Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Musical Interlude: Original Sin (1983)

The Australian band INXS traveled to New York to record tracks for their CD, "The Swing", working with producer Nile Rodgers, who recruited Daryl Hall (Hall & Oates) to sing backup on the first single off the album, "Original Sin".

Unfortunately, despite the additional star power, "Sin" failed to crack the top 40 here in the US, peaking at #58, but reached #1 at home in Australia. The video was shot in Japan without Hall, who was likely touring at the time.

22 years later, "Original Sin" was redone for a tribute album in memory of vocalist Michael Hutchence.

The election's over, but try telling that to the losers

As I write, it has been three weeks since New York business mogul and professional spoiled brat Donald Trump upset former Secretary of State and professional carpetbagger Hillary Clinton to become the next President. Unfortunately, while Trump played the jingoistic, xenophobic, pseudo-patriot and even went so far as to use misogyny in his campaign, and continues with his already stale act until he is sworn into office, the backlash is starting to look like a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

For all of Trump's accusations----with no evidence to support his claims----that the election was rigged, there are now charges that his campaign supposedly rigged the election. Trump's brainless dittoheads have accused billionaire philanthropist George Soros of being responsible for the anti-Trump protests across the country in the wake of the election. Again, there is no evidence to support those lame claims.

And, then, there is Jill Stein.

The Green Party candidate finished so far behind Trump---dead last in a field of four---that she could get a headstart on February's Daytona 500. However, Stein has embarrassed the Greens by filing lawsuits in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and planning to do the same in Michigan, seeking a recount. Mrs. Clinton's camp has thrown its support behind Ms. Stein in Wisconsin. Which begs us to ask, of course, how much cheese do they want with their whine?

Trump, of course, can't resist getting his digs in, because of his addiction to attention. Consider:

"This is a scam by the Green Party for an election that has already been conceded, and the results of this election should be respected instead of being challenged and abused, which is exactly what Jill Stein is doing," ---Trump, quoted by CNBC's website, 11/27/16.

I've never known Green Party or any other independent party candidates to resort to litigation post-election. The independents have never been given a fair shake on the national stage, and if Ms. Stein wanted to file a suit, it should've been during the campaign in order to ensure she'd have an equal amount of time for herself and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson during the debates. Independent candidates were given equal forums in localized debates here in New York, but why not on national television?

Digression aside, the ladies are fighting a losing battle trying to convince the Electoral College not to confirm Trump as our next President. Granted, he'd be the first one who'd have to have a psychologist in his cabinet without an official post, but this is what Trump's paranoid rhetoric during the campaign has spawned. The last time a Presidential election was disputed was, of course, in 2000, when GW Bush won his first term despite some issues in Florida. However, that shiznit-storm died down before the holidays, as I recall.

I didn't vote for Trump, but I accept the fact that he won the election. He's presenting himself to the American people as being prematurely senile, like his pal Vince McMahon did on WWE programming for several years. The man just turned 70, after all, but behaves like a spoiled child when someone speaks negatively of him.

Hmmmm, come to think of it, maybe he should call Dr. Phil.........

Monday, November 28, 2016

Forgotten TV: Q. E. D. (1982)

CBS tried something rather, ah, noble in the spring of 1982. Unfortunately, Q. E. D. lasted just six weeks, and that was due to it airing on Tuesday nights opposite ABC's 1-2 punch of Happy Days & Laverne & Shirley. Ballgame over.

Sam Waterston headlined as the title hero, Quentin Everett Deverill (Q. E. D.), a scientific detective in the mold of Sherlock Holmes, but dismissed by his peers as a bit eccentric. I seem to recall my folks being remotely interested in the series, but I never sat down and watched the show with them. Hence, no rating. We'll leave you with the series opener.

The fact that this was also independently produced didn't help matters, either. Consolidated Productions was never heard from again.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Classic Reborn: Still The Beaver (aka The New Leave it to Beaver)(1985)

Leave it to Beaver had been a staple in syndication after its initial network run ended, then was picked up on cable. So the nostalgia factor kicked in when the Disney Channel, then a premium network, took a chance on reviving the series in the mid-80's.

Problem was, Hugh Beaumont (Ward Cleaver) had passed away in the intervening years. After co-stars Tony Dow, Jerry Mathers, & Barbara Billingsley, among others, had appeared on The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour, among other places, the idea was pitched to Universal Television (formerly Revue Studios) for the revival. Disney started with a TV-movie, leading to Still The Beaver hitting the air as a weekly series in 1985.

Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver (Mathers), and his brother, Wally (Dow), had gotten married, and in Beaver's case, divorced, since the series ended, as did Wally's best buds, "Lumpy" Rutherford (Frank Bank) and Eddie Haskell (Ken Osmond). Each have two kids. In fact, Eddie's boys are played by Osmond's real life sons. Greedy, sleazy Eddie owns a contracting business that isn't exactly on the up-&-up. Wally is a lawyer. Lumpy & Beaver go into business together, spinning out of working for Lumpy's dad.

After the first season, Disney decided to drop the show, which would move to basic cable, specifically to TBS, which rechristened the series as The New Leave it to Beaver. In its new home, the show lasted three more years. This wouldn't be the last time Disney misjudged a program. Around the same time that the new Beaver ended its run, Disney pink-slipped another sitcom that found greater success elsewhere. That would be Saved by The Bell, which was known as Good Morning, Miss Bliss at Disney.

Now, let's take a look at the series premiere of Still The Beaver:

While this series was on the air, Barbara Billingsley was also doing some voice work on Jim Henson's Muppet Babies for CBS, which outlasted The New Leave it to Beaver, but not by much.

No rating.

Countdown to Christmas: The Twelve Pains of Christmas (1988-2008)

Radio personality Bob Rivers, not to be confused with former VH-1 VJ Bobby Rivers, released the silly "Twelve Pains of Christmas" in 1988. Twenty years later, the enterprising lads of Third Hour Productions produced a music video, but were unable to secure the services of Rivers and his crew to participate. And, so, the Third Hour boys lip-sync Rivers' warped lyrics in this fan-made video:

WFLY-FM played this pretty regularly back in the day, not sure about now, and you can imagine if Dr. Demento's still around, he's got this on cue.....

Edit, 12/7/16: I've located the original video:

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Troy is Titletown once more.....and so are Cambridge and Glens Falls......

James Allen must love the taste of crow.

For the 2nd time this season, the Time Warner Cable/Albany Times-Union high school sports reporter predicted defeat for Troy High. For the 2nd time, coach Bob "The Builder" Burns and the Flying Horses proved him and all the other doubters wrong.

To refresh everyone's memories, Allen had written at the start of the season that Troy would go 6-1 in the regular season, the lone loss presumably against Shaker. On Homecoming night, September 23, Troy weathered a halftime rainstorm to defeat Shaker, 20-13. 

On the eve of the Class AA championship game at the Syracuse Carrier Dome, Allen had a video posted on the Times-Union's website where he predicted that Victor Central, which is actually from suburban Rochester, would clip the Flying Horses' wings, to the tune of 24-21.

Suffice to say, Allen got half the score right.

After Cambridge and Glens Falls had clinched state titles within the previous 24 hours, Troy took the field vs. Victor knowing that they had every reason to believe they could complete a 3-game Section II sweep in the finals.

In the first half, it was the Dev Holmes show, as the senior receiver scored two touchdowns to give Troy a 13-7 lead at halftime, and one of those touchdowns was as a running back on a reverse. In the 3rd quarter, Troy extended its lead as Joey Ward broke loose for a touchdown. John Germinerio hit James Kelley for the 2 point conversion, and Troy led, 21-7.

However, on the ensuing Victor possession, Zack Estabrooks bulled through the defense for an 80 yard touchdown to cut the lead to 7. Estabrooks caught a break from the local officials in the first half when they didn't throw a penalty flag on him for yanking Germinerio's helmet off. In the 4th, Victor scored again, but missed the two point conversion, leaving Troy with a tenuous 21-20 lead with more than 5 minutes left. The ensuing kickoff pinned Troy at the 7 yard line, but a key 4th down conversion gave the Horses some breathing room. Troy continued to chew up the clock, and then Germinerio hit senior tight end Jesse Brown for 57 yards to ice the game. Victor was out of timeouts, and was helpless to stop the clock as Germinerio took two kneel-downs, despite the desperate efforts of the Victor defense to force a turnover, and Troy had ended a 18 year drought between state titles in football.

On Friday, Cambridge won just their 2nd state title, the first coming in 1999, beating Maple Grove, 22-21, in double overtime. Earlier this afternoon, in the first half of the double-header at the Carrier Dome, Glens Falls, behind Joe Girard III, won their first state title, breaking Chenango Forks' 25 game winning streak. Chenango Forks had won the last three state titles, and the disparity in penalties accepted during the game suggested that maybe, just maybe, there were some who thought Chenango Forks would make it 4 in a row. Nuh-uh. After Chenango Forks got within 1 point, Andrew Murphy returned an onside kick for a touchdown to ice the game, 47-39.

To the players & coaches in Troy, Cambridge, & Glens Falls, we dedicate the following music video:

For Troy's Ryan Carmello, Ethan Evans, Joe Casale, & Brandon Holmes, the shoulder pads and helmets get put away, swapped for basketball jerseys, as Suburban Council play begins in 10 days at home against Colonie. Coach Burns will reload for next season, knowing he'll have key players such as Casale, who figures to be the starting quarterback next season, Ward, and defensive ace Derrick Cipriani, as well as placekicker Jordan Audi, who is just a sophomore.

The basketball teams, men's & women's, now have a tough act to follow.

Friday, November 25, 2016

What Might've Been: Casey Jones (1957)

Screen Gems obtained a license to do a series dramatizing the exploits of real-life railroad engineer Casey Jones in 1957. However, if you have trouble locating it in reference books about primetime shows of the past, there's a good reason for it. It began the season airing in England on the BBC before being syndicated in the US in the spring of 1958.

Character actor Alan Hale, Jr., 7 years before Gilligan's Island, was cast as Jones, the engineer behind the wheel of the Cannonball Express. The series could've continued for another season, except that Hale had accepted a recurring role in Rory Calhoun's The Texan the following season. Insofar as I know, the series' last American home was the FX network in its early years, when it had more of a variety of programming than it does now.

Right now, let's take a look at a sample episode, "The Silk Train":

No rating. Didn't see it when it was on FX too often.

Remember Wesson Oil? (1980)

Back in the day, Wesson cooking oil was posited as a top competitor to Crisco, which at the time was part of the Procter & Gamble family, while Wesson was part of---wait for it---Hunt-Wesson Foods, which was later sold to current manufacturer ConAgra Foods.

For 20 years (1976-96), singer-actress Florence Henderson (The Brady Bunch and its later spin-offs and sequels, save for the animated Brady Kids) was the "face" of Wesson, if you will. There was at least one or two ads she did with fellow actor Ronnie Schell (ex-Gomer Pyle, USMC), but this was the first one I found in memory of Henderson, who passed away at 82. This ad comes from 1980.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Musical Interlude: Diamonds (1987)

A & M Records frontman Herb Alpert got back on the charts in 1987 with "Diamonds", off the CD, "Keep Your Eye on Me". It hit #1 on the R & B chart, and peaked at #5 on the Hot 100, on the strength of one of Alpert's artists contributing vocals. Heard, but not seen in the video, is none other than Janet Jackson, who used a body double for certain scenes. Lisa Keith is the other vocalist, and the two collaborated again with Alpert on the follow-up single, "Making Love in the Rain".

Enjoy Thanksgiving, and we'll see you on Friday.

What Might've Been: Lancer (1968)

After flopping with Custer at ABC, 20th Century Fox tried out Wayne Maunder in another Western, this one seemingly a knockoff of either Bonanza or The Big Valley.

Lancer lasted two seasons (1968-70) on CBS, then returned as a summer replacement series in 1971. Maunder was cast as Scott, one of two sons of ranch owner Murdoch Lancer (Andrew Duggan). James Stacy played younger brother Johnny, although in real life, Stacy was older than Maunder. Go figure.

The series came from the pen of Samuel A. Peeples, who'd also worked on Custer. Producer Allan Armer came over from Quinn Martin's company, where he'd produced The Invaders.

Complete episodes are not available online at present that I can pull. What I can do, though, is offer a sample clip.

My first exposure to Lancer came during its summer stint in '71, airing as it did just before bedtime. Why did it ultimately fail? It borrowed too heavily from both Big Valley and Bonanza. Ironically, after Fox acquired the properties of Four Star, or at least a large chunk of them, they now own both Lancer and Big Valley.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Forgotten TV: TV Reader's Digest (1955)

Reader's Digest used to be prominently displayed on newsstands and supermarket checkout counters. Not so today. As a youth, when I had an eye doctor's appointment, I would read various back issues that were in the waiting room, fascinated by the advertising of the days when specific issues were published.

Little did I know that in 1955, an independent producer had obtained a license from the magazine to produce an anthology series that sought to raise its profile. However, TV Reader's Digest bowed as a mid-season replacement for ABC in the beginning of 1955, and ran for 2 seasons over nearly 18 months.

Let me offer an example of a story taken from the pages of Reader's Digest. "France's Greatest Detective" stars Arthur Franz, Claude Akins, and Paul Frees, the latter making an all-too-rare on camera appearance. Bear in mind that at the time, Frees was heard but not seen on The Millionaire as John Beresford Tipton.

Because there were already quite a few anthology series on the air, TV Reader's Digest was caught in the glut, and even the popularity of the magazine wasn't enough to sustain it.

Rating: B.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Weasel of the Week: Kanye West

What kind of person in his/her right mind would make an audience wait 90 minutes or better before going out on stage to perform, then stop the show after a stream-of-(un)consciousness rant about perceived slights and other garbage?

Who else but Kanye West, who most assuredly isn't in his right mind.

West, who has claimed he would run for President in 2020, brought an abrupt halt to a recent show in Sacramento after just 3 songs, and wasted everyone's time to rant on Beyonce & Jay Z, Facebook, etc., and claimed that had he voted two weeks ago, he would've cast his ballot for Donald Trump. Sad to say, he makes the President-elect look sane by comparison. Like, doesn't this dimwit know anything about absentee ballots? Does he even care?

West dropped the mic after his rant, and declared the concert was over. Ticketmaster actually did something noble, and refunded fans who attended the show. Now, there's a report out that says West is cancelling all remaining tour dates in support of his new CD, "Saint Pablo". Fellow rapper Snoop Dogg went so far as to suggest that West might actually be on something, and went so far as to say that marijuana, which Snoop has championed, doesn't make a person behave the way West does. Oh? I don't think Snoop's met enough people.....!

The tour was supposed to hit Albany right before Christmas, I believe, and if the report about a cancellation is true, the folks at Times Union Center would be wise not to book West again. At least not until he takes a full psychiatric examination. This week's Weasel, a repeat offender more so than Trump and Vince McMahon put together, needs to be locked away in a rubber room, preferably with perhaps the only person who might get him---ESPN's resident idiot, Stephen A. Smith, and a steady diet of beef jerky.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Modern Classic: Too Close For Comfort (1980)

Emmy winner Ted Knight, fresh from "Caddyshack", returned to television in the fall of 1980 with Too Close For Comfort, which was as far removed from his previous, self-titled sitcom as you could get. Knight had tried to go it alone 2 years earlier at CBS, but failed.

With The Mary Tyler Moore Show in syndication, Knight was able to avoid being typecast, and headlined as cartoonist Henry Rush, creator of Cosmic Cow. The domestic sitcom format allowed Knight to demonstrate the full extent of his comic talents, backed by Nancy Dussault, Lydia Cornell, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, and Jim (JM) J. Bullock. Bullock, in fact, was meant to be a 1-shot, but the producers liked what they saw, and kept him around, mostly to be a foil for Knight.

ABC had slotted Too Close in its powerful Tuesday comedy block, but pulled a bonehead play in season 3 by moving the show to Thursdays to provide backup to the Happy Days spin-off, Joanie Loves Chachi. Oops! The series was cancelled at the end of the season.

Ah, but that wasn't the end. Producer D. L. Taffner decided to bring the show back in syndication after a year's break, extending the series by another two seasons before a title change to The Ted Knight Show in 1986. The shift to syndication also marked the end for Cornell and Van Valkenburgh, as they left the show. Audrey Meadows (ex-The Honeymooners) had been brought in while the series was still on ABC, but eventually departed as well, with Pat Carroll joining the show in her place.

Here's a sample intro/close:

Bullock would later take on a regular gig as a panelist on Hollywood Squares, raising his own profile, but stopping short of becoming a pop culture icon.

Rating: B.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Musical Interlude: Help The Children (1990)

MC Hammer took the late Marvin Gaye's "Mercy, Mercy Me", which had been covered by Robert Palmer roughly around the same time, and created a new song around the backbeat. "Help the Children" is a message about inner city violence that had gotten innocent kids caught in the crossfire. We could've done without Hammer doing his dance moves in the recording studio when the camera was on him, though.

Next stop: Syracuse: Troy vs. New Rochelle, 11/19/16

When you think of New Rochelle, you probably don't envision high school football. No, there are visions of The Dick Van Dyke Show in the 60's, since Rob Petrie (Van Dyke) commuted from New Rochelle to his job in New York.

Six years ago, the Hugenots of New Rochelle High played Troy High in a Class AA state semi-final game, won by Troy. The two schools met again tonight at Dietz Stadium in Kingston to determine who would advance to next week's title game in Syracuse.

Troy took the opening kickoff and marched down the field, leading to a Joey Ward touchdown. New Rochelle came back and tied it at 7 all right at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter, Troy's Dev Holmes ran it in from 11 yards as Troy cashed in on an interception by Joe Casale to retake the lead at 14-7. Late in the period, after another interception, this one by Robert Talham, Ward scored his second touchdown of the game. However, this time, Jordan Audi's extra point failed, and Troy took a 20-7 lead into the break.

In the 3rd, New Rochelle's defense took over, and held Troy at bay. As the period closed, Jordan Forrest put the Hugenots within six points with a touchdown catch, which would also be the final scoring play of the evening. Troy's defense stiffened in the final stanza, collecting three quarterback sacks on New Rochelle's final drive to seal the game. With under a minute to go, and Troy in victory formation, QB John Germinerio took a knee, but New Rochelle's defense, desperate for some kind of miracle spark, went for the ball. However, the game officials opted to let the clock run out, rather than access a penalty on New Rochelle. Troy advances with a hard fought 20-14 victory.

Germinerio wasn't perfect, didn't throw a lot of passes, and was sacked 4 times, with one interception. Troy's defense, on the other hand, forced three turnovers, all on interceptions, and nearly a fourth on a strip sack by James Kelley in the the fourth quarter, but New Rochelle recovered the fumble, prolonging the inevitable.

And, so, Troy will spend next Saturday in the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, facing off against Victor Central High, located near the Canadian border. Victor defeated Christian Brothers Academy of Syracuse, 42-13, to advance to the title game. Troy will be one of three Section II teams playing in Syracuse next weekend. Cambridge will play the Class D title game on Friday, and Glens Falls, after blowing away Pleasantville, will be in the Class B title game as the opening act on Saturday.

What Might've Been: Mike Hammer (1957)

Most of us have seen the 1980's rendition of Mickey Spillane's legendary detective, Mike Hammer. However, this was actually not the first time that Hammer had made it to television.

That would actually have been in 1957, when Spillane reached a deal with Revue Studios to adapt Hammer for television. Darren McGavin was cast as Hammer, and maybe this was a reason why, when McGavin landed the lead in Kolchak: The Night Stalker nearly 20 years later, his portrayal of investigative reporter Carl Kolchak, right down to narrating the episode from the reporter's point of view, was modeled after the hard-boiled detectives of yore, such as Hammer.

This version of Mike Hammer was last seen in the home district on Retro TV about 3 years ago, before WTEN cut its ties with the network, airing on Sunday nights, which would've been a good fit back in the day. However, I didn't see enough of it to merit a rating.

Right now, we'll leave you with a sample episode, "Letter Edged in Blackmail", with Angie Dickinson in one of her earliest TV roles:

Friday, November 18, 2016

Musical Interlude: The Hanging Tree (1959)

My late mother was a huge Marty Robbins fan. I've often mentioned that I was raised in a house that preferred country over pop/rock, and there are a few country songs that I actually like. This is one of them.

"The Hanging Tree" was the title song from the 1959 movie of the same name. Now, I never saw the movie, don't know much about it, but Robbins' tune peaked at #38 on the Hot 100, and reached the top 20 on the country charts. I bought the vinyl 45 at a second hand shop shortly after moving downtown 20 years after the movie and the single were released. Decent melody, and the track was tailored to cross over to the pop charts.

High School Fridays: NYS High School football semifinals, 11/18/16

It is the last stop before the state championships are decided, beginning on Black Friday, in Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. Four Section II teams made the trek to Kingston's Dietz Stadium to vie for berths in the state title games next week. At the end of business tonight, we're down to three.

In the opener, Class D champion Cambridge overpowered a under-manned and overmatched Haldane squad, 61-6. I came home from work at halftime, turned on the broadcast on Time Warner Cable Sports Channel, and wondered why I even bothered leaving the game on. Cambridge led, 47-6, at halftime. Ballgame over. Cambridge will play for their first state title since 1999 on Black Friday vs. Maple Grove, which crushed Sidney, 56-20.

Class A champion Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake had avenged their only loss of the season two weeks ago in the Class A Super Bowl with a win over Averill Park. Somers High, out of Westchester County (Section I) was playing in a state semi-final for the first time. Both teams came in at 10-1, but the parallels would end there.

Entering the 4th quarter, Burnt Hills was down, 21-17, and had the Tuskers of Somers High pinned at their own 20 yard line. Or so they thought. Senior tailback Messiah Horne took over from there, and galloped 80 yards for a score to extend the Tuskers' lead to 28-17. Horne would add two more touchdowns, Spartans QB Darren LaPietro threw two interceptions, both of which were cashed in for touchdowns, and Somers rolls into their first state title game with a 48-24 verdict. Burnt Hills finishes at 10-2, with nothing to be ashamed of.

Section II has two more games tomorrow. Class B champ Glens Falls will play Pleasantville, and AA titlist Troy challenges Section I titlist New Rochelle in the nightcap.

Once the final gun sounds in the AA title game in 8 days, the focus will shift to basketball and other winter sports, although one cross-country ski meet was scheduled for today. Go figure.

A Classic Reborn (?): Zorro & Son (1983)

Disney gave Zorro one more shot in 1983. However, instead of an action series, they opted for a sitcom.

Zorro & Son lasted just 5 weeks, as viewers felt insulted that Johnston McCulley's legendary hero was reduced to a comedy act, like Batman before him nearly 20 years earlier. Henry Darrow (ex-The High Chaparral), who had voiced Zorro in an animated series a year and a half earlier, actually donned the black costume this time, as Don Diego is now joined by his son, Don Carlos (Paul Regina). Gregory Sierra (ex-Barney Miller, Sanford & Son) was the villainous Paco Pico, and the supporting cast also included comedy legend Bill Dana as a Don Diego's faithful valet, Bernardo, and fast-talking commercial pitchman John Moschitta, Jr..

Here's the intro:

Yes, Disney recycled the theme from the original Zorro, but whatever possessed them to try to do this as a comedy?

No rating. Never saw the show.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Classic TV: Suspense (1949)

One of radio's best known drama series, Suspense, made the transition to television in 1949 as a mid-season replacement, and lasted five years total (six seasons), ending in 1954.

As with the radio version, Suspense adapted the works of noted authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, and, as we'll soon see, Robert Louis Stevenson, and also adapted radio productions for television. The anthology format attracted future stars such as Brian Keith, as well as a pre-Superman George Reeves, who up to that time was best known for appearing in "Gone With The Wind".

Right now, let's take a look at Suspense's adaptation of Stevenson's The Suicide Club, or at least one portion of that three-part cycle. We previously reviewed the DVD of a 1960 NBC production of that same story.

Ralph Bell had also appeared in an adaptation of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde during the 1st season.

No rating.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Modern Classic (?): Blossom (1990)

After a star-making turn in "Beaches" opposite Bette Midler, Mayim Bialik landed her first TV gig in the title role of Blossom, which was often coupled with The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air at the front of NBC's Monday night lineup in the early 90's.

Blossom and her two brothers (Michael Stoyanov and Joey Lawrence) live with their father (Ted Wass, ex-Soap) after their mother leaves them. It is said that the part of Six (Jenna Von Oy) had originally been offered to another young actress, Melissa Joan Hart, who opted instead for Nickelodeon's Clarissa Explains it All. One can only imagine if Hart had taken the gig, as she & Bialik both became pop icons in the 90's.

When Blossom's mother did appear, she was played by singer Melissa Manchester. The revolving door ensemble also included Finola Hughes (General Hospital) and comedy legend Phyllis Diller as a paramedic.

Dr. John performs the title song, used during the first 4 seasons, but was dropped in the final season. Scope out how many wardrobe changes Blossom makes during the intro from season 3:

Today, after landing a Ph.D, Mayim Bialik has made a comeback as an actress, currently co-starring on CBS' The Big Bang Theory, and still looking as cute as ever, even with the big glasses.

Rating: B+.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Musical Interlude: Empty Garden (Hey, Hey, Johnny) (1982)

Elton John paid tribute to his good friend, John Lennon, with 1982's "Empty Garden (Hey, Hey, Johnny)", the 2nd single off the album, "Jump Up", Elton's first album for Geffen after his first run at MCA ended.

"Empty Garden" peaked at #13 on the Hot 100. When it was released as a single, it had been 18 months since Lennon had been killed in New York. The song hadn't been played live much since, as it still brings back painful memories for Elton.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Old Time Radio: The Whistler (1942)

A few years ago, I received a compilation of two episodes of a relatively obscure radio series, The Whistler. I had never heard of this show before, and Radio Spirits was virtually giving these tapes away.

It turns out the show was a regional entry, based out of California, and broadcast in that area on CBS Radio. A number of actors, including Bill Forman, Gale Gordon, and Joseph Kearns, served as the voice of the Whistler, who narrated each episode. It was successful enough, such that a series of feature films were released during the 40's, and, subsequently, the series transitioned to television, which we've discussed before, with Forman reprising in the title role.

Because the Whistler doesn't take an active role in any of the stories, he comes across similarly to the "hosts" of horror comics in later years, from EC to Marvel to Warren to DC.

Right now, we're going to take a trip back in time to 1951 and the episode, "Kind Thought".

Rating: B.

Football this 'n' that

Sometimes, to paraphrase the late Joe Garagiola, football can be a funny game, too.

Everyone assumed that once Tom Brady came back from his suspension for "Deflategate", the New England Patriots would steamroll everyone in their path, and get the usual covert benefits from the league's media partners.

But, as ESPN's Lee Corso is wont to say, not so fast, my friends.

Reality struck Sunday night, as the Patriots lost for the 2nd time at home, this time to Seattle, as a last-second drive came up a wee bit short at the end of the game. FS1's Skip Bayless, who seems to have an axe to grind with the Seahawks, particularly beef jerky salesman Richard Sherman, cried foul well before his current show, Undisputed, hit the air this morning. I haven't seen any footage of the game, nor did I care to last night, as I lost respect for the Pats a while ago, so I can't say if Bayless had any valid arguments. His detractors would have you believe he doesn't.

All this did was enable 2nd place Miami to climb to within 2 games of the lead in the AFC East after beating San Diego earlier in the day. New England, at 7-2, shares the best record in the AFC with West co-leaders Oakland and Kansas City. Getting home field for the playoffs is not a sure thing, if other teams can follow Seattle's example, and I hope they do.
Every year, there seems to be at least one week where college football's top 25 gets shuffled more than your average hand of poker. On Saturday, 5 top 10 teams fell in defeat, two of them on last second field goals. Clemson came in at #2, and was one of those victims of a game-ending kick, losing to Pittsburgh. #3 Michigan fell the same way on the road at Iowa. Big 10 rivals Penn State & Ohio State stood to benefit the most from the Wolverines' loss, although Penn State struggled before putting away Indiana, and Ohio State blew away Maryland in much the same way top-ranked Alabama spanked Mississippi State. #4 Washington, also at home, was only slightly embarrassed in front of a national television audience in a loss to Southern California. The other top 10 flops? Auburn & Texas A & M.
When the New York State Public High School Athletic Association's state tournament began on Friday, 5 schools represented Section II. At the end of business on Saturday night, only one of those five had been eliminated, that being Class C titlist Greenwich, which dropped a heartbreaker to Ogdensburg Free Academy on Friday. Class A champ Burnt Hills routed Massena. Class AA champion Troy destroyed Newburgh Free Academy on Saturday. In a double-header at Schuylerville, the Class B & D champs, Glens Falls & Cambridge, respectively, also won in dominating fashion.

Unfortunately, you had to be there. Time Warner Cable was committed to Syracuse football programming on Friday & Saturday, and didn't have the personnel available to cover any of the 5 games of interest to people in the home district. That won't be the case this weekend, though. Troy, Burnt Hills, Glens Falls, & Cambridge will all play state semi-final games in Kingston Friday or Saturday, and the games will be televised.
I found it amusing that in reporting on the arrest of three suspects in the arson fire that destroyed the field house at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons High in Schenectady last month, Time Warner Cable News reporters said police were trying to determine what connection the suspects had to the school.

DUH! It's more likely than anything that the three jabronies were all former students at the school who felt as if they'd been railroaded on some small thing and sought revenge. Not only did they set fire to the guard house, destroying Holy Trinity's football equipment in the process, but they stole some items, too, and probably torched the joint to cover the thefts. Anyone that has seen any crime drama on television over the years could probably figure that out without a college degree.
People complain all the time about referees calling ticky-tack fouls in football or basketball at the most inconvenient times. Take for example Saturday's Clemson-Pittsburgh game. The way ABC/ESPN's Steve Levy & Brian Griese looked at it, it seemed as though the referees were sticking it to Clemson, the home team, with two critical penalties in the final minutes that set up the Panthers' game winning field goal. The game officials have to make split-second judgments, not always accurate, and then get 2nd, 3rd, and 4th guessed to death by a nation of armchair quarterbacks. Similarly, some people might feel as though Michigan got hosed by some home-team favoritism toward Iowa late in that game. Next thing ya know, they'll be calling for expanded replay to confirm penalties. Watch. It'll happen.
With Donald Trump moving into the White House, although not full time, or so he claims, as he's willing to waste money flying back home to New York and his comfy bed, rather than sleep in the White House, one wonders if he's as much of a sports fan as President Obama, and whether or not he'll publicize his brackets for the NCAA basketball tournament. I doubt it. He's more of a football guy, or have you forgotten that he owned the NY-New Jersey team in the USFL back in the 80's?

By the way, Dumb Donald, you could always move your bed to the White House.........

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Musical Interlude: What The Cowgirls Do (1994)

It's easy to forget that before he embarked on a solo career, Vince Gill had been with the Pure Prairie League in the 70's. Shoot, I don't think anyone remembers that band today.

Anyway, in one of Vince's earliest videos, from 1994, "What The Cowgirls Do" features fellow country stars Little Jimmy Dickens and Rodney Crowell in cameos, but the featured guest is comedian Calvert DeForest (The Late Show With David Letterman), who had to give up his stage name of Larry "Bud" Melman when he moved with Letterman and company from NBC to CBS. Intellectual property and all that.

DeForest looks ridiculous in that cowboy gear, and that's the point. It's not his first appearance in a video, though. He was also prominently featured in Run-DMC's "Kings of Rock" nearly 10 years earlier.

Classic TV: Lamp Unto My Feet (1948)

Lamp Unto My Feet was one of CBS' first programs, and ran for more than 30 years (1948-79) before it and its companion series, Look Up & Live, were merged together under the title, For Our Times, which ran for 9 years (1979-88). Like its contemporaries from the 50's, such as Insight and The Christophers, Lamp was an anthology series, albeit produced by CBS News for much of its run. Some episodes were scripted dramas, such as the one we're going to show you below, others were news documentaries.

Since both Lamp and Look, along with Camera Three, were blacked out in my area for much of my youth, I cannot rightfully grade the show. For now, let's take a look at the play, "The Golden Book", which counts among its stars character actors Reni Santoni (in an early role) and Malachi Throne, later of It Takes a Thief.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Remember Mean Mary Jean (who wasn't so mean)? (1974)

Chrysler Corporation's Dodge & Plymouth divisions launched an ad campaign in 1974 that introduced America to a tomboy named Mean Mary Jean (Judy Strangis, ex-Room 222), who appeared in commercials for the company's Duster & Road Runner cars. As memory serves, I think she also did some radio ads with the Dodge Boys for the truck line. Unfortunately, the ads available on YouTube, such as the one appearing below, have Judy appearing with no dialogue.

Two years later, Judy would return to television, co-starring in the cult favorite Electra Woman & Dyna Girl segment of Krofft Supershow with Diedre Hall (Days of Our Lives), and acting as a commercial spokesperson for Mattel's Barbie line of products.

What Might've Been: The Protectors (1972)

One of the hallmarks of ITC's programs, especially in the 70's, was using American stars already familiar to audiences here, the better to sell new series to American syndicators or networks.

After Shirley's World (Shirley McLaine) and The Persuaders! (Tony Curtis, paired with The Saint's Roger Moore) had bombed on ABC the previous season, ITC opted for syndication for their next entry, The Protectors, which lasted two seasons (1972-4), although I only can recall the first season airing here. The series served as a comeback vehicle for Robert Vaughn (ex-The Man From U.N.C.L.E.). Vaughn was cast as Harry Rule, an investigator for a different kind of covert operations unit.

As memory serves, The Protectors aired locally on what is now the NBC affiliate here, but, as noted before, said affiliate may have dropped the show after the first season. ITC would have its greatest syndicated success, of course, with The Muppet Show, just a few years later.

Co-star Tony Amholt would later resurface on Space: 1999, which, like The Protectors, came from the pen of Gerry Anderson, who at the time was better known for his puppet shows for children (i.e. Thunderbirds, Stingray).

Here's the intro:

This is dedicated to the memory of Robert Vaughn, who passed away overnight at 83.

Rating: B.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Musical Interlude: Everybody Wants to Rule The World (1985)

England's Tears For Fears had their big breakthrough in the US in 1985 with "Songs From The Big Chair", which spawned a number of hit singles, including our next entry, "Everybody Wants to Rule The World". No, I have zero clue who the two guys are doing a dance routine in the middle of the video.....

Are we a nation of crybabies?

Not even 72 hours have passed since Donald Trump was elected President over former Senator & Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and there are half a million people who think they can change the outcome.

A petition was started on www.change.org calling for the Electoral College, which meets next month, to ignore the result of the election and vote in Mrs. Clinton. Ironically, in years past, both candidates had suggested that maybe the Electoral College would be disbanded, especially in the wake of the 2000 election fiasco that put George W. Bush in office.

The people who've signed the petition are looking at Trump's campaign rhetoric at face value, not realizing that there is more of a prospect that Trump would not follow through on some of his threats, including his own claim that he would not accept the result of the election had Mrs. Clinton won. In the end, it's more likely that Trump was putting on an elaborate ruse to pull enough disenfranchised voters to his side to turn the tide in his favor.

In other words, now the shoe's on the other foot from a collective standpoint. Trump behaved like a spoiled brat on the campaign trail, but has reined it in since winning. It is the people that didn't vote for Trump who are now acting like crying babies, throwing one big temper tantrum in the direction of the Electoral College. Realistically, I don't see it working. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States on January 20. Period. End of story. I didn't vote for Trump, either, but I also realize that it was just a case of people having less trust in Mrs. Clinton than they did Trump. I just wish 500,000+ disgruntled Americans can see things as I do, and let it go.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

What Might've Been: Beyond Westworld (1980)

With a reimagined Westworld currently running on HBO, I thought I'd serve up the first attempt at adapting the 1973 movie, and its sequel, "Futureworld", into a television series.

CBS picked up Beyond Westworld in 1980, but this was where the era of itchy trigger-fingered network executives kicked into full swing. Five episodes were produced, but three were shown before CBS pulled the plug without finishing the story.

Little did I realize at the time, but the original "Westworld" came from the pen of novelist Michael Crichton. It can be said that Crichton would revisit the concept, albeit with a very different theme, 20 years after the original movie. Simply substitute humanoid androids with replicas of prehistoric creatures, and, well, I'm sure you know the story of "Jurassic Park" by now, don't you, after 4 movies?

Never saw Beyond Westworld, so there won't be a rating. We'll simply present a trailer courtesy of Warner Archive.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Celebrity Rock: Milwaukee Moon (1978)

From season 3 of Laverne & Shirley:

In the final scene of the episode, "Bus Stop", first shown in February 1978, the cast joins together for a rendition of "Milwaukee Moon", with Lenny (Michael McKean) on guitar. Scope it out!

In addition to Lenny & the Squigtones, series stars Penny Marshall & Cindy Williams actually released an album of their own. "Laverne & Shirley Sing" (Italics mine) was released on Atlantic Records, while the Squigtones recorded for Casablanca. Go figure.

The lesser of two evils

For the last year and a half, Donald Trump's Presidential campaign has been built largely on anger and mistrust. He told the disenfranchised what they wanted to hear, and they responded by electing him as the 45th President of the United States on Tuesday night.

Now, the real challenge begins.

Trump, the first television personality to ascend to the White House since Ronald Reagan in 1980, is unquestionably the Anti-Reagan. What we've seen these 18 months, notwithstanding the accusations brought forth over the final month of sexual assault dating back several years, is a 70 year old businessman acting the part of a spoiled, over-privileged, whiny little boy who throws a tantrum every time things don't go his way. Consider the fact that right at the start, he inflamed racial tensions by targeting Hispanics and Muslims, threatening to build a wall to keep illegal immigrants from crossing the borders into this country (Good luck carrying out that threat!), and banning anyone of the Muslim faith from entering the US. He fostered paranoia, more so than Joe McCarthy did in the 50's with his Communist witch hunts, with his relentless attacks, despite not having any concrete evidence to back up his outlandish claims. His speeches came across as if his friend, WWE CEO/Chairman Vince McMahon, had his writers work for Trump.

And, yet, in 2 1/2 months, he will be sworn into office as our next President.

Earlier this year, Trump met with Dr. James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family, a prominent Christian watchdog group, and reportedly became a born again Christian. So why continue the facade of the angry American "patriot"? Because he had gotten this far with this elaborate charade, he figured, why stop? I was told the other day at church that Trump retained the services of 15 pastors as counselors leading into the election. The last two Presidents, Obama and George W. Bush, also spoke of having faith in God, but were held up to ridicule and embarrassment when some of their policies failed. Imagine what it's going to be when Trump faces his first crisis as President. He has to remember that the Oval Office of the White House isn't a boardroom. He has to treat world leaders as equals, not business rivals.

And what of his defeated opponent, former Secretary of State and Senator Hillary Clinton?

The baggage she had accumulated during her husband's two terms in office only increased with the continuing scrutiny over use of a private e-mail server for sensitive documents. The FBI chose not to pursue an investigation, perhaps caving to political pressure, but with Trump in office, will they finally pursue the case? Almost certainly. Mrs. Clinton's political career is virtually in ruins. The Democrats tried to fix it in her favor by ensuring that the one candidate that could've beaten Trump, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, would be denied the nomination, choosing an established brand name over another fresh face relatively unknown to the national stage. In other words, they didn't want another Obama in the form of Sanders.

Trump's victory, it is already reported, could reap benefits for former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who's been exposed as being out of touch with reality in recent interviews. Articles I've read suggest that Giuliani could be appointed as US Attorney General. He'd be a better bet than disgraced New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, though not by much. Trump is calling for unity now, in the wake of his victory, but that should've been the battle cry right at the start, instead of fanning the flames of distrust.

The public now has to realize that Trump put on an elaborate act over the last 18 months. He didn't have the political experience of a Reagan or a Bush or even Jimmy Carter, nor the charismatic presence of Reagan or Carter. To make up for that deficiency, he had to pretend to be the Angry American. Now, the mask has to come off. The reality of being President awaits.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

What Might've Been: Dr. Strange (1978)

In the wake of the success of adapting The Incredible Hulk to television, Universal and Marvel tried to expand their television universe. Unfortunately, it just didn't work. Two Captain America TV-movies failed to produce a series, if only because the 2nd film was worse than the first.

And, then, there was Dr. Strange.

It shouldn't surprise anyone that this 1978 TV-movie found its way to DVD just in time for the release of the current film. It won't surprise anyone, either that this film was far inferior. CBS didn't pick it up as a series, and the biggest reason why would be in how Dr. Stephen Strange (Peter Hooten) was presented. Instead of a disabled surgeon, Strange is instead a psychiatrist, eliminating the adversity Stan Lee & Steve Ditko gave Strange in the first place. As the film begins, Earth's Sorcerer Supreme is a man named Thomas Lindner (John Mills), whom I don't believe ever appeared in the comics, as he is meant to be an analogue for the Ancient One. Wong (Clyde Kusatsu) is nattily attired in a suit and tie when we first see him. Then again, for Kusatsu, from what I've seen of him in television, this is par for the course.

I couldn't get past 10 minutes of this drivel, and won't even bother with a rating. Suffice it to say that there is a good deal of talent here, including Jessica Walter as Morgan Le Fey. Scope it out for yourselves.

Edit, 2/4/22: The video was deleted after a copyright claim by NBC-Universal. In its place is a trailer.

Yes, Clea Lake is meant to be the Clea we know from the books, who would become Strange's protege and, some would believe, soulmate. Seven years after this movie aired, Stan Lee was interviewed, and said he befriended writer-producer-director Philip DeGuere, whom he thought did a good job with the material. Unfortunately, it doesn't hold up as well as you might think. Let's see how fast this turns up on cable, like, for example, on Chiller.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Classic TV: The Detectives (1959)

The producing tririmvurate of Jules Levy, Arthur Gardner, & Arnold Laven might be best known for Westerns such as The Big Valley & The Rifleman, but they also gave Four Star a crime drama that might've been worthy of being in the same pantheon as, say for example, Dragnet, if it lasted more than three years.

The Detectives was a star vehicle for film star Robert Taylor, who was cast as Captain Matt Holbrook, the head of a detective bureau in an unnamed major metropolitan city. The series ran for the first two years on ABC, then shifted to NBC for the final season.

The ensemble seemed to be always in flux. Mark Goddard, later of Lost in Space, joined the show in season 2 as Sgt. Chris Ballard. Future Batman Adam West signed on the next year when the series moved to NBC and expanded to an hour, playing Detective Steve Nelson. Having seen at least one of West's episodes when the series aired on TV Land several years ago, I can tell you that his range wasn't any different from his more iconic role.

Edit, 12/22/18: Had to replace the video. Here's a season 3 episode with Adam West, "Strangers in The House". Chris Robinson (later of 12 0'Clock High General Hospital) guest stars, as does John Karlen (later of Cagney & Lacey):

Tige Andrews would later resurface on The Mod Squad, which would be his last series. Taylor moved on to host the Western anthology series, Death Valley Days, until his passing in 1969.

Rating: A.

Sports this 'n' that

A USA Today online piece, also available on Yahoo!, reports that former rape victim-turned-activist Brenda Tracy is calling for Baylor University to cancel it's remaining four regular season football games.

The issue? The school, it seems, approved the sale of apparel in support of former football coach Art Briles, who was dismissed in the off-season amid charges of rape & sexual assault on his watch by members of either the football team or coaching staff. As it happens, the Bears were blown out by Texas Christian on Saturday, 62-22. Baylor has now lost two straight after a 6-0 start to the season. As coaches are taking to social media to defend Briles, the distractions have hurt the once-proud program. I believe that would be called karmic justice.
As the Dallas Cowboys ran their winning streak to 7 with yesterday's win over Cleveland, owner/GM/President-for-Life "Mungo" Jerry Jones actually has kept mum about the team's previously reported plans to put injured QB Tony Romo back in the lineup once he's healthy. Finally, Jones is getting the message, or at least some semblance of it. As long as Dak Prescott and fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott continue to perform at All-Pro level to lead the team, there's no need to rush Romo back from the arts & crafts room (read: injured list). Prescott, in particular, gives the Cowboys fresh energy and youth. Something Romo cannot offer at this stage in his career. Instead, Romo would be wise to just sit out the season and ensure he is 100% recovered by training camp in 2017.
While the resurgent Oakland Raiders sit atop the AFC West after beating Denver last night, owner Mark Davis is taking umbrage at the Hall of Fame for its current policy of refusing to present the families of posthumously inducted Hall of Famers, such as former Raider QB Ken Stabler, with rings and jackets, opting instead for simple commemorative patches. I think I get what Davis is saying. GM Bruce Allen, son of former Washington coach George Allen, was similarly denied when his father was enshrined, also posthumously, a few years ago. Davis' father, the late Al Davis, lived long enough to be enshrined, and so his son inherited the ring and jacket. He's showing sympathy for the younger Allen and the Stabler family. You'd think that after all these years, anything associated with the NFL in any form would avoid angering Raider Nation. Unfortunately, some things never change.
New York's Section II spread out their Super Bowl games across three days last week, but after Troy High dispatched Shaker for the 2nd time this season to win the AA title, Time Warner Cable viewers were treated (?) to an epic massacre, as Glens Falls routed Hudson, 62-12, on Friday, in a game where Glens Falls rested their starters---rightfully---in the 2nd half before things really got out of hand.

However, Time Warner did a disservice to Section II by choosing to carry the Section IX Class AA title game, won by Newburgh Free Academy over Monroe-Woodbury. The Section II Class A title game, which saw Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake end Averill Park's Cinderella season, 21-6, was ignored by Time Warner Cable. Have to assume that whomever is in charge of their sports programming statewide decided that it was more important for a downstate game in Class AA to be shown, especially considering that it would give the Troy coaches a scouting report for their next game, which will be November 12 in Kingston. The least Time Warner Cable could do was send a camera crew to Shenendehowa, where the A game was played, and air it on tape delay, but as of this writing, it appears that wasn't planned at all. Shame, then, on Time Warner Cable Sports for their short-sighted vision.
Former pro wrestler David Kash, aka Kid Kash from his days in ECW, WWE, WCW, & TNA, ran his mouth the other day, blasting CM Punk for his losing effort in UFC last month. So what happens? Kash loses less than a minute into the first round of his fight for a smaller promotion on Saturday. Punk nearly made it through the first round before falling to Mickey Gall, so, in essence, Kash ended up eating his words.

Karmic justice? Yep.
Karma can also apply to the Los Angeles Rams, who continue to keep #1 draft pick Jared Goff chained to the bench while the Rams continue to stumble with Case Keenum at QB after losing to Carolina yesterday. While Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz are getting all the headlines---and the league has caught up with Wentz already---, Goff is carrying a clipboard and learning, but if coach Jeff Fisher wants to keep his job and keep the LA fans happy, he might as well swallow what pride he has and send Goff out to see what he has. It may be the only thing that gets the Rams to the playoffs at this point. Just sayin'.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Classic Continued: Archie Bunker's Place (1979)

All in the Family had come to an end, but the story of its patriarch hadn't. At least, not in the eyes of fans and CBS executives.

And, so, the series continued by shifting the focus from home life to a new business venture in Archie Bunker's Place, which ran for four seasons (1979-83), anchoring the post-60 Minutes portion of CBS' Sunday lineup.

On Family, Bunker (Carroll O'Connor) had acquired the former Kelsey's Bar, giving up his old job to concentrate on his new venture. At first, bartender Harry Snowden (Jason Wingreen) was Archie's business partner, but then Snowden sold his share to Murray Klein (Martin Balsam). Cue the familiar tirades!! However, Balsam left the show after 2 seasons.

Archie also felt the pain of emotional loss with the passing of his wife, Edith (Jean Stapleton), who was written out during the first season, and eventually killed off during the 2nd season, if memory serves me correctly. In season 3, after Balsam departed, Denise Miller (ex-Fish) joined the show as Archie's niece, bringing along her boyfriend, Gary (Barry Gordon, ex-Fish), who acquired Murray's stake in the bar to continue the political tirades. The ensemble also included, carrying over from Family, Allan Melvin and Bill Quinn, and, joining the cast two months into season 1, Anne Meara, who left after the 3rd season.

Archie's adopted daughter, Stephanie (Danielle Brisebois), was spotlighted in a number of episodes to showcase the actress' talents as a singer and dancer. It's the former that factors in this clip from the first season, in which O'Connor & Brisebois, accompanied by Balsam at the piano, perform "Always":

Brisebois would re-enter the spotlight more than a decade later as an alternative rock musician, and even joined up with New Radicals on their one and only CD. Archie Bunker's Place was America's formal introduction to a fabulous talent.

Rating: A.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

In Theatres: Doctor Strange (2016)

The last of Marvel Studios' films for 2016, "Doctor Strange" is actually the 2nd live-action film to feature the Sorcerer Supreme.

The first was a made-for-TV movie produced by Universal for CBS in 1978, meant to be a pilot for a series. Unfortunately, they didn't go any further, and, well, it would be just as well, as it took more liberties with the long running Marvel strip than this film did. We'll talk about that one another time.

Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock) is a brilliant but ego-centric surgeon who has let his success go to his head, very much at the expense of his relationship with Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams). One rainy night, Strange, distracted by taking calls on his phone, is in a horrific accident, one that costs him his skills as a surgeon. Or so it would seem.

Desperate to regain full use of his hands, Strange travels to Khatmandu in Nepal to seek out the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) after getting a tip from another man that had gone to Nepal. In Nepal, Strange undergoes training in the mystic arts in order to do battle with a rogue sorcerer who left the Ancient One some time earlier.

Prior to the movie's release, there was much criticism over the casting of Swinton as the Ancient One, traditionally an Asian male. Originally, Strange's long-time valet in the comics, Wong, was not going to be used, but after the backlash over Swinton, Wong was inserted, but not as a valet. Instead, he is one of Strange's teachers, as is Mordo, who, in the books, is Strange's arch-nemesis. The post-credits scene goes a long way to set up a sequel in that regard.

Long time comics fans will recognize the name of Christine Palmer as one of the three original leads in the short-lived Night Nurse series from 1972. Palmer would later return, many years later, in a Dr. Strange miniseries, and the relationship forged in that book was referenced in the past tense here, as Strange & Palmer are now just friends and co-workers.

Let's take a look at a trailer:

Coming attractions:

"Logan" (March 3): Hugh Jackman & Patrick Stewart team up one final time, and we're introduced to a young woman who, in the comics is the current Wolverine......

"Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2" (May 5): Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, and friends return. The first laughs in the audience on this day came with this trailer, when Drax dispenses some "romantic advice" to Star-Lord.

"Wonder Woman" (June): Gal Gadot returns as the Amazing Amazon.

"The Great Wall": Matt Damon fights dragons in China.

"XXX: The Return of Xander Cage" (January): Vin Diesel & Samuel L. Jackson return, and it seems they may be looking to ret-con out the earlier sequel with Ice Cube subbing for Diesel.

"Life": A space drama from Columbia, due sometime in 2017.

"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales": Johnny Depp returns as Jack Sparrow. And you thought this movie series was done.

"Saban's Power Rangers": The long-running franchise gets a cinematic reboot. Lionsgate is doing this one instead of 20th Century Fox.

"Doctor Strange" gets a B+.

Friday, November 4, 2016

What Might've Been: Arrest & Trial (2000)

With Law & Order having marked its 10th anniversary in 2000, producer Dick Wolf decided to resurrect a title from Universal's past for his next project.

Arrest & Trial was a half-hour syndicated series that took a look at real life cases, rather than fictionalized ones, such as on Law & Order and the original Arrest and Trial, back in 1963. Actor Brian Dennehy served as host.

Just like its scripted forebear, Arrest lasted just one season. Why? Reruns of the earlier seasons of Law & Order were in heavy airplay on cable at the time (and still are), and viewers opted not to invest in real law enforcement at work. Hmmmm, I wonder why that is?

Let's take a look at a sample episode.

 It was meant to be a complement to the Law & Order family of shows, hence the logo being in the same trade dress design, or close to it.

Rating: A.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Musical Interlude: He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother (1969)

Little known fact about the Hollies' 1969 hit, "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother". Fellow British legend Elton John joins them on piano on the track. See if you can find him in this video.

....And so they fly on (Section II Class AA Super Bowl: Troy vs. Shaker, 11/3/16)

All along, I've said that if Troy High advanced to the Section II Class AA Super Bowl, it would be, for all intents & purposes, a home game, since RPI East Campus Village Stadium is just 100 yards from the Van Arnam campus that THS calls home. Someone should've told the suits in charge of Section II football that a coin flip was unnecessary. No one did, so they had a coin flip after last Friday's semi-finals, and Shaker, technically the visiting team, won the toss.

Less enlightened types among the Troy faithful might've been thinking, here we go again. We're getting screwed.

Coach Bob "The Builder" Burns had other ideas.

When the proceedings began shortly after 7 pm, Troy won the coin toss, and elected to defer to the 2nd half. Shaker, on the other hand, decided to kick off. Sounds to me more like Shaker won the toss, not Troy. As it happened, Shaker might've been better off if they received the opening kickoff.

Instead, Dev Holmes took the kickoff and raced 88 yards to paydirt. Jordan Audi's extra point, however, clanked off the upright, and Troy had a 6-0 lead just 13 seconds into the game. After a Shaker punt, Troy's first offensive play from scrimmage took nearly as long as the kickoff. Joey Ward, on the halfback option, hit Holmes for 69 yards and another TD. Holmes drew a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct because he did the Heisman Trophy pose in the end zone. Audi converted the extra point this time, and, less than 3 minutes into the game, Troy was up, 13-0.

Shaker had won five in a row after losing at THS on September 23, 20-13. In fact, they had not surrendered more than 20 points in a single game this season headed into tonight. By the end of the first quarter, after a John Germinerio keeper, the Blue Bison had already fallen behind, 20-0.

In the second quarter, Ward ran one in from 12 yards to extend the lead to 27-0. Shaker finally broke through with 3 seconds left in the half as Wahid Nabi found Mike Broughton in the end zone to cut the lead to 27-7.

Shaker took the 2nd half kickoff and marched down the field in over 7 minutes before scoring again, trimming the lead to 27-14. The Bison defense shut down Troy in the 3rd quarter, limiting the Flying Horses to 8 yards in offense in the period. Kwasi Addo scored on the first play of the 4th quarter, and suddenly, Troy fans were getting nervous, as the lead was trimmed to six at 27-21.

Back came Troy. The offense finally adjusted to the defensive shifts used against them, and Ward was sprung, and scored his 2nd touchdown of the game. However, a conversion attempt failed, and the lead was at 12 with just over six minutes to go.

Nabi and the Blue Bison had one last chance, but Malik Johnson intercepted Nabi, as the ball deflected off the hands of Mike Stiso, who had intercepted Germinerio earlier. Troy stuck to the ground game, and ran out the clock. The Flying Horses won their first Section II title in six years, 33-21.

Up next for Troy will be the winner of a Section IX title game taking place Saturday night between Monroe-Woodbury and Newburgh Free Academy. The state tournament begins next week in Kingston, as all roads now lead to the Carrier Dome at Syracuse University Thanksgiving weekend. Having had just six days to prepare for tonight's game, the Flying Horses will now have eight days between games.

Forgotten TV: Owen Marshall, Counselor-at-Law (1971)

He didn't come from the pen of a noted mystery novelist, like Erle Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason, but Owen Marshall, Counselor-at-Law does have a real-life lawyer among his creators.

Jerry McNeely co-created Marshall with David Victor, the executive producer of Marcus Welby, MD. After a back-door pilot aired on Welby, Marshall merited an ABC Movie of the Week berth, albeit at 2 hours instead of the usual 90 minutes, in 1971. That fall, Marshall was added to ABC's fall lineup, and ran for three seasons (1971-4).

Arthur Hill toplined as Marshall, who had a revolving door of operatives, largely because his first, Jess Brandon, was written out of the show after about a year or so (Lee Majors, fresh from Men From Shiloh, moved on to The Six Million Dollar Man). Still, Marshall came across as a Mason clone, but instead of a murder of the week, the series, like Welby, addressed societal issues of the day.

In this 3rd season episode, Marshall defends a military deserter (Randolph Mantooth, Emergency!). Jane Wyman and MacDonald Carey (Days of Our Lives) play the parents in "The Desertion of Keith Ryder", which also features Henry Jones and Dennis Patrick. By this point, Majors was gone, with David Soul (ex-Here Come The Brides) taking his place.

Soul would move on, of course, to Starsky & Hutch, and had a brief run on the pop charts, which we've previously documented.

This should've lasted longer than it did. That's all I can say.

Rating: A.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Forgotten TV: It's The Bickersons (1951)

The Bickersons was wrapping its initial radio run when it transitioned to television in 1950, airing on DuMont's Star Time. However, by that point, Don Ameche, the original John Bickerson, had stepped aside, replaced by Lew Parker, whom most folks know better from his later role on That Girl in the 60's. Frances Langford had made the transition, but left the show and was, in turn, replaced by Virginia Grey.

However, for some reason, the TV version goes by the extended title, It's The Bickersons, but no matter how you remember it, it was an inspiration for Jackie Gleason's seminal The Honeymooners.

Here's a sample clip from "The Honeymoon is Over":

This version aired on CBS in the summer of 1951, and went no further. The radio version, as we've documented, would later resurface in reruns in the 70's. Locally, WQBK-AM (now WGDJ) ran the reruns in the mornings.

No rating.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Classic TV: Taxi (1978)

It had been a year since The Mary Tyler Moore Show ended, and while Moore struggled with not one, but two new series in the same season, writer-producers James L. Brooks & David Davis, finding inspiration in a magazine article, came up with their next big hit.

Taxi, set in New York, lasted 4 seasons on ABC, then gained a new life when NBC picked up the show for a 5th and final season in 1982. The essential formula was, for all intents & purposes, the same as Mary Tyler Moore, except you would substitute NYC for Minneapolis, and a taxi company for a television station. The show was built around an ensemble, not one specific star, although Judd Hirsch did get top billing.

In truth, Taxi was a vehicle for avant-garde comedian Andy Kaufman, who was cast as mechanic Latka Gravas, modeled after the "Foreign Man" character from Kaufman's stage act. Danny DeVito's sarcastic dispatcher, Louie DePalma, was this show's answer to Lou Grant (Ed Asner), but devoid of a moral compass. Elaine (Marilu Henner) was a divorcee. Alex (Hirsch) was also divorced, and gave up custody of his only child due to a lack of ambition. Tony (Tony Danza) was a failing boxer (Danza's former profession before turning to acting), and was just short of being punch drunk. Bobby (Jeff Conaway, "Grease") wanted to be an actor.

After the first season, Randall Carver (John) was let go, largely because his character was, in the eyes of producers, too similar to Tony. By the middle of season 2, recovering drug addict "Reverend" Jim Ignatowski (Christopher Lloyd) was hired on, filling the void created by Carver's departure.

Here's a sample open:

Tony Danza would return a couple of years later with Who's The Boss?. Danny DeVito found fame in movies (i.e. "Twins", "Batman Returns", "Throw Momma From The Train") before returning to television (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia). Hirsch would resurface first with Dear John, then landed a hit movie role of his own in "Independence Day". Lloyd, of course, found fame in movies with the "Back to the Future" and "Addams Family" series, among others.

Rating: A-.