Tuesday, February 28, 2017

What Might've Been: We Got It Made (1983)

It was, in a way, Three's Company in reverse. In more ways than one.

We Got It Made was thought to be a sure-fire hit for NBC in the fall of 1983. As it was, former programming head Fred Silverman was an executive producer for his new Intermedia production company, which had little success until Silverman dropped the Intermedia label a few years later.

The plot: Two roommates (Matt McCoy, Tom Villard) hire a maid (Teri Copley) to maintain their apartment. The guys have jobs and girlfriends, the latter of which complicates things.

After a hot start, We Got It Made ran into some ratings issues and critical backlash, and was cancelled after 1 season, only to return when Silverman & MGM revived it in syndication in 1987. However, that, too, lasted 1 season.

Here's the series opener.

Co-star Stepfanie Kramer left midway, but would later return in Stephen Cannell's crime drama, Hunter, acting opposite Fred Dryer. When Made returned, only Teri Copley & Tom Villard returned from the original cast. The new supporting cast, one would assume, didn't create the same kind of chemistry.

No rating.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Joseph A. Wapner (1916-2017)

The original judge of The People's Court heard his last case a long time ago, and I'll guess that a lot of you thought that Joseph A. Wapner had already passed on.

As it turns out, Wapner, who passed away Sunday at 97, had been long retired from the bench after a brief television comeback . Wapner and bailiff Rusty Burrell were lured back by Animal Planet for the two-season series, Judge Wapner's Animal Court (1998-2000), in response to People's Court having been revived by WB for syndication.

Here's a clip from 1992:

 Now, check out Animal Court:

You'll forgive the video quality of Animal Court, as it's been mostly lost to the mists of time. We'll take another look at Animal Court at a later date. The poster accidentally included a Crocodile Hunter clip, and that's something else we'll see down the road.

Rest in peace, your honor.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

High school this 'n' that

This may just be LaSalle's year.

The skating Cadets advanced to the Section II championship game, defeating Burnt Hills-Ballston Spa, 3-2, on Saturday night at Union College. Christian Rudd led the way with two goals, with Kevin Mainello adding another tally, all in the first period. Coach Tim Flanigan's club will get a 3rd meeting with Shenendehowa, as the Plainsmen ended CBA's upset bid, 5-1. Shen & LaSalle will meet right back at Union College on Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, LaSalle's basketball team, in its 2nd season in the Colonial Council, upset Shen, the #2 seed in Class AA, to punch their ticket to the Glens Falls Civic Center for the AA semi-finals. Up next for coach Steve Sgambelluri's squad will be 3rd seeded Bethlehem. Meanwhile, the Suburban Council's division winners, Colonie & Schenectady, will meet in the other semi-final. The Garnet Raiders have now won 13 in a row after defeating Green Tech, an independent, in the quarter-finals. As for LaSalle, it wasn't so long ago that the Cadets were aching to just win. That the hockey & basketball teams have had bounce back seasons at the same time may be more than a coincidence.

The Class A quarter-finals in basketball take place today at Hudson Valley Community College.

As classes resume on Monday, I shan't be surprised if there are still some shockwaves at Troy High, after both of their basketball teams exited the sectional tournaments surprisingly early. We told you how the boys' team's season ended with a loss to Albany (which, in turn, lost to Bethlehem yesterday). More than 24 hours later, the girls' team had their modest three game winning streak snapped with a blowout loss to Shaker. In his report, published on Thursday, Sean Martin, reporting for the Albany Times-Union, claimed the Lady Bison had avenged their December 30 loss at Troy with the 64-30 victory. Actually, Sean, Shaker had already collected the receipt three weeks earlier, on January 31. Shaker's defense held Shalie Frierson, in her final high school game, to just 4 points, while Sabrina Wolfe led Troy with 16, matching Shaker senior Sierra "Ce Ce" Mayo. Shyla Sanford led Shaker with 21 points.

For Troy, spring sports will start, weather permitting, of course, on April 4 with home openers in baseball, lacrosse, & softball. The sports complex at Troy just needs lights for the baseball & softball fields, as the lacrosse matches are contested at Picken Field.

The New York state high school wrestling championships took place the last two days at Albany's Times-Union Center. Three Section II athletes took home state titles on Saturday night. Trent Svingala (Maple Hill), Orion Anderson (Schuylerville), and Tyler Barnes (Ballston Spa) each won on points. The upside is that Svingala (sophomore) and Anderson (junior) will likely be back next year. Barnes, though, is a senior, and will be moving on. Congratulations to all three.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Musical Interlude: Back on the Chain Gang (1982)

Originally written for the soundtrack to the Jerry Lewis-Robert DeNiro movie, "The King of Comedy", in 1982, the Pretenders' "Back on the Chain Gang" was reissued as a track on the group's album, "Learning to Crawl", the next year, and the following video gained heavy airplay on MTV.

Vocalist Chrissie Hynde originally wrote "Chain Gang" as a reflection on her relationship with Kinks frontman Ray Davies, with whom she had a daughter. But when band-mate James Honeyman-Scott passed away earlier in 1982 from a drug overdose, Hynde changed the focus of the song as a remembrance of a fallen friend.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Old Time Radio: The Adventures of Ellery Queen (1939)

The Adventures of Ellery Queen radio program (1939-48) had an extra element that its television counterparts didn't, which may explain its longevity.

You see, the show's producers thought it would be a great idea to have an audience participation element added to the show, with two contestants acting as "guest armchair detectives" to match wits with Ellery, who was created as a sort of American analogue for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary sleuth, Sherlock Holmes. When Ellery transitioned to television, first in the 50's, then for a brief period in the 70's, the audience participation angle was nixed, as in the eyes of television producers, it made the show have a game show-type feel that didn't really belong in a detective show.

Years later, there would be a crime drama/game show hybrid. Whodunnit began in England, and had a brief run in the US on NBC in 1979.

Let's take a trip back in time to October 1943 and "The Adventure of the Singing Rat":

One other element didn't make the transition to TV, and that was Ellery's girlfriend, Nikki. Apparently she was created strictly for the radio program.

Rating: A.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

What Might've Been: What if someone else played the Green Hornet? (1966)

Here's a little oddity I'll bet some of you might not have known existed.

William Dozier's adaptation of The Green Hornet marked its 50th anniversary back in September, but did you know that Van Williams nearly didn't get the part?

A short 4 minute-plus video is now on YouTube that shows another actor, Jay Murray, as Britt Reid, aka the Green Hornet, with Cindy Wood as Lenore Case, and Richard O'Brien as Mike Axford. The only constant? Naturally, it was Bruce Lee (Kato).

This tried to retain the spirit of the radio version of the series, and there is no hint that Lenore had any knowledge of her boss' dual identity, contrary to the final product. Suffice to say, Bruce Lee was the only one of the four principals retained when production began on the series. As for Jay Murray? Good question.

Rating: B.

On The Air: Steve Harvey (2012)

The late James Brown was billed as the hardest working man in show business. Today, that title may as well belong to actor-comedian-author-game & talk show host Steve Harvey, whose self-titled daytime talk show is now in its fifth season, while Harvey is wrapping up year seven on Family Feud. Throw in NBC's Little Big Shots, returning next month, which Harvey & Ellen DeGeneres are both producing, and a radio morning talk show based in Harvey's adopted home town of Atlanta, plus Celebrity Family Feud, which figures to return for a 3rd straight summer on ABC, and you'd have to consider inventing the 30 hour day for Harvey, while asking, where does he find the time to do all this?

Harvey has also parlayed his twin syndicated gigs into hosting the Miss Universe Pageant, and emceed a 1-shot revival of Showtime at the Apollo, both for Fox. To think that 20 years ago, he was in line for a self-titled sitcom on the WB, in addition to Showtime. Whew!

Steve Harvey plays out the same as the rest of NBC-Universal's line of yakkers, including The Steve Wilkos Show, Jerry Springer, & Maury, except that from what I've seen, and it's been about 3-4 years since I've actually tuned in, there aren't the violent confrontations that pockmark the other shows.

Harvey deals with very real issues. In this episode from last May, he interviews Bishop Eddie Long, who was embroiled in a sex scandal that forced him out of his own megachurch in Atlanta.

Harvey has also guest hosted TBN's Praise the Lord a few times, and the interview with Long could just as easily have been done there, too. You could tell that Steve was a wee bit apprehensive about doing the interview, as Long has been a mentor to him.

Rating for the series: B.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Three Stooges in 3D (Pardon My Backfire, 1953)

3D was all the rage in the early 50's. Columbia experimented with a pair of Three Stooges shorts in the summer of 1953. "Spooks!", released in June, was followed by "Pardon My Backfire" two months later.

This time around, the boys are mechanics who need money to pay for a triple wedding after being engaged to their girlfriends, a trio of sisters, for 10 years. The version posted by Doug Ward is the 2D model that has been used in syndication for decades.

In 2D, the gags don't project as well, understandably, and Columbia abandoned the experiment after this short.

Rating: B-.

Sports this 'n' that

A Texas high schooler, in the course of transitioning from female to male, took treatments of testosterone to accelerate the process, if you will, while competing in a sectional wrestling tournament. Unfortunately, the fact that Mack (short for Mackenzie) Beggs won the tournament in his/her weight class only brings up controversy.

Texas high school rules state that you have to compete against athletes of the same gender that you were born with. Translated, Beggs had to compete against women, which was sure to generate controversy no matter what happened. Beggs, 17, attends Trinity High in Euless, and was set to face Madeline Rocha of Coppell High. However, Rocha forfeited the match due to a predictable lawsuit filed by an ambulance chaser representing Coppell and a parent of another Coppell wrestler. Said parent, Jim Baudhuin, admitted he respects what Beggs wants to do. His problem is the testosterone, which gives Beggs an unfair advantage. He also said that his daughter wasn't in the same weight class as Beggs, and the two wouldn't have met in the tournament. Baudhuin was looking out for the other athletes.

The simplest solution, from where I sit, would've been for Beggs to withdraw, due to the transitional phase. Assuming he/she's a senior, this would've been Beggs' last chance for a sectional championship.

Oh, what a tangled web.........
On the home front, Troy High's boys basketball team is one-and-done in the Class AA sectionals, as Albany avenged a loss on their home court two weeks ago, upsetting the 6th seeded Flying Horses, 49-44, last night. Daniel Buie was held to 11 points. Elijah Davis had a game high 13 points. The bad news for the Falcons, however, is that their next opponent will be Bethlehem on Saturday at Hudson Valley Community College. I don't think Cinderella will stay with them much longer.

Something tells me that the Troy women won't be around long, either, headed into a match tonight against Shaker. The Lady Bison & Lady Horses split two regular season games. As the boys had won 6 of 7 before losing last night at home, the girls have a modest three game winning streak on the line tonight.
In the home district, there is some sadness this morning with news that Harry Gully, long synonymous with the Lansingburgh Pop Warner Football program, passed away Monday at 82. While I don't think I've ever met the man, I have read of the yeoman's work he put in for many years working with kids in the North end of town. He will be missed.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Old Time Radio: Gang Busters (1936)

I've often referenced the fact that in the home district, a local radio station began airing reruns of classic old time radio shows back in the early 70's. WQBK-AM (now WGDJ) would run The Bickersons in the morning during morning drive host Bill Edwardson's program. Then, there was an afternoon block that featured The Shadow, The Lone Ranger, and our next subject, Gang Busters.

The radio version of Gang Busters began as G-Men in 1935, but lasted less than a year. You might believe it may be because then-FBI head J. Edgar Hoover had the final say on scripts for the show, which created tension with series creator-producer Phillips H. Lord. A year later, the show was retooled, the scope expanded to cover true crime cases from across the country, and the series was rechristened, Gang Busters, which would go on to last for 21 years (1936-57). In contrast, the television version, which we've previously covered, ran for just 1 calendar year as a twice-monthly entry, alternating with Dragnet during 1952. Only 12 episodes were produced for television.

Edit, 12/1/21: The previous video we had, "The Case of The Chicago Tunnel Gang", has been deleted. In its place is "The $35,000 Theft":

The success of Gang Busters also spawned a comic book version, published by DC/National Periodical, which ran for nearly 70 issues in the 40's & 50's.

To be perfectly honest, I can't give a fair rating. This was the first time I've heard a radio episode of the series, and there's not enough to judge at this time.

Sports this 'n' that

From the "What was he thinking?" file:

Yankees president Randy Levine wasn't satisfied with the team winning an arbitration case over reliever Dellin Betances the other day. Levine took to the media to take a cheap shot at Betances' agents, who work for a lesser known sports management firm, who tried to elevate Betances' salary to the level of a closer. While that didn't work, you can't fault them for trying in this case. Even though Aroldis Chapman is back after winning a World Series with the Cubs, who's to say Chapman won't disappear again if the Yankees fall out of contention this summer? Maybe the agents can be held for thinking too far ahead, but I get their logic in this case, and that for me is rare, given how much I've shredded the biggest agent in the business, Scott Boras (Badenov) in this space over the years.

What holds me back from bestowing Levine a set of Weasel ears or a Dunce Cap is that his affronts aren't worthy enough to merit such consideration. How the Steinbrenner brothers have kept this goof around for so long is a real mystery. Good thing he doesn't own a stake in the team. Then, we'd be in trouble.

All that being said, with pre-season games due to start at the end of the week, we'll see if the Yankees have enough offense to complement their pitching, especially with Mark Teixiera (ESPN) and Alex Rodriguez having retired. Don't be surprised come June-July to see Chapman's name in trade talks again.
The "Frozen Four", if you will, in the high school hockey playoffs are now set after Burnt Hills-Ballston Spa defeated defending champion Saratoga on Saturday night. For the Spartan Scotties, that's the good news. The bad news is that up next is top-seeded LaSalle, which has already beaten them twice this season. The winner gets the winner of CBA-Shenendehowa on February 28.

Over the last year, we've seen teams and cities end championship droughts. First, it was Cleveland (NBA), then Chicago (World Series), then Troy High & Cambridge (high school football). Could LaSalle, which last won a sectional hockey title in 2000, be next? We'll know within the next 8 days.
Meanwhile, Troy High's women's basketball team won their first round game in the AA sectionals on Friday, beating Colonie, 53-47. The Garnet Raiders had hoped to avenge a loss on the same court where Troy had won their season opener 2 1/2 months ago, but it didn't happen. After splitting two regular season games (one non-league) earlier this season, Troy will get a 3rd crack at Suburban Council blue division champ Shaker on Wednesday night in Latham. The boys' team will play their first round game at home tomorrow vs. Albany, having just beaten the Falcons on the road two weeks ago, with the winner likely to play Bethlehem at Hudson Valley Community College on Saturday afternoon.
As we've documented over at Saturday Morning Archives the last couple of days, a pair of wrestling legends passed away at the end of last week.

Ivan Koloff, real name Oreal Parris, and originally from Canada, passed away at 74 from liver cancer. Koloff had retired from in-ring competition in 1989 after a lengthy stint in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), where a lot of fans rediscovered him via cable television (TBS) after he'd left the then-World Wrestling Federation for the final time in 1983. Just a guess, but I think Koloff will eventually enter the WWE Hall of Fame, as virtually all of the promotions champions, save for current stars John Cena, Triple H, and Randy Orton, are already in.

George "The Animal" Steele (William James Myers), a mild mannered school teacher & football coach in Michigan by day, adopted the guise of the neanderthal heel with a taste for turnbuckles and parlayed it into induction into the Hall of Fame in 1996. Steele turned babyface in the 80's, and memorably seconded Rick Steamboat in a classic bout vs. Randy Savage for the Intercontinental title at Wrestlemania 3 30 years ago. Steele also landed his only commercial endorsement during this period, working with actor Tony Randall in a bit for Minolta.

Both Koloff & Steele were also born again Christians, Koloff converting in 1995 and becoming an ordained minister. Both were called home within a space of 24 hours. May they both rest in peace.
On the positive side of the wrestling tip, Ring of Honor is giving two men with ties to the home district an opportunity to unseat three-time champion Adam Cole next month.

Bobby Fish, already 2/3 of the way to the ROH Triple Crown as a TV champ and multi-time tag team champion, will likely have support from family & friends from Albany & Saratoga when he faces Cole in New York on March 3. If he succeeds, Fish would advance to face Christopher Daniels at ROH's 15th anniversary PPV event a week later in Las Vegas. After that, former radio personality Dalton Castle awaits at Supercard of Honor in Lakeland, Florida, on April Fool's Day. Castle spent a few years with WQBK-FM, even doing a video talk show, before turning to wrestling full-time. Heh, Jerry Lawler started in the radio business, too, before becoming a mat legend many years ago. When Dalton was in town last year for Dynasty Pro Wrestling, I asked him if he missed being in radio. He does. That said, Ring of Honor, give the Peacock a talk show ASAP!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Classic TV: Rhoda (1974)

For the first four seasons of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Valerie Harper had proven to be a more than capable second banana, if you will, as Mary Richards' BFF, Rhoda Morganstern, a transplant from the Bronx who'd moved to Minneapolis. Rhoda proved popular enough, too, that CBS green-lighted a spinoff, which lasted almost as long as the parent show did.

Rhoda was set up in the middle of CBS' Monday night lineup when it bowed in September 1974. Rhoda had returned almost completely to her New York roots, moving to Manhattan instead of back to the Bronx, and at first, had settled in with her sister, Brenda (Julie Kavner). This meant that Rhoda actually had at least two sisters. Viewers were introduced to Debbie (Louise "Liberty" Williams) in a 1-shot in season 4 of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but Debbie was never heard from again, perhaps forgotten by David Davis & Lorenzo Music, who'd developed Rhoda into a series. Anyway, it didn't take long to establish that Rhoda would have its own unique, distinct identity. That is to say, Rhoda wasn't going to be a swinging single for too long.

In the very first episode, we meet Joe Gerard (David Groh), Rhoda's future husband.......

After a few appearances on Mary Tyler Moore while concurrently working on McMillian & Wife, Nancy Walker returned to the role of Ida, Rhoda & Brenda's mother. Upstate NY native Harold Gould (from Schenectady) played the father, but left the show after 2 seasons to co-star in ABC's short-lived Feather & Father Gang. Groh left after season 3, as apparently, Rhoda & Joe would be divorced.

Rhoda, in turn, spawned a 1-shot spinoff, as Lorenzo Music's voice-only character of Carlton was given an animated special. The doorman, however, didn't graduate to his own series. Music, though, parlayed the gig into a long running role as comic strip feline Garfield, and spent 2 seasons on The Real Ghostbusters, inheriting Bill Murray's role as Peter before leaving in favor of Dave Coulier. Speaking of cartoons, that's what's keeping Julie Kavner busy these days, as she's closing in on 30 years of The Simpsons.      

Rating: B.                                                                                                  

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Classic TV: The Range Rider (1951)

In the early days of television, there were five distinct genres of shows in primetime. Game shows, sitcoms, variety shows, crime dramas, and Westerns. If some of these programs couldn't make a network schedule, producers didn't hesitate to offer to stations in a syndicated package.

One such series was The Range Rider, which ran for 2 seasons (1951-3), and while the show was credited as a Range Rider Production, it was actually from Gene Autry's Flying A Productions. Jock (Jack) Mahoney toplined as the Range Rider, who had no alter-ego, but traveled from town to town with his young aide, Dick West (Dick Jones).

The plots are basic cookie cutter, such as "Two-Fisted Justice", in which the Rider & Dick try to sort out who's the real villain when a vigilante group steps between some homesteaders and a railroad magnate......

Twelve years after the series ended, Range Rider landed on ABC as filler fare on Sunday afternoons, as it wasn't hip anymore to run Western repeats on Saturday mornings. In 1983, The A-Team paid homage through Murdock (Dwight Schultz) wearing a paper cut-out mask of the Rider's face on a mission after watching a rerun one day.

Jock Mahoney's other series, Yancy Derringer, wasn't quite so fortunate, lasting one season, as we previously documented.

Rating: B.

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Classic Reborn: Bret Maverick (1981)

For the 2nd time in a four year span, Warner Bros. decided to revive Maverick, this time on NBC, under the title, Bret Maverick, with James Garner, not too far removed from The Rockford Files, reprising the first of his iconic roles.

NBC slotted Bret Maverick on Fridays, not at the same exact time as Rockford, but they figured that Garner's drawing power, assuming he had any left, would be enough opposite CBS' Dukes of Hazzard, a WB stablemate. Wrong! NBC made the same tactical mistake they'd made earlier in the year with the sitcom, The Brady Brides, thinking that the sequel to The Brady Bunch, airing on the same night as the original series, would find the same audience. Apparently, program mogul Fred Silverman never read the works of George Santayana.

The other problem was this. The original Maverick was in syndication in some parts of the country. Local cable viewers could find it on WSBK in Boston, for example. This time around, Bret is going solo, as brother Bart (Jack Kelly) & cousin Beau (Roger Moore) aren't around. Moore, of course, had long moved on, and had starred as James Bond in "For Your Eyes Only" earlier in '81.

I seem to recall my parents sampling Bret Maverick, but I didn't see enough of the show to give it a rating. Following is a sample teaser and the intro. Co-star Ed Bruce, otherwise a prominent country singer of the period, performs the title song.

Bruce & Garner recorded a version of the theme song for an album. Bruce does sound a wee bit like a cross between two other country singers, Waylon Jennings and Don Williams, at least to my ears, and as we've previously noted, Garner later recorded a duet with Jennings.

High School Fridays: Guilderland/Mohonasen/Scotia-Glenville @ LaSalle (hockey), 2/17/17

It has been at least three years since LaSalle hosted a game in the Section II hockey tournament. It's been 17 years since they won the Section II title. In front of the largest crowd of the season at Robert Conway Arena at Hudson Valley Community College, the Cadets didn't disappoint their faithful supporters in their first round game vs. the Guilderland/Mohonasen/Scotia-Glenville Storm.

The student section was full by the time the game started, roughly around 7:20 pm. Some five minutes in, fresh off serving a penalty himself, Ryan Murray put the Cadets on the board with a power play goal, beating Storm netminder Daniel Cooper to give the hosts a 1-0 lead. Nearly 3 minutes later, senior captain Logan DiScanio went top shelf on Cooper to make it 2-0. A couple of minutes later, junior forward Tom Ryan found an opening and rifled one past Cooper. LaSalle led, 3-0, at intermission. DiScanio added an insurance tally in the 2nd period. Zac Rentz was hardly threatened in goal, with 12 saves in all, and the Cadets march into the semi-finals with a 4-0 win.

LaSalle now awaits the winner of tomorrow's game between Burnt Hills-Ballston Spa and Saratoga. Meanwhile, Christian Brothers Academy scored the first upset of the tournament, defeating 3rd seeded Bethlehem, 3-1. The 6th seeded Brothers will face either Shenendehowa or Shaker-Colonie, as that game had not concluded as of press time. The semi-finals will be at Union College on February 25, with the finals also at Union 3 nights later.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A Modern Classic (?): Moonlighting (1985)

Moonlighting was not your average detective show.

Launched as a mid-season replacement series in March 1985, Moonlighting was part of ABC's retooled Tuesday night lineup, experiencing a period of transition after the comedy block that had dominated the 70's and early 80's had come to an end, with Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Soap, & Three's Company (the latter continued briefly as Three's a Crowd) having all ended their runs. Cybill Shepherd, in her first television series, played fashion model-turned-detective Maddie Hayes opposite newcomer Bruce Willis as David Addison, Jr.. The plot had Hayes bankrupt after her manager had embezzled her earnings from her modeling career, and after a meeting with Addison, was persuaded to join forces with him.

An assortment of production delays, including injuries to Willis and Shepherd taking time to start a family, resulted in the series losing some steam at the midway point. The early success enabled Willis to make the transition not only to movies (i.e. "Blind Date", "Die Hard"), but to music, as he released an album of R & B covers toward the end of season 2. Series creator Glenn Gordon Caron left the show due to creative differences around the end of season 3, and it could be argued that was where the wheels fell off.

Shepherd, who had been best known for "The Last Picture Show" before taking on Moonlighting, had suggested to Caron that the show be developed in the manner of a Howard Hawks movie. Caron didn't quite get the reference point, so he, Shepherd, & Willis screened some of Hawks' films for inspiration.

To be perfectly honest, even though I am a fan of detective stories, I never watched this show. I don't know why. Maybe it was because I was more into MTV back in those days. Hence, no rating.

Here's the intro, with the title song performed by Al Jarreau.

Musical Interlude: I Can't Lie To Me (2000)

Clay Davidson peaked at #26 on Billboard's Hot Country chart in the spring of 2000 with "I Can't Lie To Me", the 2nd single from his debut CD, "Unconditional". The video is noteworthy for its wrestling theme, with appearances by Jerry "The King" Lawler, Tennessee area promoter Bert Prentice (formerly known as Christopher Love), and future TNA star Chris Harris, who figures prominently in the video. Lawler was doing color commentary on Monday Night Raw at the time, but never plugged Davidson's album.

The anti-Southern bias of Vince McMahon includes a distaste, apparently, of country music, even though a former star, Hillbilly Jim, had a couple of novelty hits on the country chart in the late 80's. Mickie James, back with WWE after a nearly 7 year absence, had left in 2010 to pursue a career in country music before signing with TNA, perhaps frustrated by the fact that McMahon refused to put his promotional machine behind her debut CD.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

On The Air: Legion (2017)

"My name is Legion, for we are many."---Mark 5:9

Chris Claremont & Bill Sienkiewicz introduced David Haller, aka Legion, in the pages of New Mutants (1st series) 25 in 1985. A quick check of the character's Wikipedia page confirmed what I had suspected, that Legion gets his name from his Biblical namesake, a man afflicted with multiple demons who was cured by Jesus. In Haller's case, what was assumed to be schizophrenia is actually something else entirely.

Haller (Dan Stevens) is the illegitimate son of Professor Charles Xavier, founding father of the X-Men. FX has adapted Haller's tale into a short-season series, which launched last week, and runs until the end of March. Ratings, of course, will decide whether or not a 2nd season will follow. What you need to realize, though, friends, is that this is not the usual comics adaptation. Far from it. Instead, series creator Noah Hawley (Fargo) is keying on Haller's perceived mental illness and reclassifying it as the gestation of the young man's mutant abilities. That said, Legion, the TV series, is far removed from the original comics stories that have been produced over the past 32 years. It's been established that the show is set in a parallel universe contrary to the cinematic world of the X-Men. Jean Smart (ex-Fargo, Designing Women) and Rachel Keller co-star.

Maybe this trailer will give you some idea of what Hawley and his staff have in mind.

I missed the 90 minute opener, and caught tonight's episode. Taking a cue from the film adaptation of Guardians of the Galaxy, Legion uses an eclectic soundtrack, which tonight includes Thomas Dolby's "Hyperactive" and a cover of the Talking Heads' "Road to Nowhere" (don't know the artist).

This might actually be worth waiting for the inevitable DVD release.

Rating: B-.

Dunce Cap Award: Section II Basketball Committee

The brackets are out for the high school basketball tournaments in NY's Section 2. With Troy High in Class AA, we'll focus on that bracket this time.


Coach Paul Bearup's Lady Flying Horses closed the season with wins over Albany and, presumably, Schenectady (since the 2/10 game was never reported to the press, and the Lady Patriots are not in the sectionals, we have to assume Troy won that last game). They finished 3rd in the gray division of the Suburban Council, but draw a #9 seed. As expected, they'll be on the road, but the journey starts Friday at Colonie, in a rematch of the regular season opener on December 6, won by Troy. The winner will face the top seed, blue division champion Shaker, on February 22.

The women's field shakes out thus:

1. Shaker-1st round bye.
2. Shenendehowa-1st round bye.
3. Columbia-1st round bye.
4. Saratoga-1st round bye, will host #5 Albany on 2/22.
5. Albany.
6. Catholic Central. The Lady Crusaders are the only non-Suburban Council school in the field, and will host Guilderland on Friday.
7. Bethlehem. The Lady Eagles host #10 Niskayuna on Friday.
8. Colonie.
9. Troy.
10. Niskayuna.
11. Guilderland.

As noted, Schenectady is not participating in the tournament after a horrible regular season. However, there is a problem that the tournament committee hasn't figured out.

Rightfully, the Suburban Council's division champs, Shaker & Albany, should be seeded 1-2, depending on who has the better overall record. Catholic Central, conceivably, could've been a #3. Instead, the committee ranked the top 4 teams in the blue division ahead of gray division champ Albany. It wasn't that long ago that in Class AA, the Suburban & the now-defunct Big 10 alternated the seeds in the tournament. It's been 3 years since the Big 10 folded, but the committee simply botched it.


Rich Hurley's Troy High team lands at #6, and gets a rematch against Albany, whom they beat just 8 days ago. The seedings are similarly screwed up. To wit:

1. Colonie-1st round bye.
2. Shenendehowa-1st round bye.
3. Bethlehem: Hosts Catholic Central on 2/21.
4. Saratoga: Hosts Niskayuna on 2/21.
5. Schenectady: Hosts CBA on 2/21.
6. Troy: Hosts Albany on 2/21.
7: LaSalle: Hosts Guilderland on 2/21.
8. Shaker: Hosts Green Tech on 2/21.
9. Green Tech.
10. Guilderland.
11. Albany.
12. CBA.
13. Niskayuna.
14. Catholic Central.

What doesn't make sense is that the Crusaders, with just 1 win, are in, and Columbia, which won just 2 games all season, isn't. Again, the committee botched it, placing the top 4 blue division teams in the top 4 positions ahead of the top 2 gray division teams, when LaSalle, which was a division champ in the Colonial Council, should've been a #3 seed. Rightfully, Colonie & Schenectady would be 1-2, followed by LaSalle, Shen, & Troy, in that order.

However, a quick check of the Suburban Council standings explains the committee's decision making. Overall, Saratoga & Schenectady had identical 15-5 records, but the Blue Streaks, who ended their regular season by beating Shen on Tuesday, got the nod, largely due to politics. The committee, which still hasn't figured out how to space out the games on quarter-final day at Hudson Valley Community College, gets a box of dunce caps for using politics ahead of common sense.

My personal prediction: The Troy women, if they get past Colonie, will get a 3rd match vs. Shaker, but go no further. The boys would like to see someone other than Bethlehem in the quarters, but with the quarters at HVCC, giving Troy a de facto home court advantage they've enjoyed the last couple of years, anything can happen. If they get by Bethlehem, Troy would then get either a rematch vs. Shen, or face Guilderland or LaSalle. The finals this year are at the Glens Falls Civic Center due to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) college tournament. Troy, remember, won the Class A title at Glens Falls last year, so there's plenty of motivation. For seniors Ryan Carmello, Brandon Holmes, & Ethan Evans, adding a state hoops title to the state football title they already collected, would be icing on the cake. I, however, don't see it. Quarters and no further, based on what I saw vs. Bethlehem last month.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Video Valentine: We're in This Love Together (1981)

It's Valentine's Day, so our final Video Valentine for this year comes from the late Al Jarreau. "We're in This Love Together", the first single from Jarreau's 1981 album, "Breakin' Away", peaked at #15 on the Hot 100. The album was released right after I graduated from high school, so it doesn't fit as a "Video From The High School Years".

Jarreau passed away on Sunday. Rest in peace.

A little history lesson on To Tell The Truth (1980)

Rosa Parks, one of the early pioneers of the modern-day civil rights movement, appeared on To Tell The Truth in the fall of 1980. Ms. Parks would later be immortalized in song by the Neville Brothers ("Sister Rosa", 1989), but for a lot of folks, this was a rare occasion to learn more about her than just from reading history books. The panel includes Nipsey Russell, Kitty Carlisle, and Gordon Jump (WKRP in Cincinnati). Robin Ward is the moderator.

Announcer Alan Kalter would later handle those same duties for David Letterman on CBS' Late Show (1993-2015). As you saw, Russell recused himself from voting due to past personal association.

Sports this 'n' that

Regular season action in high school basketball wraps tonight in New York's Section 2. The sectional tournament pairings will be announced tomorrow, and in order to secure a home game in the sectionals, Troy High needs to win its regular season finale tonight at Christian Brothers Academy. Troy won the first meeting in December, so they're looking for a season sweep. As of now, they're in 2nd place in the Suburban Council's gray division, and are not guaranteed a home game just yet. The Troy girls, on the other hand, finished 3rd in their division, and likely will be on the road. We'll know for sure by tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the pairings are set for the hockey sectionals. Niskayuna-Schenectady will meet Guilderland-Mohonasen-Scotia-Glenville tomorrow for the right to play top-seeded LaSalle on Friday at Hudson Valley Community College. The other pairings:

Shaker-Colonie at Shenendehowa
CBA at Bethlehem
Saratoga at Burnt Hills-Ballston Spa

The semi-finals & finals will be played at Union College's Messa Rink on February 25 & 28, respectively. LaSalle last won a Section 2 title in 2000, but the only team they didn't beat in the regular season was Bethlehem (LaSalle split with Shen), and that could be a problem.
Former WWE CEO Linda McMahon has been confirmed as the new head of the Small Business Administration, a move that was largely a case of President Donald Trump doing a favor for the McMahons after he'd been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame 4 years ago. If this doesn't get Vince away from WWE for good, what will?
More WWE: You might not notice, but Bray Wyatt (real name: Windham Rotunda) became the latest 3rd generation wrestler to win a World title in WWE on Sunday at Elimination Chamber, eliminating both of the previous champs, John Cena & A. J. Styles, to achieve the top prize. Wyatt's father, Mike Rotunda (aka Mike Rotundo and Irwin R. Schyster) won multiple tag titles in the NWA & WWE in the 80's and 90's with multiple tag team partners. The late Blackjack Mulligan, Bray's grandfather, held the WWWF & AWA tag titles with Blackjack Lanza in the 70's. Neither Mulligan nor Rotunda, however, ever held a World singles title in their careers. Wyatt's current tag team partner, Randy Orton, followed the same career trajectory 13 years ago. Randy's grandfather & father, Bob Orton, Sr. & Jr., never won World titles, either. One figures that either Orton will turn on Wyatt or vice versa between now and Wrestlemania on April 2 in Orlando.
Much has been made of Knicks/Madison Square Garden owner James Dolan banning former Knicks & Bulls star Charles Oakley from MSG after an incident at the Garden last week. The tabloid press, of course, had a field day, and Dolan, earning himself a fresh set of Weasel ears, didn't help matters by trying to use the press to smear Oakley.

However, there is a happy ending. Hornets owner Michael Jordan and Commissioner Adam Silver interceded on behalf of Oakley to resolve the issue. If I'm Silver, though, I'd start investigating some of Dolan's business practices that have alienated the fan base in New York. Dolan has been characterized as being clueless about the teams he owns (Knicks, Rangers, Liberty), and lashes out in much the same way President Trump does when things don't go his way.

Suffice to say, President Trump would do us all a favor if he helped convince Dolan to sell the team in exchange for a presidential appointment, kind of like what Trump wanted to do for Jets owner Woody Johnson. Stay tuned.
Finally, congratulations to Geno Auriemma and the University of Connecticut's women's basketball team, which defeated South Carolina Monday night to run their record winning streak to 100 consecutive games, having long passed UCLA's legendary men's teams under John Wooden. At this rate, someone will suggest pitting the Lady Huskies against the Harlem Globetrotters, just for kicks. Just sayin'.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Classic TV: TV's Bloopers & Practical Jokes (1982)

NBC, searching for a hit series to complement Little House on the Prairie, suddenly began to develop a whole new batch of hits in the early 80's. Most of you know, of course, about Knight Rider and The A-Team, part of the class of 1982-3, as well as The Facts of Life and its parent series, Diff'rent Strokes. Part of the 1982 class was TV's Bloopers & Practical Jokes.

Borne out of a series of specials about censored material and commercials, this Candid Camera crossed with otherwise classified blooper reels became a weekly series as a collaborative effort between TV icons Johnny Carson and Dick Clark, whose respective production companies co-produced the series. Carson sent over his sidekick from The Tonight Show, Ed McMahon, to be Clark's broadcast partner, as if Clark, who was still doing American Bandstand for ABC at the time, needed another gig. Charlie O'Donnell, who had been Clark's announcer on Bandstand early in his run, was working on Wheel of Fortune at the time, and was brought on as announcer.

Yes, there were short bits highlighting commercials, which ultimately were phased out. Bloopers had become popular thanks to Kermit Schaefer in the 50's (Who can forget someone mispronouncing a former president as "Hoobert Heever"?). The animation used in the series was done by long-time Mad Magazine artist Sergio Aragones. In the weekly format, Bloopers ran for 2 seasons, then would return in a series of periodic specials, a la Bob Hope. Clark took the Bloopers over to ABC in 1998, but not in a weekly series format, just specials.

The most recent itineration of this series was the short-lived half-hour Bloopers, back in 2012, hosted by actor Dean Cain, which lasted a year or two before fading out.

Here's an intro. NBC ID by Danny Dark.

Rating: A-.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Video Valentine: Puppy Love (1960)

Paul Anka reached #2 on the Hot 100 in 1960 with his composition, "Puppy Love", which was written as an ode to then-girlfriend Annette Funicello.

The single was released, appropriately, right before Valentine's Day. 12 years later, Donny Osmond matched Anka as he peaked at #2 as well with his cover version.

Here's the original, from Dick Clark's Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show:

On the Shelf: Of Champions & icons

The latest Batman '66 miniseries from DC stays in-house this time, as Batman & Robin will meet Wonder Woman '77 in the course of a new 6-issue miniseries, co-written by Jeff Parker & Marc Andreyko.

The plot will have the heroes meeting R'as Al Ghul and his daughter, Talia. In a odd contrivance, Bruce Wayne and Alfred spin the tale of how Bruce met Talia when they were kids. Sounds like a knock-off of young Bruce meeting a teenaged Selina Kyle on Gotham to me. There is a Catwoman, this one modeled after Eartha Kitt, the last actress to essay the part on the 1966-8 Batman series. Time travel seems to be looming on the horizon, which suggests to me that the Batman '66 franchise may have just jumped the shark.

As a side note, I suggest getting the variant cover to issue 1, rendered by the inestimable Alex Ross.

Rating: B+.

Marvel, meanwhile, has revived The Champions, this time as their latest attempt to copy the success of DC's Teen Titans. Marvel had to obtain a license from Heroic Publishing, which took over the copyright to the Champions several years ago for role playing games and comics. Anyway, this team features the smartest Hulk there is, Amadeus Cho, plus Spider-Man (Miles Morales), Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan), Nova (not the original), and Viv, the synthezoid daughter of the Vision, introduced in the latter's short-lived series. Viv's also the only one who doesn't have her own series outside of this one. Mark Waid & Humberto Ramos are the creative team, and with Waid's track record, this will hang around for a while. I have never been a big fan of Ramos' manga-inspired art, but it seems to work well here. Of course, Marvel's insistence on pricing everything at $4 is a turnoff.

Rating: B.

As fans of Marvel's Agents of SHIELD know all too well, Marvel is giving the Inhumans a heavy push due to a dispute between the publisher and 20th Century Fox, which holds the rights to the X-Men for movies. In 2015, Uncanny Inhumans was launched as a new vehicle for Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, since the Fantastic Four had been split up. Charles Soule came up with the idea of having Medusa, the Queen of the Inhumans, and an enemy-turned-ally of the FF (she was even a member of the FF at one time), cheat on her husband, Black Bolt, with Johnny (who had dated Medusa's cousin, Crystal, back in the day). So not digging.

Retro rating: C.

There is no question that the pro basketball player that serves as the star of Marvel's Mosaic, is modeled after an amalgam of real-life NBA players, including LeBron James. Geoffrey Thorne had to have James, in particular, in mind. Mosaic can possess people for a while. Not the first Marvel character to do that, but I'm not feeling this one, either.

Rating: C-.

Just for the sake of saying so, I acquired the last three in a package at Walmart. Marvel & DC are both producing 3-packs for the bargain price of $5 per pack. That means that with Marvel, you're saving $7 by buying one of these packages. These packs have been out since the holidays, so get them while you can.

Will Eisner's legendary Spirit returns in a new miniseries from Dynamite, this one written AND illustrated by Francesco Francavilla, and of course that means that Afterlife With Archie will fall further behind schedule, between Francavilla's commitments, and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's commitments to Riverdale. Anyway, Francavilla's take on The Spirit has a little Mike Mignola-meets-Gray Morrow influence, not entirely on the Eisner tip. "The Corpse Makers" is worth a look, though.

Rating: B.

Seeing as how he works on a pair of DC Comics shows for CW, Marc "Crazy" Guggenheim, you'd think, would be given a writing gig at DC. Nope. Guggenheim, long regarded for his work at Marvel, returns there in April to write X-Men Gold. Yes, they're splitting the X-Men into multiple teams again. Will they never learn? For what it's worth, X-Men Blue (the colors represent the color scheme used for the team's uniforms since the 70's) is written by Cullen "Hot Cross" Bunn.

Not content with the current event miniseries, Marvel is going full-bore with the revival of Monsters Unleashed, with an ongoing series debuting in April. They've created some heroic monsters for this project, to differentiate it from the black & white anthology series of the 70's.

Now, if only someone could convince the Marbleheads to, you know, lower the cover prices.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Forgotten TV: Body Language (1984)

Nearly a decade after Showoffs had been cancelled, Mark Goodson was persuaded, not by ABC, but rather, CBS, to retool the show. The end result, Body Language, lasted nearly a year and a half before it was cancelled in January 1986. Tom Kennedy, who was also hosting the syndicated evening edition of The Price is Right around the same time, was the host.

Goodson tweaked the concept, mixing charades with Mad Libs, if you will, as contestants had to complete puzzles based on the pantomimed clues. Goodson, you'll recall, added the puzzle factor to his Password revivals for NBC.

Following is the conclusion of the first Teen Week from April 1985, featuring a pair of NBC stars, Kim Fields (The Facts of Life) and Jason Bateman (It's Your Move).

The video also appears on my other blog, Saturday Morning Archives.

Rating: B.

Old Time Radio: A Day in The Life of Dennis Day (1946)

Dennis Day was one of those rare radio stars who had the distinction of appearing on two shows at the same time, on just as many networks.

After Day served in the Navy in World War II, he'd returned to The Jack Benny Program, continuing his on-air persona of a naive simpleton who seemingly took every expression literally. This carried over into his first starring gig, A Day in The Life of Dennis Day, which launched on NBC Radio in 1946 (Benny's program had been on CBS at the time), and ran for a few years. It seemed that nearly everything Dennis said was set up as a punch line.

Take this 1947 episode, for example.

A Day in The Life of Dennis Day usually started with Dennis singing a song, as we heard in the above sample. The rest of the show is a sitcom that plays off Day's simple everyman persona. To think that as I was growing up, I only knew about Dennis from his annual appearances at the Jerry Lewis MDA telethons and a Special K commercial he did for Kellogg's.

Rating: B.

High school this 'n' that

Ye scribe is fending off a threatening head cold, so I didn't venture out on Friday night to cover either high school basketball or hockey. Thus, the following was obtained from Section 2's hockey page and the Albany Times-Union website.
On the ice: LaSalle wrapped up the Capital District High School Hockey League (CDHSHL)'s regular season title with a 5-1 win over Queensbury on Senior Night at Robert Conway Arena (Hudson Valley Community College), completing a season sweep of the Spartans. Four of the seniors were showcased, as Zac Rentz had 24 saves, Logan DiScanio & Kevin Mainello had two goals apiece, while Sam Mulson had the other tally for the Cadets, who finish the regular season at 16-2-2 (14-2 in league play) with 17 points, good enough to hold off onrushing Shenendehowa (16 pts.) & Bethlehem (15) to ensure the top seed in the playoffs. Play-in games will take place in Clifton Park on Shen's home ice on Wednesday, with the quarterfinals to begin next Friday. Seedings will be determined at a coaches meeting scheduled for Sunday.
On the court: It was also Senior Night at Troy High for the boys' basketball team. After the women had upset Albany on Tuesday on their Senior Night, coach Richard Hurley's club sought a little slice of payback of their own from Schenectady, after the Patriots had beaten Troy back in December. Mission accomplished. Daniel Buie torched the Schenectady defense for 26 points, Ryan Carmello added 16, while Zavion Chaney finished with 11, continuing his hot play, as Troy defeated Schenectady, 74-60. Troy closes the regular season on the road at CBA on Tuesday.

As of this writing, the women's game at Pat Riley Center between Troy & Schenectady had not been reported, likely because the Lady Pats, with 1 league win this season, wanted to avoid embarrassment.

Meanwhile, Shaker's women's team suffered their first league loss of the season in their finale, dropping a 49-40 decision to Saratoga.
The Suburban Council held their season-ending bowling tournament on Wednesday. Predictably, Troy's winless squad finished in a tie for last place with Bethlehem. That's all that really needs be said.

Friday, February 10, 2017

What Might've Been: Battlestar Galactica (1978)

In the 60's, Gene Roddenberry's seminal Star Trek had been described as Wagon Train being reset in space. That wasn't quite accurate, though. A lone starship doesn't equate a wagon train.

In 1978, Glen Larson introduced viewers to Battlestar Galactica, which was more befitting of being a galactic Wagon Train. Unfortunately, ABC placed Galactica in a very difficult Sunday night berth, where a couple of variety shows and Irwin Allen's remake of Swiss Family Robinson had failed before it. Opposite The Wonderful World of Disney and 60 Minutes, despite both being often delayed or pre-empted during football season, Galactica didn't have the ratings muscle to gain a renewal, despite a devoted fan following.

Two years later, Larson tried again with Galactica 1980, but that, too, failed. We'll look at that another time. More than 20 years later, the Sci-Fi Channel (now SyFy) brought the Galactica back to life, and more than exceeded the original, as this version ran for 5 seasons.

The original Galactica boasted a veteran ensemble cast, including Lorne Greene (ex-Bonanza, Last of the Wild), Terry Carter (ex-McCloud), Richard Hatch (ex-All My Children), and Dirk Benedict. During the latter's run on The A-Team in the 80's, the producers had a scene where Templeton Peck (Benedict) encountered a Cylon as an in-joke referencing Galactica. The 21st century remake offered up Edward James Olmos (ex-Miami Vice) in Greene's role as Commander Adama.

Let's take a look back at the intro. Narration is by Patrick MacNee (ex-The Avengers), who would guest star in a 2-part episode.

Writer-producer-director Donald Belisario, of course, would go on to develop a couple of more successful hits for Universal in the 80's, namely Magnum, PI & Airwolf. His last Universal entry, Quantum Leap, brought him back to the sci-fi genre. Wouldn't surprise me if that's eventually rebooted, although Belisario has since moved his tack to CBS-Paramount.

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

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Old Time Radio: The Six Shooter (1953)

By the early 50's, radio was rapidly losing ground to television. Seeking to find any means to market new shows, networks went so far as to recruit some of Hollywood's top stars for radio shows.

One such case was NBC calling upon James Stewart for The Six Shooter, which lasted just 1 season (1953-4). Stewart was cast as Britt Ponsett, who, in fact, was the prototypical lone wolf Western hero. Ponsett traveled from town to town, looking for work, and finding trouble instead.

Three years after the series ended, Revue Studios resurrected the show as The Restless Gun, which we reviewed a ways back. John Payne top-lined, but the lead character was renamed Vint Bonner, even though series creator Frank Burt was a creative consultant on the show. Restless Gun also lasted 1 season, although Stewart would appear as a Ponsett-esque character himself when GE Theatre adapted an earlier radio Christmas episode.

Let's give a listen to the episode, "Jenny":

Rating: B+.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Sports this 'n' that

Tom Brady & the New England Patriots are finding out very quickly that there's a steep price to be paid for making history.

The 5-time NFL champs returned home for a victory parade in Boston on Tuesday, but the bigger story was back in Houston, where someone absconded with Brady's uniform jersey. The Houston police have, in turn, contacted the Texas Rangers (no, not the baseball team) to aid in the investigation. Regardless of who did it, the motivating factor is obviously money, and how much they can get for the jersey.

The thief is likely waiting for the heat to cool down enough to try to sell the jersey on eBay or any other online marketplace. Not. Gonna. Happen.

Let me put it this way. The thief should be thankful Chuck Norris isn't on the case.
While they're waiting to make sure their first baseman of the future, Greg Bird, is fully recovered from an injury that kept him off the field last year, the Yankees have become the latest team to open themselves up to some X-Files references in highlights.

The Bronx Bombers signed first baseman/outfielder/designated hitter Chris Carter (not the creator of The X-Files) as a free agent for a 1-year deal, ostensibly as injury insurance. Carter spent last season with Milwaukee, and before that, had been with Houston & Oakland. The old axiom in baseball is that you can't have enough pitching. The way the Steinbrenner brothers operate, just like their late father, they believe you can't have enough hitting, either.

On the other hand, sports anchors have plenty of avian references to use once Bird gets back in the lineup......
On Tuesday, Albany Times-Union/Time-Warner Cable Sports high school reporter James Allen confirmed what we had suspected a week ago, that Troy High junior guard Daniel Buie had suffered a sprained ankle. What he didn't know was how soon Buie would return to the court.

To the delight of THS supporters, Buie returned to action last night, and torched Albany for 27 points, leading 4 Flying Horses in double figures in a 78-59 win. Unfortunately for Troy, Schenectady locked up the gray division title with a 69-68 verdict over Christian Brothers Academy, rendering Friday's senior night rematch with the Patriots less meaningful, with only sectional seeding to be determined. Troy still needs to win out to ensure the prospect of a home game in the sectionals, which begin later this month.

Meanwhile, it was senior night for the Troy women vs. gray division champion Albany. Sabrina Wolfe, in her final home game, scored 29 points, as the Lady Horses sent the Lady Falcons skidding to their 3rd straight loss, 55-49. Shaker clinched the blue division title, beating Shenendehowa, 52-47. Troy closes at Schenectady on Friday, and will wait to find out their seeding for the sectionals, I've a feeling that Troy, in 3rd place as of press time, will conceivably be on the road.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Video Valentine: I Don't Want to Live Without You (1987)

While Foreigner doesn't appear in their video for 1987's "I Don't Want to Live Without You", off "Inside Information", there is a pastiche of clips sewn together, including movie clips with Fred Astaire, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Stewart, and others, plus animated clips with Betty Boop and Popeye & Olive Oyl. Oh, and let's not forget Marilyn Monroe & Joe DiMaggio.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Super Bowl 51 fallout: New England steals another one

I've said it before, and I'll say it again.

Tom Brady is NOT and never will be the greatest quarterback of all time, no matter how many championships he has "won". Yes, #5 was as tainted as the other four have been suspected of being, just more blatantly so.

Case in point: 4th quarter, Atlanta leading. New England's Dont'a Hightower sacks and strips Atlanta's Matt Ryan of the football before Ryan can begin a throwing motion. Alan Branch, who came over from Arizona as a free agent, recovers for New England. Ah, but wait. A few yards downfield, a New England defender had a hold of an Atlanta receiver's face mask. The officials ignored the call, which would've wiped out the sack/turnover. New England subsequently scores.

In overtime, the Patriots get the benefit of a bogus pass interference call against Atlanta, setting up 2nd year running back James White, who'd scored a game-tying 2-point conversion in the 4th, to run in for the game-winner two plays later. The inconsistency of the officiating in this game spoke volumes of the flaws with the NFL's officiating crews. They were letting them play, playground style, for much of the game, then the flags came cascading down in the 4th quarter, mostly against Atlanta, and, except for the bogus flag in overtime, the calls were legit, although you wonder how New England got away with the zebras looking the other way on that 4th quarter turnover.

It was the first overtime game in Super Bowl history, and it was tainted. The Falcons got screwed, and the media is spinning it, claiming Atlanta choked big time. No, they didn't. Because the media played up this season as the "Deflategate Revenge Tour" for the Patriots, kissing up to Brady, the biggest prima donna in football, as often as possible, you knew something screwy would happen, even after Atlanta ran out to a 21-3 lead at halftime.

Unsurprisingly, Brady was named Super Bowl MVP, but he doesn't deserve it. Should've gone to any number of other offensive players, including tight end Martellus Bennett, who made a number of key catches throughout the game; White, who was clutch at the end, after Albany native Dion Lewis was lost to a leg injury, and rookie receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who made some clutch catches in the 2nd half to kickstart New England's comeback. But, no, for the 2nd time in 3 years, Brady's ego gets stroked with another prize he didn't deserve. The running game was ineffective for much of the night, save for White and a 15 yard run by Brady, so Brady chucked it over 60 times for more than 400 yards, padding the stats as he's done all season. Talk about selfish play!

I lost respect for Brady 15 years ago in the "tuck rule" game vs. Oakland. That hasn't changed. He is the most overrated quarterback in history. He was sacked 5 times, gave up an interception returned for a touchdown, and then finds his mojo in the 2nd half, despite still being under intense pressure, all because he knew when the chips were down, the Patriots' secret weapons would come into play. They always do to protect Robert Kraft's biggest investment. That's the way it's always going to be until someone finally deflates Brady's & Kraft's enormous egos, once and for all.

Face it, Atlanta, you got robbed, just like so many others have. Back in the day, the argument against another prominent Boston area sports team was that officials in their league gave them preferential treatment. However, the Patriots make the Celtics look like choirboys by comparison.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

What Might've Been: Father Murphy (1981)

Life after the NFL was pretty good for Merlin Olsen.

After retiring from the gridiron, Olsen went to Hollywood and was cast as Jonathan Garvey on Little House on the Prairie. In 1981, Olsen was given his own show, created and produced by Little House star Michael Landon.

However, Father Murphy lasted just 2 seasons, and deserved a better fate than it got. NBC was struggling to find a primetime hit aside from Little House, and would've been better served if Murphy were coupled with Little House. However, by the 80's, Little House had settled in on Mondays ahead of Monday Night at The Movies, and Father Murphy was placed, as memory serves, on Tuesdays, replacing the cancelled Lobo.

The concept was this. John Murphy (Olsen) and a colleague (Moses Gunn, ex-The Cowboys) happen across an orphanage that is on the verge of closing. Murphy poses as a priest, befriends the kids and their house mother (Katharine Cannon), and keeps a greedy landowner (Burr DeBenning) at bay. However, at season's end, the jig is up, as Murphy admits he's not a priest after all. However, he & Katharine are married, and adopt the kids in season 2.

For the 2nd season, Murphy was moved to Sundays, and ultimately cancelled. Olsen returned to Little House for the end of its run, and would later land another series, Aaron's Way, which lasted just 1 season, all the while pulling double duty as a game analyst for NFL football for NBC, partnered with the recently retired Dick Enberg.

Let's take a look at a sample clip from season 2:

Rating: A.

Super Bowl 51: Can Atlanta take down the Evil Empire?

If you're like me and you're tired of the New England Patriots, apologists and all, in the post-season every year, you'd have to root for NFC champion Atlanta to win tonight's Super Bowl.

Falcons QB Matt Ryan, in his 9th season out of Boston College, was named league MVP at their NFL Honors awards show last night. Whereas Patriots QB Tom Brady doesn't have all of his weapons---in particular injured TE Rob Gronkowski--, Ryan has a surplus, including WR Julio Jones, who knows a thing or two about playing for a championship, having been on a national title team at Alabama. Mohammed Sanu came over from Cincinnati as a free agent to bolster the Falcons' receiving corps. On defense, Brady will be reacquainted with an old nemesis in Dwight Freeney, who knows about the frustration of going through New England's offensive line from his days in Indianapolis. Partnered now with Vic Beasley, Freeney may finally get that 2nd Super Bowl ring.

There's also the local factor that we've talked about. New England Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia is a graduate of RPI. RB Dion Lewis' career has been resurrected in Foxborough, as we've noted. Across the field, defensive lineman Joe Vellano, a grad of Christian Brothers Academy, is in his 2nd Super Bowl in 3 years, even though he wasn't on the active roster when the Patriots escaped Super Bowl 49 with a last second win over Seattle. However, the Patriots didn't keep him around the last two seasons. Lord only knows what the decision making process is with coach Bill Belichick, who's looking for his 7th ring overall. Another Falcons lineman, Josh Keyes, played his high school ball in Chatham. The home district will have plenty of eyeballs looking at this game, that's for sure.

Maybe Brady's pal, President Trump, can do us all a favor and give Belichick his dream job----with the CIA---after the game, win or lose. Just sayin'.

For all the drama over commissioner Roger Goodell having to hand the Lombardi Trophy to Patriots owner Robert Kraft after the game, assuming New England wins, it would be a even more Bromo worthy moment if the sheep among the press name Brady game MVP again. He didn't deserve it 2 years ago, as it should've gone to Malcolm Butler for his game saving interception in the final seconds, a play that wouldn't have been made if Seahawks coach Pete Carroll wasn't having a severe brain fart at the wrong time.

Brady & Ryan will air it out all night. I expect to see a shootout, and I know you do, too.

The pick: Falcons, 34-30.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Forgotten TV: Ohara (1987)

Having reinvented himself as a character actor all over again in "The Karate Kid", Noriyuki "Pat" Morita (ex-Happy Days) returned to ABC in January 1987, this time in a crime drama, Ohara.

Morita co-created the series himself, the idea clearly being that he wanted to see through the development of a crime drama with an Asian-American lead. Morita had done drama before, in films such as "Midway" while on breaks from Happy Days in the 70's. Despite being Japanese-American, a case could've been made that Morita could've been able to pass as the most famous Asian detective of them all----Charlie Chan. Ohara, then, was a trial run, after a sort. The series lasted two seasons (January '87-May '88), and faced stiff competition, particularly from another crime drama, CBS' Simon & Simon.

Madge Sinclair (ex-Trapper John, MD) and Kevin Conroy were among the co-stars. Problem was, the show changed formats a few times over the 16 months it was on the air, as WB and ABC kept tinkering with it, trying to improve the ratings. The fact of the matter was, no matter where they'd have placed it, Ohara was never going to be able to gain a strong audience, even with its target demographic.

Edit, 10/29/19: Had to change the video. Following now is the episode, "What's in a Name?", with Brandon Lee and Robert Ito (ex-Quincy):

No rating. I don't recall seeing the show, and in those days, my folks preferred Simon & Simon.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Musical Interlude: Daydream Believer (1966)

"Daydream Believer" might be one of The Monkees' best known and most requested hit songs. Period. Peter Tork swaps the guitar for the piano, at least in the video. Clip is from the band's official YouTube channel.

Canadian country singer Anne Murray covered "Daydream" some 15-odd years later and, I think, took it all the way to #1 on the country chart.

High School Fridays: Shenendehowa @ Troy (girls' basketball), 2/3/17

It's been nearly 2 years since I'd last attended a Troy High girls' basketball game. That occasion was the Class A title game in 2015 at Hudson Valley Community College, an overtime loss to Averill Park. Tonight, with Shenendehowa's women's team making their first regular season trip to Troy, the time was right to find out for myself just what is wrong with the Lady Horses.

Unfortunately, I mistakenly assumed the game would start at 7 pm. Nope, it was an hour earlier, at 6. Sometimes, the schedule can be so confusing. One source will say 6, another says 7, so flip a coin, if ya will.

Digression over. I arrived about halfway through the 2nd quarter, with Shen already up by about 10 points. The Lady Plainsmen led by 12, 31-19, at the break. Troy, playing their 3rd game in 4 days (more on that later), and 5th in 8, looked tired on defense, and couldn't slow down Shen's fast break, repeatedly beaten for easy baskets. Save for some key blocks in the 2nd half, this could've been a blowout. The Lady Horses couldn't break Shen's 2-3 zone defense with any consistency, and rushed a lot of shots, leading to easy rebounds for the visitors. Cameron Tooley & Alexandra Tudor led Shen with 16 points each. Sabrina Wolfe led Troy with 10. Alaina Holmes, a freshman, had 9. Juliana Valenti, a sophomore, had 8, including a monster three pointer on the final play of the game. Senior Shalie Frierson finished with 7, as Troy dropped their third game in the last four, 58-41. Valenti's game-ending trey came from just shy of mid-court, giving the sparser than usual crowd something to talk about for the rest of the weekend.

After losing to Shaker on Tuesday, coach Paul Bearup's team was right back at it, their road trip extended to four games with a make-up game at Lansingburgh on Wednesday, a fact that was not reported to the local press for some unknown reason. The game was originally scheduled for December 10, but likewise was postponed without explanation. Troy won that game, 43-40, as someone other than Frierson & Wolfe led the scoring. That would be 8th grader Jenalyse Alarcon, who finished with a team high 14 points vs. Lansingburgh. Frierson was held to 3. Senior Domonique Fiddermon finished with 10 on Wednesday.

Next for Troy will be Suburban Council Grey division champion Albany on Senior Night, February 7. Troy has just 4 seniors (Frierson, Wolfe, Fiddermon, Madelyn Brown), but the foundation is there on offense for the next few years with Alarcon, Holmes, & Valenti. What did Troy in tonight was, well, fatigue. Five games in eight days will do that, including two non-league games. Troy has two games left, as they will close on the road next Friday at Schenectady.
Meanwhile, the boys' team, already without leading scorer Daniel Buie (ankle sprain), also went without Ryan Carmello as they made their first visit to Shenendehowa tonight. It wasn't pretty at all. Elijah Davis, who led Troy with 21 points in an overtime win over Shaker Tuesday, had just 11 tonight, while Jake Dzikas, son of Shen coach Tony Dzikas, led all scorers with 19, as the Plainsmen rolled, 74-36. Ouch, babe! Troy's 4 game winning streak is over, and with 3 games left, coach Rich Hurley is hoping to get Buie and Carmello back for Tuesday's road game at Albany, in addition to a potential first place showdown on Senior Night next Friday vs. Schenectady.

On The Air: Powerless (2017)

Everyone thinks Marvel has it over rival DC, at least at the multiplex. TV? Not so much.

DC/Vertigo is responsible for 7 dramas across 2 networks (Fox, CW). Marvel has just 1 (Agents of SHIELD), with a 2nd (Legion) debuting on FX on February 8. Comedy, it seems, is best left to animation.

Not anymore.

Powerless technically is DC's 1st live-action comedy series, but goes without a laugh track. The question really is, does it really need it? Not really.

Alan Tudyk (ex-Firefly, Suburgatory), who has done voice work in cartoons for both publishers' characters, is cast as Van Wayne, a otherwise obscure cousin of Bruce Wayne, placed in charge of Wayne Security's offices in Charm City (which could be construed as DC's equivalent to Baltimore, which, of course, is nicknamed Charm City). Van wants a promotion and move back to Gotham City, but his team just can't seem to find the right product to market for Wayne Enterprises.

Enter Emily (Vanessa Hudgens), an eager go-getter who has to whip her new team into shape, and very, very quickly.

Here's a trailer before we continue:

A couple of quickies:

Crimson Fox, who makes a cameo appearance in the opener, was introduced in the 80's as a member of the Justice League, and originally, twin sisters essayed the role, all the while maintaining their own business in their civilian lives. Jack O'Lantern, the DC version anyway, was originally a hero, created around 40 years ago, but there was a villainous version in the 80's, not to be confused with Marvel's villainous Jack, who was later discarded in favor of the Hobgoblin.

Hardcore comics junkies might want to consider this comfort food, a visual Alka-Seltzer, if you will, before they take a chance on CW's abysmal reimagining of Riverdale, which airs after Powerless signs off.

Prior to the launch, you might've thought Powerless was similar in concept to Marvel's two Damage Control miniseries from the 90's. It's known that Marvel had been trying to develop a TV version of Damage Control. If the ratings for Powerless prove strong enough, that would motivate Marvel to move forward with what would be their first comedy, don't you think?

Rating: A.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Musical Interlude: The Mayor of Simpleton (1989)

XTC's "The Mayor of Simpleton" was the 1st single off their 1989 CD, "Oranges & Lemons". The video is a sort-of homage to the 60's spy series, The Avengers, although it can be argued that the use of credits for the band and support staff that worked on the CD would suggest a tribute to any number of movies.....

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What's in a name?: Remember Charmin paper towels? (1957)

Next year, Charmin marks its 90th anniversary, as it was founded in 1928 by the Hoberg Paper Company, which sold it to Procter & Gamble in 1957.

That same year, Procter & Gamble began marketing Charmin paper towels. Yes, that's right. Paper towels.

Today, the Charmin brand is actually associated with and confined to toilet paper. If the basic concept of the Charmin paper towel sounds familiar, well, a few years later, Procter & Gamble introduced "the quicker picker-upper", Bounty, which was simply the Charmin towel with a new and more iconic name.