Thursday, August 31, 2017

Celebrity Rock: Kids In America (2017)

Kim Wilde's American breakthrough, 1981's "Kids in America", has been covered by a number of artists over the years, including the Muffs and the Donnas. The Jonas Brothers couldn't leave well enough alone and rebooted the song as "Kids of the Future" for the movie, "Meet The Robinsons", about a decade ago.

Well, producer Greg Berlanti has done it again.

After inserting musical numbers into episodes of The Flash in each of its three seasons, Berlanti, knowing what he was working with on Riverdale, decided to give fans a taste of what could happen if they can form The Archies on the show. With Josie & the Pussycats also in the fold, there's plenty of bubblegum pop to be recycled.

Anyway, in this clip, Archie (K. J. Apa) and Veronica (Camilia Mendes) duet on "Kids":

The Archies' iconic "Sugar, Sugar" is on the season 1 soundtrack----performed by Josie & the Pussycats. Go figure.

Classic TV: The Joker's Wild (1972)

Jack Barry cemented his comeback in television, at least on a national level, with CBS' The Joker's Wild, which marks its 45th anniversary on Labor Day.

Barry had been exiled in the wake of the quiz show scandals of the late 50's, and after working for a chemical company in New York, returned to television on a regional level first before returning to network television in 1969, taking over for Dennis Wholey as the host of ABC's Generation Gap. Two years later, Barry sold The Reel Game to ABC, with himself as host, and, at the same time, a test run of Joker began in Los Angeles on KTLA before CBS picked up Joker, which launched on Labor Day, 1972.

Game play was different in the early days, as opposed to the end game that everyone remembers, where contestants had to beat the Devil in order to win big prizes, a gimmick that was copied on other Barry-produced programs (i.e. Tic Tac Dough, Bullseye). Joker was one of two shows that Barry sold to CBS, the other being Hollywood's Talking, a revamped version of the 1967 ABC series, Everybody's Talking (Barry was an uncredited co-creator of the show). Barry also sold Blank Check to NBC.

The Joker's Wild's initial run ran for three years (1972-5), and then was brought back in syndication in 1977 after reruns of the original series had proven to be successful on local channels around the country. The syndicated version was also the most successful, running for 9 years (1977-86), with Bill Cullen stepping in after Barry passed away in 1984. The last incarnation ran in 1990 for 1 season.

For the 45th anniversary, TBS is bringing Joker back, with rapper-actor Snoop Dogg as host and co-executive producer, partnered with ultra-busy Michael Strahan (The $100,000 Pyramid, Good Morning America, Fox NFL Sunday).

Let's take a look at an episode from the original Joker's 1st week.

In 1979, Barry spun off a junior version of the show, Joker! Joker! Joker! (previously reviewed at Saturday Morning Archives), a return to the days when Barry was producing shows for children (i.e. Juvenile Jury). This series ran for 2 years.

Rating: A.

Sports this 'n' that

It's looking like the Tri-City Valleycats will miss the playoffs for the 2nd straight season. After dropping 3 of 4 to Hudson Valley, the 'Cats are 6 games behind Stedler Division leader Vermont with 8 games left, including tonight's home game vs. Aberdeen. A loss to the Ironbirds would finish Tri-City, as they would be eliminated from playoff contention with a week to go. To think that just a couple of weeks ago, Tri-City had reached first place in the division, then promptly fell right back into second, and now, third.

I honestly think manager Morgan Ensberg will return next season to allow some stability in the dugout. It's either that, or see if former manager Ed Romero is on speed dial.
Troy's other summer sports team, the Fighting Irish, lost their regular season finale to Watertown, 14-12, on August 26. They're just waiting to find out when they'll start the post-season. As I've reiterated often, it doesn't help when the local press ignores the team due to financial/personnel constraints, and game scores aren't posted on the website until as little as 48 hours after the games are played.  At least the Irish are assured of continuing their season.
The Mets will have an interleague series with old rival Houston this weekend, but, due to the city of Houston still recovering from last weekend's storm, the Mets & Astros will have an unscheduled day off on Friday. Instead, they'll play Friday's game Saturday afternoon as the first half of a split-admission double-header. Meanwhile, Houston's two college teams, Rice and the University of Houston, are still trying to figure out when they can get back to their campuses after starting their football seasons in, of all places, Australia, a week and a half ago. At least Rice has this week off.

The NFL's two Texas teams, the Texans & Cowboys, have called off their annual in-state rivalry game after it was originally moved to the Temple of Excess (AT & T Stadium) in Arlington. Now, try figuring out the pretzel logic of that move.
High school beat: To the surprise of, well, no one, Troy High's golf, soccer, and women's tennis teams have all stumbled out of the gate in this first week of the season. The women's volleyball team will open their season later today at home vs. Averill Park, while the women's soccer team has their home opener a couple of hours later vs. Colonie, hoping to build on momentum after dropping a double-overtime heartbreaker to Guilderland Tuesday afternoon, 2-1. The boys' game between Guilderland and Troy was not reported to the press, but, given how coach Mike Murnane's club has struggled since joining the Suburban Council, assume the Dutchmen won that, too.

Good thing football season starts tomorrow.
I don't know where the kids at Upstate Sports Zone got their information, but they're reporting that the September 15 football game between Troy & LaSalle at Sutton Field would be moved up one night to the 14th. The site was founded by a pair of LaSalle students a year ago, so you'd think they'd know if there would be any changes, but every other source I've checked says that the game will be played as scheduled on the 15th. My first thought was that maybe LaSalle decided to move the game due to a Jewish holiday, but Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur come in the 2nd half of September, so maybe the good group at USZ got their dates mixed up. We'll see in 2 weeks.
Condolences to the family of former Villanova basketball coach Rollie Massimino, who passed away yesterday. Massimino led the Wildcats to the NCAA title in 1985, upsetting Big East rival Georgetown in a game that prompted the late New York Daily News cartoonist, Bill Gallo, to draw a panel that had Pope John Paul II being informed that "The Protestants just slam-dunked the Jesuits", in reference to the religious leanings of the two schools.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

What Might've Been: Funny You Should Ask (1968) & The Children's Doctor (1967)

ABC commissioned Merrill Heatter & Bob Quigley to develop a new game show for them in 1968 after the last one they'd sold to the network, Temptation, had been cancelled by the network. Near the end of October, Heatter-Quigley delivered Funny You Should Ask, a comedy panel game in which 5 celebrities gave answers to specific questions. The object for the contestants, after being sequestered in a sound-proof room during the Q & A round with the stars, was to match the answer to the star that gave it. In other words, it was a variation on Chuck Barris' Newlywed Game, which, coincidentally, was coupled with Funny on the schedule for the majority of Funny's 8 month run (October 1968-June 1969).

TV & radio personality Lloyd Thaxton, nearly a year removed from the cancellation of Everybody's Talking, was the host. As befitting the practice of the day, there is very little of the show available on YouTube or anywhere else. Following is a sample episode with H-Q staple Rose Marie, Dean Jones, Marty Allen, Meredith MacRae (Petticoat Junction), and Stu Gilliam.

Airing in back of Funny was a 5 minute program, The Children's Doctor, with Dr. Lendon Smith, who dispensed advice to the kiddo's and their parents. This program had begun in 1967, and ended in 1969 as well. Back in those days, it was a common practice for networks to use 5 minutes for either news or a public affairs program. The Children's Doctor fit the latter category.


Funny You Should Ask: B-.
The Children's Doctor: A.

I should mention that the reason we're looking at Funny today is because comedian-turned-entertainment mogul Byron Allen has acquired the rights, and a revived version of the series, hosted by Jon Kelley (Extra), debuts next month.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Forgotten TV: Court Martial (1966)

In a way, Court Martial was a belated spin-off from Kraft Suspense Theatre, as a 2-part episode from the latter series' 1st season featured the two leads of Court Martial, Peter Graves (ex-Fury) and Bradford Dillman. However, Court Martial landed on ABC instead of NBC, which was home to Suspense Theatre. Back in those days, it was not uncommon for a spin-off of a show to land on a different network from its parent.

Court Martial was a co-production between England's ITC and Roncom Productions, Perry Como's production company, on behalf of Universal, and would be the last new entry from Roncom, which had Run For Your Life and, presumably, Kraft Music Hall, on NBC at the time.

The format will look familiar, similar to a number of other crime dramas of the period, including the show it's most often compared to, Perry Mason.

Following is a sample episode, colorized:

Court Martial was a spring replacement series on ABC, airing on Friday nights, airing opposite The Man From U.N.C.L.E. over on NBC, which would explain why it wasn't picked up for the fall.

Another strike against it may have been that it was filmed in black & white, as the networks were going to color programming at that time.

Rating: A-.

NFL 2017 Preview, conclusion: NFC South & West

Let's just get right to it.

NFC South:

Atlanta could've won the Super Bowl, if but for some bone-headed plays against the Evil Empire (New England). QB Matt Ryan enters his 10th season in the league, looking to take the next step forward and bring the Lombardi Trophy home, which would properly christen the Falcons' new stadium. However, don't discount Carolina. Yes, the Panthers had an off year, and QB Cam Newton is recovering from some injury issues, but I suspect strongly they'll be in the thick of things. In Tampa Bay, it's year 3 of the Jameis Winston era. Running back Doug Martin begins the season suspended, which takes away some offensive depth. New Orleans will fight for a playoff spot, but one wonders if Drew Brees will have any more chances after this season.

Projected order of finish:

1. Carolina.
2. Atlanta.
3. Tampa Bay.
3 (tie). New Orleans.

NFC West:

In their first year back in Los Angeles, the Rams were undone by the stubborn mule mentality of then-coach Jeff Fisher, who was gone before the season was over, simply because he didn't see any value in letting QB Jared Goff take his chances as a rookie. Seems as though that will keep the Rams out of the playoffs for at least another year. Arizona and Seattle are still the class of the division, and will remain so until the Rams and San Francisco can move back into contention. In the case of the Niners, the post-Colin Kaepernick era can't begin soon enough, but there is still some fallout from Kaepernick's antics last year, as players around the league are still taking a knee during the playing of the National Anthem. The situation is worse now with a deranged lunatic in the White House. Digression over. I see the Niners falling back to pre-Joe Montana numbers. As in, buried deep in the basement. The Seahawks will ride their defense, more so than QB Russell Wilson, back to the playoffs, but they're not running away and hiding. If the Cardinals can keep Carson Palmer healthy the entire season, they could take the division.

Projected order of finish:

1. Seattle.
2. Arizona.
3. Los Angeles.
4. San Francisco.

Wild Cards: Giants, Arizona.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Classic TV: The Cross-Wits (1975)

Ralph Edwards was determined to get a show on the air about crossword puzzles. His first pilot, Crossword, with George Fenneman, wasn't picked up in the 60's. After a 2nd pilot, hosted by actor Bob Hastings (ex-McHale's Navy), wasn't picked up in 1971, Edwards went to the well again in 1975, and this time, the third time was the charm.

The Cross-Wits ran for five seasons (1975-80), with Jack Clark as host. Clark had previously replaced Hastings on another syndicated show, Dealer's Choice, and when Cross-Wits was on the air, Clark was also the original announcer on Wheel of Fortune during Chuck Woolery's run as host.

The format was simple. Two teams consisting of a contestant and 2 celebrity partners tried to solve puzzles for cash & prizes. In this sample episode, we have Jack Riley (The Bob Newhart Show) & Nipsey Russell going up against Rita Moreno (The Electric Company) and Misty Rowe (Hee Haw, ex-When Things Were Rotten).

The above video was posted by one of the contestants on the show.

The Cross-Wits returned a few years after cancellation, with David Sparks taking over as host. Unfortunately, it lasted just 1 season this time around.

The last time a crossword game show was mounted, Merv Griffin gave it a go and put his name to the show. However, after all the hype, Merv Griffin's Crosswords lasted just 1 season as well.

Rating for The Cross-Wits: A.

Sports this 'n' that

The Mets welcomed back pitchers Seth Lugo & Jeurys Familia over the weekend while splitting a 4 game series with first-place Washington, but their M*A*S*H unit filled the vacancies with outfielders Yoenis Cespedes (hamstring) and Michael Conforto (shoulder) going on the DL. They're even thinking they'll get Matt Harvey back come Friday, and maybe Noah Syndergaard soon after.  What they really need is to find the source of all those injuries before the Whiner Squad of NYC talk radio, aka the Valley of the Stupid, starts complaining about conditioning techniques again. If it's any consolation, David Wright began a rehab assignment last week as well, hoping he can get some game action in this season before the reality of retirement sets in.
For those of you who spent $100 to order the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight on PPV, I really hope you got your money's worth on Saturday night. Mayweather won----what else is new?--in his first fight since retiring 2 years ago, and based on what I've read, he utilized the late Muhammad Ali's rope-a-dope strategy, as McGregor, better known for his exploits in UFC, expended a great deal of energy early in the fight, and was spent by the 10th round, when Mayweather put him away via TKO.

What was even more ridiculous was the fact that ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, normally waving the pom-poms for Mayweather, got into a shouting match with boxing analyst Teddy Atlas, who was explaining how Mayweather won the fight. Smith gets assigned to cover boxing because he fancies himself the reincarnation of Howard Cosell, but lacking the charisma and intelligence. Why Max Kellerman wasn't sent in his place, I don't know. Kellerman gets it when it comes to boxing. Smith doesn't. End of story.
The flooding in the Houston area caused by Tropical Storm Harvey may have been enough of a distraction to the Tri-City Valleycats' Corbin Martin, who started and took the loss Sunday in a 2-1 verdict at the hands of Lowell. Martin is from the Houston suburbs, and would be understandably concerned, even though his family lives 45 minutes away from Houston. Meanwhile, the continuation of the season series between AL West rivals Houston & Texas, scheduled for Houston, will likely be moved, pending a decision later today or tomorrow.

Our prayers are with the victims and their families in this time of need.
So the Giants woke up and beat the Jets in the annual Snoopy Bowl at MetLife Stadium on Saturday. Gang Green made it interesting, trying to come back from a 29-3 3rd quarter deficit, but they come out short a QB. We think. 3rd year QB Bryce Petty has an MCL strain, which may or may not be enough to keep him out long term. If it is long term, then 2nd year pro Christian Hackenberg would be the backup to Josh McCown.

Shoot, I can remember when the NY Daily News used to give away tickets to the annual preseason game between the city's two NFL teams, but that was back when both teams were struggling to fill the stands for home games. Not so much now in the Giants' case, although the Jets could start a Gofundme page to fill MetLife Stadium for their home games.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Musical Interlude: Tender is the Night (1983)

Jackson Browne's "Tender is the Night" is the 2nd single off Browne's 1983 album, "Lawyers in Love". The video shows Browne dealing with a lover's quarrel (with then-real-life gal pal Daryl Hannah).

Vagrancy on Parade: Three Stooges in A Plumbing We Will Go (1940)

In many of their shorts, the Three Stooges have been portrayed as being down on their luck, usually as vagrants.

In 1940's "A Plumbing We Will Go", the boys beat the rap, just by sheer luck, after a judge clears them of raiding a chicken coop, this despite the fact that chicken feathers end up flying out of Curly's pocket. That leads the vindictive, embarrassed beat cop (Bud Jamison) to pursue the boys after they crash a medicine show.

The trail leads to the boys hijacking a plumber's unattended truck, and taking a job at a mansion. Of course, chaos follows.

Some of the gags would be re-used in later shorts, including the famous scene of Curly trapping himself in a cage made of pipes.

Rating: B+.

Valleycats go medevial (Tri-City 9, Lowell 1, 8/26/17)

The Tri-City Valleycats were on a 5 game losing streak, scoring 5 runs in that stretch, and, two weeks after reaching 1st place in the Stedler Division, were on the brink of being eliminated from the playoff picture if things didn't turn around, and quickly.

Fortunately, Lowell starter Angel Padron was a most accomodating guest.

Padron was torched for 5 runs in the 1st inning, and that was more than enough for Tri-City to snap the losing streak, and beat the Spinners, 9-1, before a nearly sellout crowd on Medevial Times night, which also saw kids admitted for free with a paid adult admission, courtesy of General Electric.

Padron had gotten the first 2 outs in the first when the roof suddenly began to cave in. A double by Jonathan Arauz and a single by Gabriel Bracamonte put the 'Cats up, 1-0. Following a walk to Adrian Tovalin, Michael Papierski launched his 4th home run of the season over the left field wall, just to the right of the home bullpen. Jake Adams made it back-to-back jacks with his league & team leading 9th of the year, giving Tri-City a 5-0 lead after 1.

Tri-City starter Juan Robles gave a run right back in the 2nd, with a single by Yoan Aybar and a double by Nick Hamilton putting the Spinners on the board. However, that would be all for Lowell. Robles went 4 1/3 innings, having reached his pitch count, striking out 5 while walking 4. Adam Bleday took over and slammed the door shut, striking out 8 while only walking 1.

The Valleycats added some insurance in the 7th, torching Lowell reliever Rio Gomez for 4 runs, capped by Papierski's bases loaded triple. The unseasonably cool temperatures, dipping below 60 degrees, more than the score, sent fans streaming for the exits early. After Papierski knocked Gomez out of the game, more fans left, secure in knowing the game was over. Bleday picked up the win in relief, pitching 4 2/3 innings.

The two teams will meet one last time later today before Tri-City moves on to play Hudson Valley on Monday, as they'll alternate road and home series the rest of the way.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Classic TV: Shindig! (1964)

ABC's Hootenanny ran into some issues over artists' political views (i.e. Pete Seeger), and ended up getting cancelled. In its place came Shindig!, which covered a wider spectrum of pop music, including rhythm & blues. Los Angeles DJ Jimmy O'Neill served as host for the series, which lasted two seasons (1964-6). Initially, it aired for half an hour on Wednesdays, but expanded to an hour by January of 1965. In the fall, the show was cut back to half an hour, but now twice a week, a la Peyton Place, and airing on Thursday & Saturday nights.

However, by January 1966, the show was back to once a week, as the Thursday spot was taken up by another twice-a-week entry---Batman.

From September 30, 1964, comes a complete episode, commercials and all, featuring the Walker Brothers and other artists who were regulars, including future bubblegum crooner Bobby Sherman, whose cover of the Honeycombs' "Have I The Right" just didn't have the zing of the original.

Could a show like this be mounted today? I doubt it, but it'd be worth a 1-shot pilot special.

Rating: B.

Moron TV: Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith (2005)

In his two tours of duty with ESPN, Stephen A. Smith has made it abundantly clear that he thinks, and sounds, like he's the reincarnation of the late Howard Cosell, except that Cosell, at least, had class & dignity. Smith leaves that at home when he goes to work.

Some genius thought it'd be a good idea if Smith could parlay his communicative skills into being a talk show host. As if annoying America 5 mornings a week on First Take wasn't bad enough, ESPN gave Smith a primetime forum in the form of Quite Frankly which bowed in 2005, and was cancelled in January 2007 after less than 18 months.

As a talk show host, Smith took his cues from Arsenio Hall in fawning over some of his guests, such as, for example, Shaquille O'Neal:

In the end, he made Hall look like the 2nd coming of Merv Griffin. Remember, Cosell tried doing a variety show more than 40 years ago, and bombed. There was a reason for that. If you're established for doing something specific, like, in Cosell's case, calling boxing & football, and you're asked to move to another venue, like a variety show, and you don't have the talent needed for that gig, it ain't gonna work. Smith was another case in point. Because he's a polarizing, toxic personality on ESPN, he's only there for ratings and click bait.

I tried watching this sad excuse for entertainment, and then wished I had the best of Arsenio's 1989-94 talk show on DVD.

Rating: D.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Classic TV: Hullabaloo (1965)

In the wake of ABC's Shindig!, which was halfway through its first season, NBC decided to play monkey see, monkey do, and introduced their own pop music jamboree.

Hullabaloo premiered in January 1965, and ran for 2 seasons. Like ABC's Hootenanny, it went from a 1/2-hour format in the 1st season to a hour-long format in the 2nd, but declining interest, it seems, contributed to the show's demise. Unlike Hootenanny & Shindig!, which had a host in place, Hullabaloo went with a different host each week, a practice continued today by another NBC series, Saturday Night Live.

Some of the talent associated with Hullabaloo went on to bigger things. Writers Frank Peppiatt and John Aylesworth moved to CBS and created Hee Haw, the original Happy Days (a short-lived comedy variety series hosted by Louis Nye in 1970), and produced the Harlem Globetrotters' Saturday morning Popcorn Machine (1974-5). Dancer Patrick Adiarte would later resurface during the early years of M*A*S*H as Ho John, Hawkeye & Trapper John's sidekick.

Following is a sample clip, with father & son hosts Jerry & Gary Lewis:

Edit, 3/1/18: Had to change the video. This one has open captioning, and you'll see future star Goldie Hawn with the dance troupe.

No rating.

Sports this 'n' that

Fresh off sweeping the Brooklyn Cyclones out of town, the Tri-City Valleycats made their final trip to Connecticut on Tuesday, and were reminded that the Tigers have been their personal kryptonite this season. Connecticut finished a suspended game from last month, and, in the regularly scheduled game, trimmed to 7 innings per NY Penn League double-header rules, the Tigers completed the sweep, sending the 'Cats 2 1/2 games in arrears of front-running Vermont with 2 1/2 weeks to go in the season.

For what it's worth, Brooklyn has had the worst record in the NYPL this season, occupying the basement in the league's McNamara Division.
Robert Lee isn't the voice of high school football for Spectrum Sports anymore. In addition to his commitments to Spectrum and Siena College last year, Lee began working for ESPN, mostly calling digital broadcasts of college football & basketball games.

Lee was to have been assigned Virginia's home opener on September 2, but that was switched in the aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville, where the campus is located, 11 days ago. The problem? Some people might think Lee, an Asian-American, might be distantly related to Confederate general Robert E. Lee (he's not). Lee will instead call the Youngstown State-Pittsburgh game on ESPN3.

Like, give me a break. I suppose the same thing will happen if Lee were assigned a Virginia home basketball game this winter.

These are the times we live in.
The Northeastern Football Alliance may be having some problems with some of their teams.

The Troy Fighting Irish were to play Five Rivers last Saturday, but the game was never played, as Five Rivers forfeited. No reason given, but Troy is now 9-0 and will close the regular season at Watertown on Saturday, having already beaten the Red & Black, a holdover from the old Empire Football League, earlier this season. Five Rivers isn't the only team in the league that has forfeited games this season (A forfeit results in a default 2-0 final score), but you wonder if this isn't a by-product of general media indifference in the league.
As much as Brooklyn has struggled this season, the parent Mets are clearly in rebuilding mode, preparing for next season.

2 years removed from their last division title, the Mets have continued to ship out veteran players, some of whom have also been clubhouse leaders. Lost amidst the trade of Curtis Granderson to the Dodgers was the fact that the defending World Champion Cubs claimed catcher Rene Rivera on waivers, which led to Kevin Plawecki being recalled from Las Vegas, as noted the other day. You know what that means if you're a Mets fan like me. The Mets need to find a veteran to help Plawecki and starting catcher Travis d'Arnaud next season. The Mets have lost the first two games of their series with Arizona at Citi Field, and have yet to beat the D-Backs this season (0-5 headed into tonight's game). Thankfully, I don't think they'll end up in the cellar.
Troy High fans already have the home opener marked on their calendars for next week,  but it wouldn't surprise anyone if John Germinerio, who graduated in June, drops in for a visit during the season. Germinerio's staying close to home, as he'll be at Union College to play football. He may not be the starter, but at least he'll get more hometown fans in the seats at Frank Bailey Field.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The curse of Generation K?

In the mid 1990's, the Mets thought they'd rebuilt their pitching staff with the next generation of young guns developed in their farm system.

But, one by one, Paul Wilson, Bill Pulsipher, & Jason Isringhausen had fallen victim to injury or some other unfortunate circumstance.

Over the last 4 years, the Mets again thought they had a dominating squad of young arms that would last for years to come, but look what's happened!

Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Seth Lugo, and Robert Gsellman have all missed significant chunks of time. DeGrom in particular has rebounded from elbow surgery that prematurely ended his season last year, but has run into some bad luck of late, losing to the Yankees & Marlins in the last week. Lugo started the year on DL, and will finish it there, too. So will Matz, who faces surgery for the same elbow injury that sidelined deGrom last year. Harvey, at least, is working his way back. Gsellman replaced Lugo in the rotation last week, coming off the DL. Syndergaard still hasn't been cleared for baseball activities as of this writing.

Naturally, the fan base has had reason to be upset with team management on how they're handling their pitchers. The truth is, no matter what kind of training regimen a player goes through, regardless of position, he's bound to end up with an injury at some point. That's just the nature of the game. The injury plague isn't exclusive to the Mets, as every team has their fair share, but for a team that had lofty expectations coming off back-to-back post-season appearances, the bar had been raised too high by a fan base spoiled by success.

Of the 1995 class, Isringhausen & Pulsipher returned---separately. Isringhausen reinvented himself as a elite closer, and performed those duties for the Mets when they brought him back in 2011. It is this writer's opinion that in Matt Harvey's case, his days as a starter may actually be over. He hasn't been able to pitch past 5 innings in any start this season, and something tells me his future lies in the bullpen. So much for the over-hyped "Dark Knight". Pulsipher was bounced around, traded to Milwaukee in 1998, brought back by the Mets in 2000, only to leave again.

So what about Generation K 2.0? They'll be back together in 2018, but for how long? No one knows for sure. That, friends, is the scary part. With management worrying about pitch counts and the demands of certain greedy agents threatening to take their clients to free agency after their contracts run out (i.e. Harvey), the Mets' best answer is in a chapel, holding a prayer meeting. Just sayin'.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Musical Interlude: Have I The Right (1964)

For all intents & purposes, the Honeycombs were a 1-hit wonder in the midst of the British Invasion of the 60's. However, the unique sound of their #1 hit, "Have I The Right", made them stand out.

Hairstylist Martin Murray and his assistant, Honey Lantree, helped start the band, along with Lantree's brother and 2 friends. However, not long after "Right" had reached the top of the charts, Murray left the band. Honey Lantree was one of the few female drummers in music at the time, but very effective.

The following clip, I do believe, comes from Shindig:

NFL 2017 Preview, part 3

Today, we're taking a look at the NFC East & North.

NFC East:

As expected, Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliott, as reported the other day, is appealing his 6 game suspension for domestic abuse off the field. The Cowboys have enough weapons surrounding QB Dak Prescott anyway, including veteran backups at RB in Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden, so they should be okay. If the appeal isn't heard until after September 10, then Elliott will be in the lineup for the opener vs. the Giants. Big Blue poached receiver Brandon Marshall and QB Geno Smith from the Jets, but don't expect Smith to be on the field any time soon. In his first preseason series vs. Pittsburgh, Smith threw an interception. I don't think he's going to be around too long. Marshall, meanwhile, figures to be the kind of veteran mentor that 4th year receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. needs, not only as on-field protection, but also as a locker room counselor.

A few years back, Philadelphia let Albany Academy grad Dion Lewis get away, and he won a Super Bowl with New England. Well, turnabout is fair play, as the champs let LeGarrette Blount walk, probably after a CIA-style debriefing from Bill Belichick. Anyway, Blount now is in Philly, which makes the Eagles a threat for the division title. 2nd year QB Carson Wentz seems to be the real deal, but it's just unfortunate that he's in the same division with Prescott and vets Eli Manning and Kirk Cousins. Translated, he's not going to be getting much respect from the media outside Philadelphia. Speaking of Cousins, the Washington Trumpets should've locked him up in a long term deal before preseason, but Napoleon Snyder still hasn't figured out how much value skill position players have. They're better served if no one sees America's Oldest Spoiled Child in attendance at FedEx Field. Yet.

Projected order of finish:

1. Dallas.
2. Giants.
2 (tie). Philadelphia.
4. Washington.

NFC North:

The Jay Cutler era is over in Chicago (Cutler is now in Miami), and the media fawned on rookie Mitch Trubisky after his first preseason game. Apparently, ex-Tampa Bay QB Mike Glennon stunk up the joint, so they're hoping Trubisky gets to be the starter. They've been rebuilding in the Second City. Over in Green Bay, it's business as usual for the Packers, even though it was a struggle last year. Packer Nation is hoping 2016 was an aberration, not a sign of things to come. Minnesota cut its ties with RB Adrian Peterson (New Orleans), which will prove costly to the Vikings. As for Detroit, their strength lies in their defense more than with QB Matt Stafford. Just sayin'.

Projected order of finish:

1. Green Bay.
2. Chicago.
3. Detroit.
4. Minnesota.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Jerry Lewis (1926-2017)

Actor. Comedian. Filmmaker. Activist. Icon.

Those are just some of the labels that describe Jerry Lewis, who passed away earlier today in his home in Las Vegas at 91. One of the last of Hollywood's living legends, Lewis' career spanned 7, maybe 8 decades, encompassing radio, movies, stage, and television.

The first phase saw Lewis as part of an act with crooner Dean Martin. Together, they hosted the Colgate Comedy Hour on several occasions, and starred in movies such as "Boeing, Boeing", "Scared Stiff", and "My Friend Irma". However, their careers broke into separate paths in the late 50's-early 60's, which freed Lewis to let his imagination run rampant in films such as "Visit to a Small Planet", "The Delicate Delinquent", "The Family Jewels", and the original "Nutty Professor". "Jewels" was also the inspiration for Filmation's short lived Saturday morning series, Will The Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down?, which cycled one season of episodes across two years (1970-2), with David L. Lander, later of Laverne & Shirley, as Lewis, and Howard Morris as the "Jewels"-inspired characters.

Lewis might be better known to at least a couple of generations of viewers for his work with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, for whom he hosted regional & national telethons until 2010 as national chairman. Lewis returned to the MDA fold last year to record a video message on their website after 5 years of discord between the two.

While comedy was his forte, Lewis was also not afraid to try drama, having made guest appearances on, among others, Ben Casey, Wiseguy, & Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. He used appearances on game shows like What's My Line? to further his work with MDA in the 50's & 60's.

We've been accustomed to hearing Lewis sing in a comic voice, but in truth, he discovered he was as much a crooner as Martin. His renditions of "You'll Never Walk Alone" and "Come Rain or Come Shine" were telethon staples.

Speaking of the telethon, here's a classic clip from 1976, as Frank Sinatra facilitates a reunion of Lewis and a certain old friend.....

Rest in peace, Jerry.

Southpaw gets a birthday present (Tri-City 4, Brooklyn 1, 8/19/17)

The Tri-City Valleycats had lost their last three games going into Saturday night's game against the Brooklyn Cyclones. It was billed as Southpaw's Birthday Fiesta, with Latin-themed music playing through the course of the night. It was also Faith & Family Night, as groups from a small number of local churches, none, apparently, from Troy, were in attendance.

The fun started early with the Birthday Base Race between innings in the first. This is one of the worked events the promotions department puts on, where Southpaw normally loses to a young fan who's having a birthday party. This time, Southpaw was joined by a number of fellow mascots, including Damian, the Great Dane (UAlbany), and the Hot Dog Racers (Ketchup, Relish, & Mustard). Poor Relish never wins a race, and this was  no exception, as Ribbie, Southpaw's sidekick, provided a distraction to allow Southpaw to win for a change. Damian played a part, too, as he "came up lame" at 2nd base. This ain't wrestling, folks, but it's certainly influenced by it.

For the home team, Bryan De La Cruz put the 'Cats on the board with a lead-off homer in the bottom of the first, De La Cruz's 1st with the 'Cats as he's on a injury rehab assignment from Corpus Christi, methinks. Brooklyn starter Luis De Los Santos lost the strike zone in the 3rd, giving up 2 more runs, forcing Cyclones manager Edgardo Alfonzo to go to his bullpen a wee bit earlier than he'd prefer.

One of the newest 'Cats, Leovanny Rodriguez, got the start, and went 4 innings due to pitch count, unable to secure the win. In the judgment of the official scorer, reliever Diogenes Almengo wasn't effective enough in 2 innings to pick up the win, either, so instead, Matt Ruppenthal gets the win instead of a save. Tri-City tacked on an insurance run in the 7th, and made it stand up for a 4-1 win.

If it's any solace for the Cyclones, the parent Mets snapped a 5 game losing streak, as the 'Cats ended theirs, battering Miami, 8-1. Catcher Kevin Plawecki was recalled from Las Vegas after outfielder Curtis Granderson was dealt to the NL West leading Dodgers, as the Mets continue to trim salaries and avoid the headache of losing those same players (i.e. Granderson, Neil Walker) to free agency after the season.

Brooklyn's 2nd trip to Troy continues later today, as the 'Cats continue a late push to the playoffs.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Sports this 'n' that

In the wake of last weekend's incident in Charlottesville, Va., Boston Red Sox owner John Henry is calling for the city to rechristen Yawkey Way, feeling that continuing to honor the former owner of the team would be to continue to celebrate the team's dubious history of racial intolerance. The Sawx were the last team to field an African American player, all the way back in 1959, 12 years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier. Today's Red Sox have more than their share of African American and Latino players (shortstop Xander Bogaerts is from Curacao in the Netherlands), like every other team in the majors, but to be honest with you, I have never understood why management was so slow to, ah, get with the program back in the day.

Bear in mind, too, that the 3 World Series titles that the Sawx have won in this century have been under Henry's stewardship. Just sayin'.
To the surprise of no one, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has filed an appeal of his 6 game suspension for domestic abuse. Around the same time, it's gotten out that his ex-girlfriend, apparently, was looking to exploit Elliott's fame to feather her own nest. Now, we don't know all the facts, but doesn't it seem as though the seeming victim in cases like this often have hidden agendas? Just sayin'.

Also, it's another case that the NFL has dragged its corporate feet on. Last year, Elliott was 1/2 of a two-headed rookie bulldozer (w/QB Dak Prescott) that carried Dallas to the NFC East title, and any ruling at that time would've had an adverse effect on that playoff run. Hmmmmm.
When the Mets started making trades before the deadline last month---and have made a couple of waiver deals since---it was clear that the white flag had been raised and the team was conceding the NL East. This year's Subway Series ended up a 1-sided affair, as the Yankees swept the series for the first time in 14 years. The Mets lost to Miami last night to run the current losing streak to 5. Some of the online crybabies are calling not so much for Terry Collins' head, but that of pitching coach Dan Warthen. The simple truth is that the injuries have been too much to overcome this year. Pitcher Seth Lugo was put on the DL, along with infielder Jose Reyes, before the Yankee series was over. Lugo going back to the DL had me thinking that maybe, just maybe he and Steven Matz, Thursday's starter, had been rushed back a little sooner than they should've, and now they're paying the price.
Two weeks remain in the Northeastern Football Alliance's regular season, and you wouldn't know unless you read this blog on a regular basis. That's how little attention is paid to the league and the hometown team, the Troy Fighting Irish, who finish the regular season on the road. The local press will only pay attention when it's a slow news day, even if the Irish are in the postseason, which they are every year.
Troy's other summer team, the Tri-City Valleycats, had a taste of first place in the Stedler Division, as we told you earlier in the week, but after the All-Star Game, have extended their current losing streak to 3 after dropping two games to Hudson Valley. Friday's game was rained out, and may not be made up, as the last open date before the playoffs comes the day after the regular season ends, and will only be done if the 'Cats are still in line for a playoff spot. The lone bright spot this week was collegiate HR champ Jake Adams winning the home run derby Tuesday prior to the All-Star Game. Trust me, you'll see Adams in the majors in a couple of years, so enjoy him in a 'Cats uni while you still can, with 3 weeks left in the regular season.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Creepy TV: The Man From The 25th Century (1968)

In 1968, Irwin Allen was in transition mode. At ABC, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was about to give way to Land of the Giants. Over at CBS, he had planned on a new series to replace Lost in Space, as that series was running on fumes after 3 seasons. Plans for a back-door pilot, however, had to be scrubbed because said pilot wasn't ready in time for presentation to network suits.

The Man From the 25th Century starred James Darren (ex-Time Tunnel) as an earthling, Robert Prentice, now known as Tomo, who'd been abducted by aliens as a youth, and trained to lead an invasion of his homeworld. The aliens were from a far advanced race. 500 years advanced, that is.

Unsurprisingly, Tomo finds that the aliens can't be trusted after all, and his loyalties are, in truth, to his native world.

The complete 16 1/2 minute pilot is available, but the lone poster on YouTube disabled the embedding code. For now, we'll serve up this morsel:

Had it gone to series, it would've certainly bombed, likely lasting less than half a season. Land of the Giants lasted 2 seasons at ABC, and it would be 5 years before Allen would land another series on ABC, this time an adaptation of Swiss Family Robinson (previously discussed).

Rating: D.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

What Might've Been: Harry O (1974)

David Janssen's final series brought him back to ABC in 1974 with Harry O. The O stands for Orwell, and I could imagine that they felt it easier if they went with just the initial, just so's not to confuse people with author George Orwell, whose Animal Farm had been adapted into an animated film that made the rounds on HBO that year, as memory serves.

Anyway, Harry O was the end result after 2 ABC Movie of the Week entries garnered sufficient ratings to warrant a regular series featuring the former police detective turned private eye. Orwell had been forced off the force after being shot by a hoodlum some years earlier. The series, however, lasted just 2 seasons. Why? Then programming head Fred Silverman, who came over from CBS, decided to take the network in a new direction, and decided to end Harry O, despite the fact the series was still generating decent ratings.

Halfway through the first season, the locale changed from San Diego to Los Angeles. Why? Can't really say, as I never saw the show. Anyway, Henry Darrow (ex-High Chaparral) was written out and killed off, and replaced by Anthony Zerbe, who would earn an Emmy for his work as Lt. K. C. Trench, Orwell's police contact in LA. An eclectic supporting cast over the course of two seasons included Mel Stewart (ex-Roll Out, later of Scarecrow & Mrs. King), G. W. Bailey, better known for his appearances on M*A*S*H, and Farrah Fawcett, who would move on to Charlie's Angels after 8 appearances in 2 seasons.

Warner Archive offers a sample clip:

No rating.

Will this nonsense ever end?

It wasn't long after I'd arrived at church for Bible study Wednesday night when the pastor's wife had filled me in on a shooting that took place back in the home district 24 hours earlier. This morning, I've read accounts of the incident in 2 local papers, including a protest that almost immediately followed the shooting of 22 year old Dahmeek McDonald, who'd been wanted on a parole violation, amplified by the fact that McDonald had somehow managed to remove an ankle bracelet meant to keep track of his whereabouts so that he wouldn't get into further trouble.

McDonald was shot twice, once in the head, and once in the shoulder, and is expected to recover. On Wednesday, dozens of people marched down Hoosick Street, all the way to City Hall on River Street. Members of McDonald's immediate family met for anywhere from a half hour to an hour with Mayor Patrick Madden, based on accounts in the two local papers. Troy Police are conducting an internal investigation on the shooting, but on the surface, it'd appear that this is another case where officers, acting on assumption over perception, may have crossed the line. There've been too many of these incidents across the country over the last three years at least, and this is the 2nd in the Capital District in as many years.

Messiah Cooper, McDonald's uncle, called for more African-Americans to apply to become police officers, citing the fact that there aren't enough African-American officers on the Troy force. The officers involved in Tuesday's shooting are on administrative leave, per TPD regulations, until Saturday at the earliest. Rensselaer County DA Joel Abelove is, in turn, being investigated by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for his handling of an earlier case, and I'd suspect Schneiderman may want in on this investigation as well.

This was the last thing the city needed, three weeks before the start of the school year. Will this ever end?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Creepy TV: The World Beyond (1977-8)

Time-Life had branched out into television in the 70's, first with syndicated nature programs. Then, in 1978, they decided to try to move into primetime. Unfortunately, it didn't pan out.

The World Beyond was tried out in a pair of pilots about a year or so apart. Granville Van Dusen was cast as sportswriter Paul Taylor, who was clinically dead for nearly three minutes after an accident, but after coming back to life, Taylor discovered that the dead can reach out to him to help other living beings.

After the 2nd pilot, "Mud Monster", CBS gave up on the project, as it was perhaps a bit ahead of its time. Then again, the cheesy special effects didn't help matters.

JoBeth Williams (later of "Poltergeist", among other feature films) and Barnard Hughes co-star in "Mud Monster":

Van Dusen is better known to cartoon fans after being cast as Roger "Race" Bannon in the 1980's revival of Jonny Quest, and I'm not sure about any other live action work he had done.

Rating: C.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Charlottesville wasn't funny. President Trump takes the heat from late night TV

It took President Trump 2 days to denounce the white supremacists and modern-day neo-Nazis involved in the incident in Charlottesville, VA on Saturday. Unfortunately for the embattled President, his reluctant denounciation was fodder for late night television on Monday night/Tuesday morning.

For example, Minnesota Senator and veteran comic Al Franken was on Conan:

On The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon took on a more serious tone:

ABC's Jimmy Kimmel mixed humor with his commentary:

Trump's "many sides" remark had already gotten him in trouble, exposing the fact that he's not as well informed as he'd like us to believe.

And, then, there is Stephen Colbert on The Late Show:

All they had in common was ripping President Trump a few new ones for his lack of venom on Saturday, then pulling a sort-of mea culpa Monday afternoon. Trump then turned around and ripped CNN's Jim Acosta, again referring to the cabler as "fake news".

The most glaring problem with Trump is that he can't tell the difference between what really is fake news (i.e. The National Enquirer, which belongs in the fiction section of a bookshelf at Walmart or CVS) and what is real journalism. Trump has made himself such an easy target for the late night comics because he's so out of touch with reality. His Saturday statement was slightly off script ("many sides" was not in the statement, I've read), but his press flacks had to give him a new one on Monday so he could redeem himself. Shoot, he couldn't redeem green stamps if he tried when they were still popular.

The more he uses Twitter as a reactionary outlet for nonsense, the more Trump comes off as being disconnected from the country he's supposed to serve. Here's an idea. Get off Twitter, and spend your off-hours watching Green Acres reruns with Melania, since I think you two can relate to that.

2017 NFL Preview, part 2: The rest of the AFC

Last week, we took a look at what is probably the easiest division to figure in the NFL, that being, of course, the AFC East. Today, we're finishing the AFC, as we'll do the NFC over the next two weeks.

AFC North:

No matter what Cleveland does, they're perhaps cursed to remain in last place until the end of time. Johnny Manziel crashed & burned in just 2 seasons, and last year, well, Robert Griffin III wasn't the answer.

That's why this division is a 3-team race every year. Oh, sure, the Browns will make a little noise, but they usually get muted by Halloween.

In Pittsburgh, it seems they're already preparing for the post-LeVeon Bell era, as Fitzgerald Toussaint scored the game winner in Friday's preseason opener at MetLife Stadium against the Giants. Bell is unsigned, but the Steelers would be wise to get him in camp ASAP, preferably yesterday. DeAngelo Williams wasn't retained, either, and he tried his hand at wrestling last month, appearing at a Global Force Wrestling PPV alongside former Falcon Quinn Ojinnaka, aka Moose. Pittsburgh will be there at the end if they can stabilize the offense around Ben Roethlisberger. If not, even a Wild Card would be a longshot.

For Cincinnati, it's back to the playoffs, or it's the end of the line, methinks, for Marvin Lewis, bottom line. Baltimore has to weather the loss via retirement of receiver Steve Smith, Sr., and reload. It's anyone's game, really.

Projected order of finish:

1. Cincinnati.
2. Baltimore.
3. Pittsburgh.
4. Cleveland.
AFC South:

Houston, after the Brock Osweiler debacle last year, drafted DeShaun Watson (Clemson), and he'll battle Tom Savage for the starting QB job. On defense, Vince Wilfork returned to New England, then retired, which means plenty of double-teams on Jadaveon Clowney. All Indianapolis needs is for Andrew Luck to be healthy for the entire season. Hm, seems that applies to some of their other skill position players, too. Tennessee picked up receiver Eric Decker (Jets), who reunites with Jace Amaro, who came over last year. Marcus Mariota has enough weapons at his disposal. It's just a matter of scoring enough to make a run at the playoffs.

Jacksonville? Who cares at this point?

Projected order of finish:

1. Tennessee.
2. Indianapolis.
2 (tie). Houston.
4. Jacksonville.
AFC West:

I still don't see the logic behind the Chargers moving to Los Angeles from San Diego. Relocating back to LA didn't do anything for the Rams last year, so....! On that same note, I don't like the idea of Oakland losing their beloved Raiders again, this time to Las Vegas. Like, how long did the Raiders last in LA themselves before moving back to Oakland?

Digression over. The two California teams will likely fight for Wild Card spots, although the Raiders are a legit division contender as long as Derek Carr is healthy. Kansas City may have their future QB in Patrick Mahomes II, son of a former baseball pitcher whose resume included stops in Minnesota and with the Mets. Andy Reid also got some offensive help in running back C. J. Spiller (New Orleans) and receiver Gavin Escobar (Dallas). If Alex Smith gets hurt, Mahomes should step in. From what I saw of him in college, he is the real deal.

In Denver, year 2 of the Paxton Lynch era should be an improvement. However, the bloom is off the rose for the Broncos.

Projected order of finish:

1. Kansas City.
2. Oakland.
3. Denver.
3 (tie). Los Angeles.

Wild cards: Oakland, Baltimore.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Classic TV: The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour (1969)

CBS needed to retool their Wednesday lineup in the winter of 1969. Network suits remembered that country singer Glen Campbell had fronted a summer replacement series for the Smothers Brothers the previous summer, and realized they found their answer.

In all, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour ran for 4 seasons (1969-72), surviving the infamous "rural purge" of 1971, if but for a year's respite. Technically not a spin-off from the Smothers' show, although he had made a few appearances there, Campbell did get the services of comedian Pat Paulsen as a series regular. Curiously, when Paulsen landed his own series, he ended up at ABC. Go figure. Anyway, while one source compared Campbell to Perry Como, whose production company was largely responsible for NBC's Kraft Music Hall, Campbell's format had more in common with another NBC star, Dean Martin. Actor-comic Dom DeLuise made frequent appearances on both shows, which helped strengthen the connection.

The lineup of guest stars was just as eclectic. For example, on this show, Glen shares the stage with Neil Diamond, Liberace, Linda Ronstadt, & Larry Storch (ex-F-Troop)

Rating: A.

Sports this 'n' that

Don't look now, but the Tri-City Valleycats are suddenly playoff contenders in the New York-Penn League.

On Saturday night, the 'Cats swept a doubleheader from Williamsport, which vaulted Tri-City into first place in the Stedler Division. However, that lasted just 24 hours, as the Cross-Cutters, a farm team of the Philadelphia Phillies, beat the Valleycats, 5-2, on Sunday. At the All-Star break, Tri-City sits 1/2 game behind Vermont in the division with less than a month to go. Two weeks ago, I don't think we'd have been thinking playoffs, but stranger things have happened.
Speaking of the Phillies, they're happy to see the Mets leave town after dropping 3 of 4 to the Amazin's over the weekend. The mystique that the Phillies had during their run of division titles (2007-11) is gone, and they're now in rebuilding mode.

So are the Mets, who dealt Neil Walker to Milwaukee on Saturday, which would finally allow Asdrubel Cabrera to play second instead of 3rd. Why? Jose Reyes was forced to shift to 2nd when the Mets acquired Japan's Kaz Matsui 12 years ago, and that didn't end very well. Reyes now is at 2nd to accomodate rookie Amed Rosario, and Cabrera is splitting time at third with Wilmer Flores while another rookie, Dominic Smith, was called up at the end of last week. I would not say the Mets are rebuilding. They're reloading.

The Subway Series, 4 games in 4 nights in 2 ballparks, begins tonight at Yankee Stadium, and the Yanks are suddenly without their two best pitchers, as CC Sabathia & Masahiro Tanaka went on the DL last week. Luis Cessa gets the ball for the Yanks tonight vs. Rafael Montero. Get the Sominex ready, just in case they sleepwalk through this one, just as the Yankees & Red Sox did last night.
LaVar Ball got taken to school in a 4-point shot challenge on Sunday night. Not by another basketball player, mind, but by actor-rapper Ice Cube, the founder of the Big3 3-on-3 basketball league. Scope.

All that does is prove once again that Ball is full of hot air for someone who claims he could beat Michael Jordan, and also claimed he could shoot 4 pointers (30 feet from the basket) with his eyes closed. Cube, you'll recall, took part in some of MTV's Rock 'N' Jock basketball games back in the day, so he's got some serious cred, not like the Pecos Bill of basketball.

Let's see if Ball tries spinning some sort of fake controversy out of this.
WWE Chairman/CEO/professional nutcase Vince McMahon reportedly was upset over the fact that John Cena nearly had his neck broken in a televised match vs. Japan's Shinsuke Nakamura on August 1. Hall of Famer Superstar Billy Graham, however, shut down McMahon by telling him in an online post to, essentially, grow up.

Cena has been with the WWE's main roster since 2002, and his days as a main event performer are coming to an end due to his increasing non-wrestling schedule (i.e. American Grit). Nakamura winning that night was the right call, since it sets up the "King of Strong Style" to take on Canadian-born-&-raised Jinder Mahal, representing India, at Summerslam on Sunday. adding some mystery to the finish, as everyone assumed that had Cena won, he would go on to win the World title in Brooklyn. McMahon, who turns 72 next week, is locked into the idea that Cena, and, for that matter, Randy Orton, is still a draw after 15 years on the main roster. This is another reason why McMahon needs to step down and let the company move forward.

Personally, I'd leave him on an island with fellow geriatrics Pat Robertson and President Trump, but that's just me.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Forgotten TV: Steve Canyon (1958)

Milton Caniff's adventure hero, Steve Canyon, made the transition to television in 1958, airing on NBC. It has only been within the last decade or so that the series was made available on DVD.

Canyon (Dean Fredericks) was a troubleshooter for the Air Force. Very little, however, carried over from the comic strip, which ran for nearly 40 years. The series was brought back in the spring of 1960 on ABC, and that was the last anyone would see of Steve Canyon until it was released on DVD.

For now, here's the intro, narrated by---who else?---Paul Frees. (Jackson Beck is otherwise the announcer at the start)

Update, 5/27/18: I finally got to watch the show, as it's been airing on Decades of late. Unfortunately, full episodes are not available on YouTube, just the above intro. What I saw was a tale that pre-dated the movie "Top Gun" by nearly three decades, as Canyon has to whip a group of playboy airmen into shape.

Rating: B.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Musical Interlude: Shilo (1967)

Neil Diamond's autobiographical, introspective "Shilo" wasn't released as a single until 1970, but had been recorded 3 years earlier.

The reason for the long layover? Diamond, at the time contracted to Bang Records, had a dispute with company management over the song, as the record company preferred teeny-bopper pop from Diamond, who left for Uni Records (later MCA) the next year. Out of spite, Bang released "Shilo", with a new backing track to match the work that Diamond had been doing for Uni, in 1970. It's become a concert staple, though, ever since, after Diamond re-recorded it for 1972's "Hot August Night".

Diamond spins the tale of his own imaginary childhood pal. One of his endearing qualities is his ability to connect with his audience. I think it's safe to say Bang went belly-up after this.

What Might've Been: The Psychiatrist (1970)

NBC was big on anthology, or, "wheel" series in the early 70's. The Name of the Game & The Bold Ones are considered "wheel" shows because each had separate segments that never crossed over with each other.

In 1970, NBC introduced Four-in-One, which wasn't a true anthology in that the four series in the wheel didn't rotate. Instead, McCloud, Night Gallery, San Francisco International Airport, & The Psychiatrist each took turns with 6-episode seasons. Of these, Night Gallery & McCloud were the most successful.

Today, we're focusing on The Psychiatrist.

Executive Producer Norman Felton brought his production company, Arena Productions, to Universal from MGM, where he'd had some success with Dr. Kildaire & The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in the 60's, both for NBC. To my knowledge, this may have been Felton's last network project at that point. Roy Thinnes (ex-The Invaders) starred as Dr. James Whitman, who had his hands full with an assortment of patients whose issues allowed for the discussion of social issues of the day.

The pilot, "God Bless The Children", aka "Children of the Lotus Eaters", aired in December 1970, with Psychiatrist going to series less than 2 months later. Peter Duel (Alias Smith & Jones) co-stars as ex-con Casey Poe. The title song is performed by the Staple Singers, who also appear.

Parental advisory: "Children" is heavy on drug themes.

I wasn't too thrilled with the repeated jump cuts from the junkies back to the various meetings among adults. The original story, by noted mystery writers Richard Levinson & William Link (Mannix, Columbo) was adapted by Jerrold Freeman, but apparently something got lost in the translation.

Due to the drug themes, I'm not mirroring this over in Saturday Morning Archives, despite the presence of future Super Friends cast-mates Norman Alden (ex-Rango) and Shannon Farnon.

I think you can see why The Psychiatrist ended up failing. Not only that, but it aired opposite the 3rd year series, Hawaii Five-O. Ballgame over. If you pay close attention, you'll see a pre-Happy Days Marion Ross as a concerned parent.

Rating: C-.

Friday, August 11, 2017

What Might've Been: The Roaring Twenties (1960)

On the surface, WB's The Roaring Twenties might've been the studio's answer to another ABC series, The Untouchables, except that instead of federal investigators, the protagonists were reporters.

Rex Reason ("This Island Earth") & Donald May (later of As The World Turns) were the leads. Dorothy Provine provided a distraction as ingenue Pinky Pinkham. Mike Road (ex-Buckskin, later better known for his cartoon work) was their police contact. The cast also included Gary Vinson, who moved from this series directly to McHale's Navy, as Roaring Twenties was cancelled early in 1962, midway through its 2nd season, with remaining episodes burned off right before the start of the fall season, which, in those days, started in late September-early October, as they do now.

In "Lucky Charm", Pinky is courted by a mobster (Cesare Danova), who may have other plans. Pay attention to when Pinky sings "Don't Bring Lulu". I think we may have found the inspiration for "My Name is Tallulah", from "Bugsy Malone", nearly 15 years later.

Edit, 1/4/21: "Lucky Charm" has been deleted. However, we now have a stand-alone clip of "Don't Bring Lulu":

I'm begging for someone, like, maybe Me-TV, to pick up this show.

Rating: A-.

On The Shelf: Celebrating a legend, while another gets another makeover

August 28 would've been Jack Kirby's 100th birthday. To mark the occasion, Marvel & DC are both honoring Kirby with special projects. DC is doing a series of 1-shots of some of Kirby's 1970's creations, including The New Gods, and launching a Mister Miracle maxi-series. Over at Marvel, some of Kirby's Silver & Bronze Age work is being revisited in reprint form.

Under the True Believers umbrella, Marvel is reprinting issues of Journey Into Mystery, The Avengers, and the 1970's Black Panther series that followed on the heels of T'Challa's acclaimed run as the star of Jungle Action. With the exception of Black Panther, these reprints have been done a number of times over the last few decades, almost to the point where you can say they were done to death. That being said, it shan't surprise anyone that in the next 2-3 weeks, we'll see reprints of two more Kirby series from the 70's, those being The Eternals (Kirby's Marvel analogue for the New Gods, or so it'd seem) and his adaptation of the movie, "2001: A Space Odyssey", which later spun off Machine Man into his own series.

The earliest appearances of Thor in Journey Into Mystery have the Thunder God speaking modern English, largely because at the time, the idea was that it was still Dr. Donald Blake's mind in Thor's body. That would soon change, of course, and we'd soon get the "thees" and "thous" you'd otherwise find in your King James Bibles.

Meantime, it sure seems as though Jane Foster's time as Thor is nearing its end, if my suspicions are to be proven with Marvel's Legacy initiative, starting in a few weeks. After all, when the decision was made to pass Mjolnir to Jane, she had been stricken with cancer. Do the math, kids.
Did you see "Valerian" last month? What you might not know is that this was adapted from a series of European graphic novels that were first published back in 2003. Accompanying the film's release is a reprint preview of Valerian & Lauraline: Ambassador of the Shadows, which certainly plays out better than the movie seemed to, since Luc Besson's latest apparently laid an egg at the box office.

Rating: B.
The 2nd wave of DC's Hanna-Barbera line will commence next week with the launch of Future Quest Presents, which picks up where the previous maxi-series left off. Should be fun. Ruff & Reddy will get their own miniseries, written & drawn by Howard Chaykin, and Dastardly & Muttley will get their long rumored series underway. October & September, respectively. I believe November brings The Snagglepuss Chronicles, which continues the narrative from earlier this year, when it was broadly implied that Snag is gay. As I wrote before, I'm not sure if that was the original intent when Snag bowed in the Silver Age. The Jetsons will follow in due course.

Now, all they need is to lower the cover price.
Archie is giving Betty & Veronica another alternate look, beginning in November with the debut of B & V: Vixens, which they're saying will be an ongoing series. Considering that Adam Hughes' take on the iconic teens lasted just 3 issues over a 1 year period, it'd be a relief to get more than 3 issues out of this. Jughead: The Hunger becomes the 3rd ongoing Horror line title, thankfully not written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, else it'd never see the light of day. With so many alternate continuities, you'd need a road map to get everything straight.

Sports this 'n' that

With less than a month left in the regular season, the Tri-City Valleycats have made a late surge to get within 1 1/2 games of Stedler Division leader Vermont after taking 2 of 3 from Lowell on the road. The Spinners will return to Troy next week seeking a little payback, but I'd guess that if the 'Cats can make some hay in Little League country (Williamsport, PA) this weekend, and Vermont stumbles, there's every reason to believe the 'Cats could be in 1st come the All-Star game on Tuesday. Just sayin'.
Speaking of Little League, I'm sure that by now, you've all seen this:

Actually, Jayce Blalock's grand slam in Warner-Robins GA was measured at 375 feet. In a season where the major league Rookies of the Year have been all but decided (Aaron Judge in the AL, Cody Bellinger in the NL), Blalock, 13, could be the next big thing if he keeps this up. We'll see if he's drafted out of high school in about 5 years.
The Mets dealt outfielder Jay Bruce to Cleveland on Wednesday after their offense did a disappearing act against Texas. So what happens? They go to Philadelphia and beat up the Phillies, 10-0, on Thursday. Ex-Valleycat Vince Velasquez gave up 3 runs in the first on a Wilmer Flores homer, but developed numbness on his pitching hand and was removed after the frame. In this crazy business, I wouldn't put it past the Mets to actually make a modest run, even if it falls short.
So the Super Bowl champion Patriots lost a pre-season game to Jacksonville. Whatever. If the Jags are on the Pats' regular season schedule, there will be payback with interest. As in, running up the score, college style.

So everyone's assuming Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott will serve a suspension for domestic abuse. Why the sentence wasn't passed down before this point, I don't know. Some of will shrug, considering where Elliott went to school (Ohio State), and how a student-athlete's sudden celebrity creates scenarios like this like clockwork. Meh. Let's just get this over with, I say.

Update, 12:29 pm (ET): Elliott has been suspended 6 games by the league, pending the inevitable, predictable appeal.
High school football begins in 3 weeks. Other fall sports begin earlier in the week. Can your heart stand it?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

If at first you don't succeed: NBC orders another Munsters reboot

You'd think NBC would've learned after the failure of rebooting The Munsters as an hour-long drama, 1313 Mockingbird Lane, a few years back.

It seems that they only got part of the message.

Word from Hollywood now is that the network & Universal are trying again, this time going back to the sitcom format, but they're running the risk of duplicating another mistake.

Late Night host Seth Meyers is being tasked with putting the new Munsters together, but before we go any further, let's remind you of why it's a cherished classic:

What Meyers and Jill Kargman are planning is to transplant Herman, Lily, Grandpa, Eddie, & Marilyn across country, from California to Brooklyn. A very hipster Brooklyn.

Didn't NBC & Universal learn from earlier reboot mistakes? Apparently not. It wasn't so long ago that they sent Ironside to New York, too, in addition to flipping him from white to African American. I needn't remind you that Sony & ABC made the same mistake with Charlie's Angels, albeit moving from Cali to Miami. The common factor? Both of those reboots bombed.

Ever since the original Munsters ended in 1966, on CBS, every Munster project has gone anywhere but CBS. Now, of course, since NBC & Universal are components of Comcast, it makes perfect sense to leave the franchise with the peacock network now and forever. Problem is, taking away elements of what made the original series so special dilutes the reboot. Period.

To borrow a line from the chorus of "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?", when will they ever learn?

Only in the South: A Tennessee high school senior follows the dress code---and still gets cited for a violation

In the Northeast, classes don't start until after Labor Day, though student-athletes will get a headstart a week prior, when the fall sports schedule gets underway.

Meanwhile, other states have already started a new school year, like, for example, in Tennessee, where a high school senior is being cited for a dress code violation----even though she followed the rules.


At Dickson County High, senior Tori Taylor has already been pulled from class twice because of a "wrong cut" on her crew-neck t-shirt. Huh? Far as I know, and I've always worn crew-neck t-shirts, there's only one cut, just the way the shirt is designed. In an interview with a local television station, Ms. Taylor said she can't afford to buy new clothes just for inspection's sake. Seems to me that during the first week of classes, DCHS hadn't bothered to update their dress code on their own website, which caught some students' attention.

And, then, there is school principal Joey Holley, on the stump for the school and its dress code, such as it may be. Here's his statement, supplied to Yahoo!:
“Dickson County High School is proud to build good relationships with students, parents, and our community. We have a great school and we strive every day to keep it that way. The purpose of our dress code is to assure students will dress and groom in a clean, neat, and modest manner in order not to distract or interfere with the educational environment of the school. For the most part, 99 percent of our students have come to school within our dress code guidelines. As a reminder, we have communicated with students, parents, and community our dress code expectations for this school year.”
So who's in charge of dress code inspections, Mr. Holley? Mr. Magoo? Seriously, though, someone's been in the sun too long to start the season, and over-reacted.

I only had to deal with a dress code at school just once, and that was when I was in a private academy for 2 seasons. Never had a code violation. Someone needs to rethink Dickson County's policies yesterday, that's all I can say.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

What Might've Been: The Young Rebels (1970)

Aaron Spelling made a brief alliance with Screen Gems, resulting in a short-lived 1970 series for ABC, The Young Rebels, one of three freshman entries Spelling produced for the network that year. The others were through his own production company, The Most Deadly Game & The Silent Force, and both also bombed out.

Set in the time of the Revolutionary War, The Young Rebels features a young Louis Gossett, Jr., in one of his earliest roles. Gossett would later guest on The Partridge Family, another Screen Gems series, after Rebels was cancelled.

So where did it go wrong? How about on the wrong night? It aired on Sundays as a lead-in to The F. B. I., but had to be slotted opposite The Wonderful World of Disney. Game over. Seems folks weren't too keen on a historical drama on a Sunday, and wouldn't be for a while.

Here's the intro:

This might explain why Sony would later obtain the rights to some of Spelling's other creations, like Charlie's Angels and Fantasy Island, although Columbia Pictures Television did co-produce the latter, for video distribution.

My memory is hazy on Young Rebels (I was 7 at the time, after all), so there won't be a rating.

Your child commits suicide. Your response? File a lawsuit, months after the fact. Not a good idea.

In January, 8 year old Gabriel Taye, a 3rd grader at Carson Elementary School in Cincinnati, committed suicide by hanging himself with a necktie off his bunk bed. It sounds ludicrous, I know, but the circumstances surrounding Taye's death are in the news again today.

Seems the lad was supposedly "bullied" at school, and although there is no real, hard evidence to support the allegations, Taye's parents have decided to file a lawsuit, alleging that officials at Carson Elementary supposedly withheld information about the incident on January 24. Taye, supposedly, took his own life 2 days later.

The Cincinnati Public Schools District released a report on bullying recently which doesn't include any account of Taye being bullied, but there was a culture of violence at the school during the just concluded school year. In the lawsuit, it is alleged that another 3rd grader threw a chair at a girl and wished he could rape her. What are these kids watching in the inner cities at such young ages? R-rated movies on HBO? The initial report on Taye on 1/24 is that he had taken a spill in the boys' bathroom. His family learned of the assault after lawyers reviewed police documentation describing a surveillance video that captured as much of the incident as possible.

The lawsuit follows reports of one intended to be filed by the family of 12 year old Mallory Grossman, a New Jersey student who was the victim of cyberbullying by other students, perhaps jealous of her for whatever reason. A video on NBC News' website shows that Ms. Grossman looked like a future Homecoming Queen in waiting, fairly attractive, but perhaps had run afoul of jealous peers who saw her as a threat to them. As of now, the Grossman family hasn't formally filed the suit. They have, though, identified four classmates as the bullies, but not publicly. They allege that officials at Copeland Middle School in Rockaway, where Mallory was a 6th grader, did nothing to stop the bullying, and that efforts to address the issues were ignored. Likewise, pleas to the bullies' parents were dismissed.

With a new school year right around the corner, this is the last thing they need in Ohio, New Jersey, or elsewhere. Parents don't feel their kids are safe because of a few cowards who need to make themselves look good by hassling other kids.

Where I have a question is in the timing of a suit filed by Gabriel Taye's parents. Nearly 7 months have passed since Gabriel died, and now they want a lawsuit? Something about this case doesn't ring true, but I can't quite put my finger on it. Security cameras are in place all over the schools, which I think link up to a central monitoring area near the principal's office. You'd think it wouldn't reach the point where litigation has to be an option, but there's also the matter of how many security guards are available on a day-to-day basis. If they're short-staffed, then there's cause for concern.

Here's to hoping cooler heads prevail without litigation.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Death has been very busy........

Yesterday, we referenced the passing of Bronco star Ty Hardin, but he wasn't the only one we lost over the weekend.

Baseball Hall of Famer Don Baylor, whose playing career was entirely in the American League (Yankees, Oakland, Baltimore, Boston, Minnesota, California), and managerial career in the National League (Chicago, Colorado), passed away at 68. Darren Daulton, who played on some talented Philadelphia Phillies teams but never won a championship, left us as well at 55. Baylor's passing, in particular, came a week after the Hall inducted its 2017 class.

And, then, there is Glen Campbell.

The pop-country icon lost his battle with Alzheimer's Disease earlier today at 81. Campbell, who fronted his own variety show, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, in the late 60's and early 70's, and starred with John Wayne & Kim Darby in the original "True Grit", had been a session player, part of the legendary "Wrecking Crew" with Leon Russell, among others, and played with the Beach Boys before finding solo success with hits like "Galveston", "Gentle on My Mind", "Wichita Lineman", "Try a Little Kindness", "Where's The Playground Susie", "Ghost on the Canvas", and, in 1977, he topped the pop & adult contemporary charts with his cover of Allen Toussaint's "Southern Nights".

Following is a performance of "Southern Nights" from The Midnight Special:

I regret I never saw Campbell in concert, but he leaves behind a fabulous legacy.

Rest in peace, one and all.

NFL Preview 2017, part 1: AFC East

Over the rest of the month, we're going to be taking a look at all 8 divisions in the NFL as we prepare for the start of the regular season on September 7 (New England hosting Kansas City). Today, we'll start with the easiest division.

AFC East:

Defending Super Bowl champion New England just found the going a little bit easier in the division with key injuries to the Jets & Miami in recent days. However, for reasons only he can comprehend, coach Bill Belichick decided to part company with bruising running back LeGarrette Blount, who signed with Philadelphia in the off-season. Never mind that Albany native Dion Lewis is recovering from an injury, the Pats went and signed Rex Burkhead (Cincinnati) to replace Blount. The former Nebraska star should finally get some primo attention, but then, with ball-hogging QB Tom Brady padding his stats and minimalizing the running game for that reason....! And you wonder why I don't consider Brady to be the greatest QB of all time. There's little balance in the offense.

However, the division is New England's to lose again. Miami owner Stephen Ross convinced Jay Cutler to put off his broadcasting career for another year (he was due to be the #2 analyst on Fox) and replace an injured Ryan Tannehill at QB. Cutler's run in Chicago ended the same way it did for Rex Grossman, with dimiinishing skills and returns. No one's giving the Jets a chance at all, assuming Josh McCown can beat out 2nd year QB Christian Hackenburg for the starting job. Receiver Quincy Enunwa was lost for the season Monday with a neck injury, further depleting a receiving corps that already lost Brandon Marshall (Giants) and Eric Decker (Tennessee). That means more pressure on RB Matt Forte to lead the offense. 

In Buffalo, the Rex Ryan era ended a bit abruptly, but that wasn't all. Defensive back Stephen Gilmore is gone (New England), the latest skill position player that has left the Bills high & dry for the big bucks. It may not be worth the time to binge-watch preseason games on NFL Network on the weekends involving this division.

Projected order of finish:

1. New England
2. Buffalo
2. (tie) Miami
4. Jets

Next week, we'll be looking at the AFC North.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Classic TV: Bronco (1958)

WB needed another Western after Clint Walker took a break from Cheyenne. What they got was another hit.

Bronco managed to last 4 seasons (1958-62) on ABC, and starred Ty Hardin in the title role. The following video is my first look at the series, as it wasn't airing in syndication when I was young.

You know how President Teddy Roosevelt had reportedly said to walk softly and carry a big stick? WB's variation on the idea was for their cowboy heroes to talk softly as well, and the big stick was usually a gun, like a rifle, for instance. Humility & modesty, two traits almost lost in fiction these days.

As I said, that small sample is all I've seen, so no rating. Posted in memory of Hardin, who passed away today at 87.

Celebrity Rock: Right Now (2005)

"Right Now" was the 2nd & final single off John Cena's lone CD to date, 2005's "You Can't See Me". As was the case on "Bad, Bad Man", Cena's cousin, Tha Trademarc, helps on vocals, set against a backdrop of a family reunion in suburban West Newbury, Massachusetts.

12 years later, Cena's swapped out the rhymes for reality TV (Total Bellas, Total Divas, American Grit) and movies when not wrestling. If he doesn't do another CD, after all this time, then we can say he simply fulfilled a dream he had as a youth, other than wrestling.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

What Might've Been: The King Family Show (1965)

Lawrence Welk liked to refer to the ensemble he formed on his show as his "musical family", from the orchestra to singers like the Lennon Sisters, Jo Ann Castle, & Norma Zimmer, to name a few.

The King Family put Welk to shame.

Spun off from The Hollywood Palace, The King Family Show, with 39 family members total, launched in January 1965, and ran for 1 calendar year. Why? Part of it was network meddling. The show started as an hour long variety show, like Palace and The Lawrence Welk Show, but in September, ABC suits cut the show to a half-hour, up against the established Jackie Gleason Show on CBS, and freshman sitcom I Dream of Jeannie on NBC. The 2nd season barely got past the holidays.

With a heavy emphasis on music, the Kings' show was similar to another ABC series, Shindig, and NBC's Hullabaloo. With 39 family members, you'd think they were a branch office of Up With People. Two family members are better known, though, for their acting. Cameron Clarke, for example, grew up to become a voice actor, and worked on the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series. Tina Cole, prominently featured in the following video, moved on to My Three Sons, joining that series in 1967. Cole, though, would return when The King Family Show was revived as a spring replacement in March 1969, this time lasting 6 months. In the video, Cole performs a cover of Petula Clark's "Downtown", which she would also do on Sons.

In between the two series, the Kings produced a series of syndicated specials, which resumed after the 2nd series ended. They even turned up on PBS. And the names on the sweaters? I think they got that idea from the Mickey Mouse Club.

My only memory is seeing some advertising for the show in reading some back issues of Reader's Digest at an optician's office back in the day as a youth. Never saw either show, so there's no rating.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Videos of Summer: Hot Fun in the Summertime (1969)

Sly & The Family Stone scored a hot hit in 1969 with "Hot Fun in the Summertime", which has been covered in later years by artists as diverse as Hall & Oates, the Beach Boys, and Michael Jackson.

"Hot Fun", along with "Everyday People", seems to be a better choice to covered out of the Family Stone catalogue.