold Sakata (Oddjob in "Goldfinger"), more so than Charlie Chan. While the acting was largely wooden by design, the skits have become cult favorites more than 30 years later.

Rest in peace, Mr. Fuji.

Monday, August 29, 2016

What Might've Been: Make The Connection (1955)

If we've learned anything over the course of television history, it's the fact that variations on the same basic formula don't always work as well as the original concept.

Case in point is Make The Connection, a short-lived primetime game from Goodson-Todman which ran for 13 weeks on NBC in the summer of 1955. The panel format is the same as G-T's troika of I've Got a Secret, What's My Line?, & To Tell The Truth over at CBS. Game play, it seems, is pretty much the same.

Connection went through two moderators over the course of 13 weeks. Gene Rayburn landed his first hosting job, but it was at the expense of future sports icon Jim McKay, who was ousted after the first month. The panel stayed the same over those 13 weeks, including another icon, Betty White.

Right now, let's take a look at an episode hosted by Jim McKay, and see if you can figure out why he was ultimately sacked.

Rating: B.

Dunce Cap Award: Colin Kaepernick

Politics and sports should never mix, but they often do.

The latest example involves San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has chosen to literally sit out the playing of the Star Spangled Banner prior to games. Why? Give a read to what Kaepernick himself has to say:
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
The above was taken from from an interview Kaepernick gave to NFL Media after Friday's game. The team's stance? This is also from the same article:
"The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem."
I get that Kaepernick supports Black Lives Matter, but he's already taken a great deal of backlash from other players and coaches around the league, some of whom, including former teammate Alex Boone, now with Minnesota, and Carolina coach Ron Rivera, have family members who are or have served in the military. Given that Kaepernick has been the subject of rumors having him either being traded or released in recent years, given that the quality of his play has regressed, it seems as though he's taking a stand that may just be his final ticket out of San Francisco.
Politics and sports should never mix, but in this case, it's a bone-headed play that nets Kaepernick a Dunce Cap award.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Since when is the sun on trial? (1980)

Sun Giant isn't even close to Sun Maid when it comes to raisins, but parent company Tenneco came up with an imaginative ad campaign to promote their product in 1980.

The Sun (Marvin Kaplan, Alice, ex-Top Cat) is on trial. For what, we don't know, and we'll never know. James Hampton (ex-F-Troop, The Doris Day Show) is the attorney.

In memory of Kaplan, who passed away earlier this weekend.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Musical Interlude: School Days (1957-8)

With colleges starting a new season as early as Monday in some cities, and high school sports having already launched in a number of places before the first bell of the year, it's time to serve up Chuck Berry's "School Days", which charted in the spring of 1957, but Berry played it on The Dick Clark Show in May 1958.

Somehow, the college professor's robe doesn't fit the picture, as most of the kids in the audience appeared to be of high school age.....

CBS Fall Preview 50 years ago (1966)

Today, we're kicking off a 3-part series looking back at the fall television season of 1966. We'll be looking at ABC & NBC later on, but we'll start with CBS.

The network promised 8 new shows, but only previewed six of them. Host Garry Moore was reviving his variety show, but like fellow comedy icon Milton Berle over at ABC, Moore didn't survive the season, and would return a couple of years later fronting a syndicated revival of To Tell The Truth. Also missing from the video is Mission: Impossible, as the lone drama in this video is the short-lived Jericho.

The network expanded its movie schedule to 2 nights a week, and would find that the CBS Friday Night Movies would be an on-again, off-again staple well into the 70's.

The rest of the Class of '66:

It's About Time
Run, Buddy, Run
Family Affair
The Jean Arthur Show
Pistols & Petticoats

In addition to Moore, Buddy and Jericho were also given quick hooks, and in Moore's case, he was replaced by the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Mr. Terrific would replace Buddy in the winter of '67.

Here we go:

We've yet to review The Jean Arthur Show, The Garry Moore Show, Mission: Impossible, & Jericho, but we'll get to them soon enough.

Rating for the special: A.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Forgotten TV: Circus (1971)

In 1971, 20th Century Fox experimented with an anthology documentary series whose title was sort of self-explanatory.

Circus ran for 2 seasons (1971-3), but to my recollection lasted maybe just 1 in the home market. Entertainer Bert Parks, better known then as the MC of the Miss America Pageant, was the tour guide, taking viewers to various locations around the world and in the US.

Let's take a look at a sample clip, shall we?

Back in the day, it was not uncommon for one of the biggest touring circuses, Ringling Brothers-Barnum & Bailey, to have a network special every year. Fox suits must've seen the ratings, and thought a weekly show could do the trick. Apparently, they forgot that the scripted drama, The Greatest Show on Earth, loosely based on Ringling Bros., lasted just 1 year for ABC.

Rating: B-.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Musical Interlude: Copacabana (1979)

From The Muppet Show:

Liza Minnelli serves up a righteous take on Barry Manilow's seminal disco hit, "Copacabana".

I remember seeing this the first time around. This was a distraction from the overall episode, first shown in November 1979, in which the Muppets engaged in some murder mystery role play. Who'd have thought that it would later become trendy?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

When MTV Was Cool: Al TV (1984)

Song satirist "Weird" Al Yankovic had done one of MTV's monthly "Guest VJ" gigs in February 1984. The ratings must've been so good, the network invited him back, but this time giving him a 4 hour block of unfettered silliness.

Fittingly, Al TV launched on April Fool's Day, April 1, and would appear sporadically over the next 22 years, with the last two installments---all of the episodes were glorified infomercials for Al's albums---airing on VH1.

Yankovic pretended he had built a pirate satellite, and "took over" MTV for 4 hours, using outsourced interview footage and pretending he was the one conducting the interviews, producing commercials for non-existent products, and so on. It was just flat out wack.

This, of course, led not only to Yankovic's 1989 movie, "UHF", but also a subsequent, short-lived Saturday morning comedy-variety show for CBS.

Let's take a look at some excerpts from the opener, on April 1, 1984. The music videos have been edited out for obvious reasons.

Yankovic, of course, is still recording. With MTV and VH1 having forsaken music for lame reality shows and off-network reruns, there might not be room for a return. Or is there?

Rating: B.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A British Classic: Father, Dear Father (1968)

When England's Thames Television brokered a deal with 2 American television stations, including WOR in New York, in the late 70's, they selected a number of shows to air here, including The Benny Hill Show, which was later chopped down to a half-hour for syndication here, and The Sweeney, one of their premier crime dramas.

One sitcom, Father, Dear Father, had been out of production for a spell when it arrived here. Patrick Cargill was the titular parent, divorced and caring for his two teenage daughters while maintaining a cordial relationship with his ex-wife, who has since remarried.

Despite the fact that Father ran for five years in England, the series was not picked up for an extended run by WOR. In fact, The Benny Hill Show was the lone survivor of the program exchange to continue here in the US.

Following is a sample clip:

Series creators and writers Johnnie Mortimer & Brian Cooke also created Man About The House, which was translated in the US into Three's Company. As memory serves, Man was also part of the Thames on 9 package in New York, and that ultimately led to Three's Company, though I can't be sure that's the way it went.

Father, Dear Father merits a B.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Gene Roddenberry on To Tell The Truth (1975)

Here's one for all you Star Trek fans out there.

Series creator Gene Roddenberry appeared on To Tell The Truth in 1975. Not the first high profile creator to appear on the show (Marvel's Stan Lee appeared twice on Truth, and Bill Gaines of Mad Magazine fame was also a contestant), but this was the sort of outside-the-box thinking that kept the syndicated Truth going as long as it did.

Let's just get right to it, leading with an abridged reading of the Trek preamble by host Garry Moore.

I guess Rita Moreno (The Electric Company) wasn't a sci-fi fan.......

Now Colonel Sanders is a wrestler? (2016)

Can we just stop and let Colonel Sanders rest in peace, once and for all?

The latest imposter Colonel is WWE superstar Dolph Ziggler, part of a marketing campaign WWE & KFC are, ah, tag-teaming on, leading into last night's Summerslam PPV. The opposition, looking like a total tool in a chicken suit, is Michael "The Miz" Mizanin, whose in-ring character thinks that even though he's made cable and DTV movies in recent years, he's an Oscar-worthy actor. Not after this....

Seems that Miz is representing a parody of Popeye's, which had been a WWE sponsor. Hmmmmm.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

What Might've Been: Hi, Honey, I'm Home! (1991)

Get ready for a blast from Nickelodeon's past.

In the summer of 1991, the network cut a deal with ABC, giving the latter first-airing rights to a new sitcom, Hi, Honey, I'm Home!, which served as a summer replacement series, airing on Fridays on ABC, and replaying two nights later on Nickelodeon before the Nick at Nite block took over.

The concept was this. Hi, Honey tells the story of the Nielsen family, who've moved from Hollywood to an unnamed small town. While the Nielsens are fish out of water, they also share some life lessons with their neighbors, the Duffs.

Unfortunately, ABC viewers were tuned out, and the network dropped Hi, Honey after the first six episodes. Nick, however, brought the show back the following summer for 7 more episodes before putting it to bed for good.

Future Backstreet Boy AJ McLean was cast as one of the Duff boys in the pilot, which you will see in a moment, but the part was recast and a new pilot was shot. If only they knew.....!

Following is a sample episode with special guest star Ann B. Davis (ex-The Bradys, Brady Bunch, The Bob Cummings Show):

Unfortunately also, series star Charlotte Booker was hardly heard from again after Hi, Honey bit the dust.

Rating: B.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Musical Interlude: Thank You For Being a Friend (1978)

If all you know about Andrew Gold's "Thank You For Being a Friend" is the abridged version used as the theme from The Golden Girls, then scope out this video that offers the song from start to finish. Gold peaked at #25 with "Friend" in 1978.

A Classic Reborn (?): Mister Ed (2004)

More than 40 years after his debut, Mister Ed was poised for a return. Fox had asked for a pilot to be made for an updated version of the 1961-6 Filmways series that had aired originally in syndication, then moved to CBS for its remaining seasons.

This time around, Ed is voiced by Sherman Hemsley (ex-The Jeffersons, Amen), giving Ed more of a urban, street smart attitude. Kind of like the other characters Hemsley had played. Instead of being childless, Wilbur Pope (the original name for the character in an unaired pilot prior to the original series) and his wife have two kids, typical children of the period. David Basche and Sherilyn Fenn (ex-Twin Peaks) co-star.

To paraphrase an old cliche, too many characters spoil the story. No wonder Fox didn't go all in.

Rating: D.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Classic TV: High Rollers (1974)

In the 70's, Merrill Heatter & Bob Quigley began developing game shows with a theme centered on gambling. First, there was Gambit, which aired initially on CBS, then was revived in the early 80's as Las Vegas Gambit for NBC.

Then, in July 1974, there was High Rollers.

All it really was, to be truthful, was a variation on Gambit, swapping out a deck of cards for dice. Both games mixed a simple quiz with the gimmick du jour. Future icon Alex Trebek, who made his American debut a year earlier with another NBC game show, The Wizard of Odds, was tapped to host, as apparently, Heatter & Quigley saw something in Trebek that made them believe he was the right fit for High Rollers. Actress Ruta Lee was Trebek's co-hostess, a role filled by Gambit's Elaine Stewart in the syndicated night edition that followed soon after.

In all, High Rollers had two runs that totaled nearly 4 years (1974-6, 1978-80) on NBC, the second run ending to make room for David Letterman's initial talk show. After a 7 year hiatus, Heatter, working together with Rick Rosner, who had acquired Hollywood Squares a year earlier, revived Rollers, but, with Trebek busy with Jeopardy!, Wink Martindale, who had helmed both incarnations of Gambit, took over as host for the syndicated run, which lasted a year.

Let's turn the clock back to Independence Day 1975.

Many thanks to Million Colors of Light.

Rating: A.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Musical Interlude: Opposites Attract (1988-90)

In a way, Paula Abdul's video for "Opposites Attract", which I believe was the last single off her 1988 debut CD, "Forever Your Girl", was a homage to Gene Kelly's famous dance routine with Jerry (of Tom & Jerry fame) in "Anchors Aweigh", more than 40 years earlier. Paula's joined this time by the animated MC Skat Kat (voice performed by one of the Wild Pair), who would later be spun off and release his own CD.

The release of the video at the end of 1989 had to have been inspired by the live-action/animated hybrid film, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?", released a year and a half earlier. "Opposites" hit #1 in February 1990, but on his own, Skat Kat couldn't hit gold.

Sports this 'n' that

As this year's Olympics are winding down, it seems that the trope of filing a false police report has found its way into this year's events in Rio.

It wasn't so long ago a young woman claimed she'd been kidnapped, only to find that she fabricated the whole thing. Seems gold medal winning swimmer Ryan Lochte was paying too much attention.

Over the weekend, Lochte and three teammates---Jimmy Feigen, Jack Conger, & Gunnar Bentz---claimed they were robbed at gunpoint. Oh, the horror. Ah, but not so fast, my friends. It seems that Lochte, who also scored a reality TV deal after the London Olympics 4 years ago, left his three pals, ahem, high and dry, jetting home before a local judge could call for his passport.

It turns out the four acted like a quartet of drunken sailors and got into a fight with someone, but didn't want to own up to anything, so they concocted the story of a taxicab robbery. Or, it would appear, Lochte made that up in a vain effort to save face. Now, I wasn't aware until now Lochte had a reality show. As if anyone really cares. Lochte, 32, is likely at the end of his Olympic career, as is his more famous teammate, Michael Phelps, who already has said he's had his last Olympic race. Only in Lochte's case, the same media that lionized him 4 years ago are now wagging their collective fingers and telling him, shame on you.

That said, Lochte picks up a pair of waterproof Weasel ears for not only shirking the responsibility of owning up to the fight, but fabricating something else entirely, then leaving his teammates to hold the bag.
While the Chicago Cubs fired an in-house DJ at Wrigley Field for a poor choice of exit music for reliever Aroldis Chapman the other day, the DJ's at AT &T Park and Citi Field may want to avoid playing Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" any time soon, because the Mets and San Francisco Giants, who play each other this weekend, are in that very precarious position.

The Mets were expected to lay waste to the bottom feeders in the NL West---Arizona & San Diego---, but instead went a paltry 3-6 over the last 9 games, including a pathetic 1-5 vs. the Diamondbacks. Jon Niese, in two games vs. Arizona, reminded fans of why the Mets dumped him in the offseason in the first place. A week after he was lit up for six runs in relief, Niese started last night's game, and only surrendered 4 runs--2 earned--in 4 2/3 innings. The bullpen imploded, and the D-Backs romped, 13-5. New York is now 10 1/2 games in arrears of Washington in the NL East. The Giants have fallen to 2nd in the West behind Los Angeles, and have not come out of the blocks very well coming out of the All-Star break last month. Even with slugging ace Madison Bumgarner on the hill, it's no guarantee the Giants would win, any more than the Mets can with their A-list starters.

If you're a Mets fan like me or a Giants fan, you might need some Tums handy between tonight and Sunday.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Musical Interlude: Hey Ya! (2003)

Outkast's biggest video success came with the release of "Hey Ya!", off Andre 3000's "The Love Below". Actor Ryan Philippe guest stars as the British MC who introduces the band in a sequence that rarely saw the light of day on MTV back in the day. Andre plays all 8 members of the band, continuing a multiple exposure tradition that began, appropriately, with British silent film legend Buster Keaton, and continued into the rock era with two more British stars---Paul McCartney and Phil Collins.

Like, rad, man.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Forgotten TV: The Invisible Woman (1983)

After a trio of Gilligan's Island TV-movies, Sherwood Schwartz called upon Gilligan himself, Bob Denver, for one more project.

The result was the 1983 TV-movie, "The Invisible Woman", which was a pilot for a proposed comedy-adventure series for NBC.

A bumbling scientist (Denver) develops a formula for invisibility, but hasn't been able to restore his test subject, a chimp. Subsequently, his niece (Alexa Hamilton) ends up turning invisible. Since she's a reporter, well, you know where this is going. Subtract the insanity of the Invisible Man of H. G. Wells' original story, and add an aspiring heroine who falls between two comic strip babes---Lois Lane and the Invisible Scarlet O'Neil. David Doyle (ex-Charlie's Angels) and Ron Palillo (ex-Welcome Back, Kotter) also star, as you'll see in the following excerpt.

Unfortunately, Denver was still stuck dealing with the stigma of being typecast as a bumbler, and NBC didn't help matters by referencing his most famous role. I remember seeing this when it first aired. I felt this had potential, but it would've worked better if Denver wasn't playing yet another well-meaning-but-dull-witted type.

Rating: B-.

Monday, August 15, 2016

What Might've Been: Jan & Dean On The Run (1966)

All that was really missing was the "Little Old Lady From Pasadena".

60's pop icons Jan (Berry) & Dean (Torrence) could've beaten The Monkees to the small screen by about a year if ABC had picked up their pilot from 20th Century Fox in 1965. Jan & Dean On The Run appears to be meant to be a documentary series chronicling the career paths of the two singers, narrated by baseball icon Vin Scully. I think now we know how Scully ultimately landed the role of narrator for Occasional Wife a few months later.

Producer-Director William Asher (Bewitched) wasn't completely tied down to Screen Gems, it seems. Fox production chieftain William Self hired Asher's production company, Ashmont, to work on Jan & Dean, and Asher, along with his then-wife, Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery, gets in a cameo. Production supervisor Jack Sonntag came over to Fox from Four Star, and began a long association with Fox.

Unfortunately, On The Run fails to fire. If it was meant to be a sitcom, you wouldn't know since there isn't a laugh track. As a result, this pilot, written by the esteemed Ruth Brooks Flippen, ends up hitting---wait for it---"Dead Man's Curve" (just couldn't resist).

Scope it out for yourselves.

Rating: D.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Classic TV: Split Second (1972)

In the 70's, when it came to game shows, there were two constants. If a network needed a new show, it was going to be emceed by either Bill Cullen or Tom Kennedy. That's just the way it was.

In 1972, Monty Hall (Let's Make a Deal) and producing partner Stefan Hatos hired Kennedy to host a new game for ABC, Split Second, which lasted three years, which seems like an eternity back then.

The concept was similar to Bob Stewart's Three on a Match, which we looked at recently, except that it was possible for all three contestants to come up with the same answer, a gimmick later copied by former Goodson-Todman producer Jay Wolpert for Press Your Luck in the 80's.

Not only that, but the end game with the cars was later co-opted by other shows, including the 1986-9 revival of Hollywood Squares, with similar results.

Split Second was cancelled in the spring of 1975 due to declining ratings. 11 years later, Hall, after finishing a revival of Let's Make a Deal, decided to take the reigns himself, and produced the show in Canada for distribution there and in the US. Unfortunately, this version lasted 1 season, and was later rerun on the Family Channel (now Freeform) in the 90's.

Edit, 11/9/22: Had to change the video. This one takes us to May 1974.

Rating: A.

Musical Interlude: Breakdown Dead Ahead (1980)

"Breakdown Dead Ahead" was the first single off Boz Scaggs' 1980 album, "Middle Man". The album boasts a lineup of guest musicians including Columbia label mates Carlos Santana and Toto's Jeff Porcaro and Steve Lukather, and future superstar Ray Parker, Jr.. Amazingly, at 72, Scaggs is still active, but when he isn't recording, he is in the wine business.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Forgotten TV: My Talk Show (1990)

Fernwood 2-Night and its successor, America 2-Night, had long been off the air by the time someone sold MCA, then the parent company of Universal, the idea that the talk show parody could work again.

What separated My Talk Show from its forebears were two things. One, the fictional setting was in Wisconsin, instead of Ohio, and you had a woman hosting the show. Derby, Wisconsin resident and talk show fan Jennifer Bass (Cynthia Stevenson) started with a public access cable show produced at her home. Not all of the neighbors were willing participants, nor as supportive as you might think. About halfway through the series' six month run, Bass inexplicably disappeared (Stevenson left the show), and frenemy Angela Davenport (Stephanie Hodge) took over as host. All that did was prolong the inevitable.

Let's take a look at a sample episode with William Shatner:

Despite the lure of name guest stars such as Shatner, and the involvement of SCTV to an extent, My Talk Show was gone by the spring of 1991.

No rating. Didn't see enough of the show to merit a rating.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Videos of Summer: It's 5 0'Clock Somewhere (2003)

Alan Jackson teamed with Jimmy Buffett for the chart-topping "It's 5 0'Clock Somewhere", which spent a total of 8 weeks, though not consecutively, atop the country chart in 2003.

Much of the video was shot in Florida, but the concert sequence, where Buffett joins the party, was shot in Indiana. Go figure.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

On The Air: The Sports Reporters (1988)

Some say that ESPN got the idea for The Sports Reporters after seeing a similar show produced on the cheap in Chicago. Nearly 30 years after its launch, Sports Reporters is one of the linchpins of ESPN's Sunday morning block, which leads to NFL coverage during football season.

Respected journalist Dick Schaap was the original moderator when the series premiered in 1988, surrounded by some of his peers, some of whom, including Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News, still contribute to the series today. After Schaap passed away in 2001, John Saunders, a long time SportsCenter anchor, took over, with Schaap's son, Jeremy, filling in occasionally, although Lupica was designated as the primary guest host.

The panel consists of the moderator and three prominent reporters. Of late, some ESPN personalities, including Jemele Hill and Around the Horn panelist Pablo Torre, have taken their turns on the panel. It can be said that Horn, with its game show format, is a distant cousin to Sports Reporters.

Following is a "Parting Shots" segment from June 2013, in memory of Saunders, who passed away today at 61.

Rating: A.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Musical Interlude: Bad Moon Rising (1969)

Howzabout a little swamp rock to get you through the night? From 1969, here's Creedence Clearwater Revival with "Bad Moon Rising". I think it's been used in a werewolf movie at least once......

Weasel of the Week: John Doe of Scotland

The above named recipient of this week's Weasel ears is actually an anonymous, but very angry, moviegoer who has taken umbrage over the difference between the trailers for "Suicide Squad" and the final product.

Seems this goof was led to believe Jared Leto would have a beefier part as The Joker than had been presented in the final cut. With all the editing that WB did, including inserting a cameo by the Flash (Ezra Miller) and mixing in Batman (Ben Affleck), one would assume that with the Dark Knight in the picture, the Clown Prince of Crime would have more to do. If WB didn't do so much editing to make the movie seem to critics like a cinematic bowl of Chunky Soup, maybe he has a case.

Give a read, then, to what the sad sap has to say. Taken from
Movie Trailers are like food menus, they give you a preview of what your gonna get. If you look at a McDonald's menu and you choose to get your favourite burger, presented/showcased in a nice picture with pickles, chicken, mild cheese(you're favourite, in-fact...that's the only reason you're getting this burger...because you love mild cheese). So you use your hard worked money to pay for this burger, you get the burger, but only to find out that...this isn't the burger you ordered. Yes it has pickles and doesn't have mild has regular cheese.

Suicide Squad trailers showcased several SPECIFIC Joker scenes that I had to pay for the whole movie just so that I can go watch those SPECIFIC SCENES that WB/DC had advertised in their trailers and TV spots. These scenes are: When Joker banged his head on his car window, when Joker says, ''let me show you my toys'', when Joker punchs the roof of his car, when Joker drops a bomb with his face all messed up and says, ''BYE BYE!''. Non of these scenes were in the movie. I drove 300 miles to London to go watch these specific scenes they had explicitly advertised in their TV ads...and they didn't show them to me. Adding to this, they were also 2 specific Katana scenes they advertised that were also the reason I wanted to go watch the movie. These scenes were: Katana's eyes going black, and a slow motion shot of her and her sword taking a smokey kind of style. These scenes were advertised several times in the 1st trailer and many TV ads...but they didn't show it to me in the movie. I wasted alot of money paying and travelling to go watch this movie because of these specific scenes they had advertised to me and all of us saying, ''hey, check out our preview! this will all be in our movie, come watch it on the 5th!!''. All lies. I told the theatre about this unjust act and said I didn't get what I came here to see...can I have my money back. They laughed at me and kicked me out. So I'm now taking this to court. I want my refund, the trauma of being embarrassed as I was being kicked out and people laughing at me for wanting my refund, and also the 160 pounds of fuel money I used to drive to London from Scotland.
Let me say this:


Does this blighter know anything about film editing, and that a lot of scenes used in trailers often get left on the cutting room floor, sometimes to be restored for special cuts released on DVD? He claims trauma because he didn't get to see scenes promised in the trailer? Lord knows WB has enough to deal with after the critics let loose with their complaints, and that was before the movie opened last week.

I've got bad news for you, dude. Your case will likely be thrown out of court before you get past your opening argument on Thursday. Enjoy the Weasel ears. You're embarrassing the rest of us.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Musical Interlude: I'm Into Something Good (1988)

22 years after Herman's Hermits climbed the charts, lead singer Peter Noone revisited "I'm Into Something Good", this time as a solo track off the soundtrack to the movie, "The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!" (italics mine, of course). The film's star, Leslie Nielsen, hams it up fronting the fictional band, the Lesstones, who are backing up Peter here.

Funny how the movie, which has a summer setting, was released three weeks before Christmas. Go figure.

On The Air: Praise The Lord (1973)

It is the centerpiece of Trinity Broadcasting's daily schedule, and like the network, it has been on the air for 43 years.

Praise The Lord is a 2 hour talk-variety show that airs Monday-Friday, with a different host and sometimes, also, a different locale each night. Trinity co-founder Jim Bakker, it can be implied, created the now-defunct PTL Club after he and then-wife Tammy left TBN. The late Paul & Jan Crouch were the first hosts of Praise The Lord.

Not only has the show hosted the usual roster of Christian artists, but also celebrities who've shared their faith in God, including comedy legend Tim Conway, wrestlers Shawn Michaels and Sting (Steve Borden), actor-model Tyrese Gibson, whom you'll see in the following video, and one of the busiest men in show business today, Steve Harvey, who was the MC for this particular episode.

The coolest part, of course, is that there are no commercial interruptions with the TBN broadcast, other than house ads. Last I knew, since it's been a while since I last watched the show, it airs at 5 & 10 pm ET (the time might've changed). You owe it to yourself to give it a look. You'll be glad you did.

Rating: A.

Sports this 'n' that

You would think that the Mets would be steaming toward the playoffs en route to a 2nd straight World Series appearance, the perfect coda to the 30th anniversary of the team's last championship. Unfortunately, the Citi Field injury bug has bitten them over and over again, stifling any realistic chance of reaching the post-season.

The Mets traded for Jay Bruce last week, shipping Dilson Herrera off to Cincinnati in exchange. Then, they welcomed back pitcher Jonathan Niese, as Antonio Bastardo, clearly on the downside of his career, went back to the Pirates. Niese, you'll recall, was shipped out in the Neil Walker deal during the off-season. Now, it was thought that Herrera would've been ready to be called up full time this season---and he was, as they say, raking in Las Vegas---and that was why Daniel Murphy is currently doing his share of raking in Washington. Murphy has led the NL in batting for much of the season, a testimony to yet another bonehead play by the Mets' front office. Walker, it was thought, would be a 1 year rental, as he'll be a free agent after the season, but GM Sandy Alderson would be wise to lock up Walker to a long term deal. Other in-season pickups, such as another prodigal son, Jose Reyes, have fallen victim to the injury curse. It is the injuries, more than the Mets' inconsistent play, that has them 9 games in arrears of the Nationals.
Meanwhile, in the Bronx, after months of NY sports writers calling for them to cut bait on their older stars, the Yankees are in fact saying goodbye to two cogs in the machine that led them to the 2009 World Series. On Friday, Mark Teixiera, plagued with injuries these last two seasons, announced he would retire at the end of the season. Less than 48 hours later, Alex Rodriguez made the same decision, except that his last game will be Friday vs. Tampa Bay. A-Rod would then be released from his player contract, and be given a new deal that would have him as a special advisor and roving minor league instructor until the end of 2017. This is the curse of teams who get into "win now" mode. They pick up older players, usually at or near the end of their careers, for a quick fix to satisfy the fan base, whilst waiting for prospects to develop in the minors. While the Yanks dealt away two of their ace relievers at or before the trade deadline---and that was just plain dumb, in this writer's opinion---some of the front line prospects that are waiting have also been struck by the injury bug (i.e. Greg Bird), prolonging their development. In New York, you have to learn to be patient, but sports fans in New York think being patient means being at the doctor's office 24/7/365/52.
When Ichiro Suzuki first came to the US from Japan, signed by Seattle prior to the 2001 season, no one would've thought he would eventually gain 3,000 hits. Now a bench player for Miami, Suzuki reached the milestone on Sunday at Colorado with a 7th inning triple. The last two players to reach 3,000 hits---A-Rod and Derek Jeter---both hit home runs, and Ichiro nearly did the same. No wonder Pete Rose, banned from Cooperstown for gambling on his own team back in the day, had a couple of cows when someone asked him about Suzuki earlier this season. Add up Ichiro's totals between the Japanese leagues and MLB, and he's already surpassed Rose. And he will be a 1st ballot election to the Hall of Fame. Enough said.
I have to feel sorry, as both a Mets & Valleycats fan, for fellow Mets fans who made the pilgrimage to Bruno Stadium this weekend to see the Brooklyn Cyclones take on Tri-City. On Sunday night, the Cyclones, having seen the parent club knock off Detroit, were obliterated by the Valleycats in a record-setting 18-4 beatdown. Tri-City led 13-2 after 2 innings. Ouch! The 'Cats are now 1 game behind Lowell for the Stedler Division lead with a month to go. Y'think the Spinners are hearing footsteps yet?
For the 2nd time in 6 years, the NFL cancelled the Hall of Fame game on Sunday. Some idiot on the grounds crew assigned to the game applied the wrong paint to the field, and the field conditions became such that, in the best interest of player safety, the game wound up being called off, denying fans the opportunity to see Indianapolis and Green Bay have at it. In 2011, a lockout forced the cancellation of the game. In some folks' minds, this was even worse, another black eye for the league at a time when it really can't afford one from a public relations angle. Some media accounts said the field was a mess in the wake of a Tim McGraw concert on Friday night, and the field was covered for the Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Saturday. They had plenty of time to get the right paint applied, let it dry, then cover the field for the induction ceremony, and.....!

The game would've been broadcast on ESPN this year, due to NBC having the Olympics filling primetime, and, as another consequence, MLB Network was given their first Sunday "Showcase" game. In all probability, Sean McDonough, the new play-by-play voice of Monday Night Football, will be at the mic on Saturday for the first pre-season game in LA in years, as the Rams will begin their exhibition schedule.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Forgotten TV: Mrs. Columbo (1979)

Columbo had been off the air less than a year when then-NBC programming honcho Fred Silverman decided to spin off the detective's heretofore unseen wife into her own series. Considering NBC was the last place network in the late 70's, this was one of the reasons why.

Mrs. Columbo lasted just 5 weeks in the 1st quarter of 1979. Kate Mulgrew was cast in the title role, but her occupation was that of a newspaper reporter, not a police detective. However, the producers tried to show that she had learned something from her husband after all.

Here's the intro:

Veteran writers Richard Levinson & William Link, creators of Columbo, Mannix, and later, Murder, She Wrote, and Peter Falk weren't digging, and neither were viewers. NBC retooled the series, ultimately, eliminating the familial link, and our sleuth was renamed "Kate Callahan" for subsequent episodes, which were under the titles, Kate the Detective or Kate Loves a Mystery. Didn't matter. The second season was slightly longer than the first, and Kate was history in less than a year.

Of course, Kate Mulgrew fared much better then next time she was entrusted with a series based on a well known franchise. Star Trek Voyager was one of UPN's linchpins in the late 90's-early '00's.

No rating.

Musical Interlude: Get a Job (1957-8)

This is where Sha Na Na got their name.

It comes from the chorus of the Silhouettes' 1-hit wonder, "Get a Job", which was released in the winter of 1957-8, and hit #1. The group appeared on The Dick Clark Show in March 1958.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

In Theatres: Suicide Squad (2016)

"The Dirty Dozen" has nothing on the "Suicide Squad".

The one common thread between the two movies is that the teams are comprised of criminals. In the case of DC's "Suicide Squad", most of the villains have super powers or enhanced abilities.

Take, for example, psychologist-turned-villain-turned-anti-hero Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie, "The Legend of Tarzan"). Having fallen in love with the Joker (Jared Leto), Quinn (nee Harleen Quinzel) takes a trust fall into the same chemical bath that gave the Clown Prince of Crime his bleached skin (though it's not quite as prominent, which we'll get to later), as shown in one of several flashbacks. Concerned for his lady, Joker dives in after her, a rare show of compassion from "Mistah J".

Compassion and a moral code seem to be the weaknesses that ultimately bond El Diablo (Jay Hernandez) and Deadshot (Will Smith) together. Diablo accidentally killed his family in a violent rage, and is trying to reform. Deadshot has a young daughter he wants to reconnect with who is also fully cognizant of what her father does for a living. If you wondered why Smith was cast as Deadshot, well, he has some of the more unintentionally funny moments in the movie, showing flashes of his former persona as the "Fresh Prince". It's amazing how none of his songs were on the retro-driven soundtrack, which runs the gamut from the Animals ("House of the Rising Sun") and Lesley Gore ("You Don't Own Me") to Eminem, whose "Without Me" includes a callback to a certain 1966 DC Comics TV series.

While Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) is the field leader, he in turn, along with the Squad, answers to Amanda Waller (Viola Davis, How To Get Away With Murder). Flag has fallen hard for another doctor, Dr. June Moone (Cara Delevigne), the human hostess of the Enchantress, who is the film's central villain. Small wonder, then, that Enchantress had broken away from the rest of the team, but that detail is called back late in the film, a result of hasty last minute edits that would explain away the critics' general distaste for the movie.

Part of the reason for that seems to be that someone at WB and/or DC, not specifically Geoff Johns or Zack Snyder, just had to insert Batman (Ben Affleck) and the Flash (Ezra Miller) into the mix at the last minute. As the movie clocks in just under 2 hours, it seems, also, that there is more that might've been left on the cutting room floor that would fill out the story. There is a set-up for the inevitable sequel and/or a spin-off centering on the leggy Harley (who will likely start sporting fishnet stockings in the comics real soon, if not already) and Joker.

The weakest link in the movie, surprisingly, is Joker. Those of you who weren't fond of the Rastafarian look given to the Clown Prince of Crime in the 2003-8 The Batman cartoon might not dig the punk rocker (i.e. tattoos) look Jared Leto is sporting. Yes, Harley has some tats on her pretty face, too, but y'think maybe the boys are not paying attention to that? Margot Robbie is given much more to do here than was the case last month in "Legend of Tarzan".

Edit, 11/26/2020: The trailer is age-restricted, per YouTube, so we'll sub in a theatre poster:


"Hands of Stone" (August 26): Robert DeNiro and Usher co-star in a bio of Roberto Duran. Usher plays Sugar Ray Leonard.

"War Dogs", also out later this month. Two wise guys become arms dealers in the most improbable way.

"The Magnificent Seven". The American retelling of Akira Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai" is being remade.

"Dunkirk": The latest from Christopher Nolan.

"The Great Wall": Matt Damon in China.

"Wonder Woman": Gal Gadot goes solo. The trailer is already online.

"Suicide Squad" has defied the haters, despite the flaws.

Rating: B+.

Same game, but at a different time: Match Game PM (1975)

Two years into its run on CBS, Match Game spawned an evening edition which, like the daytime show, ran for six years. Match Game PM (so named because the daytime show might've been airing in the morning in some cities as opposed to the afternoon) was a weekly, ah, bonus for fans who were unable to watch the network version.

The biggest difference is that each episode is self-contained, with no returning champions. Beginning in the 2nd season, a 3rd round of game play was added to fill time, eliminating the prospect of dead air, in a way.

The comedy aspects were ramped up in this version, as you'll see in this 1976 episode, in which Richard Dawson and Betty White impersonate fellow panelists Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly, respectively.

Four years in, CBS cancelled the daytime Match Game, which moved into syndication. Subsequently, PM was given the heave-ho after its 6th season.

Rating: A.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Musical Interlude: Bohemian Rhapsody (1975)

A new generation of fans discovered Queen's 1975 opus, "Bohemian Rhapsody", by way of the 1992 movie, "Wayne's World". You might recall the scene early in the movie where Wayne (Mike Myers) & Garth (Dana Carvey) and some of their friends are lip-synching the song while riding one night.

As a result, the original video Queen had produced 17 years earlier resurfaced and was given heavy airplay.

It wasn't so long ago I had uncovered a cover recorded by the Muppets. Now, a new version has been released, a cover recorded by Panic at the Disco for the movie, "Suicide Squad". Could've fooled me. Thought it was the original being used in the commercials and trailers......

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Advertising For Dummies: Some people don't know their movie stars (2016)

I'm sure you've seen this Heineken ad by now:

How in the blue hizell can these people confuse Benicio Del Toro with Antonio Banderas? They look absolutely nothing alike.

Hey, it could've been worse. Those Mr. Magoo wanna-bes could've confused Del Toro with Heineken's other spokesman, Neil Patrick Harris. Now, that would've been funny.

Videos of Summer: This Afternoon (2008-10)

"This Afternoon" was recorded in 2008, and the video you're about to see came out two years later.

Now, most colleges start before Labor Day, so this qualifies as a "Video of Summer". Nickelback is, well, conscripted to play a frat party. Enough said.

Unfortunately, "This Afternoon" peaked at #34 on the Hot 100, but fared better overseas. Go figure, right?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Classic TV: Captain Video & His Video Rangers (1949)

Honeymooners fans know that this is the favorite TV show of Ed Norton (Art Carney). Captain Video & His Video Rangers aired ahead of primetime programming on DuMont during its run, airing 6 nights a week. It was popular enough to warrant a Saturday morning spinoff.

While Al Hodge is most closely associated with the role of Captain Video, he wasn't the only actor to essay the part. Richard Coogan was the first Captain, but was gone in less than a year. Hodge, who was one of the actors to voice The Green Hornet on radio, became an icon of early television upon assuming the role of Captain Video. Future soap star Don Hastings (As The World Turns) was the Video Ranger.

Let's take a look at a sample episode from 1952.

I'm not sure if DuMont had any daytime programming at all, but, rightfully, Captain Video could've been an after-school treat. At least Ed Norton could watch the show over dinner.

No rating.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Would you buy a car from Snoop Dogg? (2005)

Retired Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca made a return to the company in 2005, doing a series of ads with folks as diverse as Jason Alexander and......Snoop Dogg.

Try figuring out what the D-O-Double-G is telling Iacocca in this bit.